As if the pearly drops, a.k.a. islands, that make up Maldives are not magical enough, St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort goes out of its away to further allure with some captivating experiences
By: Suman Tarafdar
Posted on: June 19, 2019
LF Says: ★★★★.5
I am an urban traveller, and I offer no excuses for it. The pull of Maldives had been sold to me earlier, and glossed over. Just the sheer thought of being in the middle of the ocean – however turquoise, azure, cobalt, ultramarine and magical – had never quite appealed, and I travelled to the island isle with some ennui, almost ticking off a to-do.
The changeover at Male airport to the seaplane operated by Trans Maldivian Airways did little to alleviate the anticipation. Despite the comfortable St. Regis airport lounge (most resorts have a waiting lounge where guests can wait for their transfer to their resort) near the seaplane terminal, there was an impatience to get on with the final leg of the journey. The lounge has a small reception area with seating for about 20 guests, a restroom with shower and small eats on offer. Easily the most popular activity is gazing at the seaplane taking off and landing just outside. The seaplane flight itself, pricey as it is, is a cramped experience on a Twin Otter eight-seater plane.
Of course, nothing quite prepares you for the reality of the turquoise, azure, cobalt and ultramarine – I did forget sapphire, teal, cornflower and multiple other shades whose names I would need to get acquainted with. Flying over these impossibly pretty seas – occasionally dotted with dense verdant tree covers of golden sandy beaches – it’s love at first sight (yes, capitulation was instant, unlike any of the previous marine-beach-sand centric destinations I had previously encountered).
The flight takes about 40 minutes to St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, part of the southern Dhaalu Atoll. A private island resort spanning more than 20 acres, for most guests landing here is akin to stepping into heaven. Pre heaven? Definitely a glimpse of Eden.
From the air, the island itself seems oval shaped with one end cut off – from where a chain of villas snakes out into the sea. Lush green is the dominant colour, fringed by impossibly white sands. Closer inspection reveal cunning little pathways, well shaded and cool despite the bright sun, with the island’s edges intermittently dotted with villas, most well tucked away behind dense foliage.
With time, one realises there is a secluded lagoon with sparkling turquoise waters to the west, long stretches of beaches, while the south has the arrival jetty, the spa and the dive centre. The resort’s design draws inspiration from local natural environs. Imagine a tropical village – just with all the mod cons in place. Easily the most striking is the overwater spa in the form of a lobster, though the whale shark-inspired bar is a close second. The coastal villas draw inspiration from the Maldivian dhoni boats, while the library reminds one of a spiral shell.
Easily the most anticipated feature of Maldivian resorts are the villas on water – usually coconut palm topped. Most of St. Regis Maldives’ coveted 77 villas are on water, 44 to be exact, though there are some spectacular ones along the beach or over the lagoon as well. All the Overwater Villas (OV) are huge – 182 sq. mt. comprising a bedroom and a living room, besides a huge bathroom and an open-air deck that has a private swimming pool. Yes, each OV comes with a pool!
Once you have satiated yourselves with the exterior views, turn your gaze inwards, for the interiors are spectacular too. The exterior of the villas are a shade of beech, while inside you may be forgiven for thinking you have been suddenly transported to Scandinavia. The wood finishes in soothing pastels do nothing to distract from the TACU+ shades that the interplay of sea, sky and fluffy clouds are playing outside.
Each room is hi-tech though. The wifi is excellent, even on water. All electronic control is via tablets – which allow guests to control not just lighting and air-conditioning, but also the myriad curtains, Bluetooth music and stream from Netflix. Helpfully, universal power sockets are easily located. The bathroom features a double vanity, large bathtub and a walk-in shower. Amenities are well-stocked. Expect Remède toiletries, oh-so-comfy robes, bath slippers, loofahs, bath salts...
Not that you need to do anything - each villa comes with a personal butler. Friendly and helpful, they seem to constantly provide additional pleasures – drawing a luxurious bath with a heart, keeping the mini bar (not so mini actually) always replenished, and of course fielding any query and arranging any activities you might be inspired to partake in. The villas come not just with complimentary bikes, in time, the bikes get your initials too – just in case a bike robber emerges in the idyll?
Given that your stay is going to be on the island, a number of options exist to help time fly by. Of course, water-related activities top the list for most guests. St. Regis Maldives also has a private lagoon, a full-service PADI dive centre and plenty of water sports offerings. Take your pick from diving to snorkelling, parasailing, surfing, or speedboating, water and jet skiing and windsurfing to deep-sea fishing and glass-bottom kayak tours, stand-up paddle boarding and sea kayaking. You don’t have to choose – indulge in them all, or as many as you choose. While snorkelling – hugely recommended - look out for immeasurable coral formations and massive sea caves besides the teeming sea life of course. Then there is a spectacular infinity pool, The ocean itself offers a chance to scuba dive, or swim in crystal clear waters, or just laze around on the beaches.
A cherry on top is the Norma, one of the most technologically advanced yachts in the world, and owned by the hotel, which can be booked for excursions or overnight trips.
Back on land, there a number of engagement options as well. The heart of the resort perhaps is Vommuli House, which claims to be the largest recreational centre in all of Maldives. This building houses a yoga studio (the antigravity yoga class comes recommended), fully equipped fitness centre, a hair salon, and a children’s club.
Yes, kids get their own spaces. Younger children, aged 4 to 12, have options such as yoga classes, cooking courses in a children’s kitchen, participating in creative arts and crafts including origami and painting, besides stacks of books and games of course. Just besides Vommuli House is the Socialite Club, basically for teenagers aged 16 years and older. Their entertainment options include table tennis, foosball, pool, and air hockey as well as video and board games.
There’s a captivating nursery right besides Vommuli House too, with beds of all kinds of herbs and vegetables. Along the beach is a charming library with a selection of books and a couple of workstations – a reminder of the ‘real’ world that awaits outside this idyll. Then there is the boutique – a charming assortment of apparel, jewellery, local crafts, books, caps and sunglasses and more. Do not miss the Observatory, just above the shop, for some dramatic views of the island and the ocean.
And there’s more
If you are not relaxed enough already, head to St. Regis Maldives' Iridium spa, an 1,850-square-metre overwater sanctuary, featuring plush furnishings set against white oak interiors to create an ambience of elegant tranquility. It has wonderful treatments of course – and views that few others can match. Sliding-glass doors allow guests to admire unfettered sea vistas from their spa beds while private terraces with soaking bathtubs ensure relaxation enhanced by fresh ocean breezes. Indulge in the Blue Hole Pool, which has heated seawater and an array of whirlpool jets designed to melt away tension while offering curative benefits.
For those interested in seeing the interiors of the various room categories, easily the most impressive is the John Jacob Astor Estate, a sea-facing tropical castle that comes with its own gym, a cinema room and spa suites attached to each of the bedrooms, plus three staff quarters, a 92-m2 infinity pool, a jacuzzi and two plunge pools. It also has a fully furnished kitchen and can accommodate up to 12 people.
Of course, the island comes with quite a few dining options, and the lazier patrons of the resort can expect to quite substantially add to their waistlines. Alba is a contemporary Italian restaurant besides the main pool, and is also the breakfast venue. With indoor and outdoor seating and buffet and a la carte options, Alba’s options are myriad and could take time to do full justice. Close by is the more casual Crust, a pizzeria that is also wonderful for light meals, cocktails and ocean views. Then there is the Asian fine-dining venue Orientale, in the middle of the resort’s lush vegetation, further subdivided by various oriental cuisines – Indian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Thai, etc! Then there is Cargo, which offers Lebanese cuisine - amidst dense jungle vegetation!
An unexpected stunner is Decanter, located below Alba. An underground wine cellar adorned by white oak wine racks housing thousands of renowned vintages, it is ideal for wine tastings and small groups, though do reserve in advance to avoid disappointments.
Have I saved the best for the last? The Whale Bar, an ‘overwater lounge’, is architecturally stunning. It is also the best place in the resort to view the magnificent sunsets over the ocean while you imbibe a series of wines and spirits in the company of an array of tapas. Time flies, and even though the world beckons, you know your return dates are fixed!
LF Says: ★★★★.5
Coordinates: St. Regis Maldives, Vommuli Island, Dhaalu Atoll, Maldives