LUX* South Ari Atoll

Our LUX* South Ari Atoll experience started in their chic lounge at Male seaplane terminal. We loved the big smile and the big welcome that we received, and we loved the relaxed vibes too. Now we know that this was to give us a taste of the ultra chilled vibes on the island. Our time in the lounge flew past in a blur of soya milk cappuccinos and Sencha green kombuchas, accompanied by plentiful vegan snacks including hummus with crudités, sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and fresh fruit salads, all served in cute glass jars. Before we knew it, we were boarding the seaplane and heading out over the impossibly blue ocean, passing numerous coral atolls before coming in to land at our very own atoll. Welcome to LUX* South Ari Atoll.

LUX Maldives Aerial Island
LUX Maldives Beach 1

The warm welcomes continued, and we were whisked off to our Beach Villa with sunset views. Not only did our villa have some killer sunset views, but it also had a huge outdoor circular bath tub, ‘his & hers’ dressing areas and all the necessary mod cons, including a huge TV and espresso machine. We stepped out of our villa onto a spacious deck and were met with expansive beach and ocean views. When we say expansive, we really mean expansive, as the beach stretched for more than 50 metres ahead of us before disappearing into the Indian Ocean. To top it all off, there were useful and high quality welcome gifts in the shape of a floaty white kaftan and a subtly branded baseball cap awaiting us in our Beach Villa. Who doesn’t love to receive gifts like that?

LUX Maldives Beach Pool Villa 2
LUX Maldives Aerial Beach

Exploring the island was something we just never got bored of during our stay. Hidden beaches and perfect photo opportunities were around every corner, whilst features such as the ‘Tree of Wishes’, full of hundreds of individual hopes and dreams, really put a smile on our face. As did the English style ‘old-school’ phone boxes from which you could call home for free, and what has to be one of the coolest libraries we’ve ever seen, located right on the beach with an ocean facing balcony. LUX* South Ari Atoll is a place to warm your heart for sure.

Tree of Wishes at LUX South Ari Atoll
Tree of Wishes at LUX South Ari Atoll

The Vegan Food

It didn’t take us long to realise that vegan travel lovers and those who like to include more plant based food in their diets will love LUX* South Ari Atoll. Each and every restaurant featured dishes from the LUX* ‘Keen on Green’ concept which champions veggie, vegan and plant based food. The fact that the concept was presented on the first page of every menu and the dishes were all highlighted in green throughout the menus, shows that LUX* are taking this seriously, ensuring that all guests are tempted to eat more plant based food. An absolute win in our eyes.

At breakfast, a visit to East Market meant we stepped straight into a bustling Asian food court that oozed potential for discovering something tasty. Steaming baskets of dim sum, freshly made noodle soups, a wok station that whipped up a pineapple cashew fried rice to write home about, homemade noodles stir fried with tofu and veggies, piping hot bowls of congee ready to be customised with our seasonings of choice. Not to mention tangy sourdough topped with avocados, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes or chef’s special tofu scramble for a more Western style start to the day. All served alongside the excellent LUX* home roasted coffee.

Vegan gyoza at LUX South Ari Atoll
Vegan noodle soup at LUX South Ari Atoll
Pineapple fried rice at LUX South Ari Atoll
Avo, mushroom and tomato on sour dough at LUX South Ari Atoll

An equally vegan friendly breakfast was found at the beachside Mixe restaurant where the buffet had live cooking stations, the masala dosa chef being our favourite. We ate fresh dosa stuffed with masala potato, alongside piping hot vegetable sambar and an abundance of red, green, ginger and plain coconut chutneys. We also loved the juice and smoothie bar where we could make our own concoctions; apple, kale and cinnamon, green juice anyone? Other DIY adventures were found at the peanut butter making machine and the fresh salad bar. Yum. Always happy for a surprise, especially one that involves the words ‘pancakes’, ‘chocolate’ and ‘cake’, we were delighted when one of the chefs helpfully provided us with fluffy vegan pancakes, slices of moist dark chocolate cake and sweet, chocolatey muffins.

Masala dosa at LUX South Ari Atoll
vegan muffins at LUX South Ari Atoll

For a lunch where the beautiful food was the only rival to the sweeping beach and ocean views, we headed to ‘Senses’. The ‘Vegan LUX* Green Salad’ was a rainbow of vegetables including beetroot, calabrese, carrot, peas, pickled mushrooms, tomatoes, salad leaves and fresh garden herbs. The DIY self dressing of olive oil and vinegar sprays was fun and added to the light and fresh vibes of this dish. Perfectly spiced and fried ‘Masala Dhal Wada’ were served with just enough of a nod to the humble taco to add a twist, but retaining all the joy that this classic Indian snack embodies.

Mixed veggie salad at LUX South Ari Atoll
Masala dhal wada at LUX South Ari Atoll

We headed out to LUX* South Ari Atoll’s fabulous over water Japanese restaurant for an evening of stunning vegan food, served to the sounds and theatre of the teppanyaki chef in the background. The ‘Kinoko Yaki’, grilled mushroom skewers were rich, intensely flavoured celebrations of the humble mushroom. The vegetable tempura was a theatrical display of this crispy deep fried classic. The sushi was fresh beyond belief. Dinner here guarantees surprises, but surprises of the good, delicious kind.

Mushroom skewers at LUX South Ari Atoll
Tempura mushroom at LUX South Ari Atoll

Lively upbeat vibes were on the menu at Beach Rouge, open for lunch and dinner and a great place for us to grab comfort food coming fresh out of the energetic open kitchen. ‘Vegan Rings and Mushrooms’ came with a thick lemon vegan mayo. A specially made vegan pizza was light and fluffy, came with toppings of our own choice and had a decent vegan cheese. The ‘Vegan Rainbow Cauliflowers’ were deliciously charred from the Josper grill, sat atop a light and creamy cauliflower purée and sprinkled with sweet golden raisins, flaked almonds and hazelnuts. It was all delicious.

Vegan pizza at LUX South Ari Atoll
Rainbow cauliflower at LUX South Ari Atoll

We returned to Senses for dinner where we were served vegetable samosas and ‘pani puri’, magical little crisp balls stuffed with masala potatoes, coriander and chickpeas which we drenched with a tangy tamarind water before popping them into our mouths for an explosion of taste. We followed these Indian street food delights with an incredible ‘Vegetarian Indian Thali Set’ which was a wonderful spice laden extravaganza of cooking. And then there was the vegan date pudding which we highly recommend eating at every opportunity. Nothing short of absolutely perfect.

Vegan Thali at LUX South Ari Atoll
Vegan date pudding at LUX South Ari Atoll

The Vegan Cooking Class

In addition to eating delicious vegan food during our stay, we also took the opportunity to take a cooking class with chef Senthil. Held outdoors in the lush vegetable and herb garden, we started with a tour of the native plants and ingredients that we would be using. Then, under the careful watch of the chef we were guided to prepare dishes for our lunch. We picked up useful tips for cooking with various spices and for making, curries and samosas, which turns out is much harder than it looks. Luckily chef was on hand to reshape and rescue several of our pastry creations, all with a friendly smile, a little laughter but a lot of encouragement. It was a brilliant experience to work with the chef and then sit under the plant covered pergola in the shade, listening to the sound of the plants being watered, and drinking fresh coconuts as we ate the food we had helped to prepare. Highly recommended.

LUX* South Ari indian cooking class
LUX* South Ari samosas
LUX* South Ari indian curries
LUX* South Ari sago dessert

The Vegan Essentials

There were non-feather pillows and duvets available, exactly what every vegan wants, and the bathroom amenities were from LUX*’s own organic ‘Mamma Aroma’ range which contains products that are made from plant derived ingredients and are not tested on animals. We also headed to the LUX* Me spa for top class treatments in an absolutely dreamy location. The over water treatment rooms were full of the natural sounds of the waves and the massage was excellent. As an added bonus, expect to be ‘misted’ with the signature orange blossom mist on arrival for your treatment, which like all of the spa amenities on offer, has not been tested on animals. Cruelty-free pampering is always best.

LUX* me amenities

We also had the opportunity to spend time with the resident marine biologist, learning about their exciting coral reef restoration project and discussing ocean conservation in general. LUX* have many ongoing sustainability initiatives, including the banning of single-use plastics and having the world’s largest floating solar system. This innovative system saves more than 260,000 litres of diesel annually, the amount that was previously required to produce the same amount of electricity.

LUX South Ari coral restoration
LUX South Ari solar panels

We consider coffee to be an essential part of any day, so we were very pleased to discover that Cafe LUX* not only roasted their own beans on site, but also offered a selection of plant-based milks. And if that wasn’t enough they had the most amazing vegan cookies on offer which were the perfect pairing with our morning coffee. Let’s just recap: freshly roasted coffee, plant milks, homemade vegan cookies on tap. What’s not to love?

Vegan coffees at LUX South Ari Atoll
Vegan cookies at LUX South Ari Atoll

The Vegan Food Quest Verdict

Check in to LUX* South Ari Atoll for a luxury stay where the ‘Keen on Green’ concept is delivered with passion, commitment and belief that what they are doing is for the greater good. They have looked at every aspect of sustainability, including the food that we eat and have taken steps to address climate change through their resort-wide actions. This translates into an exceptionally vegan friendly experience carried out by staff who are happy to go the extra mile. By encouraging everyone to eat more vegan and plant based food, they are taking important steps to promote better health for all as well as having a positive impact on our planet and saving the lives of many animals in the process; something that made us feel very at home and keen to return.

Vegan Food Quest small banner logo

We were guests of LUX* South Ari Atoll but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.

LUX* South Ari Atoll
South Atoll

Telephone: +960 668-0901
Cost From:
£330 / $400 (July 2022)

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