One week out from the trip of a lifetime, I’m rummaging through my parent’s bookshelf, searching for one particular photo album. It’s bulky and I’m having to peel the pages apart, probably due to the sticky hands of my younger self. I’ve always loved looking through Mum & Dad’s old travel photos, but this one trip they took is my favourite.
Two sun-kissed love birds stand on the horizon where a strip of golden sand meets a brilliant, turquoise ocean. The sea and the sky fade into one another in a smooth gradient of “has-this-been-photoshopped?” blue. On the back of the photo, in my Dad’s distinctive cursive writing, “Maldives, 1988.”
Around the time my parents visited, a tiny island called Olhahali was a famed picnic spot for those seeking a private dining experience in the Indian Ocean. Part of the North Male Atoll, the island was rimmed by pastel corals, sand bars and a flurry of brightly-coloured fish that inhabit them. The surrounds are much the same today, but the island itself has been transformed beyond belief.
Why stay at LUX* North Male?
LUX* North Male Atoll is everything I imagined the Maldives to be and more. Much more. Just from the name, you’ve probably gathered that this resort is no run-of-the-mill hotel. LUX* embodies luxury in every sense, but that’s not where the name comes from. Lux is the Latin word for light, and the asterisk represents a new philosophy – lighter, brighter.
This new approach spans from the design and decor to the way the staff interact with guests. It’s a leap away from the stuffy, over-furnished, and often heavy feel of other 5-star hotel brands. LUX* offers an exceptional, personalised experience, delivered playfully.
LUX* North Male immediately stands out from the other resorts in the Maldives. You won’t find the typical thatched roof-style villas. Instead, extravagant penthouse villas with infinity pools and private rooftop terraces await. The crisp white walls glisten in the sun, in striking contrast against the #nofilterneeded blue of the ocean. Superyacht-chic just about sums it up.
Your dining options
With just 67 villas, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were the only person on the island. Everything you need is right there in your mini-mansion so guests tend to revel in their own space. In-villa dining makes this even more fun. In the morning, you can have a spread of pastries, fruits, eggs and juices delivered and launched into your private pool. Floating breakfasts have become the hallmark of luxury tropical holidays and there’s no better place to experience it than the Maldives.
In the evening, your Island Host will create the perfect setting for a dinner under the stars. The in-villa dining menu spoils guests with a variety of seafood, steaks, Maldivian-inspired and Western cuisine. Each course is delivered on your cue with wine glasses topped up swiftly and generously.
After dinner, your private restaurant turns into an outdoor cinema. A film of your choice is projected onto the white wall and the daybed serves as the perfect spot to snuggle up and enjoy the movie. You may find your attention being drawn upward though. The sky above puts on a show of its own. The lack of light pollution allows for some of the best stargazing in the world.
As someone who often judges a hotel by its shower, I was more than a little excited to see the bathroom. Two double doors roll away to reveal a deep stone bathtub sitting on an intricate mosaic tile floor. Behind the glass, the pane is a shower big enough to park your car in. It has three settings, two shower heads and one hell of a view to the garden (which has yet another shower).
The already magnificent bathroom is made even more magical with the finer details, particularly the toiletries. Mamma Aroma is a signature bath and skincare range, exclusive to LUX* resorts. It’s made from locally sourced ingredients with no nasties. After a day in the sun, there’s nothing better than rinsing off the salt from the ocean and slathering on the moisturiser.
Your daily schedule, sorted
If sunning yourself by the pool or swimming off your private dock gets a bit tiresome, you can try one of the island excursions. The Turtle Quest comes highly recommended. The three-hour round trip involves a boat ride out to a protected reef where marine life thrives in the warm water of the Indian Ocean. Equipped with a snorkel, flippers and a life vest (if needed), you’ll jump in and swim side-by-side with turtles, as well as a few thousand tropical fish.
If you’d prefer to stay dry, LUX* North Male Atoll has its mini-submarine that takes you out to explore the home reef. Most importantly, a sunset cruise on the island’s private yacht or a catamaran trip could be more your style. In addition, it’s also just as entertaining to park yourself on the sun lounges near Beach Rouge and watch the jet skiers whip around leaving a flurry of whitewash in their wake.
The on-site restaurant options
While you’re there, it’s only fitting to toss back a cocktail or two from the bar. Beach Rouge has a fabulous selection of cocktails but the bartenders love it when you say “surprise me.” During the day, this is where your fellow holiday-makers may be hanging out. It’s the best restaurant on the island for lunch with the resident DJ playing a mix of laid-back tunes.
For sunset though, you’ll want to head to the other side of the island. Glow overlooks a huge infinity pool with plenty of comfy lounges and dining tables. The cocktail menu is even more extensive but it’s the wine list that will blow you away. Savour the sunset and toast to another day in paradise, and as soon as the sun dips into the ocean, head upstairs for a true culinary treat.
Inti is a Peruvian-Japanese restaurant with a stellar team of chefs plating up some of the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten. There is a live sushi station sits in the middle of the room with expert knives man slicing and dicing today’s catch. Delicate decanters fill impeccably polished wine glasses and beautifully presented dishes grace the tables of hungry diners.
The ceviche is unbelievable, and the quinoa risotto comes in a close second. You can spoil yourself with a five-course feast complete with wine pairings from Alexander Van Beek’s two chateaux in Bordeaux.
To sum up, the second you arrive at LUX* North Male Atoll to when the staff wave you goodbye at the jetty, every moment is special. The experiences, restaurants and villas are all carefully thought out. You have everything you need to fulfil your dream Maldivian holiday. And with your Island Host on speed dial, you truly feel as if you’re the only person in the world.