If you’re a celebrity, a wealthy oligarch, or royalty, where do you vacation? For most it's Reethi Rah; an exclusive, ultra-luxurious resort in the Maldives
Imagine the most perfect desert island you can, with white sand beaches, blue seas, and palm trees. Imagine there are no people around, no roads, and nothing in the horizon except bright orange sunsets. You are imagining the Maldives. This archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean is perhaps the closest thing to paradise you can get on this planet, and its a place so remote, and so exclusive that very few people will ever have a chance to experience it themselves.
This Maldives is a nation that consists of about 1,200 islands, several hundred of which have been turned into into resorts. These private resorts give you the opportunity to stay in luxury accommodation in a pristine setting, and to share it only with the other guests at your hotel. Reethi Rah is one of the most prestigious, and it was where we were heading.
Pulling up to One and Only Reethi Rah is like arriving in a dream. We were picked up from Male airport on a luxury yacht, and after a 40 minutes cruise we had arrived to this magical place. Docked up around us were more high speed boats, diving boats, and other luxury water toys. A crew of about 6 people were standing on the dock waiting to greet us personally.
Aside from the dock, there was nothing; No high rise buildings, no noise, just green palm trees and turquoise sea. Although Reethi Rah can host a fairly large number of people and has built on most of the island, they have done so subtly and it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves. Reethi Rah means 'beautiful island' in Dhivehi - the language of the Maldives - and the name could not be more appropriate.
The hotel is part of the One & Only group, so we knew to expect incredible food, amazing design, attention to detail, and service. Their portfolio includes a selection of the world's finest hotels and these can be found in Dubai, Mexico the Caribbean, and South Africa amongst other places. They are known for providing - not just physically beautiful hotels in spectacular locations - but also an all encompassing experience which includes attentive service, a range of activities, and high-end dining options.
After disembarking the boat, we were led through the trees to our villa. The island is criss-crossed with sandy paths which allow you to visit every corner, and we followed one of them through the palm trees to reach it. Every inch of coastline (actually, pretty much every inch of the island) is covered in perfect white sand, swaying palm trees and plenty of places to relax... We were living in a perfect postcard picture.
At our villa we were given bikes to zip from place to place, which was a great feature even if I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of the guests who were given golf carts. Most of the facilities are clustered in roughly the same area, and the island is small enough to get around yet large enough to give everyone that 'marooned in paradise' feeling. In fact, Reethi Rah is one of the largest islands in the Maldives, so had it not been for the bicycle tracks in the sand, I would have believed that we were alone! That said, if you wanted to socialize you could easily indulge your desire. There was the swimming pool, the fitness center, the communal beaches, and the beach club.
Accommodations at Reethi Rah vary quite a bit and options range from beautiful beach front villas to overwater rooms staring out at the ocean. We stayed in one of the beach villas which (true to its name) was right in front of our own stretch of sandy beach. Sandwiched between our villa and the beach, was a private outdoor area complete with lounge furniture and a private infinity pool. Our villa and all of the outdoor space was surrounded by tropical trees which blocked out any trace of our neighbors, leaving us feel completely isolated -- which is exactly how a stay in the Maldives should be!
The villa itself was spacious, and inside it had a comfortable, modern design. The ceilings were high and vaulted, and the roof itself was made from thatched palm leaf. We had a stone bathtub, as well as both indoor and outdoor showers. Even the closet was beautiful and felt totally custom with velvety soft leather and a jewelry island in the middle . Every time our room was cleaned we were given exotic tropical fruit. One day it was rambutan, and dragon fruit, the next day it was passion fruit. The attention to detail made all the difference :)
Reethi Rah has six different restaurants serving everything from organic farm-to-table meals outside under a beautiful banyan tree, to Japanese by the beach at sunset. They have a restaurant serving fusion food, a Middle Eastern set on the beach, a Grill, and an Italian restaurant. Of course, you can also order food to your villa (they even have pizza delivery) or nibble on a meze platter at one of the bars. There is also a frozen yoghurt stand down by the beach which has all the fixings to make an awesome frozen treat. There really is something for everyone... and it’s all good.
It's not just the variety that makes it special though, the quality is on par with the best restaurants in the world. The man in charge of the hotel - Jean-Luc Naret - was Director General of Michelin Guides earlier in his career, and he brings his expertise to the island.
We enjoyed everything we ate, but we really loved Botanica - the organic restaurant. The setting was just so romantic, and the service so attentive. Small tables surrounded a large Banyan Tree, with dim lights shining down, all set in a beautiful garden. When it rained on us one evening, they quickly moved us into the greenhouse before we had even had a chance to get wet. That greenhouse by the way, is part of the garden where they grow many of the ingredients that go into their dishes. You can't get much fresher than that.
We were also lucky enough to be there for a 'Taste of Asia' buffet night at Reethi restaurant. Although I don't normally enjoy buffets, this one was amazing. From Peking Duck, to the wok stations and to the curries, everything was done well and authentic. The food not only was beautifully presented, but it was fresh and delicious.
Being set in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with crystal clear waters all around you and plenty of sea life to entertain you, is the perfect way to unwind and relax. But let’s face it, you might get bored or antsy from time to time. Well at Reethi Rah, there are plenty of things to do. You can play tennis, start a soccer match in their full scale field, or even join an art class. If that doesn't work for you, you can visit their gym and participate in private yoga lessons, attempt boxing, or just work out. If you’re like us and are more of a “water” person, you can take out one of the boats from Reethi Rah’s fleet, go fishing, skiing, snorkeling, diving….Trust us when we say there is a lot to do on the island.
Sadly, for most of our stay the weather wasn't on our side and our options were limited by the rain. When for a short time the weather did clear up, we jumped on the chance to go scuba diving at a nearby shipwreck. The water here is perfectly calm and the ocean wildlife are colorful and exotic, so definitely make a dive or snorkel trip part of your itinerary. We saw lionfish and angelfish, as well as my new favorite - the oriental sweetlip (it’s black and white with neon yellow polka dot fins). If you are a diver or looking to give it a try, this is a great place to get your PADI license or practice, as these are some of the most interesting seas in the world.
To escape the rain, we spent quite a lot of time in the spa. We have seen a few of these in our time but this one was something special. It is more of a compound than a spa building, with treatment rooms scattered between the palm trees. To complete the relaxation, there are hammocks strung up between many of the trees and of course, a beach nearby. We had a couples massage where we were blissfully rubbed and massaged for an hour. All we had to do was choose the oil of our liking and the music we preferred, then we let the therapists take over.
We’ve been hearing for quite sometime how incredible this place is and now that we’ve experienced it for ourselves, we have to agree. The service is impeccable, the details make all the difference, and the natural beauty of the Maldives rivals what we have seen anywhere in the world. This beauty would make Reethi Rah a special place even if you were sleeping in a tent, but the total luxury the One and Only group provide make into into a once in a lifetime experience.