Two of the biggest travel trends we’ve seen lately: escapes to wide-open spaces and private villa rentals, which both give travelers the getaways they’re craving while keeping social distancing in mind. In the Maldives, Soneva Fushi’s eight new Water Retreats epitomize these trends in ultraluxe fashion.
The Maldives – a remote Indian Ocean archipelago known for its diverse marine life and pristine beaches – reopened its borders to international travelers in July with relatively few restrictions. Visitors must remain at one resort for the duration of their stay, and since every property in the Maldives sits on its own private island, tourism officials expect that any positive coronavirus cases will be easy to trace. Most resorts have their own enhanced health policies as well – at Soneva, for example, guests must take a Covid test upon arrival.
Even without a mandatory self-quarantine, it’d be a pleasure to hole up in one of Soneva Fushi’s eight new Water Retreats, which the resort claims are now the world’s largest overwater villas. Ranging from 6,286 to 9,224 square feet, the one- and two-bedroom residences feature master bedrooms with retractable roofs for stargazing, dining areas, and ocean views from practically every angle. Outdoor spaces include a private, open-air bathroom with direct lagoon access, and an expansive deck with an infinity-edge pool, multiple daybeds, and a catamaran-style netted lounge area. Made for Instagram: The two-story water slide that plunges from a rooftop deck straight into the water.
On-call butlers handle everything from room-service requests to private picnic arrangements, and each villa comes with a fleet of bicycles and tricycles for exploring the lush grounds. Two ideas: Pedal to Cinema Paradiso for an outdoor movie night or over to glass studio for a lesson in glassblowing. (Soneva upcycles its glass waste into vases, tumblers, and other unique souvenirs.)
The 71-room resort, which sits within the UNESCO-designated Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve, immerses guests in an array of aquatic experiences, from surfing to snorkeling with manta rays. Sustainability initiatives at the carbon-neutral property include sourcing seafood from local fishermen, banning plastic water bottles, and developing a coral-reef nursery to help protect surrounding marine life.
Water Retreats from $2,626. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit.