Amilla, Maldives

Simplicity with style is the design brief at Amilla.

After 10 years in the Maldives, Tom McLoughlin goes by the Dhivehi name for "island chief" when he's at home, a paradisical speck in the Indian Ocean named Amilla Fushi. There's a fair bit of McLoughlin's character in Amilla, the resort he's opening this month with fellow Australian Michael Flynn. "I didn't want a stiff, high-end resort," he says. "I wanted a place where families and groups of friends could have the time of their lives. I wanted simplicity but with great style."

McLoughlin and Flynn, whose Small Maldives Island Co manages the resort, dreamed big on a small island: 71 "homes" with pools and up to six bedrooms; a 1,300-square-metre pool they say is the biggest in the Maldives; eight dining venues; a children's jungle; a dive centre; and a 15-room spa. There are homes facing the beach, reef and lagoon, and treehouses at the height of coconut palms.

Why stop at one island? Next year the business partners will open Finolhu, envisaged as a "luxury beach club" for a younger set. Both islands in Baa Atoll are about 30 minutes north-west of the capital, Malé, by seaplane and, like all of the 1,200 islands within the Maldives' 26 atolls, these two are surrounded by lagoons and circled by reef. Amilla's reef has its own "blue hole" dive site within swimming distance of the beach.

Luke Mangan is overseeing Amilla's menus, from the upscale Lonu to barbecue hampers and "home" delivery, and promises a focus on seafood straight from the boat. In a first among Maldives resorts, guests can slip down to a general store for supplies to cook. Or there's always the butler.

Rooms from $2,000 per night.

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