Tag Archives: Maldives

Joali Maldives: More than a Holiday, A Joy of Living and Life itself

Make no mistake, a trip to Joali Maldives is more than a holiday, it embraces a joy of living. The first in a brand new genre of luxurious retreats, the recently opened Joali Maldives is located on its own private island in the Raa atoll. The totally immersive art resort is an unforgettable and unique experience, even for frequent visitors to the Maldives luxury resorts. The first of its kind, the immersive art resort curates the finest in architecture, art and design for discerning guests. A stay at Joali Maldives is to experience the kind of sustainable luxury and be immersed in sophisticated artforms never before seen in the world’s most popular resort atolls.

The 24-acre Joali Maldives luxury resort begins at inviting Maldivian entrance with what Joali GM Phillips describes as “the unintentional whimsy of two kissing fish” the result of an architectural artisan wood “sculpture” that seeks to express the feminine spirit of the property through natural, subtle colors and smooth transitions that blend with the island’s spirit and culture. The luxury resort’s sustainability story begins with its master plan and layout, which preserved over 1,000 trees during the construction process.

Depending on the angle, the jetty of Joali Maldives looks like a pair of kissing fish

Joali Maldives: More than a Holiday, A Joy of Living

Surrounded by tranquil lagoons, picturesque pristine white-sand beaches and the instagrammable iconography of coconut palms, Joali Maldives, nestled in the one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world features elegant overwater and luxury waterfront villas with a selection of two, three, and four-bedroom residences boasting over 5,000 square feet featuring its own private beach enclave, offering guests sunrise and sunset views.  Influenced by individual stories and designed to take guests on a sensory journey, each villa features a private infinity pool, butler service, artisanal amenities, curated in-villa libraries, thoughtful design and handpicked art as well. Residences come with lavish living space and access to two striking infinity pools, a spa room and sauna, 24-hour butler and valet service and an on-call Dhoni, a Maldivian sailboat. Beyond eye-catching art, there’s something at Joali Maldives for bookworms, and quiet relaxation is offered in the resort’s Living Room, where guests can decompress with the luxury resort’s library of over 1,000 books.

“In pursuing our team’s collective passion for nature conservation and Maldivian culture, we are thrilled to announce such a special opening and have the utmost confidence that Joali will set a new bar when it comes to a meaningful and immersive luxury hospitality experience.”  – Steven Phillips, General Manager at Joali Maldives

Aerial view of the Joali spa

Art Immersive Joali Maldives

Even the mainstay retinue of luxury resort amenities like the Joali Spa by ESPA, an Art Studio & Gallery (inviting international guest artists to exhibit throughout the year), and four innovative restaurant concepts with a distinct focus on design, make emphasis with on an artistic experience. Joali Maldive’s is home to an extensive collection of well curated selection of paintings and sculptural pieces –  an exclusive art map which spotlights areas of interest including those works created in collaboration with local artisans to support the Maldivian community. All featured art pieces across the resort incorporate surrounding nature and celebrate young designers, including Misha Khan, Nacho Carbonell, Porky Hefer, London-based Studio Glithero, Zemer Peled, Chris Wolston, Doug Johnston, Ardmore and more.

The Joali Experience

The Joali experience begins shortly after arrival at the Male airport where guests are invited to relax in a private lounge before taking a 45-minute seaplane to the resort. By definition sustainability is the ability for something to remain prosper, to endure throughout time and stay persistent. But sustainability is not only about longevity it is also about quality. In the luxury industry, sustainability is all about preserving the art and “savoir faire” and respecting the environment, the 24-acre Joali Maldives luxury resort embodies that ideal. In that respect, it’s does not merely just express a joy of living but the joy of life itself.

Jumeirah Vittaveli in Maldives Named the 2017 Global Hotel of the Year

Jumeirah Vittaveli in Maldives Named the 2017 Global Hotel of the Year

Jumeirah Vittaveli villa and resort in Maldives is delighted to be named the 2017 Global Hotel of the Year, in the 11th edition of the World Luxury Hotel Awards, held in St. Moritz, Switzerland over the weekend. Voted by over 300,000 travellers to name their favorite luxury hotel over a four-week period, Jumeirah Vittaveli in Maldives stood out.

Renowned for its tropical, paradise setting with suites that open up to the turquoise sea, open-air restaurants, an overwater bar, and coconut oil-based spa treatments, Jumeirah Vittaveli offers “…unmatched diversity, subtle luxury and personalised exploration.”

What’s interesting is that The Jumeirah Vittaveli will be upping the ante “by opening the first ice rink in the Maldives, where the average temperature in December is about 27C.” Guests will have something new to look forward to in addition to the extravagant amenities.

A Sense of Luxury: Recharge & Rejuvenate

Jumeirah Vittaveli-Ocean Suite Bedroom

For guests seeking another level of privacy and luxury, perhaps Jumeirah Vittaveli Resort in the Maldives might just offer that perfect place to refresh and revitalise. With 89 villas and suites, each with a dedicated swimming pool, will give guests a sense of private space to unwind and experience tranquility.

Jumeirah Vittaveli

There’s also the free-standing Ocean Suites, featuring king size beds, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, raised on underwater stilts and is only accessible by boat. Sprawling across two levels, the suites are designed to indulge guests in a well-crafted and welcoming ambience that reflect the beauty of the natural surrounding. Take a step out on the transparent glass floors and relish the view of the silent underwater world.

And for those who travel with large entourages, the newly built Royal Residence has five bedroom guest house that can accommodate up to 14 guests. Equipped with all the facilities, guests can also enjoy a range of activities at the two private pools, spa, gym, and have an entertaining time at the private over-water bar and full-scale restaurant.

Le Royal Monceau Paris

Here’s a selection of winners from the 99 categories at the 2017 World Luxury Hotel Awards:

Luxury ski resort: Stock Resort, Finkenberg, Austria
Luxury wellness hotel: Chenot Palace Health Wellness Hotel, Qabala, Azerbaijan
Luxury adventure destination: Machaba Camp, Tarlton, Botswana
Luxury gourmet hotel: La Grande Maison de Bernard Magrez, Bordeaux, France
Luxury hotel: Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris
Luxury romantic beach resort: Pimalai Resort and Spa, Krabi, Thailand
Luxury honeymoon resort: Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali

Whale-shaped bar in Maldives Won the International Design Awards

The Whale Bar, St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, SBID International Design Awards 2017 | Image courtesy of Business Wire

Recently, The Whale Bar for St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, designed by Singapore and London-based design group, WOW Architects l Warner Wong Design Group, has bagged home the International Design Award for having the most beautifully designed space.

Some of the world’s best-known hotel chains, retail and automotive brands came together to compete in the SBID International Design Awards 2017, and The Whale Bar managed to outperform.

WOW Architects l Warner Wong Design Group managed the design aspect and constructed the existing architecture to resemble the distinct shape of a giant whale shark

The designer’s aim was to create an open-space layout and portray a cosy yet relaxed atmosphere where guests can look out to the sweeping views of the Indian Ocean, while sipping on cocktails.

Adding to the interior touch are plentiful use of light-oak materials to soften the feel of the ambiance and very soft neutral palette are used to complement the natural light and design relevance throughout the venue.

In addition, The Maldivian art are set against the interior to blend in harmoniously with the joinery works within. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is one of the most luxurious resorts located in Maldives, designed to look modern-chic and bring exquisite escapades to guests.

Other winners of the SBID International Design Awards 2017, include the Wanda Reign Chengdu Hotel in China in the category of Hotel Public Space Design, and the Barcelona restaurant Alkimia. And The Penny Drop in Melbourne won The Restaurant & Bar Design Awards for being the most beautiful restaurant of 2017.

Maldives, holiday island destination, sees healthy growth in real-estate market

With over 1,000 islands spread across 90,000 square kilometers in the Indian Ocean, white sand beaches and tranquil, crystal clear waters, The Republic of Maldives has long been regarded as one of the best holiday destinations in the world. Over the recent decades, the expansion of high-end tourism in the Maldives has allowed the republic to make tourism the key industry in its economy, with 96.5% of the total GDP coming from the industry, according to HVS Asia Pacific. With the Maldivian government putting a strong emphasis on its public sector investment program to meet the growing visitor demands, the Maldives’ real estate market is expected to remain stable, with the hotel industry to continue to grow in the near to medium-term future.

Dependency on the tourism industry

Tourism, the main economic lifeline in the Maldives, has been paramount to the country’s image and appeal to foreign investors. While generally reliable in the tourism sector, the country’s dependency on the industry has not been without its risks. With the growing popularity of nearby holiday destinations, particularly Sri Lanka as a rising competitor, the length of stays in the Maldives’ hotels and resorts declined by 20% from 2010 to 2014. Moreover, political and economic uncertainty in key global markets — China, Russia, Europe — has negatively impacted growth in tourist arrivals, with records falling short of the government’s target of 1.5 million visitors in 2015, according to the Horwath HTL Special Market Reports Issue 61: Maldives.

Influence of the Chinese market

Although Europe has been historically the main source of tourism-related revenue, the Maldives has grown increasingly dependent on the Chinese market, which in 2015 accounted for almost one-third of total tourist arrivals. However, according to Horwath HTL, the Chinese market figures have been on a downward trend since August 2015, with the trend attributed to the Chinese Yuan devaluation and the slowdown of the Chinese economy. “The Chinese traveller has been the one reason why the true effects of the Global Financial Crisis that hit western countries in 2009 were not felt so badly in the Maldives”, said Mifzal Ahmed, co-founder and vice president of strategy of the Maldives’ largest international airline Mega Maldives in an interview for newspaper Mihaaru in July 2016.

Despite the challenges, the performance of the tourism and hospitality sector has remained resilient showing general improvement in 2016, as compared to 2015. Although coming short of achieving the government’s targeted goal of visitor numbers, Hotelier Maldives reported in the 2016 Maldives Tourism Industry Review that the industry recorded 4.2% tourist arrival growth rate (compared with 2015’s 2.4% growth rate). Strong positive growths were also identified from most European markets following the Eurozone’s mild recovery in 2016, while the tourist numbers from other key markets like India, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and Australia also picked up.

Government investment in infrastructure

In 2016, the government of the Maldives took expansive measures to anticipate the increasing regional competition and cater to the growing demand in the tourism industry, particularly in the area of public infrastructure. Major developments already on the way are the expansion of the country’s international airport and the entry of several new airlines that will improve the accessibility from key markets. Diversification of tourism offerings, such as resorts and new types of attractions, are also expected to bring in new markets into the country. A total of 11 new upscale and luxury resorts are planned for construction by 2018 according to the Ministry of Tourism, with the average daily rate expected to see notable improvement in the second half of 2017 as the new supply in the ultra-luxury segment begins to enter the market.

Scarcity of residential offerings

With hundreds of resort offerings in the Maldives, a residential property for sale remains rare. Development of new properties is not easy as all materials have to be brought in from abroad and many developers are not willing to take the associated risks. With limited residential properties available, the surging demand for housing has spurred several on-going developments, including Hulhumalé, an artificial island built in three phases, with the culmination of Phase I in 2020. The island, catering to a total population of 100,000 once all phases of development are completed, will incorporate commercial, industrial and residential components that will include mid-to-luxury housing and beach bungalows.

This article was written by Olha Romaniuk and first published in Palace 19.

Environmentally friendly yacht: Benetti Meamina for charter in Maldives and Seychelles

Chartering in the Maldives and Seychelles this year, the 59 metre Benetti Meamina is an elegant, contemporary yacht. A fully equipped, action-packed vessel, she is a popular choice for families too, and is using Yacht Carbon Offsets to counter the greenhouse gas impact of fuel used.

Former Captain Steve Barker explains that this involves matching the greenhouse gas emissions from her engines and generators, ton for ton, with equivalent reductions from verified green energy projects. “Meamina is now operating in a more environmentally responsible way”, he says of the owners’ 2014 decision.

“Without compromising our very high standards, we have also re-evaluated many areas of daily operations, behind the scenes, and worked out ways to provide greener choices to guests on board. “Though we always seek to be fuel efficient, the fuel demands of a powerful, luxurious yacht like Meamina are vast. So it is great that we can respond effectively and economically to her greenhouse gas impact with Yacht Carbon Offset Limited”.

This company, based in London’s Mayfair, provides a fully- documented service for superyacht owners, and has Lloyds Register Quality Assurance Certification. Says their Mark Robinson: “We were delighted to welcome Meamina, and to help counteract her carbon footprint. This is increasingly important to many owners and charterers, especially those that are high profile, or who are concerned about the impact that their lifestyle may have on the climate.

“Meamina used a Gold Standard renewable energy project in Turkey for her initial carbon offset program. This venture was dependent on carbon funding, so Meamina’s action made a real difference. It is lovely to work with this beautiful yacht, and we thank all on board for their decision to proceed. More information can be found at yachtcarbonoffset.com.

Launched in 2009, Meamina is a full displacement motor yacht with a steel hull and aluminum topsides. Naval architecture is by Benetti, exterior lines by their Stefano Natucci, and Studio Massari took care of the interior design. The layout sleeps 12 guests in an immaculate master suite, an upper deck VIP stateroom, two double cabins and two twins. Up to 15 crew can be carried, including two world-class chefs and a qualified masseuse.

Powered by twin MTU V12 4000 turbo-charged engines, she has a top speed of 16 kts and range of 5,000 nm at 12 kts, a capability that has seen her in the Med, Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean and Asia’s exotic seas and straits during a very fully-occupied eight years. Naiad stabilised when under way and at anchor, Meamina is classified by the American Bureau of Shipping.

Principal tenders are two 7.4m and 6m Pascoe jet drives. She carries two Yamaha wave runners, a stand-up wave runner, jet surf, wake boards, two stand-up paddle boards, two Eddyline kayaks, three bicycles, adult and child waterskis, snorkelling gear, inflatable towable toys, water slide, scuba gear, and there are both indoor and outdoor gymnasiums.

A Benetti spokesman says that apart from the classical purity of her white hull and superstructure, and exemplary Studio Massari interiors and decor, special attention was given to the owners’ private quarters. “Meamina is a true family yacht, designed for relaxing and comfortable cruising. The owner asked us to create different areas in the salons, and formal and informal social gathering places for the guests. The aim was to build a prestigious and impressive yacht with sophisticated decor and elegant furnishings. Interiors are pleasantly cosy”.

Of particular interest is the master suite, which has his and hers studies. Entrance is via her study, then there is a lounge and relaxation area beside starboard windows, with a sofa flanked by a pair of coffee tables and a bookcase on the wall.

A large double bed is centred. Here a flat screen TV drops down from an overhead recess, and beyond is a short hallway off which are dressing rooms. On the port side is a spacious bathroom with twin basins, tall cabinets, a tub and separate shower. Steps lead to a forward upper level within the master suite, where his study is located, complete with sweeping bow views, and a door giving access to the foredeck. Possibly the most prominent study we’ve ever seen on a superyacht.

Guests staying in the VIP suite are also wonderfully located on the upper deck, sharing space with the sky lounge. The decks are variously arranged for wining and dining or sunbathing and swimming or relaxing in the jacuzzi, while within, off the principal salon, there is a formal dining table for 12 in a wood- panelled setting bathed in gentle ambient lighting. Even a small impromptu cinema can be set up. Definitely a lovely layout, and thoughtful use of all available spaces.

This vessel is available for charter via Burgess Yachts.

This article was first published in Yacht Style 38.

Invest in These: 6 Floating Villas

Flying over the Maldives in a prop plane, islands appear like green pebbles in a blue-green sea. From above, constellations of resorts are also visible, their villas often snaking out from the edge of the land, hugging the sides of boardwalks and perched atop wooden stilts.

Not all villas are tethered to docks, however. At some new resorts, the bungalows have been designed to float on the Indian Ocean. One such project is named The Ocean Flower and includes 185 floating villas arranged in the form of a Maldivian flower. Designed by Dutch architecture firm Waterstudio, the two level villas have three bedrooms, private plunge pools and are priced from around $2.5 million.

The Ocean Flower

The Ocean Flower

“What we tried to do with our office is to take the difference between a normal house and house boat and make them the same,” says Waterstudio founder Koen Olthius. He began designing floating homes in the Netherlands, but now exports the concept to worldwide locations.

The Ocean Flower forms part of The 5 Lagoons, a master-planned resort in North Male atoll, a 20-minute boat ride from the capital of Male that is a joint venture between Dutch Docklands International and the Maldives Government. Waterstudio is also designing the Amillarah, another phase of The 5 Lagoons that will feature10 floating private islands arranged in an archipelago configuration. Each will have a private beach, pool, greenery and a jetty to moor yachts.

In the Maldives, where natural islands are small, scarce and vulnerable to tides and rising water levels, resort developers are progressively turning to floating architecture. “The concept suits [the Maldives] perfectly,” says Dymitr Malcew, a Singapore-based architect. He designed a luxurious floating home concept for a French developer in 2012 and has since received inquires from resort developers and private investors around the world, including the Maldives.

Malcew Floating Homes, Maldives

Malcew Floating Homes, Maldives

Malcew’s house concept features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a terrace and full-height windows that provide optimal daylight and views. The home is built on a floating platform that can be easily moved and electricity is supplied via solar panels, or a network if it is docked at a marina. It also has a water purification system. “I was inspired by the automotive and luxury yacht markets rather than a typical architectural approach,” Malcew explains.

The floating house concept is not confined to the Maldives, however. In Thailand, resorts like The Float House River Kwai Resort in Kanchanaburi features floating villas made of teak wood and bamboo, each having a private balcony and pier. Thai design firm Agaligo Studio has also introduced a modern take on the floating vernacular with the X-Float, a series of floating resort villas on the River Kwai that are made from lightweight steel framing clad with fiber cement siding and plywood. The units are all oriented to maximize river views while also shielding the intense tropical sun.

Hong Kong-based consultancy BMT Asia Pacific has also created floating home concepts it likens to a ‘stationary yacht,’ designed to create novel experiences for holidaymakers. The Sea-Suite debuted in 2014 with three models – Floating Lodge, Houseboat, and Beach Cabin, each of which use an egg-shaped mold as the basis for transportable, easily adaptable and nautically minded lodging designs. The newer SeaScape edition features expansive 40-foot decks on a triangular floor plan. Each villa is customizable and can be expanded with the option to add on a variety of units, including a sun deck or covered pool, making the floating resort up to 1,800 sq. ft. in size. The design also features an underwater bedroom housed in a 13-foot diameter acrylic column that creates an aquarium effect with 360-degree views of marine life.

The Floating Seahorse

The Floating Seahorse

A new project in the Middle East unveiled in December also proposes an underwater bedroom. Kleindienst Group’s new development is called The Floating Seahorse and features a collection of floating villas off the coast of Dubai. The structures are designed like unpowered boats and have three levels: a submerged master bedroom and bathroom designed to offer views of the surrounding marine life, a main level with a kitchen, dining area and deck, and an upper level that has an informal bed, kitchenette and glass-bottomed Jacuzzi. Developers sold around 60 units when the first models went on sale. The remaining seahorses are priced from $2.8 million.

“We are seeing a trend worldwide, where High Net Worth Individuals are looking not only for a penthouse, but that private island feeling,” says Koen Olthius. In his home country of the Netherlands, 50 percent of the population lives below sea level, and the Dutch have spent centuries constructing dikes, pumps, and drainage systems to keep the encroaching North Sea at bay. Floating houses have provided an alternate solution – as far back as the 17th century, barges were repurposed as homes.

The Floating Seahorse, Interior

The Floating Seahorse, Interior

In recent years, floating structures have again grown in popularity, particularly in the face of extreme weather. The obvious advantage is that they move vertically with fluctuations in water levels caused by tides, heavy rainfall or other flooding. They are also easily relocated.

But beyond the pragmatic reasons, floating homes are also appealing to prospective residents because they afford an intimate proximity to water, and a feeling of openness, with light and views that are more akin to a boat than a house. A ‘normal’ house requires a large margin with the water level to prevent flooding. With a floating home, openings in the façade can safely be placed just 35 cm above the water level.

In the United States, floating homes are most common on the West Coast, particularly in Seattle where Lake Washington, Lake Union, and The Locks offer sheltered water edge conditions ideal for floating structures. Standing inside the floating home is an incredible feeling, says Eric Cobb, a Seattle-based architect who works on floating homes. “When you are on the first floor, you are maybe a foot off the water level and it feels like you are on a boat. It’s an amazing experience to have a sliding glass door off your bedroom and the water right there.”

SeaScape Luxury FLoating Villas Concept

SeaScape Luxury FLoating Villas Concept

In recent years floating homes in Seattle have become increasingly regulated due to their impact on the shoreline. “They are big, they create massive shaded areas and it impacts eco systems,” says Cobb. Municipal regulations now prevent the development of new floating home slips, although the resale market is thriving.

Koen Olthius at Waterstudio believes such municipal regulations reflect an “old-fashioned way of thinking” and stands in the way of allowing floating homes to proliferate into the mainstream market and create what he believes is a more sustainable housing model. “The experience we have in Holland makes us experts in how large and small foundations can be,” he says.

Many architects argue that since floating systems are adaptable and can be moved at short notice without leaving scars on the environment, this makes them a more sustainable and durable way to build. BMT’s SeaScape model, for example, is designed for offshore locations around small islands where a minimal footprint is key. The overall power load is also mitigated by the option of installing solar panels on the roof, as well as by natural ventilation. “While we haven’t specifically focused on green features in the design, a number of them are intrinsic to a waterside location — improved natural ventilation from sea breezes and temperature moderation through the hull from seawater,” says Sichard Colwill, Managing Director of BMT Asia Pacific.

Amillarah Private Islands, Dubai

Amillarah Private Islands, Dubai

The concept also provides a solution for humanitarian causes, particularly in low-lying, flood-prone regions. Luxury developers have funded much of the recent innovations to floating homes, but Olthius says a new wave of demand is coming from land-strapped and flood-prone cities from the Ukraine to China.

In the UK, design firms have proposed similar typologies as a means to deal with flood-stricken areas of the nation and as a solution to London’s housing shortage. Baca Architects recently developed a buoyant home for an NLA competition to address the capital’s housing crisis. The project aims to install prefabricated floating housing on disused space along the 50 miles of rivers and canals in Greater London, as well as the 150 hectares of additional “bluefield” space in its docklands, marinas and basins.  For Koen Olthius, the transition to water homes is simply a matter of plugging them into the existing grid. The demand for floating homes is clear, he says, now it’s a matter of negotiating with municipalities and insurance companies and educating them on the long life span of water homes, and their low maintenance costs.

The Float House River Kwai Resort, Thailand

The Float House River Kwai Resort, Thailand

If sea levels begin to rise as predicted, municipalities may have no choice but to embrace the floating home model. For the moment, some countries are more open to the idea than others. Waterstudio has spent the past two years working on a project in Florida, but have encountered considerable resistance from the local community. “If I have an empty space of land, you understand that I can build there, but if I have a piece of water, everyone complains,” Olthius says. “In the US people have a stronger feeling of rights and of privacy compared to other parts of Europe or Asia. These homes can benefit the whole community.”

However, even if there isn’t a dramatic rise in sea levels, Olthius says he is committed to building on water. “We are concerned with urbanization, with the price of land, the need for land,” he says. “Water gives us three things: space; safety and flexibility, and a very short response time to changes we cannot foresee.”

Story Credits

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Nobu Hotel Miami Beach

6 Luxury Hotels Opening 2016

With numerous hotels set to welcome guests as we venture into the tail end of 2016, we thought we would bring you up to date with a round up of six establishments everyone is anticipating, starting with the most obvious of course.

Trump International HotelTrump International Hotel, Washington DC

The Republican presidential candidate opened his latest hotel earlier this week in Washington DC. The Trump International Hotel sits on what was the Old Post Office Pavilion that is considered a historical landmark. The $200 million hotel is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is connected to the White House and the United States Capitol. While the hotel was originally slated to be completed in 2018, it seems that developers have been pushing the project ahead to be ready in time for the US election in November.

Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc Miami Beach

With actor Robert De Niro as his partner, chef Nobu Matsuhisa will open the doors to his third hotel later this week. Located at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort, the hotel was designed by David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group. Boasting 206 guest rooms and suites, the interior design was inspired by natural materials that bring to mind a Japanese beach house in the middle of Miami. Nobu Hospitality also operates Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and Nobu Hotel City of Dreams in Manila, Philippines.

Four Seasons Hotel New York DowntownGuest room at the Four Seasons New York Downtown

This will be the second Four Seasons hotel in the Tribeca district and is dubbed the little sister to the flagship New York property in Midtown. The hotel will open in the Tribeca district, a short stroll from the new World Trade Center, Wall Street and the Soho neighborhood and serve as a dual residential and hotel property. The 185 rooms are designed by Yabu Pushelberg. Dinner will be served by Wolfgang Puck and his CUT steakhouse restaurant and bar.

L’Hotel Barrière Les Neiges Courchevel

The French hotel group is set to open a five-star ski chalet in the French Alps. Featuring 42 alpine-inspired rooms that are made of wood and stone, the accommodation promises luxury. Located in the heart of the Trois Vallées, the largest ski domain in the world, the hotel will also feature a cinema, spa and Fouquet’s brasserie, modeled after the iconic restaurant on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Fouquet’s is also part of the Barrière group.

Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at VoavahFour Seasons Private Island Maldives

Located on a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve in Baa Atoll, Maldives, this luxury hotel and resort is one for those who prefer an ultra-secluded and exclusive private island getaway. The reserve is home to one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and to a globally significant biodiversity. The property, which opens at the end of this year, spans five acres and can accommodate just 22 people in the seven-bedroom beach house. It also comes with a dive center, spa and 62-foot superyacht.

Hilton Bali Resort

Bali is set to get a new sprawling luxury resort destination under the Hilton brand. Perched on a 40-meter high cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Hilton Bali Resort will feature 408 suites and villas, a secluded beach with designated surf area, spa and nail salon, seven restaurants including Japanese, Balinese and Italian cuisines, indoor tennis courts, and open-air amphitheater, gardens, conference centers and chapel for destination weddings.

spa-treatment-world-spa-awards

World Spa Awards 2016: Top Wellness Destinations

If like us, you are in dire need of a little TLC, let this list of winners from the 2016 World Spa Awards tempt you with their ultra-decadent offerings of treatments and facials. The overall results of the awards hint that the best spa experiences are generally found in the Middle East (nine out of 24 category wins), where modern spas continue using centuries-old techniques in their treatments.

spa-treatment-world-spa-awards

The spa at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi
© Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi

Held in conjunction with the World Travel Awards last weekend, the World Spa Awards had a panel of industry leaders and travel experts converge to recognise the best spa destinations around the world. At the top of the list for world’s best signature spa treatment sits The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles for its $300 La Prairie facial. Using the Swiss line’s White Caviar Collection, the rare golden caviar extracts and liquid crystals promise even skin tone, firm and hydrated skin and glowing skin.

maldives

Maldives

Maldives unsurprisingly bagged world’s best spa destination of the year for its extensive range of luxurious spa services and restorative wellness programs (though we’re certain the unparalleled views of clear turquoise waters and pristine beaches would be restorative in itself). Like the Middle East, traditional healing techniques remain at the core of Maldivian spa treatments. Massages that use locally-extracted coconut palm tree oil and white sand have been known to reduce stress and stimulate blood circulation effectively.

Here, some of the big winners of the awards. Start taking notes:

World’s Best Hotel Spa 2016: Emirates Palace Spa (Abu Dhabi)

World’s Best Hotel Spa Brand 2016: Talise by Jumeirah

World’s Best Male Spa 2016: All-men’s Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre

World’s Best Medical Spa 2016: Lanserhof Tegernsee

World’s Best Mineral & Hot Springs Spa 2016: Spa Thermae at Bagni di Pisa Palace & Spa, Italy

World’s Best New Hotel Spa 2016: The Spa at Intercontinental London – The O2

World’s Best Resort Spa 2016: Talise Ottoman Spa at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (Dubai)

World’s Best Wellness Retreat 2016: Forte Village Resort (Italy)

 

Greece

Greece Best Travel Destination 2016: Report

Despite the economic turmoil and migrant crisis that has plagued Greece in recent memory, the Mediterranean country has topped Condé Nast’s 2016 Readers’ Travel Awards as the best travel destination in the world.

With more than 60 untouched islands, stretches of idyllic beaches and historic sites that span millennia, it is little wonder that tourists remain enamored by Greece. In fact, the country’s tourism board is looking forward to a bumper year for 2016, with arrivals estimated to reach 25 million, or 27.5 million including cruise ship passengers. Yes, we recommended Greek holidays too!

greece

According to Condé Nast, factors for the surge in popularity include fears of violence and unrest in neighboring Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt – once major resort destinations – which caused holidaymakers to divert their vacation plans to Greece. Italy and the U.S. follow closely behind on the list.

maldives

Maldives continues to reign as the top island retreat destination, followed by the Greek Islands and Balearic Islands in Spain. We couldn’t agree more. Readers of the UK-based magazine also revealed their selection of 5-star boutique hotel Eden Rock – St Barths as best hotel of the year. The Caribbean hotel – owned by Pippa Middleton’s new in-laws – is part of the Oetker Collection, which also boasts The Lanesborough in London and Le Bristol in Paris.

Here are the top 10 countries and islands that made it to Condé Nast’s Traveller’s online Readers’ Travel Awards 2016:

Top 10 countries:

1. Greece
2. Italy
3. USA
4. South Africa
5. France
6. Spain
7. India
8. Australia
9. Thailand
10. Mexico

Top 10 islands:

1. Maldives
2. Greek Islands
3. Balearic Islands
4. Sicily
5. Seychelles
6. St. Lucia
7. Bali
8. Koh Samui
9. Malta
10. St. Barth’s

Full results appear in the October issue of CN Traveller.

Great Barrier Reef

Round the World Itineraries: Global Traveler

Those bitten by the travel bug will be happy to know that the gruelling task of finalising an itinerary for a holiday has been well and truly taken care of. Catering to various travel needs, Star Alliance has teamed up with its 28 member carriers for several themed holidays.

Lovers of cuisine high and Low have the option of visiting countries such as Lyon in France for the signature Lyonnaise sausages, Seoul for the delicious beef ribs and galbi or even New York to sample the wonderful melting pot of cuisines. To reconnect with Mother Nature, travelers will be able to venture to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Sugarloaf mountains of Rio de Janeiro and the Northern Lights of Norway.

If a romantic getaway is what you are looking for, then Star Alliance has a selection of destinations as well. From gondolas rides in Venice, to island getaways in the Maldives, Santorini and Phuket or a trip to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the romance themed itinerary is sure to send sparks flying. Customizing ones itinerary is fairly simple: select the closest airport as the starting point and then choose from the destinations included in the package.

Getting to your destination of choice is just as simple, as Star Alliance counts the likes of Air Canada, United, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways as some of its members. Rival alliance One World also offers round-the-world fares with member carriers such as British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Other companies that have ventured into the world of well planned holidays include the Four Seasons, with The Four Seasons Private Jet Journeys on board their new fleet of private jets. Starting from $106,000 the package includes culinary and cultural packages.

bahamas-pigs-swim

Visit These: 5 Weirdest Beaches

Pig Beach, Bahamas (pictured above)

Yes, you can actually spend a day frolicking on a beach with pigs, if that’s always been a dream. Located at Big Major Cay in the Exumas archipelago, the colony of pigs might be feral but are actually extremely tame and friendly. Get to the island by boat that run from the main island of Great Exuma or Staniel Cay, where you can watch and feed the pigs or swim alongside them in the clear Caribbean waters.

Whitehaven Beach, Australia

whitehaven-beach

Beaches with clear azure waters are aplenty, but not quite as many boast sand as fine as Whitehaven Beach. The seven kilometer-long beach has white, ultra-fine silica sand famed for its flour-like consistency. The area is clearly a national treasure – the award-winning beach is protected by the Australian government – and you can spend a few hours or a few days there by setting up camp.

Vaadhoo Island Glowing Beach, Maldives

Vaddhoo-Islands-Glowing-beach

The Maldives is a holiday destination that never stops giving. Besides the famously clear blue waters, exquisite marine life and luxurious resorts, the archipelago also has Vaadhoo Island, where the incredible phenomenon of phosphorescent phytoplankton light up the island’s shoreline at night. There are, of course, other activities at the picturesque island but the twinkling scenery at night promises to be the highlight of your trip.

Kauai Glass Beach, Hawaii

Kauai Glass Beach, Hawaii

Nicknamed the “Garden Island”, Kauai Island was shaped by centuries of erosion and is famously known for being the most humid place on earth. However, the island is also known for its beach, made up of glass pieces and black sand. While this might sound like a terrible beach destination, you’ll be relieved to know that the glass pieces are smoothed by the ocean waves over years, so they’re really more like glass pebbles that reflect the light and colours of the beach to make for a very pretty scene.

Red Beach, China

Red Beach of Panjin

China might seem like the last place you’d want to visit a beach at, but the Red Beach will change your mind. The state-protected nature reserve doesn’t actually have sand, but is covered with a special kind of seaweed that turns crimson red every autumn. There are also hundreds of bird species and almost 400 species of wild animals that inhabit the beach, so you’d be as close to nature as you can get.

 

Vaadhoo Island Glowing Beach

A unique holiday destination is not that hard to find, though it may be difficult to reach. We venture to one of the world’s most popular beach holiday spots with the AFP Relaxnews to take a look at a beach that glows in the dark. Join us as we find out what makes Vaddhoo Island in the Maldives so spectacular.

Where to find it

It is no coincidence that the Maldives are a favored destination for newlyweds jetting off on honeymoon. The beauty of this archipelago and its 1,190 islands — located 600km (373 miles) southwest of Sri Lanka — guarantees a very romantic ambiance. Lovebirds looking for an extra touch of magic should check out Vaadhoo Island.

Unusual feature

Vaadhoo Island, at the heart of the archipelago, is a paradise island with translucent waters. But visitors above all wait for nightfall to catch sight of an incredible phenomenon. As the sun goes down, the waves lapping the island’s shoreline take on a twinkling phosphorescent glow. In fact, tiny little creatures called phytoplankton living in the water create bioluminescence, seen as a blue glow best observed in the dark. These micro-organisms float in the water charging up with electrical impulses all day long. They create a fantastical sea of glowing blue stars, like the night sky reflected in the ocean waves.

How to get there

Vaadhoo Island is located 8km (5 miles) from Malé International Airport, the main airport in the Maldives. Visitors can reach the island by speedboat in around 15 minutes.

Best beach activity

Certain couples head directly to Vaadhoo Island to spend their honeymoon among the spectacular sea of stars. Like many destinations in the Maldives, this island is also a hotspot for snorkeling and diving, with corals and various forms of marine life to discover. Accommodation is available on the island or on one of the neighboring islands, where hotels can help visitors organize trips to Vaadhoo. Otherwise, it goes without saying that the best beach activity on Vaadhoo is watching the magnificent glowing waters once the sun goes down.

To find out accommodation options on Vaddhoo Island, visit Trip Advisor.

3 Quirky Holiday Fitness Classes

A vacation is the chance to create new habits and new regimes that we hope to follow long after the vacation is over (oh how naïve we can be!). Some hotels know just how good we are at following through with these newly cultivated rituals and have given guests a helping hand this summer. Far from a holiday of pure indulgences, these classes (open to guests and visitors) aim to improve one’s health and well-being. We take a look at three (or maybe five if you really want to be precise) quirky fitness classes to try on your next holiday.

Rooftop hula hooping classes at the Berkeley

Starting September 28, those in London can look forward to the return of the hula hooping master classes at the Berkeley Health Club & Spa located within the luxury hotel in Knightsbridge. Limited to four hula-hoopers per lesson, the weekly 60-minute classes will see HulaFit take guests through a rigorous workout that will help to burn 600 calories (per session). Of course, guests will also be able to enjoy the Berkeley hotel pool that overlooks Hyde Park and Knightsbridge.

Yoga at Kimpton Hotels

Among its many fitness offerings this summer, the Kimpton Hotels will offer rooftop yoga, full moon yoga and thug yoga at three of its hotels in America. At the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix, the hotel will partner with Sutra Studios for a rooftop yoga series that will take the action outdoors and make things a tad more scenic. With candlelight and DJ tunes, the classes are just another reason to stretch out under the stars. Over at the Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel in Miami, “full moon yoga” classes will be in full swing, held under the moonlit sky, which makes for a session that brings you closer to nature. For those looking for something a little more upbeat, the Kimpton Sky Hotel in Aspen is limbering up to host a series of classes that combine yoga, hip-hop and beer. Dubbed Thug Yoga (yes, it is really a thing), the classes will see the Aspen Brewing Company serve up refreshing drinks at the hotel’s pool deck.

Wellness Tree House by Bodyism at Amilla Fushi

This is one of the latest partnerships between London-based Bodyism and the Amilla Fushi Hotel in the Maldives. The health and wellness experts incorporate the Clean and Lean program it is known for with a mix of exercise and relaxation techniques. As guests enjoy their stay in a one-bedroom wellness tree house, they will be greeted with a wellness consultation, daily spa treatments along with the chance to hang out by the room’s infinity pool as you look out over the tree canopy. Twelve meters above the ground, the accommodation is obviously right in the heart of nature. Aside from being cool, the idea is to help guests rest and relax.

October Opening: Soneva Jani Resort Maldives

The splendid blue vistas of the Maldives have captured many a traveler’s imagination, since ancient times, and are the primary draw for the multitude of resorts there, including the soon-to-be-open Soneva Jani resort. With 24 water villas and one island villa, as well as a great host of features and facilities, this could be a great place to witness the best of the Maldives at your own leisure once it opens for business in October.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Exterior_Night View by Richard Waite

Luxurious privacy is assured, of course. The 25 villas take up an area that stretches 5 kilometers, giving enough space for guests to enjoy and explore to their hearts’ content. Every water villa has exclusive pools that open into their own stretches of the lagoon, and some even have slides starting from the top deck, allowing a fun splash into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is reportedly (remember the place isn’t open yet as of this account) the retractable roof in the master bedroom – allowing for a magnificent view of the stars while you lay down in your (presumably) soft and comfortable bed.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Master Bedroom by Richard Waite

There are many things to do over at the Soneva Jani. Features include a spa, a dive center, an observatory, a children’s den, an organic garden – and even a special outdoor cinema called the Cinema Paradiso (you know, like the movie). This ‘silent cinema’ is special in that every guest will be given Bluetooth earphones while watching their movies so that the wildlife in the area isn’t disturbed by the noise.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Outdoor Shower_by Richard Waite

In terms of dining, there are five different outlets serving cuisine from all over the globe, with full gourmet menus to choose from. Should you want something completely different, you can have your own special ‘culinary adventures’ all around the lagoon – like having lunch in the organic garden or on the private beach.

1 Bedroom Overwater Villa_Living Area by Richard Waite

“Soneva Jani is a place of incredible natural beauty. The waters in the lagoon have the most vibrant shades of blue that I have not seen anywhere else in the Maldives… the villas are stunning and include all attention to detail that Soneva is renowned for” said Soneva General Manager Olivia Richli. With its perfect scenery and its unique location – this is the spot you’ll want to discover properly when it finally opens later this year.

You can check out more at Soneva’s website over here.

World’s Biggest Underwater Restaurant Seats 16

The Maldives, home to the world’s first underwater restaurant, is on track to get a second even larger one. It will be the new world’s biggest underwater restaurant…until the next one opens. The restaurant, which only seats 16, is part of a luxury, five-star, adults-only resort.

When the Hurawalhi Island Resort opens in November (as we reported previously), one of its star attractions will be the “5.8” undersea restaurant named after its watery location: the unusual dining destination is set 5.8 meters (18 feet) below the lagoon. Previous reports have this depth listed at 5.2 meters so it got a little deeper, apparently.

The restaurant, which seats up to 16 guests, will allow diners to take in their marine surroundings through a transparent, domed ceiling as they tuck into a multi-course tasting menu. This will be yet another attraction adding to the appeal of the Maldives, already one of the best beach destinations in the world.

If the concept sounds familiar, that’s because of the aforementioned undersea restaurant in the Maldives, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, a big sister property to Hurawalhi.

hurawalhi_aerial

Likewise, the Hurawalhi restaurant is being designed by the same architects MJ Murphy, who specialize in aquarium design.

Built in New Zealand over 10 months, the 410-tonne megastructure traveled to the Maldives by cargo ship and was carefully lowered into the sea earlier this spring. To enter the restaurant, guests enter a little hut on the jetty and climb down a spiral staircase.

Overseeing the resort’s cuisine is executive chef Shannon Batten, a New Zealander who has cooked for Bill Clinton, the British royals, Rod Stewart, Bob Geldof, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, and foreign heads of state.

The resort features 90 villas that come with modern conveniences like king-size beds, air conditioning, internet access, private porches and flat screen TVs. Hurawalhi Island Resort and Spa is located in the Lhaviyani Atoll and opens in November.

Four Seasons Offers New Private Island in Maldives

If you’re looking for a private island experience like no other, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ first private Maldivian island at Voavah, Baa Atoll should do the trick.

Set to open in late 2016, this remote five-acre oasis – part of the company’s selection of Extraordinary Experiences – is entirely yours throughout your stay, including its seven bedrooms, Oceans of Consciousness Spa, dive center and 62-foot (18.9 meter) yacht. The double-story resort also features an open-air living room, dining room, kitchen, pool deck, gym, library and loft lounge; and if that’s not impressive enough, the over-water spa will also be available for a variety of wellness therapies and rituals, including yoga, high-end beauty treatments and Rossano Ferretti hair consultancy services.

maldives_four seasons_voavah

As the island is the world’s only exclusive-use UNESCO retreat in a World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the resort was constructed in consultation with local environmental groups with the aim of maintaining the balance between humans and nature so the conservation angle is very strong. Activities such as diving with whale sharks, snorkeling with manta rays, swimming with turtles and surfing are only some of the unique educational conservation activities Four Seasons has to offer.

“As the latest addition to our Extraordinary Experiences collection, the island speaks to the company’s commitment to perfecting the guest experience and our ability to re-imagine the limits of luxury travel in creative and innovative ways. It’s just one of the many ways we’re constantly evolving our offerings to deliver the kind of memorable, fully-customized and exclusive experiences our guests want and value,” said Mike Crawford, President, Asia Pacific.

maldives_four seasons_voavah

The property is also projected to be a favorite amongst the rich and famous for its seclusion and exclusivity. To put into perspective how isolated it is: it takes a 40-minute seaplane transfer from the Male International Airport, or 20-minute speedboat ride from the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru to get there. Surrounded by fine white sand and azure waters, Voavah is only one of the 75 islands of Baa Atoll, of which 13 are inhabited. If you’re expecting a larger crowd though, you might want to look instead to Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, which can sleep 34 adults, perfect for all your VIP party needs.

Resort to These: 5 Paradise Spas

Set amidst soaring mountains and azure waters, these spas are probably the closest you’ll get to experiencing paradise. They might be off the grid but we think the service and breathtaking views are worth every bit the hassle of flight transfers.

Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldivescheval-Blanc-paradise-found-LO

Accessible by a traditional boat known as a dhoni, this spa has six massage cabins and two Orchidée Villas, the latter a collaboration with Guerlain. Those familiar with the resort but not the spa should take note that the spa is off on its own island, which is unsurprising for the Maldives. So even at the secluded Cheval Blanc, on Noonu Atoll, you can achieve new levels of privacy and peace of mind here.

Cheval Blanc Randheli

AmangiriAmangiri-Paradise-Found-LO-2

The resort known as Amangiri is legendary; it is rated 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor and earns a 9 out of 10 score at Mrandmrssmith. The spa offers something truly exotic for Asian travelers: Navajo and Hopi treatments and the splendour of the American Southwest. Spanning 25,000 sq ft, the spa offers massages, scrubs, wraps and flotation therapy in its many pavilions, rooms and terraces.Amangiri-Paradise-Found-LO

This Canyon Point Utah resort is set in the midst of stunning desert topography, as you can see here.

Amangiri

Aqua DomeAqua-Dome-paradise-found-LO-3

This thermal resort in Austria has more than five themed sauna rooms. Shown here is the aptly named The Barn Sauna, designed to look like an old-fashioned stable with its wooden beams and lamps. No horsey smells here though, just essential oils (infused in the hay!) and a comfortingly warm environment.Aqua-Dome-paradise-found-LO-2

The Aqua Dome boasts 12 pools, including river basins, basin pools and even activity pools, which give you an Instagramable view of the Ötztal Alps.Aqua-Dome-paradise-found-LO

With a view like that, what else can you do but lounge around the whole day? The resort is in the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame for 2015, if such accolades matter to you.

Aqua Dome

Four Seasons Resort SeychellesFour-Season-Paradise-Found-LO

They call this an island refuge. We’re not refuting that claim. The Seychelles are already one of the most isolated places on earth and have only been occupied by humans since 1770, with no indigenous peoples. As such, it is one of the rare places that you can easily visit that is also relatively untouched by human activity. Four-Season-Paradise-Found-LO-2

One of the highlights on the menu at the Four Seasons spa here is the Starlight Massage. It is administered on the rooftop after sunset and, while the tight knots in your muscles are skilfully kneaded away, you soak in the sounds of the Indian Ocean and the night breeze.

Four Seasons Resort, Seychelles

Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di GardaLefay-paradise-found-Lo-2

This resort, located in Brescia (northwest Italy), scores full marks from TripAdvisor and a quick Google search reveals under 150,000 results. In short, it is amazing and not that many people know about it. Besides pools and sauna rooms, the spa has two relaxation rooms, including the Sunset Relaxation Area, shown here (above).Lefay-paradise-found-Lo

You’ll find this resort on Lake Garda (that’s Lago di Garda in english) in an 11-hectare natural park surrounded by hills and olive trees.

Lefay Resort & Spa

A version of this story, written by Pearlyn Tham, was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.

Hurawalhi Invites You to Dinner Under the Sea

The deep oceanic blue of the Maldives has captured many a tourist’s fancy with its natural beauty but one resort is taking things to all new depths. The Hurawalhi resort being developed may be just the locale to capture those idealized dreamy fancies with as much luxury and comfort as possible. With its massive underwater restaurant, ocean villas, and facilities, Hurawalhi may be just the resort for you to look to when you plan your holidays in future.

Maldives-Hurawalhi-Underwater-Restaurant

The underwater restaurant is the gem of the whole structure. The 400 ton megastructure was built in New Zealand (that is it above, on its way to the resort) and is set to sit 5.2 meters below the lagoon, with guests entering by a staircase from a little hut on the jetty. While there will also be an over-the-water restaurants providing both a la carte and buffet meals, the underwater restaurant aims to set itself up with a fine dining “tasting” menu so that the guests can taste refined cooking in full view of the undersea “landscape” so to speak.

Maldives-Hurawalhi-Ocean-Pool

Beyond that though, Hurawalhi boasts 90 Villas spanning over 105 sqm either set on the beach or in the ocean. Every villa shares the same features such as tropical décor, a king sized bed, a stocked mini bar, high speed broadband connection etc… but guests can choose whether they want a villa with an infinity pool or not, as well as a view of the sunrise or sunset. The resort is reached by seaplane from the Trans Maldivian Airways Terminal at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

Maldives-Hurawalhi-Villa-Interior

Other amenities include several bars, a games center, a scuba center, a spa, various entertainment events related to Maldives culture, a gift shop, a Sifani Jewelers shop, and a medical clinic.

With all this set up for the future, Hurawalhi sounds like the perfect place for you to kick back and relax, with a panoramic view of the ocean from your pool, watching the sunset in the very cradle of comfort.

For more information, you can check out Hurawalhi’s main site.

Images courtesy of Hurawalhi

Valentine’s Day: 5 Island Hideaways

Everyone is getting into the Valentine’s day spirit and, if you have not already figured out what to do, TripAdvisor has some high-end options. The company released their list of romantic hotels in Asia and we have to say, we were impressed. Think white sandy beaches, staff who cater to your every need and of course a respite from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Tempted? So are we.

The team at Luxuo knows that you may be hard pressed for time to filter out the whole list, so we decided to give you a helping hand and narrow it down. Here then is our selection five romantic island destinations that would make Nicholas Sparks envious.

Komandoo Maldives Island Resort, Maldives

This truly is a perfect honeymoon destination, not simply because it is in the Maldives but because it is an adults-only retreat. Surrounded by a beautiful lagoon, the water villas are situated over the Indian Ocean.Komandoo-Maldives-Island-Resort-02

Though you have a beautiful view of the sapphire blue waters, each villa also comes with a private Jacuzzi and terrace. Accompanied by top-notch service, it is no wonder the resort topped the list.

The Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Thailand

The-Place-Luxury-Boutique-Villas-01

This romantic getaway in the hills of Ko Tai is truly breath-taking. With nine boutique villas, each with its own private infinity pool, it is private and serene. While you immerse yourself in nature, let the service crew cater to your needs, be it a warm welcome or massages on the sundeck. One TripAdvisor reviewer offered praises for the boutique villa for putting “a lot of thought into the whole guest experience”. We have to agree.

Kandolhu Island, MaldivesKandolhu-Island-1

Now, you will be on a private Island resort but the staff certainly can’t stop some uninvited guests from making an appearance outside your terrace. Home to a rich colorful and lively house reef, some reviewers have had the opportunity to interact with turtles and dolphins and even a “myriad of beautiful fish” as they snorkel steps from their villa. The intimate island hosts 30 villas in five different styles.

Tokoriki Island Resort, FijiTokoriki-Island-Resort-01

Located in the tranquil Mamanuca group of islands, there are numerous ways to access the island resort. Another adults-only resort, it has several contemporary and Fijian-style ‘freestanding’ villas to choose from. You can enjoy the tropical outdoor shower, relax by your personal pool or simply enjoy the sunset and stargaze from your hammock. There is much to do on the island and it must be noted that there are special packages for a romantic getaway, making it an ideal choice.

Baros, Maldives09_Baros Maldives 2

Made of sandstone and timber by expert craftsmen, the beachside and water villas look like they have always been a part of the island. We can’t help that this is the third resort on the Maldives that we fell in love with but who can blame us. With the finest rooms, service and restaurants, this resort rounds off our list of romantic destinations to enjoy. A reviewer’s tip is the twilight dinner for two on the sand bar.

For more on TripAdvisor’s list of most romantic hotels, click here.

island of Randheli

New luxury accommodations in the Maldives

Cheval Blanc Randheli resort

According to a recent survey conducted by Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Maldives islands rank as the most popular luxury vacation destination on the planet. The island nation is already a hotbed of high-end tourism, with accommodations fit for the most demanding guests, and new luxury resorts are appearing each year. Here, we take a look at three of this season’s most notable newcomers.

Cheval Blanc Randheli Hotel Maldives

Cheval Blanc Randheli

This establishment, owned by the LVMH Group, brings all of the prestige of the original Cheval Blanc, located in the Courchevel ski resort in the French Alps, to the Noonu Atoll in the sunny Maldives.

A private hydroplane carries guests of the Cheval Blanc from the Malé airport to their destination in 40 minutes. Upon arrival, guests are met by 45 spacious villas (the smallest has a surface area of 240 square meters, or 2600 square feet), luxurious services and breathtaking beaches.

Five on-site restaurants offer French and international gourmet cuisine. In the spa, guests enjoy treatments with Guerlain beauty products and Leonor Greyl hair products. Sports, special events and custom services are all on the menu as well. Opening November 15. Prices available upon request.

Maalifushi by Como

Maalifushi by Como

Como Hotels will open its second resort in the Maldives December 1. Maalifushi is located on the Thaa Atoll, which can be reached in around one hour by hydroplane from the Malé airport.

The resort consists of around 60 suites and villas built on stilts, including some located directly on the beach, and others with private pools. Two on-site restaurants offer international cuisine, as well as Japanese and Maldivian specialties.

The spa — with eight massage rooms and hammam, Jacuzzi, and sauna — offers beauty and relaxation treatments based on the principles of holistic medicine. Prices available upon request.

largest private villa in the Maldives

A private villa on Kunfunadhoo Island

From December 15, travelers will be able to rent a 2,000 square meter seaside villa from the Soneva Group, which aims to combine luxury with sustainability through its “Slow Life” philosophy.

All of the villas in the Soneva Fushi resort are built with sustainable materials using local techniques but remain decidedly high-end. The newest villa, which the group claims is the largest in any Indian Ocean resort, has eight bedrooms, a game room, and a spa with massage tables and a gym.

There is also an enormous 477 square meter (5130 square foot) pool surrounding the residence, complete with a dining terrace where guests can enjoy a waterside lunch.

Prices per night range from around €8500/$11,500 to €22,500/$30,400 depending on the season.

Next summer, the group will expand its offering with Soneva in Aqua. The luxury yacht will allow guests to enjoy the same level of service and comfort experienced in the Soneva Fushi villas while sailing from atoll to atoll in the Maldives.

Soneva Aqua yacht