The Maldives is most certainly magical; there is no doubt about it. Imagine acres of crystal clear waters surrounded by powder white sand and now, combine that with enchanting accommodation, delicious food, inflatable flamingos and daily chances to win amazing treats. There’s no shortage of resorts to choose from but if you’re looking for something a little different, private and personable, then you’ll want to check out LUX* South Ari Atoll.
Once visitors arrive in the Maldivian capital of Male, a further 25-minute ride on a seaplane is required to reach this ultra-exclusive retreat – the ultimate way to arrive in style, whilst taking in the glorious views of the archipelago! The experience starts at Male airport, where the team greets you into their private lounge for luxury snacks including seriously good coffee (and tea of course), finger sandwiches, cakes and sweets (think afternoon tea but available all day long), before you jet off on your small seaplane – an experience in itself!
Situated on Dhidhoofinolhu, it is the largest private island resort in the Maldives, with a range of 193 luxury suites and villas. Yes – this might sound a lot, but each space is so secluded it is hard to believe anyone else is there. This is made possible for many reasons, mainly the excellent team they have in place. There are two staff members for every one guest on the island so you’re never found wanting or waiting – and the best part about having such a generous roster of staff? Every single one greets you wherever you go with a friendly smile and genuine wave! Making your stay even more comfortable, there is an extensive choice of wining and dining options (six bars and seven restaurants), plus the LUX* ME Spa creating a haven of calm with 15 exclusive spa villas including 4 water treatment villas.
Dotted at the water’s edge along two miles of powder fine beaches and perched on stilts above a crystal lagoon, the 193 villas and suites offer something for everyone. On land or over water, sunset facing or sunrise, these super spacious homes away from home bring an entirely original vibe of beach house chic to the Maldives.
Our over-water villa was divine, offering perfect privacy and direct access to the lagoon. With oversized bathtubs, floor to ceiling windows with views over the lagoon, not to mention the partially glazed flooring; this space was the ultimate sanctuary for our Maldives vacation. Additionally there are 46 Romantic Pool Water Villas with plunge pool and direct lagoon access, or a little larger are the 3 Temptation Pool Water Villas with 14m private pool and separate living and bedroom. Those looking for something super special can opt for the lavish Lux* Villa – a magnificent space with panoramic sunset views from the private jetty.
The signature ME spa is another major draw to life at LUX*. On arrival, you are greeted and treated to welcome water and chilled towels before proceeding to one of the spa’s 15 treatment rooms. There is a beauty room and a spa shop full of products, however the facilities are what make this spa stand out. Private relaxation areas with plunge pools are complimented with LUX* products and sea views, with a friendly member of staff always on hand to top up your water or offer some fresh ginger tea. The treatments are also sublime, and our 60 minute massage sent us into a state of calm for the rest of the day.
The resort boasts a selection of six bars and seven restaurants, two swimming pools on the sunset side of the island and an outdoor cinema on the 4km-long beach.
With so many options, life at LUX* never gets boring, whether that be the international breakfast at MIXE – with fresh eggs, delicious fruit and guacamole or the fresh coffee in Café LUX*, providing some of the best lattes in the world (try their ‘Art of Coffee Experience’ for some true inspiration).
Lunch can be enjoyed by the sea with Lagoon Bar providing beach snacks and the chance to relax atop an inflatable pink flamingo. Alternatively, if lunch by the pool is more your thing, Veli and Senses offer a great mix of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine – and let’s face it, you’re never more than a stone throw away from those sandy shores.
After a meander, a sleep and a few chapters of the book, the sunset is watched at Beach Rouge, LUX*’s very own beach bar, providing a chilled soundtrack to end the day and continuing long into the night, whilst Umami was the clear stand out for dinner, offering a modern twist of Japanese dining and even the opportunity to try your hand at making sushi! The options really are endless…
LUX* South Ari Atoll prides itself on being a one of the few family-friendly resorts in the Maldives, thanks to the array of activities on offer, including snorkeling, kayaking, tennis and beach volleyball, in addition to water sports and diving. For little travellers, there is PLAY for all day entertaining whilst Studio 17 will provide fun for the teenagers staying on the island.
Like any holiday, it is the small things that make the biggest impact, and life at LUX* is full of surprises, or ’15 reasons to go’ as LUX* likes to call it. Expect experiences such as finding one of the 25 hidden bottles with prizes hidden inside (perhaps a massage in the LUX* ME Spa), the Tree of Wishes where making a wish can win you a holiday at one of the resorts, or the ‘Old English’ phone boxes, where calls home are for free –believe me, you’ll never want to leave!
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