Of the approximately 1,200 islands in the Maldives, there seems to be a new resort popping up every week, so popular is this collection of white sand/turquoise water/reef and fish-filled atolls in the Indian Ocean. (Even more so after dropping the requirement on March 5 of a negative PCR test for vaccinated travelers to enter the country or travel between resort islands.) Seaplanes are the general mode of transport for getting to the furthest reaches , but there are also viable options a speedboat trip 45 minutes or less from the airport for quicker transfers and more flexible schedules. And there are several recently opened on the scene that are worth checking out.

From the crowds and setting of Patina Maldives, Fari Islands in the North Malé Atoll, you might think you’re somewhere chic and urban without the characteristic electric blue water beneath the stripling-lined overwater pods containing the bedrooms. or the beachfront villas. In contrast to that vibrant exterior color, Brazilian modernist bedrooms are monochromatic: charcoal gray bedding and contemporary couches with subdued olive green accents and all natural materials — stone, linen, rattan, wood. (It’s soothing but a bit controversial: some guests love it, some don’t.) Depending on the location of the villa, guests can watch the sunrise or sunset sitting in the water outside the lagoon: either the pool of the villa, or the outdoor bathtub on the platform. For more water-based relaxation, guests can enjoy a watsu treatment at the resort’s Flow Spa. For inner relaxation, the solution of emotional obstacles or the reduction of pain, they can make an appointment with holistic healer/life coach Steve Harvey who is here as a guest practitioner until May 15; it is remarkable. Hopefully it will extend.

Art is the main focus here: rotating exhibitions take place in the Fari Art Studio, in which the works of artist Daniel Arsham are exhibited until June, after his residency at the complex in March. It is located in the area of ​​the island known as Fari Marina Village where boats leave from the dive center for snorkeling and diving trips, visit the yacht dock and the launch brings guests from the Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, another resort in the Fari Islands. development. (The A Capella resort is slated to open on a third island in 2024.)

A cluster of dining options, another resort, can also be found in this area, including the bustling Fari Beach Club with two Michelin star chef Nick Bril’s creations such as Tiger Prawn BBQ, Tapioca and Kaffir Salad, Puffed Black Grains and Bumbu Butte with a DJ. , the Lebanese/Indian restaurant Arabesque at the Ritz Carlton, and trucks dispensing gourmet burgers and ice cream (free for guests). Back in the central part of the resort, there are restaurants focusing on Greek, Pan-Asian, plant-based dishes, and a general international all-day menu. But the one I kept coming back to was the Veli Bar by the pool and beach for chef Sourav Kumar’s poke bowl, bursting with flavor and the islands’ supremely delicious tuna, a commonplace dish taken to a new level and the perfect to eat here.

Kuda Villingili Resort Maldives has a lower profile than others near the North Male Atoll. At first glance, the overall design isn’t as flashy as others in the Maldives (neutral, wood-panelled interiors enlivened by gold and green patterned rugs), but that’s negated by the sense of serenity you get here, even when the resort is packed, as it was when I was there, you rarely sense the presence of other guests. (And apparently more design changes and more overwater villa pools are coming.)

All in all, it has the necessary things you’d expect here – the beaches, the lagoon, boat trips to snorkeling spots, an excellent spa with trained therapists, and overwater bungalow treatment rooms . But it really stands out for the genuine friendliness and warmth of each staff member, as well as the management skills of personal butlers such as our manager Siyaadh, its unique water features – a 492-foot-long swimming pool, and proximity to Chicken’s Break, one of the best surf spots in the world and its restaurants. Many beach resorts offer a diversity of choices, but the restaurants here truly span the globe, from Italian to American steakhouse, Middle Eastern/Indian, European seafood, Korean. And the chefs, especially those who run East, the Thai restaurant, and Mar-Umi, the Peruvian-Japanese fusion, are said to be stars at their own independent restaurants.

Naladhu Private Island Maldives in the South Malé Atoll isn’t technically a new property, but after a six-month closure and a total overhaul, this version of the intimate island, unveiled late last year, ballast. Bright, light decor using Indonesian stone and Indonesian teak furnishings in a style described as modern colonial has been installed throughout the 13 Ocean Houses, six Beach Houses and one two-bedroom Beach Residence. Each of the 3,229-square-foot homes and 6,458-square-foot residence is self-contained with an expansive outdoor deck, dining area, and pool; the residence also has its own private beach of 20 meters.

Given the vast space, some guests choose to dine in their homes created by the chefs and overseen by personal butlers such as the sweet and meticulous Majda, our caretaker. But even as diners venture into the restaurant called The Living Room, flexibility is the tone of operation, from the 24-hour breakfast to ignoring the ambitious and extensive menu and asking the chef to cook everything. whatever they fancy, ranging from Italian, Singaporean, Indian, French and Maldivian. (I found it best to stay as local as possible though with grilled Maldivian lobster, an exceptional choice.)

Another addition to the renovation is the creation of a dedicated spa treatment room for a wide selection of body and facial treatments. For a more comprehensive treatment regimen, there is also a new program around nutritional therapist/naturopath Kelly Manning who can consult with clients or design a five or seven night health program called RESET to overcome issues such as stress, sleep difficulties, unhealthy eating habits, digestion, immunity, weight management, hormones, skin and blood sugar balance. This way, guests can come back from this serene place not only more relaxed but in much better shape.

How to get there: From the array of Qatar Airways planes lined up on the tarmac at Velana International Airport in Male, it looks like this airline is the best way to get there. And it really is. It’s a long trip from the US to Male – 17.5 hour flight from New York plus connecting time – but changing planes in Doha is a smooth and easy process and the spacious, comfortable, private Qsuites and closed airlines make the experience much more enjoyable. more pleasant. The culinary offerings, the completely flexible schedule allowing passengers to have their meals in any order and time and the service are also top notch.