If you want once-in-a-lifetime experiences, then the Maldives is your place. From swimming with manta rays and turtles to following dolphins into a famous Maldivian sunsets. While every resort comes with the promise of beautiful white beaches and turquoise lagoons, not every hotel is as geared towards transformative wellness as The Westin. As well as being an idyllic setting for romance, family hideouts and gastronomy, a series of wellness activities will both connect you with nature and the Maldivian culture. You won’t get bored here, with an activities list that includes a dozen things to do every day: guided snorkelling tours of the technicolour reef to spa programmes and creating local handicrafts.
There’s an elegant feel to The Westin’s version of a tropical island luxury resort. It was designed by award-winning architects PEIA Association, who have combined eco-friendly Italian design with marine inspiration (such as the pearl-white spiral staircase that resembles a shell), mid-century-style furniture and lush Maldivian gardens. The spacious villas all have private decks and far-reaching ocean views. There are 41 on-island and 29 oversized over-sea villas in six categories, ranging from a one-bedroom villa with pool, to a two-bedroom, three-bathroom garden residence with a kitchenette. Most have pools and all have ocean views, ‘Heavenly’ beds and outdoor showers.
Thoroughly breath-taking, a 30-minute seaplane ride from Malé, will bring you to Miriandhoo Island in Baa Atoll – the only Unesco biosphere reserve in the Maldives. Created with care on the island reef in the heart of the world-renowned site, it is teeming with marine life. If you’ve dreamt of swimming with manta rays and through technicolour reef, The Westin is for you.
The sound of the calming Indian Ocean, and built over water with a glass floor The Heavenly Spa at The Westin is the epitome of positive energy and is perfect for a recharge. Offering deep-reaching wellness from the specially developed Westin ‘Heavenly’ beds and the treatments at the spa, to the extensive range of healthy food options and specially tailored fitness classes. They believe that much of the value of the spa experience comes not only from the facilities, treatments and products, but from having the time and space for silence, separation from technology and personal reflection and contemplation. Between spa treatments you can meditate in your luxury villa and snorkel in what seems like a version of awe-inspiring Blue Planet to add to your body and mind refresh. In addition there are all the facilities expected from a wellness escape including a multi-function recreation ground for tennis, basketball and volleyball.
FOOD AND DRINK
With a choice of four unique outlets, The Pearl, Island Kitchen, Hawker and Sunset Bar, you can experience a delectable range of cuisines during your stay including local spices. The Westin has recently appointed a new Executive Chef, Jorge Colazo. Colazo has worked in a number of top restaurants including the three-Michelin star Arzak in San Sebastián, as well as Asiate in New York and the two Michelin star restaurant Aquavit New York.
There’s an excellent complimentary kids’ club for ages four to 12, with a pool where youngsters are kept entertained with creative crafts and learning about the Maldives marine life. Cots for children aged up to two are free.
Its eco credentials impress, with reverse-osmosis water filtration and solar power among the initiatives as well as being creative with waste such as the shipping containers that brought construction materials to the island have been used to make the kids’ club.
THINGS TO DO
With its own PADI watersports centre AQUA, the resort’s expert instructors give many options such as snorkelling, parasailing, kayaking and scuba-diving. A snorkelers and divers’ paradise, Baa Atoll is known for its plethora of coral reefs – over 250 species – and is home to one of the largest concentrations of manta rays and whale sharks in the world. Very close to the shore are reefs teeming with fish but if you are in search of manta rays and whale sharks, Hanifaru Bay is a favourite spot. The resort also provides access to a nearby uninhabited private island – Hulhudhoo, just a short 700m speedboat trip across the ocean, where you can take a picnic.
If you are looking for more local activities, the resort has launched a new immersive, cultural activity for guests in partnership with local craftsmen bringing to life one of the oldest traditional Maldivian crafts, Liyelaa Jehun, also known as Maldivian lacquer handicraft. Once practised all over the island nation, Thulhaadhoo is now one of the few islands where this ancient art still survives and the experience is designed to help preserve the rich cultural heritage of Liyelaa Jehun for future generations play a key role in supporting the local craftsmen and economy and keeping this traditional art alive.
You’ll also have your own thakaru, or concierge, to look after you.
The Westin has an accessible loo, and the over-water villas are step-free, but getting to the Maldives is challenging if you have mobility problems.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR TROPICAL TRIP
Double rooms from US $750 (£583) in low season; and from $1,500 (£1,166) in high. Breakfast included; half-board is an additional $80 (£62) per person per night. Free Wi-Fi.
Miriandhoo island, Baa Atoll, Maldives
00 960 660 444