Hotel Review

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands review: The future-forward private island

This five-star tropical retreat in the North Malé Atoll offers sleek design, as well as superlative dining and serious spa-ing beneath the Indian Ocean sun

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands – the brand’s debut in this island country – is as aesthetically pleasing as it is dreamily relaxing. The brainchild of renowned Kerry Hill Architects, everywhere you look is minimalism par excellence. But there’s more to this resort than its future-forward design. Whether you want to wallow in the Bamford spa, feast toes-in-the-sand-style or explore the warm waters with the dive team, the paradise credentials are plentiful here. 

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Everything about The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is luxurious, and this begins with my transfer to the resort. Rather than a seaplane, I whizz to the archipelago from Malé on a swish speedboat, an exhilarating start to my stay. We reach the hotel in under an hour, where I am warmly welcomed by my personal ‘aris meeha’ who is assigned to look after me for the duration of my time here (the service is impeccable).

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The resort offers a combination of 100 overwater and beachfront villas, which stretch along multiple sandbanks (you get your own bike or there are buggies, though I love walking everywhere). I am in a Beach Pool Villa, which is nestled beneath the palm trees, right by the water. The room is incredible – in keeping with the circular theme that runs throughout the resort’s design, courtesy of the renowned Kerry Hill Architects, all the one-bedroom villas are round, with gentle undulations woven through their structure, bringing a natural, organic feel.

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The private infinity pool is slightly curved, for example, so too the sundeck. The decor in my room is sleek and modern – I have a huge, comfortable bed with uninterrupted views across my private patch of white shoreline to the ocean beyond, with a floor-to-ceiling glass sliding door that enhances the outdoor-indoor vibe. The bathroom is marble and there’s a travertine bathtub in the bedroom, too, and an outdoor shower.

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There’s a real buzz around the resort (it’s very popular with families), and days can be spent doing as much or as little as you want. A real standout is the choice of restaurants and bars – there are seven in total, and you will never tire of what you eat. I loved La Locanda, which specialises in southern Italian – the buffet and a la carte breakfast offerings are amazing.

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La Locanda restaurant

I also liked the Summer Pavilion which floats on the water and serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine beneath twinkling lanterns. One evening I dine under the stars at Iwau, where they prepare sushi and teppanyaki in front of you, which is wonderfully theatrical. There’s also the Beach Shack which was a favourite of mine for its leisurely toes-in-sand lunches of big salads and grilled seafood.

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Summer Pavilion restaurant

The Spa is another highlight, a gorgeous timber-clad circular structure that’s set above a lagoon and surrounded by the resort’s striking water villas. You access the curved, open-air building via a short wooden bridge. Inside the ‘ring’ there are nine treatment rooms, plus private showering facilities, centred around a sphere of turquoise ocean where I spot baby sharks. The rooms are really spacious and a complete contrast to the bright, tropical vibe of the resort. Instead, they’re all deep, dark wood which, when lit by candles, immediately creates a really cocooning, calming atmosphere. It feels very grounding and fully supports that sense of ‘letting go’. 

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Treatments are by Bamford, one of my favourite British organic brands – a choice that feels entirely fitting in this space. I have the Bamford Signature Journey, a 150-minute treatment that combines Japanese, Shiatsu and Swedish massage, and I drift off into a really deep sleep. When I wake and emerge from the spa, the sky is filled with an orange and pink sunset – I have never felt so peaceful in my entire life.

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Guests can also have the Bamford Wellness Facial, as well as a wealth of other treatments, plus there’s a hair and beauty salon, and a small boutique. New for this year is the ‘Blue Prescription’ package, created to tap into all the health benefits of the ocean and encourage optimum engagement with nature, which includes a Bamford B Balanced treatment, sea snorkelling, dolphin cruise, aqua stretching and a private dinner aboard the resort’s yacht. 

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If you’d like a sauna and steam, this is at the other end of the island, in the fitness centre, which has a yoga studio and runs classes from HIIT to Fit Boxing; there is a tennis court too. The water sports on offer are many, from kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding to snorkelling and diving, and there’s also a swimming pool, circular of course, with the adjoining Eau Bar a popular spot for sundowners. Though the design-led Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is beautiful to look at, this is definitely a resort to have fun in, too. 

Ocean Pool Villas start from $1,800 per night

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