ONE&ONLY REETHI RAH set new precedents for style when it opened in The Maldives in 2005. Then-GM Michael Luible set a German aristocratic tone, which was subsequently continued by Michael Payne, Jean-Luc Naret (Mr Michelin), and Jan Tibaldi, plucked by head office to oversee Kerzner openings back in Dubai. Now a significant Austrian, Andreas Porias, is in charge. He’s game for anything.
That’s him, not exactly hiding behind one of the 44-ha resort’s numerous selfie spots. Arrive here by speedboat, as many do, and the all-white vessel moors with siblings, all equally snowdrop-hued, by a wood signpost announcing mileage to other One&Only properties. 4,091 kms to ONE&ONLY NYUNGWE HOUSE and so on. That’s intelligent (on the mindfulness front, others will also delight in the knowledge that proper books are being returned to villas now that the pandemic has, for the most part, passed).
Ah, the villas. They, copied eight years later by Russian-owned CHEVAL BLANC RANDHELI ISLAND, are Jean-Michel Gathy signatures. All 122 Reethi Rah villas are soaring cathedrals, their young coconut palm thatched roofs open inside, where they’re supported by 24-total guards of honour of light bamboo poles set alternately one, or a pair, all tied with rope. There are terrazzo floors and semi-sunken bathtubs, and coconut shell bedheads, and dark-stained American pine dividers separating bathroom from bedroom and sitting room. They still reign supreme. One stands taller in a tall space.
Even the main restaurant is tall: it’s a cross-shape with outdoors at the extremities and acres more polished wood within. Generally Tuesday’s night weekly GM’s cocktail is held outside but just in case the weather felt like being uncooperative GM and his management and loads of Lanson retreated inside. This was a cocktail gathering that rivalled any Dior show, though one or two of the frocks could have been Valentin Yudashkin. And everyone was so NICE. This was networking with style.
At the party a guest-chef, no a guest acupuncturist from Canada, Dr Syed Afzal, invited Girlahead to visit the spa. The following morning she dutifully had 14 single-use stainless needles hammered in, feet first and forehead last. Within minutes there were pinpricks of sensation in one leg, a gradual interior movement in the other. The patient fell asleep, dreaming of Lanson. Thirty minutes later needles were removed. How do you feel? Do you have the extra energy you crave?
The answer my friend, is wafting in the wind, the Maldivian mist. Energy, this is what we all need… to put on a cuddly Robe Works and lie by one’s One&Only Reethi Rah pool, for ever and ever. Until it’s selfie time.