There’s nothing quite like a stay at the iconic
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi,
and we’re taking you inside….
Words by Yvonne C Mtengwa
The rhythm of Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes’ hit “Summer of Love” became a fixture on my playlist in the weeks leading to our family vacation to The Maldives Islands. For me, a post-pandemic era has been one that has lent me to dissecting which holiday destination are best primed for particular traveling groups, be it families, couples, a group of friends, or those with a knack for chronically pursuing heightened adventure.
The Maldives, I had always imagined it best suited for romantic getaways, inspired by the copious amounts of content selling the destination, which typically feature a couple walking barefoot, hand-in-hand on white sands, or sipping a vibrantly coloured drink accentuated with an umbrella from the edge of an infinity pool. And so, upon receiving an invitation from the illustrious Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, with the promise that this resort was perfectly suited for family holidaying, who were we to say no? It was going to be a “summer of love” for us; loving on time spent with each other, our idyllic surroundings, and the sheer thrill of discovery of a vibrant destination for family travel. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi would be our last stop in a week-long series of stays across the Hilton Hotels and Resorts portfolio in the Maldives, beginning at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, on to Hilton Maldives Amingiri and finally to the ultra-luxe property on Ithaafushi Island.
A ride on board a luxury yacht from Male Velana International Airport signalled what was to be an epic roundup to this set of hyper picturesque islands and atolls that make up the Maldives. The tide was high on the day we departed, as there had been some scattered rains the night before. The skies were a striking blue, cloudless with a perfect juxtaposition between the humidity which one expects on an island destination, and the cool ocean breeze that kept the sea’s waves crashing against our sturdy yacht ride in.
Sparkling champagne and juices were served with light bites; much to our delight as the adults onboard the yacht, and our 13 and 10 year old, who had already been so completely enamored by the preceding 5 nights, they could not imagine their summer holiday becoming any better than this. We were told upon arrival that in fact, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi was the only resort property to offer this luxury yacht “bubby-infused” transfer, awarding guests a taste of upcoming indulgent service at the lap of opulence.
Of opulent spaces and amenities in the lap of luxury
Nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi beckons families to experience a world of luxury and adventure like no other. This enchanting haven redefines family vacations, offering a perfect blend of beachfront relaxation and excitement delivered through a host of available activities and amenities to choose from. Powdery white beaches to vibrant coral reefs form a perfect backdrop to your idyllic holiday getaway, one that is worth every cent spent, given the myriad of family-friendly wonders awaiting you at this tropical destination.
The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi understands the importance of space and privacy for families. We had the distinctive pleasure of being whisked away to our incredibly exquisite two-bedroom reef villa, closed off to other guests by a turquoise painted swing door, that leads to a welcoming patio separating the primary suite and the second twin suite for the children.
Our spacious primary was fully decked out with a massive dining table that accommodates 10, a stocked bar with premium selects in alcoholic beverages, high-end coffee making station, and an array of snacks. Of course, the signature welcoming gift, a bottle of chilled Veuve Clicquot Champagne, accompanied by a tray of fresh exotic fruits, pastries from the Chef’s kitchen, chocolates, dates and more, elevated the excitement of arrival. Check-in was swift and carried out within the suite; a stellar touch for guests who would rather do away with the administrative side of holidaying and dive right into their settings.
A quick scan of the space revealed an idyllic sanctuary, replete with all the trimmings of unsurpassed indulgence. The open curtains to wall-to-wall, floor to ceiling windows unveiled a massive deck, complete with swing and sun beds both shaded and under the sun, a heated jacuzzi, a mammoth sparkling infinity pool with stairs into the ocean beneath us should we be keen on a swim in the often-calm waves below.
Both the primary and secondary suites came embellished with indoor and outdoor showers and tubs for the gods, each enveloped by superior finishings of marble, treated wood and stonework. Direct beach access was only a few steps away from our villa, elegantly designed to ensure that we had all the room we needed to relax and bond without infringing on the each other’s very diverse preferences.
A Gastronomic Journey through Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
At the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, satiation takes on a whole new meaning. Amidst the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, it wasn’t long before we realised how this luxury resort also beckons travellers on a gastronomic voyage like no other. Our time at the resort was limited to 3 days and so we were delighted to note that our culinary experiences were also going to be tailored for us to try out a broad selection of unique concepts, from fresh seafood feasts on the beach, farm-to-table with ingredients sourced from a garden on the resort, through to Michelin-starred dining.
Breakfast was served to us each morning from the Tasting Table, a beachside family style restaurant that’s sure to tantalize your palate with a culinary journey featuring cuisines from around the world. What set this restaurant apart from the others at the resort was a vibrant buffet and rotating menu inspired by international flavours, awarding guests the opportunity to sample a host of sweet and savoury dishes, from Asian delicacies to Mediterranean delights, sumptuous pastries, hot and cold plates as well as mouthwatering breakfast finds for the youngest diners. Also delightfully engaging to watch was an arts and crafts station set outside, where tiny tots could express themselves creatively through paint and putty, at the guidance of a team resort team member from the Kids’ Club.
Invited to try out lunch at The Ledge by Dave Pynt, we headed out to experience fine dining taken to new depths at the pool side concept restaurant, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Dave Pynt. Our experience offered a mesmerizing seafood-focused menu, as well as dainty tacos and hearty burgers, much to the delight of the children. The Ledge by Dabe Pynt is a call to savour a plethora of flavours, from grilled lobster to perfectly seared scallops paired with a glass of crisp wine, or perhaps something a little more robust, all while surrounded by the mesmerizing views of the sparkling family pools that stretch into the island’s shoreline.
The signature 7 course tasting menu at Li Long, was also a dining experience to relish, and an absolute must for diners keen on being transported to an era of Shanghainese royalty by culinary maven Chef Addy. Who could possibly decline an opportunity to experience the flavoursome signature Peking Duck, roasted in the Maldives’ first classic woodfired oven, with an Asian inspired ambience to match.
For health-conscious diners, Glow turned out to be quite a revelation. Travelling as a writer also lends itself to opportunities to try an abundance of menu options and cuisines, of which saying no often proves quite difficult for a self-proclaimed foodie. Glow stood out for its deeply rooted focus on fresh, organic, and sustainably sourced ingredients, crafting dishes that are as nutritious as they are delicious. Pre-dinner drinks began with watching the sun set over a glass of sparkling Rose at the adjacent Amber, before heading on to a masterfully designed space with a feet-in-the-sand relaxed feeling to it. With a menu that caters to various dietary preferences, it’s a guilt-free indulgence in the heart of paradise.
From mellow activities to thrilling water-based adventures
The resort doesn’t just cater to adults; it rolls out the red carpet for little ones too. One of the highlights of a family stay at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is the wealth of outdoor activities, all of them perfectly tailored to suit one’s comfortability in marine territory. From enjoying a relaxed dip in the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean, to taking the family out for a snorkelling trip and discovering the vibrant marine life just beneath the crystal-clear waters, sunset fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking together, adrenaline pumping jet-skiing or embarking on a thrilling dolphin-watching excursion.
And because we have older children, we were spoilt for choice on what activities were available for us to take on, including an array of motorised water sports, kite and windsurfing, or participating in complimentary activities that gave us a little more of a relaxed take on enjoying the ocean. For families looking to blend education with adventure, the resort also offers guided coral planting experiences, an opportunity to teach your children about marine conservation as you actively contribute to preserving the local coral reefs.
I took home notes for my friends with younger cubs. Parents with small children will be delighted to note that even these little gems are well catered to, as Waldorf Astoria Stars Club welcomes young guests aged four to eleven, with guests under four years old having access to use the facilities when accompanied by a guardian or a babysitter. A babysitting service is also available at Waldorf Astoria Stars Club and group activities are available and hosted by certified childcare team members, a special add-on that will make it easier for parents to enjoy a little downtime in this slice of paradise.
Last but certainly not least on the activities tailored for our enjoyment during our stay, was a morning spent at the Waldorf Astoria Spa, moments that rival any worldclass spa within an idyllic setting. On the agenda was experiencing the Maldives’ first Aqua Wellness Center, which features a pool designed in zones, with each station targeting a different part of the body. The zones, which include a jet bath, air jets, shower jets, and a massage lounge, use varying levels of intensity and water temperature aimed at easing muscle tension, boosting the immune system, increasing blood circulation, speeding up metabolism, and improving deep sleep quality. The Aqua Wellness Center is an invitation to reimagined relaxation and an opportunity to reinvigorate every one of your senses in the comfort of a quiet, idyllic setting, where sea, sand, and nature form your postcard-like backdrop.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is more than just a luxury retreat; it’s a destination where families create memories that last a lifetime. With its spacious accommodations, tailored kids’ and teen programs, thrilling adventures, gourmet dining options, and a commitment to ensure that your wellbeing is front and centre of your experience, this Maldivian gem ensures that your family vacation is nothing short of extraordinary. Prepare to embark on a journey of discovery, relaxation, and togetherness in a paradise unlike any other.
To learn more about, and book your stay with Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, visit