The moment I entered the brightly lit, heavy on white lounge of LUX* South Ari Atoll at the Maldives’ main airport, I felt lighter. The comfortable and relaxing atmosphere was complemented by the friendly staff who offered LUX* signature coffee. A few sips of the freshly brewed authentic coffee, and I was taken to the seaplane terminal for boarding.
After a 35-minute scenic seaplane flight above the Maldives’ stunning islets, the LUX* experience continued with the very first step on the resort’s arrival jetty. Greeting me and a couple who had arrived in the island for their dream vacation was none other than Glenn Daniels, the energetic General Manager at LUX* South Ari Atoll.
Dotted at the water’s edge along two miles of pure white sand beach and perched on stilts above a crystal-clear lagoon, are 193 super-spacious pavilions and villas. The seductive flood-lit over-water villas promise freedom, privacy and intimacy. Forty-six Romantic Pool Villas each have private 7m suspended infinity pools, and three Temptation Pool Water Villas boast a 14m pool and this forms the resort’s adults-only sanctuary. These villas enjoy twin showers, private terraces incorporating a unique couples’ love nest, and a deck with steps down into the sea, perfect for enjoying the turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
The range of eight restaurants and five bars includes a sophisticated take on a bustling night market; guests can head to East Market where they can enjoy flavours from Vietnam, Thailand and Sichuan among others. Umami promises fine dining from the open sushi kitchen, teppanyaki and robata counters as well as the Maldives’ largest selection of sakés and Japanese whiskies. Allegria, Senses and MIXE satisfy international palates with Mediterranean to Maldivian specialities and the new Beach Rouge introduces fresh beach-club dining experience to the island.
The LUX* Me spa and its overwater treatment villas set the tone for a Zen-inspired reboot of its own. The facility incorporates a traditional Chinese teahouse, a dedicated zone for brand new skin and body care experiences and an extended lagoon-view relaxation area. For those in search of the ultimate personalised spa experience, try the once-in-a-lifetime 10 hands massage. A Zen wellness pavilion accommodate a wide range of alternative wellbeing activities including yoga, meditation, pilates, tai chi and qigong, all of which are overseen by an expert wellness concierge. LUX* Me is all about a tailored approach to your wellbeing, whether it be spa, fitness, yoga, meditation, nutrition or a unique combination tailored especially to your needs.
LUX* South Ari Atoll, run by Mauritius-based hospitality group LUX* Hotels and Resorts, has been entirely re-imagined in a chic beach-house style, and reopened late last year. The relaunched resort adopts a “Lighter, Brighter” theme, which in itself pays homage to a rare combination of elements found only in the Maldives; tropical warmth, white sand, pristine reefs, teeming marine life and a great unimpeded vault of sky. With these vast Maldivian panoramas of aquatic purity coupled with the LUX* experience, the soul begins to lighten.
But every resort in the Maldives boasts similar natural characteristics such as white sand beaches and turquoise waters as well as world-class facilities such as overwater villas and so on. This is where LUX* South Ari Atoll is making a difference by offering more Reasons To Go LUX*. Spontaneity and surprises are in the resort’s DNA with LUX* South Ari Atoll presenting a unique range of Reasons To Go LUX*.
“… It is the small surprises that truly set us apart. I want to surprise my guests. Guests can go to a resort operated by a big international chain, which deliver on their promises every single time. But as a guest, I do not want to go to a place that delivers exactly what I expect. I want to be surprised,” Glenn tells me over coffee at the resort’s beachside cafe.
“The reality is that the success of any property here in the Maldives depends on making small differences that add up to an entirely unique, personal experience for the guests. We all have turquoise waters and white sand beaches. So what is gonna differentiate us from our competitors?”
At two kilometres long and only a few hundred metres wide, the island is large enough to offer freedom and variety. Everyday, four bottles bearing messages are placed around the resort entitling the finder to a small gift: a facial, a bottle of good wine, a linen shirt or sarong, a jet-ski ride. A small, light-filled and air-conditioned Wanderlust library offers more than 120 travel books. A squat banyan “wish tree” is garlanded with the hopes of hundreds of guests inked on strips of weatherproof vermillion cloth.
The lighter and relaxed feel of the relaunched LUX* South Ari Atoll extends to the experiences offered for the artist in you as well. The resort has introduced a service called Photo Fanatics, a unique image-capturing experience that helps guests seeking to create and capture the moments that matter using a smartphone or a camera. The new Junkart Studio and Gallery, meanwhile, invites guests to have fun making one-off artworks and sustainable souvenirs from upcycled materials, providing the perfect opportunity for everyone to explore something new or revisit old skills and passions.
The reimagining of LUX* South Ari Atoll does not end with just the look and feel. The resort is one of the first properties in the LUX* portfolio to offer a unique calendar of expert-led workshops designed to inspire creativity and boost guest health and well-being. Designed in partnership with Sydney-based organisation Work-Shop, these workshops mirror latest research revealing everyday creative activities such as performing music, painting or drawing, writing short stories, songs and poetry can ward off stress, leading to an upward spiral of increased emotional well-being.
As well as being exceedingly laid back, there is very much a spontaneous atmosphere seen everywhere at the recently renovated LUX* South Ari Atoll with impromptu cinema screenings on the beach, pop-up musical performances, surprise secret bars and much more. This marrying of contemporary Maldivian hospitality with little surprises creates a new brand of “lighter, brighter” luxury, which will continue with the launching of LUX* Hotels and Resorts’ second property in the Maldives, the LUX* North Male Atoll in November.
Experience All the Magic of Easter Candyland at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi
As the spring sunshine sparkles on the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean, Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi invites couples seeking the ultimate escapism and families looking to spend moments of togetherness this Easter break. Nestled in the picturesque Shaviyani Atoll, the private island retreat will transform into an Easter Candyland filled with sweet delights and confectionary creations. Whimsical and full of vibrancy, the extraordinary lineup of experiences promises guests of every generation an unforgettable escape, from indulgent feasts under the stars and colorful egg hunts to chocolate-infused treatments at Fairmont Spa.
From 24 March to 12 April, the resort presents an immersive calendar of events and activities where guests can celebrate special moments in elevated luxury, savor exquisite culinary journeys, embark on new adventures, and make memories that will last for a lifetime.
“Easter is a time of renewal and joyful reconnection, and our team has curated a program of experiences that celebrates the joy of Easter and the spirit of togetherness,” says Steven Stefaniuk, General Manager at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi.
Dining is a sensational experience in this idyllic island paradise. Guests can savor local and global flavors at the beachfront Raha Market, indulge in Asian favorites at Kata, enjoy a spectacular by-the-sea dining experience at Azure, and taste a range of creative cocktails at Onu Onu. On 31 March, the island will host an extravagant Easter-themed lunch and pool party featuring a range of global Easter favorites and mouth-watering desserts, complete with fun activities, live music, and entertainment.
Parents can watch in delight as their little ones spark their curiosity and imagination at the Kids’ Club and discover various Candyland-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, cupcake and cookie decorating, and egg and face painting. Furthermore, budding eco-warriors can participate in repurposing plastic waste into bespoke souvenirs at the Sustainability Lab and join ocean life conservation activities with the Marine Biology team.
Guests can restore their inner balance and achieve renewed energy with the offerings of award-winning Fairmont Spa, including nature-inspired wellbeing sessions and the ‘Chocolate Indulgence’ treatment that soothes the body in smooth and revitalizing sensations. Moreover, active travelers can participate in sunrise yoga, beach game challenges, water sports, and interactive coaching with LUX Tennis.
In the mood for adventure? Dive into one of the flourishing dive sites in Shaviyani Atoll with the resort’s dive partner, Sub Oceanic, snorkel the 9-km-long house reef to discover over 250 species of marine life, or join a sunset cruise in search of dozens of playful dolphins that love to leap out from the sea.
Timeless Family Fun Package – Children Under 12 Stay and Dine for Free
The resort presents the ‘Timeless Family Fun’ package with a complimentary meal plan upgrade, Easter treats and amenities, and delightful dining experiences for the whole family. Book a 4-night stay or more in one of the resort’s spacious pool villas, offering the perfect blend of privacy and togetherness, and enjoy:
- Complimentary upgrade from Bed & Breakfast to Half-Board package
- Children below 12 years of age stay and dine for free
- Easter Sunday Lunch and Egg Hunt activity
- Floating breakfast once during the stay
- Family-style beach dinner once during the stay
- Guided tour of the Sustainability Lab and underwater Coralarium
- 25% discount on spa treatments
Celebrate Earth Week with Nature’s Embrace at Oaga Art Resort
Join Oaga Art Resort from March 21st to 27th, 2024, for a week dedicated to connecting with the beauty and wonder of our planet. Immerse yourself in a program filled with creative activities, meaningful experiences, and a deep appreciation for Earth’s magic.
Unwind with Earth-inspired creativity:
March 21st, as the world celebrates Poetry Day, start your day with a poetic breakfast, followed by a lunchtime fusion of traditional Maldivian Boduberu beats and poetry called ‘Farihi’. In the evening, enjoy some poetry reading and a captivating performance by local duo “Something Lovely”.
On March 22nd, tap your feet to the lively rhythms of a Boduberu jam session at lunch. As the stars emerge, witness the artistry of a sand artist create their magic on the Raa Baa deck.
Connect with nature in a mindful way:
March 23rd, as part of Earth Hour, join a peaceful candlelit Earth Meditation and sound healing session. Later, light your own candle and take part in an art installation under the moonlight. Savour a delicious Earth-conscious buffet and enjoy unplugged music around a bonfire.
On the same day, a special coral planting cocktail is to take place during sunset at the beach. Witness firsthand the wonders of coral restoration as you help plant 60+ coral frames in Oaga’s reef nursery. This project, in partnership with Coralive, aims to completely restore the house reef by 2028. Savour refreshing cocktails and learn about the crucial role coral reefs play in our ecosystem while contributing to a sustainable future.
Celebrate Holi traditions with an eco-twist:
March 25th, witness the creation of a stunning sand mandala and participate in the traditional Full Moon ritual. Dance the night away at a vibrant Holi Full moon party with minimal lighting and glow-in-the-dark paint.
Reflect and reminisce under the stars:
March 26th, cuddle up for a captivating movie night featuring nature documentaries under the starlit sky.
A grand finale on World Theatre Day:
On March 27th, engage your children in a fun puppet show and enjoy a live performance by the energetic band Sky Rock. The week culminates with a special Earth-themed solo performance at the Kaa Kada dinner in celebration of World Theatre Day.
Beyond these highlights, Earth Week weaves its theme throughout Oaga’s daily activities. Whether it is to explore nature-inspired percussion in Take Notes sessions or to let your kids unleash their creativity with eco-friendly crafts in the Fiyoh Kid’s Club, there is something engaging for everyone.
Join Oaga and embark on a journey that reconnects you with nature, celebrates our planet, and leaves you feeling empowered to make a positive difference.
Hurawalhi Island Resort’s Exemplary Commitment to Marine Conservation Shines in the Maldives
Hurawalhi Island Resort, nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of the Maldives, proudly reaffirms its steadfast dedication to marine conservation through pioneering initiatives aimed at safeguarding the region’s diverse marine ecosystems.
Saoirse Macklin, the esteemed Resident Marine Biologist at Hurawalhi Island Resort, emphasizes the Maldives’ distinguished status as one of the world’s most biodiverse marine environments. “At Hurawalhi, we prioritize the dissemination of knowledge and wonder about our marine world,” states Macklin. “As a Marine Biologist, it’s been a privilege to inspire and educate guests about the remarkable marine life surrounding our island.”
Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation materializes through a range of educational experiences offered to guests. From immersive Turtle Tours, shedding light on the pivotal role of seagrass in sustaining turtle populations, to awe-inspiring Manta Search excursions, each journey represents an enlightening voyage of discovery.
During these excursions, science and education take precedence, ensuring guests acquire profound insights into the intricate ecosystems enveloping the island. As the resident Marine Biologist, Macklin spearheads efforts to monitor and safeguard turtle and manta populations, employing cutting-edge photo identification techniques to meticulously track and document individual specimens during every expedition.
Hurawalhi extends a warm invitation to guests to partake in Marine Biologist-guided reef snorkeling experiences, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore coral reef and seagrass ecosystems while championing their preservation. Participants not only revel in the splendor of the house reef but also actively engage in efforts to protect these delicate habitats.
Furthermore, Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation is evident in its ongoing projects. The resort’s diligent monitoring and maintenance of its artificial reef program adjacent to the iconic 5.8 Underwater Restaurant aim to rejuvenate and revitalize reef systems. In 2021, a total of 114 artificial reef frames were transplanted, laying the groundwork for reef regeneration.
Recent initiatives include the creation of “festive frames,” crafted by guests during the holiday season, with regular updates fostering continued guest involvement in conservation endeavors. Annual monitoring of benthic habitats and species abundance by the Marine Biologist team is pivotal, collecting data to track changes in habitats and biodiversity over time. This scientific endeavor provides valuable insights into the health of Hurawalhi’s marine life and serves as a cornerstone for future conservation efforts.
The data collected holds immense potential, serving as a catalyst for initiatives aimed at securing protected status for Hurawalhi and its surrounding waters. Through collaboration with government-led conservation programs and local stakeholders, the resort aspires to designate Hurawalhi as a protected area, ensuring its continued vitality and resilience.
In the face of unprecedented challenges to ocean conservation, Hurawalhi remains resolute in its mission to preserve and protect the marine marvels of the Maldives. Through collective understanding and concerted action, the resort endeavors to safeguard these invaluable ecosystems for generations to come.
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