A social-distancing vacation in the Maldives

From treetop dining to underwater villas, the Maldives is coming up imaginative ways to help travelers stay socially distanced while still enjoying a vacation.

The island nation reopened to visitors on July 15, and more than 57,000 tourists have visited since. More airlines set to resume flights this month and next. Earlier in November, the country’s tourist board launched a marketing campaign with the tagline: “Isolation never looked this good.”

Visitors are required to show a negative Covid-19 test and fill out an online health declaration form. Resorts have increased cleaning and added contactless check-ins, but it’s the privacy and seclusion that are likely to attract travelers.

Dining in the trees

At Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, guests can eat in a treetop, nest-like bamboo pod at a restaurant called Terra. Six “naturally distanced” nests seat two people, while a seventh can accommodate four, and the menu includes ingredients such as Alba white truffles and Wagyu beef.

Ithaafushi, which comprises three interconnecting islands, has seen increased demand for Terra, as well as in-room dining, and guests can also have spa treatments and yoga classes in their villas.

One of the islands can be hired in its entirety. It includes three villas, five pools and a clubhouse, as well as a chef and concierge.

Life in the ocean

The Muraka residence at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has a master bedroom submerged 16 feet underwater. With a 180-degree curved ceiling, it is effectively guests’ private aquarium. Upstairs there are indoor and outdoor lounges, a private pool and a bedroom with sunset views.

A personal butler, chef and private seaplane transfers are available as part of a VIP package, which starts at $46,500 a night for stays in November and December.

A bubble on the beach

Singer Rita Ora and model Cara Delevingne have partied at Finolhu in recent years. Its two-bedroom “rockstar villas,” which come with wine cellar and bar, are the most popular rooms.

But for a more socially distanced vacation, Finolhu has a “beach bubble tent” – an enclosed transparent bedroom on a sandbar surrounded by ocean views. It comes with its own “bubble butler,” and bookings include a private barbecue on the beach.

Your own private cinema

For those looking for a quieter vacation, tiny Kandolhu has just 30 guest rooms. It’s surrounded by a coral “garden” that’s accessible from the island.

Socially distanced evening entertainment includes a moonlight cinema where guests can watch a movie in seclusion on a private jetty, with cocktails and snacks.

A day of social distancing

Kurumba is the original private island resort in the Maldives. Opened in 1972, it is a 10-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport, the main airport in the Maldives.

Its recently-launched resort app lets guests book “Just You and Me Time,” a day of socially distanced activities, including a private breakfast, snorkeling, a delivered lunch, a spa treatment, private dinner and movie night.

Work from paradise

Those who want to work from isolation can book a month’s “Work from Paradise” package on the Pullman Maldives Maamutaa.

The stay includes a personal trainer, one dive or one spa treatment per week, a day trip to sister property Mercure Maldives Kooddoo and one night in an underwater aqua villa – a 200-square-meter abode with an underwater bedroom.

Barefoot isolation

People staying at the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu resort in the Maldives’ southern Baa Atoll can escape for a “Cast Away” break in a rustic room on the deserted Embudhoo island, a short speedboat ride away.

Described as “the ultimate private – and isolated – getaway,” travelers get the secluded island to themselves for two nights, taking breakfast and lunch picnics with them and enjoying a barbecue dinner in the evening.

By CNBC

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