Counting in twos
Oblu Select Lobigili or the ‘island of love’ in Dhivehi is a great choice for a laidback Maldivian retreat, complete with house reef, destination dining, sunset finishing trips, live music, coconut shell massages and beach hammocks. The five-star, adult-only property is located just a 15-minute speedboat ride away from Velana International Airport and is operated by Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts under its Colours of Oblu brand.
Oblu Select Lobigili brings a funky, somewhat new concept to the Maldives where guests are encouraged to visit in twos. The adult-only ‘island of love’ interprets a more inclusive and mature definition of love. Love is not just about blushing honeymooners - although there were quite a few of those around - it is about anyone special in your life who you’d like to share a Maldivian holiday with.
”Harmless seagulls come for a rest every now and then, and whether it rains during your stay or if you’re blessed with a constant sun, you get an up-close view of nature at play”
The Oblu Select Lobigili experience begins at Velana International Airport, which though under construction, still offers a quick welcome into the destination as only small airports can do. Oblu Select Lobigili staff are on hand to whisk you away to the speedboat jetty.
The walk up to the jetty is exhilarating for first timers to the Maldives and equally for returning visitors: that first flash of blazing blue that will keep you company for the rest of the trip. Refreshments and cold towels are offered on the short speedboat ride, Wi-Fi is available and if you’re lucky, you may spy a rainbow or two as the speedboat bobs its way to your island of love. ROSES AND SAXOPHONE
The arrival experience on the hotel jetty is memorable with a saxophonist belting out melodious tunes to welcome guests and a single red rose is offered as a token of love. The first walk down the jetty into any Maldivian property is exciting: the one island, one resort concept in the Maldives essentially means that everything you see is accessible to you – that this is essentially your island for the period of your stay.
Guests are led into Swing Bar that serves as a reception, a welcome lounge and watering hole, with floor to ceiling windows letting in the Maldivian sun and the salty breeze. One refreshing welcome drink later (everything on the menu is included), guests are assigned an island hostess, their own personal butler for the stay. VILLA VARIETY
Island hostesses lead guests to their respective villas – there are 68 stylishly designed villas: 24 SunNest Beach Pool Villas (62 sqm), 22 Nest Water Villas (sans pool, sunrise view) and 22 SunNest Water Pool Villas (with pool and sunset views).
What a stroke of luck that we have been assigned what offers undoubtedly the best view in the resort. It is a SunNest Water Pool Villa on the very far northern edge of the island. A corner plot on an island in the Maldives means that we have unbeatable sea views with no other water villas between us and the sea. The window frames two palm trees swaying in the wind, on a little white sand island, fending for itself in the open sea. On the other hand, it also means that we have the longest walk (or a quick buggy ride) to the resort if we want to head anywhere: be it the restaurant Ylang Ylang, ELE|NA THE SPA, Swing Bar or the water sport rental space. LIVING AREA
The water pool villa is simple and pretty with earthy wooden tones, peaking flashes of bright Oblu colours scattered about in the cushions and upholstery. The bed is large but the villa is larger, in that the bed doesn’t crowd the villa and leaves space for a little table with chairs, a cosy daybed by the window, and a glass panel on the floor providing a peak into the busy ocean below.
The villa boasts ample open closet space (with on-brand and stylish cotton bathrobes), a minibar with tasty titbits and a bathroom that will undoubtedly be the highlight for many, with its beautiful stone art and gently lapping waves. The open bath area features a large bathtub for two, a big shower area and a built-in hammock that allows you to float a few feet above the ocean floor.
The villa includes a sundeck boarded up on the sides for privacy with two deckchairs. An inviting infinity pool is by the deck chairs – the perfect setting for a floating breakfast with bubbles, which is served during the stay. The sundeck has stairs leading down to the vast ocean. The house reef is rich around the resort but it’s especially fun to descend into the waves straight from the villa for a spot of snorkelling. Harmless seagulls come for a rest every now and then, and whether it rains during your stay or if you’re blessed with a constant sun, you get an up-close view of nature at play. THE LOBI PLAN
Oblu Select Lobigili offers all guests some peace of mind with The Lobi Plan, which includes meals and drinks (with a few rare exceptions) at the all-day dining restaurant Ylang Ylang. The menu is diverse and the food is served both in buffets and a la carte from a choice of different menus depending on the time of day.
The in-villa mini bar gets refilled every day with soft drinks, popular hops, grape beverages shipped from select French vineyards, chocolates and home-made snacks.
The plan includes a much large variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages served throughout the day and until 12.45am into the night at Swing Bar. This vibrant beachside bar has a sprawling infinity pool, intimate cabanas, hammocks and swings. At night the place transforms into a moody musical hangout with a colour changing chandelier. When the weather is nice, the musicians move out from the indoor bar to the sandy beach.
While food and drinks at these outlets are included throughout the stay, there are two speciality dining options Only Blu, the underwater dining outlet and a food truck called Gaadiya 17, which were yet to open during our visit. One meal in the horseshoe-shaped underwater outlet is included for guests who book a minimum four-night stay, as is a 45-minute spa treatment in ELE|NA THE SPA.
There’s also the use of unlimited non-motorised water sports and snorkelling gear, which are included in the plan. There’s one complimentary sunset fishing cruise per guest during the stay as well as one complimentary guided snorkelling trip. It is highly recommended that extra spa treatments be booked in advance because the therapists are divinely blessed. The coffee scrub body treatment as well as the coconut shell massage are highlights. By Rashi Sen