Luxury Hotels


LUX* SOUTH ARI ATOLL is intelligent fun. Look at the topiary, above.  It’s part of a bigger symphony of different shapes, all carefully manicured by the Resort Manager, deputy to the GM John Rogers – he says the Resort Manager is also a bonsoi fanatic (Girlahead wishes she had this guy handy back home in England, to help trim her one solitary bonsoi). It really help, living on an island for weeks at a time, to have a hobby. The opening GM of WOLGAN VALLEY in Australia’s Blue Mountains said how difficult it was relocating staff from The Maldives, where they at least had the ocean, to iland in New South Wales, where they did not.

About 600 team members live at this 193-key resort, in a well-screened village surrounded by ‘public’ areas.  Girlahead’s favourite villa was #450, right at the far end of the ‘tadpole tail’ of overwater villas. #450 was extremely spacious, and white and pale blue, a hint of Caribbean + Riviera here in the Indian Ocean. The big pool was absolutely private, and there were lots of thoughtful touches, like a hand-held shower ready as you climb back out of the ocean. And see that ocean, and its marine life, as you sit in the sitting room, which has a glass floor.

There are lots of LUX* brand-touches everywhere. A two-floor glass-walled Wanderlust library, open 24/7, has really fascinating books: Girlahead borrowed two hardbacks, one comparing Churchill with George Orwell, the other explaining why Singapore Airlines gets it right and other airlines do not. There’s an excellent Technogym, and the ESPA massage was best in The Maldives, so far (both those brands seem to be ubiquitous in the islands).  The coffee corner at Reception does the LUX* usual, with white-capped barristas dispensing whatever, including a best-selling Coconut Divine, a cold brew with coconut milk and vanilla icecream. There’s free icecream, another LUX* special, and red London telephone boxes allow free VOIP telephone calls, anywhere worldwide any time.

And, joy of joys, there’s a Beach Rouge indoor-outdoor eating place, with DJ.  On the beach. White tables, chairs and overhang, red and white olive oil containers and red-twirl drinking glass. A perfect lunch – quinoa salad and superb truffle fries. A superb Aussie dinner, a grass-fed striploin and Cambridge Crossing 2020 Shiraz. In the morning, as John Rogers and his wife Isabelle stood in line with colleagues to wave the red and white Twin Otter seaplane off, a hint was shared that on 25/12 Father Christmas will arrive this way. LOTS of fun, the LUX* way.