"As I descend by sea plane over the aptly heart-shaped Fesdu Island, home of the W Retreat and Spa Maldives, there’s time for a quick ‘pinch me’ moment before being whisked away by buggy, welcome cocktail in hand. The latest ‘W playlist’ echoes around the jetties as you pass by white sands and see nothing on the horizon but the clear blue sea of the North Ari Atoll. Yes, this place really is that picture perfect destination you thought to be the stuff of dreams... Only this is very real, and needless to say, utterly inviting.
It’s no secret that the 26 collective islands atolls that make up the Maldives provide a tropical playground in the Indian Ocean, and the ideal destination to play, relax, and recharge. At the W Retreat specifically, the focus is on the latter, with inner peace a priority going hand-in-hand with the pace of island life. It’s also where, aside from the dazzling blue waters, frankly spectacular reefs and pristine sandy beaches, the resort has undergone something of a stylish – and somewhat younger and more hip – face-lift, entitled ‘Let it Glow’, which includes new staff uniforms created by Kuwaiti designer Tahir Sultan. Here guests are invited to experience one of the resort’s 78 – yes that’s almost eighty – individual retreat offers, be they group or solo, either on the beachside or overwater. My recent visit meant experiencing a totally zen time, thanks to yoga lessons and the option to road test various blissfully re-energising programmes of wellness. I sampled a series of creative cuisine at the resort’s three unique restaurants, plus its two lounge concepts (and the only underground Surrounded by preserved coral reefs, the W Retreat is a sight for sore eyes, and only a four-hour flight from Dubai thanks to Emirates, which makes the trip daily nightclub in the Maldives) is what attracted the likes of Alexa Chung and Daisy Lowe to see in the New Year here. As if the resort didn’t offer enough in the way of ‘down time’, it’s concept spa, Away, is a true call back to nature with four overwater treatment villas, for the most exotic view you could ever hope to witness post-treatment, each with a private outdoor terrace with infinite Indian Ocean views.
Finally, should you wish to try out something a little more invigorating, the W Resort also plays host to the ultimate water sports facility, fully equipped with latest state-of-the-art equipment. It creates experience packages to take guests deep into the crystal blue ocean or explore the private house reef, considered to be one of the best in the Maldives. Or, my personal favourite, is the option to sail away from reality aboard Escape, the W’s luxurious yacht decked out for island-hopping fun, ready anytime to stop by Gaatha Fushi, a nearby private island to dream up adventures of your own and explore the surrounding silent lagoon, or simply hang out on the signature ‘W Bed’ under a thatched roof for shade. Pure, unadulterated bliss.
From Dhs4,231 a night (minimum of four nights per stay);W Maldives