Travelling across the Maldives, The Edition brings you reviews of the crème de la crème of Maldivian resorts, hoping to inspire your next holiday getaway. Indulge in the tropics vicariously through the experiences of our writers, and pack your bag right after!
One would expect the speedboat ride from Velana International Airport to LUX* North Male’ Atoll to be just that - a speedboat ride. But nothing is really that simple in a country as magical as the Maldives. The entire way, I had my face pressed against the window of the speedboat, grinning at the little rainbows glinting off white sea foam whenever the sunlight blessed it at the perfect angle.
As the boat docked at the wooden jetty of LUX* North Male’ Atoll, staff were waiting on the guests with refreshing towels and warm smiles. Our butler, a local with an infectious grin, led me into a buggy, and drove me to my water villa to ditch my belongings and freshen up before lunch.
The truth is, LUX* North Male’ Atoll stepped away from the traditional style of architecture in Maldivian resorts - gone were the thatched roofs and brown huts most commonly found in resorts across the archipelago, replaced with ultra modern architecture and clean washed-out white. The villa was shaped like the bow of a boat, tapering towards the ocean like it was ready to disembark anytime.
The interiors quite literally took my breath away. Spacious, gorgeous, private, aesthetic, and lavish - it was everything you’d expect a villa to be, and more. The soft muted greens and earthy tones contrasted beautifully against the white walls, illuminated by the sun rays filtering in through the sky lights on the ceiling.
I headed towards the large sliding glass doors leading to the deck outside, almost tripping over my jaws on the floor. Giddy with excitement, I bounced onto the deck, half blinded by the glaring blue of the private pool glinting invitingly in the bright afternoon sun. Two lounging chairs were placed right in front of it. The right side of the deck recessed into a lounging area complete with sofas colour coded to match the interior decor - somewhere to sit and enjoy a drink to the melody of the ocean that stretched out in shades of blue as far as the eye could see.
The villa was so vast that even on the second day of my stay, I found myself discovering pleasant little surprises. I opened a door at the corner of the living area into a cozy sleek bathroom I had no idea existed before. It took me even longer to figure out that I could access the stairs leading up to the terrace stepping out of the open shower area as well as circling around the dock.
Everywhere I turned, perfection stared back at me. There was no way one could snap a bad picture here, the backgrounds always perfect, the lighting sublime, and colours that never contradict. LUX* really had nailed the ‘lighter, brighter’ concept with North Male’ Atoll. Everything seemed to have a radiance that glowed differently from the rest of the world.
Back to the present - I had not had ample time to awe over the amazing villa I would be lounging in for the next three days when Siri pulled up in a buggy, ready to drive me to lunch. I boarded the buggy barefoot, excited to feel the sand in between my toes. As we drove over the walkway, I could not help noticing the brightly coloured reef fishes swimming about, distorted in the clear water underneath.
Sinking my feet into the sand, I walked into Beach Rouge for lunch. When the menu was brought out, I had a small moment of panic wondering how I would choose a dish from the many options available. LUX* North Male’Atoll, I noticed, paid close attention to labelling their food and being extremely inclusive of healthy eaters, vegans, vegetarians and those who prefer their meals gluten-free.
Each menu offers up a large variety of seafood, and for a starter I ordered cold oysters - flavourful and perfectly balanced with the immaculate seasoning and little cubes of fresh kiwi. Since I was running on a coffee-only breakfast, I decided to go for a filling main course, ordering the only burger on the menu. Burgers are not really considered “healthy” by most, but I swear this one really was. It came accompanied with greens and an assortment of steamed vegetables that left me feeling healthier at just the sight of them.
Downing everything with a refreshing drink that had a strong citrus base, I gazed over the striking large pool outside the restaurant. Guests hung around lazily with their feet in the water, cocktails in hand, soaking up the sun. I could hardly wait to dip my feet in the water myself but for now, my temptations would simply have to wait.
Next up was an island tour narrated by our host Aimy. Throughout the tour, she explained the many Reasons to go LUX*’ which were unique to the brand*, and setting the properties apart across the hotel industry.
One of these aspects I enjoyed with particular fervour was Cafe LUX*. Founded with the belief that great coffee is a must, not a luxury, the cafe caters to the interests of every coffee-lover and offers ethically-sourced blends, freshly roasted on-site. For me, visiting Cafe LUX* every morning for my daily caffeine intake was a necessity, especially since it came with a lovely view of the island from the beach’s vantage point. I enjoyed starting my day with a mocha and a book from the Wanderlust Library housed inside the Cafe - another reason to go LUX*.
My first day wrapped with a memorable dinner at INTI restaurant that boasts a unique blend of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. The five course meal began with a mouth-watering appetizer that left me impatient for the starters to arrive. Admittedly, it was alien territory for me, an island girl almost fully dependent on the traditional Maldivian diet who occasionally stepped outside of her comfort zone for sushi.
At the end of the experience, my belly was full from various rounds of seafood (prawns, white fish, even eel), a bowl of Peruvian sticky rice and a large bowl of chocolate sorbet that I downed with a cold glass of ‘Nirvana’. What made the whole experience even more worthwhile was the chef taking the time to teach me how to serve up a famous traditional Peruvian dish with an elevated contemporary twist. The prawn ceviche, topped off with a scoop of raspberry ice cream served in a cocktail glass was an explosion of flavours on the tongue.
I woke up the next morning to find a breakfast tray floating in my pool. It is one of those things you never really expect in life - to walk out at seven in the morning into platters of fruit, pastries, pancakes and toast beckoning you to jump into the water in your pajamas while you try to resist the temptation (I’m not going to lie, the food definitely won that round).
As someone who has always believed breakfast to be the best meal of the day, I can confirm it tastes even better when you’re sipping passionfruit juice submerged in the water with the sun on your face. I had never felt more pampered in my life. LUX* North Male’ Atoll, quite frankly, spoiled me.
After snapping a ton of photos (because the blue in the pool complimented the colours on the breakfast tray so well) and finishing off every last bite served, I patted myself dry and made my way to the dive centre for the first ever dive of my life. As someone who has looked forward to this moment for years, I was unable to wipe my excited grin from my face. The french dive instructor talked me through facts I already knew through my own research and we went over the hand signs just to be sure.
After a short exercise in shallow water, it was time for the real deal.
Once at the site, a deep breath and huge step later - we were under. Never having been much of a swimmer or snorkeler, I expected to be nervous, but I was too distracted by the beauty around me. Moorish Idols and Blue Faced AngelFish peeked out from the crevices. Powder-Blue Surgeon Fish and brightly coloured Butterfly Fish swam past with a grace I could never achieve. At one point I was surrounded by a shoal of shiny fish swimming around me with silver glinting off their backs. Soft corals danced with the ocean current almost as if they were pulsating to the rhythm of the ocean’s heartbeat. I wouldn’t have minded exploring that reef for the rest of my life!
The dive was over way too soon, but there were other things to look forward to. After a soothing hot shower and a quick lunch, I headed out in hopes of exploring the island and finding one of the bottles hidden by the resort’s garners, each containing a special gift courtesy of the resort - another reason to go LUX*. Sadly, I never succeeded but I considered curling up in my comfortable bed with a good book after enjoying a three-scoop ice-cream from ICI (again, another reason) a win.
Later that night, I considered curling upon my terrace sunbed and falling asleep while watching the stars, even more of a win. It was the best sleep I had in ages.
When the sunrise tinted the sky pink the next day, I was standing on the terrace of LUX* North’s over-water spa, prepared for a yoga class with an enthusiastic instructor. Yoga always made me feel good but doing it out in the open, over the ocean surrounded by the morning brought along a calmness and peace I had never felt before.
Rejuvenated to the core, I thanked the instructor and sauntered over to Glow restaurant, craving a good, hearty breakfast. The all-you-can-eat buffet stretching out the length of the restaurant did not disappoint.
Since it was my last day on the resort, I was determined to end it on a highlight and what better way than to indulge in a full-body Balinese massage?
The massage, after the yoga session, had me floating for the rest of the day. I looked, smelled, and felt amazing. It was at this point that I realized that LUX*’s theme of ‘lighter, brighter’ was not just reflected in the resort itself - LUX* North was designed for their guests to feel it as well.
Too soon, it was time to leave. I was enjoying myself too much to want to be anywhere else, but as all good things must come to an end, my stay at LUX* North did too. Bidding adieu to the staff waiting on the jetty, I stepped into the speedboat, almost reluctantly, dreading being plunged back into my hectic life in loud, congested and chaotic Male’ City.
The three days I spent soaked in sun, sand and sea disconnected me from the realities of life and taught me to appreciate my surrounding nature, scrumptious meals and stepping out of my comfort zone more than I had before.
Honestly, I found LUX* North at a time in my life when I really needed a safe haven and it had given me a gift to be treasured - the perfect balance of adventure and tranquility. Here’s hoping for a chance to return and make even more gorgeous memories!