I recently enjoyed a FABULOUS holiday in the incredibly beautiful Maldives. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Brussels to Doha
- Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Doha to Male
- Review: Jumeirah Dhevanafushi
- Review: Trans Maldivian Airways sea plane transfer to the St Regis resort
- Review: St Regis Vommuli (today)
- Review: largest overwater villa in the Maldives
- Review: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
- Review: Transfer from the Park Hyatt resort to Male airport
- Review: Soneva Jani (best resort in the Maldives)
- Review: SriLankan A330 Business Class Doha to Male (via Colombo)
Today (April 26, 2017): Review of The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort.
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort brings the iconic St Regis brand and its hallmark luxury services to one of the world’s most magnificent destinations. A 40-minute seaplane ride southwest from Malé airport, the new St Regis hotel is located on a private atoll spanning more than 20 acres, surrounded by unspoiled beaches and a secluded lagoon with sparkling turquoise waters. The resort features 77 luxuriously appointed private villas, all with a distinct contemporary design scheme inspired by the island’s natural materials and color palette. Guests have access to a tranquil spa, an infinity swimming pool (if a private pool on your room’s terrace does not do it for you), a dive center, and several terrific fine dining venues.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip and slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- My review of other luxury resorts in the Maldives
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The St Regis Vommuli resort enjoys a terrific setting on a private island in the Dhaalu Atoll, one of the least exploited and most pristine atolls in the Maldives. Out of a total of 56 islands in the Dhaalu Atoll, only seven are inhabited. The atoll is especially known for the amazing diving experiences it offers. The atoll was only recently opened up for tourism, with the St Regis Vommuli resort being the only real luxury hotel in this part of the Maldives so far.
- Getting to the resort is half the fun. By seaplane – operated by Trans Maldivian Airways – it is a short 40 minute flight from Male airport. Flying on board a seaplane in the Maldives and admiring the picture-perfect archipelago from a bird’s eye perspective is one of the ultimate experiences that the destination has to offer. Observing the deep blue ocean interspersed by tiny palm islands that are surrounded by ridiculously clear lagoons and sugar white beaches will take your breath away. If you don’t like flying, a more leisurely cruise on a speedboat would get you to the atoll in three hours.
- Upon arrival at Male International Airport, guests are picked up by one of the hotel’s limousine cars (if you are lucky, you will get the only Bentley in the Maldives) and shuttled to the magnificent St Regis airport lounge near the seaplane terminal, where they can wait for their transfer to the resort. The new lounge – the best in the airport area – features the same overall design as the resort itself, with calming pastel colors. It features a small reception area, some cozy seating areas (seating around 20 guests), and a restroom with shower (where you can refresh after your longhaul flight). One wall has floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the seaplane activities nearby. I have previously published a separate review of the lounge and seaplane transfer, which you can read here (or watch my Youtube clip here).
- The arrival ritual at the resort makes a great first impression. Around 10 staff members – including the senior management – are lined up when you step out of the seaplane and shake you hand while introducing themselves as you make your way to the open-sided welcome pavilion, which frames a picturesque view of the island and its clear lagoon. A welcome cocktail and cold towel is offered, after which you are whisked away by your butler in a golf cart to your villa.
- The resort’s sensational architecture and interiors will blow you off your feet and evoke a sense of tropical island village living. The design was created by Singapore based WOW Architects and draws inspiration from nature itself, including the local ecologies. Such aesthetics include a whale shark-inspired signature bar, manta ray shaped overwater villas, an overwater spa in the form of a lobster, and a spiral shell shaped library. Besides organic sea forms, some buildings are based on local cultural symbols; coastal villas along the southern shoreline, for example, are akin to Maldivian Dhoni boats.
The small island – it only takes 15 minutes to walk around it or 5 minutes to traverse it by the complimentary bikes offered by the hotel – features a smart layout that is defined by several distinct ecological zones: a secluded lagoon with sparkling turquoise waters to the west, a beach stretching all the way from the west via the north to the east, a coastal area to the south (where you find the arrival jetty, spa and dive center), and a tropical lush jungle at its center. These different zones form the basis of the guest experiences offered by the resort that guide guests through their journey of discovery. In addition, the resort’s 77 luxuriously appointed private villas are all divided according to these ecological zones, with some of them set in the jungle, some of them along the beach, and some of them over the lagoon
During my visit, I stayed in a stunning ‘sunset overwater villa with pool’, which featured and expansive outdoor terrace with private plunge pool and direct access to the lagoon and house reef. A plush daybed, sun loungers, and overwater hammocks were ideal for relaxing beneath the Maldivian sun. The ocean backdrop blended seamlessly with the bedroom’s impeccable furnishings and all-timber interior, augmented by a blown glass chandelier and elegant palette of cream, cobalt, sea-foam green, and brown. A lavish king-sized bed was at the center of the room with a a plump sofa, ottoman, armchair, and polished side tables forming an inviting seating area. State-of-the-art technology included a Bang & Olufsen LCD television and iPad room controls. The room also featured a walk-in closet and an elegant writing desk. The lovely, cream marble bathroom featured double vanities (showcasing burnished fixtures and a mirror-embedded LCD television), a rainforest shower, separate toilet, and a stand-alone deep soaking bathtub with Remède bath amenities (my favorite toiletries!).
- The resort’s most lavish accommodation – the John Jacob Astor Estate – is the largest overwater villa in the Maldives. It spans across three different areas – a two-story main villa encompasses a private pool, a spacious pool deck, a living room, a master bedroom, a show kitchen, a spa room, a mini theater, and a fitness area; and two connecting lagoon villas, each featuring their own private pool, pool deck, bedroom, and living area. You can read my review (with Youtube clip) of the impressive John Jacob Astor Estate here.
- In case a private infinity pool doesn’t do it for you, you’ll be happy to know that the St Regis Vommuli resort features a serene beach, with a large, lagoon shaped outdoor infinity pool that reveals unfettered views of the exclusive white-sand beach and the alluring waters of the Indian Ocean. The beach club offers plentiful sun loungers and poolside cabanas for all guests and younger VIP guests may enjoy a dip in the adjacent splash pool. The beach club is located on the island’s west side and boasts indelible sunset views.
- Behind the pool are two small but remarkable buildings. One houses the library which is shaped as a spiral shell and features a a curated collection of books as well as two workstations with printers – perfect for work or study. The other building houses the boutique shop, which showcases a collection of elegant jewelry, fashionable clothing, and timeless accessories to choose from on its first and second floor. You can also ascend the shop’s spiral staircase to the third floor where the Observatory Tower offers dramatic vistas of the Indian Ocean and swaying palms that dot the island’s shores.
- Food at the resort is of exceptional, Michelin-star quality and some of the best food I ever enjoyed at a resort in the world. The resort offers no less than six distinct dining venues, assuring that your stomach won’t get bored when you are staying here for a week or more. The 3 main restaurants are the beach front Asian fine-dining venue Orientale, the pop-up restaurant Cargo offering Libanese cuisine in the middle of the resort’s lush vegetation, and Alba, a modern Italian restaurant behind the main pool that features a grand staircase. The latter also features an underground wine cellar restaurant, called Decanter, where you can dine while being surrounded by white oak wine racks which showcase a prestigious selection of exclusive wines dating from 1755.
- The impressive breakfast deserves a separate mentioning as it the most lavish breakfast spread that I have ever seen at any resort in the world (equaling that of Soneva Fushi, one of my favorite properties in the Maldives). The buffet is laid out in several interconnecting rooms (including the open kitchen) at the Alba restaurant and features literally everything that you can wish for, from cold meats, tens of bread variants, high quality cheeses and an impressive selection of fresh fruits. Just walking around the buffet will take your breath away as the St Regis Maldives Vommuli takes the hotel breakfast concept to a new unprecedented level. In addition, there is an extensive menu with tens of a la carte items to choose from. The resort’s breakfast is even more impressive when you consider the remote location of the island is and how expensive it must be to stock it daily.
- Next to the pool area, the Whale Bar is an architectural marvel that emerges from the azure waters of the resort’s private coral reef, inviting guests to sit on the overwater terrace and savor a selection of locally sourced seafood, freshly prepared tapas, wines, and spirits. It’s the best place in the resort to view the magnificent sunsets in the Maldives and listen to chilled music. A tour de force of marine-inspired architecture, the Whale Bar’s distinctive shape recalls the majestic whale shark. The ceiling is adorned with a signature St. Regis ceiling mural, a sea life inspired pyrographic work designed by renowned artist Maya Burman. the installation depicts a father and son discovering a paradise of corals, fish, and plankton—a celebration of the Maldives’ vibrant sea life.
- Behind the pool area, nestled in the island’s lust tropical interiors, you find Vommuli House, the largest recreational center in the Maldives. The massive building houses a yoga studio (don’t miss the antigravity yoga classes), fully equipped fitness center, hair saloon, and impressive children’s club. The latter takes care of Children aged 4 to 12, which may attend yoga classes complete with meditation, cooking courses in the dedicated children’s kitchen, or take part in creative arts and crafts including origami and painting. Located adjacent to Vommuli House, the Socialite Club welcomes teenagers aged 16 years and older to take part in a variety of entertainment options including table tennis, foosball, pool, and air hockey as well as video and board games.
- Located on the island’s west side, the Vommuli Dive & Watersports Center provides for any active pursuit whether deep-sea fishing, kayaking, speed boating, parasailing, jetskiing, kitesurfing, wakeboarding, sea-bob, catamaran sailing and windsurfing. The fully equipped center, which is recognized as an international dive center by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), provides scuba and nitrox diving lessons, certification and expert ScubaPro equipment to ensure safety. Most guests will stop here on their first day at the resort to collect their complimentary snorkeling gear to explore the vibrantly hued sea life in the resort’s private house reef. Kayaking and paddle boarding are also complimentary.
- Alighting atop the scintillating waves of the Indian Ocean, the enormous, lobster-shaped overwater spa sanctuary features plush furnishings set against white oak interiors to create an ambience of elegant tranquility. The vibrant marine life can be observed through glass floors. There are 6 treatment rooms in total, including two Ayurvedic suites with private steam rooms, all of them featuring private terraces with soaking bathtubs to ensure relaxation enhanced by fresh ocean breezes. The spa’s eyechatcher is the so-called Blue Hole – the most expansive hydrotherapy pool in the Maldives – where heated seawater and an array of whirlpool jets melt away tension while offering curative benefits for both mind and body.
- The St Regis Vommuli Resort, Maldives brings the brand’s hallmark luxury services to one of the world’s most magnificent destinations. St Regis is one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands (as well as one of my favorite hotel brands) and is part of Starwood Hotels, which was recently aqcuired by the Marriott Hotel group. The St. Regis Vommuli Resort joins Starwood’s dynamic local portfolio in the Maldives, that includes W Retreat & Spa – Maldives and Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa.
- While in residence, guests enjoy St Regis butler service, 24 hours a day. St. Regis Butler Service has been the signature of the St. Regis experience for over one hundred years. From a forgotten travel item, to a perfectly pressed suit ready for an important meeting, to a favorite book at hand for an evening read, or a thoughtful, last-minute gift for a loved one, no request is too small or unattainable no matter the hour of the day.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The St Regis Maldives Vommuli is hand’s down one of the most exclusive properties in the Maldives. The phenomenal design, world-class dining option, oversized accommodations, terrific spa and immaculate service makes this resort an obvious choice for a lavish holiday in the Maldives. Yet, IMHO, there are some things that you need to know when considering a stay here:
- The natural beauty of the island is visually stunning and a feast for the eyes, but the tropical vegetation still needs some maturations in certain areas, especially along the beach and around the beach club. I am sure that the island will look even more stunning and lush after the passage of a few rainy seasons.
- The beach is wide, clean, and beautiful. But IMHO, it isn’t the best beach (yet) in the Maldives as the white sand does not feel very soft under the feet and some stretches of beach have been man-made. In all honesty, that is an issue with most of the newly developed resorts in the Maldives. With the resort’s construction works being finished, nature now has time to restore itself, so the quality of the beach will improve over time and probably rival that of the best beach hideaways in the Maldives.
- The island is small and literally every corner of the shore has been used to build the restaurants, villas and other facilities. It does lack a little the feel of a deserted island paradise that is offered by some of the other high-end Maldivian resorts. But again, I am pretty sure that once the vegetation is fully mature, most beach villas and beach-front facilities will be tucked away in the lush foliage, contributing to a picturesque island paradise beach that the Maldives is known for.
- The seaplanes land (and takeoff) quite close to the island’s shores, after which they navigate to the arrival jetty. That does make a lot of noise, and I woke up a few times, because of early departures of the seaplanes, even though my villa was located on the opposite side of the small island. Perhaps the resort should consider a landing spot for the seaplanes further away from the island, after which guests can be shuttled to the resort by speedboat (as is done by some of the other high-end resorts in the Maldives).
- Location: 10/10
- Design: 10/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Resort grounds (beach): 8/10
- Rooms (villas): 10/10
- Food: 10/10
- Breakfast: 10/10
- Spa: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the St Regis Vommuli (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) with Gold or Platinum status are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – free high-speed WiFi, complementary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out (when available), and free breakfast (SPG platinum). Click here to read my review of the SPG program (with pros & cons).
- Save money: book your room with an additional 20% off making use of a Best Rate Guarantee.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
MY REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE MALDIVES
- Review of SONEVA JANI, the Maldives’ most stunning resort
- Hotel review: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
- Review of the largest overwater villa in the Maldives
- Review: The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
- Hotel review: Jumeirah Dhevanafushi (Maldives)
- Review: Soneva In Aqua, the Maldives’ first floating villa
- Review: Soneva Fushi, the Maldives’ original hideaway
- Hotel review: Maalifushi by COMO (Maldives)
- Hotel review: Naladhu, South Male Atoll (Maldives)
- Hotel review: One&Only Reethi Rah (Maldives)
- Hotel review: Gili Lankanfushi (Maldives)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best weather in the Maldives is between January and April, which also means high season (with low availability and very expensive room rates). The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking in June. It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, eat, work out or scuba dive. Especially November and December, which are often labelled as dry season months, have been very unsettled in recent years.
HOW TO GET THERE
Getting to the St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort requires a 40-minute seaplane transfer from Male International Airport (MLE). Check the Wikipedia page of Male International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer flights to Male International Airport:
- From/via Asia: Bangkok Airways (via Bangkok), Tigerair (via Singapore), Singapore Airlines (via Singapore), Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), Air India (via Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram), China Eastern Airlines (via Colombo, Kunmnig), Cina Southern Airlines (via Guanghzou), Hainan Airlines (via Bejing), Korean Air (via Colombo and Seoul), Shanghai Airlines (via Shanghai), Srilankan Airlines (via Colombo), Maldivian (Chennai, Chongqing, Colombo, Dhaka, Thiruvanathapuram), Mega Maldives (via Bejing, Hong Kong, Shanghai).
- From/via Middle East: Emirates (via Dubai), Flybudai (via Dubai), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi), Oman Air (via Muscat), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul).
- From/via Europe: Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), British Airways (via London), Thompson Airways (via London), Monarch Airlines (via London), Condor (via Frankfurt), Edelweiss Air (via Zurich), Meridiana (via Rome or Milan), Neos (via Rome or Milan), Transaero Airlines (via Moscow), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt), Air France (via Paris).