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What It’s Like to Stay at Patina Fari Islands, a Maldives Resort With a Buzzing Social Scene

Welcome to Checking In, a review series in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and revamped) luxury hotels based on a rigorous—and occasionally tongue-in-cheek—10-point system: Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.

Patina Maldives, Fari Islands 

Overwater villas at Patina Maldives
The resort has 90 beach and overwater villas, plus 20 studios.

In three words: Big on small.

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The basics

In 2021, Capella launched its younger, fresher sister-brand Patina right here. Part of new multi-island development (a Ritz-Carlton is open, a Capella is forthcoming in 2027), this massive, 42 hectare man-made isle breaks all the rules. Sure, there are 90 one- to three-bedrooms villas hovering over the reef and nestled into the beach. But there are also 20 sexy studios clustered in a hotel-style building, a novelty in the overwater capital of the world. Rather than a large signature restaurant, Patina created a baker’s dozen of intimate dining options spread across the island, ranging from Italian to Japanese-Nordic fusion. Where practically every room in practically every resort in the Maldives has an outdoor shower that hides your shame behind walls or thick foliage, Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan decided to leave nothing to the imagination: He put the bathtubs outside in the naked open, facing the beachfront where couples stroll and snorkelers glide by. Glory belongs to the bold.

There is a padel court (and tennis; pros like Alexander Zverev stop by). The diving and snorkeling are, of course, tops. The spa is big, open and airy (not shoved down in the basement). There are large-scale contemporary art installations. There are DJs. There are food trucks. There are daily ice cream rations. There is a submarine (yes, really). They built a half pipe in the ocean for a BMX pro. The result is a buzzing, social resort populated by young, cool families and photogenic couples that is more reminiscent of Tulum than it is the Maldives.

The Best Room

The Beach House at Patina Maldives
The largest room on the island, the Beach House weighs in like a mansion at nearly 20,000 square feet.

On an island that leans too-cool-for-school, the flex matters. So book the Beach House, a two-story, three-bedroom party palace with a rooftop terrace and a nearly 70-foot private pool. Like all the villas here, this is no thatched-fantasy, and it avoids all the other painfully cliched tropical island tropes. Kogan’s designs are boxy, sexy, mad, mad modern, and the furniture by MK27 (Kogan’s firm) and Norm Architects is texture-forward design, designed for design lovers. At 19,375 square feet, it can sleep six adults and three children, but it gets even better . . . we mean bigger. It can be booked with six other neighboring villas to create a “private island” vibe.

Better still, the Beach House comes with a yacht transfer rather than the speed boat (with a four night stay). Rates from $11,213.

The Rundown

A villa at Patina Maldives
The room design is cool, cool, cool.

Greeted by name at check-in? 

Yes. Getting here is a breeze—as far as Maldivian resorts go—and wonderfully personal. After landing in Malé, step outside the terminal and a hotel rep will be waiting to greet you. Your speed boat (a fully enclosed, fully luxury living room of a vessel) docks just outside baggage claim. You’ll be in your room in just 45 minutes—that is unless you stop to watch the pods of dolphins that dance in the wake. Check-in happened in room.

Was a welcome drink ready and waiting when you arrived? (Bonus points if it wasn’t just fruit juice)

Better! An entire bottle of the curiously good Duval-LeRoy Champagne will be waiting on ice. Why doesn’t every hotel do this?

Is there a private butler for every room? 

Yes, guests get a dedicated staffer available at all times via text message to personally drive them to dinner a la golf cart Ferraris, make reservations or bookings and plan excursions. Because the venues on island are petite, you’ll need bookings for almost all of your meals so staying in contact is essential.

Is the sheet thread count higher than 300? 

Oh yes, bed linens are by Frette, so you’re getting top-notch Italian fabric in soft bedding that is very tempting never to leave—especially in the heat of a Maldivian midday. The rooms are comfy throughout, with textured natural fiber floor coverings over smooth wood floors and soft oriental rugs. The lounge furniture begs you to shed your burdens and assume a recumbent posish.

Is there a heated floor in the bathroom? What about a bidet? 

This is an odd one as, while the mercifully air-conditioned rooms keep things refreshingly crisp, each time that I stepped onto the bathroom floor I could have sworn it was electrically heated—which in the Maldives would be ludicrous. (The hotel confirmed that the floors are not heated.) Nevertheless, it was delightful; probably some trick of geo-thermo-what’s-it. In the Maldives, as in South East Asia, expect a spray-gun-style bidet on every toilet.

Are the toiletries full-sized? 

Yes. The toiletries here are full size and created by Margate-based Haeckels exclusively for Patina. Dubbed the Indian Ocean Collection, the brand combines Eucheuma Cottonii (also known as “sea bird nest,” which is an edible local seaweed harvested in Sri Lanka apparently) with local ingredients such as lemon verbena, grapefruit, lime, and lemongrass. The bathrooms themselves, at least in the villas, are large and subdivided into his and hers (or his and his, etc., etc.) by a central open shower. Outside is a sort of garden-style outdoor shower surrounded by bamboo fencing that is occasionally immodest. I watched through the gaps in the fencing as cyclists cruised by wondering if I was the best show on the island. But, whether these were many individual cyclists, or just one, circling like a moth to a flame, I cannot say.

Is there a private pool for the room’s exclusive use?

A pool at Patina Maldives
While not the shadiest, the pools provide opportunities for glamour.

Yes (excluding those studios, which share their splash zone). Here though, a small critique. While beautiful and probably just the way the architect likes them, the pools are fully exposed to the blistering, radioactive sun. Not only does that keep them over-warm, it makes them difficult to use for much of the day for all but the most sunburn resistant. A sail cloth shade would be welcome. The main pool at the beach club is similarly shade-free, which didn’t seem to bother some Mediterranean guests but made it impossible to use for others.

Do you want to spend Friday night in the lobby bar?

Yes, despite the fact that there isn’t a central bar here (although it could be argued that the bar at the Fari Beach Club serves as one). Our tip would be to spend your Friday sundown at their restaurant Helios, where tables and chairs sit directly in the sand. Grab seats facing the Indian Ocean and watch the sun go down with a cocktail enhancer.

Is there caviar on the room service menu?

No—although I’m sure some could be conjured in a pinch. The all day in-room dining menu leans toward local comfort food and the $82 grilled Maldivian lobster is about as decadent as you’ll get. We always recommend a club sandwich (which in these parts is oft served warm with a fried egg).

Would you buy the hotel if you could? 

Any resort in the Maldives is a tricky business. You have to sell your customers on why “here” and not “there” when “there” is bound to be a whole lot closer to home. Once you’ve sold them on that, you have to get them to check in to your resort and not somebody else’s. And there are a lot of them—all with over-water villas and the works. Count them: 176 resorts with 43,279 beds, 14 hotels with 1,940 beds, 809 guesthouses with 13,657 beds, and 146 safari vessels adding 2,774 beds, according to the Maldives Ministry of Tourism.

That’s where Patina becomes a better proposition. It stands out from staid and often stodgy competition. If you live in Brooklyn, Berlin, or Shanghai; if you like the social scene in Riviera Maya; if you like street food and craft cocktails: You won’t be twiddling your thumbs here. The programming is fresh. The people are young and pretty. Sure, you can while away the days by the pool in your villa, but you’ll probably find yourself cycling from restaurant to restaurant making the scene just like you do back home.

If I was making a book titled The Great Maldives Handicap, Patina would be my horse at 1/100.  It’s a sure winner.

The Verdict

An aerial view of Patina Maldives
The resort sprawls over 42 hectares.

While Patina isn’t for everyone, Fari Islands provides options. Just check into the Ritz next door—or the Capella (someday soon). But if you’ve ever been put off of a Maldives vacation because you don’t dive and don’t sun-bake, Patina is the strong rebuttal.

Rates: From $2,054 per night inclusive of all taxes for two adults in a one-bedroom water villa.

Score: 8

What Our Score Means:

1-3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here.
4-6: Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch.
7-8: Very good. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms.
9-10: Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?

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