There are no cocktails served in coconut shells at LUX North Male Atoll. No thatched roofs, no castaway chic. Here, the inspiration is more Miami or Mykonos, all sleek white lines and high-impact design. Head to the waterfront pool beside the Beach Rouge bar and diner, where a DJ regularly lays down beats, and you will see that beach umbrellas have been replaced by red sun sails that pop against the all-white furniture.
The message is clear: this is not just business as usual. LUX North Male Atoll is a game-changer, a resort that recognises that the Maldives is no longer what it used to be. Once the sole province of honeymooners, the Maldives now draws a broader range of travellers, from girls on a getaway to multi-generation families. Located just an hour's boat trip from Male, LUX North Male Atoll – the company's second property in the Maldives, part of a global portfolio of tropical hideaways – is designed to exceed expectations.
Take the spa, where each treatment suite is located in its own overwater bungalow and has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer amazing water views. Watersports? Sure, you can take out a kayak for a spin, but why not upsize that and take out a private yacht? And forget those beachside shacks where you can learn how to make a shell necklace; here, guests can take a photography class or head to the cafe for lessons in latte art. (Did we mention that LUX is the only hotel group in the Maldives to roast its own coffee?)
The resort's real selling point is its villas, which are simply dazzling. The entry-level water villas, where the whitewashed walls echo the elegant curves of a superyacht, offer a gobsmacking 105 square metres of living space, including separate living and sleeping areas as well as an indoor-outdoor bathroom. Add in the outdoor areas – including a deck with a seven-metre pool and a cabana, as well as a rooftop terrace where you can order up a barbecue dinner or enjoy a spot of stargazing through a telescope – and you have no less than 390 square metres to play with.
No wonder, then, that the resort's two waterfront pools are usually deserted. Most guests spend much of the time either cocooned in their villas or out on a marine excursion to spot dolphins, manta rays or turtles. The only time you are likely to encounter other guests is at a sunrise or sunset yoga session, held on the rooftop of the spa, or at mealtimes.
Speaking of meals, the food is stellar. Start the day with Glow's extraordinary breakfast buffet, where you can feast on anything from waffles to cooked-to-order noodles to chia puddings. Glow's lunches and dinners are equally enticing, offering smart takes on old favourites (their triple decker BLT is next-level).
Other dining options include Inti, a Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant dishing up fresh sushi and ceviche, and Beach Rouge which has a wood-fired pizza oven and offers diners a choice of three types of salt (rock, Himalayan pink and smoked) as well as a mortar and pestle so you can grind your peppercorns yourself. Not yet open during my visit is Barium, which will offer degustation dinners.
For a special experience, try the private dinner on the pier, or have a floating breakfast delivered to your private pool.
Rates start from $1456 per villa, twin share, including breakfast. See luxresorts.com
Ute Junker was a guest of LUX Resorts.