LUX* South Ari Atoll: now in beach house chic

The multi-award winning property of LUX* Resorts & Hotels has opened its doors for guests on the 1 September after a complete refurbishment of its flagship property in Maldives, LUX* South Ari Atoll, “entirely reimagined in stunning beach house chic”.

The resort’s 193 pavilions and villas were completely redesigned by renowned design studio, P49 Deesign. The resorts landscaping was heralded by award-winning landscape architect Stephen Woodhams.

According to Dolores Semeraro, Cluster Director of PR & Communications, Maldives, the island’s natural shape and size was the main inspiration for the designers.

She noted that the, “Interior designs’ colours were selected to enhance the sense of ‘locale’, the hues of the ocean, the glittering lagoon and the powdery white sand. On land, the shades of green and tropical flowers as well as the soft tones of the corals surrounding the island.”

The newly refurbished villas now feature the master bedroom facing the ocean, enabling guests to have a breath-taking view as soon as they open their eyes in the morning. A common colour identity of white and off-white resonates across the board, ensuring the interiors capture as much light as possible.

The designers noted that all the villas were designed with simplicity in mind, just like one would design their beach house. It also features soft tones and materials chosen to ‘blend in’ with the environment rather than “stand-out”.

“In some of the villa categories we added nautical touches, especially in the over water villas, as a reminder of one of the most vital aspects of the Maldives’ culture, the fishing heritage,” said Dolores.

With these immense design feats done in such a short period, Hotelier Maldives sat down with Glenn Daniels, General Manager of LUX*  South Ari Atoll to delve deeper into the process of the design, the complications of the refurbishing and operational property, and the guests experiences with the changes.

LUX* South Ari is already a multi-award winning property, and with a new property set to open in Maldives, what was the reason or motivation behind the complete refurbishment of resort?

Maldives is recognized as a luxury destination all around the world, however discerning travellers are now looking for more than just luxury. We listen to their preferences and embrace the new trends in everything we do. That is why we felt it was time to refurbish LUX*  South Ari Atoll, so that we could deliver an ever-refreshing experience to our guests, not only in line with what a 5 star resort is expected to offer but also to surprise and delight our guests with exciting new additions.

 The project was completed in a very short period of time. What were the reasons to do this in such a short time, and what were the challenges faced during the refurbishment?

We considered the scale of work and the timeframe within the low season in the Maldives and planned accordingly. Maldives remains quite a challenging destination in terms of shipping and in some cases the harsh weather during the monsoon made the delivery of construction material very challenging.

The property has been awarded Leading Family Resort, but you have also announced that from 2017, the eastern side of the property will be an Adult Only area. What changes to the resort have you brought to the resort to accommodate this change, and what are the reasons behind this change?

The island is known to be one of the largest five star resorts of the Maldives and family oriented. However with the refurbishment of the overwater villas on the east side of the island, we considered the needs of those guests who wish to enjoy a holiday à deux. Our designers reinvented the space and deco of the old Water Villas transforming them in what we now call ‘Romantic Pool Water Villa’.

LUX* South Ari is located in a very environmentally sensitive area, and you already do amazing work towards sustainable practices and conservation. How has the new designs and refurbishments enhanced your sustainability efforts?

We aim to act in full respect of the environment and our surroundings, that’s why our designers have planned the refurbishment taking in consideration the island vegetation, colours and shape. The new villas, despite being fully refurbished indoor, maintained the thatch roof outside and our gardens have been nurtured and enhanced with more varieties of tropical trees and flowers.

Could you please elaborate on motifs of the concept “entirely reimagined in stunning beach house chic”?

For long time Beach Villas in the Maldives featured dark wood and simple interior design. With this incredible refurbishment, our aim was to create a space where our guests would not only sleep but most importantly feel like at home, or better at the beach house. Our designers did not alter the size or the shape of the old villas; they reimagined the use of space and light, creating a stunning beach house featuring brighter interiors, soothing materials and an innovative choice of colours.

With a new property set to open soon in Maldives, what common features will we see in the LUX* properties in Maldives, or to that of LUX*’s other global properties?

While each LUX* resort has a unique design, the common features across the properties are all about the guests’ experience. LUX* offers what we define ‘Reasons To Go’ a range of experiences set to surprise and inspire our guests in all our properties. Many of the Reasons to Go LUX* have also inspired fellow hoteliers in the Maldives!

How much of local themes, decorations, local artwork/crafts or local craftsmen/artists was incorporated into the new designs and refurbishments?

The interior design of the over water villas is inspired by the stunning colours of our lagoon and the beach villas by the warm tones of the coral reefs. Thatch roofs are also used throughout the island.

Maldivians are incredibly talented craftsmen, this is why we created a brand new Reason To Go LUX* named Junk Art Studio and Gallery. A unique space where our Maldivian team members are able to create incredible art pieces purely from recycled materials.

The architectural and landscaping designs and projects were awarded to international studios. Is it a matter of trust or economic feasibility, or is it hard to find quality local studios or architects?

For this project we partnered with international firms as well as Maldivian companies in various aspects and range of responsibilities. We believe in local talents and resources optimization.

What new features or services will be provided under the refurbishment?

LUX* South Ari will feature a complete refurbishment of all the villas, both on land and overwater. All our restaurants will be upgraded and we are very excited to introduce the first Beach Rouge to the Maldives, the island beach club and restaurant.

Together with a Zen teahouse and a new retail experience, LUX* ME SPA will also feature a brighter and stylish beauty salon where a dedicated corner for gentlemen will offer a real barber shop experience.

For water sports enthusiasts, we will introduce the brand new Jet surfboard joining the likes of the ever-thrilling fly-board, hoover-board and jet skis.

The refurbishment also comes with a number of culinary conceptual upgrades. What can guests expect from these experiences?

LUX* South Ari offers a wide range of restaurants and bars, creating a unique culinary journey. Allegria sophisticated Italian dining features an array of Italian delicacies. Senses Restaurant brings Arabic and Indian Ocean flavours to the island. Umami, a Japanese oasis in the middle of the ocean features multiple counters of teppanyaki, robatayaki and sushi counter not to mention Maldives’ largest selection of Japanese sakes and liqueurs. East Market, an authentic feast of Asian specialties showcased as an Asian night market style. MIXE, the all-time favourite international buffet and Lagoon Bar, a feet-in-the-sand reggae bar at the east point of the island.