Fashion designers and luxury brands have ventured into the hotel business with mixed success. Versace was the first when it opened a beachfront hotel in Australia’s Gold Coast. Armani followed with its own luxury property in Dubai.
The third Italian designer name was Salvatore Ferragamo and, recently, Bulgari has tied up with Ritz-Carlton to lend its name to a high-end hotel. All of them are managed by professional hotel chains, but it’s their names that brand the property and bring in customers. The latest to join the brandwagon is the world’s biggest luxury conglomerate, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group (LVMH), the French giant. They have created Cheval Blanc, a six-star resort, in an area that is virtually untouched—the island of Randheli on the Noonu atoll in the Maldives. Earlier, LVMH had launched a resort in the popular Swiss ski town of Courchevel, but their latest is the height of exclusivity and away from the beaten tourist track. It is surrounded by dense jungle on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. The aim is to provide the highest standards of service, exclusivity and lifestyle—albeit at a price. The room rates for a stay of six nights are between 4,000 euros and 9,000 euros, depending on the season.
Belgium architect Jean-Michel Gathy designed the site, and guests are accommodated in modern and very private villas that are integrated into the adjoining natural landscape. Each villa comes with its own private butler and features large terraces and private infinity pools. For these looking for real exclusivity, there’s the Owner’s Villa, located on a neighbouring island with a private boat wharf. It has four bedrooms, as well as its own spa and pool facilities.
Being LVMH, it’s no surprise that the resort comes with its own high-end wines. Six bottles of the rare Cheval Blanc nestle in Cheval Blanc Randheli’s wine cellar. The ultimate experience comes because of its remote and untouched location. All guests arrive onboard a private seaplane from Male, specially designed for Cheval Blanc Randheli. There is also the traditional Dhoni, a Maldivian boat, which guests can take to get to the ‘Spa Island’ of the Cheval Blanc Randheli. The bonus is the location—all views from the resort and the villas are truly breathtaking.