The Maldives: Where To Book For Last-Minute Winter-Sun

The Maldives has long been one of the most coveted luxury destinations in the world, but thanks to a set of limited travel restrictions during the course of the pandemic, it’s now more popular than ever. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the crystal-clear waters, stunning coral reefs and paradisal island life – we personally can’t think of a better way to spend the Christmas and New Year period – here are the best holiday packages and last-minute hotels worth booking now.


Baros Maldives

Best For: A Mindful Reset

Just a 25-minute boat ride from Malé, the main island and capital, Baros is a beautiful resort in the heart of the Maldives. Tucked away on a jungle covered shoreline, there are 75 suites and water pool villas to choose from, all with stunning ocean views. Book one of the signature Baros Suites to overlook the Indian Ocean, which come complete with a private pool, an outdoor deck area, and a beautiful king-size master bedroom. Guests are spoilt for choice with the range of activities on offer – paddle to the island’s flourishing coral reef, take a guided underwater tour with the resident marine biologist, or simply swim in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the resort. However, it’s the wellness retreats at Baros which are second to none. Those after a restorative holiday can make use of the Serenity Spa on site, as well as the resident yogi who leads meditation sessions and complimentary yoga classes each morning. The island has a range of dining options to suit every taste, too – Cayenne Grill serves some of the most delicious seafood, but for something a little more upscale, head to the lavish Lime Restaurant, or settle in at The Lighthouse to watch the sunset with cocktails and canapés.

The Offer: Stay four nights or more between 23rd December and 10th January to receive a discount of up to 15% on accommodation, as well as complimentary return transfers and 20% OFF a meal plan. From £2,400 per person. 

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Cheval Blanc Randheli

 

Best For: Total Luxury

Cheval Blanc Randheli is one of the most luxurious and exclusive resorts in the Maldives. Set on the idyllic island of Noonu Atoll in the south, it can be reached in 40 minutes by seaplane from Malé. There’s a vast selection of things to do on the island, from deep sea diving at the snorkelling centre, to dolphin cruises around the bay. Softly cocooned within the ocean, Randheli has a selection of water, lagoon or island villas. For a blissful getaway for two, opt for the Lagoon Villa perched on traditional stilts over the ocean. Featuring a spacious living room, master bedroom with a grand bathroom, an outdoor shower, a deck and an infinity pool – it’s the ultimate escape. For fine dining, the award-winning 947 Restaurant serves elegant French dishes, while The Deelani is renowned for its seafood. Be sure to explore the stunning surroundings by bike (complimentary with each stay) to make the most of everything on offer. 

The Offer: During December and January, packages start from £5,800 per person for seven nights, including flights. Contact Scott Dunn for special requests. 

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Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi

Best For: Snorkelling

Located on the Shaviyani Atoll, which boasts one of the country's largest resort lagoons, Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi is a blissful hideaway. Dubbed a ‘secret water island’ by locals, expect white sand beaches, turquoise water in a 600-hectare lagoon, and views of a never-ending horizon. Sirru Fen Fushi can be reached from Malé in a spectacular 60-minute seaplane journey. The resort has recently opened an underwater art gallery and coral regeneration project to protect the natural habitats in the lagoon. With over 150 species of tropical fish, manta rays and turtles, guests can be guided through water by the resident marine biologist or take a snorkelling tour of the reef. Aside from myriad water-based activities, visitors can take an authentic Maldivian cookery class or head out on a cultural tour of the island to learn about the archipelago’s colourful heritage. The resort has 120 villas, all decorated in a contemporary Maldivian style, but one of our favourites is the Deluxe Beach Sunrise Villa, which includes a modern master bedroom, private plunge pool, and a large garden area surrounded by lush mangroves. Book a treatment at the Willow Stream Spa and eat your way around the many restaurants, too. 

The Offer: Choose from a range of all-inclusive offers over the festive period. Rooms start from £550 per night. 

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Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island

Best For: Fine Dining 

Located on the private island of Rangali, Conrad is a luxury resort in the heart of the Maldives. A 30-minute seaplane ride, or 30-minute domestic flight from Maamigili airport followed by a short speedboat journey, will transport you to the island. There are a range of beautiful villas and suites to choose from, but the new Deluxe Beach Villa, nestled among tropical greenery on the beach, offers total privacy. Set over 3,000 square feet, the villa has a beautiful indoor bathroom, a signature outdoor rain shower, a plunge pool and a bathing pavilion. If you’d rather be surrounded by turquoise waters while you sleep, opt for a Water Villa where you can jump straight into the ocean from the deck. Conrad also has two spas on site, where guests can enjoy daily fitness classes and personal training sessions, or simply relax with a beauty treatment. In terms of dining, the resort has several restaurants – Koko Grill serves delicious Japanese food, while the Ithaa restaurant offers the world’s first undersea dining experience. For a special occasion, book a private lobster and champagne barbecue on the beach. 

The Offer: From £2,500 per night for a minimum of five nights between 24th December and 9th January 2021. Enjoy a complimentary New Year’s Eve gala dinner for two if the stay falls over 31st December, or a dinner at the Underwater Restaurant in the New Year. Use promo code: PR42VR. 

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One & Only Reethi Rah

Best For: A Romantic Getaway

Located in Maldives’ North Malé Atoll, One & Only Reethi Rah is a beautiful tropical winter-sun hideaway, ideal for a romantic trip. With a selection of villas set over an azure lagoon and a private beach, each room has breath-taking ocean views. For a truly romantic trip, book one of the Beach Villas, complete with a large king-size bedroom, a gorgeous bathroom with a luxury terrazo bathtub, and a private pool. Couples can dine in the new Hideaway restaurant for a private dinner or barbeque or be transported into the forest canopy at the Treehouse for a bespoke menu crafted by the resorts culinary team. The Fanditha Bar is also a must-visit for a sunset cocktail (or two). Sports enthusiasts will love the state-of-the-art dive centre at Reethi Rah, as well as the FIFA-certified football pitch and tennis court. A lovely afternoon can also be spent taking a traditional Maldivian cookery class or exploring the 44-hectares of tropical island by bicycle, while those looking to relax should book a treatment at the award-winning ESPA spa.

The Offer: The Island Indulgence: For a minimum seven-night stay, save up to 30% with complimentary boat transfers to and from Malé, plus complimentary half-board dining. Book by 14th December and travel by 17th December. Prices vary depending on accommodation.

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The Nautilus

Best For: A Boho Beach Holiday

A 35-minute seaplane journey from Malé will get you to The Nautilus, a luxury five-star bohemian hideaway. Situated on Thiladhoo Island, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Baa Atoll, the resort has 26 stylish overwater villas. Each one offers total privacy, with 17 houses perched on the beach and another eight hovering over the lagoon. Our favourites are the Beach Houses. Inside, there’s a large master bedroom, bathroom, and living area decorated with distinctive bohemian flair, while an expansive sundeck and private pool with direct access to the beach awaits outside. On the island, there’s a choice of three restaurants: Zeytoun, which offers Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine, Thyme and Ocaso, which specialises in Japanese food, and a poolside bar with complimentary canapes available throughout the day. Guests can indulge in the over-water treatment rooms at Solasta Spa or enjoy a sunrise yoga session, before exploring the beauty of the Baa Atoll’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, home to rare species of marine life. The atmosphere at The Nautilus is incredibly relaxed, so if you’re looking for the ultimate beach holiday, this resort is it. 

The Offer: For a seven-night trip, prices start from £9,100 per person from December 2020 to April 2021, based on two people sharing a Beach House. Includes international flights and private boat transfers.

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Milaidhoo Island

 

Best For: Island Atmosphere 

Milaidhoo Island is a luxury boutique resort in the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Hanifaru Bay. A 35-minute seaplane ride transports guests from Malé to the private island, passing some of the most stunning views in the country. Milaidhoo is one of the smallest islands in the Maldvies – you can walk from one side to the other in ten minutes – where a wooden bridge connects each overwater villa. Get a feel for relaxed island life and book a stay in one of the Beach Villas which has a private freshwater pool, a sundeck, a Maldivian-style swing chair, and an outdoor shower. Inside, expect large open rooms and a modern en-suite filled with Acqua di Parma toiletries. Guests can opt for in-villa dining or try some traditional Maldivian dishes at one of the six restaurants and bars – the breakfast buffet at Ocean is a must. The island is also the perfect place to explore the surrounding coral reefs where you can go for a diving lesson or head on a champagne cruise at sunset to see dolphins.

The Offer: A seven-night stay at Milaidhoo from £4,400 per person, based on two sharing on a half-board basis. Includes economy flights from the UK and seaplane transfers. Valid on bookings made before 10th January 2021.

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Niyama Private Islands

Best For: Families

This premium resort in the Indian Ocean is set on two private islands on the Dhaalu Atoll – just a 40-minute seaplane ride from Malé. For a great family holiday, head to the ‘Play’ island, but if you’re after a relaxed trip, make a beeline for the laidback ‘Chill’ island instead. Children can spend their time at the kids’ club with individually tailored activity programmes, or take a siesta in the dedicated sleep room, while parents will appreciate time off exploring the beautiful islands or heading on a water sports adventure – think boat trips, snorkelling, catamaran sailing, wakeboarding, kitesurfing and sea bobbing. After a day of activities, families can relax in one of the beautiful villas – the Family Beach Pool Villa is a good choice for kids thanks to its close proximity to the beach and outdoor swing in the garden. Guests will be spoilt for choice with the food on offer. Choose from fine dining experience for a romantic evening for two, or head to one of the casual dining beachside spots for a family meal with a view. 


The Offer: A seven-night stay from £3,000 per person, based on a family of four travelling. Valid on bookings made before 11th April 2021, for travel between 9th January and 11th April 2021.

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JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa

Best For: Christmas In The Sun

Lining the sapphire waters of Shaviyani Atoll, JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa is an escape to paradise. Just an hour’s journey from Malé by seaplane, it has some of the largest villas in the Maldives. With 60 rooms to choose from, opt for an Overwater Villa to experience all the luxury the resort has to offer. Featuring a spacious bedroom with a beautiful marble bathroom, a large living and dining area, and an outdoor balcony with a private pool, the villa is a great choice for a special Christmas holiday. Guests will have access to 24-hour room service and a personal butler throughout the stay. JW Marriott also has an on-site spa and fitness suite, as well as a selection of beachside restaurants and bars. Watch the sun set at Horizon Bar in a swinging seat or enjoy a delicious meal with an array of new- and old-world wines from the contemporary restaurant, The Wine Room. Make the most of the on-site facilities and activities by hiring water sports equipment or booking a scuba diving lesson. 

The Offer: The ‘Festive Package’ includes daily breakfast for two, a 50-minute couple’s massage, a bath ritual, a sundowner cocktail, a romantic barbecue on the beach, 25% off a Christmas Eve gala dinner and a departure gift. From £790 per night. Available until 2nd January 2021. Use promotional code: NCL.

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Westin Maldives Miriandhoo

Best For: Ringing In The New Year 

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Westin Maldives Miriandhoo for the ultimate winter-sun holiday. Easily accessed from Malé in a 30-minute seaplane ride, the island sits in the stunning Baa Atoll – the only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives. There are 70 villas on the island, split into land and sea rooms, but the Overwater Villas have some of the most breath-taking views of the Indian Ocean. These villas have a large master bedroom with a gorgeous marble bathroom, and an outdoor living area with direct access to the sea – jump in for a swim, snorkel around the lagoon, or relax on the deck. Westin Miriandhoo has an impressive overwater spa and fitness centre, but the real draw here is the superb food and drink at the island’s restaurant and bars. Seafood lovers will relish the abundance of freshly caught fish on offer, while the Sunset Bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink at the end of the day. Look out for the array of wildlife on the island, too – the Baa Atoll is well-known for sightings of dolphins, whale sharks and rare marine life. 

The Offer: The ‘Countdown to 2021’ package includes daily breakfast and dinner (including a Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve gala dinner and festive brunch), a complimentary 60-minute couple’s treatment at the spa, a daily one-hour wellness session, use of snorkelling equipment and ocean kayaks, and access to the fitness studio. Valid until 3rd January 2021. From Use promo code: SPA. Prices vary depending on accommodation. 

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The Important Details To Know Before You Book:

Current Travel Info: UK travellers will have to present a negative PCR test for Covid-19 on arrival to the Maldives. The test and negative PCR certificate must be issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure. Screening procedures are in place for passengers on arrival, with quarantine facilities set up to isolate any suspected cases of Covid-19.

Flight Time: The flight from London to the main airport, Malé International, is around 13 hours, including one connecting flight. 

When To Go: The best time to visit is between November and April (during peak season) when the climate is warm and tropical. 

Average Temperature: Temperatures remain high throughout the year, though during peak season they tend to range between 29°C to 31°C.

Currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa is the official currency, though US dollars are widely accepted.

Time: Local time is GMT plus 5 hours.

Things To Note: The Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country, so you will need to dress modestly in public areas (unless on a private resort or beach), and be respectful of cultural rules. 

 

*DISCLAIMER: At the time of writing, The Maldives were exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel, though travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book. Please read through the T&Cs with each tour operator before booking your holiday. 

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