National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Best for design junkies
PATINA MALDIVES, FARI ISLANDS
This stylish new resort exudes cool from every corner.
The first of three luxury destinations in the Fari Islands (a new mini-archipelago of man-made islands a 45-minute speedboat transfer from Malé), it has a sleek tropical modernist design — all low-slung wooden loungers, four-poster beach beds and villas with oceanfacing plunge pools. Start your day with a spot of yoga, perhaps followed by some standup paddleboarding in the lagoon, before dinner at restaurant Brasa, one of 12 places to eat and drink on the island.
ROOMS: Villas from £1,585, B&B. patinahotels.com
Best for divers
You’ll find this island escape in the barely-inhabited Thaa Atoll, surrounded by no less than 25 outstanding dive sites, including one of the most reliable whaleshark spotting locations in the country. Guests who sign up to see the huge fish are alerted when the animals have been sighted and told to head to the boat. In between times, you can lounge in your villa: all pale woods, four-poster beds and billowing white curtains. Alternatively, sip pina coladas by the pool and visit the thatched-roof spa, one of the best in the Maldives.
ROOMS: Villas from £612, B&B. comohotels.com
Best for VIPs
It’s the Beckhams’ Christmas getaway and where Buzz Aldrin comes to look at the stars — Soneva Fushi is celebrity central. Not that you’d ever know, with everyone in their hidden beach villas or fantastical overwater villas. The starfish-strewn beach is admittedly hard to leave, but activities include snorkelling trips to look for manta rays, eagle rays, stingrays, hawksbill turtles and spinner dolphins, sunrise yoga and jungle meditation sessions or spying the stars through a telescope.
ROOMS: Villas from £1,375, B&B. soneva.com