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!
I could tell I was in for something different from the moment I was received at Kadhdhoo Airport by my pickup from Six Senses Laamu. Much as I’d enjoyed the scenic 35-minute flight with its vantage view of a sleepy Maldives under a glorious sunrise, it was a far cry from the following 20-minute speedboat transit which fully inducted me into the barefoot serenity promised by the only resort in Laamu Atoll.
As we took off, I was offered a refreshing chilled lemonade and - to my mild surprise - a drawstring pouch to put away my slippers. It was then that I noticed all three smiling crew members were barefoot - as were our butlers or ‘Guest Experience Managers’, who warmly welcomed us at the arrival jetty. Six Senses Laamu employs a literal ‘down-to-earth’ concept, encouraging guests to slip off their shoes along with the stress of daily life and embrace the calming sense of nature as a whole, right down to your toes.
No sooner than I disembarked, my personal butler, a true ‘GEM’ of a man named Abdulla, relieved me of my bags and insisted on breakfast first - checking in can wait when there is good food to be had!
Treading barefoot over sun-warmed timbers, he led me to Longitude, a spacious, open-air, two-storey restaurant stilted over the clear, turquoise waters. I soon realised Longitude connected not only to the jetty and reception, but several other restaurants and bars within the lagoon, making up the biggest overwater amenity facility in the Maldives.
Famished after my early flight, I helped myself to the diverse buffet, picking out croissants and freshly made waffles doused in rich melted chocolate at the pastry station, giving in to cravings for ‘kulhimas’ and ‘baraboa mashuni’ at the local cuisine lineup, and topping it all off with smoked turkey, seaweed crackers and cheddar from Six Senses’ collection of European cheeses and charcuteries.
With the tranquillity that came with salty breezes and uninterrupted vistas of royal blue, the flavours seemed ever more palatable with every bite; a recurring experience over the course of every meal had during our two-day stay at Six Senses.
Across the wooden pier to the main island of Olhuveli, I was whisked away in a cozy buggy, aptly named the ‘Sense of Motion’, along a sandy path shrouded on both sides by lush vegetation. In next to no time, my butler pulled up to my suite - a gorgeous Lagoon Water Villa, its high wooden enclosure ensuring full privacy at every angle while perfectly blending with the resort’s tropical visage.
The interior was even more impressive, its every aspect reflecting one of Six Senses’ key themes - sustainability. From the wooden floors and canopied bed to the outdoor bathroom and viewing decks, everything was created from sustainably harvested materials.
The more I explored, the more my villa impressed. The gentle blues and greens of the sun lounges, sofa and armchairs, paired with the rustic browns of polished timbers created a soothing sense of being one with nature. At every turn, the villa lured me to the water, from the overwater netting and aquarium dining deck with all-glass table, to the sunken ocean view glass bathtub and a ladder seductively leading directly to the lagoon.
Sky was blue and the sea bluer, and I couldn’t resist taking a plunge, revelling in the freedom granted by my own personal piece of the vast ocean. No one could see me, save for the curious fauna that casually swam by minding their own business. I had a perfect view of them later on as well, as I soaked in luxurious lemongrass-scented bath gels in the sunken all-glass bathtub after washing off the salt.
All in all, it was a villa designed to make me fall in love.
I might have happily spent my whole trip inside, but hunger soon compelled me to walk inland again, down to Sip Sip, a sunken bar with views of palm trees giving way to the western beach. Joined at the poolside by our host Rifhaan (Marketing Communications Officer), a leisurely chat ensued over a divine lunch of lobster quesadilla which I washed down with a refreshing berry smoothie wittily named ‘The Sunny Side of Life’, topped off with a crispy ice cream.
Lunch was a relaxed but illuminating affair as Rifhaan shed light on Six Senses’ inspiring work in sustainability and conservation, both onsite and within Laamu Atoll. Afterwards, the lovely Megan, the Sustainability Manager, granted us a tour of the resort’s on-land sustainability efforts.
Our first stop was the Leaf Garden, a little piece of organic heaven at the very heart of the island. Here, Six Senses grows its own herbs, chillies, lettuce, sprouts and other vegetables, which are harvested and brought to the guests’ plates by the chefs daily. The initiative not only cuts down on packaging and imports, but plays into Six Senses’ other theme - wellness. We also took a peek into the mushroom hut at the back, where oyster and abalone mushrooms mature in the dark before they, too, grace the restaurants and bars as homegrown delicacies.
Megan then led us to, in my opinion, the coolest spot in Six Senses: the Earth Lab. Inside that hub of innovation, I watched with awe as enthusiastic staff, in the spirit of waste-to-wealth, created something new from something old. As we observed candles made out of leftover wax, cement flower pots from old towels, and resin glass platters from crushed bottles, Megan gave an insight into how recycling plays into Six Senses’ ongoing journey to become self-sufficient and eliminate waste.
After brief stops at the Kukulhu Village (chicken coop) and carpentry, I exchanged my comfy vacay clothes for a frock and headed down to the weekly cocktail party at the Sip Sip beach. Under an equatorial sunset over fiery waters shot with rose gold, I mingled with GEMs and guests over drinks and finger foods, absorbing the chilled out vibes while a local group hyped us up to the booming beats of ‘boduberu’ drums.
As night set in, I settled down for a decadent dinner of mixed Asian favourites back at Longitude. Plying myself with assorted sushi, garlic fried rice, Vietnamese spring rolls, Indian tandoori chicken, and Thai somtam salad - a lot but so irresistibly good! - it was no wonder I didn’t feel like moving afterwards. But the sick beats blasted by DJ Jordan Spashett lured me to the nearby Chill Bar soon enough, and I was persuaded to hang back for a nightcap under the disco lights.
The next morning dawned bright and clear, without a cloud in the sky - just perfect for what I wanted to do. Keeping my breakfast light despite temptation, I dropped by the dive centre to snorkel with the Resident Marine Biologist, Maiah.
Choosing a guided excursion was probably the best choice, for although I certainly could have enjoyed the gorgeous flora and fauna of Olhuveli’s sprawling house reef by myself, I wouldn’t have been privy to what exactly I was seeing - which I did with Maiah. Utterly delightful, her passion for her work bled through as she pointed out the surgeon fish, blue tangs, parrotfish, Maldivian anemonefish, midnight snappers and other colourful critters we happened across. I was overjoyed to make friends with an eagle ray, the first time I ever saw one up close!
After the adventure, it was time to wind down. A long shower and soak later, I made up for what I missed at breakfast with a late lunch at the Chill Bar - teriyaki chicken sushi with spicy mayo, and crispy calamari with sweet chilli sauce, all enjoyed in the warm sunshine against a backdrop of uninterrupted blue. Talk about divine!
Palate demanding a sweet touch for the perfect gourmet experience, I skipped over to the al fresco Ice & Chocolate Studio, a tantalizing neighbour of Six Senses’ overwater web of restaurants. In the face of over 40 homemade ice cream and sorbet flavours, I fidgeted indecisively for a good five minutes before opting, like the chocoholic I most certainly am, for a scoop of Chocolate ice cream buried in cashew nuts and chocolate sprinkles. I also ended up trying, based on the smiling attendant’s recommendations, the Burnt Milk Sea Salt ice cream and Chocolate Nib Maldivian Chili sorbet, both unique and bursting with delicious flavour.
Though pleasantly full and a bit tired after snorkelling, I returned to the sea at evening - this time on the boat ‘Sense of Escape’ for a private sunset dolphin cruise. Reclining on on the deck in a bean bag with a glass of fresh pineapple juice in hand, I don’t know what was more exciting - the anticipation as we held our breaths for our first sight of a spinner or bottlenose, or the moment we saw grey fins breaking the calm surface of the water.
As it so happened, the pod we met were bottlenoses; large, grey, majestic beauties that swam close to the boat, ever so often breaking the surface and evoking laughter and cries of joy from all of us. It is hard to snap an Insta-perfect photo of moving dolphins, but that didn’t stop me from taking a bunch anyway.
As the sun sank beneath a cloudless horizon, setting the skies aflame, it was a perfect end to a perfect day.
We returned to the resort, excited and still gushing over dolphins, with just enough time to freshen up and head to Deck-A-Dence, one of the more exclusive restaurants of Six Senses. Seated at one of the six glass-bottom tables jutting out over the lagoon, we relished a special Wellness Cuisine meal hosted by the Executive Chef, Stefan Goehcke.
The 10-course zero-carb dinner was a perfect marriage of nature, health and local touch. Chef Stefan set us off with a raw soup of pomegranate, celeriac and natto beans, followed by a dragon fruit salad and delicious steamed crab tartar. After a Maldivian taste of ‘kulhafila’ salad with seared tuna, we were salivating over slow-cooked teriyaki glazed daikon radish and steamed ‘mushimas’, followed by the MVP: a poached pigeon breast with beetroot and shiitake mushrooms. The exquisite dinner ended with a detox lemonade, almond panna cotta, and macerated berries drowned in coconut yoghurt.
The next day dawned just as blue as before, though not as blue as I felt when I remembered it was my last day here. As such, I was determined to make the most of it.
A quick breakfast and then I rushed to the spa, for some well-deserved me time. Sipping at a revitalising blend of green apple, carrot and ginger, I filled out a form that my therapist, the charming Cham, used to customise just the right treatment for me.
Now clad in white linen, Cham guided me down a sandy trail to my massage room, a circular open-air pavilion set right on the beach. The rounded walls were made of wooden twine, giving me the sense of entering a giant coconut husk. While the room opened to blinding white sands and the cerulean sea, the surrounding greenery provided full privacy.
Listening to the unceasing music of the waves, I gave myself to the healing touch of my therapist. Based on my form, she suggested the ‘Tension Soother’ massage; and well-named, for an hour later, the stress accumulated from long days of work were all but gone. Utterly relaxed and happy, I left the room smelling of coconut oil and lavender, to chill some more at the spa’s juice bar. Lounging with a ‘bodylicious’ smoothie of young coconut, almond, cacao and banana while soaking up the sun and ocean breeze, I never wanted to leave.
But as they say, all good things come to an end, and soon it was time to slip my long-forgotten slippers out of the drawstring pouch and back onto my feet. After two days of complete bliss and ‘barefoot serenity’, it sure was an alien feeling.
To this day, my time at Six Senses Laamu remains one of the best memories. Until next time!