Hotel operator: Marriott International
Architecture, interior and landscape design: WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design
Furnishings: on design
Outdoor furniture: Tribù
Author: Simona Marcora
Photo credits: courtesy of The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Always seen as an idyllic and uncontaminated tourist attraction, the Maldives and their delicate ecosystem offered the inspiration for an entire project of architecture, interior and landscape design carried out by the Singapore-based studio WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design to create the St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. The 5-star facility covers the nine hectares of Vommuli Island, part of the Dhaalu atoll about 150 km from Malé, the capital city.
John Jacob Astor Estate
Bathroom, Beach Villa with Pool
“Our design redefines the luxury resort experience – the team of architects formed by Wong Chiu Man and Maria Warner Wong together with Noemi Escano, Atsuko Kato and Stephen Siew Teng Hui explains. – We chose to delight the senses through education, creating awareness, and new paradigms of interacting with the physical environment. Thus, paradise is emotionally and intellectually experienced and enjoyed, but with a profound awareness of the complex relationships of the ecosystems being inhabited. The forms and spaces are derived from nature, and the juxtaposition of these forms against the variations of the primitive hut creates the architectural expression of the resort.”
The natural and cultural references deployed in the design of every single space take their cue from the wildlife of the ocean, the native vegetation, the particular features of the local tradition. This uninterrupted series of influences is vividly reflected in the 77 villas and suites scattered on the island, ideally divided into four natural zones: The Lagoon, The Beach, The Jungle and The Coastal Zone. Extending over the reef, the 44 Overwater Villas suggest the elegant squared form of manta rays. In their midst stands the John Jacob Astor Estate, a suite of over 1500 square meters with three bedrooms, flanked by eight Overwater St. Regis Suites of 282 square meters, while the remaining 21 units have an area of 182 square meters. Right by the beach, together with the Caroline Astor Estate (a three-bedroom suite covering 620 square meters), the Beach Villas (14 one-bedroom units of 140 square meters, and 2 two-bedroom suites of 530 square meters) replicate the simple structure of the cabins of fishermen living on the island.
Overwater Villa 2 Bedroom Family
Overwater Villa with Pool
Facing the lagoon, the Family Villas (12 two-bedrooms, 334 square meters each) take their cue from the Dhoni, the typical sailboats of the Indian Ocean, while the Garden Villas (4 one-bedroom units of 150 square meters) pay homage to the color and forms of the lush vegetation of the archipelago.
All the suites and villas are provided with large private solariums with pools, and furnished with cots, chairs, tables and umbrellas from the outdoor collections of the Belgian company Tribù. The sophisticated custom interiors are clad in patterns and materials that become integral parts of the space, enhanced by works of art, local fabrics, lamps made with coral and seashells, unique creations of driftwood and glass brought from the sea and crafted by native artisans.
While all the habitat solutions get inspiration from the forms and colors of the natural and traditional elements of the region, the shared facilities obey the same principle. Extending to the sea to the west, the Whale Bar bears a surprising resemblance to a whale shark and its enormous mouth. Inside, over the counter, a work by the artist Maya Burman reflects the forms of a tortoise shell, using the woodburning technique to narrate stories of fish and fishermen. Looking closely, you can also glimpse the image of a man and a boy sitting on a boat. This is a tribute to the Indian owner of Vommuli, who arrived on the then-uninhabited island at the start of the 1990s, fell in love with the place and decided to buy it, already envisioning an exclusive resort that would bring out and respect the original beauty of the site.
At the opposite end of the island, the Iridium Spa is like a giant lobster, while the hydrotherapy pool at the head of the creature – known as the Blue Hole – imitates the natural pools found along the reef. With an erudite selection of books available for guests, the Library has an inimitable spiral seashell form, while the aerial branching roots of the Banyan tree, whose natural habitat is the Indian region, have inspired the Vommuli House, the center of the resort’s activities, immersed in a tropical garden inside the island, containing a fitness center, an anti-gravity yoga room, an acupuncture studio and various activities for kids, including a well-equipped cooking school. The efficacy of the project by WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design, however, does not rely only on the architectural and design elements treated as extensions of nature.
The expressive impact of the resort is also the result of painstaking sustainable construction solutions that are now contributing to shape new standards in this sector. Particular attention has been paid to the choice of materials: wood from trees on the island has been completely recycled, above all for the outdoor decks, while the use of concrete and steel has been reduced to a minimum. In keeping with traditions, local culture and the values of the St Regis brand, the owners continue to safeguard a standard of luxury that is compatible with the delicate Maldivian habitat, setting new parameters of reference for eco-tourism in the region.