Review: Cheval Blanc Maldives Randheli

Review: Cheval Blanc Maldives Randheli

NAME: Cheval Blanc Maldives Randheli
LOCATION: Maldives
DATE: April 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Cheval Blanc Maldives is perfection, plain and simple. The resort is spread across six islands, and has both style and substance. From the amazing restaurants, to the detail oriented service, to the gorgeous villas, this place is amazing.
46

EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy upgrades, resort credits, & more

Want to take advantage of Virtuoso benefits at no extra cost, including a room upgrade, a resort credit, and more, all while paying the lowest rate? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He doesn’t charge booking fees, and may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

We spent our first three nights in the Maldives at Cheval Blanc Randheli. For those not familiar, Cheval Blanc is the boutique hotel group owned by LVMH (which stands for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), and the brand currently has five properties. We stayed at Cheval Blanc Paris last October and were amazed by the property’s design, so we were curious to check out one of Cheval Blanc’s most popular resorts, which I’ve almost universally heard good things about.

All I can say is… WOW. Cheval Blanc Maldives is probably the most impressive resort I’ve ever visited. You expect this resort to be gorgeous, given that Cheval Blanc is owned by LVMH. But what amazed me most was the attention to detail with literally everything. This resort is style and substance, plain and simple.

Even if you’re not someone who would usually not stay at propoerties like this, I hope readers can enjoy this review for the “hotel porn” element, if nothing else, like my recent review of Les Airelles Courchevel. In the next installment I’ll be reviewing Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, which is a points property, and I think y’all will find the comparison to be interesting.

Cheval Blanc Maldives basics

The 46-villa Cheval Blanc Maldives is simply over the top and then some. While many resorts in the Maldives are on a private island, Cheval Blanc is on six private islands, because why wouldn’t it be? I mean, heck, there’s an island dedicated just to the spa.

While resorts in the Maldives are generally luxurious, Cheval Blanc really takes it to the next level, from its private seaplane, to each villa having a 12.5 meter pool, to Le 1947 serving a 12-course tasting menu that will make you forget that you’re in the middle of nowhere.

You get a bit more than a plunge pool at Cheval Blanc Maldives!

Booking Cheval Blanc Maldives

In general luxury hotel rates are through the roof nowadays, and that’s very much true in the Maldives as well. For our dates, rates at Cheval Blanc Maldives started at $2,600 per night (only marginally more than cash rates at the Waldorf Astoria).

The hotel does have a “stay seven pay five” promotion, which lowers the rate a bit more for those staying longer (and frankly if you’re visiting and can swing it, I’d absolutely recommend doing seven nights).

Cheval Blanc Maldives typically has consistent rates between booking channels, so you won’t find a better rate than what you’ll get on Cheval Blanc’s website. However, it makes sense to book through a travel advisor affiliated with Virtuoso, as you’ll pay the same rate, and will receive several value-add perks, including the following (and these can be combined with most promotions being offered by the property):

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • $150 USD food & beverage credit to be utilized during stay in any of the resort’s restaurants, bars or for room service
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Note that while full breakfast is also typically a Virtuoso amenity, all rates at this hotel include breakfast. Ford is of course more than happy to help with Cheval Blanc bookings, and can be reached at [email protected] He can also answer any questions you may have about the property, including the difference between villa types, etc.

In the interest of full disclosure, Ford got a travel advisor rate for our stay at the property, though all opinions expressed are my own.

How to get to Cheval Blanc Maldives

Cheval Blanc Maldives is located in the Noonu Atoll, to the north of Velana International Airport (MLE) and the capital city of Male. The easiest way to get there is by seaplane, as the flight takes around 40 minutes.

You have a choice of seaplanes, as you can either fly with Trans Maldivian on a “standard” shared 15-seat Twin Otter, which might stop at other resorts. Alternatively, Cheval Blanc has a specially branded Trans Maldivian plane, which has just nine seats.

Here’s the current seaplane pricing, which is of course subject to change:

  • Flying the Cheval Blanc seaplane costs $1,610-2,050++ per person, depending on the season
  • Flying the “regular” Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane costs $1,085++ per person

Transfer costs across the board in the Maldives are steep, so this isn’t unusual. For example, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives charges $730++ per person for the short speedboat ride between the airport and resort.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Lounge Male Airport (MLE)

We arrived at Male Airport on Emirates, and were met by a friendly representative from Cheval Blanc. She escorted us to a waiting SUV and drove us to Cheval Blanc’s lounge in the seaplane terminal. Most of the Maldives’ top hotels have lounges here, though Cheval Blanc’s is particularly stylish.

Cheval Blanc Maldives lounge at Velana International Airport

The lounge had plenty of seating, a special room for kids, a shower room, and an extensive menu with snacks, coffee, and fresh juices.

Cheval Blanc Maldives lounge at Velana International Airport

Given Cheval Blanc’s connection to LVMH, there were also a variety of high-end samples fragrances and samples in the lounge, including from Dior and Guerlain (which runs the Cheval Blanc spa).

Cheval Blanc Maldives lounge at Velana International Airport

Within an hour it was time to fly to fly to the resort!

Cheval Blanc Maldives seaplane

We had the opportunity to fly Cheval Blanc’s seaplane between the airport and resort. How cool-looking is this plane?!

Cheval Blanc Maldives seaplane

This plane feels more like a private jet than your typical seaplane — there are three sets of seats facing one another, and then a bench with three seats. It’s certainly a more comfortable way of getting to the resort.

Cheval Blanc Maldives seaplane interior
Cheval Blanc Maldives seaplane interior

As an aviation geek, flying within the Maldives is so fun, since the views are amazing, and you can watch everything going on in the cockpit.

Cheval Blanc Maldives seaplane near the resort

Cheval Blanc Maldives arrival

Upon arriving at Cheval Blanc’s jetty, we were warmly welcomed by the resort manager, Sebastien, and our Majordome (the French word for “butler”), Ashra. Each guest is appointed a Majordome, who is responsible for looking after them for the entire stay, and making arrangements as necessary. Each Majordome is assigned at most a few rooms, so they really go great lengths to look after you throughout your stay.

Cheval Blanc Maldives arrival jetty
Cheval Blanc Maldives welcome area

On the arrival jetty, Cheval Blanc has an air conditioned room for guests to wait in while staying cool, but fortunately we could head straight to our villa, where our check-in would be processed.

Cheval Blanc Maldives air conditioned waiting room

Cheval Blanc Maldives property layout

Maybe it’s best to start with a general overview of Cheval Blanc’s layout. The resort is spread across six islands. Three of these islands are connected by bridges, while the other three have to be accessed by boats:

  • The main island has 16 villas, plus most of the restaurants, the fitness center, the pool, the kids club, etc.
  • The second island is connected by a bridge, and has 11 villas
  • Then third island is connected to the second island, and has the remaining villas
  • The fourth island is the spa island and can only be reached by boat; it’s dedicated to wellness, and has spa treatment rooms, a spa restaurant, and a pool
  • The fifth island is a roughly 2.5 acre private island, and can only be reached by boat; it has four bedrooms, a 25-meter pool, etc.; obviously this can’t be accessed if you don’t book the island
  • The sixth island was acquired years after the resort opened, and can only be reached by an even longer boat ride; it has tennis courts, a jungle bootcamp, and is generally unspoiled
Cheval Blanc Maldives property map

You can get between the three main islands either by foot, by bike, or by golf cart. Speaking of which, how cool are Cheval Blanc’s golf carts?!

Cheval Blanc Maldives golf cart
Cheval Blanc Maldives main island
Bridge to Cheval Blanc Maldives second island
Bridge to Cheval Blanc Maldives third island
Cheval Blanc Maldives property

Cheval Blanc Maldives lagoon garden villa

We were assigned villa 39, a lagoon garden villa on the third island.

Cheval Blanc Maldives path
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa entrance

Entry level villas at Cheval Blanc Maldives are 240 square meters (~2,580 square feet), so they’re massive. There was a path leading to the entrance to our villa, where there were two bikes parked.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa entrance
Cheval Blanc Maldives bikes

These villas… WOW! I loved the open concept, where you could see the living room, bedroom, and bathroom, to fully appreciate just how big the villa is. However, you can also turn those huge vertical slats (or whatever you want to call them) 90 degrees, so that each room has privacy.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa interior

The living room featured a sitting area that had a couch and chair, and then behind that was a proper desk.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa living room
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa living room
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa desk

Waiting on the living room coffee table was one of the most generous welcome amenities we’ve ever received, with seemingly endless snacks, and a bottle of Ruinart. For what it’s worth, as far as I know the only special treatment here were the balloons (since it was my birthday on check-in day), but this is otherwise the standard welcome amenity.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa welcome amenity

Along the wall closest to the entrance was the minibar. Non-alcoholic drinks and snacks are complimentary, which is a nice touch, especially since the selection was extensive.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa minibar
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa minibar
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa minibar

Next up was the bedroom, which had a four-poster bed with a comfortable mattress and soft sheets.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa bedroom
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa bedroom

There was also a sitting area with a daybed and rocking chair.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa bedroom

Next up was the bathroom, which had a soaking tub, two sinks (one on each side of the bathtub), a giant walk-in shower, and a toilet in a separate room with a sink.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa bathroom
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa double sinks
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa shower
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa toilet

The selection of amenities was endless, just like at Cheval Blanc Paris.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa toiletries

Behind the bathroom was a huge closet area, which was basically the size of hotel rooms in some cities.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa closet
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa closet

But wait, there’s more! Back near the entrance was a wall with a hidden door leading to a kitchen, which is where the coffee machine and tea kettle were located. There was also a fridge, microwave, sink, etc., but I can’t imagine these get all that much use.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa hidden kitchen
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa kitchen
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa coffee & tea

“Hidden” in the wall on the opposite side of the entrance was a second bathroom, intended primarily for those coming from the outside area. What a thoughtful feature to have.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa second bathroom

Virtually all the room’s functions, from the air conditioning to the blinds, were controlled by an iPad. I’m often skeptical of this kind of technology, since I find it sometimes doesn’t work well. The execution here was flawless.

Cheval Blanc Maldives in-villa iPad

As if the indoor area wasn’t impressive enough, the outdoor area was at least as impressive. Each villa here features a 12.5 meter (~41 foot) pool. Usually it’s a treat to get a plunge pool in an overwater villa, let alone a pool of this size.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa pool

The outdoor space also had a sitting area large enough for dining, two sun beds, two chairs, and an outdoor shower.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa outdoor seating
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa outdoor seating
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa outdoor seating
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa outdoor shower

There are also stairs offering direct access to the ocean. The water around the villas is shallow, and it’s also especially calm thanks to a seawall that was built around these villas.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa direct lagoon access
Cheval Blanc Maldives villa direct lagoon access

In addition to the outdoor space behind the villa, there was also a garden in front of the villa, which had a covered dining table. It’s pretty cool to have a villa that’s essentially overwater and has direct access to the sea, while also having a garden area.

Cheval Blanc Maldives villa garden

Cheval Blanc Maldives amenities & facilities

Some people are worried if they’ll get bored when traveling to the Maldives, especially since you’re generally confined to one resort. Of all the resorts I’ve visited in the Maldives, Cheval Blanc had the most to offer, and I imagine you could stay here for one week and still not have experienced everything.

Not even accounting for the amazing dining outlets (and you could really spend all day here just eating), there’s everything from pools and beaches, to a spa, to tennis courts, to water sports, to a surf simulator, and much more. Let’s go over some of the highlights.

Cheval Blanc Maldives pool & beach

Cheval Blanc’s biggest pool is located on the main island — it’s huge and there’s plenty of seating around it, though I never saw a single guest use it. After all, why would you use a “shared” pool, when you can instead use your 40+ foot private pool?

Cheval Blanc Maldives main pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives main pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives main pool seating

The pool was beautiful during the day, at sunset, and even at night.

Cheval Blanc Maldives beach near pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives beach near pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives pool at night

The resort also has plenty of beachfront. There’s a small beach near the main pool, and on top of that there are little stretches of beach on each of the islands, so you can really hang out in whichever area you’d like.

Cheval Blanc Maldives beach
Cheval Blanc Maldives beach
Cheval Blanc Maldives beach
Cheval Blanc Maldives beach
Cheval Blanc Maldives beach
Cheval Blanc Maldives beach volleyball
Cheval Blanc Maldives beach

Cheval Blanc Maldives water sports & surf simulator

Cheval Blanc Maldives has an impressive number of water sports, from jet skis, to eFoils, to kayaks, to wind surfing.

Cheval Blanc Maldives water sports
Cheval Blanc Maldives water sports
Cheval Blanc Maldives water sports

The resort even has a surf simulator, which you wouldn’t expect to find on a private island in the Maldives.

Cheval Blanc Maldives surf simulator
Cheval Blanc Maldives surf simulator

Cheval Blanc Maldives concept store

While it’s normal for resorts in the Maldives to have a gift shop, Cheval Blanc takes it to the next level. Given LVMH’s ownership of Cheval Blanc, the hotel has the biggest concept store you’ll find on any private island in the Maldives. There are even some designer items and collaborations that are exclusively available here.

So you’ll find more than just hats and Cheval Blanc branded t-shirts here…

Cheval Blanc Maldives concept store
Cheval Blanc Maldives concept store

Cheval Blanc Maldives spa island

Cheval Blanc’s Guerlain-branded spa is on a private island, which is just a short ride on a traditional dhoni boat from the three islands that are connected by bridges. You can visit the spa island any time you’d like, and the boats are always available to take you between the islands.

Cheval Blanc Maldives boat to spa

The spa island in and of itself is the size of some private islands in the Maldives.

Cheval Blanc Maldives spa island
Cheval Blanc Maldives spa island

When you arrive on the private island, there’s the spa reception area. The spa has a variety of treatment options, and you can find the spa menu here.

Cheval Blanc Maldives spa reception

Then there’s a spa pool, which is apparently a great place from which to watch the sunset (though we never made it there in the evening). We did hang out here one afternoon, and we had the pool to ourselves.

Cheval Blanc Maldives spa pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives spa pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives spa pool seating

The spa has four single treatment villas, two couples villas, Thai massage and yoga pavilions, and a hammam, steam room, and cold plunge pool.

Cheval Blanc Maldives spa outdoor treatments

The treatment villas are all secluded and beautiful, with ocean views, indoor and outdoor showers, terraces, and more.

Cheval Blanc Maldives spa island path
Cheval Blanc Maldives spa treatment room
Cheval Blanc Maldives spa treatment room
Cheval Blanc Maldives spa treatment room

Cheval Blanc Maldives tennis & jungle bootcamp island

When Cheval Blanc Maldives first opened in 2013, there were “only” five islands. Now there are six islands, as the property purchased an additional island that’s a bit further away. This island is mostly untouched, and will make you feel like you’re on “Survivor,” or something.

Cheval Blanc Maldives tennis island
Cheval Blanc Maldives tennis island
Cheval Blanc Maldives tennis island
Cheval Blanc Maldives tennis island

The primary amenity on this island is two tennis courts, including a hard court and grass court.

Cheval Blanc Maldives tennis courts
Cheval Blanc Maldives tennis courts

There’s also a jungle bootcamp. We were going to take a class on our departure morning, but it ended up getting canceled due to weather, unfortunately.

Cheval Blanc Maldives jungle fitness

Cheval Blanc Maldives gym

Cheval Blanc Maldives has a gym on the main island, with a trainer on hand. This is every bit as good as a gym you’d find at a top city hotel, so you don’t have to make any fitness sacrifices while here.

Cheval Blanc Maldives gym
Cheval Blanc Maldives gym
Cheval Blanc Maldives gym
Cheval Blanc Maldives gym
Cheval Blanc Maldives gym

Cheval Blanc Maldives kids & teens club

Okay, I’ll admit I’m no expert on kids clubs, but in my effort to see just about everything on the island, I visited the kids club as well. The Maldives is increasingly becoming a family destination rather than just a couples destination, and that’s reflected in the property’s kids club.

My gosh, this place made me want to be a kid again. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but suffice it to say that this isn’t your average private island kids club.

Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club exterior
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club pool
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club
Cheval Blanc Maldives kids club

Cheval Blanc Maldives dining

The variety of dining options at Cheval Blanc Maldives is remarkable, especially when you consider there are just 46 villas:

  • There’s White Bar & Restaurant, which are marketed separately, but are in the same area; White Bar is open for lunch, dinner and all-day drinks, while White Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • There’s Le 1947, which is open for dinner; Le 1947 serves a 12-course tasting menu, and it’s an offshoot of Cheval Blanc Courchevel’s three Michelin star restaurant
  • There’s Diptyque, which serves dinner; this is an Asian restaurant with a couple of unique concepts, including teppanyaki
  • There’s Deelani, which is open for lunch and dinner; this is an Italian restaurant
  • There’s Spa Bar, which is open for lunch; this has a focus on healthy and light dishes

On top of that you have 24/7 in-villa dining, plus La Table de Partage (essentially a private dining area where you can have a custom meal).

Let’s get into each of these main outlets in a bit more detail.

Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar & Restaurant

White Bar & Restaurant is right next to the hotel’s main pool. White Restaurant has plenty of seating, with the pool and beach on one side, and a pond on the other side.

Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar Restaurant
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar Restaurant
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar Restaurant
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar Restaurant
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar Restaurant
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar Restaurant pond

All rates at Cheval Blanc Maldives include breakfast, and you can either dine in the restaurant between 7AM and 11AM, or anytime in your villa. If you dine in the restaurant, there’s a small buffet intended to supplement the menu, with fresh fruit, freshly baked pastries, cereal, etc.

Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast buffet
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast buffet
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast buffet
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast buffet
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast buffet
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast buffet
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast buffet

Beyond that, the hotel has what’s probably the most unbelievable breakfast menu I’ve ever seen. It was 17 pages long. Yes, 17 pages. The menu had everything you could imagine (and lots of things you couldn’t, like avocado juice), and you could order as much as you wanted. We loved the freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, and iced lattes.

Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast drinks

The food quality was top notch, from the fattoush salad, to the tuna mashuni, to the tuna kulhimas, to the avocado toast, to the shakshouka.

Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast
Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast

There was even a featured pastry of the day, and one day we couldn’t resist after we saw another table order it. It was a strawberry croissant, and it was the most amazing thing ever. The picture doesn’t do justice to its size, as it must have been a good 8″ (and I’m not doing the typical math where people add several inches).

Cheval Blanc Maldives breakfast

In addition to White Restaurant, White Bar is right by the pool, with plenty of outdoor seating and a DJ in the afternoons.

Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar

White Bar served a varied lunch menu, with everything from salads, to sushi, to sandwiches, to a variety of Asian dishes, to pizza. We had a marinated tuna poke bowl, yellowfin tuna tacos, a few pieces of sushi, a poached prawn salad, and some profiteroles.

Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar lunch
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar lunch
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar lunch
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar lunch
Cheval Blanc Maldives White Bar lunch

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant

On our first evening (my birthday) we had dinner at Le 1947, the resort’s signature restaurant. As mentioned above, this is based on Cheval Blanc Courchevel’s Le 1947, which has three Michelin stars. For better or worse, this restaurant will completely make you forget that you’re on a private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, as you don’t expect this caliber of food or this type of ambiance (or air conditioning!).

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant entrance

The restaurant has a lounge area, where you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant bar area
Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant bar area

There’s even a cigar room and wine cellar you can sit in.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant bar area
Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant wine room

Then the restaurant as such has just seven tables, with four offering a huge amount of privacy (as they’re surrounded by curtains and windows).

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant dining area
Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant dining area
Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 Restaurant dining area

The menu constantly changes, and you can make requests based on dietary restrictions and preferences. You can find our menu below. At $340++ per person this was obviously a splurge, but frankly probably not more than you’d pay for a meal of this caliber in a city. So that’s impressive when you consider how much more expensive it must be to source many materials here.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 menu

We started our evening in the lounge, where we ordered some cocktails.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner drinks

We were also served the canapés here, which included tuna & crab, red rose tomato confit & jelly with olive pearl dressing, and crispy potato mille-feuille with beef tartare.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

After that we moved to our table — what a setting!

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner table setting
Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

First up at the table was line caught sea bass carpaccio with dry citrus and yuzu gel, and a healthy serving of caviar with gold leaf.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Next up was pan seared carabineros with crunchy heart lettuce romaine and black truffle mayonnaise.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Then there was foie gras royale with sweet corn cream and vanilla oil.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Then there was crispy egg with sour cream and another very generous portion of caviar. Also, look at the effort that goes into the presentation here!

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Then there was scallop with creamy seaweed and parmesan foam.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Next was the first of two main courses, which was a turbot filet with vegetables, black truffle, ginger, and chives.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Then there was pigeon with baked pumpkin palet and roasted seeds.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Next up was a truffle brie with frisée salad.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Then there was dessert, which consisted of fresh red berries and compotes with yogurt ice cream and vanilla foam.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Next up I was brought a birthday cake with ice cream, as if we needed any more food.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

Then to finish off the meal we were offered mignardises.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 dinner

And as if that wasn’t enough, when we returned to our room there was a box of nine chocolates, intended as a “last sweet touch” of the meal.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Le 1947 after dinner treats

I can’t say enough good things about the dining experience, from the quality of the food, to the service, to the ambiance. While forgetting that you’re in the Maldives on your first night might not seem ideal, this was such a unique experience you won’t find at many resorts.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque Restaurant

On our last evening we had dinner at Diptyque. No, this isn’t a collaboration with the luxury candle company, but rather it’s named after the French word “diptyque,” meaning “in two parts” (or something like that). That’s because the restaurant serves both Japanese and East Asian cuisine, with one counter focused on each kind of cuisine.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque Restaurant indoor seating
Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque Restaurant indoor seating

In addition to the indoor counters, there was also an outdoor teppanyaki area, where we dined.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque Restaurant outdoor seating

The teppanyaki restaurant gives diners the choice of an eight or 10 course set menu, and we went with the former.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque menu

As much as I love Benihana, I have to say, this was a step up from your typical teppanyaki experience. The meal started with salted edamame.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

The second course was clams with wakame salad, shiso dressing, and yuzu ponzu.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

The third course was a miso soup.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

The fourth course was tuna tataki with fermented daikon, kumbu, dashi jelly, and tofu foam.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

The fifth course was seared duck foie gras with eggplant miso, pickles, gomasio, and a bao bun.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

The sixth course had three choices. I ordered the lobster with asparagus, seaweed tartare, and spicy lobster bisque sauce.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

Ford, meanwhile, had the chicken yuzu teriyaki with bok choy, black sesame seeds, lemon confit, and yuzu sauce.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

The seventh course was a palate cleanser of sorts, consisting of sakura tea granite with cherry gel.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

The eighth course was strawberry and shiso with soya milk foam, kalamansi sorbet, and kizami nori.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Diptyque teppanyaki dinner

Again, this was an unbelievably good dining experience.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani Restaurant

On our second evening we had dinner at Deelani, Cheval Blanc’s Italian restaurant. This is located at the very end of the arrival jetty, so it has great water views (we even saw a few sharks from our table at dinner).

Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani Restaurant exterior
Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani Restaurant seating
Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani Restaurant seating
Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani Restaurant view

The meal started with a huge basket of freshly baked bread.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani dinner

Then to start we had tuna tartare and calarmi.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani dinner

For mains, I had gnocchi, while Ford had the fish of the day.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani dinner
Cheval Blanc Maldives Deelani dinner

The gnocchi rivaled some of the best I’ve had outside of Italy.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar

Spa Bar is the resort’s lunch restaurant that’s located on the spa island, and it has a unique dining concept. This is a small restaurant, as it has just a couple of tables, plus a few sets of chairs with side tables overlooking the pool (you can also be served food at the pool).

Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar
Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar
Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar

A lot of restaurants claim to be healthy, and then serve burgers and club sandwiches. But this place is actually healthy, which sure was a treat between all the other overly indulgent meals we had. There’s a huge menu of fresh juices, so we tried a couple of those.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar lunch

To eat, I ordered the rock lobster spring rolls, while Ford had the zucchini, green papaya, and pumpkin spaghetti with pomegranate and Thai dressing.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar lunch
Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar lunch

We also had some dessert (admittedly a bit less healthy), as I had some mochi, while Ford had sorbet.

Cheval Blanc Maldives Spa Bar lunch

Cheval Blanc Maldives service

Service in the Maldives can be hit-or-miss, though we had the best service we’ve ever had in the Maldives at Cheval Blanc:

  • Across the board, it’s clear that Cheval Blanc hires for personality, and virtually every employee we interacted with was personable and genuinely wanted guests to have a good time
  • Our Majordome, Ashra, was a superstar; she was so friendly, and responded to us by WhatsApp within minutes regardless of the time of day
  • The resort manager as well as food & beverage manager were extremely hands on, and checked on guests at just about every meal

I also want to talk a bit about the level of attention to detail at Cheval Blanc Maldives. Sometimes you stay at a hotel and wonder if the person who designed the experience has ever stayed at a hotel before. At Cheval Blanc Maldives, conversely, you wonder if there’s anything they didn’t think of when designing the property and service.

The amount of attention to detail that went into just about everything is what really sets this apart.

Let’s start with the villa. For example, the sheets were changed every day. How do you know? Well, because they alternate the colors of the sheets every night just to remind you. 😉

Cheval Blanc Maldives daily sheet changes

There’s a cute little canoe with sand near the entrance to the room, and every day a different message was written in it.

Cheval Blanc Maldives attention to detail
Cheval Blanc Maldives attention to detail

For that matter, multiple times per day there were also messages written in the sand leading up to the villa.

Cheval Blanc Maldives attention to detail

And speaking of message, since it was my birthday, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” was written in shells in front of the door.

Cheval Blanc Maldives attention to detail

Also, the number of little gifts and goodies in the room reminded me of Cheval Blanc Paris, with endless toiletries, candles, and other surprises.

Cheval Blanc Maldives attention to detail

I loved how even thought was put into the in-room notepad, as it was in the shape of an island.

Cheval Blanc Maldives attention to detail

I feel like just to prove that they put thought into everything, the hotel offers complimentary dry cleaning, laundry, and pressing services, for your arrival attire, up to three pieces. This means your travel clothes can be “fresh” and enjoyed for the rest of your stay.

Cheval Blanc Maldives complimentary laundry

There was a similar attention to detail in public areas. One small example is that you’re offered a refreshing towel just about everywhere you go. Each time it’s brought out on a tray, and then each outlet has a signature fragrance that’s sprayed on it. Unbelievable.

Bottom line

Cheval Blanc Randheli is regarded by many as being the best hotel in the Maldives, and now I understand why. It’s certainly my favorite island resort I’ve ever stayed at. This resort is jaw-droppingly beautiful, from the six islands as such, to the stunning facilities. To top it all off, the resort has impeccable service and the most impressive food & beverage program I’ve seen at any secluded resort.

If you love luxury hotels and are considering a trip to the Maldives, I’d highly recommend Cheval Blanc if you can swing it.

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  1. European Guest

    Great report, very detailed. This is quite useful to me as I use your reviews to decide on places to stay. I'm one of the people who (as a European, where credit card rewards are less generous) rely more on cash spending than points. So these reviews are very useful, but I feel you leave out a very important element in this report. You don't mention the extremely high cost of additional expenses. Like the...

    Great report, very detailed. This is quite useful to me as I use your reviews to decide on places to stay. I'm one of the people who (as a European, where credit card rewards are less generous) rely more on cash spending than points. So these reviews are very useful, but I feel you leave out a very important element in this report. You don't mention the extremely high cost of additional expenses. Like the outrageously expensive burger and the ridiculous prices for scuba diving. For me this is an important element that is missing. If I decided to stay here based on your report I would be in for a bad suprise.

    As a side note: I stay once or twice a year at places that charge similar prices. But I hate the feeling of being ripped off and it taints the experience. That's why I don't like Aman much, but am quite happy with Six Senses. I absolutely love the Singita all-inclusive prices.

    @Ben: What's the reason you mention room and transfer prices, but not food, beverage, or activity prices where it gets quite rip-offy?

  2. John Christensen Guest

    Excellent review Lucky. Appreciate the great detail and photos. Cheers John

  3. Jamie Guest

    Ben. Hotel porn indeed. What an extraordinarily detailed review. Thank you as always

  4. Mburton Guest

    Incredible post! Thank you for all the details provided. Very intriguing . Well done!m

  5. Amy Viny Guest

    An exhaustive and fantastic review-and what an amazing place! I always enjoy reading you and I simply love this post! Thanks for all you do for the travel community!

  6. Carrie Member

    A very random question, but is that a slimline wine conditioner next to the minibar? Just intrigued and paying way too much attention to this gorgeous review - thank you for your sacrifice. Cannot wait to see what M Arnault does with the Cipriani in Venice.

  7. JetSetGo Guest

    The little touches staff made for Lucky is typical for other guests as I have experienced it myself and I’m no big time blogger. The excellent photos that Lucky took still doesn’t do this property justice. Depending which villa you ended up in, one can dive right into water and be snorkeling among hundreds of fish. By far the best snorkeling off villa experience compare to Seychelles and bora bora. Top three best massage I...

    The little touches staff made for Lucky is typical for other guests as I have experienced it myself and I’m no big time blogger. The excellent photos that Lucky took still doesn’t do this property justice. Depending which villa you ended up in, one can dive right into water and be snorkeling among hundreds of fish. By far the best snorkeling off villa experience compare to Seychelles and bora bora. Top three best massage I ever gotten at a resort is on that gorgeous spa island. What Lucky failed to mention is that every treatment villa comes with its own bathroom, sleeping room, and treatment room. In the bathroom there is a huge makeup counter with tons of Guerlain product for you to try for free. Personally I may or may not had slap on those super expensive face cream on my body. The Italian restaurant’s food is as good as anything you get in nyc but the price tag here makes you think that meal at Cipriani’s last week was a steal…. If the Maldives wasn’t so far away, I would return in a heart beat.

  8. Stuart Guest

    That is incredible. Compared to say, Hawaii, and the Maui Andaz now charging $1200 a night this is a steal value wise even at a little more than double the price. I'm actually surprised at the rates. Aman is charging the same for Turks and Caicos and it's not nearly as amazing. Great review. I'm seriously intrigued.

  9. Motion to Dismiss Member

    I’ve also read many reviews of this place but no other reviewer captures every aspect of what it feels like to stay (and fly) somewhere the way you do, Ben! It is a gift.

    The price of Le 1947 is reasonable and is in line with what a 2-3 Michelin star restaurant costs in the US. So I’d be thrilled to have it at that price in the Maldives! I have to assume there were wine pairings available?

  10. Alonzo Diamond

    Great review. Total trip had to have cost around 10 grand.

  11. Adams9802 Guest

    The Croissant penis jokes was quite subtle. Well done.

  12. BT Guest

    Great review Ben! Doubt I’ll ever get to stay here but this was hotel porn at its finest.

  13. Bob Guest

    Ben. I have read more than a dozen excellent, professional reviews on this property. Your review in on an entirely different level. All I can say is BRAVO!

  14. AN&N Guest

    Best resort in Maldives… this and Soneva Jani???

    1. Laura Guest

      Why go to the Maldives and pick resorts with poor snorkelling?

  15. BKAloha Guest

    Great report! Were there any insect/reptile issues at all (ants, roaches, mosquitoes, lizards...)? I've been to Fiji while I loved it, I remember a lizard dropping from the ceiling onto my bed and a couple of big bugs here and there.

  16. DLPTATL Guest

    Looks absolutely stunning. It looks "worth" the price of admission, which isn't always the case.

    One thing that looked odd, was the bath-tub filled upon arrival? I've never seen that before and I'm not sure that I understand how that would be useful as the temperature is almost certain to not be as desired by the time you would choose to hop in.

    1. Motion to Dismiss Member

      I suspect that photo was taken after a bath was drawn, not upon entering the room.

  17. Clem Diamond

    I probably won't ever be able to swing that but that was a great review!
    As a side note, I'm not sure why you never disclose how much the travel advisor rate is but it would be very useful to know those on all those crazy expensive hotels you've been staying at - it just adds some worthy context in my opinion.

    1. Gaurav Community Ambassador

      I think keeping them confidential is a requirement of TA rates but I could be wrong.

  18. Frank C Guest

    Just wow! Incredible property, and the fact it has a kids club makes me think I have a chance at going, and having my kids entertained :) Very awesome to see.

  19. JetAway Guest

    A beautiful property and wonderful experience. But I don't understand how a property at this level and with such limited guest capacity makes a profit, even at its lofty rates. Maybe it doesn't and isn't intended to?

  20. Dan Guest

    Need the wine list please. I can only imagine how 1) insane it is, matched only by the insanity of 2) its pricing

  21. R B Guest

    Next level!
    I wonder if Bernard Arnault paid with his own billions for that resort.

  22. ArnoldB Guest

    That does look awesome, probably as good as it can get on the Maldives. And I do really like to read the "Hotel porn" reviews every now and then, so hope you keep up this mix.

    Personally, I still don't really get the Maldives though. I'm currently saving up on Hilton points, but have basically removed all the Maldives properties from my aspirational goals lists. Because what is the point if I redeem my points,...

    That does look awesome, probably as good as it can get on the Maldives. And I do really like to read the "Hotel porn" reviews every now and then, so hope you keep up this mix.

    Personally, I still don't really get the Maldives though. I'm currently saving up on Hilton points, but have basically removed all the Maldives properties from my aspirational goals lists. Because what is the point if I redeem my points, but then anyways pay $1.000+ pP just for the short transfer and $100+ per dinner every night, not even to mention the probably insane cost of alcohol and massages. I don't get this sort of investment for then essentially being trapped on a tiny island where you can't really do much, and let's be honest some of the activities seem really superficial in a "hey, we had to come up with something..." way like that waterslide.

    In this vein I'd much rather go for something like French Polynesia, which has a more or less similar setup and remoteness (and expensiveness), but there is at least more to do because it's bigger (hiking etc) and the transfer not as expensive.

    Also Boooo for the Foie Gras. I don't really care what others eat, but at this point it seems like you eat it in every second hotel review, while at the same time mentioning how you don't get pork because you find them so cute. Ducks are also cute-ish and die an absolutely horrible death for Foie Gras compared to how the average pig is slaughtered. So that seems quite hypocritical to be honest. Again, usually I don't care and have a "live and let live" mentality, but this really stood out for me in the last reviews.

    1. reddargon Gold

      I had similar thoughts to you re: Maldives before I went for the first time a few years ago. Up to then I would jam pack my vacations with different locations, activities, etc. But I work a stressful job and the ability to just sit and do nothing but enjoy the wonderful scenery and go into the ocean whenever I want was easily worth it. I was there 5 days and thought I would get...

      I had similar thoughts to you re: Maldives before I went for the first time a few years ago. Up to then I would jam pack my vacations with different locations, activities, etc. But I work a stressful job and the ability to just sit and do nothing but enjoy the wonderful scenery and go into the ocean whenever I want was easily worth it. I was there 5 days and thought I would get bored by the end but I wanted more time when it was over. I will say that I went to Seychelles later that same year, and thought I would enjoy it more because it has other activities (hiking, etc.), like what you said with Bora Bora. But in the end I found I didn't relax as much because I was trying to do more.

      Would I want all of my vacations to be like that? Absolutely not. But every so often a vacation like that where I can just completely disconnect, unwind, and do nothing but relax was great for me. And for me, the price you pay (with or without a points subsidy) to be so remote and away from it all is worth it--you don't really get that remote feeing anywhere else I've been (which includes the Seychelles for me, but I haven't been to Bora Bora).

    2. J_inParis Guest

      What's wrong with fois gras? Animals are way better treated than in a chicken farm. Unless you are vegan, i dont think the argument works. The way they are killed is not different than any animals, the debate relates to the fact they are overfed. But so are americans, and they seem happy about it ;) And btw fois gras is not necessarily from ducks, it can be also from geese.

  23. Mark F Guest

    Great review. Thanks. I loved the pictures and the write up. Well done. Looks like a gorgeous place.

  24. Lukas Gold

    "Even if you’re not someone who would usually not stay at propoerties like this..."

    Extra not and a misspelled word

  25. pstm91 Diamond

    For those wondering if Ben got better service as a known personality, it's possible, but this hotel is truly in a league of it's own. Everything about it is in its own class. It's really hard to picture if you haven't been, especially if you've had a fantastic stay in the Maldives before at another property. CB is worth every penny (and it's a lot of pennies!)

  26. Pete Diamond

    Yes to echo Anthony…awesome hotel.
    But IMHO these posts are less “reviews” and more descriptions of experiences had by a famous travel blogger paying the travel agency rate, and in this case, staying on his birthday.
    I don’t know if any, if not all of the factors above contribute to the experience.

    I still love reading if only to dream…

  27. Creditcrunch Gold

    Looks wonderful, I like the layout of the resort and the multitude of seating areas to enjoy the glorious sunrises and sunsets, not sure the food options in the evening are my cup of tea.

  28. Dn10 Guest

    Resort looked nice, rooms looked massive and nice, but the pictures of the water made the ground feel very rocky and didn’t like the view of the jetty vs more of the endless ocean views that a lot of Maldivian resorts offer.

  29. Todd Guest

    There was not a single guest in any of the photos. I wonder how many other guests were there at the time?

    Gorgeous resort.

  30. Michael Guest

    Looks good, comparable to the stunning Waldorf Astoria. The kitchen and implied possibility to bring your own food and booze will make it easier for my partner to chose between this and the Waldorf Astoria, especially with the 7 days for the price of 5 promo.

    1. Jerry Diamond

      I believe alcohol is generally held at Maldives immigration when you arrive. They let you take it with you on your way out, but I don't think they let you bring anything in anymore.

  31. Sel, D. Guest

    Thanks Lucky. Just got back from the Waldorf Pedregal yesterday, and now I feel like I stayed at the Motel 6.

  32. Anthony Diamond

    My only comment, as always, is to book a more accessible rate when doing these types of reviews (rack rate, Virtuoso rate, whatever). It may impact your opinions, even subconsciously. A cool thing about points reviews is that all readers can book the way you did.

    1. Anthony Diamond

      Also, with this kind of resort, it is impossible to tell if the hotel went over the top with service given the guests were a travel agent and a well known travel blogger. I'm sure service is great for everyone, but the way the hotel is booked makes it difficult to really know if this was a representative stay

    2. The Joe Guest

      @Anthony: Lucky generally has stated he does what he can to be anonymous. Not to say a hotel might look him up (I've had this happen to me... despite being a nobody with what equates to a personal blog)... but can't be certain.
      Ford getting a travel agent rate... that's different and I imagine could lead to special treatment.

      I do agree that reviews of luxury resorts at discounted travel agent rates... that's a...

      @Anthony: Lucky generally has stated he does what he can to be anonymous. Not to say a hotel might look him up (I've had this happen to me... despite being a nobody with what equates to a personal blog)... but can't be certain.
      Ford getting a travel agent rate... that's different and I imagine could lead to special treatment.

      I do agree that reviews of luxury resorts at discounted travel agent rates... that's a growing disconnect from the regular readers of this blog.

      My favorite part of the blog is that it's something most middle class people in the U.S can participate in. 'Sign up for a credit card or two and you can do this too', as opposed to 'marry or become a travel agent and you can do this too'.

      TBH, I'd be reading "Travelsort" if I wanted to know what the nicest cash hotels are.

    3. Ethan Guest

      I think it’s usually in Ford’s name and he isn’t getting Ben’s surname. So unless hotels go way extra mile (And then every hotel can do so) they probably won’t know.

    4. Andrew Guest

      Ive been to this resort 2 years ago, and I can attest that everyone is treated the same. I paid full price, albeit the rates during the peak of the pandemic was extremely reasonable.

      The mistake Ben made is doing CBR first then going to WA. He should have reversed it and stayed longer at CBR. Going from CBR to WA is truly a HUGE downgrade. We booked WA first and thought so highly...

      Ive been to this resort 2 years ago, and I can attest that everyone is treated the same. I paid full price, albeit the rates during the peak of the pandemic was extremely reasonable.

      The mistake Ben made is doing CBR first then going to WA. He should have reversed it and stayed longer at CBR. Going from CBR to WA is truly a HUGE downgrade. We booked WA first and thought so highly of it that I was able to rebook again, but upon 4 nights at CBR we just went ahead and cancelled WA and extended the stay at CBR.

    5. Steve Diamond

      Sorry Anthony but why would they choose to book a higher rate by choice. They probably dont stay there without the travel agent rate and therefor we don't get this review. Lets not forget it is still work to always being taking these pictures writing up these summaries and making sure he photos everything super early to avoid all people.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Sel, D. Guest

Thanks Lucky. Just got back from the Waldorf Pedregal yesterday, and now I feel like I stayed at the Motel 6.

4
Mburton Guest

Incredible post! Thank you for all the details provided. Very intriguing . Well done!m

2
Steve Diamond

Sorry Anthony but why would they choose to book a higher rate by choice. They probably dont stay there without the travel agent rate and therefor we don't get this review. Lets not forget it is still work to always being taking these pictures writing up these summaries and making sure he photos everything super early to avoid all people.

2
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