W Retreat & Spa Maldives
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W Retreat & Spa Maldives Northern Ari Atoll Reviews
Another Day in Paradise Apr 11, 2009
A combination of idyllic Maldivian azure blue seas and white sands, gorgeous rooms and a ‘whatever, whenever’ policy, makes the W Retreat & Spa the ultimate in paradise island escapes
It’s 4pm. I’m basking in the sunshine on my private deck - which is hanging over a crystal clear sea – chilled music from my iPod is being piped out of the outdoor speakers and I’m sipping a fresh fruit cocktail. It’s hard to believe that a mere two days earlier my mind was trying to negotiate a minefield of editorial deadlines and fashion shoots and now, the most taxing mental debate I’ve faced all day is whether to leave my private ‘ocean oasis’ to go for lunch, or to order room service. I opted for the latter, just in case you’re wondering.
Welcome to the W Retreat and Spa in the Maldives, a 5-star haven from the stresses and strains of daily life. The expression ‘heaven on earth’ is touted around frequently –especially in hotel marketing literature – but until you’ve experienced a stint here you won’t actually know what it means.
Touching down by sea plane at the W pier, after a seamless transfer from the arrivals room at Male airport we are met by a welcome party of grinning staff, all ready with fruit juices and comfortable trolleys. As if by magic our luggage is taken care of and we are speedily delivered to our accommodation – mine is one of 46 ‘ocean villas’ built on stilts over a shallow lagoon that stretch away from the island. As I enter music is playing and crossing a glass porthole in the floor of the bedroom - through which, every night like clockwork, I observe a pair of stingrays nestling together in the sand (it seems that the romantic vibe the Maldives exudes isn’t confined only to human visitors) – making my way onto a private deck. White drapes flutter around a daybed next to an infinite plunge pool and an outdoor shower. Across the lagoon I can see someone windsurfing in the swell and there’s access to the lagoon via a small ladder down from the deck.
Situated on the Fesdu Island – a short seaplane ride from Male, the nation’s capital and location of the airport - in the North Ari Atoll area of the Maldives, the W may be one of the newest luxury resorts (it opened in 2006), but it has already made a splash within the industry having received awards aplenty, including the best new hotel/resort 2008 in the Asia Travel Industry Awards. And it’s hardly surprising considering the ‘whatever, wherever’ policy, where staff will arrange literally anything (within the realms of possibility), whether this be setting up a barbeque in your retreat or flying in blueberries for breakfast by helicopter (true story!).
Taking a stroll around the small island – and the over-reef villas – we get a sense for the small, well-thought details that have gone into the planning of the resort, for example, the self-service ‘pit-stops’ dotted around the island that are stocked with supplies of insect repellent, sunscreen, towels, a mini-bar and a freezer packed with tempting ice creams.
For serious foodies, the W is heaven – chiefly thanks to the expertise of executive chef, Hector. As well as the all-day dining at Kitchen restaurant, Fire – as the name suggests – offers guests four different methods of cooking using fire (Mongolian BBQ, char-grill, Tandoori oven and spit-roast rotisserie). I have dinner twice at Fish, the island’s signature seafood restaurant, where chef Hector advises on a yummy personal selection of favourites. Then it’s around the corner (literally) for some serious post-dinner dancing at the too-cool-for-school 15Below, an underground dance club (the only one in the Maldives), where the island’s cognoscenti – if there is such a group on an island this small – dance the night away. The venue is also stocked with one of the most comprehensive vodka selections you’re ever likely to find, making it particularly popular with the louche Russian guests. Walking back to my ‘ocean oasis’, I observe the sky – coming from the UAE where few stars manage to permeate the thick city smog, seeing the night sky, constellations, milky way and all, is truly awesome. I make a wish on a shooting star.
The next morning it’s up early for a snorkeling trip around the island’s impressive reef. First, a hearty breakfast at Kitchen is required to ease last night’s excesses: eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, spinach and sautéed mushrooms – the best I’ve tasted. The impressive reef surrounding the island makes for perfect diving and snorkeling, indeed, this was one of the highlights of the trip. Around the reef we see a symphony of aquatic life: two huge green turtles, schools of clownfish, stingrays and enormous parrotfish nibbling on the coral. After the mild physical exertion, I decided that a trip to the Dhow-inspired ‘away spa’ was a must – where I opted for the signature massage. And, post-treatment, I once again test the ‘whenever, wherever’ policy by requesting to have lunch set up for me on the beautiful spa deck. Not an eye was raised as lunch was delivered and a table expertly laid.
It’s my last night – all too quickly my experience at the W is drawing to a close. As the light fades I slip into my infinite pool and watch the dramatic sunset over the ocean. Glass of champagne in hand, the smell of the sea in the air and a gentle breeze, yes, pure indulgence like this comes at a price, but it’s an experience that needs to be done at least once in a lifetime and I for one plan on repeating it very soon.
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Loved Fesdu Aug 05, 2008
The house reef at this island is fabulous, however since making it in to a five star resort I feel that the specialness of the island has been lost. It is now full of sea villas, which has spoilt the islands tranquility.
W Retreat & Spa Maldives Overview
Where can you find paradise?
Welcome to the W Retreat & Spa - Maldives, cast away in the Ari Atoll by the brilliant turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Want a beachfront haven? Wake up to the sun in our bi-level Marvellous Beach Retreat with your own private beach. Prefer the zen of water? Enjoy the symphony of the gentle waves from your Marvellous Aqua Retreat, perched over the spectacular lagoon and house reef.
Relax in the secluded luxury of our villas, designed for contemporary living around the natural beauty of the environment, striking the balance between style and soul. Pamper yourself with lavish Maldivian living - plunge pools, daybeds, plasma screen TVs, and the W Signature Bed.
Who wants to play? Head to Bubbles, our dive center, and explore the breathtaking underwater wonderland by the house reef. Chill out with the cool marine life in nature's warm coral design. Prefer to ride on water? Splash, our water sports facility, will outfit you. Play on the island. Sunbathe at Wet pool deck. De-stress at the innovative Away Spa. Get physical at Sweat fitness center. Or simply take in the tropical paradise, where every effort has been made to preserve the natural beauty, marine life and the delicate ecosystem.
Fulfill your epicurean desires at Fire, reminiscent of a jungle barbeque with a serene, romantic and casual mood. Go local - Fish features wild-caught fresh seafood prepared in the open plan kitchen. Or head to Kitchen - a modern interpretation of Bistro fare. Afterwards, hang out at the unique 15 Below bar spinning the latest vibes.
Ufaaveri Keumeh, Bon Appetit., As of January 1, 2012, Goods and Service Tax (GST) will change from 3.5% to 6%. GST is applied to room rates, meal supplements, transfers and all other goods and services provided., Travel time is 45 minutes to the hotel. Round trip seaplane charge is USD393/person (until Dec 25, 2011) and USD383/person (Dec 26, 2011 onwards). The seaplane operates 7 AM-4 PM., Effective January 1, 2012, a departure tax of US $25 is mandatory for all passengers departing from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport., W Retreat & Spa - Maldives children policy: due to the design of our accommodations and the general layout and facilities of the retreat, it is not suited for guests below the age, Effective 1 January 2013, the T-GST tax will be revised to 8%., For non-US hotels, rates confirmed in USD may be converted to local currency by the hotel at your time of stay, based on the exchange rate used by the hotel.
W Retreat & Spa Maldives Amenities