I had to take in the Maldives in stages. As a first time visitor here, I was almost suspicious of the natural landscape. The shock of the gleaming turquoise lagoons, forming a halo around the island; the glow of the immaculate white sands; and the density of the tropical flora framing the cerulean sky, each competing for my attention. Gazing out, I spotted a lone palm tree leaning into the beach, creating the archetypal postcard image. I felt the urge to send my friend a quick photo text, “Wish you were here!” I gradually joined all of these pieces together and acclimatised to the beguiling Maldivian colour palette. Welcomed with a cold towel and a fragrant iced tea, with a side of summer breeze, I understood why people flock to these coral atolls in the Indian Ocean. This is the place for respite, a site of preternatural calm.
During check in at the lobby, I immediately noticed Café LUX* to my left, a speciality coffee bar serving its own blend, roasted on the island. I observed the barista, perfecting his latte art, and knew the resort was decidedly modern in its approach. Upon arrival at our water villa, I took a liking to the ScruCap wine, handpicked for LUX* by chief sommelier Kent Scheermeyer, and had a quick browse through the in-house magazine, which has a look that would fit in seamlessly on the shelves of a lifestyle boutique, alongside independent titles and coffee table tomes. Here, an easy insouciance and contemporary style prevails. My favourite corner of the island was a lounge and bar called Senses, serving a menu with Maldivian, Sri Lankan, and Indian influences, complete with an infinity pool facing sunset and unhindered ocean views.
The chance to enjoy not one, but two pristine, palm fringed islands gives this classic resort and spa its edge. Joined by a 500m footbridge, the main landmass Rangalifinolhu connects to neighbouring Rangali island. If I had to pick a favourite, I’m partial to Rangali for its exceedingly laid back atmosphere and the quiet zone, an adults-only tented lounge on the beach. I have a fond memory of wobbling back to my room after a champagne and lobster barbecue, vowing to detox the next day, only to wake up and dive into a Japanese breakfast bento box. The meals are quite memorable here. Over on Rangalifnolhu, lunch at Mandhoo was something of an unforgettable experience; dining in an open air, over water restaurant balanced on stilts, 100m out in the Indian Ocean, with baby sharks and sting rays swimming by.