Spanning three islands, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is a floating tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean. Surrounded by scenic waters, it’s home to lavish overwater villas, treetop restaurants, and even a private island within the resort. Beyond its extravagant perks, it is most notable for its warm and impeccable service. This quality earned the hotel its first Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star accolade in the recently unveiled 2022 Star Awards.
Here are our top reasons why you should check into one of the newest five star hideaways in the Maldives:
The Waldorf Astoria offers a luxurious alternative to the small seaplane required for most remote resorts in the Maldives. Set sail in style from Male’s Velana International Airport aboard the resort’s private yacht (additional cost). The final leg of your long voyage to the island nation will be effortless in the comfort of the air-conditioned master cabin or on a spacious deck as you tuck into sandwiches and cupcakes and sip champagne.
Book the entire ship or share the transfer with other resort guests. Even if you opt for the latter, you’ll still enjoy privacy by claiming one of the wood-lined cabins, where you can rest in a plush bed during the 45-minute journey.
Crane your neck to discover seven large nests perched high in the treetops. But it’s not for the birds. Handcrafted bamboo nests serve as coveted outdoor dining areas for Terra Restaurant. The unique setting atop palm fronds and other lush greenery makes for a romantic meal.
The seven-course gourmet menu is equally memorable with artfully composed dishes like Maldivian lobster with miso butter, burnt leek, glazed edamame, lobster bisque mousse, ponzu gel and beluga caviar. Nests fill up quickly, so be sure to book ahead.
You’ll feel instantly at home at this spa, whether you’re strolling the long lawn to the yoga pavilion overlooking the ocean or stepping into one of its 10 treatment villas, some of which are on stilts. . The service offer is vast, but the experience of hydrotherapy is unavoidable. It trumps the usual hot tub-dive-sauna-steam circuit with a custom-built 2,906-square-foot outdoor pool with stations including jet baths, air jets, shower jets and more. The stations have different intensity levels to relieve muscle tension and stimulate the immune system and circulation. It unrolls knots after a long flight.
Linger after your treatment in the teardrop-shaped hanging chair amid the tropical flora of the spa garden or refuel by the pool with banana chips and sweet tamarind jam sandwiches and tea with ginger.
Under thatched roofs, the 119 reef, beach, and overwater villas have contemporary living rooms and bedrooms with gray, white, and pops of aqua. They also have bathrooms with stylish touches, like herringbone walls and a freestanding egg-shaped tub that’s so deep it should have its own lifeguard.
Despite these enticing interiors, you will spend your time outdoors. All villas offer expansive terraces with expansive plunge pools, dining areas, and a swivel daybed. The beach villas overlook lush vegetation and give you direct access to the sand, while the other villas allow you to gaze out at the ocean from your pool or the hammocks on stilts. These outdoor spaces are so extraordinary that you would be forgiven for staying there during your entire vacation.
The Kids Club
You won’t feel guilty dropping your little ones off at the family resort’s Stars Club while you relax at the spa. Inside this colorful club — a free perk for guests — kids can play games or do arts and crafts (slime-making is popular). At the back there is a playground with a swing, seesaws and a trampoline, and a small water park with slides and a paddling pool. Plus, there’s a list of daily activities that include movies, hair braiding, and kids’ yoga.
If you want more personalized attention for your children, a children’s concierge can put together a special itinerary based on their preferences.
The Instagrammable Landscape
With unusual dining nests, villa pools and hammocks, and crystal clear waters everywhere, the Waldorf Astoria seems made for social media, which is why it won our award for Best Hotel Instagram Account of 2021. But there’s so much more to photograph on this breathtaking escape. Head to the alfresco Amber Lounge to capture the dazzling sunset from the provided tripods while enjoying fresh oysters and avocado bruschetta and toasting champagne flutes.
The Waldorf Astoria offers many delicious choices among its 11 restaurants (the newest is an outpost of the popular izakaya-inspired by the Zuma channel), but Yasmeen stands out. It could be the charming backdrop — the open-air restaurant looks like a tree-studded Arab village with a flowing fountain, antiques, and (intentionally) crumbling walls that reveal the ocean.
Middle Eastern dishes are equally mouth-watering. Order the set menu for the hot and cold mezes (we couldn’t get enough of the garlicky labneh) that you’ll want to scratch with piping hot pita. But save room for the grilled meat starters and the cheesecake with a pistachio crust for dessert.
The private island
For an over-the-top getaway, book Ithaafushi. Available for purchase only, the 344,445 square foot oasis is the largest private island in the Maldives. And it’s isolated: you can only reach Ithaafushi from the main resort via a short boat ride.
You won’t have to sacrifice amenities here, and the two luxurious villas and four-bedroom residence can sleep 24 people. Pamper yourself at the Ithaafushi Overwater Spa; relax at five pools, one of which features the resort’s only swim-up bar; and catch a glimpse of turquoise water from the island’s yoga pavilion, sauna, steam room, and indoor gym.
Haali serves as an entertainment center with a full kitchen, bar, DJ booth, pool table, movie screen TV, and private dining room. Of course, dedicated staff ranging from personal trainers to chefs are on hand.
The private dining room
In addition to dining, guests can enjoy unique dining experiences at the Waldorf Astoria, including dining on a secluded sandbar or aboard sunset cruises. The possibilities are seemingly endless. Try a private wine dinner or wine tasting at The Rock, a cool wine cellar amid rocks whose walls are made of white Jordanian limestone and a bar that’s a slab from a 2,000-year-old tree. It offers over 1,000 labels, one of the largest collections in the Maldives.
Or try a picnic on the beach, but we’re not just talking about a blanket tossed on the sand and a few bites. Staff dig seats deep in the sand and cover them with blankets and pillows to ensure your comfort. The drawers of a wooden box open to reveal sandwiches wrapped in WA tissue paper and decadent desserts. A Bluetooth speaker adds ambience, though the airwaves may be the only soundtrack you need.
Pass the Moon Gate entrance and enter the dining room with cut-out screens, warm-colored patterns on the walls and high ceilings and in the center, a nearly seven-foot bell made of infused porcelain and wood which is a modern version of a Ming vase.
Take a seat on the terrace above the seductive waters and savor dim sum, such as chicken siu mai and xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and dishes like tender pieces of black pepper wagyu with vegetables. Don’t miss the Peking Roast Duck, a customer favourite. Cooked in a wood-fired oven, the duck arrives at your table on a cart, where the chef deftly cuts juicy slices for you to stuff into thin pancakes with cucumber and a drizzle of hoisin sauce. It’s the best bite in the restaurant.
Each guest is assigned a personal concierge, who essentially acts as your butler. Friendly and knowledgeable concierges pack and unpack your belongings and assist you with daily ironing of clothes, which are complimentary services. But they go above and beyond to make sure your trip is a smooth one, from golf cart pickup to meals and activities to scheduling airport transfers and COVID testing. They help make your stay unforgettable by arranging experiences such as floating room breakfast served in your villa pool.