South Ari Atoll, Maldives | Return to Paradise at LUX South Ari

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Where Dreams Come True!

The Maldives consists of over thousand island jewels floating in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, a heavenly place where dreams may come true!  The atolls give a holiday surrounded by pristine sandy beaches, colourful reefs and sheltered lagoons in a blissful.  Time in a luxury resort is the epitome of a once in a lifetime kind of treat!  We had been hooked on returning since our first visit to the Maldives and could not wait to return to paradise.  There was no doubt that while the choice of island resorts is ever increasing we wanted to go back to Lux South Ari after a magical stay two years ago.

Our Arrival in the Maldives

Once we had stepped off the plane in Male we were whizzed to the private lounge of Lux at the seaplane airport and it immediately felt like coming home to a long lost place. The familiar smell of Lux (I’m obsessed by the fragrance) enticed me and lulled us once again. Jerome, not having slept on the journey fell asleep on the seaplane again, missing out on the mesmerising views of the atolls, but he soon woke up again upon landing at South Ari Atoll.  We received a very warm welcome and even got to stay in the same water villa, we had on our first visit, now renovated since our previous trip.

Improvements and Renovations

A number of changes had been made since our last trip to the resort, including some improvements and renovations to the villas.  Not all the changes were in our opinion for the better we sorely missed the open air shower and also the doors that slid back completely to the terrace letting sea air sweep through the villa at night and allowing us to sleep with the sounds of the sea.  I guess too many inconsiderate guests tried to run the aircon with all the doors open forcing them to change.

Snorkel Tour to the House Reef

Jerome went straight to bed, despite the prospect of an afternoon snorkel session. Chris and I certainly felt tired too, but the adrenalin and excitement of being back in paradise kept us going.  We enjoyed our first snorkel tour to the house reef on the traditional, wooden dhoni, although we were sad to find that all the friendly staff at the water sports centre had left after our last stay.  The house reef, a 15 minute boat ride from our private island, had somewhat improved and recovered, and therefore seemed to have more varieties fish, some bleaching due to exceptionally warm seasons was still apparent though.

Dive Course for the Boys

One of the main reasons for returning to the Maldives was that Jerome and Chris wanted to learn diving and become certified PADI open water divers.  There are without a doubt not many equally beautiful places to do so, especially for a child, well teenager in Jerome’s case.  We had already pre-booked a dive course for the boys with the resorts dive centre and Chris dropped in after our snorkel trip to book their first sessions. We had agreed that they would try to arrange their dive lessons around the daily snorkel trips to the house reef, so I did not always have to venture out on my own.

Restaurants and Bars

On our bike ride back to our over water villa we stopped half way to explore the new addition to Lux South Ari, Beach Rouge, a restaurant and bar offering an overwater lounge area with hammocks and sunset views.  It would become a spot for us to enjoy a sun-downer cocktail, watch the black tip reef sharks during the golden hour. Admittedly Beach Rouge would not become our preferred dinner spot, Senses and Allegria the other restaurants still served the most delicious a la carte dishes. For lunch we would generally head to the Lagoon Bar, or if time permitted, to Senses. I was pleased to find out that no buffet lunches were served anymore, cutting the food waste considerably!

Our Daily Routine

We quickly settled into our daily routines on our secluded island escape at Lux South Ari. For the first few days the boys went on early morning dive training and joined me at breakfast at the overwater eatery, East, after their course. We then would join the groups of snorkelers on the house reef trips, where we would spot plenty of exciting underwater creatures, including rays, sharks, turtles and plenty of colourful fish (no whale shark this time round).  We could often see a particular three legged turtle hiding in a special spot, Jerome even swam down to 10m for a close look!  It somewhat annoyed us though that the trips to the house reef would always anchor in the same place, whereas previously we had been able discover different areas of the house reef.  

Diving at the Outer Reef

Later in the trip with the boys now qualified divers they would go out on the dive boat to the outer reef or deeper in the lagoon for interesting dives either in the morning or afternoon, but we always tried to make sure we also got some snorkelling together in, too.  I even joined one of their trips for a night dive watching the sunset from boat skimming the calm lagoon waters.  Among the many activities on offer, the boys also took a long run across the still blue waters in the kayaks available from the water sports centre, and I enjoyed a relaxing moment in the spa.

Something Was Lacking

In general our trip to Lux South Ari felt somewhat of a let down compared to our first time on the island.  During our first stay we were spoilt by each of the staff, everyone was impeccable, friendly and welcoming, plus attention to detail was phenomenal.  This time we felt there was a change in attitude, an overall little less enthusiasm.  At a luxury resort like Lux aiming at the top end of the market no one should need to ask twice for milk with coffee in the morning, should be able to easily change a reservation at one of the restaurants in the evening without issues, and perhaps like last time, have a different towel animal proudly sit on the bed for Jerome’s return to the room in the afternoon, and especially be always be greeted warmly by everyone!  

Some Exceptional Staff

Having said all this, there were definitely staff that stood out for their exceptional service and attention to detail: everyone at Senses was fantastic and the instructors at the water sports centre gave their utmost to make our stay as pleasurable as possible.  I should also say that the boys were very impressed by all the staff in the dive centre too.

Large Number of Guests

Maybe it was the increased overall number of guests that added to our disappointment.  They had added more villas to the resort and during the second week of our trip to the Maldives the resort was fully booked, meaning that it was impossible to get a lounger at either pool, no change of reservation at any of the restaurants and even the house reef tours were over subscribed.  Other returning guests also voiced their disenchantment over their experience at Lux South Ari at the time.

Will We Return Again?

Despite the small flaws during our time in the Maldives, time went by too fast and we had to leave our blissful private island for a grim London autumn. Would we return to paradise at Lux South Ari for a third time? Together we decided that the Maldives do hold a spell on us but that LUX South Ari had lost a little of its magic. After our first stay I would have never thought I would voice the wish to escape on different jewel in the Indian Ocean, it is time for us to move on and find a new serene and secluded island for our next trip.   

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3 thoughts on “South Ari Atoll, Maldives | Return to Paradise at LUX South Ari

  1. Maldives has always been on my bucket list, but after watching a documentary on how much they are struggling to deal with all the rubbish the tourist industry generates, I am rethinking. I would still like to get there, but I would like to make sure I do it in the most sustainable way. If you have any suggestions, I would be glad to hear them!

    1. Thanks for your message, we agree, it is a huge problem but sadly not only in the Maldives, although it might be more apparent there. When we went to Vietnam we were shocked by the vast amount of rubbish everywhere and no one seemed to care.

      At least in the Maldives, especially by an ever growing number of resorts, changes are happening. Some have gone plastic free and use solar power for electricity. It is best to check before booking what your choice of hotel does to counteract the problem.

      Sadly we found that the careless from tourists is just as bad if not at times even worse. We even took our empty sun cream bottles home in the hope it will be recycled here in the UK!

      Tourism will never be entirely environmentally friendly but we should all try to do our part!

  2. Interesting to read how your experience differed from your first visit, it’s a shame the standards haven’t kept up to the first visit. It looks like a stunning place though so hopefully you’ll find somewhere new to enjoy for your next visit 🙂

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