The W, Maldives
An Ultra-hip Maldivian Experience
The Maldives is home to some of the most luxurious and exciting resorts in Asia. W Maldives is one of them. This retreat is located in the North Ari Atoll which—even for the Maldives—is a spectacular location. Sure, for many, it can take a months—if not years—of savings to be able to stay here but across all the luxury resorts in the Maldives, there are few that even come close to W and the price is worth every penny.
There are 75 spacious and chic rooms and presidential suites in W Maldives divided into five luxury villas: the Wonderful Beach Oasis, Fabulous Lagoon Oasis, Wow Ocean Escape, Wow Ocean Haven and Extreme Wow Ocean Escape. We stayed in a fabulous lagoon oasis and let me tell you: it was incredible!
The rooms are all beautifully furnished in cheerful and cool colors (varying shades of blue to match the insanely turquoise water). The cool tones lend to a feeling of comfort and content, but there are also decorative pops of red to liven it all up. All rooms feature a rain shower and my favorite—a Jacuzzi pool opening into the beachfront and an inviting lounging daybed… perfect for when you want to put your feet up with a piña colada. What I really love is that the villas are surrounded by beautiful coral, which only adds to the experience of a perfect private island escape.
The Wonderful Beach Oasis rooms are—you guessed it—on the beach and offer more space for travelers to spread out. They are two-level suites with a private plunge pool off the first floor, with a deck that has two loungers and a covered cabana with a table so you can dine al fresco, as well as a second floor viewing deck that has additional seating and a cabana swing so you can watch the waves lap against the beach and read a book or just nap in complete tranquility.
The Fabulous Overwater Oasis is an overwater bungalow that is either facing the north or the south. The W very intelligently chose to extend the overwater villas out, perpendicular to the island, toward the west so that all of the overwater rooms are sunset-facing rooms (Note: this is important in the Maldives because often times you have to choose between a sunrise-facing room or a sunset-facing room and the sunset-facing rooms sell out early if you do not make a special request). The Fabulous Overwater Oasis has its own private plunge pool, covered cabana and loungers on the deck. There is a very spacious bathroom with separate toilet room, shower, and free-standing bath with views of the water.
The Wow Ocean Escape, Wow Ocean Haven and Extreme Wow Ocean Escape rooms are similar to the main overwater bungalows, but just with more space. These rooms have large, separate living rooms and larger pools and decks—perfect for families or those who wish to entertain.
W’s main restaurant, Kitchen has to be your palate opener for the day. They start the day with a full breakfast buffet with everything from your traditional American staples like made to order omelettes, French toast, pancakes, and sausage to European and Asian delights like cheese and charcuterie, granola or muesli with yogurt and dim sum, congee and noodles. Their breakfast buffet also includes unlimited mimosas and DIY Bloody Marys—perfect for if you are nursing a hangover or want to get extra lubed up for the day.
Note—if you’re a Marriott Bonvoy member, you probably got breakfast included in your stay, so take advantage of it! That’s what we did when we booked our rooms on points and it made a huge difference in our bill at the end of our stay, as the food is all pretty expensive (typical for any Maldivian resort—see my other post, Ten Things You Need to Know Before Going to the Maldives).
The menu at Kitchen switches to a la carte for lunch and dinner. They serve pretty much anything, but I recommend you to try their sashimi, pastas and roasted meats. For the mains, you can go for a bowl of savory pumpkin soup, fresh tuna salad, and a spicy pork curry with prawns. Their pastas are surprisingly good and well-priced.
Fish is another chic restaurant that you can consider. The food there is mouthwatering but I personally loved its ambiance. You get to gaze at the open sky full of luminous stars, with pristine reefs lit in an almost magical manner. It is not an experience you can get anywhere. Fish is considered their fine dining restaurant, and is not open every night so be sure to plan ahead and make sure you figure out which nights it is open and make a reservation so you can ensure you are able to get a seat.
Last but not least, Fire is one place you have to be if you love more of a steakhouse vibe. You can choose your protein—everything from steaks and chops to whole lobster and local Maldivian fish—and then choose the way you would like it grilled, adding sides to accompany your pick. They also have many vegetarian options to choose from.
When you stay at W Maldives, the coral reef is literally right at your doorstep (and even right off your room if you are in an overwater bungalow), and you are always walled in by vast horizon cloaked in a gleaming turquoise blue ocean. So, of course, most recreational activities in W center on water-based sports such as diving, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, you get the idea... There is also a world-class spa where you can go to rejuvenate yourself.
And in true W fashion, you can also head over to an underground nightclub. The bar over at Fish has a DJ on most nights, which is apparently a one-of-a-kind feature for Maldivian resorts.
The W also has its own private island that resort guests can enjoy. Gaathafushi Island, also known as “Picnic Island” offers that truly castaway-like experience. For an hourly fee, the resort staff will take you out on a speedboat and drop you off on the island, leaving you only with a cooler of sodas, water, a first aid kit and a cell phone in case of emergencies. The island has a bathroom, a few picnic tables, and one cabana swing lounger, but otherwise is completely devoid of any development—meaning it’s just you and the sand and palm trees. You can also arrange to have lunch or dinner on the island as well.
We loved the picnic island so much that we went twice. Both times we were actually greeted by a school of stingrays that gracefully swam in circles, in a group, around the island while we were there. We also found a number of small black tip reef sharks and tons of fish and coral.
One thing of note about the W is that drones are strictly prohibited on the main island. This is one of the reasons they offer the private island to guests—you can use your drone and get that Instagram-worthy footage you were looking for. Citing privacy for the other guests, the W does not allow drones to be used at all on the main island, which may end up becoming a trend for other resorts.
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For a truly unforgettable Maldivian experience, W Maldives is the place to be. But staying in one of the best resorts of Asia (if not the world) comes at a price and if you do not have Marriott Rewards or SPG, be prepared to spend a small fortune for the vacation of a lifetime. I used points, which greatly helped to defray the costs. I would highly recommend saving up those Bonvoy (Marriott/Starwood) points and using them either here or at the St. Regis.
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