- The Nautilus, Thiladhoo Island
If city living is all about the lean-in, the Maldives is for the recline. Named after Nemo’s submarine, The Nautilus private-island retreat of 26 overwater and beach houses has maxed out on relaxed luxe. Located in an eastern corner of the pristine Baa Atoll, The Nautilus is fringed by swaying palms and white-sand beaches, and has a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on its doorstep. The USP here is that everything is fluid: unscripted dining means scallop carpaccio or oyster ice cream at 5am if you wish. Waterborne adventures are impromptu, too, with watches and iPhones swapped out for snorkels and paddleboards at any time. This is very much a barefoot-and-board-shorts hideaway, crisscrossed with polished hardwood walkways and lofty palms beside walls of fragrant clerodendrum. Only the arrival of whale sharks and manta rays on their May-December migration provides a discernible sign of time passing. Unusually for hotels in the region, the Nautilus is independently Maldivian owned, and is designed for the next generation of smart travellers who are seeking out the latest go-with-the-flow modern boho experience.
Buyout: a group of up to 62 can book all 26 houses and residences, while smaller groups of up to 30 can chose to take over just 14 houses.
2. Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Gaafu Alifu Atoll
With a $1,000,000* price tag, Raffles’ private island could give some of the world’s most expensive charter superyachts a run for their money. For five days up to 70 guests can take over this oasis and enjoy Raffles’ renowned butler service in complete privacy. While staying in the 21 luxurious villas that overlook the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, guests have exclusive access to the spa, gym and indulgent beachside restaurants during their stay.
This retreat is particularly appealing for dive enthusiasts who want to enjoy their own piece of paradise. Located among waters teeming with colourful marine life and unspoilt reefs, the resort boasts a world-class dive centre complete with an on-site marine biologist. If that still doesn’t satisfy your wanderlust, a nearby deserted island can be transformed by the Raffles team to create an unparalleled event space during your stay – use it to experience a sunset concert hosted by a celebrity DJ or take in a champagne-and-stargazing session guided by a personal astronomer.
Buyout: $1,000,000* for four nights and five days.
*the rate includes a 5% charitable donation to the Maldives’ Marine Center and the Olive Ridley Project, an NGO that works to protect sea turtles.
3. Four Seasons Private Island at Voavah, Baa Atoll
This private island can host up to 22 guests and is expertly managed by the Four Seasons brand. It opened its shores in December 2016 and is the first exclusive-use UNESCO World Heritage site getaway. Vibrant jungles surrounded by white beaches and complete exclusivity makes this one of the best ways to see the Maldives when away from your superyacht.
Keep active with the multitude of watersports on offer, such as kitesurfing, kayaking, sailing, jet-skiing and fishing. The Maldives is famed for its extraordinary marine life and divers of all levels can explore boat wrecks and swim alongside sharks, turtles and manta rays. Additionally, Voavah is one of the best hotels with luxury yachts – their private 19 metre luxury yacht Voavah Summer can whisk guests away to spot dolphins and turtles.
Buyout: startS at $37,500.
4. Kudadoo Private Island, Lhaviyani Atoll
For an experience that combines the Maldives’ natural beauty with unparalleled service, buyout the 15 over-water villas that make up Kudadoo Maldives Private Island. The exclusive retreat is the smaller and more exclusive sister branch to the neighbouring Hurawalhi Resort, famed for its underwater restaurant.
From scuba and fishing excursions, to ocean-facing spa treatments, the Kudadoo staff are on standby to organise experiences that will satisfy every one of their guests’ whims. As an added bonus, the island’s communal area, which houses the bar, restaurant, spa and gym, is both stylish and eco-friendly. Designed by Japanese-American architect Yuji Yamazaki, the interior is decorated with tropical orchids and elegant teak furniture, while the roof is covered in solar panels that power the entire resort.
Buyout: accommodates up to 34 guests, starting at $80,000 per night.
5. Velaa Private Island, Noonu Atoll
One of the most expensive resorts in the Maldives, Velaa is owned Czech billionaire Jiri Smejc. State-of-the-art boys’ toys (not even glossy rivals Cheval Blanc or One&Only Reethi Rah have a Seabob or semi-submarine); a spa with expert therapists, an ocean-view sauna, snow room and snooze pod; a nine-hole golf course; tennis and squash courts; an extraordinary three-storey wine tower with a 6,000-bottle inventory. Saudi’s crown prince was among the first guests to arrive when the resort opened in December 2013.
The island maintains a ratio of eight staff to one guest, and each of the luxurious over-water bungalows are equipped with their own personal butler. Highlights of the island that can be enjoyed by guests include the indulgent spa – offering everything from a chardonnay body scrub to a green caviar facial – a private yacht for sunset cruises and even an on-site submarine for exploring the vibrant marine life around Velaa.
Buyout: from $1,000,000 per night, with a minimum booking of 4 nights.