Just a 7 hour flight to Dubai followed by a 4 hour hop down to the Maldives and I was sat at the water’s edge overlooking the Indian Ocean waiting for the seaplane arranged by LUX* South Ari Atoll to take me and a group of fellow travel colleagues to our home for the next 7 glorious days. We didn’t have to wait long and 35 minutes later, we arrived at one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen.

One of the largest islands in the Maldives, LUX* South Ari Atoll is more than just a pretty face; it takes the marine life and the health of the ocean very seriously. The resort has instigated a long term initiative to increase marine biodiversity by employing a full time Marine Biologist who encourages guests to join them in a coral planting session. This simple but effective activity restores damaged and degraded reefs around the island which ensures marine life will continue to visit the islands for many generations to come.

But it’s not just about marine conservation; the resort also focuses on human wellness too. The Lux Me Spa offers the best of both worlds; I had a 60 minute holistic aromatic massage literally floating over the ocean and felt incredibly privileged to see a black tip reef shark swimming underneath me. The spa offers a holistic integrated approach to all their treatments and even has popcorn, marshmallow & lollipop body creams for kids.

I could have spent the whole week there but managed to force myself out with the rest of the group to go snorkelling with turtles – this is an experience I cannot recommend highly enough. We followed this with a light lunch at the ‘Lagoon ‘ bar which is right by the beach situated near the water sports centre, and obviously after such a strenuous morning, we spent the afternoon on the white powder beach … all for research purposes of course!

Dining options are many with 7 restaurants and 6 bars to choose from including :

  • Breakfast at East Market restaurant is buffet-style with live cooking stations.
  • An immersive traditional Maldivian dining experience at Amaa’s Kitchen. ‘Amaa’ means mother and embodying this sentiment, Amaa is a local woman from the neighbouring Dhidhoo Island who comes to the resort to prepare food, showcase how traditional kitchens are run and shares many stories about the Maldivian islands
  • Senses is the place for a light lunch of fresh frilled fish and salads, and comes alive in the evening with Indian & Asian food fusion cuisine, grilled sea food & Moroccan inspired tagine curries.
  • Beach Rouge offers Mediterranean Cuisine and even has a wood fired pizza oven for delicious pizzas.
  • Umami is the contemporary Japanese Restaurant offering world class sashimi, nigiri & maki and probably the best spot to grab a cocktail after dinner to sit on netting perched over the water.

This paradise island is perfect for couples of all ages and families and offers a variety of accommodations, from beach villas to water villas and family pavilions. Getting around the island is easy and fun with each room having its own bicycles or there are frequent golf carts that run across the island if island life proves too strenuous. With a fabulous kids club open from 0900 – 1900 daily, parents can re-charge their batteries safe in the knowledge that their little ones are being well taken care of.

We were lucky enough to be able to sample some of a whole host of experiences on offer here such as a breathtaking snorkelling trip with whale sharks, exciting jet ski safaris, yoga aboard a dhoni and dining under the stars which were so visible in the pollution-free sky. On one of the days, we joined other guests on the Dhoni and we sailed out to look for whale sharks which can be found year round.  We were so lucky to see one but it was sadly (for us) swimming in deep waters and did not come any closer.

We indulged one afternoon at Ici, the island’s ice cream shop offering 10 different ice cream flavours, 8 different sorbet flavours, homemade ice lollies and lots of delicious toppings & sauces. This is such a treat on a sunny afternoon after a morning spent exploring the ocean.

A great touch to finish off the evening is to watch a film at the Cinema Paradiso on the beach underneath those stars. There is a choice of two films each day and everybody gets to have a vote at breakfast for their favourite. The film with the most votes is screened!

After breakfast part way through our stay we made our way over to the ‘Tree of wishes’, a twice weekly activity for everybody. The tree of wishes is inspired by Japan’s ancient Tanabata festival wishing trees, where guests are given an auspicious red ribbon to write their wish on before tying it around the branches of a banyan tree. Guests can also make a voluntary donation at a dedicated area near the tree where offerings received will be given to a local charity.

For dinner one evening we enjoyed the ‘seafood market’ at ‘Mixe’ restaurant which has beach dining seats under thatched roofs & sand floor with live cooking stations. It was a fabulous laid-back experience and a great way to meet fellow guests or just enjoy the star-lit dining … the choice is yours. Our last evening was spent sipping cocktails at Beach Rouge and dancing to music played by a DJ (the DJ is there each evening until midnight for those with the stamina to stay up that late).

I noticed a honeymoon couple retrieving a bottle lying next to a tree which had been placed there secretly by one of the resort’s team. In the bottle was a voucher for the couple to enjoy a massage, with the compliments of the resort! Apparently, there are several placed around the island every day with different notes and ‘goodies’ inside … how beautiful and how very LUX*!

Interested in a holiday to the Maldives staying at LUX* South Ari Atoll? Contact us for more information or visit the LUX* South Ari Atoll page here!