Intimate and cocooned as a pearl glistening within its silvery-blue shell, Milaidhoo Maldives punches above its weight category. Whether it’s flawless take on barefoot luxury, stylish grass-thatched villas cooled by gentle salt-tinged sea breezes, or the soft healing botanicals at the Serenity Spa, this little corner of paradise is just what the doctor ordered. Lauren Ho checks in.
Review: Milaidhoo Maldives
Set on 13 acres of lush island vegetation and sand as soft as icing sugar – right in the midst of the pristine ecosystem of Baa Atoll’s stunning UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – Milaidhoo is that rare Maldivian resort that is celebrated as much for its otherworldly bounty of natural attractions, as it is for its deep roots in local island traditions and lifestyle.
As one would expect in this part of the world, the aquatic diversions are nothing short of sensational, but equally compelling are its spa treatments, and perfectly judged gastronomic offerings, including the only Maldivian restaurant in the Maldives.
It’s safe to say that the Maldives completely reinvented the idea of an island getaway. All the boxes are checked. Aquamarine waters as clear as cut diamonds, beaches as fluffy as powdered snow, and a horizon that magically merges sea and sky. Where Milaidhoo steals a march on its competitors is the ineffable quality of unfussy, kick-your-heels-up easiness that infuses its 50 private pool villas. The four villa categories offer a mix of villas either perched on stilts over the ocean or featuring direct beach access.
Hewing close to a mission of sustainability and responsibly sourced materials, a local Maldivian architect took charge of the resort’s design, opening all the rooms – elegantly dressed in light timber, wicker and blonde grass – to a swooning 180-degree view and the ever-present tug of the sea breeze.
A private wine fridge, soaking tub and outdoor shower, and citrus-scented Acqua De Parma toiletries are all de rigueur, as is a large private freshwater pool on the sundeck and a promise that you won’t be disturbed, unless you want to be.
The result is a distinct sense of place. There is no mistaking that the only place you could possibly be right now is a jewelled island in the Maldives, literally floating blissfully in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
All the difficult decisions like spa bookings and island excursions can be handled by the private butler, leaving you completely free to tackle the daily dilemma of whether to spend quality time dozing on the undhoali, the classic Maldivian swinging bed; jump into the silvery water for another close-up of the extravagantly coloured reef and fish; or, cut to the chase and just head out for a pre-prandial cocktail and then lunch.
At the Serenity Spa – an oil-scented Xanadu floating over the lagoon – downward dogs and seaweed wraps await, whilst more energetic members of the party may prefer to explore Milaidhoo’s splendid aquatic charms. The five-star PADI dive centre is the starting point for the island’s house reef, or else, the butler could sort out a visit to nearby Hanifaru Bay, a protected sweep that not only attracts the largest seasonal groupings of manta rays in the world, but which is also the perfect spot to cavort with whale sharks.
It hardly needs noting that dining is one of Milaidhoo’s touchstones, the resort, as bijou as it is, featuring two bars and three restaurants – meaning that at any given time of the day or night, there is always an impeccably mixed drink or a tempting meal waiting.
The kitchens focus on food with the clean, light flavours of seasonal cooking, whether the beachfront Shoreline Grill where barefoot informality meets the cooked-to-order fresh fish at the teppanyaki table, or the fusion Mediterranean and Asian menu at Ocean Restaurant.
The resort’s marquee attraction is Ba’theli. Here, floating over the mirror-flat lagoon in a restaurant shaped like the dhoni – a traditional Maldivian sailing boat drifting towards the horizon – the kitchen is proudly Maldivian. The first gourmet fine dining Maldivian cuisine restaurant in the Maldives, Ba’theli’s menu is moored in the simple flavours and ingredients of an island-based cuisine, its generations-old recipes gently reinterpreted for the millennial tastebud.
THE FINAL WORD
Whether its world-class restaurants and spa, the quality of its water-based diversions, or its troop of discretely trained butlers, Milaidhoo is, on every metric, a luxury Maldivian resort. However, its brand of luxury is firmly on the quiet side, one that makes room for the simple, unalloyed pleasures of island life. That, and a clear-eyed devotion to the idea that less is always so much more.
Receive up to 15% off accommodation, saving up to £859 per person.
Inspiring Travel Company offers a seven-night holiday from £6,795 per person based on 2 adults sharing a Water Pool Villa for 7 nights on a half board basis including return economy class flights with Emirates from London Heathrow and shared seaplane transfers. inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk / 01244 435198
Valid for travel completed by 10 January 2023. Book 60-90 days in advance required for travel from 1 October 2022. Price based on 16 Sep 2022 departure.