WELCOME TO PARADISE
Mirella VEDER is Sales and Marketing Manager for LUX* Resorts & Hotels at the Maldives getaway of South Ari Atoll, which means that she spends her days on the picture-perfect island of Dhidhoofinolhu. “We greet every guest like an old friend,” she says. “A team member meets you off your international flight and takes you to our lounge to have some food and relax while we arrange your transfer. After a spectacular 20-minute sea-plane flight, you arrive on our island to find our staff gathered and waving on the jetty. That’s everyone from the general manager to the cleaning staff.”
As a brand, LUX* offers its own interpretation of luxury. “Gone is the stuffiness of the traditional five-star,” says Mirella. “We are focused on our people, keeping things simple, fresh and sensory.” The asterisk in the brand’s title, says Mirella, represents the resort’s “lighter, brighter” concept, something that permeates all aspects of life at South Ari Atoll, from service to experience and decor. “Our 193 private villas, for example – which are dotted along the white-sand beach or perched on stilts above the crystal-clear Indian sea – are bright and white with touches of colour. They have everything guests need for a spectacular holiday, but there is no clutter. Everything is pure, clean and spacious.”
The resort’s footprint speaks to this. Its water villas, for instance, include the Romantic Pool Water Villa, which is a generous 110 square metres; the Temptation Pool Water Villa, which is 220 square metres in size; and the LUX* Villa, which is an expansive 330 square metres. “Our rooms are wonderful,” Mirella enthuses. “Each offers its own distinct flavour and facilities. The Romantic has a pool and a home theatre, and overlooks waters where whale sharks swim all year round.” The Temptation has its own Jacuzzi and the island’s biggest private pool. And, at the exclusive LUX* Villa, guests enjoy a personal butler service.
Yet the resort’s team is perhaps most proud of the “added value” that the resort provides. “Small details make a big difference,” says Mirella. “Bicycles and island cruisers enable guests to explore the 1.8 km island, while we give our guests the best coffee you can find in the Maldives. It’s our own special blend, roasted onsite, with beans brought in from Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Guatemala – and we have our own wine too, from a cellar in South Africa.”
As for the daily activities on offer, these are wide-ranging. South Ari Atoll won a 2018 World Luxury Spa Award, and its eight dining destinations import fresh produce daily. There’s also yoga, tennis, impromptu cinema screenings, guided trips on a traditional dhoni boat and fluorescent night dives. “We hide 25 bottles around the island every day,” says Mirella. “If you find one, you can win jet-ski sessions or a romantic dinner, for instance.” Perhaps, of all the delights on offer, it’s this attention to detail that keeps guests coming back time and time again. “We have families, couples and solo travellers,” says Mirella. “One family are coming for their 11th stay soon!”
Asked to describe the resort in a nutshell, Mirella says: “We provide a sense of freedom, of being yourself. That’s our priority.” As is demonstrated by the warm welcome guests receive: “We’re all about friendliness.”