At almost 10,000 miles away from LA, getting to the Maldives is an extraordinarily long trip. But as you fly over the creamy turquoise waters and take in the unique views from your airplane window, you immediately know the trip will be worth it. Situated in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is made up of a double chain of 26 coral atolls, composed of hundreds of tiny islands. With 1,192 volcanic dots scattered over 35,000 sq. miles, this is one of the most dispersed countries in the world.
The Six Senses Laamu, the southernmost 5 Star resort in the Maldives, is just a hop, skip and quick plane ride from the Male airport. The philosophy of the Six Senses is “being in harmony with the environment,” and from the moment you give over your shoes when you board your private boat to the resort, you wonder if you will ever need shoes again. At Six Senses Laamu, well-heeled international travelers and Birkenstocked backpackers alike dress down, wander barefoot, and breathe deeply… in harmony with cool, white sands, azure waters and sun-warmed wood. Upon arrival at the resort’s dock, you meet your personal GEM (Guest Experience Maker), who whisks you out of the heat by electric cart to the cool of your villa. In this paradise of nature, the air is as clean as you will experience anywhere in the world. Everyone wears a broad and genuine smile, the word “no” doesn’t seem to exist and everything is primed for the ultimate guest experience.
Although over-water villas are available at most every resort in the Maldives, at the Six Senses, we recommend one of the beachfront villas. With its thatched roof, sun bleached wood walls and outdoor showers, this spacious two bedroom home away from home is peaceful and unpretentious yet quietly chic. Soaked with natural light, the view from the bed is of a private garden and translucent blue infinity pool surrounded by lush tropical jungle and a path
that leads to the azure waves breaking on a long, deserted white sands beach. There is no better way to wash away the detritus of a long travel day than with a spa treatment. Unique to the Six Senses is the couples’ “nest”, which is a large round room, made from a tangle of vines right at the oceans edge. Natural vegetation growing part way up the walls offers privacy; a rejuvenating breeze plays over your bodies as you unwind to the masterful touches of the masseuses.
After your massage, for a mid-afternoon treat, wander up the sun-kissed jetty over turquoise water teaming with colorful marine life to the Ice and Chocolate Studio, a shaded al fresco parlor where you will receive a hearty welcome and are encouraged to try as many of the over 40 homemade flavors of ice creams and sorbets as you can. And, if you would rather enjoy chocolate over dinner, slip into the chilled chocolate bar to delight in homemade island truffles! With restored nerves and your bodies relaxed, dress in anticipation of your first non-airplane/ airport food in what seems to be a very long time. But first enjoy the extraordinarily large outdoor bathroom complete with a deep bathtub and two outdoor showers. There is something quite primal about showering with the sound of the lazy waves and a shy wind rustling through tropical leaves.
If you have never had dinner in a wine room then you must arrange for a chef ’s dinner in the Altitude wine room. Although the wine room is chilled to the perfect temperatures for the wines, it is also the perfect dining environment after a day in the brilliant Maldivian sun. We were offered a hot water bottle for our feet and a warm jacket, which, surprisingly, went unused. There are several menus to choose from at Six Senses Altitude but make sure you try the Organic Wine Dinner, which, of course, means that every course will be paired perfectly with a biodynamic wine selected by Sommelier Karim Boulet. A thrilling experience because there was a time when “organic wine” meant subpar. Thanks to Karim, we learned “not so any more!!” Executive Chef Martin Davies dazzles with a handsome three-course meal featuring local lobsters and which highlights local ingredients from both the sea and the large organic garden located on the island. Each plate is an original presentation with fresh herbs, edible flowers and garden greens that beautifully heighten the flavors of the mouthwatering fresh seafood.
After such an amazing dinner and all that wine, you will wonder how you made it back to your tranquil jungle villa, in the dark, on your bikes. But once there you will enjoy your ample king bed draped in mystically romantic netting. After an enjoyable dip in your private pool, open all the large windows so you can enjoy the full experience of sleeping encircled by the sounds of the Maldavian jungle with the rhythm of the waves as background music. After a long glorious sleep, take in the exceptional early morning silence and enjoy your coffee on the beach as the night is pushed away by the first glimpses of a spectacular dawn and your only other companion a giant bumbling hermit crab. An extraordinary feeling of tranquility floats up from the gentle lapping waves and envelops like a soft breeze. Life moves more slowly here and as you relax into the ubiquitous heat, allow yourself breath. Linger in those prime spots that offer a sea-scented breeze that honestly feels heaven sent.
After a healthy breakfast, wander down to Ocean Dimensions Dive Center. The reefs of the Maldives have had their challenges over the last decade, first the tsunami of 2004 and then the El Nino of 2008, but the reefs are recovering nicely. Diving here is not just an extraordinary visual smorgasbord, it is also the ideal antidote to the heavy mid-day heat. Divers flock here year round for Manta and dolphin, to swim with the green turtles and for the rich coral and large schools of fish.
For your evening meal, try Leaf, Six Senses Laamu’s signature restaurant, which is perched above the island’s well kept organic garden. To access this treetop restaurant you must cross a wooden suspension that weaves and swings as you walk–much to everyone’s amusement. The chef takes every opportunity to construct creative new taste sensations from produce picked daily from the garden. Be sure to check the menu because the dishes change daily; but you can’t go wrong, there is something for every palate. Every dish is paired with a delightful wine selection–if you dine like us, may I discretely suggest you take the stairs and avoid the rope bridge on your way home!
I can’t end without giving accolades to the Six Senses Laamu’s environmental goal of achieving zero waste within the next few years. They are already well on their way with all water being produced in their own island desalination plant; completely eliminating the plastic water bottle. Rainwater is collected and stored. The Laamu gardens are natural; only getting water when it rains. And it requested that all guests pack out what they pack in, especially with respect to plastic. Ambitious, yes… I will definitely be keeping my eye on their progress with the hopes of making a return trip one day.