On a private island, 25 minutes via seaplane from Male
Spacious rooms with stylish decor, private decks, and outdoor bathrooms
Clear turquoise waters and powder-soft sand with drink coolers spread out along the beach
Two pools; one "quiet zone" infinity pool with hot tub and a family pool with adjacent kiddy pool
Outstanding, top-notch buffet with several cooking stations, kids' buffet, and good wine selection
Three a la carte dinner restaurants and two daytime snack stations
Two pool bars that turn into lounges at night and one lobby bar
Sports facilities from table games to tennis courts to a modern gym
Platinum all-inclusive plan covers almost everything
Free high-speed Wi-Fi, welcome drink, and snack
Thin and narrow beach due to natural erosion
Mandatory all-inclusive plan
Reopened in 2009 as a five-pearl property, Lily Beach Resort & Spa is a romantic and family-friendly spot with a true all-inclusive plan that covers meals, drinks, and activities. The stylish and spacious rooms have outdoor bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, outdoor decks with direct ocean or beach access, and amenities from suntan lotion and aloe vera to stocked minibars to large flat-screen TVs. Family-friendly features include a kids' buffet, pool, and activity club. Active guests can make use of the land and water sports available, while couples have plenty of romantic options and privacy. The only downside is the narrow beach. Those who don't want a mandatory all-inclusive package could consider the comparable Dusit Thani Maldives, where it's optional.
Classy and stylish vibe, diverse guests, and thoughtful extras
Formerly a mid-range property, the Lily Beach Resort & Spa opened its doors in 2009 as a totally renovated five-pearl all-inclusive. The facelift brought fresh, contemporary style in classic colors and design, a gourmet approach to food and beverage, and a sleek and sophisticated but fun vibe. While this is a well-maintained luxury resort, management has managed to keep the vibe casual, though this is not necessarily a place you might run around barefoot. The guests here mainly keep to themselves, and though the resort draws a lot of families with children, you don't really notice it until meal times, when everyone is under one roof. Perhaps this is because most of the children-friendly areas are concentrated on one end of the long island, while the more adults spaces, like the chic pool bar, infinity pool, and spa, are located on the other (the pool and hot tub area is a designated quiet zone).
There's a calm, relaxing feel across the island, though at meals with fixed service times there can be a mad rush for tables, and slight chaos. While some of the guests may behave a tad thoughtlessly in times of hunger, the resort itself has done a good job with its well-thought-out extras that go beyond what is offered at some other luxury spots in the Maldives. For instance, on the slow boat ride to the island, where most hotels give you a cool towel and bottle of water for the trip, Lily Beach takes it a step further, offering frozen fresh fruit skewers, even though the ride is only about 10 minutes.
A medium-size private island in the South Ari Atoll, close to Male Airport
Lily Beach Resort is located on Huvahandhoo Island in the Maldives' South Ari Atoll. The resort is just a 25-minute seaplane ride to a floating ocean dock, and then a quick 10-minute Dhoni ride to the arrival jetty of the resort. This particular location in the South Ari Atoll makes Lily Beach an ideal place for those looking to spot whale sharks, as this is an important aggregation area for the large mammals.
Stylish rooms with private decks and outdoor bathrooms
All 119 rooms at Lily Beach Resort have stylish European design and decor, including dark hardwood floors, cream color palettes, and comfortable beds. Standard features introduced in the Beach Villas but present across all categories include a private outdoor bathroom with covered shower and toilet and an uncovered two-person whirlpool tub; furnished private deck with water or beach access, minibar stocked with soda, wine, water, and candy; flat-screen TV with a decent number of English channels; Nespresso machine; and daybed. Beach Villas have a designated set of sun loungers on the beach, in addition to the direct beach access off the back deck.
An upgrade to a Lagoon Villas get you direct access to a shallow bit of semi-private lagoon off your back deck and views out to sea. If you want the true overwater experience, you'll have to bump up one more category to a Deluxe Water Villa, where you'll also get a private, outdoor, jetted plunge pool; sliding glass doors off the bedroom and living area that allow for full panoramic (and breezy) views of the Indian Ocean; glass floors to peek at the ocean below; a larger flat-screen TV, larger daybed, and fully separated living space. Bathrooms in these units are located indoors.
Standard amenities include bathrobes, slippers, suntan lotion, aloe vera, shampoo, soap, vanity, hairdryers, dual vanity sinks, and makeup mirrors.
Family Beach Villas are also available (see the Family section for more detail).
Not much of a beach, but enough to throw down a towel for some sun
Lily Beach Resort doesn't have much of a beach. Perhaps falling victim to the Maldives' famous problem of beach erosion, the beaches here -- while pristine, with soft sand and clear turquoise waters -- are thin, narrow strips slowly being eaten by the tides. All hope of spending days in the sun and on the sand is not lost, though, as there are beach chairs (mostly belonging to the Beach Villas) lining the uppermost sections of sand, and just enough space to throw down a towel if you can't find an empty chair. The beach coolers found in the sand, filled with ice cold soft drinks and water for the taking, are a thoughtful touch. Note that snorkeling after 5:30 p.m. is not allowed.
Massive gourmet main buffet and several a la carte restaurant options
Lily Maa is the resort's main buffet restaurant, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are covered by the all-inclusive plan. While the impressively expansive and high-quality buffet features a plethora of gourmet international dishes, each day of the week zeroes in on a specific cuisine, from Japanese to Italian to French to Maldivian. This buffet is far superior to most you may find within the Maldives -- and for good reason. The owner of the resort is a food enthusiast and has made it a point to present guests with the best food possible, and guests will likely find a refrigerated cheese section with over 30 world cheeses (though not all labeled), a good selection of international wines, a large live lobster tank, and even a fun kids' buffet full of kid-friendly items. Adult stations include appetizers, salads, and several cooking stations, such as barbecue, sushi, meat carving, and stir-fry.
Quick bite options include daytime cafe-style snacks at Vibes and Aqva pool bars, while a la carte dinners are available at any of the three a la carte restaurants. For a romantic dinner, overwater spot Tamarind has both regular indoor seating and private dining tables off its own jetties, and a menu of Asian food from India, China, and Thailand. (Only one dinner here is covered per week as part of the plan.)
There are also several more options not covered by the all-inclusive plan. If you are looking for a private Japanese teppenyaki dinner, there's a single station set up in the Aqva bar. Another romantic option is dining beachside (but not on the beach sands) at Les Turquoise D'Aqua, where guests can eat a five-course menu while listening to the waves or staring at a sky full of stars. Wave is a seafood focused spot located on the outside deck between Spirit Bar and Lily Maa. The guest of honor is fresh lobster, which is chosen from the nearby lobster pool before being cooked to taste.
Each of Lily Beach Resort's pools has its own all-day, all-night pool bar so you don't have to walk far to get a cocktail, soft drink, fresh juice, or coffee. Beside the infinity pool, you'll find the hip and trendy Aqva Pool Bar. Placed between the teppenyaki and regular dining areas, this long bar has hardwood flooring, a large selection of imported, top-shelf booze, wines, and barely any room between the backs of the wicker bar stools and the sliding glass doors out to the pool; most day drinks are drunk out by the pool. On the opposite end of the island, Vibes pool bar is a massive, stone tile spot with ceilings that stretch high, a big, L-shaped bar, tons of casual lobby-like seating arrangements, big flat-screen TV, hookahs, and table games such as pool. Both pool bars have snack stations and dedicated dining areas, though Vibes offers slightly more with outdoor dining set-ups and a larger snack selection, including a glass case of refrigerated cakes and snacks.
Off of the lobby, the stylish and mildly swanky Spirit Bar has sand floors, upscale wicker furniture, hanging shell decor accents, and a large deck with sea views. The full bar and cigars are available all day, from morning until the joint closes late in the evening. Nighttime entertainment here sometimes includes live music.
The in-room minibars are stocked with beer, wine, soft drinks, and spirits, and the main restaurant has full bar service during meals.
The resort-wide Plantinum Plan includes food, drink, excursions, and activities
While it is not expressly listed as mandatory, the resort has clever wording stating that all villas come with the Platinum Plan. This all-inclusive plan is truly all-inclusive, covering all meals, drinks (both hard and soft), and most activities and excursions. Many luxury competitors do not include alcohol in their all-inclusive plans, which helps Lily Beach stand out from some of the competition. The encompassing all-inclusive coverage -- including fine wines, premium spirits, and arguably one of the most gourmet and high-quality buffets in the Maldives -- means you don't have to think about much while on vacation. Not included in the plan are dinners at Wave, Les Turquoise D'Aqua, or the teppanyaki table dinners at Aqva; fishing trips; spa treatments; and some excursions.
Family-friendly from rooms, to meals, to activities
Turtles Kids' Club is both an indoor and outdoor supervised activity and sports space where kids ages 3 to 12 can shoot hoops, climb through the playground, and socialize with other kids. While there are planned daily activities -- such as hermit crab hunting, movie screenings with snacks, snorkeling trips, and crafts -- they can be adapted to fit the interests and ages of kids attending. Kids also have their own spacious, shallow water pool off the main family pool behind Vibes, though you may want to keep an eye out since its on a raised deck without a guard rail.
The resort also has a dedicated kids' buffet space, with kid favorites such as mini hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, and special kid-size plates, all placed on lower levels so kids can self-serve before heading over to the colorfully decorated kids' dining area.
The Family Beach Villas are essentially two mirror-image, interconnecting Beach Villas with all the perks, services, and amenities of regular Beach Villas. The interconnecting doors make it easy to access each other while still having separate space.
Two pools, sport facilities, an overwater spa, and a dive center
Lily Beach Resort has two pools, separated by the full length of the island. On one end, you'll find a "quiet zone" infinity pool and in-ground hot tub with views of the surrounding lagoon, water villas, and the Tamara Spa. Tiled with light and dark mosaics and a faux-rock boulder, this pool loosely resembles a lagoon swimming hole, while the chic, contemporary, and cushioned wooden loungers, sunbeds, and couches off the sun-bleached decks add a sense of upscale style. While this area is not specifically for adults only, it is a designated "quiet zone," ideal for finding peace in the sun or within the pages of a book. If you're traveling with younger kids in tow, you might find the family pool area just behind Vibes pool bar to be a better fit. Here, you've got a decent-size pool, plus a shallow kids' pool off to the side, and nice proximity to the Turtles Kids' Club and sports area that are located on the pathway to Vibes.
Older children and adults may have more fun checking out the nearby sports facilities such as a soccer field and volleyball court, tennis center, ping-pong, or the large, air-conditioned gym outfitted with TVs, modern Lifestyle equipment and machines, and yoga mats. You'll find free fresh fruit and bottled water at the tennis desk and inside the gym.
On the opposite spectrum, over on the opposite side of the island just before the infinity pool, is Lily Beach Resort's overwater spa, Tamara Spa by Mandara. Using the popular and upscale Elemis product line, this clean and contemporary spa center has a variety of treatments that are derived from different Asian rituals. The large peekaboo floor cutout in the lobby is a unique touch, while the central, open-air relaxation palapa -- with sea breezes, views, magazines, and refreshing drinks -- kicks off the majority of the spa's treatments. Each treatment (aside from nail care) is completed in one of the surrounding private overwater villas.
Anyone looking for a bit of adventure can head over to the multilingual Prodivers dive center where you'll find a variety of dives and excursions as well as classes for getting PADI certified. The waters and sites surrounding Lily Beach have sea turtles, reef sharks, colorful coral and fish, and rays -- and possibly whale sharks. For those who prefer to stay above water, there's a water sports center with kayaks, windsurfing, kiteboarding, push pedal boats, wakeboarding, and catamaran trips. Popular excursions include whale watching (in season), dolphin cruises, sunset cruises, and trips to other islands.
Lily Beach Resort also has free high-speed Wi-Fi, a doctor's clinic, Segway rental, several shops to peruse, and offices for event and wedding planning.
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