Unless you just really hate the ocean and relaxing in paradise, the Maldives are probably already on your travel bucket list. And for good reason. The 1,200 isles are scattered across 500 miles of Indian Ocean and boast white sand beaches, enchanting underwater worlds and high-end accommodations that are themselves, private island retreats.
Among the most elite hotels competing to raise the luxury bar is PER AQUUM Niyama, a twin islands resort offering double the experiences. Affectionately called Play and Chill, the two destinations have a combined total of 11 room categories ranging from beach studios to two-bedroom beach pavilions with private pools. At Chill, the more peaceful side of the resort, guests have access to LIME Spa and a fine dining restaurant reached by boat and over-water studios.
New this year, is the addition of Play, which connects to Chill via a walking bridge. On this side of the property, guests can dine among the treetops at Nest or at BLU, a casual beachfront eatery, and enjoy 48 new villas set directly on the beach. But one of the best amenities for families is Explorers, a children’s club for kids from 12 months to 12 years old near the family-friendly accommodations. Run by qualified childcare professionals, the club is the only one in the Maldives to provide such a service to children under three years of age.
While you could essentially choose any suite, villa or pavilion and be happy, one of our favorites are the 833-square-foot One Bedroom Beach Pool suites. Swoon with us, won’t you? This picturesque pavilion is exactly what a Maldives vacation should look like. While it offers direct access to the beach, it still manages to provide its guests total privacy (so tanning au naturel is no problem). The indoor/outdoor villa comes with a two bathrooms, a family-sized plunge pool, sun deck with daybed, traditional Maldivian swing, sun loungers and a Bose 5.1 Surround System. Inside the king bedroom, the open air bathroom also offers a choice of al fresco and indoor shower options. To top it all off, travelers will have a personal Thakuru offering Maldivian-style butler service. (Tip: Be sure to take advantage of the complimentary in-room treats like popcorn and ice cream).
With nine dining options, PER AQUUM made sure to cover a wide range of cuisines among their restaurants and even threw in an underwater venue. Subsix, which debuted in 2012, is one of their most popular eateries since it offers 270-degree views of nature’s underwater playground. Reached by boat, the eatery is 19 feet below the surface and features floor-to-ceiling windows and is only open for lunch. In the evenings, the venue turns into a bustling nightclub so you can dance the night away next to manta rays, turtles, colorful fish and coral reefs.
In the complete opposite direction sits Nest, floating high above the ground in the Bayan treetops. Having just opened in June of this year, the one-of-kind, multi-level treehouse design was shortlisted for LE Miami’s Sexiest Design 2015 award (in partnership with Travel + Leisure). Serving up Asian specialties, the menu includes seasonal dishes from the Chef’s garden and everything from Thai to Teppanyaki fare. Dine in a private suspended pod or in a burrowed pavilion while watching culinary theatrics.
Although you may be tempted to laze about all day and relax beachside, the resort does have a wide variety of land and water activities to explore. Travelers can participate in a nighttime snorkeling adventure with torch lights guiding your way, speed past the marine life on an underwater rocket or voyage across the ocean on a glass-bottomed kayak. There is also a professional marine biologist on-site who offers guided expeditions and can even teach you how to become a fish whisperer. Or, if you’re looking to leave a positive mark on the environment, consider adopting a coral as part of the hotel’s Coral Regeneration Program.
PER AQUUM Niyama is a 40-minute seaplane ride from Male International Airport and is provided by the resort (fees collected at check-in). Upon arrival, if you’re experiencing jet lag, make sure to schedule an After Dark spa session. Lime Spa is open in the evenings to ease weary guests into blissful rest at bedtime. From Play to Chill and back again, it seems as though split personalities may not so bad after all.
Rates begin at around $700 per night.