What It’s Like To Stay At Le Méridien Maldives, A Sun-Drenched Mid-Century-Influenced Resort In Asia’s Smallest Country

My Adidas sneakers were made for the gym. They weren’t made for the beach, but Lhaviyani atoll in the Maldives, an area spanning a kilometre or so, is quite literally a gigantic mound of white fine-pebbled sand beach. It’s less than a five-minute stroll from my sea-fronting pool villa at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa to its ably equipped gym, with both TRX gear and racks of dumbbells for all types of athletic dispositions. From its floor-to-ceiling windows, the powder-blue skyline and emerald-hued seascapes set the scene for gut-busting burpees, synchronised jumps and push-ups. There was sand in my shoes from the walk and, as any experienced traveller knows, sand has the annoying propensity to get everywhere. So, back at the villa, a quick text to the Le Méridien At Your Service WhatsApp chat was needed. My request: a vacuum cleaner from housekeeping. It took a while, but a vacuum cleaner, hooked up in a Jetson-style backpack, did indeed appear, and my suitcase was saved from having sand-lined interiors.

Le Méridien Hub, reception area.

This unexpected brush with (and subsequent elimination of) Maldivian elements only serves to highlight the resort’s immaculate environs—the clearest of water and the purest of skies. In fact, the setting’s jaw-sliding awesomeness didn’t waver throughout my four days at the resort. Isn’t this the inherent magic that the Maldives wields? The location, discovered in the 1980s by the jetsetters of that era searching for a less remote location (compared to French Polynesia) for their iterations of paradise on earth, continues to attract celebrities, reality television stars, Insta-influencers and the odd billionaire.

Le Méridien Hub, waiting area.

Just as the world’s elite make their way to the Maldives to escape the winter sun or politics at home, everyday Joes (me), too, have found a sanctuary in the world, where skies still project luminescent hues and the sea hasn’t suffered the same fate of pollution and waste dumping from oil tankers and cruise liners as, say, the Gulf of Thailand.

Le Méridien Hub, relaxing spot.

Both onland and below water, this 141-villa resort, which is part of an atoll that sits on the natural island of Thilamaafushi, gives wannabe naturalists the chance to take in the local flora and fauna along with the elaborate reef ecosystem that the resort has made a mission of not merely protecting but also regenerating. This includes coral restoration activities, deriving the resort’s power supply through solar means, as well as water desalination that transforms sea water into water that’s bottled for guests and staff consumption.

Turquoise Restaurant dining area.

Enough environment-pontification. At the resort’s Velaa Bar and Grill, the menu and the drinks are punctuated with international personality. Sip on cool coffee and coconut milk, graze on juicy watermelon salads, and take in the beach scene. This, depending on the guest mix, could compose of adventure-seeking Koreans, British honeymooners and an assortment of Europhiles. Lunch here is a casual affair, a style that Le Méridien has perfected over the years: slightly arty, mostly relaxed and absolutely sophisticated. If your stay coincides with the restaurant’s lobster and champagne night, that option is the one to choose. Here, guests are huddled on their own private island with staff from all over the world, slightly reminiscent of Below Deck, the long-running reality television series. But this arrangement is reflective of most luxury resorts in the Maldives.

Velaa Bar & Grill poolside dining.

During daytime, water activities such as scuba diving, big game fishing, turtle questing, snorkelling (day and night), and sunset fishing could fill the hours. Other guests take a more laidback approach by visiting the spa. The chic spa building is all about a quaint-ish pastiche of European design (think mid-century with a touch of Indochine plantation house) and the setting for breezy afternoons spent indulging in Ayurvedic treatments such as the shirodara—comprising the pouring of warm healing blended oils onto the foreahead—and an on-so-tingly scalp, head and shoulder massage.

A romantic dinner at Riviera Beach.

As a result of my therapist’s considerable skills, I walked back to my villa post-treatment, oiled-up and quite possibly floating on air. Sleep that night wasn’t elusive, and dinner was starlit. It was prepared by chefs dedicated to their craft (the seared soft tofu slab with ‘condiments’ is my most unforgettable meal this year, by far), using produce from the resort’s hydroponic vegetable farm. My stomach gurgled, and my mind grappled with the question of why didn’t I insist on staying an extra night in what is arguably one of the few fully preserved paradises left on earth.

More photos of Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa

Le Méridien

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