Heralding in a new kind of uber-cool and eco-conscious luxury resort in the Maldives is the rather fabulous Patina, located in the Fari Islands, a 45-minute speedboat ride from the capital Male.
One of the newer Maldives resorts, it’s fast gaining a reputation for its chilled vibe, frill-free luxury, sustainability initiatives, gourmet delights and impressive James Bond-esque villas which really do need to be seen to be believed.
Patina is one of two – soon to be three uber-luxe resorts making the Fari archipelago home. Ritz Carton Maldives is next door and will be followed in a year or two by Capella. This trio of luxury brands will prove a natural draw to global pleasure seekers, royalty, celebrity, and power players who want and indeed expect only the very best. Patina understands exactly what is required, with Antonio Saponara, the charismatic GM, coming from super-brands such as Bulgari, Jumeirah, and Ritz-Carlton . This kind of luxe is different though. Muted tones, sustainable natural materials and glorious views thankfully replace chintz, antiques and gold and the sometimes insipid pastels favoured by some other Maldivian resorts.
The villas are unapologetically minimalist in their rectangle box design – and unusually masculine in the dark colour palette, fuss-free contemporary furnishings and tech. Dark teals, greys and blues prove a welcome shady relief to the blinding tropical sunshine and glinting sea outside. Incredibly spacious and very well thought out, they have an abundance of handy tech to automate everything from closing all the blinds with a single touch, to playing your favourite tunes and enabling even the state-of-the-art toilets to do just about everything except make a cup of tea.
Our villa was a Sunset Water Pool Villa. Located out on the jetty over a wide and quite deep lagoon, it faced southwest and had the most stunning ocean views. Three sides of the villa are almost all glass and open to a wide deck with a larger than usual private pool. We loved perching on the low bench seat right on the edge of the deck, high above the sea, watching the waves roll in and pods of dolphin pass by. It gave the feeling of being out on the ocean, on the bow of a ship – amazing! We enjoyed one day in a two-bedroom beach villa and was great to see this different offering. This had an even larger private pool and opened on to a white sand beach with views of a small wildlife island close by.
When you can tear yourself away from your gorgeous villa, there’s quite a bit to see and do at Patina. From innovative treatments at the spa, to going on an art tour around the island, enjoying the stunning huge main pool and taking walks at sunrise and sunset along the pristine beaches the island boasts. Not forgetting water sports and excursions – Patina has its own large marina and guests can bring their own superyachts there or enjoy cruises on those owned by the resorts. We took a sunset cruise and even though the sea was rough after a summer storm, we came across literally hundreds of spinner dolphins - many of which lived up to their name and treated us to hours of pirouettes in a kind of dolphin aerial ballet.
Back on shore, another area Patina excels in is the quality of its dining experiences. Each of the resort’s 12 concepts presents a fresh perspective on what a Maldives restaurant should be, where the best ingredients and processes take centre stage. Their chefs preserve time-honoured techniques with a dash of originality to foster a universal connection through food.
Highlights include Roots. Inspired by slow food philosophies where pure, seasonal plant-based ingredients are valued, this dining space aligns with nature to deliver delightful dishes that are good for your body, soul, and the planet.
Fari Beach Club offers fine drinking, fine nutrition, and fine music - which come together in harmony, under the guidance of multi-Michelin star chef Nick Bril. KŌEN offers an enigmatic, theatrical marriage between Japanese and Nordic cuisine. Brasa provides a Latin play of fire, smoke, and spice - think rustic grilled meat dishes originating from the Patagonian region of South America. Wok Society is the place for soulful Asian creations and Helios for hearty Aegean fare.
There’s also the Veli Bar where you can unwind by the main pool and enjoy expertly crafted light bites and refreshing cocktails. Plus Go Go Burger food truck and a favourite of ours, the Tuk Tuk Gelato where you can enjoy a free ice cream treat each day.
Dining and adventure activities aside, a favourite place for guests to spend their days relaxing is the very good spa. This is all part of Patina’s wellbeing philosophy of flow – a holistic way of being – at one with nature, still, mindful and connected.
Within the spa, guests can enjoy the therapeutic powers, clean products, scientific technologies, and the ebb and flow of water. Treatment suites include couple’s hammam beds and a room dedicated to the practice of Watsu. There’s also a floatation pod to soothe mind and body, saunas and cold showers enable the vascular and cognitive benefits of contrast hydrotherapy, and red-light therapy encourages cellular renewal.
We experienced massage, the floatation pod, and most intriguing of all, Watsu. Here you relax fully and float in a warm saltwater pool in a specially created villa, and your expertly trained therapist gently and smoothly stretches your limbs and your spine to release long-held tightness and blocks. It’s said to be far more effective than a massage alone and I certainly felt my flexibility had increased and a niggling old ache had disappeared after just one session.
If you’re feeling a little more active, the island has a high-tech gym equipped by Life Fitness. You can take high and low-impact workout classes, and enjoy aqua cycling to challenge and channel energy. You can also do yoga and enjoy paddle boarding - here you’re encouraged to stop out on the water to meditate and breathe in the crystalline vitality of the ocean.
On land, the array of fascinating art installations encourage meditation too. These include our favourite – Amarta, a specifically proportioned ‘SkySpace’ chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky, by American artist, James Turrell. It invites guests to contemplate their own perception of form as they immerse themselves in the sensual abundance of light, colour, and openness. At night it is very prettily lit in a myriad of colours.
Something we and other guests really appreciated about Patina is the respect the resort has for the environment and efforts it makes regarding sustainability. They really do strive to find ways to reduce waste and pollution wherever they can. It’s in their culture and DNA.
One of the many initiatives includes rescuing and planting thousands of trees and shrubs from neighbouring islands facing industrial clearing. They also sought renewable materials in the creation of their structures. Power is harvested from the sun, saving 795 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Water is preserved, filtered, and recycled as irrigation. The organic garden provides their chefs with a vital source that flourishes under the principles of permaculture. The fish on their menus is accredited as sustainable. And there is no single-use plastic to be found.
Patina is a truly special resort with so much to commend. We look forward to visiting again someday.