Where to begin with the LUX* North Male Atoll? Tour 2019 came back so many candidate “Best of the Maldives” features for LUX that it’s hard to choose. Maybe just start at the top. And I do mean tippy top. With a crowning distinction which plays to a long loved aspect of mine when resorts find a way to highlight this defining characteristic of the Maldives – vistas.
From the moment your flight approaches the Maldives archipelago, you are mesmerized by the expansive vista of blues spreading out beneath you across the ocean. Unfortunately, with a destination known for its diminutive elevation, most views of this aqua-coloured dreamscape are are obliquely cast across the surface. Just getting a bit of elevation can extend and enrich the panorama of blue pantones before you.
I’ve long had a “Vistas” as a “Best Of” category tag, and LNMA provided several to add to that collection. In fact, the vista is one of the central design tenets of the entire property. Every single villa is architected around an open rooftop deck with king-sized loungers for lying back to gaze with equal comfort and wonder at the waters below or the heavens above. They even have a name for this area – your “Sky Lounge”. You can have dinner served there (including an open-air BBQ), have a film under the stars projected there, or just sit and enjoy the 360 degree scenery.
But its not just your villa where you can enjoy the vertical perspective. The INTI restaurant is situated on a second floor with a completely open view of the pool and beyond. The Café LUX coffee shop sits upstairs looking over the ocean. Even the kids club offers a raised floor with a view.
LUX North Male Atoll just raised the bar on enjoying Maldives ‘ spectacular vistas.
“The bubble tent concept is being elevated to a whole new level in the Maldives this year, as luxury resort trendsetter Amilla Fushi debuts its new Skyhouse with Bubble accommodation –tranquil treetop eyries with their own private transparent Bubble, breathtakingly suspended 12 metres up between a canopy of lush palms and the vast Maldivian skies…Encircled by swaying palms, and measuring 4 metres in diameter, the Bubble’s interior will feature custom-fitted wooden floors, a rotating daybed, telescope, Bang & Olufsen soundsystem and bespoke furnishings. A removable cover provides solar protection during the day – and come nightfall, unfettered views of the star-studded heavens above…Conceived and custom-designed by Eye In The Sky, the transparent inflatable Bubbles are constructed with super-strong, high tech polyester fabric using exclusive Précontraint Serge Ferrari® technology. UV-protected, fully waterproof and climate-controlled, the Bubbles create an inspiring environment where guests can enjoy a uniquely immersive, closer-to-nature experience – without compromising on high-spec design and luxurious creature comforts.”
To get as close to somewhere over the rainbow as possible (and other celestial sights), Soneva Fushi sets a new highwater, well high in the air, mark for an open vista platform. Recently completed its latest villa, the five-bedroom Villa 37. The 11 metre tall viewing tower, reached by a winding staircase encircles a dining table called the Moonlight Table at the summit. This viewing tower is now the tallest point on the island and the ideal spot to take in the panoramic views, sunrises, sunsets, dining experiences and stargazing.
Now you can taste Dom Perignon among the stars. On Anantara Kihavah’s new rooftop observatory and bar:
“Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has taken the wraps off its new SKY overwater observatory, which combines a luxury cocktail bar, a resident story-telling ‘Sky Guru’ and its very own telescope.”
Kihavah has extended the ultimate bottom-to-top vista to the heavens now including the most exquisite wines to accompany every concourse. And even if you have cloudy night, you can enjoy your sparkling wines under a sparkling firmament in the bar with a luminous ceiling display of constellations (see photo at bottom).
If you can’t build out, then build up. Given the limitations of real estate in the Maldives, I always wondered why there weren’t more multi-story buildings there. The higher levels also have the added benefits of providing a vantage point over the mottled maritime mosaic that surrounds every island.
But an increasing number of Presidential villas and palatial super-premiums do come in multi-story in recent years. In fact, I would hazard that a second floor is almost becoming standard fare in the super luxe category.
Still, you don’t need an elevated budget to get an elevated view. A number of value-priced resorts also offer upper level rooms in the form of duplexes (eg. Bandos, Club Med Kani, Kandooma). And if you really want not just a room, but a whole resort, “with a view, then the entire Club Rannalhi has an lofty vibe to the whole property. Everything two stories it seems – reception, dive centre, spa, rooms, some of the new water villas. Even the theatre has raked seating.
Maybe the best place for the Coco York’s next gig is the musically themed, blues enveloped “The Piano” deck. But curiously, this aquatic oasis’ name comes form its shape, not its function…
“For those who dream of being alone with their partner in a uniquely romantic setting, Baros Maldives has introduced two fantastic experiences. The choice is dinner or a massage as the sun sets, the stars twinkle and the moon glows, on a deck isolated in the middle of a sparkling lagoon. This exotic lagoon fantasy is possible at the newest addition to the delights of Baros Maldives, The Piano. The Piano is a small wooden deck, poised above the translucent waters of the lagoon. This deck is shaped like a grand piano and is available for couples who want to be alone. The only sound is the natural music of splashing waves and the whisper of the caressing breeze.”
For a country whose highest natural elevation is no higher than your average stoop, the few places where you can get some height is a real rarity. The seascape is so uniquely exquisite, but the sea-level topology precludes much of an expansive vista overlooking it. This is why the sea plane transfers are such a special treat providing that breathtaking perspective that eludes the beachside gaze. I’m a big fan of Kandooma’s tower and whenever I am in Male I always stop by Traders’ roof top Azure lounge.
While not open for another couple of weeks, Velaa has started to post pictures of its ravishing new resort online including a number of shots of the surreal Tavaru Tower…
“Tavaru houses a Teppanyaki restaurant and makes up the centerpiece of the island: a visually striking ivory-white tower where live cooking and Velaa’s extensive wine cellar take center stage.”
The biggest of the underwater rooms in the Maldives extends it to more than a meal or treatment. It is being used for dining, dancing, functions like weddings (see picture below) and special events like wine tastings…
“View and savour the Indian Ocean’s abundance of marine life by descending into a connoisseur journey at the underwater restaurant and wine cellar, ‘Sea’, where guests are indulged with exquisite degustation menus or classic creations and tempted by the resident Wine Sommelier’s perfect accompaniments from a vast array of new and old world selections. Oenophiles will delight in the impressive underwater wine cellar, featuring one of the most balanced and diverse wine collections in the Maldives with over 6,500 bottles and 320 labels from 14 countries. 22 labels are available by the glass and regular tasting sessions offer guests a tantalising journey through the vineyards of the world.”
Sort of a new dimension to going ‘down below’ to see the wine cellar and literally taking special occasions to the next ‘level’.
Aside from a Red Bull infusion (and Vettel is in pole position), a sea plane transfer or a parasailing excursion, the best way to ‘get wings’ in the Maldives is Kandooma’s various decks. The whole aesthetic of the Maldives is ‘low lying’. Maximum of elevation of a few feet and simple structures. Increasingly, resorts are looking to provide new perspectives with higher constructions. Anantara Kihavah, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, and Vadoo are just a few of the resorts with rooftop decks to provide a broader view of the spectacular surrounding ocean.
But the highest, outside of Male itself, is Kandooma’s architecture. I’ve already written about its library which itself is location on the upper floor or reception with its own delightful vista over the arrival harbour. The resort is chock full of 2-story villas with decks looking out over the ocean. It also has a rooftop deck over its The Kitchen restaurant. But the literally towering achievement is its rooftop deck (see photo above) to its aptly named ‘The Deck’.
Lori and I sat on the cosy bean bag chairs sipping mojitos watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean. Bottoms up.