A Vintage Vacation
WHEN ON A FAMILY VACATION TO THE MALDIVES, WOULD YOU EXPECT ANYTHING ELSE FROM A NEW RESORT NAMED AFTER A FAVORITE WINE?
THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I ENVISIONED IT. Lounging on my deck, chilled glass of wine in
hand, I’m doing little more than absorbing the pristine Noonu Atoll that surrounds me. When news hit that Cheval Blanc, one of the only four wines to receive a Premiere Grand Cru Classe in the St Emillion, Bordeaux region, not to mention a personal favorite, was opening a hotel in the Maldives I began to dream. The best image? A resort in the middle of clear Indian Ocean waters with bottles of Cheval Blanc locked away in Louis Vuitton trunks (Cheval Blanc is owned by LVMH). There was no way we were going to miss out on this.
A 55-minute seaplane flight from Male to the Noonu Atoll takes you to the midst of sparkling blue oceans, white beaches and alluring coral reefs. Upon landing at Cheval Blanc Randheli, prepare to be blown away by the hotel’s three islands: the first for the 45 one- and twobedroom villas; another houses the spa; and the third is set aside for the tennis courts. Enjoy the welcome drinks as you are whisked to your private villa on the water.
Now that you are engulfed in Louis Vuitton perfection, expectations of Cheval Blanc Randheli will never fall short. Expect nothing less than sublimity. Step into your secluded Maison and be astonished by the incredible architecture with high ceilings and a view of the shimmering, turquoise water. Sit on one of the several plush couches and nibble on the crispy meringues that melt in your mouth, dip your spoon in the bowl of gazpacho, or dive into the generous bowl of fruits. We needed time to explore the bathroom, thoughtfully divided into sides for Madame and Monsieur, complete with Cheval Blanc amenities, and a giant bathtub against the window overlooking the ocean. The enormous walk-in closet had several comfortable seating areas. Now, step out to your deck with your very own, private infinity pool, complemented by two in-pool cushions and sunken dining table. Tired of the pool? Jump off your deck in to the beryl waters and climb back up on the steps. Don’t forget to stop and take a photo. We perfected the art of jumping off the deck and having our very patient private butler take mid-air family pix. We knew this picture would serve as our holiday greeting card so this was our main physical exertion for the trip.
Hungry yet? Hop on to your bicycles and head on over to the White Restaurant for lunch, where they serve just
about every cuisine you can think of. Crave pizza, sushi, Indian food, pasta, soup, sandwiches, Thai food, spring rolls, burgers, noodles, hot dogs or rice? They’ve got it.
In the charming white room with large, open windows and doors, with views of the main pool and sea, have a seat wherever you like. Staff is there to please you, and only you. Expect to be treated like royalty. Every food allergy or preference will be noted and e-mailed to the kitchen directly. No more cherry tomatoes in my gazpacho—which I had eight times during four days.
The array and choices of food at the property are endless from a Japanese restaurant that houses an outdoor teppanyaki table to a 9-course exquisite culinary journey at Le 1947, named after Château Cheval Blanc’s with the three items that the French take most pride in— baguettes, butter and cheese. Fueling with a heavy dose of carbs every morning gave us the energy to lounge around in our villa for a bit before we began our daily ritual of perfecting our deck jumps.
I was astonished at how everything was in arm’s reach. Delicious snacks, which had been personalized for us from attentive staff at the restaurants, were stocked in our rooms. Outside, we were welcomed by a number of super friendly reef sharks. Jumping off our private deck to greet them gave us treasured memories. The Instagram photos and Boomerangs we left with are about as aesthetic as one can imagine. chevalblanc.com/ randheli/en; villas from US$2,250 plus local taxes.
CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: Cheval Blanc Randheli's Garden villa offers sweeping views; getting into the swing of things; the main pool; a lobster tart at fine-dining Le 1947; making new friends just offshore.