Review: LUX* South Ari Atoll, The Maldives

LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

LUX* South Ari Atoll is the perfect tropical island getaway in the southern part of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Bringing the LUX* concept of a lighter, brighter holiday, the island’s stylish beach villas (just a few metres from the warm sea) and the over water villas (many with private pool) offer the ideal escape for honeymooners (naturally) couples and families alike.

LUX South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

The resort is family friendly, but you can escape from the noise with ease. The island of Dhidhoofinolhu is one of the largest resorts in the Maldives at 2km long, and is surrounded by pristine white sandy beaches, even at capacity the resort appears virtually people-free.

LUX South Ari Atoll Seaplane - The Spa Man

Arriving by seaplane at LUX* South Ari Atoll

Arriving by seaplane at LUX* South Ari Atoll you glimpse the atoll and reefs, home to whale sharks and an abundance of tropical fish. Do take the trips on offer as the whale shark is a must-see. On land the accommodation is light and bright, with pristine white furnishings and the occasional piece of art to bring a splash of colour. It’s the sea views that draw the eye and mix the full spectrum of azure blues to deeper shades as the sea falls away from the reef. Sunrise and sunset are the magic hours on the island – don’t miss them, especially sunset sipping cocktails at Beach Rouge listening to chilled house beats from international DJ’s.

Beach Rouge at LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

Beach Rouge at LUX* South Ari Atoll

It’s barefoot luxury from the time you arrive, welcomed by refreshing drinks and cool towels. There’s no cars on the island, so grab a bicycle to leisurely cycle around or walk (or take the little golf buggy). It’s up to you. It’s a lush green island too – dotted with palms trees, frangipani trees and gorgeous bougainvillea in every colour. Kayaking, paddle boarding and reef snorkelling are included as part of the stay and other more adventurous water sports (jet ski, diving, fishing, kite surfing). Keeping fit? The Fitness Centre has plenty of cardio machines, free weights and resistance equipment to keep you in shape. Yoga classes take place daily in the Yoga Grove, some of the classes are free and others charged.

Beach Pool Villa - LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

Beach Pool Villa at LUX* South Ari Atoll

Reasons to go LUX*

There are many reasons to go LUX*. The food, the drinks – they are all world class. From international and Eastern inspired buffets to special themed seafood and Madivian nights. LUX* South Ari Atoll is no exception.

Umami Restaurant is a top pick with contemporary Japanese world-class sashimi, nigiri and maki on the menu with a wood-smoky robata and teppanyaki grills. Authentic Sri-Lankan and Maldivian curries are the highlights of Senses Restaurant’s menu and Allegria presents a menu of exceptional Italian cuisine overlooking the sea.  Lunch is more casual at Lagoon Bar and Veli Bar. Dine at Beach Rouge lunch and evening for tapas style plates with a truly international palate. There are two large pools on the island, but the sea is the main attraction. The water is a balmy 20-30 degrees all year round.

East Bar at LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

East Bar

Unique to LUX* are the other #reasonstogolux from the free call home at the Red Phone Box, Tree of Wishes, ICI ice cream (made on site and absolutely delicious), the message in a bottle (with daily prizes), Cinema Paradiso (screen on the sand) and Photo Fanatics (to name a few). Oh and not forgetting Café LUX* – roasted on site, the team make great coffee each and every day.

LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

Over water treatment villas at LUX* Me

The spa – LUX* Me at LUX* South Ari Atoll

The spa at LUX* South Ari Atoll is a sanctuary of the senses. Positioned on the beach with a commanding view of the sea, the reception is light filled with floor to ceiling windows and is surrounded by lush green gardens. With 15 private spa villas and 4 exclusive over water villas – its an exceptional space and also includes steam, sauna and two plunge pools. The decking area with sun loungers is a heavenly place to rest pre-and post-treatment simply gazing across the azure blue sea. The resort’s LUX* Me Wellness Sanctuary also incorporates a traditional Chinese teahouse, the tea tasting ceremony is worth booking too.

On arrival at the spa you are greeted by name with a welcome refreshing spritz of orange blossom water and a detox drink including cucumber, lemon and basil. The changing rooms are light and bright flooded with natural daylight and it’s all very modern and chic, having been completely renovated in 2016.

LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

Enjoying the delights of LUX* Me

Treatments are tailored around four guiding principles: relaxation and stress relief, anti-ageing and rejuvenation, cleansing and detoxifying, weight loss and toning. Over sixty beautifying and therapeutic products to choose from, as well as powerful essential oils created for LUX* by renowned aroma therapist Shirley Page.

LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

LUX* Me Spa

The treatment:

I have experienced the Zhengliao treatment at LUX* Belle Mare and was keen to experience its benefits once again. I chose the 60-minute option this time which focusses mostly on the back, using Destress oil (with chamomile and ylang ylang). The treatment is said to be deeply curative and corrective treatment which taps into several branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine, harnessing the body’s own innate healing potential. It begins with a foot scrub and wash using natural sea salt with lavender and geranium oil. It’d a grounding, centering way to begin the therapy and allows you to gaze out across the ocean (yes we were in the over water villa). Strong massage working along the meridian points that releases the fascia was the introduction to the treatment. This then moved into cupping. Not just traditional cupping (although there was plenty of that). The therapist cupped the skin and used this as a massage technique across the upper back and shoulders. This was most unique (yes it does bruise) but wow – was a release of tension. Over way too soon, I virtually floated back to the relax area and dozed for half an hour listening to the sound of the sea. Absolutely perfect.

LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

LUX* ME Water villa spa treatment room

The best bits

The spa – naturally. It’s one of my new favourites

The tea tasting ceremony with Ayu

Swimming in the warm ocean every day

Dinner at Umami

Snorkelling on the coral reef

Swimming with whale sharks

Sunset at Beach Rouge with DJ Yara

Lazy lunches at the Lagoon Bar

LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

LUX* South Ari Atoll Reception

Room to improve

Ditch the plastic straws. There are great paper options

Service at Mixe restaurant was very patchy

Employ a fitness expert to revive the LUX* Me Wellness Concierge concept

Clearer signposting of prices in the spa boutique