The seaplane circles Vommuli island’s airspace once. Looking out of the window, my gaze falls upon what look like villas—jarring dark-brown structures floating on the bluest water imaginable. Their positioning reminds me of something that my mind cannot recall at the moment. I am too busy getting excited while I stay firmly buckled, minutes from landing.
I have heard that the blues of the Indian Ocean surrounding the Maldives are extraordinary—turquoise, cobalt, azure. Flying over the many atolls and coral islands that constitute the country, it seems that even Pantone would fail to identify all the shades. From high above, they look like droplets of heaven splattered across the ocean, as if a masterpiece by Pollock.
The seaplane reaches Vommuli from the Maldivian capital of Malé in 40 minutes. This tiny private island on Dhaalu Atoll is home to The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, my abode for the next two nights. Operational since 2016, the resort is reputed for providing ultimate luxury. Tucked away in the middle of the Indian Ocean with miles and miles of blue surrounding it, it is the ultimate secluded retreat.
As I am shown to my Overwater St. Regis Suite (a part of the same set of villas I had seen from the plane), that’s when it strikes me—their shape resembles a manta ray. In fact, everything at the resort is designed to balance the natural beauty of the surroundings with art and luxury. Various elements borrowed from the sea, trees and white sands can be seen across the premises, as can elements from local traditions and culture.
The suite itself is gorgeous—décor inspired by lagoons, a hammock overlooking the water, a private pool if that’s more to one’s liking, a massive living room with a table large enough for a mini conference, and a bath area probably bigger than my apartment back home. But what matters to me the most is the freedom to jump into the ocean right from my suite. I’ve swum in seas, bays and lakes in various parts of the world, but this is a first.
St. Regis excels in luxury, so a special mention must be made for their butlers. They are equipped with a bank of recommendations on what to do and where to go, the knowledge of the guest’s likes and dislikes, and even the ability to arrange surprises such as a bottle of champagne or a bath with rose petals. (It goes without saying that Saddam, the butler assigned to me, is no different.)
The island is small and easily navigable using cycles or golf buggies, but it is best explored on foot. It has a natural green cover including a banyan tree, which is the inspiration for Vommuli House—the main activity hub with Ayurveda, yoga, gym, reading room and kid-friendly facilities. Even the villas nestled in the jungle are so private that one wouldn’t want to venture out unless they hear the waters calling their name.
It would be a pity to not eat seafood in the Maldives. Maldivians love their tuna. Protein-rich and easily available, they can eat it for any meal. So, obviously, my first meal means indulging in a tuna steak at Alba, the signature restaurant. With its emphasis on repurposing and recycling—a common theme across the island—Alba provides guests with many local and international choices. I thoroughly enjoy the food at Crust, which is breezy and has a casual atmosphere, and is inspired by local houses. Though the menu is curated to give guests a taste of snacks from around the world, I recommend the lobster dishes here.
As for my day at the resort, it unfolds a bit like this: I snorkel and discover the island’s marine beauty before visiting Decanter, the opulent underground wine cellar that also proudly displays the oldest wine bottle in this region. I take a session at Iridium Spa that washes away all my work-related thoughts, and stop by the extravagant three-bedroom Caroline Astor Estate (the real deal, however, is the John Jacob Astor Estate. It’s said that last Christmas this place—with its unobstructed view of the water—sold for over $50,000 a night). Then it is time for sunset.
Pretty sunsets can be seen anywhere, but at The Whale Bar, right at the edge of the ocean, it is magical. The bar’s design is inspired by the mammal it is named after, and the ceiling is covered with traditional pyrography art that resembles a tortoise shell. As I sip on champagne, and contemplate this paradisiacal world I have stepped into, night falls and the pitch-black sky lights up with thousands of twinkling stars.
Back at my suite, full from a meal at Orientale (the Asian restaurant), I put on a comfortable bathrobe and lie on the hammock. Only the lapping of water against the support beams breaks the pin-drop silence.
Soon after my return to India, a friend tells me, “You seem to have enjoyed a solo honeymoon”. Indeed, the comparison isn’t too far off. It was the perfect, idyllic island life, albeit for a short amount of time.
GoAir flies directly to Malé from New Delhi, while direct flights also operate from Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The resort has various kinds of Villas including Overwater, Sunset Overwater, Beach, Garden, etc. (From approx. $2,500; marriott.com.) For a personalised experience at The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, book Norma, an opulent private yacht, for a day. The resort is well suited for honeymoons, and romantic and family getaways.