With new resorts opening up every year in the Maldives and an incredibly large selection of different hotels it can be challenging to find the right one for your own stay. During the last years we visited around 20 different resorts and after staying at the LUX* South Ari Atoll Resort & Villas recently we directly added it to our personal Top 5 List! It is the perfect combination of beautiful beaches, amazing culinary experiences, many activities and inviting villas! Find out about all the details of our stay in my LUX* South Ari Hotel Review:
LOCATION & TRANSFER
As the name already implies the LUX* South Ari is located in the South Ari Atoll of the Maldives. It is just a short 20 minutes seaplane flight away from Male.
After we arrived at the Velana international airport we got welcomed by the LUX* staff which took care about our seaplane check in and escorted us to the private LUX* Lounge which is located just opposite from the sea plane boarding area.
During the time of our visit in December 2021 all guests had to do an additional PCR test after arriving in the Maldives. The test will be done right at the airport and will be covered by the LUX* South Ari. The results usually arrive at same day in the evening or the next morning and until that vaccinated people can already roam around the island while unvaccinated guests have to stay in their villa until the negative result arrives. Which is of course not bad at all if you either have a private terrace or beach attached to your villa 😉
The Pavilions & Villas
No matter if you’re traveling as a couple or family, the LUX* South Ari Atoll has a great variation of pavilions and villas according to your personal preferences. Our favorite category has been the one we stayed in ourselves:
For many travelers it’s obligatory to stay in an overwater villa during their Maldives vacation. For me this decision varies from resort to resort. In some hotels I prefer the Beach Villas and in others I’ll like the ones over water more. At the LUX* South Ari the water villas clearly have been my favorite choice!
The villas are divided in two rooms: The bedroom and the incredibly huge and light bathroom! In the bedroom you’ll find a relaxing sofa next to the bed which can be transformed in a sleeping place for a third person in case you’re traveling with your child for example. A highlight is the glass bottom window from which you can watch the blue water and fish right from your bed or sofa 🙂
The bathroom is a real gem and makes the villa super luxurious: It is bright and airy with a big ocean view shower plus a free standing bathtub which stands right at the glass facade to enjoy the lagoon views while taking a bath.
The terrace is very spacious as well and consists of a roofed relaxing area, a sun deck with two loungers, overwater hammock and of course direct lagoon access.
Other than the Romantic Water Villas, this category does not have a private pool but therefore I liked the overall villa interior a lot more! But read more about this below.
Other room categories:
Romantic Pool Water Villa
As already mentioned above the LUX* South Ari Atoll also offers water villas with pool. The highlight of this room category is definitely the stylish terrace with sun loungers, a hanging nest to relax and the private infinity plunge pool. The inside of the villa is a bit smaller than in the water villas – especially the bathroom. It is open and connected to the bedroom so the villa basically consists of one room with a separate toilet and shower.
So whichever aspect is more important to you: A private pool or a bright and open interior with bathtub – you’ll have to decide for yourself which water villa is your ideal choice.
P.S. The LUX* South Ari also has a small amount of water villas which connect the bets of BOTH categories. The Temptation Pool Water Villa have a private pool AND a big bright interior plus a bathtub at the same time. Unfortunately they all have been booked out during our stay so we didn’t got a chance to see them in person but make sure to check them out HERE if you’re planning your stay for a special occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary. We heard they are the extremely romantic.
Do you want to experience the ‘deserted island feeling’ during your visit? Then the Beach Villa is the ideal choice for your stay. The bedroom leads directly outdoors to your private terrace and beach so you can enjoy your daily morning coffee with your toes in the sand. The bathroom is partly outdoors with a roofed bathtub. If you book a Beach Pool Villa you’ll even find a private plunge pool in the outdoor bathroom of your villa!
The concept of the LUX* South Ari Atoll Resort & Villas
With a length of almost 2 kilometers, eight different restaurants and bars, two main pool and a sand bank which is connected to the resort, the LUX* South Ari offers a huge variety of activities and places to spend your time. Usually the resorts in the Maldives are very small which means that you can easily experience all aspects of the resort in just a few days. But during our three nights stay at the LUX* South Ari we didn’t manage that! It is a resort where you can easily spend at least a week without getting bored.
Pool & Beach
No matter if you prefer to relax at the beach or in the pool – at the LUX* South Ari you’ll find the best of both worlds with two main pools. Both are located on the west side of the island right at the beach with an amazing sunset view. My favorite one has been the infinity pool at the “Senses” Restaurant. It offers a very laid back vibe with nice sun loungers and cabanas combined with a lovely pool bar.
Every Sunday they build up an outdoor cinema called “cinema paraiso” to watch a movie under the stars. Starting with a kids friendly movie followed by a movie for adults.
All around the island you’ll find empty spots at the beach which will give you the ‘lonely island’ vibes with some dreamy hammocks or swings hanging between the palm trees. Or you take a walk along the sand bank which is connected to the resort.
Water sports & Snorkeling
A vacation in the Maldives wouldn’t be completed without enjoying some time in and on the endless blue waters. At the water sports center you can rent stand up paddle boards and kayaks for free to cruise in the lagoon – or rent a jet ski to go a little faster! 😉
The only minus point the LUX* South Ari has in my opinion, is that the island has no reef which is directly connected to the resort. To make up for that they offer daily FREE snorkeling tours to the nearby house reef by boat which is just a few minutes away. But unfortunately it is not possible to just jump from your water villa in the lagoon for a spontaneous snorkeling session. Anyways you should keep your eyes open for little baby reef sharks and rays in the shallow waters around the water villas!
The LUX* is famous for being one of the few resort in the South Ari Atoll which are located close to the whale shark snorkeling spot in the Maldives. That’s why I would highly recommend you to book a whale shark tour during your stay! The best thing is that there is no specific season to see them – the whale sharks can be found at the South Ari Atoll throughout the whole year. In the Maldives you usually see the “teenager” whale sharks which “only” have a size of around 5-7 m. But anyways: Swimming next to them is an incredible experience. The whale sharks can get up to 17 meters if they’re fully grown!
LUX* Me Spa
The spa area of the LUX* South Ari is amazing and absolutely deserves its own part in this hotel review. Stepping in the LUX* Me Spa feels almost like stepping into a spa resort! It has a big relaxing area at the beach with little pools and sun loungers, extremely private pools in the patio. All treatment rooms are located in little pavilions while some of them are on land and four over the water. You’ll even find a shop with their very own LUX* spa amenities to take a bit of that wellness feeling back home with you!
We enjoyed a full body couple massage in one of their overwater treatment rooms. I loved that they have a glass bottom to watch the fish while enjoying your massage – I spotted a sharks, puffer fish and much more during the treatment! Additionally you’ll find a bathtub for flower baths right next to sliding doors which can be opened to listen to the sound of the waves, while you’re still having a maximum of privacy thanks to the sight protection on the terrace.
We found some things in the resort which we’ve never seen before, that add a special detail to the stay and guest experience: For example you will find two red telephone booths (just like the ones you know from London) on the island in which you can call your loved ones all around the world fornFREE for five minutes! How cute is that? 🙂
Another lovely feature is the “Tree of wishes” in the center of the island. It has colorful fans on its branches. Guests can write their wishes on them during a special ceremony which happens twice each week and hang them on the tree. According to Maldivian belief they will come true after the next full moon! And you might even be extra lucky: At the end of each year all fans get collected and two lucky guests can win two free days in one of the different LUX* resorts. Such an amazing idea and chance!
Breakfast & Restaurants
The amount of culinary choices you have during your stay at the LUX* South Ari is enormous! You can basically eat at another restaurant every day and decide for buffet or à la carte options. Even for breakfast you can choose between two different restaurants!
Something really outstanding for the Maldives is that all LUX* resorts around the world have their a LUX* coffee shop with their own LUX* coffee which gets roasted right on the island!
These have been my favorite restaurant we got to try during our stay:
As the name already implies, the MIXE is the mixed international buffet restaurant of the LUX* which is especially famous for breakfast but also loved by visitors who like to have a big selection of dishes for dinner. The buffet is absolutely amazing with lots of details and different stations where you’ll get daily changing culinary highlights from different cuisines around the world. For breakfast I loved the juice station to create your own healthy smoothie and make sure to try the Sri Lankan dish “Egg Hopper”! It’s basically an eatable bowl made out of coconut crepes filled with an egg and herbs! So so good!
The second buffet restaurant and breakfast option is the East Market located on the over water jetty! It has been my personal favorite for breakfast cause it serves a huge variety of Asian dishes which will all be prepared right in front of your eyes according to your personal preferences! Fried rice, Asian Crepes, Noodle Soup, Stir fried wok dishes, .. you name it! Additionally you’ll find a huge selection of homemade juices, iced tea and even Kombucha and of course also a variation of “international breakfast classics”. The East Market also opens for dinner with a lovely setting right over the lagoon.
If you’re a fan of flavorful dishes like curries and spicy specialties then you will love the Senses restaurant for dinner! I had an amazing Maldivian Curry, oven warm Indian Naan bread and authentic Arabic Mezze! Senses is located right next to the Infinity Pool and the Senses Bar which is the ideal place to have a few cocktails after dinner or during the day while enjoying the beach and pool.
Beach Club & Restaurant in one, combined with creative Mediterranean dishes – that’s the Beach Rouge! If you have a dinner reservation make sure to come a little earlier and have a drink first while watching the sun going down. It is one of the best spots in the resort to enjoy the sunset.
Definitely don’t miss to try the Crema Catalana for your dessert – it is super authentic and tastes like you’re in Spain!
A few times a week there will even a DJ playing at Beach Rouge later in the evening to dance under the stars right next to the ocean – what could be better!?
Patrick and I are both big lovers of Italian food so when we heard that the LUX South Ari has an Italian restaurant we simply HAD to try it. And wow – it didn’t disappoint at all! The homemade pasta dishes, the fresh carpaccio or the modern interpretation of the classic Tiramisu: Everything was beyond delicious. It is the only restaurant in the hotel which is not included in the Full Board package but the prices are very fair, the portions big and the quality is amazing – so I would highly recommend to try the Allegria for at least one evening.
For Lunch I can highly recommend you the Veli Bar next to Beach Rouge or the Lagoon Bar which is located close to the sand bank. The Lagoon Bar has a very laid back beach feeling – it almost feels like you’re in Tulum and serves easy comfort food like burgers, wraps and salads while the Veli Bar has an International menu.
Even though the LUX* South Ari Atoll Resort & Villas already opened 5 years ago in 2016 it can easily compete with all the new resorts which are opening up every single year! And even more – it quickly became one of our favorite hotels in the Maldives thanks to the BEYOND amazing service and staff, delicious and various food options plus the overall aesthetic of the island. It honestly covers all aspects you have in mind when you think about a vacation in the Maldives and surely won’t let you get bored during your stay!
It is just as ideal for couples as it is for families or groups of friends since you’ll have different areas for all preferences. The island is very spacious which makes it easy to find a quiet place to enjoy privacy or to meet other people at the Beach Club. Children will love to make new friends at the big kids club while their parents can spoil themselves in the Spa area.
We can highly recommend the LUX* South Ari in the Maldives for all travelers and will be back for sure.
We had a sponsored stay at the LUX* South Ari Atoll Resort & Villas in the Maldives which is not affecting this honest hotel review.