I was thrilled to visit The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort in the beautiful Baa Atoll, since it had only been open for a few weeks after more than three years of construction. We flew from the Male airport to an island close to the Westin Maldives, a 45 minute flight by seaplane which is always an experience in itself. The view from a seaplane is just spectacular with all the small islands, bright coral reefs and countless beautiful variations of blue ocean as far as you can see.
The Baa Atoll is the only Unesco biosphere reserve in the Maldives and I was looking forward to seeing all the marine life. When we stepped off the seaplane to board a speedboat that swiftly took us to the Westin Maldives, the pilots (in flip flops, only in the Maldives!) advised us to look out for dolphins since they had spotted many earlier in the day. We didn’t spot any dolphins on the short boat ride to the island, but we more than made up for that over the next few days!
There are now over 170 resorts in the Maldives and many of these are almost cookie cutter villas, but not at the Westin Maldives! The first thing I noticed is how much care and attention to detail has been given to the design of the entire property. The architecture, the finishing, all esthetics have clearly been designed very thoughtfully and lovingly by the Italian architects. The overall design theme of the Westin Maldives is inspired by the ocean, which seems obvious on an island, but it’s the way that this theme reverberates throughout the entire island that makes it very special. The architects describe it like this: “Innovative architecture with contemporary organic shape, essential and sophisticated interiors and decorations, with precious local materials and art & crafts with the best advanced and invisible technologies.” What that means to a guest, is that just stepping off the boat onto the jetty becomes an experience. The first and last thing I saw from the Westin Maldives was the beautiful white sea shell canopy over the jetty, which provided shade as the friendly staff that greeted us handed out cold drinks. We were then swiftly taken to our villa for the check-in by Mausool, who took great care of us during our entire stay.
Driving from the pier onto the island on the quiet golf cart, we passed the reception and the kids club which resemble the shape of fishes and rays before we arrived at our wonderful beach villa. We only noticed later, taking the drone shots, that from above these beach villas look like turtles heading out to sea. All 41 on-island and 29 over-sea villas have these beautiful shapes and colors. I also really like sustainability practises like repurposing shipping containers that were used to build the resort, to now house the dive center!
BEACH VILLA VS. WATER VILLA? //
We had the opportunity to compare a spacious beach villa with an overwater villa and I truly think both are just wonderful, it really depends on your personal preference. The beach villa offers the opportunity to wander straight from your villa, past your private plunge pool onto a beautiful white sand beach for a quick dip in the crystal clear ocean. The overwater villa has unique Maldives features like being able to relax on a sofa and read a book, while occasionally glancing down through the glass floor to see the most incredible colored fishes swim by right underneath you. Both villa types offer distinctively stylish furniture, the famous Westin Heavenly beds and the ingenuous Japanese toilets that greet you by opening up automatically upon approach. Another fun feature I loved was the orange squeezer to make fresh orange juice every morning, such a cool and refreshing gimmick! The beach villas are surrounded by beautiful landscaping, whereas the water villas offer complete privacy and unobstructed views of the ocean.
So, you may wonder, what are the most striking differences? I actually don’t think it’s the choice between being situated on a beach or over water; for me, the striking difference is that the water villas are essentially one large open space, with sliding walls that can create four separate rooms within a minute. Suddenly you’re in a villa with a separate living room, dining room, bed room and bathroom, yet with each room offering a breathtaking view across your plunge pool over the Indian Ocean. Anytime you feel like taking a swim in the ocean, it’s just a small ladder from your terrace away. Having the option to create one large open space in the daytime and a real apartment with separate rooms at night, is something I had never seen before in a resort in the Maldives.
The Westin Maldives has three excellent yet very distinctly different restaurants. What they have in common is a commitment to fresh, high quality ingredients and a dedicated approach to sustainability: so no glass bottles, no single-use plastics and as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.
The Island Kitchen //
We had breakfast every day at the Island Kitchen (although it also serves lunch and dinner) and it was an experience in itself. While some resorts offer a buffet and others prefer an a la carte breakfast, Island Kitchen offers both! I ended up selecting pastries, cheeses and even sushi(!) plus the more healthy options like fruit and fruit juices from the buffet, then capping off breakfast with some tasty treats like eggs (in every possible variety), fresh waffles and pancakes from the a la.carte menu.
THE HAWKER //
The Hawker is based on the famous street food offered in stalls in Asian countries like Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I enjoyed sitting on the beach, sipping a coconut and watching the kitchen crew whip up the most delicious Asian dishes that look just as great as they taste. I highly recommend The Hawker for lunch!
THE PEARL //
On our last night we were treated to a special Chef’s menu at The Pearl, the over water Japanese restaurant. The Japanese chef had created a mouth watering variety of vegetarian, fish and meat dishes that were presented beautifully and tasted so delicious! The ambiance of The Pearl added to the experience, because it is quite small, beautifully lit and creates an intimate, romantic experience.
I’m not much of a bar person, but I really enjoyed having drinks at the Sunset Bar that overlooks the western part of the island and offers, as the name suggests, spectacular sunsets. It made me realize, again, how smart everything has been designed at the Westin Maldives, because the breakfast at Island Kitchen offers a marvellous view of the ocean where often dolphins swim by in the morning, exactly during breakfast. But more on dolphins later…
THE GYM //
In my experience, the Westin Maldives strikes a very nice balance between exercise and relaxation. There is a fully equipped two storey (!) fitness studio open 24 hours a day, that even has a sauna and steam room and with personal trainers available to work out with you whenever you like. There really is no excuse not to work out, because they even offer the use of brand new fitness clothing and shoes if you happen not to have brought any! The boyfriend ‘enjoyed’ crossfit exercises and a morning run around the island with the wonderful personal trainer Kennedy, who makes sure to tailor the workouts everyone’s personal preference. There is also a large lap pool for people that like to swim longer distances than just the occasional dip in their private plunge pool and the dive center offers every possible marine activity. So if you want to be active, this island is for you!
THE SPA //
I have to admit that although I visit the gym regularly to stay fit, I am more of a spa girl than an exercise freak. The Heavenly over-water spa is just incredible, with a truly spectacular view of the lagoon around the island due to the floor to ceiling glass windows, the fish swimming beneath me over the coral reef that I could see through the glass floor when I was lying face down enjoying my treatment and the soothing sound of the ocean all around me: it was such an amazing experience! I’d almost forget to mention the fantastic treatment. My Balinese massage therapist worked wonders on my back, neck and shoulders that had tightened up after spending too much time behind my laptop. She was a real professional that knew exactly how to loosen me up again, but in a very pleasant way without any strain or pains.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS ABOUT THE NATURE AND THE STAFF //
Finally, a few quick notes in closing, because this post has to end somewhere! I really want to recommend the excursions on offer like the dolphin sunset cruise we thoroughly enjoyed, or the turtle snorkeling cruise. The Baa Atoll is a UN Biosphere Reserve for a reason, the marine life is overwhelmingly beautiful. And perhaps not so important to people that just want to relax, but we really enjoyed the fast internet, when we were working at night or watching a movie on Netflix, and fast internet is not so common on the Maldives.
Most of all, I have to highlight the staff members that are not just very professional and courteous, but a group of fun loving people that clearly enjoy their work and taking great care of people. We really enjoyed our interactions with them throughout our stay. Their attitude and spirit were highlighted on our final trip from the Westin Maldives, when we were getting close to the seaplane that would take us back to Male. A staff member at the front of the boat suddenly gave a signal, the boat slowed down and for the next 10 minutes, we slowly drifted among a large pod of dolphins. We were surrounded by dozens of dolphins that were jumping out of the water and at a certain point I counted no less than eight dolphins swimming along our bow. When the dolphins veered off course we saw them slowly disappear behind the Westin Maldives: it was almost as if they were saying goodbye to us. I hope we will see them again soon!
LOCATION // The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort