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W Retreat & Spa Maldives, Fesdu Island, North Ari Atoll 

Fesdu Island , North Ari Atoll
Tel: 877 946 8357 (toll-free)
Tel: 960 666 2222
view web site ›'s insider take:

The snail's pace relaxation of the Maldives can be a shock to the system for more energetic urban types. The W Maldives is a great solution: It's the escape that you want with the edge and activity that you need. Guests get into the groove right at the Male International Airport, where they sip cocktails on Balinese daybeds while awaiting their 30-minute transfer to the Ari Atoll islands. Fesdu is one of the country's most idyllic isles and one of the most enjoyable to circumnavigate on foot. At the end of the jetty sits an open-air living room where New York City's latest lounge music simmers. Upon arrival, smiling staff take guests on a tour, passing the sweet spots—refrigerated islets stocked with cold towels, Coca-Cola, and ice cream bars—the dive center, and the water sports center where glass-bottom kayaks provide excellent exercise plus underwater views. Next it's off to your villa. You should opt for a Beach Oasis room, where you can watch the sunset from your swinging daybed. Circular daybeds cantilever over your private plunge pool, and open-roof bathrooms have sexy tubs cosseted by palm fronds. Water villas, meanwhile, are entirely too close together. However, all 78 guest rooms include fantastically comfortable king-size beds, lavishly stocked minibars, and Bliss body products. For a true island party, book the 5,000-square-foot two-bedroom Ocean Haven suite, the ultimate private water world with a full-size infinity pool, wraparound outdoor deck, and glass-bottom living room. The impressive young team lives up to the "whatever/whenever" promise, delivering discreet evening turndowns precisely at the appointed hour. At Fish restaurant, the fresh sashimi practically swims to the table and Fire provides a twice-weekly show of edible pyrotechnics. Sip sits adjacent for those who prefer to imbibe quietly aboveground while international DJs spin at 15 Below, the resort's underground cave of cool. White sails shade the open-air Away Spa where Balinese therapists knead in harmony with the waves.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

The focus is as much on the beach as it is on your thatched-roof room with a big curtained day-bed, a plunge pool, and 24-hour private dining. If you have a special wish—plighting your troth on a nearby desert isle, say—the staff will make it happen. Dining options include a seafood spot under the stars, a waterside barbecue joint, and a bistro; and unlike at other resorts, there's a game attempt at a club scene with the underground 15 Below. Fesdu Island's spectacular reef is just off the beach. Away Spa is included among the 2007 Hot List Spas.

—2007 Hot List

When to go: The drier months are December through April.

Which room to book: Beach Oasis bungalows have nearly 600 square feet of space and private beach access.

Amenities: 24-hour Room Service, Bar/lounge, Beach, Gym, Pool, Spa

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