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Special feature: W Retreat and Spa, Maldives

They tell you the Maldives is beautiful; they undersell it! In short, the W Retreat and Spa, Maldives is the ultimate Maldives experience: exactly how you imagined it – days, months, weeks, or even years before finally making your virgin trip over. As we were transferring from a sister Starwood resort, we were dropped off at Malé airport, from where we were escorted to the W Lounge while we waited for the seaplane. The W Lounge sets the scene for the real deal, with refreshing drinks, coffees, teas, small bites and music. As we waited for the seaplane to rev up, we were checked in at the lounge itself as there was time to spare. Having seen plenty of aerial photos of the resort prior to the trip, it was clear which of the islands most resembled what was to be our home for the next few days, as we flew over several atolls in the small seaplane. Fesdu Island, an islet in the North Ari Atoll, one of the smallest in the Maldives archipelago, hosts the W Retreat and Spa, Maldives. A crescent-shaped westward protrusion as large as the island houses the rooms. Upon landing, all the seaplane passengers were personally greeted by a team of W Retreat staff. Thanks to our check-ins having already been processed at the W Lounge, we were free to enjoy the resort facilities while our room was momentarily being readied. Seaplane view It wasn’t long before a staff member guided us to our room, an Ocean Oasis. An all-suite resort, there are five types of suites, totalling 78: Beach Oasis; Ocean Oasis, ocean view and lagoon view; Seascape Escape and the ‘presidential suite’, the Ocean Haven. Our Ocean Oasis was an ocean view suite sitting on the exterior side of the crescent, which ensured uninterrupted views of the ocean and beyond, as well as the utmost in privacy, as each adjacent villa sat slightly behind our own. Aerial view by W Maldievs The 1,600 square feet suite is jaw-dropping. The entrance leads direct to the high-ceiling, round, thatched-hut bedroom. The cubic-shaped stilted over-water suites are transformed into open spaces with clever use of curves in the interiors, such as the floor-to-ceiling curved glass window, separating the bedroom and living space from the private deck. The large bathroom also has a partial view of the outdoor deck and beyond, obscured only by the oversized bathtub. The king-sized bed occupies most of the intimate bedroom, but a false level leads to a more relaxed living area, with a bed-side chaise lounge and a partial glass-floor that lets you peep into the ocean. Ocean Oasis Ocean View by W Maldives Unlike many W Retreats that employ more funky design styles, the 2005-built resort displays more natural elements such as wood and marble. Although the décor and interiors are contemporary, the tones are soft, allowing the view and its natural surroundings to shine, which is most obvious on the deck. Private deck The private deck, separated by the floor-to-ceiling windows, is probably where we spent most of our time. The large wooden-tiled deck has a curved sofa, a round bed, and a large infinity plunge pool to wade in while overseeing the ocean. A laddered entrance to the ocean just beyond the pool also invites the guest in to snorkel or a swim. With a barbecue hiding on the side, a common activity is to enjoy a seafood barbecue lunch or early dinner deck-side, which the resort kindly arranges for. Infinity plunge pool There are three further dining options available at the resort. KITCHEN, a casual restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a mix of cuisines. FIRE offers a more intimate experience without straying too far from the casual nature of the resort: a buffet barbecue is presented beachside, with a heavy focus on seafood and local regional cuisines. FIRE by W Maldives FISH, the resort’s more sophisticated restaurant, perched just above the ocean, serves the freshest catch of the day in a fusion of gastronomical stylesWhile the food at the resort was good, it was the romantic environment and the ambiance that is the highlight. FISH by W Maldives Further to the dining, there are two bars at the resort; the WET bar sits just off the public swimming pool, while SIP, the resort’s sunset lounge, is perched just over the water, and is ideal for watching the changing of the day’s colours with oysters, sushi and caviar to complement. However, in keeping with the W’s worldwide reputation of being a party destination, the resort also hosts a unique funky nightclub, 15BELOW, which provided an upbeat change from our usual relaxing nights, giving a much-needed party atmosphere with upbeat rhythms. The W Retreat also occassionally hosts events – we were lucky enough to enjoy a stay while Thai fashion designer Milin presented their latest collection with a runway fashion show at WET, complemented by signature cocktails and food by Executive Chef Severin Huerlimann. The party continued with beats by DJ Aline and Sünne. Wellness is a key feature at the resort, with the AWAY Spa, situated at the eastern tip of the island, DOWN UNDER and WAVE, the resort’s watersports centres, leading the proceedings. Several white-tented open cabins provide a luxurious, private and natural setting to enjoy several of the signature treatments available. The AWAY Spa also runs rejuvenating morning (and evening) yoga sessions, that put me and my partner through quite a workout on our last day there. With a house reef rivaling the best diving spots in the world, snorkeling and diving in the vicinity of the resort, even just outside your villa, is of the highest quality – with the sea brimming with several species of marine life, including rays. Snorkeling DOWN UNDER also runs educational programmes, guided diving and snorkeling tours, as well as a night snorkeling tour. Night Snorkeling by W Maldives Further guided tours can take you to nearby spots including Whale Shark Point and Hammerhead Point, where you can swim with some of the world’s largest fish. Special highlights at the W include diving tours of the Fesdu shipwreck, and, for the romantically inclined, a private stay, either for a few hours during the day or overnight, at Gaathafushi Island, or a trip on the resort’s private yacht, ESCAPE. Beach As a final note, the W is renowned worldwide for its service, with the motto of “Whatever [you want], Whenever [you want it]”. From asking for a lighter to light up my partner’s cigarettes, to requesting for an underwater camera as we were on the beach about to go snorkeling, the resort’s service motto was tested to its fullest. The W Retreat and Spa Maldives passed with flying colours, with the staff willing to do any bidding required. A special thanks to Mega Maldives Air for making an incredible trip possible. Overview by W Maldives

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  1. Wow! Wow! This will only remain a dream for me! This must be the most beautiful resort I have seen. But it looks very expensive. With our South African currency being so weak for a couple of years, going overseas has become a no go zone for some people. We can’t even afford to go visit our relatives now residing in other countries.

  2. Have only heard great things about W Maldives. Needless to say, I may need to go there myself to ensure everything is up to standard. Looks lovely indeed and seems like you had a great time!

  3. All this talk of the Maldives and the pictures to match is making me very jealous. I think it’s time for a trip.. STAT.

  4. SO MUCH JEALOUSY. this looks absolutely divine. feel like i need to test out this WET bar you mentioned. for research purposes.

  5. Between you and Mrs. O, the Maldives has GOT TO move up on my list of places to go… AND this W Resort has my name written all over it.

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