LUX* South Ari Atoll, Maldives, offers exactly the luxury that today’s aesthetes appreciate – and even though it is a top honeymoon destination there are still about 20% repeats. The gal felt better for LUX even before getting there. Like all top resorts on the islands LUX* has its own dedicated lounge at the airport’s TMA floatplane terminal in which to wait until the intra-island Twin Otter flight is called. The LUX* lounge is sensational, with big windows (some resorts’ are internal, without windows) and the food product is thoughtful, even to the extent of green tea sandwiches, crusts off of course. Yes, Japanese love this place. See two of them taking photographs, above, making the most of the fact that the ultra-creative GM, Jonas Amstad, is obviously a frustrated inventor, Jean Tinguely, 1925-1991, rather than Philippe Starck.
I did actually have ‘Philippe Starck’, in the form of the sleek washlet commode he has designed for Duravit, in over-water villa 140, a Temptation Suite. This was certainly full of temptations. Incredibly hungry, I ordered room service lunch via the curved-screen Samsung. My linguine aux fruits de mers arrived, and was carefully placed in the air conditioned dining room that protrudes one side of my inside area (the other holds a circular Jacuzzi-type bathtub. Anyway, the linguine needed photographing – see it on the right, perched on the edge of my 40 foot pool, cantilevered out over the water. I ate inside, looking down through a window in the floor at big blue fish cavorting in the water below.
This is all heaven for aquaphiles. Jonas Amstad has put hammocks in shallow areas off the sandy beaches and, day-long, families swim and laze and snorkel or take trips with the resident marine biologist, Mark from North Wales. But I wanted to feel even better for being here so I took my somewhat antique push-bike along to the spa, which has four over-water villas. I looked out to sea, and down to the sea, as Evi from Bangkok first did a lemongrass scrub and then a LUX* facial (all LUX* products are specially composed by aromatherapist Shirley Page, from Mauritius). And then I pedalled a few more yards to the LifeFitness gym, in a highly productive vegetable garden. Now the evening began, listening to a really good Filipina singing in the bar next to the over-water Japanese restaurant, Umami – those who are on all-inclusive deals, which means about 40% of all guests, do pay a bit extra to dine here, but not surprisingly it was packed.
Sashimi and vegetarian tempura and home-made tofu went with glasses of LUX*’s own Scrucap wines, chosen by South African oenologist Kent Scheemeyer – sadly, we did not have space then to visit ICI, the icecream kiosk which offers free icecreams and sorbets, all home made, all day, every day. There are so many restaurants here, including Italian, and Arabic-Indian. I breakfasted at the international MIXE (see a video below) and then admired the lobby barista station, next to the glass-walled working coffee-roasting room. Of course, like all LUX* luxury hotels, red London telephone boxes are dotted around, for free VOIP calls, worldwide, but I do think that the photo-shop station that Jonas Amstad has installed in the unisex washrooms is unique. The hotel’s art-studio on the beach includes such examples as a sofa made out of an old bathtub, with one long side cut away. Whatever will this crazy Swiss inventor come up with next? All I know is that, citing as always quality rather than quantity, I really did feel miles better for having experienced this aesthetically appealing place. NOW SEE VIDEOS, OF THE LUX* AIRPORT LOUNGE, VILLA 140, AND THE BREAKFAST BUFFET