Tourism

Hotel Insider: One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives

Aerial view, One&Only Reethi Rah

The staff will never tell, but the clientele at the One&Only Reethi Rah reportedly includes the Victoria and David Beckham clan as well as Gordon and Tatiana Ramsey and their brood, on repeat. We get an inside peek into one of the most luxurious getaways in the Maldives.

The welcome

I am met at Male’s Velana International Airport by staffer Hussein, who ushers me to one of three boats used to ferry passengers to the One&Only Reethi Rah – a gorgeous 75-foot SunSeeker. The seas are incredibly choppy, but the size and heft of the vessel smooth the ride. On board, there is Wi-Fi, refreshments, a bathroom and two bedrooms, in case you need a nap. Several hotel staff, including Naz, my personal butler, meet me as the boat arrives. I am informed we are on “island time”, which is one hour ahead of the capital. I am given a chilled towel to freshen up before the short buggy ride to my room.

The neighbourhood

Reethi Rah, which means “beautiful island” in Dhivehi, is about a 45-minute boat trip away from Male and as with all the 1,400 islands, it is a getaway in a world all its own. But unlike some of the smaller varieties, the 44-hectare stretch is anything but claustrophobic. It’s massive and it’s completely possible to get lost – as I do several times. There are bicycles at each villa for exploring and other islands dotting the horizon. And, of course, those sandy white beaches and impossibly blue and green waters stretching as far as the eye can see.

The scene

With this being one of the most, if not the most, luxurious resorts in the Maldives, it’s hard not to scrutinise the other guests and eavesdrop on their conversations for outward signs of mogul-like success. And while many guests are in the age category one might expect, with the casual uniform of the uber rich – walking shorts and loose long-sleeved shirts on men, beautiful caftans, floppy hats and designer sunnies on the ladies (and the staff, too) – there are also a few young, fun-loving and tattooed couples cavorting in the sea and enjoying the Reethi Bar. The resort clearly caters to children – they have their own village and pool – but is by no means overrun by them. I hear just one child’s cry in my time there, over breakfast.

The room

My 135-square-metre Beach Villa is more private residence than a room. Outside there is a postcard-worthy swath of private-seeming beach, my own pool, rain shower, hammock, couch and assortment of chairs and loungers, all protected from my neighbours by a suitable distance and lush, tropical greenery. Inside is a delight: a high wooden A-frame ceiling, giant bedroom and bathroom with an impossibly deep tub. I marvel at the most exquisite makeup table I’ve ever seen. Even some of the nicest hotels seem unable to place a hair dryer in a location convenient for actual blow drying, but this hideaway-style table makes it work. Inside there is even a tiny refrigerator for luxe creams. The clothing cupboard seems made for giants until I spot a handy stick dangling from the rack. When pulled, it brings the entire rack out into the room and down to eye level.

The service

The service at Reethi Rah is impeccable. Naz gives me a mobile with her number programmed into it, calls to remind me of things throughout my stay and seems to appear at the most random of times, particularly at meals. Every single time I call for a buggy the arrival is almost instantaneous. And during a full day of torrential rain, I am offered dinner in my villa, ushered in plastic-covered buggies and covered with an umbrella. We have a gorgeous snorkelling turtle adventure with the resort’s resident marine biologist, Georgie, spotting at least a half-dozen of the local hawks back turtles (US$115 [Dh422]). After relaxing into it, I zone out during a 60-minute WatSu treatment ($190 [Dh698]). During the treatment, I am given leg floats and a therapist basically cradles my upper body, stretching and moving it through the water. I enjoy a private yoga class ($145 [Dh533]) and complementary expert instruction in pranayama, or breathing techniques, from Virendra, conducted in the most stunning setting imaginable, the resort’s Chi Pavilion.

The food

The food is generally great, if astronomically expensive, even for the Maldives. In addition to a full buffet, there are so many options – healthy and otherwise – on the breakfast menu it’s hard to compute. Caviar, prawns, lobster and truffles are ordinary pairings for eggs here and I count eight signature Reethi coffees, including Elderflower Cappucino and Gingerbread Latte. I am a big fan of the #MyOOsuperfoods bar and choose an anti-aging bowl: avocado, chlorella, kale, lemon skin, orange juice, red radish and spinach. The day I arrive I lunch at Reethi Bar on an exquisite dish of fresh rocket pesto and burrata pasta ($40 [Dh146]). Dinner at Reethi Restaurant is less satisfying; the Tsarskaya oysters ($46 [Dh169]) are fresh and delicious but the roasted scallops ($36 [Dh132]) are lost in a gloopy mixture of mashed celery and citrus-vanilla white butter sauce. An ocean-side five-course bespoke dinner at Tapasake’s ocean-side Teppanyaki ($275 [Dh1,010] per person) – this must be arranged in advance – is so outstanding it deserves its own review. I’m still dreaming of chef de cuisine Ahmed Jameel’s unagi Foie gras with a sweet miso sauce. Fanditha, the Arabic restaurant, is closed for renovations during my stay but is due to open later this year.

Loved

Riding a bike around the island, the makeup table and a beach so beautiful it almost didn’t seem real.

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