Signature checks into… Cheval Blanc Randheli
Traveller: Emma Lambert
Room: Two-bedroom Garden Water Villa
Address: Noonu Atoll, Maldives
Date: April 2017
Best for: The well-heeled and well-travelled individual with an appreciation of the finer things in life.
Total decadence, a true five-star contemporary, elegant, island experience – quite possibly the world’s best resort. Cheval Blanc Randheli has raised the bar in luxury resort living.
The Signature factor
The bespoke Cheval Blanc Randheli private seaplane. Transfers in the Maldives have never been more luxurious with the introduction of the one-of-a-kind spacious personalised seaplane. Kitted out with just a small number of business class-style leather seats, combined with personalised service including cold towels and fresh water, it’s almost a shame when you arrive at Cheval Blanc Randheli signalling that the uber-luxe transfer has come to an end.
Cheval Blanc Randheli was created by architect Jean-Michel Gathy as an invitation to experience French Art de Recevoir. There are 45 one- and two-bedroom villas which are all grand in size; the smallest villa’s size is an astounding 240 square metres. The epitome of island chic, the use of natural materials such as rattan, bamboo, mother-of-pearl and seagrass integrated throughout the resort provides a contemporary, serene and soothing ambience and a level of understated luxury rarely seen.
Knowing that the resort is owned by LVMH Hotel Management (a subsidiary of the parent company of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Céline, Ruinart, etc.), I had high expectations and I’m happy to say Cheval Blanc Randheli did not disappoint. Well before arrival I was sent a detailed questionnaire about my preferences: Would I prefer white or taupe sheets on the bed? What is my favourite drink? Favourite food? I said I loved chilli on the form and upon arrival a plant with hundreds of chillies was thoughtfully placed in our villa! I could tell instantly that this resort was about to top any other resort I had ever been to.
The first thing that strikes you upon entering the villa is the architecture. Soaring ceilings and sliding panels enable you to create different spaces within the villa along with expansive chic living areas. The two-bedroom villa consists of a main villa with lounge room, dressing room, ensuite with freestanding bath and mesmerising waterfall tap. A fully separate one-bedroom villa with four beds adjoins the expansive outdoor living space complete with sunken dining area, 12-metre infinity pool and multiple decks complete with sun loungers and a wooden staircase inviting you down into the crystal-clear Indian Ocean.
The four-bedroom Owner’s Villa occupies its own private island accessible by a short boat ride from the main resort. Equipped with private beaches, a 25-metre lap pool and a private day spa, the Owner’s Villa also boasts its own cocktail bar and grand piano. To cater for every whim, a dedicated team of staff are housed on site and available around the clock.
On my plate
Out of the five restaurants at the resort, our favourite place to enjoy lunch was at The White Bar where you can choose to dine anywhere around the poolside,; under the shade of palm trees on the lawn or al fresco style adjacent to the main building. Another lunch option we loved was at Deelani (the Maldivian word for breeze) restaurant where you can select live lobster from the tank and have it freshly prepared for you by the chef in a myriad of ways. Evening cocktails can be enjoyed at Deelani at the overwater bar followed by a delicious assortment from the Mediterranean-style grill. Le 1947, the signature restaurant at Cheval Blanc Randheli, was named after Château Cheval Blanc’s most prestigious and sought-after vintage. The extraordinary nine-course tasting menu focuses on French flavours creatively served in a fresh Maldivian setting. Pack your resort-style formal wear if you plan to enjoy this opulent dining experience.
Highlights from the mini-bar
This is where Cheval Blanc Randheli really surpasses expectations. The complimentary offerings from the mini-bar were outstanding and included full-size jars of Cheval-branded artesian nuts and bar snacks, soft drinks and juices, chocolates, hand-cut crisps, the list goes on. We couldn’t get through all the complimentary food and drink that was on offer in our room although we certainly tried!
I wish I could take home…
In this case it’s not “I wish I could take home”. It was “I did take home” the unbelievable array of toiletries I had not finished using. These included a small bottle of the signature island fragrance and petite Guerlain beauty products. The resort supplied the most comprehensive assortment of complimentary (and of the highest quality) toiletries I have ever encountered and I wish I had known this, as I would have been able to pack a lot lighter.
Situated on its own island, the spa is accessible by traditional Madivian dhoni. Guerlain has curated products and treatments for Cheval Blanc Randheli and guests may enjoy the tradition hammam bath or the yoga pavilion as pre-treatment relaxation time. At the completion of a guest’s treatment they can further indulge in a blow dry at the Leonor Greyl hair spa and then head back to the main resort feeling refreshed and revived from top to toe.
There is a lot on offer at Cheval Blanc Randheli, including fantastic services for children. Le Carrousel is the kids’ club for the younger ones up to 12 years old and Le Paddock keeps the teenagers entertained. Activities for children include arts and crafts and a supervised wading pool with water slide. For tennis addicts there is a neighbouring island, Maakurandhoo Island (affectionately referred to as ‘Tennis Island’), which houses two Australian Open-standard tennis courts, and racquets, balls and even tennis shoes are available to use complimentary. A private outdoor boot camp exercise session was arranged for us on this island with Cheval Blanc Randheli’s personal trainer and it was a challenge in the heat, but we would thoroughly recommend you try it too! Freshly cut chilled coconuts and cold towels were handed to us on completion of the session and it provided the perfect excuse to ease our muscles at the spa the next day. We also tried many of the available water sports such as the inflatable trampoline in the water, jet skiing, wakeboarding, tubing and sea-bobbing and there are still more options to try such as jet surfing, fly boarding, water skiing, SUPing and pedalos. There is also a beautiful Azimut 98 Leonardo 30-metre yacht available for private charter around the breathtaking turquoise waters of the Noonu Atoll.
One of the activities that we really enjoyed was the local sunset fishing trip. We cruised out to deeper waters not far from the resort and were pleasantly surprised to find that we were handed gloves to wear and a hand-line that was already baited for us. This process continued for the next hour and we caught 27 fish (all thrown back except one that was kept for the chef to make into sashimi for dinner). Who knew there was a glamorous way to fish without getting your hands dirty?
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose Cheval Blanc Randheli as a romantic getaway and we definitely agree that it is a resort fit for royalty.
Enquire about the bespoke Cheval Blanc Randheli seaplane as a transfer option because it really is quite spectacular.
Where to find it
Located in the Noonu Atoll, Cheval Blanc Randheli is a 40-minute seaplane ride north of the capital, Male. Guests can arrive by the Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane or the bespoke Cheval Blanc Randheli-owned luxury seaplane.
by Emma Lambert
Frequent Sydney jet-setter Emma Lambert knows a thing or two about luxury travel. Emma enjoys travelling to beautiful places both near and far and her website www.luxefamilytravel.com.au is a beautiful mix of lust-worthy destinations and all things luxury travel and lifestyle. For a daily dose of escapism and wanderlust (even if it’s just to dream) follow Emma’s luxury travel mood board on Instagram @luxefamilytravel.