hite sandy beaches, blue skies and crystal-clear water, pearls of incomparable beauty, the Maldives are that dream vacation we plan on doing at least once in a lifetime. These days we can take our time making plans, because even this emblem of earthly paradise—the Eden where we can forget our normally frenetic life—is on lockdown at the moment.
Among the magnificent jewels that make up this remote corner of the Indian Ocean, with 26 atolls and more than a thousand coral islands, an uninhabited islet (only a sixth of the 1,190 islands are inhabited) has been transformed into a luxury resort, Hotel One & Only in Reethi Rah.
Spread amongst palm trees or built on the water, 122 small villas inspired by traditional Maldivian architecture with influences from China and Bali, invite guests to relax amongst tropical wood, natural stone and light and fresh fabrics. The simple and rigorous constructions are divided into single spaces—from the living room to the bedroom, lavish bathrooms with built-in bathtubs and stone countertop washbasins (Duravit)—with walls inserted as if they were screens, freeing the ceiling’s ingenious bamboo structure.
The project’s designer is Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy, who heads the studio Denniston Architects in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, specialized in making luxury hotels—the most well-known of which is Bay Sand in Singapore, famous for its gigantic “Infinity pool” suspended at 200 meters.
In the resort on the island of Reethi Rah, Gathy has created a fascinating blend of landscapes, architecture and interiors from various cultures where the elegance of luxury meets a stripped-down world immersed in nature. This natural piece of heaven—more than a thousand species of fish and mollusks live in this blue sea— is one of the places most at risk of a rise in sea level due to global warming.
If development policies with respect for nature started at the end of the seventies have preserved the Maldives from reckless tourism and construction (the resorts, for example, here cannot be taller than the island’s tallest palm tree) now it is concerned with protecting its ecosystem and biodiversity. To guarantee the sustainability of its management, from energy and water consumption to recycling, One & Only collaborates with EarthCheck, the main environmental assessment program for the travel and tourism sector.
Good news, because when we once again need to isolate ourselves from the world, this will be the first place we’ll want to go.
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