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The Suite Life: LUX* South Ari Atoll, Maldives

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!

Rae Munavvar
08 April 2019, MVT 11:38
A walkway inspired by whalebones, leading from the island towards an array of lagoon-top restaurants and bars. PHOTO: LUX*
Rae Munavvar
08 April 2019, MVT 11:38

Though the LUX* brand has certainly established prominence across the global hotelier brand-scape, certain simpler aspects of the company like its minimalistic star logo, pass largely unnoticed.

Interestingly, the brand namesake comes from the Latin term ‘lūx’ meaning ‘luminescence’ or light, while the famous star that crowns its logo is a star made of derived from ‘lx’; the word’s symbolic representation.

So, did I find myself embarking on a journey of light? Or would it be a well-lit façade of brilliance? Could such a hotel, in fact, ‘light up my world’?

Just a few cheesy thoughts I had as I hustled my way to the LUX* Seaplane Lounge looking less than fabulous, struggling to get anywhere on time as usual. Still, between me and my better half, we could barely contain our excitement.

We had an amazing holiday planned out on a beautiful island; on a weekend when the weather was dubbed ‘mostly sunny with a chance of whale shark!’.

The stuff of dreams, my friend.

In my hurry, I’d forgotten to grab brekkie – but no matter! Lovely baristas made us steaming coffees in no time, and we picked up home-made yoghurt, pastries, muesli bars, and sweets that more than made for an excellent brunch.

Whisked off after an hour’s delay, we were soon on our way to South Ari Atoll. Honestly, I was grateful for the extra time allowing me to completely disconnect from my city-borne worries and kick my island groove into gear.

After a mesmerizing 20-minute seaplane rid, we were greeted by many smiling faces and introduced to our host, the lovely Atish Boolaky from Mauritius, who took us on a short tour throughout the island tour on the way to our room.

The minimalistic interior of the ever luxurious water villas at LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO: LUX*

The lagoon villa was simplicity at its best, minimal décor and all manner of creature comforts presented against a stunning backdrop of endless blues. From the hammock seat on the deck to the gorgeous bedroom spread and a spacious bathroom complete with a to tub just promising to wash my troubles away – it was, to say the least, a wonderful place to be.

After a quick freshening-up, I couldn’t help gushing over LUX*’s Mamma Aroma range. The concoctions don't just look and smell pretty - in addition to an incredibly fresh infusion of aroma, the shower gel contains Citronella, which is also said to possess mosquito-repelling properties – incredibly clever for use on a tropical island! Frankly, I wanted to take it all home. It has also led what is probably the only time I’ll ever write an entire paragraph dedicated to bathroom amenities.

Tummies now grumbling, we headed to Lagoon Bar for a little intro to all things LUX* with the lovely Daisy Welsh (Cluster PR and Communications Manager, at the time of our visit) over refreshing iced teas and sliders to-die-for! The only thing was, I could hardly concentrate on our chat because there was just so much to enjoy visually; the colorful reggae-reminiscent décor, the draw of the dive center itself, the happy souls frolicking on the beach and the aesthetic dishes themselves. The taste of the food, the music and ambience, all the adds to the chilled-out vibes.

On the way back we popped by Junk Art, one of LUX*’s ‘reasons to visit’, and observed live art taking place, as guests upcycled simple objects into art pieces adorned with memories from the Maldives.

Next up was the beautiful LUX* Me Spa for our designated me-time, where we were ushered through apothecary-like entrance, slowing our pace and sampling delicious aromas along the way to our separate changing areas. Dressed down and ready for pampering, we made way to our exclusive spa villa, one of 15 private treatment rooms.

Post-massage and feeling completely relaxed, I exchanged white linen robes for sanguine silk in keeping with the weekly ‘Ladies in Red’ theme and sashayed my way to our anniversary date at LUX* Beach Rouge.

A dazzling red amongst a turquoise palette - Beach Rouge at LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO: LUX*

Now, I’ve always complained that most hotel brands over-use the ‘island colour palette’ because to me, the sheer repetition of turquoise can be a little too much and after a while, a tad boring. This particular beach club, however, stands out as a bold rouge beauty in striking contrast against the far gentler backdrop of pearl-and-cerulean shades - an effect that is particularly stunning when washed in the hues of a tropical sunset.

As the evening progressed, scarlet ladies sashayed across the dance floor accompanied by dashing knights-in-crimson-armor, to the upbeat island vibes and pop-infused tunes dished out by the DJ.

What a way to end the night! Color me red, indeed.

As morning beckoned, we made our way through a walkway seemingly inspired by the skeletal magnificence of a whale, leading into a fantastic spot between more lagoon villas.

This well-designed space features their East Kitchen, which is a perfect marriage between Eastern culture and cuisine, with a functionally easy to navigate perfect buffet setting.

The fabulous East Kitchen; a fusion of asian and western food and one of many gastronomical delights offered at LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO: LUX*

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit glum, and so the whale sharks probably did not care too much about showing off to eager tourists, opting to stay in the mood with the weather down in the depths. However the ride around and chat with Marine Biologist Mark made for a nice morning excursion. We did jump in for a spot of snorkelling, even making new friends in the form of a couple of turtles!

Of all the restaurants, The Pool Bar is the most intimate setting we enjoyed for a lunch, perhaps because of the limited seating and guests present. The view is stunning, beach and ocean for miles around, viewed between a couple of picturesque tropical trees if you manage to steer your chair ju-uust right.

After a light lunch, because we were saving ourselves for a grand finale come sun-down, we headed for a walk to explore all the luxury around us. Post perhaps a gazillion snaps, we hung our wishes on the wishing tree and competed with a friendly family looking for the glass bottles (Spoiler: They won, and we’re still jealous), which LUX* hides every day, stuffed with “messages” offering all kinds of lovely freebies.

It is just the kind of sweet surprise that one stumbles on at every corner of the property. The real beauty of LUX*, I was convinced, lay in the sheer range of creative detail. It is only emphasized by thing likes unexpected design features, courtesy of P49, that add play and fun at every turn, executed to perfection.

Finally, it was time for our much-anticipated dinner at Allegria for some Cucina Italiana, an elegant open space that seats 60, where whiffs of gourmet delicacies whet your appetite all night long.

From a carpaccio featuring freshly caught Yellowfin Tuna served with truffle cream and parmesan shavings, Confit Duck Leg on a bed of Pappardelle, to a beautiful serving Black Angus Beef served with snorkelling tomato, eryngii mushroom, truffle-laced mashed potato and delicate elephant garlic – each serving was as delicious as it was beautiful to look at.

Allegria Restaurant offers unforgettable tastes of Italy, right here in the Maldives. PHOTO: LUX*

The cheese platter was just as divine, with choices like Robiola Delle Langhe Tre Latti, Gorgonozola Piccant, Toma Ossolana brought with homemade fresh fruit and nut bread, dry figs, apple molasses. Full to the brim but determined to make the most of my evening, I opted for the Tiramisu dessert and wasn’t disappointed by the signature delicate layers of mascarpone, homemade coffee ice-cream, lady fingers garnished with a sprinkling of coffee and shards of pistachio biscotti.

As expected, we could barely move after our decadent dinner, but in true holiday spirit, we stopped by the East Bar for a night cap, in hopes of settling our tummies for the night.

Now what is truly memorable, aside from the beautiful atmosphere, and the equally pretty drinks, appealing directly to one’s inner-millennial insta-fanatic leanings, is a truly unique ‘disco toilet’.

Indeed, my LUX* experience was breaking new ground at every turn, now inspiring what I can confidently say it the first and last time I’ll the ever write a paragraph about a toilet.

Kitschy in just the best way, it has projectors that mimic the reflection of light underwater, making you feel like you’re in some kind of a Tardis-like contraption submerged in the deep ocean, massive speakers, funky posters and my favorite – an old school photo booth, ‘just because they can’. Dragging my less-than-keen boyfriend inside, we got a little trigger happy in the booth, and now have a collection of silly snaps in memory of a wonderfully silly night!

A secret 'disco toilet' - one of the most amazing suprises discovered at LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO: LUX*

I’m a firm believer in that a good night must be followed by a fantastic breakfast next morning – or it doesn’t count. So we headed to MIX, albeit with no expectations that it could possibly outdo the splendor of East Kitchen.

However, we were pleasantly surprised at the generous spread. One could survive solely on breakfasts in LUX* - honestly, you wouldn’t hear a peep of complaint from me. Greek yoghurt dabbed with honey fresh off the comb, and organic bread with a bit of homemade jam. Woo! #Blessed and all.

I was also rather pleasantly surprised by their daily papers in different languages, keeping you up to date with the world – if you haven’t forgotten it all in your bliss, that is. And who would blame you if you had?

There is a lot to love at LUX* to be sure, but for the English-nerd that I most certainly am, the resort’s aptly named Wanderlust Library took the cake - frostings, cherries and all. Filled with written travelogues from around the world to fuel the gypsy mood that the island tends to inspire, snuggle on the sofas, bean bags or outdoor hammocks and read or browse to your heart’s desire.

It’s also a perfect place to bring your own novel to dive into, while swinging from the trees, knowing that a lift of gaze between pages will only ever meet an endless horizon of blue – exactly what your imagination ordered.

I dragged my bookworm-self away from the library toward familiar smells of saffron, mint chutney and fried pappadum at the SENSES where a basic, I’ll admit, order of tandoori chicken, served with raita and freshly baked naan bursting with a medley of flavours, was brought to us in traditional Indian hammered copper trays.

In a lazy afternoon daze, hearts heavy and all, we boarded a seaplane heading homewards. Don't know what was richer, the meal, or me thinking that I could rush to the jetty straight after!

That said, just narrating our departure has proven so very difficult; and yet I can only declare “Fiat LUX*!” in hopes that the universe will comply. Until next time, South Ari Atoll!

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