From swimming with whale sharks to writing workshops: English author Imogen Edwards-Jones shares her love for Maldives
For a scuba diving enthusiast, Maldives is undoubtedly an underwater paradise!
Known internationally as one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations, the Maldives has an abundance of dive sites with one thrilling dive opportunity after another. The islands of the Maldives have consistently warm waters with outstanding visibility throughout the year, and consist of exhilarating dive sites such as vibrant thilas, exciting channels, coral-filled overhangs and fascinating wrecks.
And like many others, renowned English author Imogen Edwards-Jones first arrived in the Maldives some 25 years ago, hoping to catch a glimpse of those breath-taking underwater sceneries.
“I was quite adventurous. I had been to Madagascar, Bali and Sri Lanka. And someone suggested the Maldives. I was very keen on scuba diving and this is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving,” Imogen recalls her first visit to the Maldives during which she stayed at Fesdu Fun Island (now Fun Island Resort and Spa).
Since then, Imogen and her family has returned to the Maldives on several occasions, staying at different resorts across the archipelago, including Taj Exotica Resort and Spa Maldives, One&Only Reethi Rah, and the latest being the LUX* South Ari Atoll.
It was at LUX* South Ari Atoll in 2013 that she came across whale sharks for the first time. It was, as Imogen described it, almost a religious experience.
“Everyone had already left the boat with their snorkels and I was late because my son was crying. By the time we hit the water, everyone else had gone miles away. So it was just me and this beautiful creature. And I swam with it for about five minutes. I looked in the eye, which was sort of like the ‘soul of the world’,” she says.
And for her nine-year-old daughter, the holiday at LUX* South Ari Atoll proved to be a learning experience too. She was introduced to the resort’s marine biology programme, and learned all about marine conservation and sustainability from its resident marine biologist. Now, she is an eco-warrior!
“[LUX* South Ari Atoll is] very blessed with its natural environment. Some islands in the Maldives are small and you might get an anxious feeling. But here, it feels like you’ve the freedom. There’s a lot to do, especially for children,” Imogen describes the island of Dhidhoofinolhu in South Ari Atoll.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of Imogen’s love for the Maldives is how one of her bestselling books, Beach Babylon was inspired by her many trips to the island nation. The book explores the lengths to which employees at island resorts like those in the Maldives go to in order to make others’ holiday possible.
“The Maldives is the epicentre of the can-do service philosophy. The idea that you could’ve caviar sent from somewhere or belly dancers and fire dancers all flown in here, to the middle of nowhere. That I find fascinating,” Imogen says.
“Having done Hotel and Air Babylon before, what’s perfect about this is that it was a great opportunity to look at a small community from a different perspective. Island life is fascinating because somebody’s paradise can also be someone else’s hell. These island resorts are a microcosm of the rest of the world because they’ve characters and nationalities from all over the world: Filipinos in the spa, Dutchmen teaching tennis, French chefs, Italian pizza makers and English doing the admin work. It was like putting the rest of the world under a microscope.”
Imogen, who authored the Sunday Times best sellers Hotel Babylon, Air Babylon, Fashion Babylon, Beach Babylon and Pop Babylon, is back at LUX* South Ari Atoll this week.
This time, she hosted a writing workshop and a meet and greet series of events for the guests. In her workshop on bestseller writing, she shared her secrets on how she got into the business, how she stayed there, how she has written everything from columns in Arena Magazine to the worldwide hit Hotel Babylon, and working on Belgravia with Julian Fellowes. She also advised on how to get started on your story, how to pace it properly, how to structure it, how to develop character and, hopefully, how to end up selling over a million books.
“This is my first writing workshop in an island resort. I’m very excited,” Imogen says.
For the British author, one week in the Maldives is just not enough! As she leaves the island paradise after another week of fun, diving and whale sharks, she has just one message for everyone who has had plans to come to the Maldives: “Get your arse on the plane and hurry up!”
And LUX* South Ari Atoll may just be the ideal choice for your Maldives holiday, be it your honeymoon, a romantic getaway or even just a family vacation.
Cutting-edge designer villas and world-class dining can be found only a 30-minute seaplane flight away from the main Velana International Airport, making LUX* South Ari Atoll one of the most exciting resorts in the Maldives.
With 187 private villas dotted at the water’s edge along four kilometres of powder fine beach or perched on stilts above a crystal clear lagoon, these spacious pavilions and villas bring an entirely original vibe of coastal, beach house chic to the Maldives.
Excellent eating and drinking is always a cut above the rest at LUX*, and at LUX* South Ari Atoll, there is authentic South East Asian street food in the Maldives’ only over-the-water gourmet night market and world-class Chinese cuisine at East, along with the Japanese restaurant Umami, which offers live teppanyaki and dazzling selection of sakés.
While the resort has a PADI-certified dive centre, two infinity pools, a floodlit tennis court, a fitness centre and a renowned spa which hosts a wellness concierge and a menu of indulgent treatments, what sets the property apart from its neighbours are surprises, or better known as #ReasonstogoLUX. Designed to create lasting memories for guests, these ‘reasons’ can range from island-roasted coffee in Café LUX* to impromptu movie screenings at cinema paradise and the chance to hang your wishes on the Tree of Wishes.