By Henrik Jeppesen.
I have visited every country in the world, and one of the countries I think about the most is the Maldives. It’s one of the countries that have made the strongest impression on me, given me some of my best memories and the number one country I would like to visit with my wife after I got married in 2020.
I have stayed at approximately 60 private island resorts in the Maldives, a country I also consider one of the most beautiful in the world because of its gorgeous archipelago with stunning islands and pristine beaches. There are approximately 1,200 islands in the Maldives, but only about 200 of them are inhabited.
I have visited several local islands, but what really fascinated me about the Maldives is world-class private island resorts. In this article, I am sharing a top 10 among the approximately 60 resorts I have stayed.
I normally prefer smaller resorts, but sometimes bigger resorts can impress in other areas than privacy and exclusivity. LUX* South Ari Atoll feels like a well-managed chain hotel. I actually liked it more than Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which twice has been voted ‘Best Hotel in the World’ according to their website.
LUX* has professional service, beautiful contemporary villas, overall good food and great facilities. A downside might be that it’s a big island and it might take a lot longer getting between your villa and the public areas than on other islands.
LUX* is one of the more affordable top resorts of the Maldives, and when I compare the other Maldivan resorts I have stayed I would say it’s excellent value for money, especially in the summer.
From big to small. COMO Cocoa Island has only 33 villas which all are water villas, and it makes a difference. The design and attention to detail are impressive. The service is great, and the food is comparable with the best places I’ve stayed in the Maldives.
One of the downsides of the Maldives is often that the food disappoints. It’s hard for resorts to hire top chefs who can exceed the expectations of discerning travellers. In the Maldives, I have never experienced Michelin-starred level food, but I can avoid getting frustrated when the food reaches a good standard. COMO Cocoa Island did very well, and because of that, I have included it in this top 10 list.
Huvafen Fushi is known for having the first and only underwater spa in the world. That was an experience to see and a plus, but the resort delivered a world-class experience in other areas as well. Excellent service, great food by Maldivian standards and very good villas, although they are not among the best in the Maldives.
Constance is a chain of resorts, with the Halaveli property being the best, in my opinion. Good food, great service and a fantastic villa. I also stayed at their other Maldivian island resort called Moofushi. I, however, liked Halaveli more, mainly because of their water villas which I consider among the best in the Maldives.
The water villa had a pool on the balcony, a bathroom with a freestanding bathtub, a double sink and a rain shower.
Six Senses is perhaps my number one favourite hotel chain in the world. They are consistently great with their unique design and standards. Six Senses Laamu has fantastic villas with a stunning, minimalistic wooden design. I have stayed overnight at both a water villa and a beach villa, and both experiences were fantastic.
Some of the highlights of the experience are the ‘no news – no shoes’ concept, bikes for each villa, unlimited homemade ice cream, good food, great service, attention to detail and of course stunning beaches.
I have stayed at approximately 40 Four Seasons properties, and it is one of the best hotel chains in the world for sure. They have consistently high standards at almost all of their properties, whereas only a few city hotels have disappointed me. Their resorts are a different story. Some of my favourite hotels belong to the Four Seasons chain, such as Four Seasons Resort Sayan in Bali and Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahiti.
On one of my trips to the Maldives, I also experienced the Four Seasons Explorer, a luxury cruise managed by Four Seasons, which was a lovely experience. Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa is a lovely resort with some of the best food in the Maldives based on my experience, professional service, attention to details and Four Seasons standards. The resort is close to Malé, so you don’t need a seaplane to reach this resort.
I probably wouldn’t have ranked this as high as I have done if this wasn’t the first world-class resort I stayed in the Maldives. I stayed at Vivanta by Taj before staying at W, but it was on a completely different level than the fantastic W with its ultra-contemporary design, great service, good food and amazing villas. I stayed in a water villa with a bathtub, rain shower, double sink, outdoor shower and a pool on the balcony.
This resort left a long-lasting impression on me and this photo, which I took from the seaplane after the departure, is one of my favourites from the Maldives.
Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru is much further away from Malé than Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. A seaplane is needed to reach the property unless you come on a private yacht or book a room on the Four Seasons Explorer. I travelled from Kuda Huraa to Landaa Giraavaru on the Explorer, and it is a recommended experience, although it is not the best value for money.
Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru is a world-class resort that is well-managed with excellent, huge villas. I stayed in one with a private swimming pool, which probably is the biggest I have ever had to myself. Finally, it’s worth mentioning the great food and their beautiful spa on an extraordinarily beautiful island. The very best Four Seasons experience in the Maldives might, however, be the Four Seasons Private Island Resort. This seven-bedroom resort is the world’s first exclusive-use UNESCO hideaway and such luxury comes with a high price tag.
2. Soneva Fushi
Soneva Eco-Luxury Resorts & Experiences is one of the most luxurious hotel chains in the world. Besides Soneva Fushi, I have also experienced Soneva Kiri in Thailand, which I also consider a world-class resort and one of my favourites.
On Soneva Fushi, the attention to details is impressive with fantastic butler service, some of the best food in the Maldives, a superb spa and a lovely eco-friendly concept similar to Six Senses and Gili Lankanfushi.
Gili Lankanfushi is my number one because of their extraordinary attention to detail in every aspect of the experience. The design and the fantastic huge, eco-friendly water villas are the highlights and the food and service are among the best I have experienced in the Maldives. It’s a water villa-only resort, so if you are looking for beach villas with the same kind of concept, Soneva Fushi would be a better choice.
Tips for the Maldives
The weather is unpredictable in the Maldives, but during my research, I found out that there is actually less rain in July than in December, but the rates are generally much lower in July. Some deals are fantastic value for money when you consider how fantastic the experience could be.
That said, there is a higher risk of rain in July than in January, February, March and April, but then comes July with much lower rates and usually a much easier period to travel for many people.
The Maldives is a very expensive destination, and it is simply not affordable for many people, even if booking a special deal in the low season. So how can you make it affordable? It is where Sri Lanka comes in.
Sri Lanka is a fantastic country and one of the cheapest in the world to travel in. The people are very hospitable, and there is a lot to see. To have a once-in-a-lifetime Maldivian experience, you don’t need to spend two weeks on a private island, but to have that special experience of the Maldives, I highly recommend booking a resort of a high standard.
By standard, it is not enough to have 5-star, because the quality varies a lot of the 5-star resorts and some of them I wouldn’t like to stay at again. I helped my cousin and his wife with a combined Maldives/Sri Lanka trip, and it is definitely highly recommended. I would recommend 3-5 nights at a top resort in the Maldives to have that ultimate experience, and then spend the rest of your holiday in Sri Lanka to keep the budget down a lot.
With some airlines, you can select a Multi-City option on their website so you, instead of booking a round trip, can do the following:
- Arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
- Enjoy ten days of adventure travel, for example.
- Finish by flying to the Maldives one way.
- Enjoy four nights at a world-class resort and then fly home.
Need help finding the right resort in the Maldives for you?
Maybe the Maldives is a dream destination for you, but you want to do it right. I might be able to help if you email info ( at ) everycountryintheworld.com with a recommendation for a great resort depending on your budget.