Coco Privé, Maldives
11 January, 2019
"No request is too small or too extravagant." When you've been invited to stay on one of the most exclusive private islands in the world for what is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience (unless you're P-Diddy et al.) you're naturally going to want to put this kind of statement (challenge?) to the test. At £40,000 a night, you really need to make sure paying guests are getting bang for their buck. But what does £27 a minute look like?
An islet floating in the north Male Atoll of the Maldives, the Coco Privé experience begins long before you arrive. Guests are asked in advance about their whims, desires and dreams, be it your milk preference or favourite wine, pillow softness or whether you'd like to sleep under the stars (yes please).
Previous visitors - who include Ludacris, Joe Jonas, Sophie Turner and Kevin Hart alongside various Middle Eastern and European royalty - have taken to the "anything is possible" ethos with gusto. A custom-built draft beer counter was set up on the beach for a guest with a penchant for European brews, while another client requested that a load of specialist gym equipment be flown in from the US so he could continue his avant-garde workout routine on holiday, along with three chefs to cater to a very specific diet. One family interviewed and vetted over 50 "animators" (a special type of Eastern European entertainer-cum-nanny, apparently) before flying two of them to the island to curate bespoke playtime itineraries (complete several costume changes) for their little darlings; another demanded that a seaplane be landed in the middle of the ocean so they could bathe in a particular patch of water.
Following this, requests such as impromptu foam parties, overwater stages or sandbank black-tie dinners several miles offshore become a relative doddle for the impeccable, ever-smiling staff, whose service, we think, is one of the biggest draws of Coco Privé.
A master residence of penthouse proportions crowns the house, complete with a balcony jacuzzi looking out over an endless expanse of aquamarine. Across the five guest villas dotted among palms and hibiscus flowers, natural wood, soft tones and sliding glass doors bring the outside in creating a relaxed pared-down luxury that could almost be a home away from home. Ostentatiously flash party pad this is not, though bespoke furniture, beds large enough to sleep a family, gargantuan bathtubs, showers that massage your back with warm jets and full-sized Acqua di Parma products are all excellent props if you can't resist acting out "Cribs". Of course, everything is controlled by iPad, though if you really can't be bothered to open the blinds or turn on your television (the rises out of the end of the floor on demand) you can just call your 24-hour personal butler to do it for you.
What's for breakfast?
Off the back of an excruciating hangover, we decided that fried chicken and champagne were appropriate. The less louche can get the chef to whip up anything from granola to eggs or pancakes - but you're more imaginative than that.
How about lunch and dinner?
For those not used to a lavish lifestyle, it turns out that when faced with infinite choices, people panic and order something disappointingly pedestrian like a Caesar salad or burger - perhaps then asking for mayo, ketchup and mustard as an attempt at being tricky. With this in mind, we recommend following the chef's lead and chowing down on the beautiful array of bread, dips, seafood caught that day, rainbow-coloured salads, barbecue, sushi, steak, dim sum… not to mention the dessert. The list is infinite, as your stomach will need to be.
Is there a bar?
Yes, in the main house a gloriously stocked bar is permanently tended by expert mixologist who will mix you up a devilishly good tipple at any hour. Needless to say, champagne is on tap.
A dedicated team of personal hosts; 24-hour dining (with all your meals and snacks prepared by your own private chef); unlimited beverages including alcohol from the cocktail bar and wine cellar; unlimited spa treatments from your personal therapist; unlimited diving (including use of equipment); water sports such as canoeing, catamaran sailing and windsurfing; private luxury yacht return transfer from Male airport.
Off the island, staff can arrange swimming with manta rays; big-game fishing; shark diving; snorkelling with turtles; local island visits and sunset cruising.
Our favourite bit? The glass infinity pool - one of the largest we've laid eyes on, dramatically lit up at night for that mandatory post-dinner dip.
Things I should know
It's downhill from here. And no matter how much you beg, flatter or blackmail the staff they will not utter a word about the things they have seen on this island.
Within a short walk I can find…
Nothing. This really is your own private enclave, with trees and foliage positioned for ultimate privacy, and a ban on any boats passing too near the island (no long-lens cameras will be snapping your topless sunbathing here). Yes, the service and surroundings are absolutely unrivalled here, it seems that what you are really paying for at Coco Privé is peace of mind: this is a haven where you are guaranteed total and utter privacy for the duration of your stay. For those plagued by the flash of paparazzi bulbs 24/7, you can't put a price on that.