Stay at the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru (Or At Least Feel Like You Have)

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The Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is not only one of the most luxurious properties in the Maldives, but it's also one of the newest hotels on Oyster! (Truth be told, we may be more excited about the latter.) This luxury boutique resort, with 48 spa-like villas, is a coveted retreat and we're ready to tell you -- but mostly show you -- why. Scroll through for stunning pics and tons of deets on this gorgeous getaway.

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On the boat ride over to the hotel (it’s on a private island), guests are each offered bottled water and a cold towel scented with fresh mint; if the captain spots dolphins along the way, he will stop for photographs. The setting upon arrival is truly spectacular, and begins with a warm welcome from the manager as well as a costumed drummer offering traditional Maldivian beats. Guests are then led down a long jetty for check-in, which is flanked on either side by clear water that offers glimpse of the coral reef.

Get a 360-degree view of what it’s like to arrive >>

An open-air reception area leads to a restaurant, bar, gift shop, marine lab, fitness center, and spa. 

The resort’s main restaurant, Ilaafathi, offers shaded seating under a large palapa as well as outdoor seating with wooden tables in the sand. Gourmet and healthy buffet spreads are served for breakfast and lunch, and dinner is a la carte with a broad, contemporary international menu focusing on seafood. There’s also Sangu — an open-air barbecue area that is open for lunch, weather permitting — and private romantic dinners can be arranged on the beach or on the smaller jetty on the other side of the island (shown above).

Get a 360-degree of Sangu >>

The renowned spa offers five spacious open-air treatments rooms adorned in traditional Thai decor. It is truly a standout here and most guests partake in at least one treatment during their stay (it’s worth the splurge). 

Forty-eight individual villas surround the shore here with authentic thatched roofs hand-tied together with thousands of strings. Like the exterior, the interior color scheme in each is neutral — almost spa-like — with white, beige, brown, and black furnishings, and a hint of fresh of greenery for contrast. The villa’s air-conditioned bedroom is rounded rather than rectangular, and therefore, the teakwood canopy king-size bed sits smack in the center of the room. Around the bed, which is dressed in quality white linens, is a cushioned daybed (good for kids), 32-inch flat-screen TV, narrow desk, stocked minibar with gourmet snacks and liquor pints, and a mini-fridge offering half-bottles of wine, Veuve Cliquot champagne, beer, soda, juices, and mixers.

In the rear is where the privacy comes in. The open-air bathroom has double vanity glass sinks and large closet space containing beach towels, soft bathrobes in black and beige pattern, and slippers. The bathroom area opens up to a romantic private pool and jetted tub surrounded by walls made of bamboo. Rectangular steps are a contrast to the sand and lead to the back door entrance. At night, the pool and jetted tub are lit in shades of blue and pink and guests can lie in the cushioned lounge chair meant for two to watch the stars.

Get a 360-degree view of the private pools >>

This island setting has a natural, expansive beach area near the resort hub, as well as plenty of white sand around the entire island in front of the villas. Guests can walk the entire island property, which is particularly pretty at sunrise and sunset

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