St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
The latest addition to St. Regis’s portfolio of beach resorts celebrates the marine life that surrounds it: overwater villas echo the form of manta rays; the Ayurveda-focused spa is shaped like a lobster; the library, a spiral seashell; and the main bar, a whale shark. The concept might sound camp, but rigorous minimalism renders it impressively modern. Singapore’s WOW Architects spent four years realizing the property, in part because of precautions taken to protect tiny Vommuli Island’s dense jungle of palms and pandani. That original vegetation now casts its wild shade over a yoga studio, Middle Eastern and pan-Asian restaurants, and the resort’s cathedral-ceilinged garden and beach villas. Underpinned by a team of personal butlers, service is excellent, while niceties extend to the rooftop of Alba— the opulent Mediterranean restaurant—where a telescope is on hand for stargazing. One of the best daytime views, however, awaits at the spa’s alfresco hydrotherapy pool, from which guests can soak up an unobstructed Indian Ocean vista. —960/676-6333; stregis maldives.com; doubles from US$2,470
The overwater Whale Bar at St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. Opposite, from top: A “secret garden” at Capella Shanghai; an airy, doubleheight lobby space anchors The Sandhya in southern Sri Lanka.