Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives
This 54-acre island of towering Banyan trees, thousands of coconut palms, three natural lagoons and one-and-a-half miles of white sandy beaches showcases a different side to the Maldives. Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa sits in the far south of the Maldives, south of the equator. It even runs on its own island time so that guests can enjoy an extra hour of sunshine – a great example of the above-and-beyond Shangri-La service.
There’s a huge sense of space for total escapism. Rooms and facilities are dotted around the dense jungle and on the beachfront so that it never feels crowded, and each room comes with bicycles so it’s easy to get around. For dining, Javvu is the all-day dining restaurant, set along the shoreline and featuring 'ocean treasure' and Maldivian-themed buffets. Dr Ali’s is inspired by the travels of a local Maldivian doctor, taking you on a culinary journey with dishes from the Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean and South China Sea, while Fashala focuses on local ingredients incorporated into Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Three bars include the sleek M-Lounge – the perfect beachfront venue to enjoy sundowners to the sound of chilled tunes. Other innovative features on the island range from the restorative CHI, The Spa, to the Maldives’ only 9-hole golf course.
The Shangri-La’s location means that as well as private island life, its guests can also experience a more authentic, cultural side to the Maldives. There are four local islands just a short boat ride away, where you can visit villages and farms with a local guide. There’s also a surprising British military history on the island and nearby Gan – during World War II it was established as Royal Naval base and then served as a Royal Air Force station. Of course there’s also the world-class snorkelling and diving that the Maldives is known for, with incredible coral reefs and nearby dive sites including the British Loyalty shipwreck.
Huge luxurious villas are secluded in the tropical vegetation, on the beachfront, overwater and even perched in the treetops. All have an island host, mod cons and glorious ocean views. Overwater villas have steps straight to the ocean, while the on-island villas have their own private plunge pool.