The public buildings and the rooms use natural materials in a pleasing scheme of sand colours and dark wood. The framed glass ‘walls’ open to draw the views inside, while the natural materials and sandy floors help to blur the distinctions of outside and inside. The decor is modern chic but the atmosphere is still relaxed and casual.
The buffets are very good, using quality ingredients throughout, from fresh fruit juices to the prime cheeses. For variety, there are 2 barbecue nights with exotic meats, such as ostrich and kangaroo, alongside lobster and tiger prawns. Also included in the Platinum Plan is one evening meal at the specialist restaurant, Tamarind, that has a Chinese and an Indian chef.
The 3 bars offer snacks at other times of the day, as well as a constant source of liquid refreshment - be it water, juice or alcoholic beverage. Only premium brands of spirits are served and used in the cocktails. The wines are not the finest but are in good condition. The room mini-bars are kept filled with beer, wine and soft drinks.
One spa treatment is included in the package, to be enjoyed at the purpose built, over-water Tamara Spa. The treatment rooms are good and have a private deck looking out to sea but the spa’s open, central ‘lounge’ is simply by-passed in the hot day’s sun and there isn’t really another place to get into the mood before or relax afterwards. Nonetheless, the experienced therapists from all over Asia are very good.
Every guest on the package also gets 1 free sunset fishing and 1 excursion to an uninhabited and an inhabited island. The uninhabited island, Theluveligaa, has a great reef for snorkeling, with massive table corals. The inhabited island is Dhangethi, which has a cultural centre and decent shops. The excursion list, though, could do with some updating to make it more enticing.
As a narrow, east/west island within a channel, there is good snorkeling on both sides. The reef edge is usually 10 to 20 metres away from the beach. Unless there is a very low tide, snorkelers can drift across the top of the corals.
Divers have 8 channels cut-through for their use. Here, in South Ari Atoll, the diving is excellent, with world renowned thilas and channels to the north and south of the island. In the summer mantas are frequent nearby, while in winter you can take a 2 hour trip to Rangali (Conrad) to see them. Whale sharks are seen year round on the very southern tip of the atoll, sometimes coming up past Lily Beach on the east side.
The new water villa rooms have made snorkeling access even easier - just a few steps down and a short drift to the reef drop-off. This is glorious, and not at all common in the country. It is a massive bonus to already very good rooms. Not that you have to go far from the beach or lagoon rooms, I hasten to add.
All the rooms are similar in style, materials and fittings but differ in size and location. The 63 Beach Villas come in pairs, 6 of which are inter-connected for family use. They have light shade around them and views through to the beach and lagoon. Just like the more expensive rooms, they have a nespresso coffee-making machine, a jacuzzi bath and big LCD flatscreen satellite tv with dvd player, iPod dock and surround sound. Every room also has wifi internet connection.
The 16 Lagoon Villas are on the north side, the opposite side to the Beach Villas. They have steps down into the lagoon but their front doors are on land. The bonus here is the quietness, away from lapping waves or any service area sounds. These rooms do have a low coral wall in the lagoon in front of them to save the beach from erosion. The 36 Deluxe Water Villas are very fine rooms that open out to a wooden deck and jacuzzi plunge pool overlooking the corals. The 4 Sunset Water Suites are half as big again as the deluxe villas, with bigger tvs and pools and a private view of each day’s sunset.
Families are welcome and there is an outdoor play area for younger children and 2 indoor rooms for guided games and entertainment for children up to 12.
Finally, this is a resort that is full of class but, at the same time, is relaxed and fun. The Vibes bar does disco or live music twice a week and stays open until the last person is helped back to their room.