The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023

Words by
Jemima Sissons

10th August 2023

The Indian Ocean’s most desirable destination has extended its offer way beyond picture-perfect honeymoons. Discover the many faces of paradise with our guide to the ultimate Maldives resorts 2023.

How do you edit paradise? When it comes to considering the ultimate Maldives resorts 2023, you’re already looking at a hotel scene so glittering, and undisputedly, fabulously beautiful that bringing the SPHERE sorting hat seems almost moot.

However, if you are considering the Maldives as either a once-in-a-lifetime destination, or are seeking to return to the islands and try something different from your previous experience, then a deeper dive into what these palm-fringed idylls have to offer is necessary.

After all, when over-water suites come as standard, and golden beaches undulate as far as the eye can see, you’ll want to ensure you are making a decision that’s fits your precise brief. Whether it’s for romance, a wellness retreat, a sustainable option or something to satisfy foodie indulgences, or an exacting eye for exceptional design, we have pinpointed the destinations that aim to serve exactly that.

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023

Best for Wellness - Velaa Private Island

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
Velaa in the Noonu Atoll, already known as one of most exclusive private resorts in the Maldives, has just added a new Wellbeing Village to its estate.

Already known for being one of the most exclusive private island resorts in the Maldives, Velaa in the Noonu Atoll has added a new Wellbeing Village to its estate, offering everything from a wellness restaurant to a calming yoga pavilion.

Eveylaa means ancient in the local language, and the resort’s Eveylaa Wellbeing centre fuses ancient and western philosophies, focusing on three core pillars: medical, osteo and ayurveda. This means guests can combine blood analysis, technical massage and traditional ayurveda steam treatments, all in one place, in an integrated approach that is complemented by the resort’s Velaa Academy yoga and pilates studio.

Alongside this, Faiy restaurant serves healthy, waist-friendly dishes such as marinated avocado with Maldivian yellowfin tuna and beetroot tartare, or freshwater prawns with green mango, Thai basil and pink grapefruit. The restaurant’s name means leaf, reflecting its natural, unprocessed ingredients as well as its location, surrounded by tropical greenery.

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
One of the stunningly picturesque private residences on Velaa.

A new pavilion overlooking the island’s golf course has also just launched — a quiet and serene place to take part in private yoga or meditation, as well as group sound healing or reformer pilates.

The resort is one of the most intimate in the Maldives, comprising 47 villas, houses and residences, with the romantic pool residence only accessible by boat. Velaa is also a playground for the active, with tennis courts, a football pitch and a climbing wall.

The kids’ club features wellness-focused themes such as nature hunts, gardening and craft recycling, as well as active sessions in the resort’s water park and games of Maldivian baseball and hopscotch.

From £1,927 per night (Wellbeing Village treatments not included),

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
The hotel has recently added a Wellbeing Centre which includes the Faiy restaurant, which focuses on deliciously healthy, local food.

Best for Design - Ritz-Carlton

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
The Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, in the North Malé Atoll opened in 2021 and is distinctive for its incredible curved architecture by the late Australian designer, Kerry Hill.

When The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands in the North Malé Atoll opened in 2021, one of the centrepieces of its distinctive circular architecture — devised by the late Australian designer Kerry Hill — was the vast kids’ club. The grass-roofed structure is packed with chic wooden toys,  a curvaceous playground and sensory murals. Everything is designed thoughtfully in this 100-villa resort, and much is based around the circular architecture, which recalls the shape of an island. Beach villas curve gracefully, including the private pool, and a cool palette provides calm, as do the comfortable round daybeds on your very own terrace.

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
A beach pool villa at the Ritz-Carlton Fari Islands shares its curvilinear style with the surrounding islandm and gthe resort as a whole.

The extraordinary 758-sq-m spa is almost futuristic in its execution. Deft massages are delivered using Bamford products and the soundtrack is provided by lulling waves. The rooms are intuitively designed, with floor-to-ceiling electric drapes and — something of a rarity in the region — easy-to-navigate lighting systems.

This resort also has one of the warmest hearts in all of the Maldives. A Maldivian feast is regularly laid on — chilli lovers should watch out for the supercharged local variety, delicious (for the brave) on everything from reef fish curry to cabbage — alongside the beats of traditional bodu beru drums.

Priority Coast beach cruiser bicycles are provided to transport guests to hideaway spots such as the swing set amid frangipani bushes overlooking the sea. The wonderful aris meeha — a butler concept inspired by the royal courts of the ancient Maldives — make sure everything is seamless, from providing cool teepees in rooms for children to organising floating picnics in the private pool.

Sister resort Patina, also in the North Malé Atoll, is all Scandi-style modernist charm. Don’t miss a pootle over to Fari Marina Village for a lunch of prawn summer rolls or beef cheek rendang from the Tum Tum street food truck.

From £1,480 per night,

Best for Food - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
An easy 40-minute boat hop from Malé airport, the 119-villa resort offers 11 restaurants and bars, including the first Maldivian outpost of Zuma.

The Maldives has upped its gastro game considerably over the past few years, and  at the forefront is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, which opened in 2019. An easy 40-minute boat hop from Malé airport, the 119-villa resort offers 11 restaurants and bars, including the first Maldivian outpost of Zuma.

Sitting above the water, the restaurant features a robata grill and sushi restaurant, and is already gaining a name for delicate dishes such as thinly sliced seabass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe. Carnivores are kept satisfied by the Australian barbecue-style cooking at The Ledge by Dave Pynt, and for a bosky romantic dinner, Terra, nestled treetop in bamboo pods with panoramic views, serves up white truffle and wagyu beef. 

Private beach dining is also available, as well as delicious Peking duck from Li Long, roasted in a wood-fired oven, or farm-to-table plant-based fare and organic wines from Glow.

From £2,753 per night,

Best for Sustainability - Gili Lankanfushi

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
This 1,700-sq-m multi-level villa, The Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi, has its own gym, water slide, sun decks and infinity pool, not to mention butlers on call 24/7.

For those seeking Robinson Crusoe luxe — as many shoeless super-execs do — it doesn’t get more perfect than Gili Lankanfushi, with its commitment to sustainable, barefoot luxury. For the ultimate stay, consider the Private Reserve, only reachable by boat. This 1,700-sq-m multi-level villa has its own gym, water slide, sun decks and infinity pool, not to mention butlers on call 24/7. Everything, from loo roll holders to taps, is crafted in wood. Shoes are left at the door for the entirety of the stay, water is filtered, and organic toiletries come in refillable earthenware containers.

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
Oceanside dining at the Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi

The resort has just opened a new eco centre which includes a food composter and a glass crushing machine that creates construction materials from glass waste, alongside an organic garden that grows vegetables for the plant-based menu. Gili Lankanfushi also helps protect marine life by tracking manta rays, growing local corals as part of the region’s Coral Lines project, and educating guests with guided snorkelling trips.

Villas from £1,150 per night, Private Reserve from £6,670 per night,

Best for Romance - Alila Kothaifaru


The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
Designed with privacy in mind, each villa comes with its own pool, where floating breakfasts provide a unique start to the day.

This sleek, slick resort, which opened last year, is a bit of a hidden gem, located in the north of the Maldives in the Raa Atoll. The pared-back, modernist design is a departure from that of many more traditional resorts, with understated, neutral palettes and textures. Designed with privacy in mind, each villa comes with its own pool, where floating breakfasts provide a unique start to the day.

The Ultimate Maldives Resorts 2023
Fresh food is the order of the day at this resort, with fresh fish brought in on a traditional Maldivian dhoni sailing boat twice a day.

Hidden among the lush vegetation are secluded rooms where couples’ treatments are offered. The Journey to You treatment starts with a private hatha yoga lesson for two followed by a Balinese massage and coconut body scrub, finishing with reflexology and fresh camomile tea.

Fresh fish is brought in on a traditional Maldivian dhoni sailing boat twice a day. Couples can be castaways at The Shack,  Alila Kothaifaru’s very own private giri (sand cay), reached by dhoni, where the offer includes a beach picnic or a sunset barbecue, alongside a signature Garden Spice cocktail, a blend of galangal, lemongrass-infused vodka, island chilli  and watermelon liqueur. This is also one of the more affordable resorts, comparatively speaking, in a destination where it is generally hard to get much change from £1,000 per night.

From £700 per night, Alila Kothaifaru