Maldives: the world's first hotel in the sea

Monday, 17 August 2009 10:35

I am lying on my lounger in a desert-island resort. It’s got everything: private pools, sun decks, a spa, superb snorkelling, the lot. There’s just one thing missing — the desert island.

InOcean Villas is a world first: a hotel in the middle of the sea. Almost a mile from the nearest dry land, it sprouts out of a tropical lagoon in the Maldives, a strung-out structure of 33 villas, supported on stilts over crystal-clear water about 7ft deep.

This is officially the lowest nation on earth, with an average elevation of 5ft, so if global warming’s going to do its worst, the whole country might have to be organised like this one day. A sneak preview of the apocalypse? It had to be worth a look.

As you glide in on your seaplane from Malé, InOcean looks fantastically unlikely, like one of the settlements in Waterworld — you remember, that Kevin Costner turkey in which rising sea levels had forced the human race to live on man-made platforms in the ocean.

Like them, it’s completely self-contained, with its own power, kitchens, water-desalination plant and sewage treatment. Unlike them, it’s full-on five-star.

The smart designer restaurant serves crusted lamb fillet and truffled potatoes, followed by millefeuille of bourbon vanilla ice cream. Along the neat hardwood boardwalk, your villa is all air-conditioned, sparkly-tiled, power-showered opulence: iPodded, flat-screened and Gaggia coffee-makered to the hilt.

Venture outside and, as well as your personal jetty, muslin-draped day bed and overwater trampoline, there is your personal infinity pool. How excessive is that? You’re in a zillion square miles of ocean, with all its salt and those pesky waves, but you have to have a private bit of it, so you can look down on the fish and show them who’s boss.

The next thing that hits you is the sense of space. You might have thought life on a man-made platform would be claustrophobic; in fact, it’s anything but.

With nothing to get in the way of the view, those endless seascapes are almost over­powering: gaze idly in any direction and there’s nothing but water, a few scattered islands and, somewhere over that distant horizon, a few thousand murderous Somali pirates. (Don’t worry — they’re 2,000 miles away. I was paranoid enough to look it up.)

Once you’ve got used to the novelty of it all, it comes home to you that there’s not a lot to do. That’s not a proper objection in the Maldives, though. You don’t come here to do stuff — you can go trekking in the Andes for more


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