Located a few hundred miles off the southern coast of India, the Maldives is an island nation teeming with luxury resorts, many accented by over-the-water villas and suites that bring new meaning to the terms “ocean view” or “ocean access.” Discerning travelers who yearn for an exemplary resort experience—one that is difficult, perhaps even impossible to replicate anywhere else—will find their wishes granted at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which was the region’s first resort (according to Architectural Digest) to introduce over-the-water villas.
Spread out across two islands, the resort is home to 151 sprawling beach suites and villas, ranging in size from 1,600 square feet to more than 7,000 square feet, all of which boast private island hosts and private beach access.
Perched on stilts above the Indian Ocean, 71 over-the-water villas and suites (from 820 to 4,865 square feet in size) offer either private plunge pools or Jacuzzis as well as stairs leading directly to the ocean below.
Yet the resort’s most spectacular accommodation is The Muraka, a multilevel, three-bedroom residence that delivers fully integrated living, dining, and sleeping areas above and below the Indian Ocean.
Described as a “personal lifetime achievement” by the residence’s chief architect and designer, Ahmed Saleem, the first-of-its-kind villa is defined by a glass-walled lower level that is plunged almost two dozen feet below the ocean’s surface.
The Muraka opened in November, 14 years after Saleem completed the resort’s Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. With its glass-domed underwater living areas, which offer views across a sloping coral reef and out toward the Indian Ocean’s open depths, the residence delivers scuba diving thrills without the need to squeeze into a wetsuit.