By Megan Leon
Nov 15, 2022
THOUGH I’D BEEN TO the Maldives before, landing at night is a brand-new experience for me. I knew I’d be missing those breathtaking views from my window seat and, although I’d felt a twinge of sadness, all is long-forgotten as soon as I open my eyes the following morning.
Just a 20-minute boat ride from Velena International airport, the brand-new Hilton Maldives Amingiri on North Male Atoll is the fourth resort under the company’s portfolio in the country, with 109 beach and overwater villas each boasting its own pool and endless turquoise sea views. After a swift check-in and whisk-away to my overwater villa for a good night’s sleep, I wake bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to absorb all the natural elements around me. Pulling open the curtains, I discover the most breathtaking view of the bluest of skies caressing the azure waters below.
On my private deck, I walk along the elongated pool (sidled by two net hammocks) to a staircase giving direct access to the stunning lagoon. I have plans today, so I tear myself away back to my room, which I am now able to properly take in: natural tones, delicate Maldivian accents and wooden panels surround the space, allowing the natural light from the floor to ceiling windows to swim in luminously. A glass floor window peeks out from beneath my feet where I can see small fish passing by. To the right is a mini lounge area with a sofa and table covered with Maldivian sweets and to the left is the spacious, open bathroom that includes a beautiful bathtub facing the ocean and an outdoor rain shower.
I call a buggy – there are bicycles right outside my door but I give myself a pass to feel lazy because after breakfast I’ll be snorkeling. Habitat Restaurant is a semi-outdoor multinational affair featuring Mediterranean dips, savory Maldivian curries, fresh-pressed juices, even bagels with cream cheese. I end up going for the paper-thin Masala dosa and sambar that become my go-to breakfast for the remainder of my stay.
The dive center is just a short ride away but it still gives me a chance to see this new Hilton Maldives a bit more. White-sand trails lead to the water activities corner fitted with clear kayaks and just further down is the Sip Tea Lounge, where they serve an array of herbal refreshments from Los Angeles. Before heading on our sea turtle quest, we meet the charming marine biologist, Sam, who gives us a comical yet educational run-through of what to expect on our snorkel tour. Though we are told it’s not always possible to see the turtles, we end up finding one hidden beneath a crevice on our two-hour excursion along with a string of colorful fishes and other sea creatures.
Excited and hungry from our adventure, I make my way back to the hotel for a bite and a little R&R. Lunch and dinner are both served at the poolside bar, Aura, which also features a hidden cocktail lab dedicated to the art of mixology. I go for the super-mini fish tacos, which everyone ends up snacking on. When I head back for dinner, the head bartender offers his homemade tepache but I truly fall for his special negroni, which I pair with a plump and juicy grilled Maldivian lobster for dinner.
The following day is jam-packed but in a good way. Dolphin excursions, massage and a sustainably sourced dinner, could this be my life every day, please? As we board the ginormous boat, we are again told not to get our hopes up as dolphins can’t always be spotted. Just 30 minutes into the ride, however, we spot not one but an entire pod swimming gracefully along a reef that dazzles in a multitude of blues and greens from the shining sun. It is a surreal moment for everyone and the feeling lingers all the way back to our hotel.
The Amingiri Spa, my next destination, is an overwater sanctuary of private rooms with ocean views via floor-to-ceiling windows where you can opt for anything from rejuvenating facial treatments to purifying hammam rituals. My Balinese massage is so heavenly, it feels as though I’m melting in the bed and for a while I forget where I am. A reminder comes quickly when the masseuse escorts me to the outdoor lounge to sip soothing tea as the waves crash below. A true moment of serenity.
Just as the sun goes down, we head to Eden, the overwater adults-only bar that offers an array of gin and Champagnes from around the world. I sip on spiced gin cocktails from the netted hammocks that bring me closer to the intoxicating ocean breeze. Then we move on to Origin restaurant, just next door, which prides itself on sustainable seafood sourcing including ingenious aging techniques – they hang-dry their freshly caught tuna instead of importing beef. You can feel the love and attention to detail in the lobster dish that uses all parts of the crustacean.
What I find truly unique to the hotel is the variety of choices for children, which can be rare in the ever-romantic archipelago. Hilton Amingiri has what they say is one of the largest kids’ clubs in the Maldives, with everything from a PS5 to an outdoor play pool and mini splash park. Just beside, there is a secret doorway that leads to the teens club, Re:Fuel, offering a milkshake bar and a semi-hidden retreat overlooking the sea just for teens. Though this was a solo trip for me, a rarity, all I could think about was how much my kids would love it here and that I probably have no choice but to return to this dreamy escape. Good thing it’s close to the airport so we won’t be breaking the bank on seaplane flights for four!
www.hilton.com/en/hotels/mleaihi-hilton-maldives-amingiri-resort-and-spa/villas; one bedroom beach pool villas from US$1,247 per night.
All photos courtesy of Hilton Maldives Amingiri.