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One&Only Reethi Rah hotel review

One&Only Reethi Rah hotel review

One&Only Reethi Rah is a stunningly beautiful property perfect for the glamorous elite who like to see and be seen.

Traveller: Emma Lambert
Room: Water Villa
Address: North Male Atoll Maldives
Date: January 2016
Best for: Glitz and glam in an idyllic beach setting.

The Signature factor

Our favourite place was the Beach Club. This was a stretch of pure white sand lined with daybeds draped in beautiful white fabric. The service here was attentive but not obtrusive. As soon as we arrived we were brought a tray with cold towels, iced water and a bar menu. There was a live DJ playing relaxed tunes and a huge array of water sports available with paddleboards, jet skis, catamarans and more dotted along the shoreline.

The concept

Reethi Rah (which means beautiful island) opened in 2005 and at 44 hectares, is the biggest resort in the Maldives. The six kilometres of powder-white sand is immaculately raked overnight to reveal a perfectly manicured landscape by daybreak. Jean-Michel Gathy designed the 130 overwater villas using natural finishes such as teak and sea grass and as they are scattered across 12 beaches, guests are afforded an unparalleled level of privacy.

First impressions

We were met at Male International Airport by One&Only staff and were promptly whisked away for the 50-minute journey on the all-white 16-metre private yacht. When pulling in to the jetty you can’t help but be in awe of the fluorescent turquoise water surrounding the island. The lobby décor was sleek and luxurious and check in was fast and efficient.

One&Only Reethi Rah

The room

Our accommodation was a 149-square-metre overwater villa with soaring ceilings luxuriously fitted out with elegant teak and natural stone. Outdoor hammocks suspended over the water surround the villa along with generously proportioned decking for us to soak up the sun and wide steps that invited us down into the shallow warm water. There were little touches throughout the villa that reminded us we were somewhere special; exotic bath salts, complimentary pressing of an item of clothing each and an unpacking service. In addition, a mobile phone is provided in each villa so we could direct dial our butler at any time.

Top suite

The 2487-square-metre Grand Sunset Residence consists of two separate villas accommodating nine adults. It’s located on the most pristine stretch of beach and is lavishly outfitted. The Residence comes complete with outdoor cinema, two white Mercedes-Benz golf carts, private chef on call 24 hours a day, two swimming pools and your own stretch of beach. Once the sun goes down, the evening ambience is enhanced by hundreds of lanterns, a fire pit and shisha lounge.

On my plate

There are seven restaurants to choose from including the fine-dining Japanese Tapasake. The current wine list focuses on Rieslings and has critics talking all over the world. The restaurant is perched right on the water’s edge and has a variety of seating styles to choose from including a chef’s table and sushi counter. The presentation of our dishes was outstanding and the sashimi sliced to perfection. Aside from the other restaurants, guests can also choose in-villa dining (they provide a beautiful set up on your deck) or a romantic beach setting with candles set into the sand.

I wish I could take home…

Pretty much everything at the resort boutique! With designer heels from Christian Louboutin and sparkly silk kaftans by Camilla available to try on and purchase, you can understand why!

Spa life

We enjoyed a 60-minute couple’s massage at ESPA and lingered long after to use the extensive spa facilities. There is a dedicated female and male spa area each with their own steam room, sauna and pool with a variety of massage jets as well as a relaxation area. Ladies can pop in to the Taylor Taylor Hair Salon for a blow dry before dinner (and judging by how busy we always saw the salon, many women do! It’s just that type of resort!)

Staying in

There are two swimming pools, one being an adults-only infinity pool with a built-in reclining lounge that makes for eye-catching photos! The Kids Only club is open from 9am to 9pm and has a wading pool and mini water slide and a variety of craft activities and team sports. The Beach Club has a unique feature of giant inflatable trampolines and water slides floating on the ocean. Other activities available include tennis, rock-climbing, table tennis, golf simulator and gymnasium. Wi-Fi was complimentary throughout the resort and the signal was good everywhere.

Stepping out

Guests are spoilt for choice with an assortment of excursions available by yacht, Dhoni (traditional Maldivian boat) or seaplane. Fishing, diving, guided snorkelling, jet ski tours, sandbank picnic and a whale shark experience are just some of the offshore activities available at an additional cost. We loved the two-hour turtle tour at a nearby snorkel spot where turtle sightings are common. Visibility was excellent and luckily we did see three turtles along with many species of colourful fish and coral.

One&Only Reethi Rah

The Accolades

  • 2016 Ultras Awards – One&Only Reethi Rah named ‘Best Hotel in Africa and Indian Ocean’
  • 2016 Conde Nast Traveller China: Readers’ Choice Awards – One&Only Reethi Rah recognized amongst the ‘Best Hotels in Maldives’
  • 2015 VIP International Traveller Reader’s Travel Award 2015: voted #1 for the Most Exclusive Hotel Worldwide
  • 2015 Travellers World Magazine (Germany): voted Best Resort in the World by its readers
  • 2015 Luxury Travel Guide (UK): named Luxury Wellness Resort of the Year
  • 2015 Voyages & Hôtels de rêve: Gold Award under the ‘Indian Ocean Resorts’ category
  • 2015 Ultratravel The ULTRAs Middle East: voted as the Best hotel in Africa and the Indian Ocean

Celebrity sightings

David and Victoria Beckham as well as celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay had just left the property before our arrival. Fergie and Josh Duhamel honeymooned here, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon got married as well as honeymooned here, and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have spent time at One&Only Reethi Rah.

Insiders’ tips

There was a complimentary afternoon tea every day at Fanditha restaurant where the décor is Arabian boho-chic with oversized daybeds and authentic Middle Eastern lanterns thoughtfully positioned throughout the space. There were never many people there so I think it’s a little known secret spot, but definitely worth a visit. Each afternoon at sunset we sipped on Champagne while devouring a variety of delicate hors d’œuvres as well as tropical fruit skewers and mini desserts.

Pet peeves

Lighting in the villas could really be improved; it’s quite difficult to see well in the mirror at night to ‘glam up’ for the evening. Some villas are currently undergoing renovations and I understand the lighting issue will be addressed in the refurbishment.

If only…

…the complimentary laundry service for children two and under was extended for children of all ages as travelling families could pack a lot lighter heading there.

Where to find it 

One&Only Reethi Rah is located in the North Male Atoll, Maldives.

Transfer options to the resort are by yacht (shared or a private charter) or seaplane (again shared or privately chartered). The journey by yacht takes around 45-50 minutes and by seaplane it takes 20 minutes.

We flew Sydney to Male via Singapore Business Class on Singapore Air.

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 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.