Much like the primordial forces that shaped the Maldivian archipelago eons ago, it required an equal force of will to bring about The Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands. Open as of 1 June 2021, this 100-villa private island resort transcends the traditional five-star experience, emerging as an extraordinary example of how harmonising the wonders of nature with human ingenuity can have awe-inspiring results.
However, the magic spell of this resort is cast well before one reaches its pristine shores. As you approach Velana International Airport, the Maldivian dreamscape unfolds in a breathtaking mosaic of turquoise atolls and vibrant coral reefs below — sending your anticipation into overdrive. Welcomed by gracious staff as soon as you step foot out of the terminal, guests are swiftly whisked away on a private speedboat, embarking on a 45-minute journey through cerulean waters that culminates in the revelation of the The Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands’ lush expanse, reminiscent of a tropical forest suspended in the ocean.
Our arrival, serendipitously coinciding with a spectacular sunrise painted in pastel pinks and blues, was made even more special thanks to the warmest of welcomes we received, setting the stage for the exceptional hospitality synonymous with The Ritz-Carlton experience. As we strolled down the arrival jetty, surrounded by crystal-clear waters, the traditional Maldivian sounds of the Sangu Conch echoed around us. Customarily used to signal the arrival of important guests, this reaffirmed that, at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, everyone is indeed a VIP. After a coffee and some pâtisserie-worthy pastries at overwater breakfast spot La Locanda, retreating to our foliage-shrouded beach villa was a real tonic for the soul – and body – after a gruelling flight. Not to mention the thoughtful welcome package, which included a handwritten note, a bottle of bubbly and an array of delectable sweet treats.
Spread across three smaller islands interconnected by undulating bridges and tree-lined bike paths, the resort’s accommodations include expansive one- and two-bedroom overwater villas, beachfront abodes, and an extravagant Ritz-Carlton Reserve – all oriented to face the ocean, providing panoramic water views. Unlike the majority of the resorts in the Maldives, which opt for traditional thatch-roof bungalows, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands takes a modernistic approach with its circular formations that mimic the rhythmic movement of the ocean and its currents – and this motif of ’embracing the circle of island life’ is evident throughout the property, including the spa, pool and common areas.
Designed by the late Kerry Hill, the venerated Australian architect renowned for his work on prestigious hospitality projects across the globe, these plush pads effortlessly meld into the Maldivian seascape. Clad in wood and adorned in a palette of muted tones and soft textures, the villas flow seamlessly from indoors to out, instilling a sense of calm and freedom. Just a few steps away, the beach beckons, or if you’re in an overwater villa, you can hop straight into the ocean or lagoon below. The aesthetic, marrying contemporary design with perpetual comfort, celebrates the beauty of the surroundings. Each villa has fully retractable floor-to-ceiling window doors, private pools facing the ocean, and spacious sundecks with an outdoor dining table and sun loungers. The bathrooms, elegantly appointed and featuring luxe organic amenities from Bamford London, boast indoor and outdoor rain showers, a separate washroom, and strategically positioned bathtubs with endless sea views.
The villas also come with a Nespresso machine, complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and an array of sweet and savoury snacks such as truffle-infused crisps, a generously filled cookie jar, and a basket of fresh fruits. Those with a penchant for mixology will love the cocktail-making station, complete with a recipe book, all barware required and a selection of top-shelf liquor
Reflecting on our stay, it still warms my heart to recount the myriad of thoughtful touches provided by the resort. From the chic beach bags and his-and-hers bathrobes, slippers, flip-flops and straw hats given to each guest to the daily surprises left in our room, a smile was brought to our faces every time we returned to our beachside oasis. Each villa is also assigned its own Aris Meeha, the Maldivian term for a caretaker of royalty, ensuring guests are pampered and well-supported 24/7. From arranging restaurant reservations to facilitating buggy lifts across the island, your dedicated butler is just a WhatsApp message away, ready to courteously attend to every request in a matter of minutes.
For those who relish the freedom of solo exploration, the resort equips every guest with a bicycle — an invitation to pedal everywhere from the recreation centre and tennis court on the property’s southernmost tip to the halo of overwater villas on the north end. A leisurely ride across this 13.5-hectare slice of paradise reveals the incredible juxtaposition between luxurious comfort and untamed nature on the island, with surprises like spotting a manta ray in the lagoon en route to the award-winning spa offering a stark reminder that you’re vacationing in the remote depths of the Indian Ocean.
A marvel in its own right, The Ritz-Carlton Spa is the resort’s architectural pièce de résistance, taking the form of a wood-enrobed ring gracefully floating atop the crystalline waters. On the interior, this sanctuary of wellness is open to the lagoon and the sky, creating a serene atmosphere that enhances the overall sense of relaxation. Guests are greeted with a divine cup of ginger tea before being ushered into one of nine treatment rooms, each thoughtfully oriented to the cardinal directions, emanating Earth’s powerful energy. The menu includes a plethora of healing rituals, including massages, facials, hair therapies, manicures/pedicures and waxing, all enriched with an organic body and skincare collection curated by Bamford. Treatments are personalised to guests’ preferences, and the skilled therapists, akin to miracle workers, transport you to seventh heaven. It’s safe to say that the massages here are among the best we’ve ever experienced.
Clockwise from above-left: The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands Spa; pasta from La Locanda; ‘defining moment’ at EAU Bar; fresh sushi served at EAU Bar
Turning our attention to the culinary delights, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands proved to be a haven for foodies. With five restaurants on the property and easy access to several more dining destinations just a short, complimentary boat trip away at Patina Maldives, the resort offered a diverse world of flavours — a remarkable feat considering the relatively small size of the island.
Breakfast is always chanted as the ‘most important meal of the day’, and there’s honestly no better way to kick off the morning than with the veritable smorgasbord of options at La Locanda’s breakfast buffet. Picture a carefully curated selection of baked goods featuring daily-changing filled croissants and cronuts alongside fresh breads and an assortment of salads, cheeses, charcuterie, fresh fruits, yoghurt and cereals. If you prefer warm breakfast favourites, order eggs your way and complement these with everything from mushrooms to hashbrowns, shakshuka and sausages. The regional delicacies were a particular standout, featuring Asian curries and soups plus an Indian dosa station, allowing guests to create custom savoury crepes with their preferred fillings. The à la carte menu boasted all the usual suspects, including a moreish smoked salmon eggs benedict, an indulgent crab omelette and irresistibly crispy Belgian waffles. And for coffee enthusiasts, there’s an impressive selection to satisfy those caffeine cravings, including a V60 pour-over, Chemex, French press, nitro brew, and a full range of espresso-based options.
For lunch and dinner, La Locanda transforms into a Southern Italian belle, serving up delicious pastas and pizzas in the perfect open-air, overwater setting. For starters, we highly recommend burrata with heirloom tomatoes, basil pesto and gazpacho, as well as the local Yellowfin tuna tartare with capers, red onion and avocado.
Being in such close proximity to the ocean, fresh seafood is a must in the Maldives, and EAU Bar did not disappoint in this regard. Their sushi rivals the quality you’d expect at top city spots, and their main courses feature a host of crowd-pleasers, including tuna poke bowls, salmon teriyaki, and prawn pops. Don’t skimp on trying out the cocktails either: the signature Karanfoo, a spicy tropical tipple with coconut and clove liqueur, Plantation 3 Stars rum, falernum, pineapple juice and cinnamon syrup is served from a wheel-shaped vessel with a spice-steeped pineapple round in its spoke. EAU Bar is also the idyllic spot for a sundowner, as it faces the resort’s infinity pool and hosts the ‘defining moment’ – a nightly sunset ritual where the ring of fire is lit up at the edge of the water while traditional Maldivian Boduberu drums are played. After this spectacle, head to IWAU to savour a multicourse Japanese teppanyaki dinner under the night sky. With the dishes prepared right before your eyes, guests can ogle at the chef as he skillfully slices sushi from fresh fish, flambés local Maldivian lobster and grills the finest Wagyu steaks. Our favourite dining experience of the trip, the meal here was made all the better by the excellent sake pairing — or opt for the wine pairing, which looked equally as good.
Another high-end spot, Summer Pavilion is a must for those looking to sample a modern take on traditional Cantonese fare. Start with some dim sum and then indulge in crispy pork belly and steamed seabass while listening to the waves lap the shore below the restaurant. For a more laid-back experience, head to Beach Shack for a Mediterreanean-style lunch and healthy pick-me-ups like freshly squeezed elixirs, reef fish ceviche and grilled Yellowfin tuna steaks. The seafood platter and paella also looked incredible, so pick these if you have a bigger appetite. Spread across a sublime stretch of beachfront, this is easy, breezy island dining at its best. The resort also hosts some themed dinners here, including the famed lobster night.
If you’re at the resort for long enough, don’t miss out on a trip to the Fari Marina Village, shared between The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, the neighbouring Patina Maldives and the soon-to-open Capella resort. Here, guests can sample Lebanese and North Indian cuisine at Arabesque or snack on Asian bites like bao buns, noodles, soups and salads at Tum Tum. One thing is for sure: no matter where you choose to dine, there’s a golden thread that runs through all seven of the dining venues that The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands oversees: all the ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality, and are prepared by a skilled team who have a genuine passion for their craft.
Adding an extra layer of culinary delight, our visit coincided with a special residency by best-selling food writer and international TV presenter Rachel Khoo as part of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands’ Master of Crafts and Craftsmanship Calendar. Throughout her time at the resort, Rachel offered an insight into the world of French pâtisserie, hosting a series of exclusive guest experiences, including an exquisite choux pastry masterclass and a friendly bake-off among guests (which we won!) The agenda also included a delectable breakfast grazing table featuring unlimited mini choux buns with delicious fillings envisioned by Rachel. We even got a taste of the local fare as part of a Maldivian cooking class hosted by Rachel and the resort’s award-winning culinary team. As Rachel vehemently says, she just hopes to bring joy through her food – and this is precisely what The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, achieves with its culinary offerings, too.
Clockwise from above-left: EAU Bar is home to the resort’s circular infinity pool; as part of the resort’s Master of Crafts and Craftsmanship Calendar, Rachel Khoo visited for a chef’s residency, hosting various culinary events; the villas come with bicycles, allowing guests to cycle around the island at will; Rachel Khoo’s residency included a breakfast grazing table where various filled choux buns were served
Creating exceptional, memorable experiences like this is undoubtedly The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands’ forte. Throughout our time here, there was a different activity on offer every day and night, from a Halloween soirée where guests could mingle with a glass of bubbles in hand and toes in the sand to a pumpkin carving class, a Mexican feast and a Spa Alchemist Scrub workshop. Even the younger family members are offered endless entertainment at Ritz Kids, touted as one of the best children’s clubs in the Indian Ocean.
Whether your interests lie in luxuriating in the sun and soaking up the beautiful environment or engaging actively in regional Maldivian pastimes, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands has you covered. From sunrise yoga in the verdant Mystique Garden to midday turtle snorkelling expeditions and sunset cruises on a sumptuous yacht crowned by dolphin sightings (if you’re lucky like we were), there are 101 ways to enjoy the pleasure of leisure at this resort.
While this property excels in many aspects, the staff is unquestionably the shining star of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands. Always going above and beyond, whether simply greeting you by name with a hand-over-heart salutation or sourcing medications for you at midnight, the perfect blend of professionalism, empathy, thoughtfulness, and genuine friendliness defines every encounter with the resort’s ladies and gentlemen. Personal conversations with the staff, where they happily shared their life experiences and pride in being Maldivian, offered a layer of authenticity and connection that’s somewhat of a rarity these days, making us feel like truly cherished guests. In essence, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is much more than just a destination; it’s an immersive, unforgettable experience that is sure to linger in the heart and soul for years to come.
To find out more about the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and book, visit the links below…