If hedonism is what you believe in, One&Only Reethi Rah in Maldives is your Mecca. We experienced the zenith of luxury in the planet’s lowest country! Here’s a glimpse of our romantic trip.
Imagine a fairytale. Picture yourself sitting on a golden chariot – a symbol of power and prestige. The chariot is heading towards your kingdom where your subjects await you with smiling faces and open arms. The only phrase they abide by is “Your wish is our command”. The kingdom speaks, breathes, eats luxury.
Imagine holidaying here. Too fairytale-ish?
There may be no chariots but the experience isn’t a fable. It all comes alive at One & Only Resort, Reethi Rah. The background here is painted with the happiest colours of nature: slender green trees bordering pristine blue waters, clear white sand, bright blue sky. Add to it all the colours of magnificence. Your comfort reigns supreme and each staff member ensures you feel regal and your stay is magical – like a page out of your favourite fairytale.
The Maldives, also Asia’s smallest country, is itself divinely blessed with nature’s beauty and natural wonders. Reethi Rah takes the magic up several notches with unsurpassed luxury and unparallel hospitality. Such is the standard of service that one often wonders: What if I ask for the stars? It seems highly probable that they’d pack them neatly and place them on my bedside just to add to the beautiful view the villas have to offer.
ENTERING THE KINGDOM
You arrive at One&Only Reethi Rah on a luxurious yacht that picks you up from the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. Want water, fruits, mints, snack bars? There’s everything that you need to refresh yourself during the 50 minutes that it takes to reach the island of indulgence.
You enter through an open wooden pavilion with beautiful furniture set neatly in the seating areas. Though it offers a cozy spot, we wonder if guests really get time to idle away here. Check-in process is a breeze, done by the time you finish your welcome drink.
And just minutes later you find yourself wondering…“Did I just walk into a big magical picture postcard?”…as your eyes soak in the miracles of Reethi Rah on your way to your temporary abode on an electric buggy.
VILLA NO. 245
The villa was our nirvana for the short but timeless stay at One&Only Reethi Rah. Giving the feel of a holiday home, the villa was one of the 130 private villas located along the shore. You can choose from water villas (on stilts perched over the turquoise lagoon) or beach villas with private pools.
What’s stunning about all the villas are the humble exteriors but flamboyant interiors. The design team (Denniston International Architects) has implemented the brief given to them to a tee. They were told to design the villas (among the largest resort villas in the world) “keeping in mind three words – luxury, space and privacy”.
These villas are favourites of celebrities including Victoria Beckham, Tom Cruise, and Novak Djokovic.
Huge ceilings help in getting the effect. Plus, the tall glass door panels create an impression of not being indoors at all. Yet, in spite of being so grand the room feels cozy and warm. It is perhaps because of the use of strong colours and natural textures like teak, coconut shell, mahagony, and silk.
The huge bathroom space is the highlight. There are separate vanities and a walk-in shower area giving you and your partner space. But the stone soaking bath tub only gives you romantic ideas. A ledge at the window covered with cushions makes for a comfortable place to sit for a heart to heart while sipping on wine.
Not only did I have a private pool but an exclusive beach area! The white sand and pristine turquoise water tempted me not to blink lest I miss a fraction of an opportunity to admire the beauty in front of my eyes.
The personal pool is big enough for a sinfully romantic time with your partner. The sun kissed water felt perfect for a dip. I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up spending more time in the pool than on the bed.
The landscaping is such that there is an atypical amount of space between two villas offering absolute exclusivity. (The silence, however, can sometimes be eerie and a wandering neighbour talking on phone can stun you!)
One&Only is too huge to walk around to get from one point to another. Therefore, there are exclusive bicycles parked outside the villa. Sandy tracks shaded by thick palm trees make for beautiful roads you want to keep peddling on. Cycling here gave me a strange sense of freedom and I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic remembering the good old days of childhood when we raced away from worries on our two-wheeled anti-depressants.
But if you aren’t comfortable cycling, an electric buggy will be at your service.
EAT LIKE A KING
Any destination that doesn’t appease our taste buds is incomplete in our book. Needless to say that at One&Only, we had a beautiful rendezvous with palatable delicacies.
The food looks like a work of art and one has the pleasure of feasting one’s eyes before the actual feast.
One&Only offers you different culinary as well as aesthetic experiences: the Tapasake for candlelit sushi above the lagoon; Arabian cuisine at Fanditha; glamorous Reethi restaurant; a cool Beach club; and the intimate Chef’s Garden, where the dishes feature resort-grown ingredients.
All the restaurants offer exquisite and exotic dishes which will definitely leave you hungry for more. But what’s striking is the beautiful use of the natural resources that the island has to offer. Breakfast, for instance, can be enjoyed admiring the turquoise ocean from Reethi Restaurant. An impressively huge spread is laid out inside in and around the cathedral-like structure in the centre. The ‘temple’ is truly sacrosanct for food lovers. The thirsty traveller needn’t worry. All requirements would be soulfully satisfied at the Rah Bar.
If you enjoy living in your castle (villa), then dial the in-room service and order as you please. The service is lightening fast and the food is hot and oh-so-good! Do try the beef burger (*drool*).
If you’re looking for something more happening, then hit the Beach One Club. Don’t be fooled by the casual atmosphere by the beach. The chefs at One&Only take their work very seriously. The food is sumptuous and very appetizing. And what better way to work up an appetite than water sports or just sway to the DJ’s jam (the resident DJ plays all afternoon). Make a reservation beforehand to get the best spot.
One of the remarkable dining moments we experienced was watching the sun set at Fanditha, which means ‘magic’ in the local language. Truly magical, the whole experience makes one feel like being god’s own guest! Sitting inside the cabana, we did not exactly dine here but enjoyed a bubbly along with Mediterranean snacks.
The crown jewel of my dining experience, however, was the private dinner on the beach area outside our villa. A four-course meal gastronomic adventure under the stars. Never had we experienced such a poetic cuisine, such theatrical presentation with rich vibrant colours. Add to the equation the changing colours of the sky and the music of the waves. On a honeymoon, this arrangement is a must-do!
Another One&Only touch of extravagance is the complimentary tea served between 4 and 5 pm near the main pool or the English-style Lawn Club. In fact, it is more of a complimentary buffet, with pancakes, scones, amuse-bouches, fruits, cakes, etc. If you have a late breakfast, you will have no need for lunch, as you will be able to still your afternoon hunger with this tea buffet. See, there are free lunches!
The walk up to the massage huts takes you through beautifully landscaped gardens and end with a spectacular oceanic view. Not a single opportunity to weave the natural beauty of the resort into the architecture has been wasted.
The spa experience is unparalleled. Champagne flows like water and fresh fruits make your day even better and healthier. The massage rooms are comfortable and the masseuses are well acquainted with the human anatomy. They can actually identify the stress points in the body.
Tip: Make sure you get a feel of how much pressure your body can take. If you like a strong massage in Indian spas, you might want to try a medium pressure massage here.
But what matters most is that the experience will make you feel rejuvenated and replenished. You can literally feel the stress disappear. Hear the waves hitting the shore, feel the warmth of the sun and take your spa experience to another level.
And after this delightful experience comes the couple size bath tub. With exotic flowers dancing in the tub, one feels an exciting and enchanting energy that helps in reaching the epitome of rejuvenation. This accompanied by some bubbly and a view of the sun kissed ocean water begs for nothing less than the company of your lover.
Cruise: We recommend the sunset cruise with Luxury Yacht Charter. Head out into the vast ocean on an aimless endeavour and quench your wander thirst. The boat is very luxurious and comfortable beyond imagination.
Non-motorized activities: All non-motoring activities are complimentary. These include canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, and boating.
Adventures: Snorkeling, Big Game Fishing, Handline Fishing, Dive Excursions, Turtle Hatching, Scuba Diving
Click, Click: You can spend your entire vacation just clicking the picturesque Reethi Rah. Pose with your loved one for a 30-minute photo shoot session and take one picture for free. Shell out some money and get an entire album.
RETAIL THERAPY: Missoni, Antik Batik, Christian Louboutin, Anya Hindmarch – name any upscale brand in the world and chances are they would have created exclusive lines for One&Only. There are three boutiques with limited number of items selected specifically for the resort.
The vacation at One&Only Reethi Rah may have been long over but its ‘after taste’ will remain with me for life. One&Only is one of those experiences where one can find oneself and lose oneself simultaneously. It is going to be a vacation of a lifetime with your one and only!
COST: A stay at the One&Only Reethi Rah, according to its website …hold your breath… starts from $1800 (Rs 108000 approx) a room a night onwards, depending on the season. The rate includes access to the fitness centre and daily classes, non-motorised water sports, land sports, including table tennis and volleyball, Wi-Fi access in all guest villas and selected public areas, daily afternoon tea at Rah Bar and more.
LOCATION: North Male Atoll
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Between January and April
Where exactly is Maldives?
Look at the world map closely. See little ‘drops’ of land in Indian Ocean? Also referred to as the Maldive Islands, it is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of 26 atolls.
Located about about 700 kilometres south-west of Sri Lanka, the reef is composed of coral debris and living coral. The amazing waters of the Maldives are filled with rare, diverse sea life, with over 2,000 species of fish, ranging from reef fish to reef sharks, moray eels, and a wide variety of rays.
Source: One&Only Reethi Rah website
Flight: We took a flight from Bangalore; duration: 2 hours
If Reethi Rah was heavenly, our stay at the other resort was at the other end of the spectrum. Read about our experience at Fun Island Resort Maldives here.