LVMH (Louis-Vuitton Moet Hennessey) has a portfolio of roughly 60 of the World’s most prestigious brands so when LVMH announced that their second property would be a beach resort in the Maldives, rumors began circulating as to how luxurious Cheval Blanc Randheli Resort would be. Throughout construction I heard various rumors about the resort, one of them being that CEO & Chairman of LVMH, Bernard Arnault (the 10th richest person in the World according to Forbes), wanted to build the World’s most luxurious resort. Other rumors mentioned that Cheval Blanc Randheli would be spread over several islands and that the resort would have the best facilities in the Maldives.
Cheval Blanc Randheli gets its name from the famous right bank Bordeaux winery, Chateau Cheval Blanc (owned by Bernard Arnault). With a famous winery as its namesake, it was widely speculated that wine and food would play a major role in the resort. I wanted to have a good firsthand account of Cheval Blanc Randheli, so I recently spent 6 nights at this stunning resort.
Like a number of other luxury resorts in the Maldives, Cheval Blanc has their own lounge in the seaplane terminal. Cheval Blanc also has a dedicated seaplane which seats up to 9 people (regular seaplanes seat closer to 15 people). After long flights from the U.S. which entails nearly 24 hours of time in the air plus layovers, extra leg room is always appreciated!
The 45 minute seaplane flight had breathtaking views and it is from the seaplane that I caught my first glimpse of Cheval Blanc Randheli.
It isn’t always easy to take a great photo from a seaplane. I managed to catch two of Cheval Blanc’s islands in this photo but there are more!
Cheval Blanc Randheli is spread over 5 islands. Three islands are connected via raised wooden walkways. These three islands are called the Main island, Island A, and Island B. The main island is where most of the facilities are located such as the restaurants, dive center, Concept store (some one-of-a-kind LVMH products), main pool, bars, water sports, golf simulator, teenager club, and kids club. The main island is also home to all the Island Villas (Beach villas that come with 1 or 2 bedrooms). Islands A and B are smaller islands that have all the Over-water villas and Garden Villas (part over-water and part on land). The fourth island is an island dedicated to the spa and is only a short 2 minute or so boat ride away. The fifth island is an easy 10 minute boat ride away and has a very natural feel as well as a tennis court and a very nice house reef for keen snorkelers.
My wife and I stayed in an Island Villa (2-bedroom) for our 6 nights which is a huge 2-bedroom villa on the beach with a 41 feet (12.5 meter) long swimming pool. The villa has a large living room, spacious bedroom with a great sitting area, an amazing bathroom (with indoor and outdoor showers), a separate changing area, a butler’s pantry with a good sized refrigerator, and a second toilet off of the living room. The back of the villa has a private built-in dining area that is surrounded with thick foliage to ensure privacy. The 2-bedroom Island Villas have a separate structure that includes a second bedroom and bathroom, ideal for children. A spacious deck and pool that lead out to a wide stretch of beach completes the villa.
The quality of construction and furnishings in the villa are outstanding. The IPad in the room doubles as the master remote control and operates just about everything including the 2 sets of blinds, lights, TV, all 4 zones of the sound system, 3 air conditioners, and it can even open the front door. Very cool technology that is easy to use! I can’t think of another resort that has such outstanding furnishings. The artwork is created for each villa and details such as the finest sheets and linens I’ve ever experienced made me feel as though I was in a super luxury yet comfortable home. One of my favorite aspects of the villa were the 3 large doors on both the pool side and the garden side of the living room that completely slid open so we could enjoy the gentle breeze coming from the lagoon with unobstructed views.
We visited the Water Villas and Garden Villas and they are of the exact same quality. The only differences being that the Water Villas and Garden Villas are slightly smaller inside (though hardly noticeable). These villas still have huge pools and the layout is almost exactly the same.
I imagine that guests will spend a lot of time in their villas! The main areas of the resort are very pretty though and we enjoyed the main pool area where we had excellent cocktails at the pool bar, White Bar.
Rumors were true that highlights of Cheval Blanc Randheli are the dining experiences. The fine dining restaurant, Le 1947, named after the most sought after Vintage of Chateau Cheval Blanc wine, was a Michelin star (or two) worthy gastronomic feat – Cheval Blanc calls it Culinary Art and I’d have to agree.
This is the fanciest dining venue in all of the Maldives. I imagine many guests will be wearing top LVMH brands to dinner in this restaurant! There are 3 other restaurants White Restaurant (the all-day dining restaurant), Deelani a casual overwater restaurant serving Seafood/Maldivian cuisine, and Diptyque – A unique multi-course Spanish and Japanese Restaurant.
There are other activities than simply lounging in the villa or dining. The resort has a separate island (2 minutes away) with its own spa on it! The spa treatment rooms are some of the largest and nicest we’ve seen and an entire island dedicated to a spa is simply amazing for a resort with only 45 villas. Back on the main island, the watersports, golf simulator, kids club, and dive center are conveniently located near the main pool area.
A fifth island, an easy 10 minute boat ride from the main island, is home to the tennis court and also to a very nice house reef for snorkeling. Located in the Noonu atoll, which is well-known for turtles, we were not disappointed as we did see turtles while snorkeling!
Cheval Blanc Randheli has the most luxurious villas we have seen. The resort has some of the most creative chefs in the Maldives. The villas are reasonably priced for the amount of luxury. While the house reef on the 3 accommodation islands needs a bit of time to recover from the recent construction, the house reef on the island with the tennis court is very nice. One thing that guests should know is that food is expensive at Cheval Blanc Randheli. Michelin star quality food on a remote Maldivian island yields pricing that not everyone has experienced previously. Dinner in 1947 is around $418 per person (not including drinks). Main dishes for dinner at the all-day dining, White Restaurant started at $65. Glasses of wine started at $30 and glasses of Champagne at $60. Cheeseburgers set a new all-time high price we’ve seen in a resort at $83 (they were excellent though with great Wagyu beef). There is no getting around it that food prices are very expensive.
My thought is that the resort could easily charge a fair bit more for the room rates as the villas really are very special. As such, if the rooms are less expensive than they could be and the food is more expensive than it could be, maybe it balances out? Or perhaps think of it as a once in a lifetime sort of thing and go for the Caesar salad or pizza at lunch instead of the cheeseburger. If you want to visit the most highly anticipated resort opening in recent memory, I think the luxurious villas and the sophisticated and artfully presented food will impress! The resort is still finishing up a few details around the resort so if you want things to be perfect, you might wait a month or two. I wouldn’t hesitate in going now though as I thoroughly enjoyed my 6 nights stay.