Jumeirah Vittaveli hotel, Maldives review: the last word in luxury
A luxury resort made up of private villas, guarantees privacy, gourmet dining and a wide range of activities for its clientele
Over the past decade, the Maldives has become a byword for luxury. Known for its famous white beaches and crystal blue sea, it’s easy to see why travellers refer to the place as simply “Heaven on Earth”.
With more than 200 Maldivian islands to choose from, the only real challenge is settling on which hotel will be perfect for your needs. But if you are after a resort that feels utterly secluded, yet offers the chance to be sociable and enjoy a wide range of facilities and activities – then there really is only one place you should aim for: the Jumeirah Vittaveli.
Arriving in style
Conveniently close to the Maldivian capital, Malé, Jumeirah Vittaveli is a twenty-minute catamaran ride from where you are most likely to touch down – so perfect for those who, like us, prefer to avoid having to immediately jump on another flight to get to their destination.
Instead, we are met by the Jumeirah team and guided us to our waiting catamaran, which whisks us straight to the island.
On arrival, we are greeted by the Jumeirah concierge who hangs flower garlands around our necks. This is also where we meet our designated host who transfers us by a golf buggy to our villa.
Once in the buggy, we go for a quick tour around the island. Wherever you look, the view of the resort is striking. As well as the white beach that encircles the island, the vegetation is jungle-like. The design of the resort itself is based on a Maldivian Village, but one that has been given a modern twist. There are plenty of different rooms to choose from, with 43 thatched villas facing out towards the beach and 39 water villas that spread out along a long pier. Honeymooners, or anyone who wants total privacy, can opt for one of the huge ocean suites that are only accessible by boat.
Our stay was in a sunrise ocean-facing villa, which has a generous lounge, and an equally spacious bedroom and bathroom, as well as its own private L-shaped pool, sun deck. A ladder on one side offers direct access to the sea, if you wish to have a dip and snorkel right from your room. Conveniently the king-size bed is placed next to large French windows, which open up, so you can lie down and watch the waves that lap around you.
A day in the life at Jumeirah Vittaveli
The beautiful morning sunrise is enough to get even the latest of risers out of bed. The resort offers in-villa breakfast which you can pre-order and have delivered to your door while the sun comes up. It’s a perfect way to start the day, especially if you’re a bit jet lagged. However, if you prefer to eat out, you can either call a buggy or use your villa’s complimentary bike to cycle to the main restaurant, Samsara, which serves breakfast daily.
On our first day, we decided to take a cycle around the resort and explore. The island itself only takes 15 minutes to get round, and very quickly we found ourselves at the water sports centre, getting lost in the large array of activities they offer. Options include coral planting, snorkelling, a semi-submarine experience, jet skiing and paragliding - it’s safe to say there is no shortage of things to do.
For couples who want romantic activities, the sunset cruise is a must, where you will be taken on a boat trip to search for dolphins, as well as watch the stunning sunset while sipping champagne. It is difficult to explain how magical the experience is – watching dolphins jumping out of the ocean, while the sky shifts through the full rainbow of colours. If the romance of a dolphin cruise is not enough, Jumeirah Vittaveli also offers a sunset dinner, where you can enjoy your meal in privacy hidden somewhere along the beach.
For those who are in a big group, hiring the resort’s private yacht for the day is perfect if you want an afternoon of snorkelling and a delicious lunch made by the fantastic crew who look after you. It is a perfect day out for families or groups of friends and is easy to arrange when you arrive at the resort.
The two most popular activities at the Jumeirah Vittaveli are snorkelling and diving, and it’s clear to see why. Exploring the Indian Ocean is a dreamlike experience – every time I returned to the sea, I discovered new shipwrecks and exotic creatures.
The majority of our time at the Jumeirah Vittaveli was spent doing water activities, however come the afternoon we would retreat back to our villa where we would relax by the pool and watch the sunset with a bottle of complimentary champagne. I think the majority of my Instagram followers were sick of the number of videos and photos I took of the sunset, but the Maldives is so picturesque that it’s difficult not to take a snap. We would often sit on our deck and watch the Maldivian sunset change to a starry sky – a vision impossible to forget.
Dining at the Jumeirah Vittaveli
With six restaurants to choose from at Jumeirah Vittaveli, you are spoilt for choice. Most of our lunches were spent at the MU Bar & Grill, which offers beachside dining. Here, you can choose either tapas or a selection of seafood and meat, which you can grill yourself, on your very own hot marble stone while running your toes through the sand.
For dinner, our favourite restaurant was the French-Colonial, Fenesse. This restaurant offers the most sophisticated dining experience out of all the eateries on the island. Set over water, the setting is truly exceptional, and the food is just as good. Choose from mouth-watering lobster dishes to deceptively complex pasta dishes.
Another fine dining experience at the Jumeirah is to be found at Swarna, which is recognised as one the best Indian restaurants in Asia. This impressive eatery comprises three open-air dining cabanas, one chef's table, and a swing for after-dinner relaxation, all dotted throughout a Maharaja style garden venue. The set menu offers a delicious journey through India's culinary traditions, including creative interpretations of traditional Indian recipes. It’s famously known as a challenge to finish all of the food offered on the platter – nigh on impossible.
For those who just want a quick and easy meal, the main restaurant, Samsara, has a well-stocked buffet and easy to navigate a la carte menu which should accommodate even the fussiest of eaters. The menu has everything from burgers to fresh sashimi and curry. Either sit and eat on the beach or head inside where the restaurant is air-conditioned.
If you’re a cocktail lover head towards the main bar, B4R. A 360-degree bar that offers the perfect vantage point for a refreshing drink. Here you can sit back and enjoy the sunset while listening to music from either a DJ or live band. B4R is also perfect if you just want to chill in the afternoon on the sunbed or by the main pool. Expect cool towels, fruit skewers, as well as sunscreen and sunglass cleaning – all part of the Jumeirah Vittaveli service.
The resort’s spa truly offers the last word in pampering. There is an option to have in-villa spa treatments, but we chose to head to the Talise Spa, where you can have a treatment while overlooking the sea. Very little beats looking out to the horizon while being massaged.
The spa offers a wide selection of treatments, including Balinese, hot stone and Swedish massages. A word of warning if you decide to experience the 90-minute jet lag recovery massage - if you’re anything like me, you will find yourself falling deep into a trance.
The Talise Spa also offers beauty treatments such as manicures, blow dries and spray tanning – if you’re not a fan of sunbathing. The team are extremely professional and exceptional at what they do. The products they use are completely natural and perfect if you have sensitive skin, like myself.
Our last day at the Jumeirah Vittaveli ended sipping on a glass of champagne, while watching the sunset and the manta rays being fed close to the shore.
There was only one negative to visiting the Jumeirah Vittaveli - after we left, going back to reality was almost impossible. Our trip had been utterly enchanting and I truly believe I will struggle to enjoy another vacation again. I have never seen water as clear as the Indian Ocean, nor sand as beautifully white. I guess it’s true what people say; the Maldives really is heaven on earth.
Jumeirah Vittaveli’s new Private Ocean Retreats (with slides) start from £2,770 per night on a Bed and Breakfast basis, and the Infinity Pool Ocean Villas (with slides) start from £1,979 per night on a Bed and Breakfast basis. To make a reservation please call +960 664 2020 or e-mail JVMreservations@jumeirah.com.