Hotel Insider: Locally owned Maldives resort offers authentic island feel



The welcome

I’m welcomed at the airport by a Baros Maldives staff member and taken on a 20-minute boat ride to the island. Once there, I’m greeted by several more staffers and escorted to the lovely open-air lobby, where I am offered a passion fruit juice with mint and a cold towel. I am quickly checked in and taken to my pool villa.

The neighbourhood

Baros Maldives was only the third resort opened on the archipelago, in 1973, and is one of the few that is locally owned and not part of a luxury chain. While there is an assortment of newer and flashier resorts to choose from, on much larger islands, this one still keeps up in terms of look and feel – not to mention a sense of history. The island must surely boast some of the most lush vegetation in the country and it’s just minutes until I see my first spots of wildlife: a lizard crosses my path, near a mother waterhen and her baby, just off the sandy white path to my room.

The scene

Baros only allows children above 8 to stay at the resort and I see no children whatsoever during my two days there. That leaves most of the guests to be couples from Japan, China and the Middle East. The island is tiny, just a 10-minute walk around, so you see the same people on repeat and it’s quite common to hear the beating of traditional Maldivian Boduberu drums. I have a lovely twilight fishing excursion (US$80 [Dh295]) that I’d already pronounced a bust before surprising myself by catching an emperor. More on that later.

The room

My Baros Pool Villa has a gorgeous deck and is surrounded by lush greenery. I also have my own pool and tiny swath of beach. The enormously comfortable king-sized bed faces the water and everything is decorated in beautiful dark wood. My only complaint is that the interior is a bit dark, even when the sun is shining outside.

The food

The fish I catch the first day is prepared soon after I arrive in the restaurant and served Maldivian-style, cooked in kaffir lime leaves, fish masala, tomato, Maldivian green chili and coconut (US$56 [Dh205]). It is served, fittingly, in Lime Restaurant and it is absolutely delicious. Unfortunately the black peppered calamari appetiser (US$25 [Dh92) I eat prior is far too salty and the accompanying greens are bare of dressing. I have a scrumptious pepperoni pizza from room service (US$39 [Dh143]). There is also fine dining in the round, over-water restaurant The Lighthouse, and buffet-style and tepanyaki offerings in Cayenne. There is a well-rounded buffet breakfast in Lime Restaurant each morning, but you can order American, Indian and Asian dishes (masala omelette, for example, or Japanese poached egg with dashi, bonito flakes, seaweed and ginger) from the menu, too.

The service

The staff are attentive, respectful and full of personality, stopping to chat and laugh during dinner or breakfast. I appreciate being given a full ice bucket without asking and am impressed when the cleaning staff sweep in the moment I leave my room and quickly alert the front desk I’ve left behind my room charger.

Hated

The weather is terrible the entire time I’m there, and it’s not possible to go snorkelling in the resort’s coral lagoon either day, nor can we see dolphins at sunset.

Loved

The 7am free yoga class on the deck of The Lighthouse restaurant, my room’s deep, luxurious bathtub and assorted L’Occitane products on offer.

The verdict

Baros Maldives has a more authentic feel to it than some of the flashier islands with resorts from bigger chains, and the fact that it’s locally owned is a draw too.

The bottom line

The Baros Pool Villa is US$1,555 (Dh5,712) per night, with half-board, for two people, including taxes.

* Ann Marie McQueen

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The Cabinet in December last year, approved a national fund for Emirati jobseekers and guaranteed citizens working in the private sector a comparable pension

President Sheikh Khalifa has described Emiratisation as “a true measure for success”.

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