It List 2008
Courtesy of Banyan Tree Maldives Madivaru
Beach Hotel. Banyan Tree drops the Maldives’ gauzy white-on-white aesthetic in favor of the Indian Ocean’s version of safari style: elaborate tents, a jungle setting, and its own wildlife-filled reef just offshore. Yes, the price is steep, but this is a camping trip without comparison. On the edge of the North Atoll, Madivaru is accessible by seaplane, and sits on a coral island so small we were able to navigate it on foot in 20 minutes. A maximum of 18 guests stay in canvas compounds serving as living, sleeping, and spa/bath rooms. Quarters are furnished with leather folding chairs, teak campaign desks, and steamer trunks that were a tad too Out of Africa for our taste. On the other hand, who cares when the gracious Maldivian staff is there to indulge your every whim—whether it’s a sunset cruise on a traditional sailboat, impromptu barbecues under the Southern Cross, or one-on-one underwater expeditions to view baby sharks, green turtles, and graceful eagle rays.