3.2°N, 73.2°E Maldives – Pick an Island
Resorts – with a capital R. The Maldive Islands are like pearls some mythical god threw into the sea and they just float there. Composed of 1200 islands only 200 of which are inhabited, there is plenty of room for me, you and all our friends to occupy our own special island. The resorts that balance on top of the pearls beckon and shine like no where in the world.
The biggest threat to the Maldives comes from the rise in sea levels. At an average elevation of only four feet, devastation comes in the form of tsunamis and storm surges. The 2004 tsunami destroyed six islands completely. Twenty-one resort islands were forced to close because of serious damage. Yes, they worry about being eliminated completely if sea levels continue to rise. The natural challenges we complain about like snow removal and flooding take on a different perspective. At least we don’t have to go real estate shopping for a place to move our country.
Yet major investment continues. The Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group opened the Cheval Blanc resort at Randheli Island fourteen months ago. It’s a stunner with forty-eight bungalows, beach, garden, overwater, attention to texture and vistas, art work, lighting fixtures, and sculpted walls. The minimalist architecture presents a refreshing vision from island kitsch.
Accessible by boat or seaplane, the remoteness promotes decompression. No complaining about the traffic to the ‘airport.’ A stroll on the pier or a ride in a golf cart takes guests to the heart of the open air buildings with art.
The infinity pool next to the White Bar is 10 feet from waves that lap at the brilliant sand. WiFi reaches the beach hammocks and the world remains a click away. The resort’s list of offerings boggles the mind: moonlight yoga, private islands via catamaran (motors are noisy and annoying), a wedding on a dhoni and dinner on a platform in the middle of a lagoon. Any dream can likely be realized. Don’t expect to buy chips or soda at the Concept Store. However, there is a gorgeous selection of Emilio Pucci caftans and Indian sapphires, with price tags to match. If you have to ask….
A dhoni boat, the centuries-old Maldivian craft made from coconut palm wood, will take guests over to an island, a whole island, devoted to the Cheval Blanc spa. The significant wine cellar in Le 1947, named for a Cheval Blanc vintage Bordeaux, provides pairings for their tasting menu equal to any in New York or Paris.
How the LVMH group managed to get such sophistication all the way here boggles the mind. It’s as though the whole resort rose from the ocean like magic city. Will the sea reclaim it in the next monsoon or tsunami? Perhaps its preciousness lies in its tenuous future.