A hotel to remember: Baros Maldives

When I ‘announced’ that I was going to Baros Maldives on a recent trip, something quite special happened: I had literally dozens of readers comment and react to the news in a very unique way. Why? Because many of you have discovered this Maldivian secret sailing paradise and have been going back year after year.

Having been there for 5 days on a recent trip – it is easy to understand why. It is a very small island (with only 70 something rooms, both over water and beach villas), service is incredibly attentive and it does feel like home. You all got to know the staff, or better, the staff got to know you over time and you are not interested in anything else except going back. I get it!

We arrived to this little piece of paradise by speedboat from Male airport (takes 25 minutes and transfers are included for all Sovereign customers) and before we knew it, we really were ready to enjoy our gorgeous beach pool villa at Baros Maldives.

Our beach pool villa at Baros Maldives

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays bedroom beach pool villa

Our room was absolutely gorgeous and very very recently updated. The standard was very good and it felt spacious yet very comfortable. These beach pool villas are 130+ sqm and as private as they get.

We had a king size bed with a pop-up TV at the end of it, a seating area and a writing area. The room also had a sizeable storage area which kept our luggage out of sight.

You could also find a Nespresso coffee machine, 2 1.5l bottles of water (replaced every day free of charge), ironing board, iron and new flip-flops.

Being a beach pool villa (which I have to say, is my favourite room category in the Maldives), you have a large outdoor area with your own secluded pool, day bed, 2 sets of sunloungers (one for the pool and one for the beach) and a seating area.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays outdoor beach pool villa

Getting in the spirit of the island, we also ordered breakfast and lunch almost every day – because it rained sometimes, and also because we just didn’t want to leave. And I am sure you can see why we did it!

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays breakfast beach pool villa

But needless to say, the best part is, without a doubt, your own ‘private’ stretch of beach. You have your own sun loungers and no one else can use them. We had neighbours as the hotel was at full capacity when we were there, but they were all very quiet. The hotel caters to adults mostly (children under 8 are not allowed) and those who choose this island resort do so to get away from it all. Literally.

The bathroom at Baros Maldives

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach pool villa bathroom

Our bathroom was mostly indoors and was very spacious. Inside we had a full-sized bath (and don’t you love that bath tray?), separate toilet, shower and double vanity units. The toiletries used were L’Occitane Verbena range which were lovely. My only comment was that we did not have spares for the outdoor shower (but we left a note to housekeeping and they then kept replacing them in both showers).

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach pool villa bathroom outdoor shower nespresso

As expected, the room was cleaned each morning and then turned down before dinner. We never had issues with timings and more often than not, they managed to do it whilst we had breakfast. Overall, service was excellent.

The food at Baros Maldives

Being a smaller island, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of dining options. But they weren’t as limited as I thought: for breakfast you could go to the excellent buffet breakfast (which also offered many cooked-to-order items like eggs, pancakes, etc) or you could order in-villa (with an extra charge).

My highlight for breakfast was having fruit actually cut and prepared in front of you and also what the hotel called ‘Eye-opening shots’, which changed every day. It was a little detail, but a lovely one.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays breakfast dinner food restaurants

Lime was also opened for lunch (we did try it once, but then indulged in our room every day) and dinner – and we loved the curry options they had. Lots of international cuisine (something for everyone), but we really did enjoy the various types of curry.

On two of the nights we went to Cayenne, which has more of a grill concept, with a starters buffet, which had really good sushi and sashimi options. We then chose the Maldivian seafood platter (approx $130 for 2) which we paired with Cloudy Bay, of course ($120/bottle).

On our last night, we tried the Lighthouse, which is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. We started our meal outside but due to the rain, we moved inside. The food was excellent and a meal will cost approximately $100-150 per person, depending on what you choose and excluding drinks.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays dinner food restaurants

On the photo above you can see Lime from 2 different perspectives (and also the Lighthouse restaurant).

Below, you can see the main bar (which I found incredibly quiet at all times, and honestly quite surprising as people did disappear immediately after dinner), and the ‘Lighthouse’ restaurant.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays lighthouse restaurant

I know you must be asking.. what about the drinks? Well, there were also options. We loved watching the sun set every day at the Lighthouse Lounge, located on the first floor of the building and enjoyed what I can call, gin & tonics with a view. (A Gin will cost you around $17 plus service and tax, which you can round-up to $22)

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays cocktails

We asked for them to be served in a wine glass and no one batted an eye lid. Even better, each day they remembered ‘our preference’ – which was kind of followed by other guests too!

After dinner, we did go to the main bar, but as I said before, we found it very quiet at around 9pm. Cocktails are $15 (+service + tax) and we ended up going to the room earlier than normal as we did feel a bit lonely at times.

The Spa at Baros Maldives

As the weather wasn’t brilliant at times, the spa was our to-to place when it rained (in the afternoon). We had a massage every day (60 mins for $159 ++) and one day we even tried a private yoga class ($60 ++ per person).

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays spa massage

Most hotel spas in the Maldives are ‘over water’ and I loved that this one was inland – very different and so so so green. It had ‘little houses’ which were self-contained treatment rooms and the therapists really were fantastic.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays spa massage yoga lessons

What do to at Baros Maldives

I know many readers worry about going to the Maldives ‘as there is nothing to do’. I have said many times that you need to be prepared for something unique: Maldives time. It goes so quickly, it is quite unbelievable.

We had planned to do some SUP and other things (like a sandbank picnic and the unique breakfast in the middle of the ocean), but the weather did not allow it. But when we had sun, which was actually every day for at least half the day, we did something we are very good at: we went to the beach where we swam, sat and read.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach fun beach pool villa

And we did it again and again…

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach reading beach pool villa

But the highlight was a private snorkelling session ($100 for 2) – which I highly recommend you do at the beginning. You will then know where to go, etc. And you also get photos!

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays snorkelling

Final thoughts

It was easy to see why most people go to Baros and return time after time. The island is small – but not too small – but everything has a purpose and place. The service was really attentive and friendly (lots of smiles), the rooms were exceptional and the food was really good too.

baros maldives hotel slh sovereign luxury holidays beach sunset

And the sunsets were not bad either ?

Until the next time!

xo

Mrs. O

Factbox and disclaimer: I was a guest of Sovereign Luxury, who organised this trip. Opinions are, as always, my own (but I loved it, promise).

Sovereign ( Tel: +44 1293 765 003) is offering a seven-night holiday to the Maldives staying at the five-star Baros Maldives in a Pool Villa on B&B basis from £3,895 per person – a saving of up to £1006 per couple. The offer includes airport security fast track and access to UK private airport lounge (where available), airport transfers, and return international flights from London Heathrow with Qatar Airways in economy class. For business class flights, the cost is £5,279 per person. Based on departures 14 May 2017.

 

Deal So Good It Breaks Airline Website! Cheap Business Class To Europe Under $600!

Deal So Good It Breaks Airline Website! Cheap Business Class To Europe Under $600!

This deal is so good that it has bought La Compagnie website down! The deal is simple, fly from New York to Nice in the South of France for under $1200 roundtrip in Business Class! That’s less than $600 each way! French airline La Compagnie already flies from Newark to Paris-Orly airport but is launching … Continue reading Deal So Good It Breaks Airline Website! Cheap Business Class To Europe Under $600!

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Review: Becamex Hotel New City, Thu Dau Mot City

Review: Becamex Hotel New City, Thu Dau Mot City

The exotic south east Asian country of Vietnam draws luxury travellers with its beautiful beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas and vibrant cities. Add a stopover in the vibrant Binh Duon New City in the and stay at the luxurious Becamex Hotel New City. Location Becamex Hotel New City lies in the heart of the up and … Continue reading Review: Becamex Hotel New City, Thu Dau Mot City

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The Cheapest Flights To New York In Business Class, Just 1,100 Euros Return!

The Cheapest Flights To New York In Business Class, Just 1,100 Euros Return!

This is one of those deals that won’t be around long. In fact, these prices are limited to only 1,000 tickets so if you want to take advantage of this deal you need to book right now! The Deal Fly from Nice in France to New York In Business Class during the peak summer holidays … Continue reading The Cheapest Flights To New York In Business Class, Just 1,100 Euros Return!

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Wellness Review: The Golden Door Spa, California

The Golden Door is one of the world’s leading luxury destination spas, offering one of the most complete wellness experiences money can buy. They promise to make a significant impact in your life across various areas: your body, your nutrition, your beauty regime and your soul in return for a week of your life.

I visited the Golden Door as its guest with my husband in August 2018 and this is a detailed review of how my stay went.

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What is the Golden Door?

The Golden Door is defined as a luxury destination spa where you book yourself in for a 7-night stay and come back feeling refreshed and recharged.

The programme is focused on nutrition (you can control your calories or chose not to) – where most of the food you will eat will be organic and come from as close to the estate as possible, fitness (with a personalised programme with a personal trainer as well as dozens of classes to try throughout your stay), beauty (daily body and massage treatments) and mindfulness (you can learn to meditate, go on walking guided meditation hikes or see a shaman, for example).

It ticks quite a few boxes and the most important thing is that you pick what you will want to do – you are not forced to partake in any activity (except for the one to one sessions you book and your pre-scheduled beauty treatments). I was told that ‘doing nothing’ was also ok – and I did schedule some ‘pool time’ which was much needed.

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Where is the Golden Door?

The Golden Door is located in San Marcos, California. It’s about an hour’s drive from San Diego or Newport Beach and about 2-3 hours drive from Los Angeles, depending on traffic. Return private transfers are included in your package.

How does it work and how much does it cost?

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The Golden Door offers its signature 7-night programme at a fixed cost of $9650 + tax + service per person and this week includes your room, all meals, all group exercise and fitness classes, daily in room massage and 5 skincare treatments, a mani + pedi and a hair blow dry, 4 personal training sessions, 2 herbal wraps, walks and pretty much everything else. You can see what is included in detail here.

You check in on a Sunday and each week caters for female guests and most go on their own. There are some weeks (4) which are for men only, and another 4 which are co-ed (unisex) and you can actually go as a couple or with a friend, meaning you can share your accommodation. 

The week I went to was co-ed and also a sharing week, meaning that 2 guests can go for the price of one, provided they split the individual parts of the package. Priced at the same $9650 (but for two guests) + tax + service, I thought it offered clear value. On a personal note, I would prefer if they advertised the complete price with service and tax (as this may surprise some non North-American guests). As one of the guests (who was a ‘professional’ spa goer) said ‘just tell me how much it is and that is it’.

As an example, you would have 6 massages and 5 skincare treatments in a 7-night package – you would each would get 3 or you can just buy some more treatments. Instead of 4 personal training sessions, one would get 2 and the other would get 2. 

The Golden Door is also now offering shorter stays (subject to availability) of 4 nights. The price is available on application.

 

Check-in and Arrival at The Golden Door

Check-in takes place on Sundays and ahead of your arrival, you have a call with a member of the concierge team whereby they will get a feel of what schedule works for you, what types of activities you will want to do, how many calories you’ll want to eat and also your first breakfast order. 

They also double check your arrival time and you can arrive from 12pm and start doing some classes and have brunch. We chose to arrive at around 3pm (having had lunch before – this is where I confess my love for Inn-n-Out burgers) and hoped to have a room ready.

Our check-in was indeed super slick (because they know what time you arrive and car reg details) and all the paperwork will be there waiting for you. 

 

Our accommodation at Golden Door

We were quickly escorted to our room, Bell 7, which was a suite located on the first floor – we had no private outdoor area, like all other rooms do because they are on ground level, but we had a living room and a luggage room (which came in quite handy), and worked very well for us.

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness bedroom details

Our bedroom area was ‘compact’ for two – but perfectly adequate. The obvious comment was that the bed was a double (as normally rooms are for single occupancy, and something that could be changed if the couple weeks are to be more regular events). It was cozy, but we were absolutely fine with it. Bedding was changed midweek except for pillowcases which were changed daily (and a touch that many luxury hotels around the world should follow).

I noticed small items like a flash light or a little bag to keep your mobile phone away at night –  but they were just for 1 guest, which again seems like an overlooked detail.

We had a full wardrobe (with lots of hangers for a change –  but a word of warning, pack as little as you think you need for a week, and then halve it. And then again). I will explain why in a bit.

 

Our bathroom at The Golden Door

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness bathroom details and toiletries

Our bathroom was spacious, and the display of beauty products was second to none. Each guest gets a row to him/herself and it goes way beyond the usual shampoo/conditioner/shower gel + body lotion combo. I actually really liked the products and thought the facial cleanser was as good as my La Mer one (except that it smelled better). The peel-off mask is great and the bamboo face scrub was also very good. We brought everything home. The skincare items are not replaced throughout your stay (except for normal use toiletries – like shampoo and shower gel). The products I brought home lasted for well over a month (and you can buy full size ones at the gift shop or online).

The Golden Door reopened after a refurbishment in 2014 – and I did expect to see walk-in showers and better shower heads. I feel it can be improved and from comments from fellow guests, I wasn’t the only one surprised with it.

 

The living room

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness suite inroom breakfast

Our suite had a living room (with direct pool views) which I planned to use a bit more – but I didn’t. We used the table for breakfast (which is served in your room every day at 7.30am), but the sitting area whilst being very Japanese, wasn’t the most comfortable. During the day, one isn’t in the room at all, but as your retire to bed at 8pm, I felt I needed something more functional.

 

What to pack for The Golden Door

Almost nothing – and I didn’t believe it, but it is true. You are given workout clothes (t-shirts and shorts or trousers and sweatshirts) and of course you can wear your own gear. During our week, I would say it was 50-50. The Golden Door will wash and fold your workout clothes and underwear daily, which really means you only need to take, say, 3 outfits.

For dinner, you are given a Japanese Yukata, which is actually a beautiful robe. I thought it was weird to wear it on the first night (it is compulsory on the first and final dinner), and I carried on wearing it every night, like most guests did. That meant you could wear whatever you wanted underneath, as well as their slippers (or your own). I wore my shoes every day, just for a bit of variety.

I had ‘decided’ I wasn’t going to wear the robe daily and I am glad I changed my mind – this is a shared experience and the robe really made us be part of its entirety. 90% of people wore them.

 

The food at Golden Door

I thought the food was excellent – everything is organic and most vegetables (and eggs) come from the garden and I was never hungry. This isn’t a bootcamp, so you can start with a small portion (of 1200 calories) and you can then increase or decrease. I had some extra desserts some days, others I couldn’t finish. I really cannot fault it.

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Breakfast is pre-ordered the day before and served in your room at around 7.30am. Lunch (1pm) and dinner (6.30pm) are in a group setting (but you are not forced to join) and take place outdoors and around the property for lunch, and at the dining room for dinner.

Dinner was preceded by canapés at 6.15pm and promptly served at 6.30pm. We were usually done by 7.30pm and then it was off to bed or to a lecture – and this was the most unusual part for me. I felt I needed a bit more socialising, but as the days went by, I actually enjoyed going to the room, reading or going for a little walk to the Golden Door, which takes place every night after dinner.

We went on a Vintner’s week, which means that wine is actually served every night (just a glass or two) and wine makers come to introduce it. On a regular week, you can have alcoholic drinks in your room (which you can bring or order via room service) and wine is served with your dinner only on Saturday night.

Also worth noting is the mid-morning potassium broth and veggies snacks (absolutely delicious) and the mid-afternoon juice and veggie/fruit snacks.

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The only thing I would have ask for would have been better tea. In a place where everything was organic (and incredibly delicious), I would have expected more than supermarket-standard herbal teas (in this case from Bigelow). I think maybe some own-blends would be a great addition, and definitely less mass produced options.

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness break room

 

The fitness programme at Golden Door

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness morning hike views

This past year, for many reasons, we have really kick started a fitness regime at home and this is why we accepted the invitation to go to the Golden Door – because it was right for us in so many ways, and because it promised to look after our bodies in a variety of ways, but also our minds – and that combination sold it for us.

One important thing to say: you do NOT have to do anything you do not want to do. Case in point: the day starts with a 5am hike. It isn’t my thing at all – but my husband (and pretty much everyone else), went every day and loved it. He clocked 12,000 steps by 7.30am and rubbed it in every day. Fine by me.

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We have been doing reformer pilates for a few months, and whilst it wasn’t included in the schedule of activities, we were able to book 3 private classes during our stay ($180 for 2 plus tax per 45 minute class). There was no need to book any paid activities as you have over 15 class options a day – from yoga to matt pilates, TRX, zumba, everything….. I decided to do all water classes I could so I could get a little bit of a tan.

My only comment was that some of the classes were ‘too easy’ – and I mean the aqua classes. I don’t know what the age range is normally (but I would think between 40-65), but it was higher I felt that week.

Our personal training sessions were really good – we had different trainers and I felt that my trainer Lynne really cared about what I wanted to do and not want to do, and for that I am grateful.

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness swimming pool

I kind of overscheduled myself – and despite saving an hour a day to hang by the pool, I felt I could have done with more.. but I really had major FOMO.

 

Mindfullness and Wellness

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Our stay at The Golden Door marked the end of our 2018 California Summer roadtrip (which was over 20 days) and was key to our return home and my preparation for my 4th round of IVF (which sadly did not end well).

One of the things I wanted to do was learn how to meditate and I loved the daily guided mediation sessions. I did, however, feel rushed as it took place at 6pm for 15 mins, then we had appetisers at 6.15pm and dinner at 6.30pm and I felt I lost all the benefit by rushing around (and of course we didn’t want to be late). I would have loved a post-dinner meditation session.

I tried some of the ‘different sessions’ – wasn’t very impressed with the Astrology taster (where the lady focused on one person during the 45 minutes, leaving the other 3 with 5 minutes each), but I loved my session with my Shaman. Google it as it is quite ‘out there’. We paid an extra $250 for the 45-minute session and I felt it was extraordinary. I won’t tell you any more about this.

There is something quite magical about the whole place – I felt really alive and really proud of ‘doing so well’. I did lots of exercise because I wanted to – and I enjoyed it. And the California weather didn’t hurt either.

 

Beauty and Pampering

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness skincare hydrafacial

I did not mean to scare you with the first photo –  but that is why I love hydrafacials so much. If you look at my face, see how lifted one side is. I had a normal facial one day, and was able to upgrade to this signature treatment on my last day (and absolutely worth the extra $150). The standard of the beauty treatments was really extraordinary and I enjoyed both my facials and my body polish, which I had scheduled at 12pm every day.

At 3pm, I had my daily in-room massage which was also incredibly relaxing. My husband had the same treatments at different times, so we didn’t really cross paths, which was also good as we were not on each other’s toes and had our own time.

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness jacuzzi

 

The service at Golden Door

Anything we needed, we got. There was also a concierge team available until 9pm (quite late) to help with scheduling changes and every time we needed anything, it was easily solved. The only thing I would mention is that we all got different prices for the shaman experience – and I am grateful that one other guest overheard what we were being quoted and when we queried it, it went back to the ‘original price’.

I thought everyone was very knowledgeable – the fitness instructors did kick my a@s when I needed it, Claire was an awesome reformer Pilates instructor and the dining room team couldn’t be more efficient.

 

My final thoughts

We stayed for 4 nights at Golden Door, because we couldn’t extend our stay to a week as we had our plane tickets booked and couldn’t change them. I feel we have actually missed out – things were getting pretty perfect and we stayed in touch with 4 or 5 other guests and they have confirmed out fears, so to speak. And with live social media, we knew it there and then.

Would I go back? On the 2-for-1 regime I absolutely would – the price has actually increased since we have been, so it tells you how popular it is.

golden door luxury destination spa retreat between san diego and los angeles fitness weight loss wellness mindfullness tipping guide

And many of my readers have asked about the ‘service charge’, which I would hope they had included in the price – but it isn’t, so $120/day is the norm and is what we tipped. This was a widely discussed point amongst guests and was interesting how the younger guests (which the Golden Door is now targeting) felt about it.

It takes a day or two to de-stress, and the team at The Golden Door know what they are doing really well. As my friend who has been a few times said ‘you have to drink the Cool-aid’ – but even after 4 days, I felt much better. I discovered quite a bit about myself (the journey wasn’t just physical) and I felt more peaceful than I have in many years.

The return rate to The Golden Door is incredibly high – and I honestly think a week is necessary to take advantage of everything it offers. And that doesn’t mean one being 100% fully booked – I took some walks by myself and it was lovely.

It took me a while to understand what it was all about – but there is something about going through that Door and leaving the whole world behind. I am very grateful to have been given that opportunity.

 

Until the next time

xo

Mrs. O

 

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Golden Door on this stay. A 7-night stay costs $9650 not including tax or gratuities and can be booked directly on the Golden Door’s website.

If you would like to say what 24 hours at The Golden Door look like, click here to see my Instagram Story.

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Spreading Christmas Misery: Will British Airways Strike?

Spreading Christmas Misery: Will British Airways Strike?

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Flight Review: Thai Airways A330 Royal Silk Business Class From BKK To KUL

Flight Review: Thai Airways A330 Royal Silk Business Class From BKK To KUL

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24 Best Cheap Christmas Gifts

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Is There A Four Seasons Rewards Program?

Is There A Four Seasons Rewards Program?

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10 Secret Tricks That WILL Get You A Free Upgrade To First Class

10 Secret Tricks That WILL Get You A Free Upgrade To First Class

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