By Katie Lockhart
January 01, 2019
Credit: Katie Lockhart

The Maldives is full of over-the-top bucket list experiences. So it’s no surprise that the luxury Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, located on the southern Addu Atoll, has created dining experiences like something out of a movie — or at least The Bachelorette, since they shot the finale there.

Besides room service in their signature, spacious overwater bungalows and suites, the resort has some unique and breathtaking private dining options planned around the island with their bucket list “Dine by Design” program.

The bespoke “Dine by Design” concept is not a new or unusual resort offering in the Maldives, but the Shangri-La takes it to the next level with ten different options ranging from a day of sailing to the Equator to eat calamari at zero degrees latitude to a four course meal with your feet in the Indian Ocean.

Credit: Katie Lockhart

The Shangri-La’s Villingili is the largest single resort island in the Maldives, measuring three kilometers from one end to the other. It continues to set records with Mount Villingili: At just 14.7 feet, it’s the highest natural point in the Maldives situated on top of the nation's only nine-hole golf course. Here, you can sample a multi-course barbecue with Maldivian lobster next to the lapping waves. There is also a larger barbecue pit option on the golf course perfect for groups.

There are multiple menu options to choose from during your personally designed dinner, including Maldivian lobster, reef fish, beef and vegetables. The fresh Maldivian lobster is well worth the splurge.

Credit: Katie Lockhart

Among the most popular private dining options is the beachside dinner at sunset. "People use anything as an excuse to have it done because it is a fabulous experience," said Daniel Young Charlton, Shangri-La’s Villingili Food & Beverage Director. “You can get couples, honeymooners and even groups of eight requesting it.”

During my first extraordinary eating experience, I walked along the sand past Dr. Ali's, the resort’s popular Arabic, Indian and Chinese restaurant to the nearby Wedding Pavilion. Tiki torches burned along the walkway, candles were scattered all around the table and the sound of waves crashing echoed close by. I noticed a beautiful table arrangement with roses and orchids with a slew of appetizers including bread and butter, salmon and avocado, shrimp cocktail, crab mousse, and calamari.

For lunch and afternoon drinks, the Chef’s Garden — the resort’s organic garden — is an impressive option. The chef gives you a tour of the greens, explaining the menu while smelling the fresh basil and lemongrass used in the dishes and cocktails you’ll be served.

Other creative locations include a jungle option surrounded by lush tropical banyan trees and flying foxes, also known as fruit bats, and the Jungle Lagoon, with frogs croaking and fish jumping in the water while you marvel at the stars from the overwater dock.

Credit: Katie Lockhart

CHI, The Spa isn’t just for massages. Guests can opt for a tranquil spa dinner in an open-air bungalow next to the water with a healthy menu rich in vitamins designed to “restore balance and harmony to both body and mind.”

The luxury yacht “trip to zero” is the most glamorous, and expensive option there is, while also being one of the most memorable. On my last night on the island, I went out on the 21-meter-long, multi-bedroom yacht “Horizon” for a surf-and-turf sunset dinner among spinning dolphins.

View all the “Dine by Design” experiences for individuals, couples and families here.