Your impeccable stay at Cheval Blanc Randheli begins from the moment you touch down in Male airport. Greeted at arrivals, we were then shown to the new seaplane terminal, where the Cheval Blanc lounge offers the chance to freshen up and enjoy a continental breakfast (think croissants with impeccable layers of pastry and delicious quiches) – much-needed after an arduous day of travel. The admin is taken care of while you wait, so it wasn’t long before we were escorted to our third and final leg of the journey.
Set in the pristine Noonu Atoll, Cheval Blanc Randheli is an intimate and contemporary haven. A 40-minute journey north of Male, the 46-villa Maison occupies its own collection of unspoiled islands in the Maldivian archipelago and exists in harmony with its lush surroundings and lagoon views.
The resort has its own private seaplane to make sure guests arrive in style and, upon landing, we were greeted by a host of staff and a cacophony of “bonjours”. And this French influence is evident throughout – the whole Maison is a sophisticated and distinctly French interpretation of tropical living.
Cheval Blanc Randheli embodies the French art of hospitality, which can be seen at every turn. Specialists known as Alchemists create personalized experiences for guests while a dedicated Majordome (butler) comes with every villa to ensure you want for nothing. And, as part of LVMH, you’ll find luxurious amenities and brands throughout.
Conceived as a private home away from home, each villa is a perfect blend of traditional and contemporary. The modern villas are completed with thatched roofs, while the latest technology (the villas are controlled by an iPad) is complemented by natural materials (think Mother of Pearl and coconut shells), all designed by Jean-Michel Gathy.
There are six different types of villa including Island Villas and Water Villas. The top accommodation, the Horizon Villa, is perfect for honeymooners or those looking for extra privacy and gorgeous sunset views.
Upon entering your abode, the first thing you’ll notice is the scent. ‘Island Chic’ courtesy of Dior has been created for the property and is found throughout the Maison. Even the most basic villas (there’s nothing basic about them) feature lofty 23-ft ceilings and lavish interiors with spacious living rooms, bedrooms, double dressing rooms and light-filled bathrooms. The color palette is warm with soft ivory and taupe paired with an explosive pop of signature yellow.
The flow between indoors and outdoors is something that most resorts in the Maldives emphasize, and for good reason. The seemingly endless sunshine is something you’ll want to bask in all day. To enhance this, all rooms open out towards the horizon, extending the living space. And outside, each villa comes with its own 41-ft infinity edge pool as well as plenty of deck space and loungers.
Those traveling as a large group or looking for an extra special private hideaway need look no further than Cheval Blanc’s Private Island. Sprawling nearly 2.5 acres and boasting unparalleled views of the atoll, the island offers a seriously generous 82-ft infinity pool, a spa and relaxation pavilion, ivory sand beaches, and a dedicated team of Ambassadeurs to take care of the details.
Accessible only by dhoni, the private island can transform from a serene hideaway to an out-of-sight festive spot where the villa’s dedicated chef will create a personalized gastronomic feast.
When it comes to dining at Cheval Blanc Randheli, there are endless options to suit every taste bud. There are five restaurants, each championing local produce (the seafood is excellent so make sure to order the lobster) and seasonality. For their signature fine dining experience, head to Le 1947 where the tasting menu beautifully marries French and Maldivian cuisine in an intimate setting – there are just seven tables, all overlooking a lush tropical garden.
Alternatively, Deelani serves Mediterranean fare on an outdoor terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean. Dressed in turquoise hues (all the restaurants have their own color palette), the menu is rooted in Italian cuisine and offers some excellent fresh pasta dishes and homemade pizzas.
The White is a contemporary brasserie-style eatery open all day, with a terrace overlooking the sandy beach. While eating there any time of day is a delight, it was the 19-page breakfast menu that really got me excited. Showcasing exotic fruit and local delicacies as well as international dishes, you’ll be sure to find something to entice you out of bed. But if you can’t bear to leave your stunning villa then enjoy a floating breakfast from the comfort of your private pool.
The star of the show, however, is Diptyque. Celebrating Japanese and South Asian cuisine, this live-cooking experience was the highlight of the stay. Accepting the chef’s recommendations, on our table was a veritable feast: Vegetable tempura, pepper chicken, wagyu beef and lobster fried rice were just some of the delicious dishes shared that evening. But make sure to save room for dessert, with a plethora of mochi flavors and chocolate fondant rounding out an exceptional teppanyaki experience.
Just being at Cheval Blanc Randheli feels like a weight off your shoulders. But if you need something more, look no further than Spa Island. Just a short sail away via traditional dhoni, the island takes the best of the Maison and turns it up a notch. Four single-treatment villas open onto the lagoon (the gentle waves make for an excellent massage soundtrack), with two additional villas for couples.
The spa is serviced by Guerlain, with exclusive rituals developed specifically for the Maison. To enhance your experience, there is also a beauty studio, barber shop, hammams, yoga and meditation pavilions, and the spa bar.
While you are on an island in the middle of nowhere, you won’t be short of things to do. Take to the ocean and explore what the Maldives is most famous for, its waters. Cheval Blanc Randheli has a PADI Dive Center offering a range of courses and excursions to get you out exploring the wealth of marine life.
Trained staff will point out the hidden reefs, lagoons and beaches, as well as any unusual marine life you spot on an excursion (never had I thought I’d be excited to hear someone shouting “shark”).
For land-lovers, there are a myriad of sports from a putting green, a gym and fitness center with daily classes, as well as two professional tennis courts and a bootcamp on Cheval Blanc’s neighboring Maakurandhoo Island. And it would be remiss not to mention the surf simulator that they’re so proud of. The only one in the Maldives, the instructors will get you off the boogie board and standing in no time.
For bespoke experiences or unforgettable adventures, the Alchemists can do it all. Whether it’s a barbeque on the beach, a cinema under the stars or chartering the private Azimut yacht to a desert island, nothing is off limits.