Our project director Štěpán Borovec just returned from the Maldives, where he experienced six very different resorts. Here are his first-hand recommendations from Nautilus, Milaidhoo, Amilla, JOALI Being, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani.
Štěpán compares and critiques. So you can imagine which resort is your preferred paradise.
This was my favourite from all six resorts, because it feels so intimate, familiar and exclusive.
All the staff knew me by name, knew I drank sparkling water and my wife still. There are only 27 villas with custom furniture and really high quality materials – in fact they’re called houses and residences because they’re so spacious.
Nautilus built wave breakers to protect their small island, so you don’t have a fully open sea view. However, these breakers have spawned a new house reef for good snorkelling. It didn’t distract me but may distract others.
Overall Nautilus delivers a very high level of luxury, yet it also has a friendly, family-like feel.
Most other guests were couples, like us, but I can definitely imagine a family here. There’s a beautiful kids club and lots of experiences for little ones. My favourite part was Nautilus Rising. Every evening they light the Nautilus logo in the pool and serve cocktails. So guests and staff, including the General Manager, come together and chat about the cool stuff they just did.
The Nautilus owners also own Milaidhoo, as well as Manta Air, the second biggest seaplane company in the country. Milaidhoo is pure peace and quiet, definitely not a place for children. Although children over ten can stay at Milaidhoo, I really don’t recommend it for families.
Milaidhoo and Nautilus are both in a protected biosphere area. But at Milaidhoo there are no motorised watersports, not even the noise of seaplanes as these land a ten-minute boat ride away. The overall quality of accommodation and service is very high, just not quite on the very very high Nautilus level.
Like Nautilus, Milaidhoo is a small island with not many accommodations.
It’s lovely, although I’d probably appreciate it more if I was 30 years older – that’s how tranquil it feels.
Amilla Fushi is a much bigger island with three times more villas and guests, so I didn’t feel the same exclusivity. Their staff coordination wasn’t always perfect and this created some mistakes in the service I experienced.
Amilla shines for its enormous multi-bedroom villas and I recommend it as a good option for large families. We did an amazing overnight dining and glamping experience on a private beach area – definitely recommended!
The overwater Japanese restaurant was awesome, the other restaurants good, not superb. The Amilla multi-bedroom villas are like residences, featuring rooms for nannies or security.
Our reef villa was literally directly above the reef. I just jumped off my terrace and started snorkelling.
I was quite disappointed with the villa design though. It seems dull and dated, with no connection to the Maldives and nature. It’s another reason why I don’t think Amilla is top-level luxury. Still, it’s a good choice if you want lots of space and don’t need to spend crazy money for the very best resorts.
Holiday Recommendations From People Who Have Been There
JOALI Being is something completely new for the Maldives. It’s an island wellness destination, with a detailed and strict health concept based on mind, skin, microbiome and energy.
Immediately I felt the high quality. The villas are strikingly beautiful. The resort has the best gym and wellness areas I’ve experienced in the Maldives.
It’s not only an amazing spa area with hammam, but also hydrotherapy like watsu, sound healing, cold cryotherapy, doctor consultations and a personalised wellness program.
It’s stunning, just very different, and certainly not for families or a typical Maldives holiday. No pizza, no coke, no strong alcoholic cocktails and a quite restrictive food offering. I loved it and sometimes felt restricted at the same time. For a future visit I’d combine a detox at JOALI Being with a few days at JOALI Maldives, which is only 15 minutes by speedboat and has many more dining options.
Soneva Fushi opened in 1995 and although it has been redeveloped multiple times since, not all the resort feels premium quality. Let me explain. Soneva is huge on sustainability and I love some of their efforts, like an island recycling centre and glass manufacturer. They even make door handles from aluminium cans.
The villas are built very sustainability. It’s all about wood, not marble here. But for around 3000 EUR per night I did expect some more premium materials and a heightened sense of luxury. Soneva Fushi overlooks a nearby local island where there are some rough and rather ugly buildings, so it doesn’t have the Robinson Crusoe vibe either.
However, Soneva Fushi had probably the best breakfast I experienced. There’s an amazing chocolate room, cheese room and ice-cream room, open all day to grab anything you want. It’s something every age can appreciate!
It’s a large island I explored by bike, with tons of amenities and great restaurant options. I stayed in one of their new overwater villas which are stunning. I also inspected the different beach villas – some of these are stunning too. I recommend you stay in one of the freshly refurbished villas as there’s a big jump in quality.
This was my second favourite resort of the trip. While Soneva Fushi is all about being on land, Soneva Jani is focused on the water and water villas. The resort is basically split into two parts. The Chapter One area is past its peak. Chapter Two is brand new, better quality and more expensive.
The founders of Soneva also founded Six Senses, which they then sold to fully focus on Soneva.
So they truly know how to deliver a high-quality resort, from the spa to the restaurants and the accommodation. There’s a hub of activities between the two, like the biggest kids club in the Maldives, tennis and an outdoor cinema.
Compared to Fushi, Soneva Jani just feels more worth the money. I recommend a villa on the sunset side, as these villas overlook a more beautiful lagoon and the sunset was mind blowing. Here all the villas are made with more premium materials, not only the new villas. And the Instagram famous water slides are as fun as they look. I would return to Soneva Jani any day of the year if I could.
Your Maldives Holiday?
I was lucky to experience six Maldives resorts, but this did require a lot of speedboats and seaplanes. Most people only stay at one or two resorts. So how do you know the best resort if you haven’t been there before? That’s why our team is continually inspecting hotels and resorts all around the world.
I can personally tell you which resort is building only the second covered tennis court in the Maldives; where you can zipline to a restaurant; which resorts are worse for mosquitoes and how to combat them; the differences between villas on opposite sides of the same island.
Everyone has details that are essential to them. At EliteVoyage we explore and experience, so we can advise you personally. So book a call and ask us your specific questions.