Patina Maldives and Cheval Blanc Randheli are the standouts from travel designer Matous Grund’s trip to the Maldives in May.
He also visited Velaa Private Island and St Regis Vommuli Resort..
Here, Matous critiques the four resorts and explains why Cheval Blanc and Patina are excellent holiday destinations, especially in summer.
Maldives in May
The weather was amazing for a week in May. It was 30 degrees and only one day of rain, even though it’s supposedly “rainy season.”
Summer is definitely a good time to holiday in the Maldives.
The resorts’ general managers told me that the rain they’ve recently received is short nighttime storms, which helped to clear the humidity.
Maldives is not considered a summer destination. I think it should be, especially for the value it offers compared to high season in Europe.
Cheval Blanc Randheli
Cheval Blanc feels like quintessential Maldives. Everything is big, bright and tropical, with lots of space and privacy for everyone across the resort.
I loved the villas. The entry-level category is beautiful, 240 square metres plus a private garden and pool.
The contrast to the entry-level villa category at nearby Velaa is huge, even though they’re a similar price. If you see the difference you will book Cheval Blanc every time.
I inspected the resort’s many different villa categories and my favourite is the Garden Water Villa, which opens to the ocean on one side and a garden on the other.
For families I recommend an Island Villa, because they feel most spacious, with a garden, pool and direct access onto the beach.
Cheval Blanc is an excellent choice for families. They have a big, interactive kids club with loads of cool stuff, plus the only Flow Rider surf machine in the Indian Ocean. Even two-year-olds were giving it a go!
The resort’s spa island was another highlight. It’s a destination spa, a three-minute boat ride away, with ayurvedic saloon, steam bath, pool, wellness food and spa bar.
For service, design and luxury, Cheval Blanc is one of the best resorts I’ve experienced, definitely one of the best Maldives resorts. The experience is topped off by a lovely yacht for excursions and a Michelin-quality tasting menu at Le 1947 restaurant.
Velaa Private Island
Velaa Private Island opened in 2013 and I’ve stayed there twice before.
There’s an incorrect perception that Velaa Private Island is the best luxury resort in the Maldives. It’s Czech owned and many wealthy Czech people have experienced it.
I don’t recommend Velaa like I used to. Cheval Blanc is in a higher league for a similar price.
Velaa certainly has its highlights. Their new wellness village is a great addition, plus they’ve added the country’s only covered tennis court. For facilities, especially water sports, Velaa is one of the best. Dining is excellent too, with many restaurants open every day.
I was delighted to see my friend, a butler who looked after me many years ago. She told me things are mostly staying the same.
Which is somewhat the problem I now have with Velaa. It feels like old news, the villas quite dark, dominated by brown, wood and low ceilings.
Overall it’s still a good luxury resort in the Indian Ocean. But it’s been overtaken by newer resorts, like Cheval Blanc, JOALI Maldives and Patina Maldives.
St Regis Vommuli Resort
Velaa Private Island is definitely a better choice than the St Regis.
After staying at St Regis Vommuli Resort I can confidently say that it’s absolutely not for EliteVoyage clients.
It requires enormous renovation and they know it. The villas need a complete revamp, the beach requires proper cleaning, and everywhere needs painting and new floors.
For around 3000 USD a night you get a really small and old villa. It’s completely not worth it.
The positive part of my stay was the resort’s new Teppanyaki restaurant. It’s one of only six global restaurants to serve Hokkaido snow beef.
Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
Patina Maldives really surprised me. It’s a youthful, highly contemporary resort, with a focus on design, art and sustainability.
The Fari Islands is an artificial archipelago, with Patina, the Ritz Carlton, a Capella resort opening in 2025, and an island for the staff of all the resorts.
The beach at Patina was the best beach of all four resorts I visited.
With 50 overwater villas and 40 beach villas this is a large resort, but it didn’t feel crowded in any way, even with their high occupancy.
I stayed in a Sunset Beach Villa which had a fantastic view. For families and VIPs I recommend villas on the lagoon. They offer complete privacy, with a garden blocking any view onto them from the beach.
Some people won’t like the cubist style of the villas. I loved it. They are super modern and will definitely appeal more to millennials than an older generation.
Every villa feels spacious and has a private pool. All the furnishings are top quality too. Whereas Cheval Blanc has very tropical colours, Patina goes for a very contemporary and muted tone, not what you would expect in the Maldives.
They are a design hotel of the world and you can see that everywhere. It’s playful too, with a lot of Brazilian art, a vegan restaurant called Roots and plenty of interesting surprises.
I wish I had stayed longer so I could experience more of the food. Patina has 12 restaurants, all with an interesting and creative concept.
The spa is good and the kids club is very modern, with a 3D laser printer, although both are quite a lot smaller than at Cheval Blanc.
I saw dolphins on a sunset cruise, ate a burger served from a food truck, and learnt about saving coral reefs at the Coral Marine Centre.
Patina Maldives is only 45 minutes by boat from Male, which is another big advantage. Unlike seaplane transfers, boat transfers can be done at night. So if you have a late arrival with Emirates or early arrival with Austrian Airlines, you can go directly to Patina without overnighting in Male.
Patina Maldives is a very unique resort and it’s not for everyone. But the design, sustainability and quality mean it will be a great choice for many, especially given the price point.
Your Summer Holiday in the Maldives?
Our team travels often. Last October our Chief Travel Consultant Stepan Borovec visited six other Maldives resorts. Late last year you would have found Matous on the Orient Express, exploring Saudi Arabia and inspecting nine Dubai hotels.
To creatively plan a holiday we need to know about the places we choose for our clients. So travel is where we invest a lot of our time, getting to know different hotels and destinations all around the world. It’s integral to creative travel design.