Once voted the best hotel in the world (yep, not just the Indian Ocean, but the entire Earth), at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, Gili has been hovering at the top of the Brides must-visit Maldives list for a long time. It was actually the very first all-over-water villa resort in this collection of dreamy isles, so if an over-water ’moon is your goal, no need to panic-book here – every single villa (there are only 45) seemingly floats on stilts above that bluer-than-blue ocean.
Each is beautifully illustrative of the hotel’s overall efforts at sustainability: reclaimed pine, local teak and even giant wooden telegraph poles have been used cleverly in the purposefully rough-around-the-edges, earthy design. It’s not flashy or super-techy (although they will create a playlist for you in your room, using your wedding songs, should you ask), but it’s the organic feel of the whole place that gives it its charm. That extends to the fruit and veg, nearly all of which is grown on the island and tended to by passionate, organic-championing Chef Aldo (try the smoked chicken salad, with the freshest lettuce and mushrooms you’ve ever tasted).
The pièce de résistance? The vast underground wine cellar… well, cave, to put it more accurately, reached via a glass staircase. The design is extraordinary, with carved-out, misshaped holes in the walls cradling the goodies. Pull a chair on the white pebble floor up to the table made of driftwood and let the charming Fabrice talk you through a tasting. It’ll set you up for the week ahead; there’s gin- or sake-tasting, and sushi-making, too…
Winning streak: OK, OK, so it’s ludicrously expensive, but The Private Reserve villa has a slide. An actual, honest-to-God flume shooting out from the second floor, straight into the ocean.
Go: Turquoise offers seven nights in a Villa Suite from £3,299 per person, half board, including flights and speedboat transfers.