The Maldives: two words that conjure up images of crystal-clear waters, soft white sand, palm trees, coconuts, sunshine, and just about everything you can expect from a luxury tropical destination. Yes, the idea of the Maldives is nothing new – we’ve all seen the pictures, we’ve all turned green with envy at the Instagram posts, and we all know what to expect. But what is new is The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort.
Hidden away in the Baa Atoll – which has been designated a UNESCO ‘Biosphere Reserve’ and supports one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean – the resort occupies one of the smallest islands in the nation. Translation: 14 acres of actual heaven on earth. It may be small and it may be new, but the property is already making waves in the Maldives. One Savoir Flair editor found out why.
When it comes to a tropical vacay, the Maldives has everything you could possibly want. What’s even better is that it’s less than four hours away from Dubai. After a quick refresh in Malé (where The Westin will soon have its own private lounge), it was all-aboard the seaplane for a quick 30-minute flight over to the island. Gliding over the turquoise sea through clear, blue skies, it was no time before the daily stresses of looming deadlines and lunch decisions (it’s a thing) evaporated from my mind. Until we hit a spot of turbulence, that is – and I spotted the barefoot pilot scrolling through his cell phone, undoubtedly posting a pic of the incredible ocean below. #goals
After landing at The Westin’s welcome jetty – where I was greeted with Maldivian smiles aplenty and a refreshing beverage crammed full of local spices and herbs – I was whisked off to my overwater villa for check-in. Oh, there’s no lobby or reception desk here, darling. Accompanying me was my personal thakaru (that’s concierge to us), Ibrahim. He essentially became my very own fairy godmother, offering me paracetamol during a particularly bad bout of cramps, organizing both my activities and restaurant bookings, and assuring me on a rather stormy night that no overwater villa had ever toppled over into the water.
Now I know what you’re thinking. An overwater villa in the Maldives? How original. But I promise, this one’s a game-changer. Get those images of thatched huts out of your head, as The Westin has revolutionized the overwater abode as we know it. A chic, modern interpretation designed by award-winning architects, it features a domed roof (inspired by turtles emerging from the sea) that helps regulate the temperature and keep rooms cool.
In fact, all elements of the resort’s design are inspired by its environment and the ocean – from the jetty made to resemble clamshells and waves to the main restaurant’s circular staircase that made me feel like I was walking through a shell. If you’re lucky enough to fly directly over the resort, you’ll even notice that it’s shaped like a fish.
But back inside, where it’s all clean lines, white walls, smooth woods, and contemporary touches. There’s an in-room citrus press (complete with fresh oranges) so you can whip up your own morning juice, a high-tech Japanese toilet that has more settings than your iPhone, and a bluetooth sound system to ensure you have the perfect vacation soundtrack playing 24/7. There’s also an enormous bathtub, an even bigger bed, and both indoor and outdoor rain showers – because why not? The villas also feature modular walls so you can create smaller, more intimate spaces or have everything open and airy.
Speaking of open and airy: I soaked up the rays on a sun lounger from my terrace, cooled off in an incredible infinity pool, stepped down a ladder directly into the azure sea, and indulged in a shower under the stars. It was all perfectly private. There was nothing as far as the eye could see – just me, the sea, and over 1,200 species of marine life. Don’t be surprised if a dolphin pops by to say hello once you’re there.
For those who say that there’s nothing to do in the Maldives but laze around on a beach, this is the place to bust that myth. In fact, there’s so much to see and do, despite being on such a tiny island – your sun lounger might not get as much action as you’d like. For the more active, there’s a tennis court, a beachside infinity pool, an overwater yoga deck, and a state-of-the-art gym that hosts daily exercise classes ranging from Pilates to boxing. And, no, forgetting your workout gear is no excuse. The Westin has partnered up with New Balance to offer guests sportswear and trainers throughout their stay.
Adrenaline-seekers, meanwhile, will find respite at the incredible watersports center that offers countless activities and excursions, including diving, snorkeling with whale sharks, and sunset dolphin cruises. Go big-game fishing, and your catch will be cooked up for dinner that same day. Prefer a more hands-on approach? You could give a sushi-making masterclass or a cooking session on local curries a try. There’s even a well-stocked library with a book collection that bibliophiles would lust over.
But if you’re anything like me, the point of a beach break is to do nothing. Enter: Heavenly Spa by Westin. Perched on stilts at the end of a wooden jetty, this aptly named sanctuary is where you can indulge in a Balinese massage, guided meditation session, or purifying body wrap. If lying on a cloud-like treatment bed over a glass-bottomed floor with nothing but the sound of lapping waves and soft instrumental music doesn’t personify bliss, I don’t know what will.
And after all that snorkeling and/or spa-ing, some good food is just the ticket – and that’s where The Westin really shines. With three restaurants headed up by executive chef Jason Millar – who has worked for the likes of Raymond Blanc – you know that your taste buds are in for a treat. For the freshest sushi imaginable in a chic overwater setting, dine at the resort’s signature Japanese restaurant, The Pearl. Whether it’s pretty plates of sashimi or a more indulgent seven-course tasting menu you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.
Then there’s Hawker, which is situated right on the sand and home to dishes inspired by Asian street food. Two words: soft-shell crab. It’s the stuff foodie dreams are made of. For all-day dining and a menu boasting everything you could possibly want – from pastas and pizzas to freshly caught fish, vegan salads, and hearty steaks – Island Kitchen awaits. I made my way through almost every dish on offer (all in the name of research, of course), and its impeccably high standard didn’t slip once.
Another thing I found seriously impressive was the resort’s forward-thinking approach to being eco-friendly. In today’s day and age, it isn’t enough to just look good – you have to do good, too, and this is something taken very seriously by The Westin. Thanks to its bid to entirely eliminate single-use plastic, you won’t find a plastic bottle anywhere on the island. Instead, drinking water (filtered in-house via a high-tech desalination system) is served in reusable glass bottles.
The entire resort was built with sustainability in mind, from the use of carefully selected materials to flat roofs that are home to solar panels. With time, The Westin hopes to use these spaces to grow fruits and veggies hydroponically. And, no, that isn’t marble adorning the bathroom – it’s ceramic, which is much more sustainable than marble and stone, but doesn’t compromise on aesthetics. The outdoor decking is all timber from controlled forestation areas – much more earth-friendly than endangered teakwood, which is normally used. Meanwhile, the dive center is made from repurposed shipping containers that were used to bring over sustainable building materials, and there’s an on-site recycling facility.
And that’s just the word I would use to sum up The Westin as a whole: impressive. Despite offering so much and embarking on a number of conservation projects, it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the small touches. You’ll find complimentary SPF30 sun cream (free of nasties, of course) by the main pool and in your villa. You’ll be treated to a glass jar full of sweet treats, from freshly baked biscuits to chewy granola bites, each night. You’ll find an all-natural lavender balm to help send you off to the land of nod by your bed. And let’s give due credit to the staff, who greet guests by name and remember how they like their morning coffee.
This really is where wellness meets luxury.
For more information or to book a stay at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, click here.