A trip to the Maldives is never a bad idea. But this year, the tropical wonder in the middle of the Indian Ocean offers more than a few new excuses to book an island-hopping adventure. In November, the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort made a splash as the most luxurious hotel opening in recent memory. The 22-acre isle brought all the requisite Maldivian frills—infinity- edge pools, haute cuisine, a sprawling spa. We were most captivated, however, by the John Jacob Astor Estate, an over-the-top overwater bungalow that’s said to be the island nation’s largest and—with a private spa, theater, and 300-foot-long swimming pool—most luxurious.
By year’s end, the St. Regis had some stiff competition: Soneva Jani rolled out the red (and green) carpet with 24 eco-luxe villas—some with waterslides, others with retractable roofs, and all with private swimming pools. And in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, both the barefoot-chic Milaidhoo Island and the exclusive-use Four Seasons Maldives Private Island at Voavah made their debuts. The cast of castaway fantasies will continue to grow later this year with the arrival of an opulent Italian-Maldivian mash-up of a resort from Baglioni Hotels.