Remote revival

By Lauren Jade Hill | 20 Jan 2022 | Travel, Design

How Cheval Blanc’s Maldivian maison, Randheli, is heightening its wellness offering for returning travellers

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With long-haul destinations now opening back up to UK travellers, we can at last return to some of our favourite far-flung idylls – not least the Maldives. As resorts emerge from a challenging 18 months, many are rethinking the experience they provide to realign themselves with travellers’ newly formed needs and desires. With wellness of both body and mind now at the core of many guests’ priorities, this has become an even greater focus for remote retreats across the world.

Cheval Blanc Randheli is among the Maldives’ most exclusive private island hideaways. Part of the LVMH hotel group, this lavish retreat spanning six isolated islands of the Noonu Atoll pairs the white sand, turquoise water and tropical flora the Maldives is known for, with the maison’s signature expression of French l’art de vivre — seen through art, architecture, fine wine and food — and a growing wellness offering.

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“Around the world, people are more aware than ever about the benefits of taking care of yourself through mindfulness, yoga and wellness treatments,” says Cheval Blanc Randheli’s spa manager, Sofia Naji. “This goes from the way we eat to our everyday lifestyle. A lot of health issues come from anxiety and stress levels. Practices like meditation and mindfulness benefit us by improving sleep and helping us deal with our emotions.

“Spas are now looking for new ways to support this and more resorts are becoming increasingly focused on wellness, offering complete wellbeing stays with yoga and meditation and personalised food programmes, as well as holistic treatments and other details like providing essential oils in the villas. It’s about trying to guide the guest to a better lifestyle within the cornerstones of health.”

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The maison first addressed this growing demand by launching a new yoga and meditation retreat designed to restore wellness of body and mind while also reconnecting you with nature. During the retreat, guests benefit from a series of massages, meditation sessions and yoga classes led by the master yogi Puneet Sharma, with the tailored experience beginning before you arrive at the resort and providing guidance to continue after you’ve left.

“This new retreat will lead you to very personalised treatments, a lot of yoga practice and mindfulness activities,” says Naji. “We plan to give guests a notebook to write down their negative thoughts, as well as positive, and try to change the way they deal with these thoughts, focusing on the positive. We’ll also take people on mindfulness walks. The maison has a beautiful island called Maakurandhoo where we have meditation and yoga sessions amid the jungle. It really gives people the feeling of being connected to nature.”

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Now, the resort is preparing to launch a series of new wellness experiences, in partnership with Guerlain, at the beginning of 2022. Heightening the current offering by curating complete wellbeing retreats, the resort will tailor all guests’ treatments and experiences and work closely with the chef to offer wellbeing menus, personalised according to their health consultation, wherever they are in the gastronomy focused resort from the Spa Bar to the beachfront White Restaurant.

“We have all the resources we need for full wellbeing retreats, including an amazing culinary team. We already have all the pieces of the puzzle. We are now putting all of that together for something guests are requesting more and more.”

The maison’s spa is located on its own idyllic island in the cluster of islets making up Cheval Blanc Randheli. Accessed exclusively by the resort’s traditional dhoni boat, the tranquil enclave is home to a collection of ocean-facing single and double treatment villas tucked into lush tropical vegetation and connected by meandering white sand paths.

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These pathways also lead to two hammams, thermal facilities, a yoga deck, orchidarium and beachside Spa Bar spilling out to an infinity pool overlooking the ocean where healthful dishes range from tomato-raspberry gazpacho to reef fish ceviche and rock lobster summer rolls. Guests are greeted on the jetty before being led into the high-ceilinged, open-sided reception area showcasing Guerlain products.

Overall, the private island resort encompasses 45 luxurious one- and two-bedroom island, water, lagoon garden and garden water villas, as well as a private island sanctuary featuring just one four-bedroom villa. The experience here is defined by the maison’s culinary offering, perhaps most notably including fine dining restaurant Le 1947, and a wealth of experiences from dhoni cruises to riding waves on the Maldives’ first surf simulator. Each space is distinguished by the soaring architecture of Jean-Michel Gathy and contemporary artworks by artists such as Vincent Beaurin, all set against the backdrop provided by this tropical idyll.

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How does Cheval Blanc’s Maldivian Maison retain its status as one of the archipelago’s most covetable island hideaways? “It’s about emotion,” says general manager Laurent Chancel. “This is what always brings people back.”