Hotel Review: Tatler Checks Into… Cheval Blanc Randheli
This exclusive private island resort in the Maldives is the one to beat all beach vacations
There are arguably a few things more romantic that a stroll down the beach at sunset—even more so when it’s along the stunning shores of Maldives. But in a country where beautiful resorts are the reason for a booming tourist economy, how does one go about choosing the best spot for a honeymoon?
Of all the luxurious abodes to be found, Cheval Blanc Randheli stands out thanks to its stunning location and unbeatable hospitality.
The Cheval Blanc experience begins the moment you touch down in the Maldives. Once out of immigration, we were whisked away and chauffeured to a private lounge where we awaited, drink in hand, for our de Havilland Twin Otter seaplane to arrive. The journey from Malé airport is about 40 minutes, but a bird’s eye view of the pristine white beaches and unspoiled Noonu Atoll waters along the way mean you’ll be snapping too many Instagram-worthy pictures to notice the time flying by.
As the island of Randheli slowly comes into view, it’s surreal how picturesque everything looks. A welcome crew consisting of ambassadors, as well as some members of the management team, dressed charmingly in the resort’s iconic yellow and turquoise colours, warmly greet the arrivals.
Check-in is literally a breeze, as our majordomo (personal butler) introduces himself, greets us by name, hands us a drink and towels to freshen up, and directs us to a buggy that takes us straight to our villa.
Do Not Disturb
Quiet luxury is the name of the game for this gorgeous property, which has been designed by renowned architect Jean-Michel Gathy, the man behind many of the Aman resorts around the world.
More understated than in-your-face opulence, all the spacious 45 one- and two-bedroom villas have been decked out in a soothing palette of greys, whites and yellows. Sleek lines are contrasted with rustic details like a thatched roof and rattan furniture, effortlessly combining modern with traditional.
Unlike the Lagoon and Water villas that overhang over the sea, our Island villa, which was located on the main island of Randheli, had lush vegetation on one side, and a private beach and an infinity pool that looked out into the ocean on the other.
Space is certainly not an issue at this luxury resort, with the smallest villas measuring a whopping 2,600 square feet. The expansive space is divided by larger-than-life oak panels into living and sleeping areas, and come complete with a large walk-in wardrobe, an open-concept bathroom, and plenty of nooks and crannies perfect for cosying up with your significant other.
If it’s pampering you’re after, Spa island is a must-visit. A short 5-minute ride by dhoni (a traditional boat), the exclusive Guerlain Spa sits on its own island and offers a well thought-out range of facials and treatments. It’s easy to spend an entire day here—book a couples massage in one of the cabins overhanging the sea, relax in the traditional hamman baths, or practice yoga on one of the pavilions.
Food & Drink
Foodies will be relieved to know that there’s no shortage of variety when it comes to food. The LVMH-owned property is home to Le 1947, a fine-dining establishment and the brainchild of Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno. Though the restaurant was closed during our stay (Tatler tip: It’s only opened on weekends), we were given a sneak peek into the wine cellar and was duly impressed by the range, which included a few bottles of precious vintage from the year of the restaurant’s namesake.
Room service, ordered in by our majordomo, is pretty good, but if you can’t get enough of the crystal-clear waters, The Deelani, an overwater restaurant serving Italian food, is a charming way to wind down the evening. For a more unusual experience, head to The Diptyque. The restaurant, which serves Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisine, is made up of two halves featuring a ‘live-theatre’ where chefs prepare teppanyaki or sushi right before you.
It’s hard to believe but it’s literally impossible to be bored while you’re on this private island. Stay in your villa, and you can look forward to an idyllic afternoon curled up with your favourite book on a hammock, or watch a latest Hollywood blockbuster on-demand. Adventure-seekers will be thrilled to find a fully-equipped water sports centre boasting activities like windsurfing, canoeing and jet skiing, as well as a fitness centre offering personalized classes with professionals.
Planning a romantic surprise? Up the ante on that beach stroll and book a sunset cruise out to sea. Chances are, you’ll probably come face to face with pods of spinner dolphins, named so because of their acrobatic leaps into the air. Noonu Atoll is also home to a vast ecosystem of marine life, including manta rays, turtles and exotic fish, and the dive centre offers diving experiences for both beginners and experts alike.