Competition for top-end hotels is rife in the Maldives – but the latest newbie, OBLU SELECT Lobigili, is a strong contender. Georgie Bentley-Buckle stepped ashore to explore.
Hotel Review: OBLU SELECT Lobigili
OBLU SELECT Lobigili is situated on the North Malé Atoll, meaning you can feel the sand between your toes within 15 minutes of arrival via speedboat. Don’t let this proximity to the airport dishearten you, as the young island offers guests plenty of luxuries: – not just accessibility, also fantastic food and fine beaches.
It’s all in the name with ‘Lobi’ translating as love and ‘Gili’ island in the Dhivehi local dialect. This makes romance the name of the game on the adults-only island, which (if you’re really feeling the love), includes the mini heart-shaped island only moments from the shoreline for intimate wedding ceremonies and private dining.
A bright, friendly aesthetic can be seen throughout the long, thin island. An example of this – seen as you first step foot onto the 461-metre island – is the bright, bubble-gum pink buggies that zoom from one end to the other. This fun colour scheme is a theme throughout the resort, from the fuchsia sun loungers and candy pink and white striped beach towels. Cheerful and welcoming, these touches reflect the overall ethos of the Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts group, who vouches to offer big-hearted hospitality to guests from across the globe.
Stay on the beach or over the cerulean sea in one of the 24 SunNest Beach Pool Villas, 22 Nest Water Villas or 22 Sun Nest Water Villas. We stayed in one of the 62 square meter one-bedroom SunNest Beach Pool Villas on the island’s sunset side. A vibrant colour scheme, with nature-inspired design touches, features around the king bed and a large open-air Maldivian style bathroom with a bathtub and rain shower. Outside, greenery wraps around an intimate pool with two loungers facing the beach and ocean. After further inspection, the water villas feature very similar layouts. With a choice of either sunrise or sunset views, each includes private overwater decks and glass windows in the floor so you can peek down at the ocean beneath you.
OBLU SELECT Lobigili’s warm-hearted charisma extends to the generous holiday package that allows for full enjoyment, without worrying about the extras. This appealing offering comes in the form of the ‘The Lobi Plan’, AKA, indulge in (almost) anything throughout your stay. That includes everything from non-motorised water sport and the use of snorkelling equipment to full restaurant access and return speedboat transfers, plus unlimited drinks and goodies from the minibar, which is re-stocked daily.
The open-air ELENA spa is one of the most beautiful we’ve seen. Positioned on the beach and overlooking its own stretch of sea, its concept has also been exclusively designed for adults, with four secluded double treatment rooms complete with a couple’s bath, enclosed in a tropical garden. We tried the Lobi Dhooni (Love Bird) coconut massage. A take on the hot stone massage with a tropical twist, this signature treatment offers a choice of a coconut shell massage or Maldivian sand massage with a coconut body scrub, nourishing scalp treatment, face mask, and bath ritual.
Wildlife is best seen underwater as the island is still relatively undeveloped. Do this by booking in with the dive centre or exploring with some snorkelling equipment. As part of the signature Lobi Plan, you can also choose from sunset fishing and guided snorkelling, or (beyond the plan) a chartered sunset cruise. For active guests who prefer to stay over water is the impressive gym. It features floor to ceiling windows with bright ocean views – take advantage of personal training sessions and classes including beach yoga, strength training, floating meditation and Pilates.
Considering you’re isolated in the Indian Ocean, the high level (and variety) of food is incredible. Front of mind is the fresh platters of sushi, world-class curries (Indian, Thai and Maldivian) and impressive desserts. Ylang Ylang is a large building on the beach where a buffet-style breakfast and lunch is served before a collection of globally inspired à la carte menus appear each evening.
At dusk visit the Swing Bar by the infinity pool to watch the sunset. Sink into one of the sunset facing swings or hammocks with a pina colada, a frozen margarita or a glass of wine from the sunken bar. Meanwhile, pinned as the new ‘largest underwater restaurant in the Maldives’ is OBLU SELECT Lobigili’s Only BLU restaurant. On our visit, this horseshoe-shaped restaurant hadn’t yet opened, but it will be an exciting addition to the island with front row seats of Lobigili island’s coral reef and an open plan kitchen, submerged beneath the ocean.
From £886 per night. coloursofblu.com