It’s easy to book an “exclusive” resort in the Maldives, right? You just Google “best luxury resorts in the Maldives,” and see what pops up. Then you do a bit of online research, ask a well-traveled friend for his opinion, or flip a coin. Right?
Wrong. Just because you’re going to an amazing destination doesn’t mean your trip automatically will be. There are countless ways in which the right travel fixer, one with intimate knowledge of the territory and on-the-ground relationships, can pull strings to improve a trip. Justin Parkinson, for example—Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for the Maldives and the Seychelles—does far more than just guide you to the right island and property for your needs.
Based on dozens of trips to these islands and his close relationships with the hoteliers there, he has access to the best rooms at the best prices. He knows which overwater bungalows have the most panoramic views or the most private setting or the biggest pools or the best snorkeling off the deck. He knows that the best bungalow locations on an island often depend on weather conditions, which change throughout the year, and can tell you the best room location in January vs. June. And he knows when to suggest getting the full tropical experience by splitting your stay between a beach villa on one side of an island and an overwater villa on the opposite side (the butler can move your things from one room to the other).
He also arranges activities, of course, suggesting the best times of day for things like snorkeling and seaplane excursions, and offers unique experiences such as an afternoon on a desert island or a private beach barbecue where the chef teaches you how to grill seafood the local way. Justin even matches his travelers to the staff members—from room butlers to dive instructors to massage therapists—who will best suit their needs and personalities.
And we haven’t even mentioned the value-added benefits (such as complimentary meals and yacht transfers) or how much Justin can save you on business-class airfare to and from the islands, thanks to specially negotiated airfares.
Even pinpointing the right resort in the first place isn’t as simple as it sounds. Your in-laws may have fallen in love with XYZ Private Island, but that doesn’t mean you will. To make the perfect match, your travel expert must ask the right questions and take the time to discover what lights your fire.
Start feeling the spark with this list, from Justin, of the five most exclusive private islands in the Maldives and the Seychelles:
Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
“Cheval Blanc Randheli’s 29 water villas are quite possibly the most luxurious ever built at any resort in the world. The entire property is lavish, but the rooms are a highlight. Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy with cathedral ceilings and 20-foot-high hand-crafted doors that can be opened for airiness or closed for coziness, there is nothing like them—anywhere. Each villa has its own infinity pool, dining pergola or pavilion, and private beach. Among the many facilities are a spa on its own island, reachable by dhoni, with separate hammams for men and women.”
Fregate Island Private, Seychelles
“Fregate Island Private has some of the prettiest beaches in the Indian Ocean. The eco-resort has made an outstanding effort on behalf of the island ecology, and it shows: The island is a haven for rare birds, plant life, and a healthy population of Aldabran tortoises. Each of the 16 private residences has its own terrace, a large infinity pool, and a Jacuzzi. You can dine at the Yacht Club, in a tree-house restaurant in one of the island’s largest banyan trees, or on the plantation where the resort’s food is grown, as well as on the beach or in the privacy of your own residence.”
Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives
“Gili Lankanfushi lays claim to the world’s largest overwater villa. It’s called the Private Reserve, and it’s a freestanding structure, accessible by boat, in the lagoon. The resort also boasts an organic vegetable and herb garden, secluded beaches, an underground wine cellar, treetop tables, and a laid-back Maldivian feel. The new surf center takes guests to excellent nearby breaks.”
North Island, Seychelles
“A large island with only 11 villas, North Island is the ultimate in privacy and seclusion, while at the same time offering plenty to do—for example, you can go hiking with an ecologist or diving with a marine biologist. The resort does a first-rate job of looking after its guests, as well as protecting the island’s ecology.”
Velaa Private Island, Maldives
“Velaa Private Island is one of the best all-around resorts in the world. Its overwater villas are huge, and they have good-size pools, not plunge pools. It has the best service of any resort in the Maldives, and its facilities, too, are unmatched. They include a multi-story wine tower, a golf academy, and an overwater restaurant featuring the most talented chef in the Indian Ocean.”
Wendy recommends maximizing every moment of a Maldives or Seychelles vacation by reaching out to Justin to orchestrate it. You’ll find the best trip designers for other parts of the world on The WOW List.