Ad: this post contains experiences and accommodation marked with * that formed a gifted partnership with Turquoise Holidays and LUX* South Ari Atoll.
When choosing where to head off on a honeymoon, there were three non-negotiables: islands, relaxation and all-inclusive. The Maldives was a destination that kept creeping back into our minds, and needless to say it ticked all three of those boxes, plus many more. We didn’t know whether or not the pandemic would allow for us to enjoy our dream honeymoon immediately after our wedding as planned, but somehow the stars aligned and on 5 October 2021 we touched down on the Maldivian sandbank named Dhidhoofinolhu.
The large island of Dhidhoofinolhu is home to one of the finest LUX* resorts in the collection: LUX* South Ari Atoll. When Turquoise Holidays suggested this relatively new resort as a base for our honeymoon, we fell in love with what we saw. It’s everything you’d hope for and expect from the Maldives, with plenty of added ‘luxury’, making it a perfect resort for those extra special occasions.
We contemplated spreading our trip across a number of islands, but decided to invest in pure relaxation and instead split our stay across two room types at LUX* South Ari Atoll. This way we could not only experience different rooms, but different areas of the island.
Our room for the first five nights was a Beach Villa located in the centre of the island, on the sunrise side, where the waters were significantly calmer. The villa was perhaps our favourite of the stay, with a private stretch of sand that dipped straight down into the warm waters, a large open plan space to enjoy the amenities, and a private outdoor tropical deck complete with a rain shower and deep circular bath.
Our second room booked for the final five nights was a Water Villa that sat above the shallows, stretching out from the southern tip of the island. Whilst this room was missing the extraordinary dressing room space of the Beach Villa, the exceptional bedroom and bathroom that overlooked a large deck, complete with a ‘napping net’ as I liked to call it, was incredible. When the sun became too much to bear, you could simply step down into the lapping waters beneath and explore the sealife with your snorkel gear. It was at this exact spot that we witnessed eight manta rays glide below us at sunset — a moment I’ll never forget.
To our surprise, the resort very kindly upgraded us to a Romantic Pool Villa* for our final three nights, giving us the opportunity to try the rooms that everyone raved about. Located on the opposite end of the island, the Romantic Pool Villas and Temptation Pool Villas each face east for sunrise. During our time in this room, I spent every spare moment enjoying the infinity plunge pool that sat peacefully above the crystal-clear ocean. The room itself felt perhaps a little smaller than our previous rooms, maybe because of its different interior and layout. Displaying a nautical theme, the room was ideally suited to couples with a double shower, drop-down cinema screen and cosy bird’s nest swing on the wooden terrace.
Let’s chat food and drink! I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of bars and restaurants on the island. There was a menu, a cuisine, an experience and a table with a view for everyone, and we had great fun making our way around the different eateries each day. From free ice-cream at ICI, to the out-of-this-world Indian plates at Senses, to the buffet which boasted something for every taste at East Market, to the weekly themed Maldivian nights, I was completely blown away. And unsurprisingly, somewhat heavier on my return to the UK! I’d say that eating and drinking here is quite pricey for someone like myself who prefers affordable luxury, so I was quite grateful to be visiting on an all-inclusive basis.
There’s so much more I could say about this fantastic resort, but to keep it somewhat brief, I’ll conclude this post with the experiences. Whether you’re into your diving or snorkelling, catamaran cruises, watersports, private peninsular picnics or all of the above — LUX* South Ari Atoll go above and beyond to offer an experience for every individual.
During our stay we enjoyed plenty of snorkelling both nearby (the free house reef trip is a must for finding your feet in the deep blue) and further afield, courtesy of the combined whale shark and turtle spotting speedboat trip. We did indeed spot both during the excursions, so it was a magical day!
Honeymooners are also offered a complimentary Sunset Cruise* among many other little surprises and gifts, and you can indulge in something super special, such as a Floating Breakfast* at your villa or one of the main pools.
Finally, the beautiful Spa. Home to a sauna, steam room, pool, beachfront terrace and an array of villas (both on dry land and over the water), the LUX* Me Spa is exquisite. Before this trip I’d never had a massage, so I thoroughly enjoyed our Couple’s Massage*, followed a few days later by a Facial and Pedicure.
There’s truly a ton to do on the island, and we felt like eleven days was the ideal amount of time to enjoy everything, whilst saving plenty of time for sitting poolside with a Pina Colada.
We can’t thank the LUX* South Ari Atoll and Turquoise Holidays teams enough for helping us to plan our perfect honeymoon. I miss these moments every day, but thankfully I have these photo memories to transport me back every now and then.