Fantasy travel: explore the Maldives’ freshly opened Fari Islands

Four artificial islands make up the unique resort destination near Malé

Maldives’ recently realised Fari Islands complex presents a new incarnation of the idyllic island escape. The artificial archipelago brings together design, science, art, cuisine and wellness, encompassing three resorts and the communal Fari Marina Village – where guests can enjoy cosmopolitan global restaurants, boutique stores and a water sports centre. This is a tropical complex for the contemporary traveller, one concerned with culture, conservation, and an overarching spirit of community.

Made up of four islands — two occupied by Patina Maldives and the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, one with a Capella in the pipeline, and the fourth dedicated to the large staff contingent– it’s a unique approach where each benefits from an association with the others.

In alignment with this collaborative spirit is a design approach that feels fresh and forward-thinking, a departure from what had become a fairly entrenched destination-specific style. It proposes a new take on the tropical favourite that is the Maldives.

Patina Maldives

Designed by Brazilian outfit Studio MK27 and headed up by architects Marcio Kogan and Renata Furlanetto, this resort eschews Maldivian stereotypes in a no-holds-barred ode to nature. From the textures used throughout to the low-key, low-slung suites and simple, understated spaces, the idea behind the design was always to blend in rather than stand out.

Regardless, you cannot help but notice every detail. Custom-created crockery and decorative ceramic pieces by Bali studio Kevala and art by names including James Turrell, Hiroko Takeda, Cassio Vasconcellos, Hongjie Yang, Jose Davila and FAHR 021.3. Bespoke furniture and pendant lights create a space that’s simultaneously engaging and calming.

Photography: Georg Roske

The architecture and interiors deviate from the typical ‘resort’ style in more ways than one. Rather than default to the traditional thatched overwater villas often associated with the Maldives, the studio drew on Brazilian modernism while acknowledging the vernacular fishing villages of the region in their design.

‘We have always been affected by the radical force of Brazilian modernism that started at the end of the 1930s, from its elegant sobriety to the intense integration between interiors and exteriors. At Patina, we were able to produce architecture that is contemporary, classic and elegant,’ says Kogan.

Diana Radomysler and Pedro Ribeiro, the interior team on the project, agree. ‘For Patina Maldives, we recreated a relationship between humans and nature that has existed for thousands of years and removed the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. The space becomes a joyful experience for the senses,’ says Radomysler.

An outdoor installation at Patina Maldives by Hongjie Yang. Photography: Georg Roske

This experience is underscored by the prolific natural materials – wood, stone, linen, straw – and calming neutral colours. “In the context of the Maldives’ sand, skies and ocean, all architecture can do is humbly filter the light, frame the views and create different narratives as one strolls around the magnificent surroundings,” says Kogan.

Ritz-Carlton Maldives

A beach villa with pool at the Ritz-Carlton Fari Islands. Courtesy Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives is the first from the group in the region, and it follows a concept by late designer Kerry Hill – responsible for numerous hotels, among them several for the Aman Group. Executed posthumously by his award-winning eponymous studio Kerry Hill Architects, the hotel is a refreshing departure from the region’s status quo while staying true to the supergroup’s global identity and renowned service.

Based on a seemingly simple motif – the circle – the resort masterfully demonstrates the power of a strong and consistent design device that’s grounded in aesthetics but not at the expense of substance. The concept’s simplicity is echoed by its minimalist take on luxury, which imparts a light, airy and modern feel in every space.

The spherical forms found throughout not only weave a pleasing and calming thread across the island property but come back to the spirit and philosophy of the resort and where it finds inspiration – nature, the infinite movement of the ocean, and the circularity of island life itself.

Spa facilities mimic the circular motif that runs across the resort. Courtesy Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

This is seen in the rounded forms of the suites, the strikingly beautiful ring-shaped spa – which hovers almost futuristically above the ocean (circled again by a halo of overwater villas) – and the curved infinity design of the multiple swimming pools. Even the innovative kids’ club remains true to the designer’s vision.

The circular theme is not merely a nod to nature, however, but also to the island nation’s heritage. Boduberu – meaning big drums – is a cultural and ceremonial icon dating back centuries. Its significance is brought home each evening in the mesmerising sunset ritual at the Eau Bar, where a ring of fire is lit, bringing the day to a close and completing the circle.

Inside a two-bedroom villa at Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands
Villas open up to private decks and the ocean beyond. Courtesy Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands
Outdoor yoga and pilates sessions are on offer in the stepped circular activities area. Courtesy Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

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