The Maldives, with its idyllic overwater villas, airbrushed-looking reefs, and sparkling waters, has become a hotbed for design. Despite the constant threat of climate change, developers continue to envision and create aesthetic marvels in this breathtaking region. From underwater suites to eco-friendly architecture, these resorts are redefining what it means to stay in paradise.
Here are 7 design-forward properties in the Maldives that take hospitality to the next level.
Patina Maldives, Fari Islands is a radical new example of biophilic design from renowned Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, founder of international award-winning Studio MK27. The design is a blend of tropical modernism and nature, set amidst the serene natural setting of the Fari Islands in the Maldives. The resort features cabins on stilts in the water, modest rectangular buildings on the land, lush gardens, and plenty of open space to encourage guests to unwind and connect with nature. The focus of the design is on promoting sustainable luxury while pushing the limits of hospitality architecture.
Designed by award-winning architects Kerry Hill, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives is inspired by its natural surroundings. The architects were influenced by the circular motion of water and the way of life in the Maldives, creating a design that embodies the island’s philosophy and spirit. The resort’s circular-shaped architecture, which resembles the traditional ‘bodu beru’ drum crafted from coconut wood, is also a nod to an ancient form of dance and music that dates back to the 11th century and is synonymous with celebrations and ceremonies.
The design of this wellness oasis was crafted by renowned architect Yuji Yamazaki. It aims beyond the conventional resort and commits a unique emphasis on the wellness of the human mind and body. The resort consists of organic lines with sweeping shingled roofs in order to blend traditional design languages with modern ones. Meanwhile, the spa complex is stilted over the ocean and consists of inset ovals that contain a central suspended space. There are also 50 private villas, all with individual pools, 40 of which stilt over the ocean.
As the Maldives’ only solar-powered private island, Kudadoo stands out as the first fully sustainable resort, offering an exclusive and eco-friendly experience for discerning travellers. It boasts 15 Zen-style villas that encircle the island like a diadem, providing uninterrupted views of the horizon. Designed once again by Yuji Yamazaki, the resort reflects a modern sensibility with a sustainable mindset that aims to preserve the local ecology.
Alila Kothaifaru’s modern minimalist architecture was designed by Singapore-based Studiogoto, who took inspiration from the island’s flat topography to create an environment that blends seamlessly with nature. The landscape-oriented design features terraced layers that integrate into the natural surroundings to provide privacy and intimacy for each of the 80 beach and water villas, while also offering awe-inspiring views. By combining bold, clean lines with soft natural materials, cultural motifs, and organic forms, the architecture aims to promote relaxation and draw on the restorative powers of nature.
When you think of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, you immediately think of the Muraka. This luxurious holiday villa is a masterpiece of a design collaboration between local architect Ahmed Saleem and New York-based Yuji Yamazaki. The Muraka boasts a distinct feature that sets it apart from other luxury villas — an underwater bedroom suite. The suite is encased in curved, seven-inch-thick acrylic walls, allowing guests to have an aquarium-like experience and observe marine life while going about their day. The villa comprises a slender top-story above water that houses the kitchen, living and dining area, and three additional bedrooms.
In addition to the upscale resorts, there is a growing trend of incorporating locally influenced design elements into Maldivian resort architecture. The St. Regis Vommuli for example, which opened in 2016, features hanging bead lamps made from recycled shells along the veranda and a striking ceiling mural created using pyrography, a Maldivian art form of burning wood, to tell captivating stories. These design elements not only add to the aesthetics of the resorts but also showcase the rich cultural heritage of the archipelago.