With the world slowly coming out of lockdown, these are the latest destinations you will want to disappear to.
Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, Maldives
In a country composed of 1 190 coral islands, spread across 26 atolls, mostly populated by luxurious hotels, competition is always at peak, with resorts working hard to offer the most exclusive experiences to their guests. One of their main targets is the affluent Middle Eastern traveler, a true luxury connoisseur, usually moving around the globe with large families.
A comfortable 40-minute private yacht ride from Malé (or 15 minutes by sea plane), the Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi ticks all the boxes for Arab visitors, offering a relaxed but luxury experience, where guests feel pampered and have access to exciting experiences, while still feeling connected to nature and enjoying privacy. This is the place for your wedding or marriage proposal, honeymoon, or family trip.
Spread across three interlinked islands, the recently opened resort offers different types of accommodation, including the more traditional overwater, beach, and reef villas, but also the super exclusive Stella Maris Private Ocean Villas: dramatic duplex homes fully surrounded by water and only accessible by boat. All rooms are spacious, beautifully designed and finished, in elegant earthy tones, with accents of wood and copper details, private pools where you can enjoy the Instagram favorite floating breakfasts, and inviting swings overlooking the tropical sea.
For the foodies, Ithaafushi proposes 11 dining venues, catering to all tastes and age groups, from pizza to caviar. The standout experiences are the Shanghai style Li Long, the meaty The Ledge by Dave Pynt, the Japanese Shimizu lead by an ex Nobu chef, and the magical Terra, the elevated treetop restaurant. Built by hand with bamboo sticks, at Terra you feel as you are levitating in the sky under the stars, with the most beautiful, elevated views of the sea in front of you. The food presentation is impeccable and artistic (expect smoke and iced domes), with the menu featuring Maldivian lobster and yellowfin tuna with beluga caviar, among other delicacies.
The newest offer at Ithaafushi is also the most exclusive. How about a full island just for you, where all requests are made possible? The crown jewel of Ithaafushi is the biggest private island in the Maldives, covering 32 000 sqm. Hosting up to 24 guests, the property includes a two-bedroom water villa, three-bedroom beach villa, and four-bedroom residence, all interlinked by a well-manicured tropical jungle. All styles of food and entertainment can be organized by the concierge team, from fireworks to live music.
At the heart of the island is an open-air entertainment pavilion, decorated with local finds by local artisans and Ligne Roset furniture, with a cinema screening area, chef’s table, and pool and ping pong tables. There is also a private spa and a spectacular gym all surrounded by water, where you will feel like exercising just for the view. No wonder that in the Maldivian language Dhivehi, Ithaafushi means pearl… Private island from US $100 000 per night. Ithaafushiprivateisland.com
One&Only Portonovi, Montenegro
Situated along the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro, the One&Only Portonovi welcomes guests to a picturesque world of untapped beauty. The ultraluxury resort is One&Only’s first in Europe, sitting on the natural wonder of Boka Bay in the historic town of Kotor, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The one-of-a-kind location also features a 238-berth superyacht marina and helipad. The resort is built to resemble the architectural style of the old Venetian palaces found in the region, with grand facades, majestic colonnades, elaborate gardens, and indoor and outdoor pools matched with a private sandy beach. The One&Only’s elegant accommodation is positioned for guests to enjoy views of the surrounding marina, bay, and mountains.
All 113 rooms are adorned with modern fireplaces and large bathrooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows, a foyer, balcony, or terrace invite one to enjoy breathtaking landscapes and interiors inspired by the corresponding views and rich heritage of the region. The One&Only’s Suite One is a one-bedroom presidential suite providing the ultimate luxury escape with an outdoor dining area that can seat 12 and a separate private entrance.
Additionally, the resort offers two private villas. Each of the secluded villas is in a garden with an outdoor shower, private pool, hydrotherapy pool with six massage stations, sunset views, and ample services from butlers, chefs, and valets to elevate your experience even further. The resort combines exquisite culinary experiences with a first-of-its-kind wellness concept at Chenot Escape. This is the pinnacle of spa-centered and holistic wellness, blending Chinese medicine and Western technology. Other luxury experiences include sailing a yacht along the Adriatic coastline, exploring the medieval towns of Perast and Kotor and the islands of Our Lady of the Rocks, along with sailing and diving classes. One&Only Portonovi also serves up cuisines from around the world, with some of the finest restaurants found on its grounds. Try Sabia by Giorgio Locatelli, the Michelin-star chef’s first restaurant, where he serves Riviera-style southern Italian cuisine. From €835 per night. Oneandonlyresorts.com
Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah, UAE
Located in the UAE’s pristine Ajman emirate, The Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah offers a mind-easing experience away from Dubai’s hustle and bustle. The resort hotel features a sophisticated contemporary design by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, one million square meters of lush mangroves that come with pristine white sand beaches, lagoons that nurture biodiversity with almost 60 species of birds, a fish nursery, and offshore coral. There is also an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, an array of water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and wakeboarding, and a full menu of services offered at the Oberoi Spa, such as hammam scrubs, facials, sensorial treatments, and aromatherapy. Additionally, the resort offers adventurous excursions, included helicopter flights over Dubai and a pearl diving journey in Ras Al Khaimah.
“The Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah is truly a hidden gem and offers a secluded getaway amid nature and perfect white sand natural beach,” says Antonino Cardillo, the hotel’s general manager. “Our luxury resort features modern Italian design unique to the region and offers legendary heartfelt Oberoi service, which is intuitive and always delivered with a smile.” Each of the rooms at the Oberoi resort features a Scandi-style design; walls are set with monochrome patchwork tiles and earth-toned minimalist furniture are matched with wool rugs. Every room has a private balcony with panoramic views and sunset vistas, alongside views of mangrove forests or gardens. The rooms are furnished to ensure utmost comfort with oversized sofas, king-sized beds, and handpicked modern artworks. For larger groups, the resort offers comfortable villas, which are adorned with modern technologies like Bose music wave systems and Apple TV, a private pool and garden, an extensive living and dining area, and the option to treat yourself to a bespoke barbecue experience within the comfort of your villa. Since the onset of the pandemic, the number of guests have been reduced, to ensure the safety of all.
The luxury retreat offers a taste-quenching gastronomical experience, serving up dishes from all around the world. The restaurants range from a fresh seafood relaxed dining experience at Aquario and an all-day dining experience serving up international dishes at Vinesse. The latter features a sophisticated glass design that makes it appear to float on the surrounding waters. There is also an alfresco dining space offering healthy and light tapas, artisanal breads, and sandwiches at the poolside lounge. If you’re looking for an intimate dining experience, the hotel offers dinner at a private beach cabana, designed by the chef to meet your needs. From AED1 700 per night. Oberoihotels.com
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Originally published in the May 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia