Hotel Guide: Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

by Ann deBruyn

Vacationing in the Maldives is on many peoples' bucket lists, and the Ritz-Carlton Maldives is one of the newest places to stay on the islands. Opened in 2021, the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is a fairy tale in paradise.

With various dining, recreation and accommodation options, it's the kind of place you never want to leave. And it's got something for all types of travelers, from honeymooners to families to travelers with points and miles. The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, is part of the Marriott Bonvoy program, and award nights can range from 95,000 to 120,000 points per night.

Here's the full rundown if you're wondering what a stay is like in this island outpost.

Location

The human-made Fari Islands have three resorts, including Patina Maldives and Capella Maldives. Ritz-Carlton guests will have access to nearly two dozen dining and drinking venues between them.

Getting to the resort from the country's Malé international airport is not cheap — $550 roundtrip per adult and 50 minutes by speedboat — but it is undoubtedly an entertaining trip. You could also opt for a quicker 10-minute transfer by seaplane for $1,400 per person. If you view the ride as a sightseeing excursion, it becomes even more worth it. Once there, you'll meet an arrivals pontoon where the staff greets you and takes you directly to the room.

Design

The minimalist design of this resort is the handiwork of the late Australian architect Kerry Hill. As a result, it's pretty different from the thatched roof bungalows found elsewhere. Instead, designers brought a modern touch to the island and its architecture, making many villa elements round-shaped to mimic the circular flow of ocean currents.

Divided across three islands and connected by walkways, the accommodations are separated into different sections like overwater bungalows and garden villas. Restaurants are situated in various areas, including a dedicated culinary island. This layout means the guests can walk through jungle-like pathways and past small beaches as they enjoy the resort. They can also borrow bikes to cycle around the property.

The hotel also has a curated collection of global art on display throughout the property, from statues to woven wall art. It adds to the appeal as you walk through the indoor-outdoor spaces. The property has adopted several eco-friendly practices in a respectful nod to the environment. It bottles its own water through a purification system, uses sustainable wood and materials in its design and avoids single-use plastic.

Food and Beverage

Seven restaurants and bars at the Ritz-Carlton feature a global array of cuisines. La Locanda is an open-air restaurant where a deluxe buffet breakfast with champagne is served each morning. Eggs are cooked fresh to order, and Maldivian dishes are common. Later in the day, fresh pasta, grilled meat and seafood are served from the southern Italian-themed menu.

Summer Pavilion is a dinner-only Chinese restaurant serving Cantonese specialties like roasted duck and dim sum. A private dining room is ideal for couples or small groups.

Iwau is an open-air chef's table experience serving Japanese fare from sushi and sashimi to teppanyaki-prepared meals. Guests can interact with the chef as they sit in the island breeze and watch the sunset.

At Arabesque, the menu spans multiple countries from Lebanon to India for lunch and dinner. Creative cocktails, mezze spreads, tandoori grills and hookah pipes are all among the options.

The Beach Shack is an alfresco beach club-style cafe serving delicious cuisine facing the ocean during the day. Weekend brunches and themed evenings are popular, and guests can tipple at the bar or play billiards in the breeze. There are also daytime DJs and storytime by the fire for children.

Tum Tum is an Asian fusion venue serving street-style food from a food truck.

Facing the round swimming pool, guests can order sushi, fresh oyster and caviar, and afternoon tea with Maldivian flavors at Eau Bar between dips in the water. This is also where guests can watch the daily sunset ritual.

Accommodations

The mostly circular rooms and suites here are spectacular and come in one-bedroom options and two and three-bedroom models to accommodate families or couples traveling together.

Let's start with the prized overwater Ocean Pool Villas, which have their own infinity-edge pool terraces with stairways that lead directly to the transparent ocean water. Even the smallest measures a humongous 1,615 square feet.

The enormous rooms feature separate living and dining areas, spacious bathrooms with double vanities, indoor and outdoor showers, and sliding glass doors to the lead out to the pool. Overwater hammocks add to the charm.

Lagoon and beach pool villas face the water but are located on the island rather than the oval-shaped boardwalk that leads to the solar-powered Ocean Pool Villas. Some beach pool villas are shrouded in palm trees, giving them more privacy, including some hybrid models suspended over the water, but with a beach to enjoy.

Many guests like to reserve a few nights overwater and a few nights on the beach to enjoy both experiences. Two-bedroom villas are directly on the beach or have private pools. The Ritz-Carlton Estate is the most glamorous accommodation with three bedrooms, a private beach and lounge, a full kitchen with a personal chef and indoor-outdoor dining spaces, and a dedicated golf cart to take guests around the property.

Amenities

The Ritz-Carlton staff members are hospitable and personable, always greeting guests with a smile. Each villa also enjoys the services of an "aris meeha," which means "a person of great importance assigned to a member of the ancient royal household" in the local Dhivehi language. They can pick up guests in a buggy to transport them around the resort, help them with dining and activity reservations, or assist with other requests just one text message away.

A Ritz Kids facility features supervised educational activities like learning about the environment or cooking classes, a playground for younger guests and a kiddie pool with slides. Adults can spend their time at the lavish spa, which boasts an overwater lagoon location, using Bamford skincare products for treatments, including a Maldivian-inspired massage using organic coconuts.

In addition to enjoying the beach, guests can take advantage of watersport activities, tennis lessons, an air-conditioned gym and outdoor movies. A weekly program lists all of the activities for guests.

The resort's Ambassadors of the Environment program helps guests to learn more about the Maldives and its unique environment, among other things. Developed by a team of experts, including Jean-Michel Cousteau, the program includes everything from ocean encounters using a drone to marine biologist-led scuba dives. Dolphin cruises are especially fun.

There's also a yoga studio, stargazing garden and tennis courts open for guests to use.

Booking the Ritz-Carlton Maldives with Marriott points

Marriott Bonvoy has switched to dynamic pricing, which means the number of points needed for an award night here can vary depending on demand and seasonality. In addition, Marriott's award search calendar allows you to check the price in points for an entire month. For example, on the dates we checked for this fall, Marriott showed a range of between 95,500 and 119,500 points for a standard room redemption at Ritz-Carlton Maldives.

How to get to Ritz-Carlton Maldives

Getting to the Maldives is becoming easier with more airlines adding service to Malé (MLE). All three major airline alliances fly there from the U.S., including Singapore and Turkish Airlines from Star Alliance and Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways from Oneworld . However, there are currently no U.S.-based carriers that operate flights to the Maldives.

American AAdvantage has two partners among the more popular ways to reach the island nation, classifying it as part of the Indian subcontinent region.

Etihad Airways is an American Airlines partner connecting passengers from U.S. cities through Abu Dhabi. It costs just 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way to fly from the U.S. to Malé in economy or 70,000 miles each way in business.

Qatar Airways is another great option offering flights with their enclosed Qsuites in business class available from several U.S. cities for similar prices as Etihad, but flights are through Doha.

Etihad and Qatar are some of the easiest carriers to find reward seat availability to fly there. Still, you can also search for partner award availability on United Airlines' website or call Delta.

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives is a sight to behold and worth the long journey to get there. Save up those Marriott Bonvoy points for a dream vacation or plan to earn a bunch while you're there.

Photos courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands.

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