Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Six Senses Laamu

Maldives

Combines castaway 5-star luxury with a dedicated commitment to conservation

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Six Senses Laamu

Location

Laamu Atoll

Travel Information

A seaplane from Malé’s international airport to a small nearby island, followed by a short speedboat journey which, combined, takes around 90-minutes

Top Tips

Stay in an overwater ocean villa for the real Maldives experience

5-Star X-Factors

Sustainability is the name of the game

Connecting your sixth to your seventh sense

Six Senses Laamu combines castaway 5-star luxury with a dedicated commitment to conservation and sustainability, both above and within the ocean. It does so without compromising complete satisfaction, whether you are a luxury-lover or an explorer. This dedication to protecting its island host and nurturing the local community genuinely enhances the guest experience, allowing you to feel more in-tune with your stay and certainly more connected.

Every one of the 97 wooden villas, located over water or tucked into lush mangrove on a powder-soft beach, has been built using sustainable materials, (local, recycled, certified wood, natural fibres and fabrics), with minimum impact on the pristine environment. They don’t only feel right - they now belong here.

The differentiating appeal

Six Senses Laamu appeals to, as they call it, the ‘thinking traveller’. It is perhaps, on balance, the most multi-faceted of its type, offering 5-star Maldivian experiences, with a sustainable footprint. Its open-hearted approach, carefree spirit, and energetic vibe means that you can choose your pace at any time, on any day. It also feels more remote than most, being the sole resort in the southern Laamu Atoll.

Getting there

It’s an easy connecting flight from Malé’s international airport to a small nearby island, followed by a short speedboat ride which, combined, takes around 90-minutes. After a welcome drink and refreshing cool face towel on arrival, you are introduced to your ‘GEM’ (Guest Experience Manager) who, from then on in, is available to assist you with every detail of your stay.

Barefoot, in true Maldivian style, we were taken to our overwater villa in a small open-sided buggy. A scented sea breeze relieved the lunchtime heat, along with the shade from the island’s lush and verdant interior as we swept along the winding soft sand paths, captivated by the resort’s enchanting castaway aura. Throughout our stay our bicycles, personalized with initials burnt into a wooden ‘number plate’ that hung from the back of the saddle on hessian rope, was our sole mode of transport. You belonged, and it felt liberating.

The GEM service

The GEM’s are not hands-on butlers that faff around your every whim; instead you call them when you need something, or when you wish to understand more about the island. We were fortunate to have Shifu, a keen eco warrior, like all the hosts, and she enjoyed explaining the fundamentals of their key initiatives on sustainability, a word that has become a way of life here. Importantly, their values are not imposed on you, but it soon becomes apparent that the reason you feel so in tune with the resort and its breathtaking setting is because of their environmental, social and cultural commitment to both the present and the future. There is a fundamental link between the balance of the planet’s needs and the local people’s wellbeing.

How does this eco culture play into your experience?

All Six Senses properties have a water-bottling site. The water is created, bottled and recycled on the island, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and eliminating waste. Strangely enough this makes you more appreciative of its intrinsic value, while the absence of plastic bottles is noticed.

There are thriving herb gardens, overflowing with scented basil, thyme, lemongrass and citronella, many of which are used in the invigorating spa products. Laden lemon, jackfruit and mango trees are planted around the borders, as well as a variety of greens and cucurbita, all grown organically in vegetable gardens. This wholesome produce ends up on your plate in a fabulous variety of cuisine styles; including Vietnamese, Japanese, European and local. What’s more a delicious herby bouquet trail wafts through the ocean air as you cycle the silky paths, along with the sensual aroma of mood-enhancing incense from the Six Senses Spa.

Much of the sustainable work goes on behind the scenes amidst the frondescence of the island’s vegetation. These include the heated water reticulation system and osmosis desalination plant, a ‘hot’ favourite to visit, as well as a carpentry workshop, sewerage treatment plant, all located around the sustainable hub; Earth Lab. Whether you visit any of these work stations or not, just being aware of this sustainable subsistence eco-living enriches your castaway, carefree, no-shoes adventure.

Tropical nirvana – our overwater ocean villa with a lagoon-blue pool

From the outside the rustic rondavel-shaped villas, all weathered and sun-kissed in ash-bleached wood, are enchantingly ‘Crusoe’ in appearance. They stand on stilts over the ocean on either side of three wooden jetties. Once you step inside they take far-flung fantasy to another level, in a variety of exotic, quixotic, romantic and relaxing ways, with every 5-star tech need discreetly catered for.

We stayed in villa number 63, second from the end of the second jetty, with views across the turquoise lagoon to the sand bank in the distance. The impact on entering was powerful. It was midday and the phosphorescent blue from the sea, combined with the romantic retro vibe of an explorer’s cabin, was a heady blend of nostalgic enchantment. An alluringly designed blend of castaway and contemporary.

Vintage-feel twin copper vanities beneath backstage-lit mirrors, are situated outside the private cloakroom with a floor reveal, neatly settled into a wooden ledge. The basins are encased in open, worn leather travel trunks complete with original straps separated by a row of beauty products. This maritime globetrotter vein continues with the overhead rudder-style fans, the writing desk set before the mesmerising ocean view, along with the timeless sweep of organic materials. The villas are also designed to take advantage of natural cooling so the thatch roof overhangs like a disheveled fringe, which creates natural shade for the glass walls. One feels a charming, romantic, far-flung and nest-like cossetting embrace staying in one of these villas, as it really does fulfill a very primal fantasy of island perfection.

Before our GEM Shifu had a chance to familiarise us with the switches, mini bar, fans, Wi-Fi, Bose surround system, swivel flats-screen and so on; I rushed passed the sea-facing king-sized bed, all soft and white with swathes of veil tied back for daytime, in order to open the glass windows to the deck. These sexy decks scream a primo 10/10. There are two sun-and-sea seasoned decks; one covered as you step outside with a deep fitted seating area, plus another in the sun a few steps down, with recliners and a cut out glass table for breakfast, backgammon and cocktails with fitted banquets. The cushions and seating areas are upholstered in off-white with a splash of tropical green, a nod to the island. There is a wooden ladder into the sea with a hose-down attached at the side, as well as a lagoon-blue infinity pool on a raised deck in front of the open-to-the-elements bathroom.

The privacy-screened wet room is an alfresco bathing zone, all wondrously entwined with the ocean. There’s a shower, encircled by bamboo, with an orbit-sized sunflower head, a sunken glass bathtub beneath louvered shutters, and a curved wooden stairwell that leads up to a sheltered viewing deck with daybeds. Wherever you are in this groovy eco ‘cabin’ you feel blissfully connected to the sea, so it’s easy to slip into an energizing rhythm: snorkel, swim, shower, sunbathe, iced drinks, fruit, mellow soundtrack, snorkel…connecting you to your seventh sense: enlightened feelings.

Choose your own pace

It was, of the four islands we stayed on, the most active, yet extremely carefree in the way it flowed. You could workout in the amazing gym, using high tech equipment facing the blue; spend time in the glorious spa with a transporting treatment; kayak around the island or, even, surf. This is the island in the Maldives for surfers. However you could simply take advantage of the other ‘trappings’ and just unwind, enjoying outstanding cuisine, great bars, a serviced beach and a good snorkel. No one judges, it’s completely your choice.

The Spa

Six Senses resorts are renowned for their spas the world over. They are all uniquely designed to blend in harmoniously with their environment, creating holistic spaces and treatments that link you to the locale. The Six Senses Spa at Laamu is located on the beach in a thick pocket of equatorial vegetation, all hidden, if it weren’t for the seductive scent that reaches the sandy path as you cycle by. There are four originally designed dome-shaped eco-nests for couples, as well as treatment pavilions with views across white sand to the blue. The products are natural and the highly skilled therapists practice many award winning treatments inspired from all corners of the globe. I had an intuitive Indian massage that removed several knots and left me feeling fully prepared to dive into the deep mystery of the sapphire blue.

Favourite hangout – The Chill Bar

We were always drawn to the Chill Bar, not only for a refreshing cocktail, but also because it’s an exceptional spot from which to snorkel. The reef is a few meters from the bar and it’s teeming with sea life. We saw eagle rays, turtles and almost ticked off our tropical fish list, each day. Coming in from a swim here, with a fresh water hose-down, followed by sun-time in a catamaran-net-over-ocean-daybed, is heavenly. What’s more, everyone feels exactly the same way about this ritual, as this easy access to such unadulterated pleasure is something that Six Senses Laamu has got taped. Sunset here is mesmerising, too, while the service is warm, engaging and the knowledgeable sommeliers are on hand to talk you through their exceptionally well-stocked cellar. We also enjoyed light lunches here; simple Vietnamese hand rolls, bulging with local goodness, along with a little kick from jalapenos stuffed with mozzarella.

In the evenings there is a live DJ and an accompanying singer at the Chill Bar, creating an upbeat vibe along with a playlist that spans the decades, from anthems to hip-hop. It’s good mojo-lifting pleasure to have this as an option for pre or post-dining drinks. It’s carried off extremely well, in an island-chic awe-inspiring setting, until around 1.00am.

Spoilt for (dining) choice

All in all there are six dining venues, mostly situated above or beside the ocean, offering different cuisine styles prepared by skilled chefs from the cuisine’s origin. For ice cream, sorbet and chocolate lovers there is a studio dedicated to almost all-day indulgence. Set open to the sea beside the boutique and dive center, this midday opening meeting venue offers over 40 flavours of exceptional ice-cream - with an array of toppings to dither over – from decadent cheesecake to a green tea sorbet. The truffles are melt-in-your-mouth delectable with flavours from mint to rich treacle. This is a perfect treat after burning those calories doing activities that you really enjoy.

A highlight for us was most definitely the lobster BBQ, a weekly dining experience on offer to all the guests located on the sunset beach in front of the ‘Sip Sip’ bar and pool. Sip Sip bar has fixed stools immersed in water around a busy cocktail shaking, smoothie conjuring bar, with tables under cover and loungers placed around the serenely curved palm-fringed pool. Nachos and a glass of rosé at this bar were first class and there was hardly a spare seat, stool or lounger in sight. Sip Sip closes at sunset and the beach is then cleared of daybeds and umbrellas and stroked back to pristine smoothness.

Our lobster (enormous crayfish to me) was cooked on a large, fiery BBQ to absolute succulent perfection together with lobster and vegetable spring rolls, creamed corn, sauté spinach, and salad, followed by an orbit-touching crème brulee. All this lip-smacking goodness was enjoyed beside the lapping ocean with a sky that threw a sunset as only the tropics can. It was all candle-lit tables and with candle-lit orange tepees dotted in the sand, while a bright full moon lifted its bulk over the soaring palms, spreading a wide beam across the glistening sea. The joyous fruit bats spread their vast wings across the giant lunar ball and it felt just like we were part of an elaborate fairytale.

Blue pursuits

We went out with the dive boat, and snorkeled around some incredible reefs with awesome drop-offs, in the deeper sapphire blue waters where the coral was more colourful than anywhere we had swum before on this trip. This is an exhilarating adrenalin-surging experience, even though all the safety measures and guides are in place, including highly experienced divers and a marine biologist. We saw clown fish weaving through the large swaying polyps of a great orange sea anemone, a black tipped-shark, eagle rays, turtles, many many species of fish in colours that match all shades of Missoni, along with coral beds that weren’t as bleached as other parts of the Maldives.

Take the family with you

The Maldives has always conjured up images of honeymooners and at the very least, loved-up couples. While Six Senses Laamu is ideal for luxury honeymoons, it is also somewhere to take young ones and teens. This is because honeymooners will opt for romantic overwater villas and families for beach villas.

When parents want some time to themselves, the ‘den’ with its team of experienced hands-on minders, will not only occupy your young ones, they will educate and enlighten under 12’s at the same time. It’s an ideal location to teach little ones about life beyond Nemo. Teens will have plenty to do, too, especially if they love watersports.

A staggering farewell

On our last day we asked for a wake-up call at 4.45am. That may sound like torture, but the reward was so spectacular that it will remain in the knockout section of my memory bank for evermore. We went for breakfast on the sandbank on one of the resort’s dhoni’s (a traditional fishing boat): the sandbank is a brilliant white shape that we had focused on from our ‘cabin’ each day. We arrived, together with two members of staff, a mobile wooden stepped jetty, trestle table and chairs, and a wicker basket stacked with fresh fruit, muesli, coffee, orange juice, yogurt and freshly baked breads.

We set foot, all bleary-eyed, on the cool caster-sugar-soft sand, with a sky surround that was so distracting it left us speechless. The moon competed with the sun for most spectacular show, and for 360 degrees there wasn’t a space out there that wasn’t absolutely breathtaking. The sea on the moon-side was pastel blue and on the other a shimmering pink. We were left for 90-minutes or so, until the sun had won its dazzling rivalry, and as we sailed away across the last moonbeam we both agreed that, yet again, we were experiencing something that goes way beyond luxury. These experiences touch the visceral, the primal, the picture book fantasy in your mind’s eye. These are priceless moments, when you feel a seventh sense awakening.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


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