LUX Maldives review
Spa island for family & friends in the Indian Ocean
The Quick Read: Created by Paul Jones of the more upmarket One & Only resorts, Lux Maldives is a bright and breezy spa island for friends or families looking to relax. Larger than many Maldivian islands with spas, it adds a welcome dose of colour and inventiveness to the Indian Ocean holiday experience, from the lime green ‘Life’s a beach’ flip flops in the little LUX Me Spa to the traditional red phone box from where you can call home for free to over 35 countries (gimmicky but brilliant). There are fitness classes in the gym, yoga sessions in a beachside ‘yoga grove’, a choice of two swimming pools, top-notch diving and snorkelling and excellent childcare. The South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area is opposite LUX Maldives – so it’s easy to go and see whale sharks and dolphins without a massive long boat ride too. Lux Maldives is one of many LUX resorts – there are others in Mauritius, Reunion and China.
More on the Lux Me Spa: For the most tranquil experience here, book one of the four over water treatment villas and watch reef fish through the hole in your massage bed during your session. The rooms feature deep red cotton sheets & cushions, calming plain walls and marine-green wooden wall hangings decorated with fish and coral – ask them to turn off the air con and fling open the doors so you can feel the ocean breeze. There are also garden treatment rooms set back a little from the beach, a nicely done relaxation garden you can sit in before or after your treatments with a small hydropool, and separately, sauna and steam facilities – you may need to ask the therapists to turn on the hot and cold rooms in advance, as they’re sensibly left off to conserve energy.
A whole range of treatments are on offer, from facials to holistic therapies such as a Traditional Bali Ritual, Four Hands Massage and Warm Stone Therapy. You can choose a Vitality Package, which includes a 90 minute personalized spa treatment, a 45 minute personal training session, a 45 minute personal yoga session and a healthy cooking class, but it’s worth paying extra for the signature massage with essential oils by the UK’s grand dame of aromatherapy Shirley Page, which we found to be exceptionally good. Read a word from the queen on her stay.
More on other wellbeing activities: For those wanting a little more than relaxation, you can choose a bespoke Vitality Week, devised by the Australian wellness guru Jeff Butterworth, Lux Me’s chief spa and wellness officer, which mixes exercise with treatments. There are also group fitness classes, a well equipped gym, and group yoga sessions aimed mostly at beginners in an attractive little yoga grove.
Compared to other Maldivian islands, this one is huge – so you can actually have 45 minute walk around it, though cycling on the complimentary bikes is the best way to get about. There’s a herb garden for quiet time away from the midday sun, two large pools to lounge besides, beach volley ball and tennis, diving and snorkelling. It’s definitely worth taking a boat ride out to try to spot an awe-inspiring giant whale shark or commune with pods of dancing dolphins.
More on what’s great for children: Friendly Maldivian babysitters are available for younger children, while the decent Play club caters to children from 3 years to 12, with everything from organised treasure hunts to tennis lessons and painting. Teens have access to kayaking, pedal boats and tube rides at Studio 17, while all children will love the photo shack where you can have polaroids taken of yourself with a friend.
More on the rooms: There are 193 villas here catering to 400 guests with 600 staff. Choose from thatched beach villas tucked between greenery on bright, white sand or over-the-water villas on stilts – go for the latter to make the most of the sea breeze if you don’t want to sleep with air con. The most affordable are the easy-to-be-in Beach Pavilions, while the Prestige Water Villas are the ones to go for if you want the most privacy. Wood-pannelled interiors are comfy, and there are uplifting surprises such as colourful notebooks to jot down your thoughts in and Lux’s own brand of toxin-free, tropical toiletries with refreshing fragrances.
Food & drink: There are no less than seven restaurants (we told you the island was large). Breakfast is a buffet at The Island Kitchen, while for supper you can linger over a bowl of delicious seafood pasta at Italian restaurant Allegria (the accompanying house Scrucap wines, especially bottled for LUX in South Africa, are decent), or head to Umami for tasty Japanese-style fare such as sushi rolls and squid salad (here you can see your food cooked at a teppanyaki table too).
There are healthy options on all the menus, but you will have to ask if you want something specific to your diet, and on our visit, white bread was served unless you asked for brown. Cookery lessons are available in the herb garden (learn to make simple healthy fare such as miso soup, mixed mushroom salad and poached fish). We particularly like the airy coffee bar, where they serve their own home-ground lattes or cinos decorated with island scenes by a resident barista – this is highly unusually for the Maldives, where familiar hot drinks often taste weird because of the long-life milk.
Fellow guests: This is a great place for families or groups of friends, for parents with young children in need of some ‘me’ time, and for couples or a pair of friends who are happy to be in a larger resort. It won’t suit solo travellers looking for tranquility or those looking for a deeper healthy holiday experience.
What’s queenly: The genuinely good ideas, from the notebooks in the rooms to the phone box from where you can call home for free. It’s unusual to find a resort with their own brand of genuinely toxic-free toiletries too, and we love the touches of colour everywhere.
What’s lowly: Lux Maldives is not as perfectly polished as some other, smaller Maldivian resorts, and it won’t suit retreaters looking for true soul.
Getting there: Fly to Male, from where it’s a quick seaplane ride. For UK readers, the flight from London to Maldives is 10 hours.
Costs: A family package – 2 adults and 2 children – costs from $4470 (about £2600) for a week staying in a Beach Villa, B&B, including seaplane transfers and a Vitality Package for the parents. For treatments you can buy chunks of ‘LUX Me Time’ in advance (buying eight hours, for example, gets you a 20% discount).
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
© Queen of Retreats
Caring, cleansing breaks in Andalucia