Le Méridien Maldives Resort and Spa: affordable luxury in the Maldives

A breathtaking location, abundant wildlife and an understated luxury make this the ultimate Maldivian escape

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Le Meridien Maldives  Tabemasu Overwater Villa
Samantha Herbert15 August 2023

Measuring just nine hectares, accessible only by seaplane, and surrounded by crystal-clear waters teeming with exotic wildlife, Le Méridien Maldives Resort and Spa delivers the ultimate island escape.

Described by many as a true castaway experience – true if castaways were met with cocktails, pools and luxury villas – the isolation of the resort certainly makes it unlike any other beach holiday.

Here, from your overwater villa the only neighbours you’ll see are pods of passing rays or turtles.

Lying on the beach, you’ll experience no hordes of tourists or passing cruise liners – in fact you’ll struggle even to see the next land mass. Instead, this private island resort offers ultimate serenity; a chance to be at one with stunning natural surroundings and unbeatable welcoming hospitality.

Le Meridien Maldives Resort and Spa
Justin Nicholas


Situated on the private island of Thilamaafushi in the Lhaviyani Atoll, Le Méridien Maldives Resort and Spa is a 35-minute seaplane ride from the capital of Malé.

Made from coral reefs developing around sunken volcanoes, the Maldives atolls are an incredible sight from the sky, with tropical forests rising from bright blue waters in every shape and size.

The journey alone, aboard a seaplane of no more than 20 people, offers a wonderful preview of the beauty of the area – a beauty which only grows once stepping on land.

Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa – Interior Detail
Justin Nicholas


There’s a welcoming ease to Le Méridien Maldives where five-star luxury blends with a relaxed island-life atmosphere.

Staff are warm, knowledgeable and genuinely friendly. Villas are bright and modern with a mid-century European design. And the island’s restaurants are vibrant, eclectic and never overly formal.

In all aspects the resort is stylish but understated, letting its best feature – the breathtaking beauty of its natural surroundings – take centre stage.

While offering all the comforts and luxuries a traveller could ever need, the resort never feels fussy or sanitised.

Enjoying top-notch hospitality, guests can most often be found in a distinct beach casual wardrobe, ready at any moment to take a dip, with a feeling that the surrounding ocean is as much a part of the resort as the island itself.

Sunset overwater villa bedroom
Justin Nicholas

Which room?

Choosing your villa here is a spoil of choices: beachfront or overwater? Sunrise or sunset? Beach pool or garden pool? In short: all 141 villas are spectacular.

Completely glass-fronted and offering unimpeded views of miles of clear ocean, for me it has to be the overwater option. There is nothing like waking in an ocean-facing bed, bathing and showering in a glass-fronted washroom with absolute privacy but from the wildlife swimming below. And after hours of gazing at the shimmering waters step out on to your private deck complete with sun loungers and a direct ladder into the ocean.

Borrowing snorkels from the dive centre to keep in your room is a must. Swim freely from your deck from sunrise to sunset, and enjoy days of uninterrupted wildlife spotting in bath-like waters.

Complete with all any traveller could need, it would be easy to spend days without leaving one’s villa. Spacious and modern, with bright accents of colour the villas are extremely liveable featuring generous king beds, walk-in wardrobes, freestanding baths and luxurious waterfall showers. An excellent room service and mini-bar also make it hard to leave when meals can be enjoyed from your overwater deck.

For families with young children beachfront villas featuring a private pool will probably be preferred, with an enclosed back garden, and direct beach access and loungers in the front.

Velaa Bar and Grill
Justin Nicholas

Food & drink

For such a small island there is an impressive choice of six restaurants and bars, providing a range of formality and cuisines from top chefs, baristas and mixologists throughout the day.

At the hub of the resort, Turquoise serves breakfast beachside, with a huge international buffet. From exquisite pastries, to exotic fresh fruits, tom yum soups, curries, and English breakfast classics, it is a wonderful show of foods from around the world.

For lunch enjoy Spanish-style dining at the adult-only Riviera Tapas. Vibrantly decorated and with an infinity pool and beach access, you may well find yourself spending the whole afternoon here soaking in the sun, and sampling the excellent cocktail menu.

For an anytime pick-me-up pop to Waves Cafe at the lifestyle hub for an expertly made coffee or a range of healthy snacks.

Come dinnertime, head to Velaa bar and grill for seafood, meats and wood-fired delicacies overlooking the beach or if in the mood for something more formal choose Tabemasu – a sophisticated, circular restaurant built right over the water. Serving a chic menu of bold Japanese dishes we particularly enjoyed the range of fresh sushi, the seafood yaki soba and the delectable wagyu beef tenderloin; alongside another excellent menu of cocktails.

With an eye on sustainability to support its numerous restaurants the resort also has its own greenhouse, where a hydroponic system produces up to 11 tonnes of fresh leafy herbs and vegetables every year. Using a range of state-of-the-art technologies, including an automated irrigation system that captures and recycles rainwater, this grows a range of pesticide-free produce served at the resort, and on neighbouring islands.

Here guests are welcomed to get involved, with gardening demos, soil to plate cooking classes, and a weekly Harvest Table supper club that spotlights sustainable farming practices through imaginative dishes with a conscience.

Explore Spa
Justin Nicholas


Almost paralysed by the beauty alone, one could easily spend a week simply absorbing the views at Le Méridien, Maldives, but for those who do have the urge to do more, there is every option here.

With endless waters to explore, the watersport centre is stocked with stand-up paddle boards (SUPs), kayaks, jet skis and wakeboards. The calm lagoon surrounding the island makes all of these accessible for children and beginners, with abundant local wildlife ensuring every trip is filled with plenty to see. We were thrilled to watch colourful large shoals, and majestic rays pass under our SUPs, floating, at one with the teeming traffic of the ocean.

Guests can also stay active at the resort’s gym, which provides stunning views from every machine, as well as a full schedule of guided classes  from sunrise yoga or pilates to intensive boot camps.

For a slower pace, those looking to indulge can visit the Explore Spa: a breathtaking structure built over the water, dedicated to relaxation and wellness. In glass-fronted treatment rooms, achieve ultimate serenity overlooking the ocean, from a broad spa menu. Choosing a relaxation massage, I enjoyed possibly the best treatment of my life here. Gazing down from the massage table through a glass panel in the floor, I was mesmerised by the diverse ocean wildlife swimming below me in time with the rhythmic pressure of an expert masseuse.

Champagne Cruise
Justin Nicholas


For adventurers or those looking to kick back alike, there are excursions for everyone on Thilamaafushi. From the resort’s own dive centre there is a huge range of ways to experience the ocean.

With a 96% success rate for sightings, the sunset dolphin cruise is a must. With champagne flowing freely onboard, we watched dozens of spinner dolphins chasing and playing in the boat’s waves as the sun melted behind the resort. Whale sightings are also not uncommon in the area, and with wildlife experts onboard the chances of seeing an array of creatures without causing them disturbance, is unbeatable.

For those keen to get even closer to nature you can also join the resort’s own marine biologist for a reef snorkelling session. Travelling by boat we were dropped atop seagrass and nearly instantly observed feeding sea turtles serenely gliding by. Swimming closer to the island’s thriving house reef we were met with a positive melting pot of ocean life. Like nothing I have seen before, we spent more than an hour swimming amongst a rainbow of snappers, bannerfish, powder blue tang, triggerfish, angelfish, clownfish and oriental sweetlips.

Full scuba experiences also run from here, as well as a range of fishing options: from early morning expeditions to deep sea or line fishing. While we were there, a visiting couple brought in a very impressive 2-metre long sailfish, while a member of our group reeled in her very own emperor which was cooked and served for dinner that evening.

Best for…

Those looking for a true escape from the norm; a feeling of faraway paradise that delivers both deep relaxation and once in a lifetime experiences with nature.


Rooms start from £307 for a Sunrise overwater villa or one-bedroom beach villa, including buffet breakfast. booking.com

Direct flights are available from London to Malé with Qatar and BA, or make a stop in Doha where passengers can access the impressive new Platinum Lounge.