If the Maldives is the ultimate island paradise, then the newly refurbished Lux South Ari Atoll could be the ideal Maldivian indulgence. Its philosophy of making every moment count is reflected in simple things like drinking great coffee (on a private sundeck with the limpid Indian Ocean at your feet), eating the freshest food (reef fish caught and cooked the same day) and finally finding that message in a bottle (and it definitely doesn’t say “send help”).
Lux South Ari Atoll underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation late last year, completing its evolution into the chic, five-star, beach-house-style resort of your dreams. And dreams feature heavily here. The Tree of Wishes is a native banyan tree adorned with crimson fabric on which the hopes of guests are written. And each day, staff members plop bottles into the lagoon to be discovered by guests, each bottle holding the promise of a treat: a bottle of wine, a facial at the spa or a gift from the resort store.
Though there are 193 pavilions and villas – including 62 with private pools – the resort is built for privacy, with beach villas woven into and around lush greenery. The romantic pool villas have walls so high that even the most determined sticky-beak would struggle.
Overwater villas spread out tentacle-like from a central jetty. Inside, Water Villas are light, bright and furnished with luxurious modern pieces – a curved sofa faces the lagoon; a hanging shelf accommodates candles and artworks, and a king-sized bed dominates the spacious bedroom. The luxurious bathroom is like an extension of the deck, with floor-to-ceiling windows shedding light on a stand-alone bathtub. The stunning Lux Villa features an infinity pool; a glass-floored living room through which reef life such as whale sharks, rays and all manner of colourful fish can be spotted; and on the deck is a glorious hanging pod for napping, reading or evening cocktails for two.
There are seven restaurants and six bars at Lux South Ari Atoll. Start with a leisurely brunch, move on to a late lunch, sip sunset drinks and finally head to dinner. The food is the main event here, despite the incredible views, and it’s all super-fresh, either produced on the island or imported from close by. Visit East Market for an unforgettable South East Asian buffet breakfast (wear something loose), enjoy cocktails and beats at Beach Rouge, sample modern Japanese fare at Umami or, if Italian is more your holiday indulgence, book Allegria. And don’t forget to take a tipple at Iru, the barefoot Champagne bar. The list goes deliciously on.
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The resort focuses on its strengths: its teeming marine life; the soul-lightening stretches of blue and white; and food. It’s possible to be occupied every minute or to do nothing at all – the choice is yours.
There are two ocean-facing swimming pools (but let’s be real, everything is ocean-facing in the Maldives), a well-equipped fitness centre and even a personal trainer if a daily sweat session is your happy moment. The trained wellness staff can also prepare a personalised program for anything from detoxing to weight loss and stress relief. There are also morning yoga and Pilates classes, mediation and tai chi in yet another ocean-view pavilion.
The spa has four overwater treatment rooms with glass floors allowing guests to be mesmerised by the colourful reef fish below while a masseuse kneads the knots away. The spa has its own plunge pools, sauna and steam bath. Guests can stay and be pampered all day – they’ll even bring you a beer if you feel like one. There are no rules.
If there are kids in your party, there’s a babysitter on request. They can also stay engaged and entertained at Play and Studio 17. For family fun, there are excursions such as fishing, swimming with the whale sharks, tennis courts and more water sports than you can poke a flipper at.
Twenty-four-hour in-room dining for those days you just can’t even, and a world-class hotel boutique complete the picture.
Lux has 650 happy, bright and friendly staff members – two for every guest – all ready with a charming greeting. You’ll say “hello” hundreds of times before you go home. There’s even a resident marine biologist if you want to learn more about the mysterious whale sharks you might encounter.
Fly into Singapore’s Changi Airport, then take a five-hour flight to the Maldivian capital of Malé. From there, it’s a 25-minute seaplane ride (or a 10-minute speedboat transfer if you arrive at night) to the resort’s island of Dhidhoofinolhu. One of the largest resort islands in the Maldives, Lux South Ari Atoll spans 4 kilometres of sand whiter than your new linen button-up.
Location: South Atoll, Dhidhoofinolhu, Maldives
Perfect for: Couples and families
Number of rooms: 193