Review: Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
The legendary LVMH resort pairing French l’art de vivre with a Maldivian setting continues to set itself apart with newly enhanced island experiences says Lauren Hill.
Review: Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
Cheval Blanc’s Maldivian Maison brings the stylish architecture of Jean-Michel Gathy together with fine dining, bespoke experiences introducing you to the surrounding environment and a spa offering the Maldives’ only Guerlain wellness rituals. White sand shores, tropical flora and impossibly turquoise water provide the mesmerising backdrop for it all.
Each cathedral-like overwater and beach villa— or a combination of the two, half overwater and half on land—comes filled with an array of contemporary art, design accents in rattan, bamboo and coconut shell that reference the resort’s natural surroundings and a palette of taupe, grey and white complemented with bright yellow touches. Each villa is fitted with every amenity you could wish for and permeated with the Island Chic scent François Demachy, the nose of Christian Dior, created for the property. Floor-to-ceiling windows lead out to an expansive terrace with generously sized infinity pool while also providing uninterrupted views over the Indian Ocean. To top it off, a butler is on hand at all times.
This secluded resort, located a 40-minute seaplane flight away from Malé in the Noonu Atoll, spans a total of six islands, which are connected by wooden boardwalks or accessed via the resort’s dhoni boat. This cluster of islets is the setting for 45 palatial villas, the Maison’s lavish restaurant and bar collection and newly added to amenities for both adventure and relaxation. One island is dedicated to the lush spa sanctuary, another to a yoga deck, boot camp and tennis courts, and another to an exclusive retreat offering the ultimate in privacy with just one four-bedroom villa.
Reflecting its French roots, Cheval Blanc places gastronomy at the heart of its hospitality offering. At Cheval Blanc Randheli, the culinary experience centres around five restaurants, from beach-side restaurant The White serving island-inspired creations and Italian overwater venue Deelani to the Japanese and Southeast Asian dining spot Diptyque and French fine dining restaurant, Le 1947. Light bites are served poolside at The White Bar or with a health-giving purpose at The Spa Bar. Private picnics and starlit dinners can be set up anywhere on the islands.
Named after Château Cheval Blanc’s most sought-after vintage, Le 1947 provides an especially memorable dining experience with 12 artfully presented courses incorporating the finest ingredients and served in a space distinguished by its high ceilings, white drapes and elegant table set-up beneath chandeliers. Diptyque is another highlight, offering a completely different dining experience with its counter seating where chefs prepare raw and cooked dishes right in front you. For a taste of more local cuisine, it’s worth joining the Indian Ocean night at The White restaurant where a set menu highlights specialties from across the Maldives and India in particular.
With an entire island dedicated to its spa, wellness is a significant part of many guests’ experience. After arriving on the jetty by one of the resort’s traditional Maldivian dhoni boats, guests are led into a high-ceilinged ocean-view arrival area facing onto the island’s private white sand beach. Paths wind through the lush greenery to each of the sanctuary’s ocean-facing single and double treatment rooms, as well as structures housing thermal facilities, two hammams, a yoga deck and orchidarium, with The Spa Bar and accompanying pool overlooking the water from the other side of the beach.
Complementing its menu of Guerlain treatments, the spa recently launched a new meditation and yoga retreat and is now set to introduce fully immersive wellness retreats, created in partnership with Guerlain, at the beginning of 2022. Each of these retreats will be tailored to the individual guest’s needs, combining a series of personalised treatments with yoga practice, meditation, mindfulness activities and wellness cuisine created by the resort’s chefs, wherever you are in the resort.
The Maison also enhanced its on-island activity offering this year by bringing in the Maldives’ first surf simulator and entirely redeveloping the kids’ club. Days here can be spent on the resort’s tennis courts, taking to the water with an array of the latest water toys and setting out on yacht excursions to see dolphins at sunset or snorkel and dive with the archipelago’s extraordinary marine life. Personalised experiences span everything from cinema under the stars to wine tasting and culinary masterclasses.
THE FINAL WORD
One of the Maldives’ most coveted island retreats is retaining its lofty status with the creation of new experiences that stay true to the Maison’s flawless hospitality philosophy.
Rooms start from $2,700 per night. chevalblanc.com
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