Vogue Arabia flies to some of the most romantic places in the world, with the Maldives, Paris, and Dubai as the ultimate indulgence.
PRAY at Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
Reconnect with yourself and voyage here solo
A spur-of-the-moment trip to Cheval Blanc Randheli – an LVMH-managed, five-star boutique resort on Noono Atoll Island, part of the Maldivian archipelago – can prove so tempting that it will even make for an ideal solo escape. “When I discovered the Maldives in the year 2000, I was completely seduced by this incredible landscape: a mix between those blues of the Indian Ocean, the white of this incredible sand, and the green of a rich vegetation. A perfect location for stays where beauty will transport our guests to paradise,” comments Olivier Lefebvre, head of hotel activities, LVMH Hotel Management. Here, indulge in pristine views of sparkling waters, circular atolls, and turquoise-colored barrier reefs.
As the seaplane lands on a 3D version of the resort’s picture-perfect brochure, the staff wave from the wooden pier. Though everything is unfamiliar, it can feel like a homecoming of sorts to the earthly paradise that every woman deserves to experience in her lifetime – and annually, in an ideal world. A butler swiftly takes guests’ bags and ushers them via a Rolls-Royce golf cart through a labyrinth of exotic foliage. Offering natural shade from the sun, they also hide villas from view, providing total privacy. The garden water villa, a 240 sqm space partially on stilts, faces the Indian Ocean and backs onto lush greens. It features soaring cathedral ceilings and various intimate areas, despite its open plan layout. Bite into a juicy mango while lazing on the couch, admiring the infinity pool and ocean view. Just off the salon is the bedroom, and an open en-suite with vanity offering made-to-measure beauty creams.
Start your day at “spa island,” which is reached via a two minute dhoni (traditional boat) ride to indulge in a deep tissue massage with Guerlain products. Inside one of the six thatched villas, contemplate nothing but ocean and sky. Afterward, enjoy a fresh Thai soup and grilled lobster salad lunch in your room while perusing the rest of the day’s activities… watersports, yoga, Pilates, snorkeling, and diving are all on the menu. Ease into a soothing outdoor yoga session on a pier before donning ocean-chic attire for a nine-course fine dinner at Le 1947, where dishes are nothing short of a culinary art experience.
The following day, enjoy a spot of snorkeling off one of the private beaches. Don’t be surprised if hours pass without crossing anyone but staff – like Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon but with five-star service. If you are surprised by the bleached coral, be assured that the resort engages a marine biologist on site to help restore them. “Like everywhere in the world, corals have been destroyed by the excessive heating of the oceans,” explains Lefebvre. “Cheval Blanc Randheli has built a coral nursery, just in front of our spa island. When those corals reach suitable size, they are then able to grow on the reefs, where they will be transplanted, and the nursery will continue to participate in the coral growth.”
If you wish to explore your surrounds further, strap on a life jacket and throw a leg over a jet ski. Circle neighboring Maakurandhoo Island that houses the resort’s tennis courts – it’s also where local products are farmed in an effort to make the island sustainable. Next, view the shores of the Cheval Blanc Randheli 2,200 sqm private island, with a four-bedroom villa surrounded by tall, swaying palm trees. After parking the jet ski, browse the limited-edition high jewelry, silk kaftans, and linens at the boutique.
At Cheval Blanc Randheli, you can arrive with but a credit card and want for nothing. On the last day, after realizing you will need another 48 hours, at least, to crack open a book, take a sunset cruise to revel in the company of wild dolphins. As the boat is surrounded with hundreds of the fish, meditate the great open blue as you decompress.
From US $3,450 per night. chevalblanc.com/randheli
LOVE at the Meliã Desert Palm, Dubai
Choose a resort escape
Ever had the desire to evade the emirate’s toils and enjoy your own isolated hideaway with someone you love? Look no further. Consider Meliã Desert Palm resort, where you and your spouse can be escorted to a villa of ultimate privacy. The lush, 160-acre polo estate features a number of villas where you can enjoy views of palm trees and be serenaded by warm, winter breezes. Arriving to the villa is much like arriving at a lavish second home, complete with a welcoming front entrance and garage for your practical needs.
Guests also enjoy their own pools surrounded by a floral garden and the optional in-villa barbecue, should anyone be craving ribs. To intensify this romantic getaway experience, guests can savor a couple’s Swedish massage or facial at the award-winning Samāna Spa.
Come afternoon, delight in a high tea and choose the finest blends accompanied by gourmet cakes and pastries presented in the classic three-tier style. From elegant finger sandwiches to warm scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, any craving that arises from the seductive smells wafting in the air will be satiated. While tea is served all-year round, guests can take in seasonal polo matches from October to April. If you desire a fine dining experience, Melia also offers destination private dining ranging from an irresistible Spanish veranda to magnificent waterfalls in a Mediterranean-style dining space. A private chef will serve a four-course menu, while butler service is also on call. If this isn’t romantic enough, we really don’t know what is.
From US $ 309 per night. melia.com
EAT at Le Boudoir Pastry Boutique at Hôtel de Crillon, Paris
Indulge in master chef Pablo Gicquel’s sweet gourmet desserts
Built at the request of Louis XV, Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, beholds the most elegant stay France has to offer. Overlooking the Place de la Concorde, the hotel prides itself on a history filled with visiting royalty, dignitaries, artists, and celebrities. Now, its newest addition serves a myriad of gourmet delights. Le Boudoir pastry boutique does not fail to satisfy even the most decadent sweet tooth. Intertwining the hotel’s historic and cultural significance as well as its elegance, its interior is swathed in hues of gold and glistening marble, perfectly complementing the presentation of the desserts, which (almost) look too good to eat.
The pastry boutique features sweets from master pastry chef Pablo Gicquel, who has worked alongside some of the most notable names in the industry, including chefs Thierry Bamas and Laurent Jeannin. He draws inspiration mostly from childhood memories and fragrances, as well as the boutique’s decor and French classics. Trained at the Ploufragan hospitality school in Brittany, Gicquel has made a name creating original and elegant offerings. Guests can choose from his five signature creations: the Nuage de Jasmin, a coconut mousse heightened with jasmine tea, mango, and ginger-flavored pineapple with a cheesecake style crust. The Chou d’Amour is a pastry made completely of vanilla; the Mont Blanc is a chestnut purée containing roasted pears, lemon, and meringue; while the Tarte Chocolat is a chocolate ganache delicacy fit with a chocolate crust and crispy cashew praline. Finally, the Hématite is a sweet chocolate dessert with a creamy caramel center, of which chef Gicquel says, “My greatest aspiration is to continue pampering my guests with my creation l’Hématite, showcasing chocolate in all its glory and served in different textures.”
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