Curiously, the Maldives were never supposed to become one of the world’s top luxury destinations. A United Nations report in the late 1960s concluded that the country wasn’t suited for tourism, due to a lack of fresh water on many of its 1,190 islands and the difficulty of creating the infrastructure needed to cater to upscale travelers. Nevertheless, tourism began in the Maldives in 1972 when George Corbin, an Italy-based travel agent specializing in diving holidays, and Ahmed Naseem, a young Maldivian diplomat, opened the country’s first hotel designed for foreign guests. Supported by desalination plants and seaplanes, the island nation now has more than 160 resorts that compete to deliver the most original and pampering guest experiences in the world. Almost all of the most prestigious luxury hotel brands have properties here, with more resorts arriving every year.
The hard work of the Maldivians and the farsightedness of foreign investors deserve a great deal of credit, but the main reason for the success of this country — a vast archipelago of 26 atolls southwest of Sri Lanka, in the middle of the warm, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean — becomes apparent within minutes of arrival. It’s staggeringly beautiful and completely safe, with a level of hospitality that approaches and maybe even surpasses that of classic Swiss benchmarks. I found it much more difficult than usual to find fault!
What makes the Maldives unique as a holiday destination is the concept of “one island, one resort.” This model means low guest numbers that ensure total privacy and tranquility, resulting in a profoundly relaxing and refreshing respite.