LUX* South Ari Atoll

Review of LUX* South Ari Atoll review by Varun Sharma
Updated 6. Apr 2023

LUX* South Ari Atoll offers a contemporary Maldivian experience with all the 193 beautifully designed bungalows, villas and pavilions located either on the lagoon or strung out along the long sandy beach. With a laid-back ambiance and the opportunity to explore the best of what the Maldives has to offer, the architecture is a modern take on the traditional Maldivian thatched roofed architecture. 

Here, you will find chaise longues temptingly located on the four kilometres of sandy palm fringed beaches, staircases down to the ocean from the water villas and seven dining concepts to suit every palate from Japanese to the Oriental, international cuisine to Italian or a café serving signature coffees roasted in house. Bar-wise, there are five around the resort to quench your thirst with one a fully-fledged beach club with a floating dance floor. 

For wellbeing and fitness, there is the award-winning LUX* Me Spa offering 15 exclusive spa villas (including four over water); an outdoor relaxation area; a sauna and hammam; plunge pools, man-pedi facilities; a hair and bridal studio; a Spa Boutique and yoga classes in a Yoga Grove with sea views. The state-of-the-art LUX* Me Fitness Centre offers a range of TechnoGym equipment and fitness, stretching, progressive and adapted exercises. There are several water sports offered on a complimentary basis including snorkeling trips to the house reef, canoeing, pedal boats and kayaking. Other sports offered by the Dive Centre include diving, windsurfing, waterskiing, jet skiing, kite surfing, flyboarding and much, much more. 

On land, enjoy table tennis, two floodlit tennis courts, two resort swimming pools, billiards, Pétanque, bicycles and beach cruisers. For mini travellers, PLAY is a specially designed programme to entertain kiddies from three to eleven years with a wide range of thoughtful and expertly curated age-appropriate activities. Other facilities include an on-site clinic, hotel boutique and a range of excursions available including island tours, speedboat trips or sunset cruises on Dhonis (the local boat), luxury catamarans or other crafts. 

If that is not enough, the resort offers pop-ups and surprises that are visual, aural and gustatory.

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Located on one of the Maldives biggest islands, Dhidhoofinolhu, LUX* South Ari Atoll is picture perfect with four kilometres of white sandy beach facing a clear lagoon, filled with an array of exotic marine life.  Situated within a Marine Protected Area with around 50 dive sites, the sea is awash with wildlife from reef fish to dolphins, whale sharks, rays, and sea turtles. It is around a 30-minute seaplane transfer from Malé’s International Airport and guests can wait for their flights in the excellent LUX* private lounge – which is filled with food & drink. 

There are 1,192 islands encompassing The Maldives, strung across the Equator like a necklace in the Indian Ocean. The sea and the sky offer a wide palette of blue and aqua shades from a Tiffany blue to a deep dark midnight blue with the horizon sometimes blurred between them whilst the beaches are formed from soft coral.



Simplicity and style sum up the 193 thatched roof bungalows, villas and pavilions at LUX* South Ari Atoll with a touch of a boho-chic seaside vibe going on. Light and airy with whitewashed walls enlivened with pops of colour, the pared back accommodation, (62 with a private pool), is bright and welcoming with the emphasis on the view. There are private sunbeds on each terrace or deck. 

All the accommodation has individual air conditioning; ceiling fans; bathrooms with separate shower, bathtubs and toilets; LUX* bathroom amenities; minibars; complimentary coffee and tea; complimentary bottled water; safes; hairdryers and flatscreen televisions with satellite channels. The Romantic and Temptation water villas have a 122-centimetre curved Television and Home Theatre System. Some accommodation offers dressing rooms too with the Temptation Pool Water Villa and LUX* Villas enjoying separate glass floored lounges. 

On land, the entry level accommodation is the semi-detached Beach Pavilion at 60 square metres of living space. It can be interconnected to form the Two Bedroom Family Beach Pavilion. Each has its own individual outdoor terrace with close access to the beach. The largest land accommodation is the Family Lagoon Pavilion at 130 square metres of space. 

The Beach Villas are the most popular at 95 square metres of space with each villa offering a wonderful sea view from floor to ceiling windows, a tropical indoor-outdoor bathroom and direct access to the beach and lagoon. If you want your own private pool however opt for the Beach Pool Villas at 116 square metres of space, with a premium location to enjoy those Maldivian sunset moments. 

The entry level ocean villa is the Water Villa at 98 square metres of private space with direct lagoon access. Moving up a category, the Romantic Pool Water Villa at 110 square metres offers luxurious over water living with a private plunge pool, a hanging bird’s nest swing and wonderful sunrise views with direct ocean access. It also has a drop-down projector so you can watch films from your bed! If you like more of a pool, then the Temptation Pool Water Villas at 220 square metres of space offers a 14-metre-long pool with a separate living room with a glass floor, a Jacuzzi and sunrise views. 

The magnificent LUX* Villa (or Presidential Suite) is the ultimate water accommodation with glass floored living and dining rooms, an extensive outdoor terrace with a lounge area and infinity pool – and the location is prime too – right at the sunset end of the jetty for unobstructed ocean views. The master bathroom features a beautiful circular bathtub overlooking the water. Complimentary services include butler service; a 60-minute massage per adult; two complimentary private yoga sessions; a sunset cruise on a traditional Dhoni; a private film screening either in villa or on the beach; spirits and fruits replenished daily; a private buggy service, laundry service and a dinner at either Umami (Japanese) or Allegria (Italian) once per seven nights.

Service & Facilities


There are four kilometres of pristine, white sandy beaches to enjoy at the resort with thoughtfully placed sun loungers and water-swings placed along its length. If the beach is not to your liking, there are two swimming pools available for sun-lounging and cooling off. 

With around 50 dive sites in the vicinity, water-based activities are among the most popular at the resort and The Dive Centre provides full training and PADI certification for all levels. The resort offers a wide range of watersports ranging from jet skis, paddleboards, hoverboards, flyboards, wakeboards, water-skis; kite surfs, sailboats, fishing, parasailing, catamaran sailings and more – much more. It is even possible to venture out with the resort’s marine biologist to meet Fernando, the gentle giant whale shark and his ten friends on a scuba dive or swim alongside manta rays, inside caves or discover shipwrecks on a gentle snorkel. 

For yoga and meditation aficionados, there are daily group classes or private personalised sessions can be arranged whilst for the active, there are two floodlit tennis courts, volleyball and cycling available. 

For pampering, head over to the award-winning LUX* Me Spa for a holistic, integrated approach to beauty with personalised treatments using the exclusive range of Lux* Me products for body and facials. The facilities include 15 exclusive spa villas including four over water; an outdoor relaxation area; a sauna and hammam; plunge pools, man-pedi facilities; a hair and bridal studio and a Spa Boutique. The state-of-the-art LUX* Me Fitness Centre offers a range of TechnoGym equipment and fitness, stretching, progressive and adapted exercises. 

The Spa also features Zhengliao Chinese Medicine treatments; Shirley Page massages and facials and personal trainers working with SP&CO based in London. They will organise a Body Balance Analysis for you, creating a tailored programme of fitness options for use during your stay. 

For mini travellers, PLAY is a specially designed programme to entertain kiddies from three to eleven years with a wide range of thoughtful and expertly curated age-appropriate activities. There is a variety of activities available from language classes to beach sports – all supervised by LUX* trained staff. 

There is also an on-site clinic, a hotel boutique and a range of excursions available including island tours, speedboat trips or sunset cruises on Dhonis, luxury catamarans or other crafts. 

Then we have the “Pop-Up & Surprises” – which if you want to leave as a surprise, do not read on! The resort offers the “Cinema Paradiso” experience – a movie on the beach, “Message in a Bottle” – if you find a bottle with a note inside it there is a surprise awaiting you, the Junk Art Studio – they help you turn trash into art, Phone Home – red phone boxes with telephones inside that you can use to call “home” free of charge, the Wanderlust Library – a proper duplex dedicated to books and a “view” and the Tree of Wishes – where twice a week you can add a tag to a tree with a wish, while donating to a local orphanage. Once a year, a tag is pulled off the tree and the donor wins a complimentary holiday. It is all so unexpected … 



This resort is about enjoying the simple things in life and turning the ordinary into the extraordinary like having the best coffee of any beach resort in the Maldives brewed with their own roasted coffee beans. It’s playful, fun and modern, not taking itself too seriously, whilst still offering a huge range of luxurious facilities all offering the very best they can in one of the most beautiful and largest of the Maldivian islands. 

LUX* South Ari Atoll is where you can dance the night away, hang out in your villa, swim with whale sharks or partake in marine conservation, among other things. It’s light-hearted and breezy and they will even help you offset your environmental footprint for just one euro per day – setting exactly the right tone for an enjoyable, guilt free holiday at one of the most incredible destinations on earth.

Restaurants & Bars


With a range of eight restaurants and five bars, LUX* South Ari Atoll has to offer the widest selection of dining opportunities for the size of resort of any in the Maldives. 

Mixe is the main restaurant for breakfast and dinner, serving international cuisine served from live cooking stations, serving freshly made wood fired pizzas and succulent stir fries. Set on a sandy beach, the restaurant has slow-turning fans for cooling the salty fresh breezes. The weekly Maldivian-themed evening is a huge hit. 

Senses meanwhile, open for lunch and dinner, is set on the edge of one of the resort’s infinity pools and serves freshly caught fish and grilled seafood, Moroccan tagines and curries inspired by the region. The bar will certainly keep you hydrated with innovative cocktails and a wide range of beverages. Curry evening on a Sunday is a blast of spices! 

For a taste of the Mediterranean, head to Allegria for dishes of traditional favourites including gnocchi, homemade pasta, wood-fired pizzas and more. Dinner is served on the deck overlooking the beach with private, secluded dining easy to arrange too for that romantic touch. 

Umami, also open for dinner only, enjoys a contemporary design to fit a menu of gastronomic Japanese dining at its best. With chefs entertaining with their knife skills, enjoy fresh sashimi, nigiri and maki at the cobalt blue bar, Kobe beef and Australian lamb at the robata grill or speciality teppanyaki. To accompany the meal, choose from over 30 sakes or fine Japanese whiskeys. This restaurant serves some of the finest Japanese cuisine in the Maldives. 

For the best of South-East Asian dining for both breakfasts and dinners, try East Market whilst at Café LUX*, enjoy barista-made coffee, morning, noon, and night. The resort roasts its own beans on-site in special roasting rooms which can be explored in special tours. 

On the bar front, for daytime refreshments, try Veli Bar (also serving food), situated near the swimming pool which extends out into the ocean with lagoon views on three sites. 

The East Bar sits out over the ocean on stilts with panoramic views of the lagoon with catamaran style nets to hangout in to enjoy a sundowner cocktail. 

The laid-back Lagoon Bar sits right on the beach for daytime hydrating to a reggae beat whilst Beach Rouge is a beach club and restaurant combined with a relaxed vibe perfect for enjoying wood fire pizzas, salads, grill seafood with the bar open till late. There is even a floating dance floor too. 

One of the most favoured and sweetest outlets on the island – and arguably the Maldives – is ICI – the ice-cream shop! From ice lollies to fresh ice cream it’s all here and open for consumption all day! 

LUX* South Ari Atoll is the first resort in the Maldives to be recognised as a “Vegan Friendly Hotel” by Vegan Welcome - with plant-based vegetarian and vegan “keen on green” dishes available at all the food and beverage outlets.


LUX* South Ari Atoll is part of The Lux Collective which numbers sustainability and corporate social responsibility as core to their brand DNA. They voluntarily align with international and regional guidelines such as the UN’s sustainable development goals, the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact, GRI standards, IIRC frameworks, SIDS and the SAMOA Pathway and go above and beyond those commitments. The Luxe Collective manages all the hotels of LUX Resorts Ltd, a company listed on the Mauritian Stock Exchange and is the first hospitality group listed on the Mauritius Sustainability Index. 

Tread Lightly is their environmental signature project recognised for Climate Change mitigation and adaptation initiatives including renewable energy and biodiversity conservation projects. They promise guests an 100% carbon neutral stay for a voluntary contribution of one euro per night and they have implemented a pilot solar energy project at their resort in Mauritius which is contributing towards diesel use reduction and emissions. They have also implemented a similar project in the Maldives (the largest floating solar platform at sea) with on-site water plants, herb and vegetable gardens and upcycling in the Junk Art Studio. Single use plastics have been banned. Guests in the Maldives may also help preserve the pristine reef by planting corals alongside the resort’s marine biologist. 

TLC properties in Mauritius, Reunion Island and the Maldives are all Green Globe Sustainability Certified. In 2018, their efforts were recognised by Positive Luxury for SALT brand which celebrates brands that act with respect for the world and for the generations to come providing transparency through the interactive Butterfly Mark. 

What We Love

  • Fun: From ICI –  ice-cream shop to Beach Rouge for a late night dance, the resort offers fun fun fun around the clock. The Resort is unashamedly family-orientated by is also accessible for couples and singletons. If you need to take a break, the Wanderlust Library or just a quiet spot on one of the many beaches is an excellent escape from the hubbub that is LUX* South Ari Atoll
  • Service: The staff are like rechargeable batteries. They dissipate love and indeed themselves all day … and are like that seven days a week, 365 days a year. For quite a big resort, there is always a helping hand and smiling face just round the corner. You feel entirely safe here
  • Fun – yes – fun. More fun: Junk Art Studio, Phone Home, Café Lux, Cinema Paradise, scuba, surfing, snorkelling, spa … you never see a sad face on the island (except on check-out day)!

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • Extraordinary Experiences: This is the place where you get to live Life Extraordinary. Food here is a culinary journey. Mornings start with treasure hunts for a message in a bottle. Sunsets unveil live music sets, ocean view meditations, and open-air parties. And the unique South Ari Marine Protected Area calls for underwater adventures with sightings of majestic whale sharks, manta rays, coral gardens, and more.
  • Dive sites: Here, we are proud to invite our guest for some of the world's best dive sites and colourful reefs boasting an abundance of marine life: manta rays, sea turtles, thousands of species of reef fish, dolphins, and more. With shallower and easier dive sites compared to the northern part, South Ari Atoll is a spectacular destination for divers, snorkelers and watersport enthusiasts of any age and skill level. The five-star PADI diving centre and our dedicated team are on-hand to ensure memorable underwater experiences for both pros and novices.
  • LUX*cares: For us, doing good means feeling good, and we are keen on protecting nature on both local and global levels. We always engage in efforts to fight climate change, whether it’s planting corals with our very own marine biologist, banning single-use plastic, having our own water plant tending to our own herb garden and vegetable patch, launching the world’s largest floating solar platform at sea, and providing guests with our bicycles, island cruisers and electric-powered shuttles to get around.

    John Rogers
    General Manager
    LUX* South Ari Atoll helps you find the best offers on any hotel by comparing the prices of all leading hotel suppliers in a single search.

About the author
Varun Sharma
With over 25 years of experience in luxury travel journalism, Varun is responsible for all the content you see on He works closely with all the hotel and airline brands that appear on the website. BBC-trained, Varun has appeared in print, on radio, television, and now online media - having worked for outlets including the BBC, Telegraph (UK), MSNBC, Travel Channel and Cond...
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