Westin Maldives MIRIANDHOO RESORT
At this new sustainability-minded resort in the Baa Atoll, MARTIN CHAMBERS feels all the right things and realises that bigger doesn’t mean better
Some things feel instantly right. A relationship, a pair of shoes, that Business Class upgrade, a car, a house, even a new job. You know that something I’m talking about, right? It works. It doesn’t try too hard. It just fits. This is how I felt as I first stepped on to the jetty of newly opened Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, on one of the nation’s smallest islands in the Baa Atoll.
But before that feeling can enter your being, you have to get there. And for me, that was thunderously good fun. Miriandhoo is 40 to 50 minutes away from
Malé airport via seaplane, which felt not merely like a way to get from A to B but an adventure as I temporarily switched places with Indiana Jones, or James Bond, as we glided through the air searching for an archaeological site or even a villain. This mental fantasy was soon disturbed by a jolt of turbulence, which focussed my eyes on the open cockpit where a shoeless pilot was scrolling through his phone. Suddenly I was ready for my overwater villa, private pool and Heavenly (this is the Westin, after all) bed.
On arriving at Miriandhoo’s jetty, the warmest of Maldivian welcomes ensued with an army of staff, complete with an umbrella and covered buggy to whisk me away to my villa, armed with a welcome drink that was reminiscent of a spa (in a good way).
It would seem natural to jump into a gushing description of the villa, which I’ll get to, but first I’d like to write about something I experienced at this very moment. There’s an energy here that immediately evokes a feeling of calm, of effortless tranquillity. As the trip progressed, I hypothesised that this was a result of the island’s size. It’s one of the Maldives’ smallest resort islands and perhaps that makes for a feeling of comfort,
a sense of completion, which I later discussed with other guests. Bigger, perhaps, isn’t always better.
On to the villa. The traditional overwater “hut” design has been abandoned here and the result is spectacular, modern-looking, shell-encased abodes. The shape, I’m assured, keeps the villa cooler during extreme heat, lessening the demands on air conditioning and the resort’s impact on the environment. Under the shell is a long, rectangular room that can be transformed into four separate areas based on guests’ preferences. During my stay I switched between an open-plan one-room situation in the day, with floor-to-ceiling uninterrupted Indian Ocean views, and by night to a cosier four-room configuration with bathroom, bedroom, entrance/dining room and a living area.
Sliding doors mean that the inside can be seamlessly integrated with the terrace. During one rain shower I enjoyed a pizza while sitting on the boundary of in and out, as the rain pelted down with the booming precision of an orchestra. The terrace itself is spacious, with steps down to the house reef for those keen to snorkel, but the real jewel is the belly-deep infinity pool spanning a good part of the decking, where relaxation is guaranteed. You’ll also find an outdoor shower because, well, that’s how things work here.
Eschewing an overwhelming choice of different accommodation, simplicity reigns. Broadly, there are two categories among the 70 villas and suites: island villas and overwater villas, with variations in size and scope to suit your travelling party.
It would be easy to forget to wander beyond your lodgings, but do that at your peril. A dive centre, constructed from containers re-used from the island build – sustainability is a theme that runs throughout the resort, be it reused containers, self-cooling villas, faux-bamboo paper straws or swing-top glass water bottles – will sate the appetite of any aspiring water adventurer. I opted for a house-reef snorkel which, depending on the time of day, will deliver lobsters, turtles, sharks, trigger fish, eagle rays and plenty more. A 40-minute session presented, among other colourful marine life, a couple of black-tip sharks, and while I’d like to report I channelled my inner adventurer and explored fearlessly alongside these new dorsal-finned friends, the result was more Bridget Jones than Indiana. I beat a hasty retreat to the safer confines of the resort’s Heavenly Spa, which is exactly what it says it is.
Once you’ve snorkelled your way around the island, fought off sharks (that’s my version) and have been massaged into next week, you’ll need to refuel. And for a small island, you’ll be spoilt for choice. A signature Japanese restaurant, The Pearl, sits on stilts and, like the villas, is encased in a shell-like structure. This is the honeymoon meal, simply splendid. Lower-key but no less impressive is Island Kitchen, the international all-daydining restaurant, which is brilliantly consistent across a pretty large menu. A more casual affair can be found at Hawker – an Asian street-food-themed restaurant, where the tables sit directly on the sand with an open kitchen alongside. My only regret is tasting the softshell crab there on my last day – had I known earlier, I’d have had one every day.
At Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, regardless of which Jones you are, things feel, you know, just right. Doubles from AED 2,066; 00960-660 4444, marriott.com
Clockwise from far left: The resort is on one of the Maldives’ smallest islands; Heavenly White Tea bath amenities; an Island Suite with Pool; the house reef teems with colourful marine life; expansive views from the bedroom of an Overwater Suite with Pool; the resort’s Overwater Suites