It’s just a 10-minute seaplane or 45-minute speedboat trip from Malé’s Velana International Airport up to the Fari Islands archipelago in the North Malé Atoll, where the first Ritz-Carlton property in the Maldives opened June 1. The all-villa resort offers everything you’d want in a tropical getaway—white sand beaches, crystal-blue lagoons, overwater and beachfront accommodations—as well as the type of elevated offerings you would expect from the luxury brand. As seen in these exclusive first-look photos, it’s all wrapped up in a striking, modern design by the late Australian architect Kerry Hill, who took inspiration for the spherical buildings from the circular forms of the lagoon, the swirling ocean breezes and the cyclical nature of island life.
With seemingly every major luxury brand already operating in the Maldives, it is noteworthy that Ritz-Carlton is just now entering that market. “Expanding into this destination is something we have had our eye on for a long time, as we continue to evolve our portfolio, [and this] is the perfect moment for us to debut in the Maldives, as luxury travelers continue to seek out opportunities for meaningful exploration and reconnection, as well as destinations that offer access to open spaces and natural beauty,” Donna McNamara, vice president and global brand leader for Ritz-Carlton, tells Robb Report.
When asked how Ritz-Carlton might differentiate itself from the other five-star options in the country, McNamara says that “thoughtful expansion remains a top priority for the brand. We want every Ritz-Carlton property to be the gateway for immersion into the unique cultures where we operate. I love that from the moment you arrive at the resort, you feel deeply connected to the destination.” McNamara further notes that as “the Maldives offers so much more than a stunning physical environment, [the resort is] focused on bringing the rich culture to life for our guests.”
To help make these connections to the destination, guests of each of the 100 overwater or beachfront villas will enjoy the round-the-clock services of a dedicated aris meeha, or personal butler, who can organize activities such as Maldivian cooking classes, traditional drum performances timed to sunset, beach cricket matches or kids’ arts and craft sessions. Along with featuring organic products from UK-based Bamford, the ring-shaped, nine-room spa—which floats over the lagoon—performs signature treatments using local ingredients like heated sand, fresh coconut and native herbs. Guests of all ages will also be able to engage with the underwater world around the resort—home to a resident pod of dolphins—via activities led by experts from Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, with which Ritz-Carlton has had a longtime partnership.
The resort’s four sections include a dedicated “culinary island,” home to seven restaurants featuring dishes from Japan, Italy, India, Lebanon and China; the Cantonese-focused Summer Pavilion is an outpost of the Michelin-starred Singapore eatery by the same name. A large kids’ club, tennis courts, a photography studio (offering equipment rental and a range of classes) and areas for water sports round out the facilities, while the villas themselves feature private pools (the three-bedroom Ritz-Carlton Estate has two), indoor-outdoor showers, al fresco lounging space and—depending on their location—direct beach access or overwater hammocks. To help honor the destination further, the resort was designed to minimize impact on the reef ecosystem through the use of pre-fabricated materials and construction techniques, and solar panels, glazing and other sustainable methods have been employed to help lower the carbon footprint. Rates start at $1,500 a night for one-bedroom villas, $4,400 a night for two-bedroom villas and $22,500 per night for the Ritz-Carlton Estate.