BEST FOR: SPA
COCOA ISLAND Voted best hotel spa in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean in this year’s Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards, Cocoa Island is the go-to resort for spa aficionados. The whole island is effortlessly chic with a neutral, natural vibe. Locally-sourced thatching and bleached driftwood blends seamlessly into the surroundings and there’s none of the bling-a-ding-ding of other big name resorts.
The spa is a cut above. Offering a full-on authentic Ayurvedic programme, a hydrotherapy pool, four treatment rooms (including one for couples), steam rooms and a gym, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to rinse out the pollution and restore your energy levels. Treatments include deep tissue, ayurvedic and detoxifiying routines, plus facials and cleansing baths.
Must do: Free yoga or pilates classes every evening in an open-air seaside pavilion.
Wellbeing Escapes offers a seven-night full board ‘Chill out at Cocoa’ package from £3,600 per person. Price is based on two people sharing and includes: 1hr private yoga class, 1hr private Pranayama (breathing class); 1hr Purify Holistic facial; 1hr Como Shambhala Massage and 1hr Indian Head Massage. Flights with Emirates and transfers are included. Valid from Jul-Oct.
BEST FOR: DO-ERS
SHANGRI-LA VILLINGILI RESORT AND SPA Shangri-La is eight minutes by speedboat from Gan International Airport, which is handy if you have access to a private jet. It also means there’s something to see and do beyond the gates of the resort. Gan is the second most populated island in the Maldives, originally established as a military base for the Royal Navy. Grab your camera and stroll around town for a taste of traditional Maldivian village life, stopping in at local cafés, or watch and wait as fishermen reel in the catch of the day. Gan is also connected to five neighbouring islands via a series of causeways, so you can bikeride a distance of 17km, before pedalling all the way back to your villa door for a kiwi cooler and a lie down.
Within the resort, book one the 16 tree house villas, purely for novelty factor. Perched on stilts among the treetops with elevated infinity pools, they make for a much more original Maldives experience – with slightly better views.
Must do: Have lunch on the equator, 75km north of the resort, aboard Shangri-La’s private yacht. www.shangri-la.com
Seasons in Style is offering seven nights from £2,295 per person including accommodation in a Pool Villa with private pool, half-board, BA flights and transfers. Valid until 15 October based on two sharing.
BEST FOR: ROMANCE
NALADHU Kate Moss checks in to Naladhu when city living gets too much. With just 19 colonial-style guesthouses on the island, it is tiny and exclusive – you could call it the Hamptons of the Maldives. Opt for an Ocean House on the exposed side of the island – these have huge decks with swing-beds protruding over the booming, foaming ocean surf, perfect for cosying up on. Each house is kitted out with state-of-the-art entertainment gizmos, coffee machines and walk-in wardrobes. Best of all is the genius bathroom set-up: Think spa garden. Oversized stone baths are set at eye level with your infinity pool and the vast ancient blue beyond.
Occasionally, you’ll spot Naladhu’s private yacht letting down its sail on the horizon, but otherwise you have complete and utter privacy. Meals are served in a palm-tree shaded area just off the beach called the Living Room, which really does feel like home. Managers Chris and Elmeene can be found most mornings, barefoot in linens, setting a thoroughly relaxed loved-up tone.
Must do: Take an evening sail across the still water in a traditional dhoni with a bottle of champers. www.naladhu.com
Seven nights from £3,170 including BA flights from Gatwick, accommodation, breakfast and transfers, during the month of September with BA. (www.ba.com/maldives or call 0844 493 0758).
BEST FOR: WOW FACTOR
W RETREAT & SPA “Whatever you want, whenever you want it” doesn’t even go half way to describing the luxury afforded at this trendy, modern resort. Imaginatively designed villas boast plunge pools with winking star lights, sexy oversized circular daybeds and glass floors lit from beneath at night so you needn’t miss out on the subterranean action.
Book the top-notch two-bedroom Ocean Haven with floor-to-ceiling sliding windows if you’re looking to impress, although you can’t go far wrong with a standard room – all of them have signature W beds (best sleep ever?), lagoon access, Bose sound systems and plasma TVs.
The real style statement is made outdoors. Funky dhow-inspired white sunshades give the whole place a sort of breezy marqueed Sydney opera-house look. The over-water spa has a drop-dead gorgeous outdoor treatment area, so it’s worth booking in a few massages, facials or private yoga sessions in between sunning sessions.
At night, the resort is buzzing; cocktails flow (95 varieties of vodkas are stashed behind the bar) and international DJs work up sweat for the glossy posse. Grab an alcove and keep things on the down low, or hit the dance floor: your holiday, your choice. Just keep it chic.
Must do: An overnight scuba diving trip to hammerhead shark point. www.starwoodhotels.com.
Seven nights from £2,765 per person including flights, transfers and breakfast in a Beach Oasis with Abercrombie and Kent (www.abercrombiekent.co.uk)