5 creative ways these Maldives resorts are competing for travellers

It’s no longer enough to have an over-ocean bungalow with a transparent floor

How does a resort stand out in a tropical island nation famous for deluxe, Instagram-worthy villas? These five inspired selections have found a few ways.

Where: Conrad Rangali Island

What: Underwater residence

Conrad Rangali Island - The MURAKA

Conrad Rangali Island has enjoyed many firsts: the first international resort in the Maldives, the pioneer of overwater villas, and the first to open five-metre-deep Ithaa, an underwater fine dining restaurant with eye-popping views of swarming sea life. It’s about to unveil The Muraka, a two-level residence (one level of which is beneath the ocean) that opens this November. It’s not cheap (a night will go for an estimated US$60,000) but why should it be? There’s a butler on hand 24/7 and private seaplane access.

Where: Six Senses Laamu

What: Marine biology

Maldives, Six Senses Lamuu

Six Senses Laamu, the only resort in the southern Laamu Atoll, is all New Zealand pine villas on stilts and bleach-white sand. But the hotel brand, known primarily for its wellness focus, at Laamu has a 10-strong marine biology team, which monitors the atoll’s impressive big marine life in the deep water surrounding it. Guests can also find out about the resort’s work with green turtles, manta rays, grouper fish – as well as the work it’s doing to educate local fishermen and children about the dangers of overfishing. A sophisticated sustainability operation (including an on-site nursery and desalination plant) means that 97 per cent of everything is reused and recycled.

Where: Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi

What: Submerged art installation

Fairmont-Coralarium Maldives

The Fairmont resort, which opened in May in the northern Shaviyani Atoll, unveiled the country’s first ‘semi-submerged’ coral art installation by underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The Coral Cube art space, in the resort lagoon, is best seen by night with a snorkel.

Where: Como Maalifushi

What: Surf school

Maldives Maalifushi surfing
Martin Morrell

Given that the highest point in the entire Maldives is just over two metres tall, the country is not known for its world-class surf. Until Como Maalifushi uncovered a couple of virgin breaks in the atolls surrounding the resort, that is. Together with partner Tropicsurf, the hotel has put together a comprehensive package for beginners and even advanced surfers who want to ride the waves.

Where: Soneva Jani

What: Water slides

Soneva Jani Maldives water slides
Mark Luscombe-Whyte

Soneva Jani, the souped-up sister property of Soneva Fushi, has one seriously fun addition: water slides. Some overwater villas come with curved slides that drop guests straight into the ocean from the top deck. There’s also the usual(ish) overwater cinema, stargazing observatory and 5.6 kilometre private lagoon that surrounds it.

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