Where to begin with the LUX* North Male Atoll? Tour 2019 came back so many candidate “Best of the Maldives” features for LUX that it’s hard to choose. Maybe just start at the top. And I do mean tippy top. With a crowning distinction which plays to a long loved aspect of mine when resorts find a way to highlight this defining characteristic of the Maldives – vistas.
From the moment your flight approaches the Maldives archipelago, you are mesmerized by the expansive vista of blues spreading out beneath you across the ocean. Unfortunately, with a destination known for its diminutive elevation, most views of this aqua-coloured dreamscape are are obliquely cast across the surface. Just getting a bit of elevation can extend and enrich the panorama of blue pantones before you.
I’ve long had a “Vistas” as a “Best Of” category tag, and LNMA provided several to add to that collection. In fact, the vista is one of the central design tenets of the entire property. Every single villa is architected around an open rooftop deck with king-sized loungers for lying back to gaze with equal comfort and wonder at the waters below or the heavens above. They even have a name for this area – your “Sky Lounge”. You can have dinner served there (including an open-air BBQ), have a film under the stars projected there, or just sit and enjoy the 360 degree scenery.
But its not just your villa where you can enjoy the vertical perspective. The INTI restaurant is situated on a second floor with a completely open view of the pool and beyond. The Café LUX coffee shop sits upstairs looking over the ocean. Even the kids club offers a raised floor with a view.
LUX North Male Atoll just raised the bar on enjoying Maldives ‘ spectacular vistas.
One resort that is always dressed in traditional Maldivian garb is AaaVeee. The entire resort is not just inspired by local Maldivian design, but most of the infrastructure was produced in the Maldives itself. In fact, a good number of things like chairs and tables were made on the island by Maldivians using materials from the island itself.
Perhaps the most “Maldivian” aspect is the ubiquitous “koari” adornments. “Koari” means “cone” and is a traditional form of decoration found on the islands. It is a cone made out of palm thatch placed atop a tall pole. I’ve already posted about the koari used to mark the navigation channel to the resort, but it is also used at the reception jetty (see above), in the lagoon (directly below) and various other places across the island. The resort’s chef even baked a “Koari Kake” (below).
Makunudu has its own “green” wall for its beach massage pavilion. The design isn’t just a creative re-use of the troublesome plastic water bottles, but also the semi-opacity infused the space with a muted and dappled light in the daytime. This innovation is just one of several clever uses of bottles so I have decided to add a “Bottles” category tag with this post.
“Going green” is common practice for Maldives resorts who very existence if so dependent on and interwoven with the surrounding natural beauty. But I’ve never seen quite as much “green” as Hurawalhi’s staff compound wall. Nearly all resorts have segregated staff areas where a lot of the machinery of the resort is situated and the staff can conduct their lives freely (eg. walk around in their casual clothes instead of smart uniforms). A number of resorts make an effort to dress these walls or fences up a bit so they blend into the surrounding a bit more, but few have gone to the length of Hurawalhi with their greenery wrapped enclosure.
A number of islands have guide signs to help introduce guests to the distinctive flora and greenery, but JA Manafaru has helpful signs for just about every aspect of their property. I’ve already posted about their outdoor workout course where your ‘trainer’ is a series of signs to help you along the path. Their photo op sign was one of the first in the Maldives (now many have them) and the coral fragment frame is a delightful way design.
JA Manafaru also feature quite an intriguing showcase of a traditional Maldivian village which they bring to life with very informative and well designed sign posts telling the story behind the display (see below). It makes the exploration of their distinctive exhibit into a museum quality adventure.
You don’t need a water villa to enjoy the over water lounging at AaaVeee. This fresh new face in the Maldives resort crowd has added special decks that any can use for that over-water lounging vibe…
“Perched majestically in 3 sturdy decks above the sea, these 3 nature discovery decks set on stilts overlooking the calm blue lagoon, scenic beach, peaceful islands and the ocean, boasts simply stunning views of dazzling sunsets. You could sunbath on these quiet comfortable wooden sunbeds while chilling with the excellent drinks which we provide.”
If the Maldives islands aren’t small enough for you, the Ayada has created its own “Ile de Joie” (Island of Joy) in the middle of its water villa lagoon. It serves as the home for its cheese and wine restaurant.
Over water venues are great for ambience offering intimacy with the water below, but they are all wood and construction and so depart from the natural splendour of the island. Except at Ayada, they have brought the lush tropical nature to their overwater restaurant with foliage, flowers and even palm trees planted on this little culinary cay. A great place to hand out all day long with their distinctive dhoni seats on the deck.
The most discreet boat captains moor up at Royal Island. One of the least natural parts of any resort island is the marina. They need some place to park the boats. The marine craft laden jetties here are often the unsightly nook of the house reef.
Not at Royal Island where they have taken advantage of a nearby island with its own cove to park all their boats in their own sheltered mini-harbour (see photo above off shore). As a result, zero boats clutter the shore and a circumambulation of the island is unspoilt by such infrastructure.
A whole entourage of superlatives are emerging out of the headline royal visit of Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz to the Anantara this week. Most amount spent on a holiday. Most rooms booked at once. Tightest security (reportedly staff are not allowed to have their phones on them). But my favourite from all of the reports is the building of at least one helipad for the prince’s helicopter on his mega-yacht (see above). “Helipad” has long been on the “not seen yet” list ever since the surrender of the Maafushivaru Lonubo’s to the inexorable tides. I’ve seen them pencilled in on some of the extravagant resort plans like the one with the underwater golf course, but nothing “on the ground” so to speak until now.
One of my favourite parts of the Maldives are the jetties. They are like boulevard balconies to the spectacle of Maldivian marine life cavorting below often attracted to the pseudo-reef structure of the jetty itself. Resorts will often equip them with lighting which provides further attraction to the nocturnal creatures after dark.
Mostly these jetties take you to the arrivals welcome or the water villas, but Jumeirah Vittaveli has one which simply encircles part of the island. It really is more of a boardwalk than a jetty. And boardwalks are classic ocean-side features. Another benefit they bring is that people can walk along the water’s edge without the challenge of the sand if they are so disinclined (eg. less mobile folks, people dressed up for dinner).