The Luxe List 2014:Â Cheval Blanc Randheli, Noonu Atoll, Maldives
This five-island complex in the northeasterly Noonu Atoll is the rare resort that actually lives up to its much-hyped reputation, beginning with the taupe calf-leather interiors of the seaplane that transports guests here from Male. More wow factor awaits in the 45 villas, which begin at a spacious 130 square meters and feature soaring pitched roofs, private gardens, 12.5-meter infinity pools, and gorgeous interiors that designer Jean-Michel Gathy has outfitted in cinnamon wood, rattan, and coconut shell. Following breakfasts of French pastries and dolphin watching, guests can have their personal â€śmajordomeâ€ť and â€śalchemistâ€ť (thatâ€™s Cheval Blancâ€“speak for butlers and concierges, and theyâ€™re among the best in the archipelago) arrange their dayâ€™s activities, be it diving expeditions, a game of tennis, sandbank picnics, or treatments at the spa, which occupies an island of its own and is accessible via a traditional dhoni sailboat. Come dinnertime, thereâ€™s freshly caught fish sliced into sashimi at the sleek beachfront White restaurant, or, at the overwater eatery helmed by Maldivian chef Abdulla Shaan, an exquisite prawn curry or perfectly grilled lobster.
960/656-1515; Cheval Blanc Randheli; doubles from US$1,300