February 19 2007

As a brand, the  W chain of boutique hotels has practically claimed the concept of luxury to be its own; turning their properties into - must-do destinations for the hip, famous and wealthy. Just the mention of a new W property going under construction creates an immediate buzz that few other international brands could generate.

The latest W, and quite possibly the jewel in W's empire - is the newly opened  W Retreat & Spa in Fesdu Island, Maldives. Already critics and patrons seem to agree  its as close to paradise as you'll find on earth; a luxury playground whose physical beauty is almost overwhelming, where guests are totally indulged on every level.

The W experience begins even before you even arrive. Male airport boasts a chic W operated transfer lounge, where guests are greeted with all the modern conveniences of a big city airport - drinks, food, magazines, plasma TV and internet. It's here that new arrivals are supplied with a W kit before boarding the seaplane to W'ss private island.

From the moment of arrival its obvious that W is a master of branding. Stepping off the seaplane, I was greeted by a fleet of  W golf buggiesì with W styleù number plates - lining the pier waiting to take guests to their villa. Even the luggage trolleys were shaped into a W.

Forget the bi-level Beach Oasis villas, W Maldives is all about the water Ocean Oasis villas, they are truly exceptional, sexy even. It's almost as if  they've gone to every other island in the Maldives and taken the best their competitors had to offer and made it better, giving it the unique W twist that makes most W hotels standouts in their cities.

Ocean Oasis villas boast private plunge pools (or hop down the steps and dive into the turquoise lagoon if you'd prefer) and massive daybeds built for serious relaxation. Inside, the villas offer peep through glass sections of flooring in the living rooms so you can check out the marine life swimming below. Flip a switch to illuminate underwater lights for a night-time peek at the fauna. Stay connected while cast away with Samsung Plasma TVs, BOSE gadgets and High-Speed Internet Access (but who comes here to use the internet?). Drift off in the signature W king bed.

Even the names of some of the places have been carefully chosen.

WAVE - Water sports facility
AWAY - Spa which even has a hair salon but only for blow-drying, yep its that kind of resort.
DOWN UNDER - Snorkeling gear provided
SWEAT -  Fitness Center   

Oh, and you have to just love the Whatever/Whenever Service. They will deliver whatever you want, whenever you want it, just dial whatever/whenever from your room.

All of the restaurants are excellent. The breakfast buffet from the Kitchen restaurant is brilliant (pic above), the Fish restaurant is extraordinary and the seafood BBQ buffet at FIRE was amazing, they've certainly got the food part right.

There's a games space with table tennis, table soccer, billiard table, but not just any table billiard table, and they have the coolest brands of everything.

Which brings me to the guests. This is the serious Jimmy Choo gang, Sex in the City by the beach. I spotted one woman who changed her bikini and outfit three times every day.

If it all sounds too relaxing, you can indulge in a bit of partying at '15 below', the subterranean nightclub which plays host to some of the world's top DJs. As for the spa, we werent sure he would apart from the underground nightclub, 15 Below, the see through Kayak's and the snorkeling) are these mobile kiosks splattered around which have fridges stocked with ice creams - drinks - sun   tan lotion - all free to use whenever you feel like it provide more than a few moments indulgence.

Everything about the W Maldives resort is perfect, its the perfect fantasy Island. - Bill Tikos.


By far the coolest thing on the island (apart from the underground nightclub, 15 Below, the see through Kayak's and the snorkeling) are these mobile kiosks which have fridges stocked with ice creams - drinks - sun tan lotion - all free to use whenever you feel like it.

Night club and wet pool bar, Infinity edge pool, Watersports including kite surfing, Hobie Cats, water-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, canoes, jetskis, scuba diving, handline fishing, excellent snorkelling, table tennis, pool tables and table football, Yoga, Fitness centre

Villas from US $735 per night


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