Experience one of the biggest islands in the Maldives
Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa is one of the biggest islands in the Maldives and, with only 132 villas over a 30-acre island, you’ll sometimes feel as if you have the island all to yourself. We sent a few of our travel experts to test out the (huge) villas, golf course and one-and-a-half-miles of perfect beaches.
“From the moment you arrive on the pier and are met with a cold towel to the moment the staff wave you goodbye, the service at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa is sublime. Nothing here is too much trouble and the care and attention to the smallest detail is catered for, even down to a pillow menu in your room. The real joy for me is the smiling faces that are eager to say ‘good morning’ as you walk to breakfast. The Shangri-La service is exemplary.”
Andrew Fielding, Kuoni Maldives expert
“The resort offers amazing dining at three wonderful restaurants, all offering à la carte cuisine. There’s also the option to book a Dine by Design experience, a private dinner in your choice of location, from the resort’s luxurious yacht to dinner on Mount Villingili, the highest point in the Maldives. The dining experience that really blew us away is the barbecue on the island’s own golf course, offering panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Watching the sunset, listening to the waves and tasting fresh lobster with a cocktail in our hand is a moment not to miss.”
Alissa Kirkwood, Kuoni Maldives expert
“The experience I had at the spa was second to none. I was greeted at the reception by friendly and professional staff who offered me a refreshing scented towel. The entrance as decorated elaborately with a beautiful water feature and gold tiling; and the whole spa smelt fantastic, of calming incense. I was offered time in the steamroom and then a shower prior to my head, neck and shoulder massage, which took place in a beautiful, relaxing room overlooking the glistening Indian Ocean. The treatment was fantastic and, after, the therapist made me a herbal tea to sip while I relaxed and took in the views. Visiting the spa was certainly one of my highlights on the island. The whole experience felt luxurious and I would highly recommend it to anyone who plans to visit!”
Georgina Gargett, Kuoni Maldives expert
Did you know?
The island has eight different room types, including the Ocean View Treehouse Villa with Private Pool. Unusual for the Maldives, these villas are set on stilts among the treetops and have incredible views from the elevated pools.
Things to do on the island
“The island is home to some fantastic activities. The stand-out one has to be the nine-hole pitch and putt golf course at the southern end of the island. The longest hole here stretches to 176 yards and the 5th was a particular favourite, as you have to drive over the Indian Ocean. It is well worth the early start to tee off as the sun rises over the course. The island is also perfect for divers of all levels. There is an excellent house reef for snorkelling and you can dive at the nearby wreck of the British Loyalty tanker sunk in World War II. The island also offers tennis, eco-trails, kayaking and windsurfing. Even surfing is a possibility here.”
Hugh Rankmore, Kuoni Maldives expert
The Beach Villas
“I was completely blown away by my stunning Beach Villa with Private Pool, it’s one of the best villas I’ve ever experienced. Peaceful and private, each one actually has two villas! One is home to the bedroom and bathroom; and the other houses the living area overlooking the pool, which has two in-water sunbeds. Beyond the pool, a path leads down to an incredible stretch of beach. It was the little details that really made my stay, such as my butler arriving one afternoon to deliver pool-side cookies that were still warm from the oven. I felt so lucky to be staying in one of these beautiful villas, they are truly special.”
Nicole Hanna, Kuoni Maldives expert
The Water Villas
“When I walked into my Water Villa, I was amazed by the size of it. The incredible bathroom features an outdoor shower; and the open-plan villa has an amazing king size bed, which is the perfect spot to relax and gaze over the Indian Ocean. Open the shutter doors wide onto the sun deck complete with sun loungers and an overwater hammock and you’re met by the sound of the waves gently lapping the villa. Steps lead you down to the lagoon and I started most days here with an early morning dip. These villas are beyond luxurious.”
Ross Swallow, Kuoni Maldives expert
How to get there
Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa is in a more remote part of the Maldives. It can be easily reached via a SriLankan flight into Gan International Airport, via Colombo in Sri Lanka, before a five-minute speedboat ride to the island. This means it’s the perfect twin with a Sri Lanka stay and the location gives you the chance to visit villages and farms on local islands nearby with a guide, plus learn about Gan’s British military history.
This feature was published on 17 May 2018. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print.