Award-winning design firm helms Raffles’ foray into the Maldives
BLINK Design Group (BLINK) melds the magic of the Maldives with Raffles Hotels and Resorts’ five-star heritage in a highly anticipated new resort: Raffles Maldives Meradhoo.
Enveloped in the pristine sanctuary of the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, the 38-villa resort is a destination in its own right, masterfully planned to cater to discerning travellers in pursuit of a luxurious and meaningful escape. Opened in May 2019, the resort marks Raffles’ debut in the Maldives.
Commissioned for the architecture and interior design renovation of the property, BLINK envisioned an oasis of laidback luxury. To deliver an exquisite balance between long-standing traditions and a unique design sensibility, BLINK selected colours associated with Raffles and motifs influenced by the island. A nod to Raffles’ distinct colonial style, striped monsoon blinds and louvered doors and windows, all in a signature grey-blue shade, punctuate public and private spaces.
Inspired by the local environment, design elements throughout the property depict nuanced takes on marine life and sea creatures. As materials on the island are scarce, BLINK sourced and designed a mix of imported and custom-built furniture suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Sea coral lamps crafted by BLINK mingle with figures of starfish, sea urchins, and turtle shells made from ecologically friendly resin material. Coral patterns and classic stripes alternately appear on linens and upholstery.
Raffles Maldives Meradhoo’s standalone villas and residences possess generous living spaces and private pools. The guest experience is designed to be discreet and lavish, with a prudent composition of raw and polished furnishings in teak and dark oak complemented by rattan and straw accents. Shades of navy, sand, and grey-blue define the colour palette in varying applications. Four types of villas, the Beach Villa, Overwater Villa, Sunset Overwater Villa, and Deluxe Beach Villa range in size from 220 square metres to 260 square metres, while the Beach Residence, Overwater Residence, and Sunset Overwater Residence range from 260 to 300 square metres.
Soaring seven-metre ceilings with exposed beams painted in grey-blue allow natural light to flood into the rooms, easily adjusted with fully retractable blinds that lend the feel of a colonial home. BLINK blurs boundaries between the indoors and outdoors with views of the Indian Ocean framed by louvered windows in the same grey-blue shade. Super-king-size four-poster beds are crowned with white canopies and elevated atop solid dark wood platforms. Opulent bathrooms are finished with marble, replete with a walk-in outdoor shower and double vanities. The sumptuous bathing experience continues into a separate sunken tub, backed by an accent wall of white, grey, and black marble, and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Outside the villas and residences, blue rattan chairs and veranda tables mirror the vivid waters in full view. An achievement of BLINK’s thoughtful landscaping, Maldivian nature features prominently in all private and public areas.
Set to open its doors in September 2019 is the Raffles Royal Residence, which will offer the ultimate island experience. Ideal for intimate group holidays, the stately three-bedroom villa spans 1,400 square metres, with shaded outdoor terraces and an infinity pool facing the beach. In the main house, three light-filled rooms border a 40-metre-long swimming pool that leads into multiple living and dining areas.
BLINK endeavoured to instil an inviting atmosphere and a sense of place throughout communal areas as well. Environmental protection was a priority, reflected in the use of sustainable materials such as bamboo.
Emphasising the spectacular scenery of the atoll, pathways that connect various public spaces are built overwater. In the footpath towards Raffles Spa, lounge areas are appointed with handcrafted dark rattan outdoor seating and birch wood accent tables; a coral motif enlivens sand-coloured upholstery. Inside, the eye is immediately drawn upward to the intricately fashioned white bamboo ceiling, which anchors the space and serves as a dramatic decorative element.
For casual meals or themed affairs, guests can head to one of Raffles Maldives Meradhoo’s food and beverage outlets: Thari, an all-day restaurant; The Firepit, for barbecues on the beach; and Yuzu, a restaurant specialising in nikkei cuisine. At Thari, the indoor area maintains a refined look with solid dark wood seating; outside, rattan chairs and whitewashed teak wood tables evoke a laidback ambience. BLINK sought to create a more casual atmosphere at Yuzu, where layered interiors – a seamless classical-tropical fusion of patterned flooring, whitewashed wood, and spirited tones of coral, red, and yellow – echo the eatery’s vibrant Japanese-Peruvian fare.
Adjacent to Yuzu, Yapa is a charming terrace overlooking the lagoon where guests can sample authentic Japanese sake or cocktails with pisco, mezcal, or tequila. And not to be forgotten is the island interpretation of the emblematic Long Bar, warmly lit by sconces affixed to every column. In this intimate and breezy watering hole, striped monsoon blinds, vertical timber panels, seashell terrazzo countertops, and a bamboo-accented ceiling come together to express the barefoot luxury of its location as well as the timeless elegance of a Raffles icon – much like the rest of Raffles Maldives Meradhoo.