Even at the swishest of beach resorts, it’s not often you have the run of your own tropical island – but at Milaidhoo Island, it’s as if it’s all yours from shore to shore. Set in the Unesco-protected, reef-fringed Baa Atoll, this cleverly designed hotel will make you feel like you really are miles from anywhere (including other guests). Each private villa – either by the beach or perched on stilts above the water – comes with its own infinity pool and sun-dappled terrace; some are so secluded they even have an outdoor shower. If you can bear to drag yourself away (we know, it’s difficult) the rest of Milaidhoo’s considerable offering is on your doorstep: three restaurants, a glittering main pool, a sandy-floored bar and dolphin-spotting tours await.
Private infinity pools
A 90-minute Maldivian cooking class for two at the Shoreline Grill, followed by lunch
In the know
Also need to know:
The hotel has a coral ‘adoption’ programme (part of its conservation scheme), where guests can choose a reef, plant it, and then watch it grow over the years. Aim even higher (literally) with the Milaidhoo’s honeymoon package, which includes a real star named after the newlyweds.
Milaidhoo’s so romantic, you may never leave your room – pack some sexy silk pyjamas for suite-lounging. Boys, bring your best swimming trunks: the competition round the pool is fierce for the brightest, boldest prints and patterns.
Floaty kaftans, silky dresses and minimal jewellery will work well at the low-key restaurants (remember to leave out the heels, as it’s a barefoot resort). Mr Smith will look the part in a pastel linen shirt – preferably with a golden tan…
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this private-island resort and unpacked their snorkelling gear and coral reef ‘adoption certificate’, a full account of their Indian Ocean break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Milaidhoo Island in the Maldives…
On this tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, you might find yourself coming over a bit Robinson Crusoe: exploring the tropical flora and fauna (barefoot, thanks to the no-shoes policy); diving deep to discover the coral reef; and paddling through the lagoon to reach the relics of tied-up dhoni fishing boats. However, while the famous castaway encountered many a sticky situation on his deserted island, you’ll be hard pushed to find anything but smooth sailing on the shores of Milaidhoo. Nothing is too much for the attentive and friendly staff: they can fix up a sunset cruise with the resident dolphin pod; a marine biologist-led diving tour; or just a chef-made supper in your villa. Fancy having a star named after you, or adopting your own piece of coral, that will then grow on the reef for years to come? You guessed it – it can all be done. You may be on a remote island with infinite possibilities, but at least one thing’s for certain: there’ll be no cries of ‘SOS’…
Universal Enterprises 39 Orchid Magu, Male
79.8 mi / 128.7 km from city centre
- Exercise gym
- Internet services
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options at Milaidhoo, which has three restaurants: Ba'theli by the Reef, the Shoreline Grill and Ocean. The real scene-stealer is Ba'theli – set on three interlinked traditional fishing boats in the sparkling lagoon, where chef Ahmed Siwath serves up modern Maldivian fare, from smoked tuna with crispy banana blossom to coconut sambal. At the Shoreline Grill, situated on the sand beneath the shade of thatched pavilions, the chefs (led by the superb Suresh Kumara) will simply ask what meat or seafood you like, before whipping up a simple-yet-perfect dish. Ocean has seating both inside and on the sea-facing deck, which has an enormous banyan tree growing in its centre. The à la carte menu – created by chef Jayadi – is a mixture of local and international dishes.
Go for the table at the prow in Ba'theli; at the Captain’s Table at the Shoreline Grill; on the sun-soaked deck at Ocean.
Ba'theli by the Reef and the Shoreline Grill are open from 7pm–10.30pm. Ocean is open from 7am–10.30pm (breakfast is served until 10.30am). Compass Pool Bar serves drinks from 9am–11pm and food from noon–6pm. Ba'theli Lounge is open from 5pm–10.30pm.
A full menu of sushi, salads, burgers, sandwiches and local seafood is available round the clock. Well, you never know when you may fancy home-made ice-cream at 4am…
Ba'theli Lounge is open every evening, and is the ideal spot for sunset views and wickedly good champagne cocktails – try the one muddled with lychee and mango. The sandy Compass Pool Bar is open all day, but it really comes into its own after dark: kick back in one of the hanging egg-chairs with a cocktail (the bartenders – all of whom have extensive mixology training – make a mean Negroni) and challenge your other half to traditional wooden board games. As you’d expect, there are wonderful vistas of the candlelit pool, but it’s the views for miles across the Indian Ocean that take centre stage.
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