Four Seasons Maldives Hotels & Private Island

The Four Seasons Maldives properties offer the highest level of Luxury, it’s time to begin plotting your winter and spring escapes!  Consisting of two hotel properties, which I love and if you need an exclusive Private Island amid the indigo seas, the Four Seasons also has a scrumptious private island home. A heavenly hideaway, a sublime sanctuary offering the utmost in privacy and iconic Four Seasons pampering at the world’s first exclusive-use UNESCO hideaway, Voavah. A seven-bedroom private island Maldives home, the sojourn includes a 62-foot luxury yacht: Voavah Summer and a marine territory that’s utterly your own! Voavah, private island is a welcome addition to the two luxurious Four Seasons Resorts in the Maldives.


Our mantra on the art of the opening act, your arrival sets the stage: with a personal VIP Seaplane, alighting on the pristine pure white sand, your private beach! Tip toe over the scuttling white shelled hermit crabs and the delicious dilemma develops, what shall you do first: laps in the pool, a discovery afternoon of diving or casting, or snooze until sunset? Decisions, decisions!

Sneak peek: accommodating up to 22 guests in seven bedrooms, with its own chefs, staff, private spa, and a 65-foot-long PADIequipped motor yacht with a dedicated dive master. This extraordinary five-acre, island paradise is your private playground – retreat or indulge in the total privacy as a castaway!


Explore the outstanding wonders of the sea with incomparable diving – an overflowing menu of possibilities including snorkeling with manta rays, scuba diving, fishing, paddle boarding, hunting for brilliant turtles and afternoon dolphin safaris on your private motor yacht. As the day ebbs, prepare for a shimmering canvas of five-star sunsets or stargazing under a midnight blue sky illuminated with a necklace of sparkling stars. Nighttime skyglow is magical in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives hover just above the equator.

Privacy is everything at Voavah. Let us whisk you away on arrival in Malé with CIP services for immigration clearing and access to a VIP seaplane for the 40-minute onward flight to Voavah.  Privacy and protection certain due to Voavah’s 24-hour on-site security, night-vision cameras, CCTV and regular patrols, guests can indulge and begin checking off the long list of pleasurable activities from the moment they arrive. Voavah’s single entry point means no one arrives without staff knowledge. Medical Services – All of the guests have access to a 24-hour doctor on call, as well as access to Landaa Clinic (20 minutes away).

This incredible location in the remote Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve, Voavah offers the freedom of a castaway in a luxurious setting, a private paradise. A blissful over-water spa, the yacht Summer, a staff of more than 20, including a team or personal butlers and an epicurean chef. Three stunning villas accommodate the guests. Cleverly configured to host extended family and friends or your fashionable entourage in a three-bedroom beach front villa, a two-bedroom over-water bungalow and a crucial beach house containing a suite and a bunk room for up to four children, perfect for the nanny.

Just steps from the powder sands, the Three-Bedroom Beach Villa at Voavah is a sight to behold. With a massive sunbathing pool, al fresco living room and master bedroom with ocean views on three sides, the vast beach-chic interiors ooze effortless style and an undeniable at-home vibe. The master bedroom has an attached study/children’s room, while the two additional bedrooms are each housed in their own separate pavilion.
Divide your time around the two-story Beach House and the broad expanse of sugar white sand, gin clear seas and the rich reef teeming with marine life, the ultimate castaway lifestyle! The Beach House living room merges outside with inside, a library and loft lounge, a dining room, gourmet kitchen, an expansive pool deck, and a rock star gym. The  seven bedrooms span three separate venues over the lagoon, on the beach, or in the Mezzanine Suites. The most elevated position on the island, the two Mezzanine Suites at Voavah overlook the vast beach, turquoise lagoon and Biosphere Reserve beyond. Located at either end of the Beach House upper floor, each suite’s ocean-view outdoor sea-view shower and panoramic balcony deliver the height of residential chic. The Mezzanine Suites flank the Loft Lounge, a lovely in-the-eaves chill zone complete with comfy seating, pool table and views that stretch forever. Just off the Lounge, the Bunk Room has beds for up to four children, creating a great kids’ floor for larger groups.

The Voavah Vibe is all about satisfying and spoiling the guests, providing the ultimate in bespoke experiences. Last minute plea for sundowners as an exceptional sunset signals the closure of another perfect day, the chef will oblige! Kiddos dying for a pizza class, yes, of course! Sunrise on the sandbar, consider it done! Heard your friends are dining at Blu at Landaa Giraavaru, it’s a 25-minute cruise to the Four Seasons resort under a black sky twinkling with diamonds.

Expanding horizons, The Oceans of Consciousness Spa offers bespoke over-water spa therapies and rituals; yoga, meditation and pranayama classes; high-end beauty treatments; and Rossano Ferretti hair consultant on call. Private and perched over the glistening lagoon, the Spa offers bespoke treatments by ila inspired by the five pathways to consciousness: Truth, Wise Choices, Love, Peace and Compassion. Sink into your inner bliss with tailored treatments attributed to a specific pathway.


Devote delightful days discovering the undisturbed UNESCO paradise, Voavah Summer will introduce you to snorkeling or diving with whale sharks, year around manta rays; surfing on unknown breaks, casting for a sea banquet, exploring local islands, basking in sensational sunsets on the Baa Atoll, pleasurable moments are never-ending.

Gather your entourage and we will help plan your Exclusive Escape!

Expedition – Marquesas Islands

In May, I was invited for an adventurous sail on the Lindblad National Geographic Orion in the South Pacific for 10 days from Papeete to the Marquesas. In preparation, I reread Typee, Melville’s first novel, if you don’t remember his tale, he jumped ship in the Marquesas and lived among cannibal tribes for a few months. Melville and his shipmate Toby were tempted by an abundance of breadfruit trees, beautiful Polynesian women and he was dreadfully weary from months aboard a whaling ship with a tough captain. On arrival to the Marquesas, I felt as if I had been there, completely captivated by the towering green mountains, perilously steep with very few natural harbors. I’m a fan of Gauguin who painted here, how could I decline an adventure at sea on the Lindblad Orion?

Before our clients depart on a Journey, we send a gift bag of books, a reading list and a note: Nothing will make your trip more satisfying than to know something about the places you’re visiting; whether it’s the wildlife, people, history, geography or plant life.

French Polynesia, Marquesas Photo Courtesy of Lindblad national Geographic

We disembarked the Papeete harbor on a sultry Friday afternoon and set to sea. Sunset cocktail briefing with charts and graphs indicating our morning destination would be under a foot of rain and a 40-foot swell, now that would make for an exciting but very wet sail. The brilliant expedition leader, Dr. Jimmy White, revealed a fresh sailing strategy. I loved the flexibility of the Orion team – this isn’t your typical cruise, where you may sit out a bad weather day in a port. Lindblad National Geographic Expedition teams studied tides, the wind and the sky and plotted a new course as a seasoned navigator might have years ago when canoes were the only form of transportation. This revised plan would come with an added bonus – an extra day in the Marquesas!

An over-night sail from Pappetee to the Fakarava atoll. Text-book lullaby: fresh sea breezes and the gentle rocking motion of the ship, my spacious stateroom with a sliding glass door remained open for the duration of the Expedition. Waking at 5:30 am, before sunrise each morning, eyes barely open, I padded upstairs to the library for coffee; each morning, I passed a sleepy disheveled gentleman in a white bathrobe balancing a cup and saucer of tea. Neither of us were dressed for public view or interested in conversation – quiet private moments to ease into a new day.

Makatea – Melville’s description of forbidding sheer cliffs appear to be accurate on first sightings of these islands.

The overnight sail delivered us north from Tahiti and the Society Islands into the great archipelago of atolls known as the Tuamotus. At dawn, we stopped briefly and peered at the dark forbidding clouds surrounding Makatea, a rare uplifted coral island, a large swell was crashing on the walls of the vertical coast and a wicked squall blackening the horizon encouraged Captain Heidi Norling to continue on our way north to the atoll of Rangiroa. My first glimpse of the sheer elevations of Makatea conveyed Melville’s descriptions, beautiful yet forbidding unyielding mountains rising out of the blue sea.

French Polynesia, Marquesas

Every morning I perched on the bow of Orion to welcome a new day of adventure. This morning didn’t disappoint, a pod of bottle nose dolphins greeted us and surfed the powerful currents alongside the bow of the ship – an exhilarating welcome. Across the swells, red-footed boobies, black & brown noddies flitted above the swells in pursuit of breakfast. We were ready for our first foray into the cobalt seas in the site known as The Aquarium. Oh, what a thrill to view a sunny beach, calm seas and a view of swaying palm trees on Rangiroa atoll; from the open Pacific into the sheltered lagoon, led by nimble dolphins. An extraordinary start to a day at sea.

Good Morning! A pod of bottle nose dolphins greeted us and surfed the powerful currents alongside the bow of the ship.

Continuing onward north we found shelter the next morning in the peaceful waters of Fakarava, a coral atoll. The ship zodiacs head out early to sea surveying diving locations, here the sharks prefer to lounge in the shallow bay. We departed at 9 am for a morning of self-guiding to the small village of Fakarava atoll, Tuamoto archipelago. The protected islets form a ring around the lagoon of Fakarava, the second largest atoll in French Polynesia. French painter Henri Matisse would claim that colors were for setting oneself free, he spent three months in Tahiti in 1930 exploring as far as Fakarava, where he was enthralled by the endless variety and shades of blue of the lagoons. This discovery prompted a new creative artistic effort for Matisse. Many art critics believe his Remembering Oceania cutouts represent his visit to Fakarava. Think of Fakarava as visual therapy for the soul. Fakarava, which means “beautiful”, is as stunning above water as it is underwater. The atoll has delightfully warm seas and the fluorescent corals are mesmerizing, it is also known for a protected shark population. Simple snorkeling gear is all that one needs to explore and be entranced by the wonders of these indigo seas. Schools of fish by the thousands, massive coral heads line the sandy bottom, there is so much to experience.

Cocktails in the sea? In the peaceful waters of Fakarava, a coral atoll.

The numbers: 806 population, 6/15 square miles of semi-paved roads. Although you can’t see the other side of the atoll, one could walk across in a matter of minutes through the swaying palm trees. Sunday morning Mass at the tiny Catholic church began at 9. We pedaled toward the Church, drawn by a harmonious chorus of Alleluia. The small church was under renovation and parishioners lined the lawn facing a charming garden grotto. We lucked out, it was Mother’s Day, the women were festooned in floral crowns and hand-made sunhats of local materials, their finest millinery.

We peeked in at the Church interior, only to be reprimanded by a woman in a lovely hat who asked us to leave, as it was a construction zone – she told me the ladies would be selling beads and crafts after Mass. She certainly had me pegged, bead collector on a bike! The island people utilize much of nature’s bounty; a curved church wall was enhanced with inlaid polished oyster shells. Vaulted ceilings were painted robin egg blue and a small rose window at the nave threw shadows on the floorboards.

The quiet village, with the exception of the church goers, must have slept in. A few stray dogs napping on the wide paved road, the obligatory free-range roosters but not much else happening. Going off road onto a sandy path, we discovered a small beachfront inn, it appeared to be owned by an artist or talented craftsman. Driftwood accessories, planters decorated with shells, and rows of potted flowering plants were a reminder of using found objects for décor, lacking shopping centers, nothing goes to waste. A little beach cafe offered chocolate ice cream and cold Tahitian beer – well deserved after biking in the humidity and heat. We passed a Sunday barbeque, the main course was fish, probably caught that morning – a carefree life on the village atoll. A local fisherman wading into the sea was practicing the old procedure of primitive fishing – toss in the line and pull in a fish no pole required. He was successful, I tried this in the Maldives, without success! It was a delightful interlude before moseying back to ship, imagine the expansive horizon with the lovely Orion bobbing atop the sapphire sea.

Nothing goes to waste on an atoll, a small cottage was decorated with a massive collection of sea buoys.

Back on deck for terrace lunch, photography talks in the afternoon and we continued toward the Marquesas, – a 44-hour sail. Onboard, there were so many activity options. Additional staff included multiple researchers, authors, published naturalists and dive masters, truly experts in their fields. All friendly, fun and not at all condescending if one wasn’t an ‘expert’ in birding, fauna, or photography. David Cothran, Naturalist/Photo Instructor, has worked for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic since 1993 on six continents and in over 65 countries. He too was very patient and enthusiastic in helping us develop additional insight and skills necessary to better understand our cameras and the basics of composition — to better capture the moments at the heart of your expedition. Plus, the ship has loaner lenses, cameras, binoculars so you can experiment with new gear. Our Expedition team included Randy Olson, a National Geographic documentary photographer, whose work has taken him to 50 countries over the past 20 years. Concentrating on population and resource issues, as well as disappearing cultures, Randy has shot over 30 stories for National Geographic magazine covering diverse subjects. NG has published his books of photography and he has won numerous photography awards. He was laid back and very approachable, even for an amateur photographer like myself. Each evening included a summary of the day – his multiple shots laid out, his path to achieve his best photo. – I learned much from understanding his photographic style and goals and his visuals of how he achieved what he described as his best photo of the day.

An overnight and all-day Monday Journey to the Marquesas. The Orion is a small but luxurious ship, holding 102 passengers in 52 staterooms. I was wildly impressed by how frequently the guests had sailed on Lindblad National Geographic Journeys – a minimum of three and many had taken more than 10 trips and many more than 20 trips – seriously, an endorsement of a remarkable product.

Sunrise from my balcony

Each evening began with a cocktail gathering – a briefing on our daily progress, a promise of adventure ahead – a video chronicle of moments caught by the photographers – the generous sharing was enthusiastic and enjoyed by everyone. Dinner with guests and off to bed to awake to our next adventure. The gentle rocking and the fresh sea breeze was the perfect combination for dreamy sleep.

Next week a continuation of my Journey on The Lindblad National Geographic Orion.

This firm offers small group adventures on small boats all over the world.