In COVID-Era, destination Maldives is welcoming tourists from all countries, including India with open arms, safety measures and tourist friendly entry restrictions as listed below. This created the need to shortlist Best of the Best resorts in Maldives, who offer experiences par excellence, and a gold standard (as per my highest rating for resorts) when it comes to their safety and health protocols.


All tourist arrivals to the Maldives will be provided with a 30-day validity visa on arrival. As part of the visa requirement, you must present the following documents:

• A confirmed hotel booking of your stay at our resort.
• A self-declaration health form submitted within 24 hours prior to your departure
• A negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate in English, conducted a maximum of 96 hours prior to the scheduled time of your departure flight to the Maldives, from your first point of embarkation. The test certificate must contain the following information:
o Name of the passenger (name as in passport)
o Passport number/National identification number
o Name and address of the testing laboratory
o Type of test stated as a PCR test
o Date and time of sampling
o Test result

*Children under one year old are exempted from this test.

If a transit is made during your journey, the initial PCR test will be valid provided the transit time does not exceed 24 hours. If the transit time exceeds 24 hours, the PCR test must be repeated within 96 hours prior to the scheduled time of your departure flight to the Maldives.

The List:

Below is my list of favorites (in no order of preference), which was not easy to compile, since there is no dearth of resorts in 5 star and Luxury category in Maldives, but only a few qualify as the best in class, as they offer experiences which are unique, personalised, sustainable, authentic and life-changing.


The perfect combination of nature and luxury, Soneva Jani in the Maldives offers guests an unparalleled experience in idyllic surroundings. Made of sustainable materials, Soneva Jani is natural, yet refined and sophisticated.

Enveloped by the Medhufaru lagoon, Soneva Jani occupies a stunning location in the Noonu Atoll, and the pristine, crystal clear waters of the lagoon make for fantastic diving and wonderful ocean views. The resort is comprised of spacious villas that allow each guest a private and secluded experience in the utmost luxury.

The majority of villas are over-water and allow for direct access to the sparkling lagoon, however there are also Island Reserves which provide a real home-away-from home atmosphere. With a contemporary design and modern furnishings, all villas are stylish and highly comfortable, each offering several areas for lounging and dining.

The standout feature of the water villas, however, is the retractable roof over the master bedroom, which can be drawn back in the evening for a truly one-of-a-kind stargazing experience.

The highlight of the islands that the resort calls home is the 5.6 kilometre private lagoon that surrounds it; an azure spectacle that inspires a sense of calm.

The resort can be reached by a scenic 45 minute seaplane flight direct from Malé International Airport.

Or by Speedboat wherein you arrive at Maafaru International Airport and then a 10-minute journey via speedboat to Randheli Island


One of the most exclusive addresses in the Maldives, Cheval Blanc Randheli offers the ultimate in luxury and style. Situated on the Noonu Atoll, you can expect the very best in service, dining, wellbeing and stunning pool villas overlooking the ocean.

Cheval Blanc have a reputation for offering exceptional standards of service, modern design and stylish destination resorts and Randheli is no different. If you are looking for the ultimate in exclusivity, minimalist luxury design, fine dining and the best spa treatments, look no further. Situated on the Noonu Atoll in the north west of the Maldives, Cheval Blanc Randheli encompasses five pristine islands in a stunning lagoon.

There are 45 stylish villas here, built around the lush natural vegetation and all enjoying stunning ocean or lagoon views. Each enjoys the luxury of space, both indoors and outdoors, with cavernous high ceilings, various relaxation areas, generous decks and private 12.5 metre infinity pools.

By Seaplane
You arrive at Velana International Airport (Male Airport) and then a 40-minute transfer to Randheli island by Cheval Blanc Seaplane offering superior facilities and a wealth of dedicated services.

Or by Speedboat wherein you arrive at Maafaru International Airport and then a 25-minute journey via speedboat to Randheli Island


Surrounded by pristine blue seas and powdery white sand, Anantara Kihavah is nestled in the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, home to abundant marine life where ocean lovers can enjoy snorkelling and diving amongst the vibrant coral reefs.

Comprising just 80 villas set both on-island and over the water, Anantara Kihavah blends detailed style with plenty of space and seclusion. Each residence features its own private pool, high ceilings, timber interiors and marble floors. For the gadget lovers, Bose sound systems and wine chillers, iPhone docks and espresso machines keep impatient fingers occupied while discreetly placed sun loungers, hammocks and sumptuous baths indulge those looking for nothing other than ultimate relaxation.

You arrive at Velana International Airport (Male Airport) and then a short 35-minute flight by sea plane to the resort.


Velaa Private Island is a super-luxury boutique hideaway on the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives. Offering just 45 exclusive villas and residences, Velaa is considered by many to be the finest resort in the Maldives.

Velaa has just 45 picture-perfect thatched villas and residences, making the resort feel exceptionally boutique and exclusive. You can choose from either beach or over-water villas, all with private pools. There has been clever attention to retaining a sense of privacy, yet providing lots of space to relax, by including large terraces and gazebos. All rooms feature a clever blend of dark mahogany panelling with a dash of contemporary colour and sleek-lined teak furniture making them earthy, homely and elegant.

It takes a 45-minute seaplane from Male Airport to get to Velaa Private Island.


Vakkaru Maldives is an idyllic paradise intuitively designed for guests seeking unassuming luxury and timeless experiences.

The resort is home to over 2,300 fully grown coconut trees. Luxury facilities include 113 villas and suites, five sensational restaurants, two bars Vakkaru Reserve, a wine cellar and an over-the-water Merana Spa.

You are spoilt for choice with engaging experiences for everyone every day at the Vakkaru Maldives. This is offered by Splash Dive and Water Sports, Sports Fields, Parrotfish Club for children below 12 years, Coconut Club for teens and an overwater gymnasium with a personal trainer.

It lies in the heart of Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Vakkaru Maldives can be reached by 30-minute seaplane flight from Male International Airport.


Designed as a sophisticated globalista’s luxurious island retreat, JOALI with 73 private beach and water villas and residences are the epitome of sustainable glamour, whilst four restaurants provide inventive cuisine from several corners of the globe and a liquid nitrogen ice cream corner surprises even the most discerning of foodies.

JOALI’s imaginative offerings, including exquisite architecture and interiors by Autoban and Tokyo-based Studio Glitt and works of immersive art by celebrated young designers including Misha Khan – many using recycled materials – as well as dedicated Art Studio and Gallery, wellbeing programme in collaboration with ESPA and impeccably-curated in-room libraries, provide a showcase for a new form of unconventional luxury that celebrates craftsmanship and artistry.

Around 40 minutes by seaplane from the International Airport in Male’.


Set on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll, One&Only Reethi Rah is home to 122 private villas discreetly placed along the shore – with 90 Beach Villas secluded by lush tropical greenery, and 32 Water Villas set above the clear, protected waters of the lagoon. Among the largest resort villas in the world, each is attended by a personal Concierge and a dedicated Villa Valet.

This ultra-luxury all-villa resort in the Maldives offers unrivalled level of style, choice and personalized exploration. Sleek and spectacular, with unprecedented privacy, One&Only Reethi Rah presents the ultimate holiday experience to those seeking the pinnacle of tropical luxury. A tropical paradise fringed with 12 pristine beaches.

The resort of One&Only Reethi Rah is 55 minutes by luxury yacht from the airport at Male.


One of the most exclusive resorts in the Maldives, The Nautilus is an amalgamation of the very best hospitality experiences available in the world today. With just 26 residences, The Nautilus team are able to craft an unforgettable Maldivian experience.

All Nautilius houses and residences enjoy an excellent range of facilities including a large freshwater pool, expansive sun-deck with luxurious sun loungers. Amenities include complimentary wi-fi, daily water and soft drinks, a personalised mini bar, and of course a full butler service.

Located in the Baa Atoll, The Nautilus is a tiny private island 126km north west of Malé, accessible by a 35 minute seaplane flight.

The Nautilus can also be reached by 15-minute domestic flight from Malé to Dharavandhoo followed by a 15-minute speedboat transfer.


Re-inventing the concept of all inclusive luxury, Kudadoo is a unique property in Lhaviyani Atoll offering world leading service and accommodation. A true bucket list island to stay on.

Voted the world’s best new luxury hotel on opening, Kudadoo is a destination that is rarely seen. With just 15 over water villas in the resort, this tiny speck in the Indian ocean has elevated the concept of all inclusive, ultra luxury to new levels. Kudadoo also prides itself on being 100% solar powered, reflecting their ethos of sustainability and eco-conscious choices.

Because of its size, Kudadoo is the epitome of exclusive luxury and is able to completely tailor your stay to your exact requirements or desires. From dining in the underwater spa, or on a remote sandbank, and from limitless spa-time to excursions out to explore the Indian Ocean. Virtually nothing is out of bounds or impossible.

They offer 13 Ocean Residences of 300 square metres (one bedroom) and 2 Ocean Residences of 380 square metres (two bedroom), each with a 44 square metre infinity pool with expansive overwater decks and a range of relaxing seating options.

Kudadoo is where every wish is granted ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’: from privately organised fine dining to in, on and above the water adventures to luxury spa treatments.

Their all-inclusive stay packages offer all meals, beverages (including 80 different labels of wine & 6 different labels of champagne), unlimited spa treatments, unlimited private excursions and diving (for certified divers only), Romantic destination dining, & access to all the facilities in sister resort (Hurawalhi Island Resort) are offered to our guests for maximum guests satisfaction.

From Malé it is a 30-minute scenic seaplane flight.

Ithaafushi – The Private Island by Waldorf Astoria

Ithaafushi – The Private Island by Waldorf Astoria, is an exclusive tropical haven in paradise. Located just 40 minutes by private yacht journey from the airport, Ithaafushi is ideally located for those seeking privacy and secrecy.

Guests can choose from the luxurious Three Bedroom Beach Villa, Two Bedroom Overwater Villa or the Four Bedroom Residence.

It offers personally tailored hospitality, sumptuous dining, exclusive beach access, the finest leisure and spa facilities including five swimming pools, a private entertainment clubhouse, and specialist private island activities for the little guests.

The Private Island offers a private entertainment clubhouse – Haali, where guests can enjoy world-class leisure facilities. Guests can discover life beneath the waves with marine activities including snorkeling, scuba diving, as well as exciting excursions such as sailing, windsurfing and dolphin cruises. Little kids can enjoy special programmes supervised by a professional team.

A dedicated Wellness Concierge is on hand at the overwater spa to provide customised therapies catering to the needs of each guest. A stunning yoga pavilion is an inspiring space for al fresco yoga and mindful outdoor exercises from sunrise to sunset.

The Muraka at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island:

Discover THE MURAKA, a first-of-its-kind, luxury two-level residence with a master bedroom submerged 16 feet below sea level in the Indian Ocean, as part of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort.

Above water, enjoy living and dining areas fitting of one of the world’s most exclusive residences.

  • Two bedrooms and a bathroom with ocean-facing tub
  • Outdoor deck with infinity pool
  • Private 24-hour butler and private chef
  • On-call fitness trainer and spa treatments
  • Private jet skis

Make your way down the spiral staircase or elevator to your private underwater aquarium and architectural masterpiece.

  • Master bedroom with 180-degree curved acrylic dome
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows in the bathroom and walk-in closet
  • Dedicated tunnel viewing theater

Nestled in the South Ari Atoll, this exclusive island is accessible by a 30-minute seaplane flight.

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

Nestled between verdant rainforest and white-sand beaches on an exclusive private island, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort overlooks the alluring waves of the Indian Ocean.

The hosts are ready to welcome you as you explore the tropical beauty and rich marine life of this peaceful, eco-conscious setting. Their private lagoon, Iridium Spa and outdoor infinity pool promise nonpareil relaxation. It offers a large variety of water sports and excursions at their world class diving center may be arranged with the help of St. Regis signature Butler Service.

In addition, an exquisite culinary journey awaits at one of the six restaurants and bars.

Designed to be ecologically friendly, they offer 77 inspired accommodations, including 44 overwater villas and 33 located on the beach. Enjoy an unrestricted view of the Indian Ocean or the island’s lush tropical gardens from your private terrace.

Accommodation Highlights:

Caroline Astor Estate
This 3-bedroom beachfront, two-storey estate named after the celebrated mother of the St. Regis founder offers a veritable island home with 620m² of floor space. The villa houses two twin bedrooms on the ground floor and a king-size master bedroom with furnished balcony on the first floor, each with its own marble bathroom, the ground floor bathrooms also offering an outdoor deck with dual-head shower. The living space is further enhanced by a show kitchen and dining area for 6, and the expansive terrace features a 67m² private swimming pool framed by sun loungers and a plush daybed. The signature St. Regis butler service tends to each guest request promptly and discreetly.

John Jacob Astor Estate
The ultimate 3-bedroom overwater villa named after the founder of the very first St. Regis hotel in New York City, this two-storey estate offers 1540m² of space with three bedrooms (two double and one twin), a vast furnished terrace with 92m² infinity pool, formal dining room for 12, show kitchen, staff quarters, a gym, a spa room with massage table and steam room and two Jacuzzi whirlpools. This villa is something to behold, and a fantastic option for larger families who want the very best villa that money can buy.

The resort stands upon on an exquisite 22-acre paradise in the southern Dhaalu Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane journey from Male International Airport.

Patina Maldives:

Patina Maldives, Fari Islands is the inaugural flagship property from sophisticated new lifestyle brand Patina Hotels & Resorts, the latest hospitality concept by Capella Hotel Group.

Designed by renowned Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, Patina Maldives offers 90 contemporary one- to three-bedroom Beach and Water Pool Villas, alongside 20 Fari Studios, all of which embody a harmony of sanctuary and stimulation.

Set in the Fari Islands archipelago in North Malé Atoll, guests can immerse themselves in a new expression of island life through thoughtful tailormade wellness journeys, interactive music programmes, captivating culinary experiences, and bask in the light-filled James Turrell Skyspace pavilion — all while embracing the vibrant social scene that emanates from the destination’s communal heart: the Fari Marina Village and Fari Beach Club.

Patina Maldives offers 12 restaurant options, ranging from a plant-based concept to the Maldives’ first and only Greek outlet. Brick and mortar eateries will be complemented by a series of food trucks dotted around the island.

At Patina Maldives, wellness is centered on well-being. Facilities include a unique
watsu pool for passive aquatic therapy, high and low impact workout classes, the services
of highly trained consultants such as a posture expert and a sleep therapist, bio hacking,
and the usage of curative and preventative remedies to achieve a calm mind and to restore balance.

Footprints – the children’s educational activity center keep the youngest guests engaged and entertained, both indoors and outdoors.

The resort is a 45-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport.

How to book:

You can book with a a local travel designer, expert in luxury private island and beach holidays – Experiential Travel Journeys Pvt. Ltd., based out of New Delhi. They have direct connections with all of the above listed resorts, and as their preferred partners in India, they have the experience and ability to make your trip once in a lifetime experience.

– Amit Kalsi, Private Travel Designer

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