I am delighted to share details of my hotel stay at Lux South Ari Atoll, formerly known as Lux Maldives and one of the most casually chic Maldives resorts.
How to get to the Maldives and your hotel
Arriving at Male Airport, is just the first step. Yes, it takes a good 11-12h from Europe (I had a great experience with Qatar Airways) but the airport is not the destination. You don’t just get a cab to your hotel… Depending on the location of your island, you will be met by hotel representatives (this always happens) and then either taken to the pier for a speedboat transfer, or to one of the airport terminals. But as we had a fair bit of time before our flight (which usually you do not know, worth noting, and not exactly what we would have wanted, a 3h layover), we headed to the Lux South Ari Atoll airport lounge, which was just what we needed. Gave us a taste of what was to come, a chance to reconnect to the internet, and have a bite to eat and drink.
On this occasion, we were to try a Maldivian domestic airline, Flyme, which flew us from Male to Maamigili ($167 one way), a mere 20 minutes away. We had an on-time departure and the Lux team took care of all our luggage and check in procedures – we were not to see our bags until we got to our room – I liked the sound of that! At the ‘airport’, we and other guests were welcomed by the Lux team, who took us to our speedboat, where a 10-minute journey awaited. And then… we had arrived!
Arrival at Lux South Ari Atoll
– The wow factor! What was the hotel decor style?
We arrived at Lux South Ari Atoll just as the sun was setting, and I have to say it was stunning. I have a very vague recollection of the check in, for which we sat down, handed over our passport and credit card and within minutes, we were on our buggy.
– How quick and efficient was the hotel check-in?
Incredibly efficient and friendly.
– Was I addressed by name once reservation has been located? (it is all about the small details, some others are outstanding with this, and I love it, like I do when I board an airplane)
Yes indeed. And called Ana and Simon, which was lovely and very relaxed – we loved the atmosphere at Lux.
– Did I get an upgrade from my confirmed pre-booked room type?
I had a confirmed Prestige Water Villa and that was the room we got. Very exciting.
– Did I feel genuinely welcomed by the hotel staff?
We did. Every time we walked past someone, we were always greeted with a lovely smile, and hello, of course.
– Luggage – how many people did I have to tip before the luggage made it safely to my room? This is cultural, I know
I hadn’t seen my luggage since we arrived on the big plane to Male airport. And that was fine by me.
– Wi-fi – was I told anything about it? Was there a charge?
Yes indeed. It was free of charge and you just needed to log in with your email address once. Easy peasy.
Room Experience at Lux South Ari Atoll
We were driven from reception (located on the Eastern side of the island) to our Prestige Water Villa, which was located towards the West side of the Island. This little drive actually gives you a great sense of place and location – and how large the island actually is (comparing to others).
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
Our lovely water villa at Lux South Ari Atoll did not disappoint in any way. At almost 100sqm it was spacious and airy. We had the bedroom (which included also a sitting area), a fab bathroom and the deck area.
– Welcome amenity
We had a lovely bottle of ScrewCap, a wine from South Africa blended exclusively for Lux Resorts. It was a lovely touch and we enjoyed many other varietals of this brand throughout our stay. Oh well.
– The bed
It was very good, über comfortable and huge. We slept really well throughout our stay.
– Closet/Wardrobe – proper hangers or those annoying ones where you need a PhD to get them out one by one? This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand them.
Plenty of space – and I also loved that is was located inside the bathroom, where one usually gets dressed. Very neat, plenty of space and hangers.
– Iphone Charger/Dock
We had a dock for iPhone 4 which we did not use.
– Bathrobes and slippers
Of course – and I used them for a change. We also had some colourful flip-flops which were incredibly comfortable – I used them at the spa and then on my last couple of days when I discovered how nice the padding was.
– Coffee and Tea
Yes indeed, but we did not use.
– Free bottled water
Every day, each guest gets a 1-litre bottle of still water a day. Lux Resorts does not believe in overpriced bottles of water (it is actually one of their brand statements, alongside bad coffee).
– Magazine selection – had some nice surprises and doesn’t happen often enough!
Not here, but we had some books. You need to bring your own magazines and books to the Maldives, as you won’t be able to buy them anywhere.
– Power sockets in useful places – we have more and more devices and we know where we want them! By the bed, by the working area.
Once I disconnected the iPhone dock, I had my own plug socket (UK type, worth mentioning). Mr O had plenty on his side.
Our Bathroom at the former Lux Maldives
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
Oh yes, oh yes. It was lovely and spacious.
– Bath, shower and taps – I am looking for Duravits and Hansgrohes (or other fab brands) around the world. How fab was the shower? And a little pet peeve.. was I able to operate the shower without asking Mr. O for help?
Everything was brilliant and worked very well. The shower was fantastic.
– Towels – yes, please! How many and how soft and lovely?
Lots, and I loved how they were displayed (i.e. in the wicker basket). They were also lovely.
– Toiletries – own brand, super brand, baby ones or proper ones? I shall find out!
The own brand products were outstanding. The smell and quality were out of this world. So much so, that I begged the hotel for more – I was a happy girl when I left the Maldives only because of these goodies. I am almost through the ones I brought back, and I cannot tell you – the memories that come with the smells. If anyone goes out there, please bring me some (I haven’t got the courage to ask the hotel for more!).
– Amenity kit – I don’t want more sewing kits thank you very much, but I will need a shower cap.
All there and in a very colourful display.
– Hairdryer – is it a human one, or just something stuck to a wall that only makes noise?
There was one but I did not use – I went for the au naturel look.
Sun, pool and beach at the former Lux Maldives
Well well well, where do we start? We loved the privacy of our water villa at Lux South Ari Atoll – the sun loungers were very comfortable and the towels were great. With direct access to the sea, what else could you want?
We did not really use the beach, but it looked lovely. Specially at sunset. But we walked around the island and enjoyed many special moments like these…
We snorkeled a fair bit, and even saw a whale shark – we had a great morning on board the hotel’s catamaran and got to see even more islands and breathtaking scenery. There really are 12 shades of blue in the Maldives.
Dining at Lux South Ari Atoll
I can’t praise enough the food at Lux South Ari Atoll – it was really good. We had breakfast every day at the buffet (both the Western and the Oriental one) – and I have to say, it is the only meal where I can enjoy the variety. For lunch or dinner, to be honest, buffets are not for me. So I was delighted with the options we had – a fantastic Indian Ocean restaurant, where we tried a fab Maldivian curry and other local specialities, a great Italian meal and my absolute favourite, the Japanese, where I had one of the best things ever: foie gras sushi. As I said, if I had to die there and then, I would go happily.
It is worth mentioning that you need to check carefully the meal plan you choose when you book your trip – it pays to be organised (and choose the option where you can dine around). The wine selection was great (and the Screw Cap wine was $35, cocktails from $15) and all drinks were well priced.
The Spa at Lux South Ari Atoll
We had a complimentary treatment courtesy of the hotel, and loved it so much we were back every day. The treatment rooms were stunning (imagine the views) and everything felt very zen. We were uber relaxed and really enjoyed the massages and foot scrubs, and the occasional glass of champagne (I kid you not, this was a package the hotel had for $219 per couple for 90 mins). What I always asked for? Separate rooms as I find couples massages the least romantic thing ever.
– How good and reliable was the wi-fi?
I had some issues with it, but Mr. O did not, so I don’t understand. It worked always well in our room, but not to much in other areas.
– Did the hotel interact with me via Twitter during my stay?
Yes they did and had a bit of fun.
As the only settlement on the island of Dhidhoofinolhu in South Ari Atoll, Lux South Ari Atol is a 25-minute seaplane ride away from Male Airport, or 20 minutes by scheduled flights and a 10-minute boat ride.
– Cost – rooms starting from…
Beach pavilions cost from $500 and Water Villas from $700 per night, excluding taxes (18%) on a room-only basis, for low season dates. These can increase 3-fold in high season, which runs from December to March-April.
– Would I recommend it to my best friend?
– Would I stay again?
I promise I will. We saw a lot of families at Lux, and the happiest children ever – and I have to say we were never disturbed.
Have you visited this hotel? What were your thoughts?
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Lux Resorts during this stay, on a room and board basis and obviously responsible for any extras, but hopefully you will see that this has not influenced my thoughts about the property. For more information about the hotel, visit its official website. Click here to book.