A lush tropical island, white sand beaches, turquoise lagoon, remarkable gastronomy and French flair comprise a delightful cocktail of ultimate luxury. Since opening in November 2013, this exclusive hideaway has attracted jet-setters, celebrities, the stylish set and royals such as Prince William and Kate Middleton.
I got my first taste of Cheval Blanc’s panache at Male airport when I boarded the custom de Havilland seaplane painted in their signature taupe, yellow and white for the 40 minute flight to Randheli on the Noonu Atoll. Upon touchdown, a group of smartly attired smiling Ambassadeurs including female staffers with yellow parasols greeted me. It soon became apparent that star architect Jean-Michel Gathy created an oasis of high style making any spot here the perfect backdrop for a fashion shoot.
After some ‘bonjours’ and welcoming drinks, I was whisked away to my palatial villa by my two ‘majordomes’, aka personal butlers. Beautiful Mariyam Shaghaf in her voguish lemony hat and handsome Ahmed Shiyaz in his crisp white suit made sure that I wanted for naught during my entire stay.
My enormous over-water villa with multiple terraces offered stunning views. It was the perfect place to read, meditate and kick back with a sunset cocktail. I passed many serene hours on the deck loungers or in my huge infinity pool taking in nature’s beauty and listening to the sounds of the sea. A ladder leading down to the water made it easy to take dips in the aquamarine lagoon.
My ultra-chic seaside abode was decked out with every amenity. Interiors done in neutral tones with splashes of yellow featured bespoke furnishings and original artworks to create an elegant, airy ambiance. Large glass doors on each side of the villa opened to bring the outdoors in. An iPad controlled all the electronics, lighting, even door locks. A bit too complicated, but thankfully my butlers were always there to help.
When I wandered from my sacred sanctuary, a canvas beach bag, flip-flops and taupe espadrilles emblazoned with the brand’s white-horse logo were provided. Though I had brought sunglasses, a bathing suit and sarong, I was in the mood for something new and fabulous, so I swung by the Concept store. With accessories and resort wear by Pucci, Celine and Fendi, I wasn’t disappointed.
For families, friends or those seeking seclusion in paradise the 10,764 square foot owner’s villa situated on its own island promises a uniquely idyllic experience. This four-bedroom stunner with an extensive pool, private spa and jetty opened last year.
As to the cuisine, an exceptional selection of delectables transported me to foodie heaven. Every morning I relished the best almond croissant ever at the chic White Restaurant, open all day, offering international specialties and splendid water views. Later I lunched on a tantalizing Indian dish of chicken tikka.
Fine dining at glamorous Le 1947, named after Cheval Blanc’s most famous vintage, rivals the best restaurants in Paris. My feast of hamachi, caviar, roasted blue lobster and John Dory with artichokes paired with exquisite wine was sublime.
The Deelani serves up Mediterranean yummies like buffalo mozzarella and cavatelli with fresh seafood. No less impressive were Diptyque’s Japanese dishes and my Maldivian dinner under the stars.
There’s no shortage of activities and play toys here. A fully equipped water facility for aqua sports including snorkel and dive outings, excursions on traditional wooden dhonis, speedboats or yachts, a fitness center with private coaches, tennis, state of the art golf simulator and a sprawling palm fringed infinity-edge slate-lined pool ensure your wish for any diversion will be fulfilled. Many, however, choose to loll in the privacy of their over-water hideaway.
For the ultimate relaxation, I hopped on a dhoni to The Spa Island where Guerlain’s treatments deliver divine pampering. An extraordinary massage by Thai therapist, Seen, left me blissed out. Afterwards, I savored tuna sashimi at the Spa bar near the pool.
A hamman, yoga and Pilates facilities, Leonor Greyl hair spa and a make-up studio complete this indulgent getaway. If you don’t want to go on the boat excursions, the coral reef at Spa Island teaming with gorgeous fish is a snorkeler’s dream.
With all the trappings of a fantasy designer castaway, Cheval Blanc Randheli may well be the most stylish island resort ever.
Contributed by Maxine Albert