A Vin­tage Va­ca­tion


Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - DEALS - BY RASINA UBEROI-BAJAJ

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.

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