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.

 

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A hotel to remember: a review of Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, Spain

I can never have too much Spain in my life – I think my love for this country is well documented on this blog, and when Sovereign challenged me to try something a bit different, I was quite intrigued. An Asian-themed luxury hotel near Alicante. There are not many of these around and I knew exactly what they meant: the award-winning Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, located near Alicante, in the South-East of Spain.

So in early June, Mr. O and I packed our bags and made our way there for a 4-day stay at Asia Gardens, which is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.

asia gardens hotel and thai spa alicante benidorm spain espana

 

Getting to Asia Gardens

The closest airport to Asia Gardens is Alicante, located about 45 minutes from the hotel by private transfer, which comes as standard to all Sovereign guests.

Alicante is, as most of you know, the gateway airport to Benidorm, which caters for a ‘different type of tourist’. So of course, there is no direct flight from Heathrow – so a trip to Gatwick (not my favourite airport in the world), had to take place. The interesting thing is that, of course, there are no shortage of flights to Alicante – and with Sovereign’s help I decided to try something a bit different. I was to fly out with British Airways in Club Europe first thing in the morning, but as I wanted to fly back later on Sunday, I chose to fly with Monarch (which sadly ceased trading this year). With Sovereign, you can book whichever flights you want and mix any airline and classes, so that is what we did. Obviously we got the Monarch ticket with all the bells and whistles and had luggage, priority boarding, priority check-in and ‘extra space’ in our seats. I shall tell you more about it later (but sadly the experience cannot be repeated).

gatwick airport south terminal british airways premium gatwick lounge

All BA flights now depart from the South Terminal – but for some reason, BA operates different lounge hours at LGW compared to LHR. So, for example, if you are a Gold Member like me, you’d have access to the First Lounge from 5am. At Gatwick, if you are on one of the first 15 flights of the day, you don’t have it – and you actually have to queue with 50-100 people to access the Club Lounge, which also for some reason does not open at 5am.

The lounge is good, a great improvement from the previous one – and the First lounge is even better (the service is excellent compared to Heathrow, in all honesty).

The flight to Alicante takes 2 and a bit hours and on arrival, we were met by Sovereign’s pre-organised transfer.

 

The hotel

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante benidorm sovereign private transfers reception lobby alicante airport

We got to the hotel and were like ‘wow’. I had seen photos, I know quite a few friends who had been so I more or less knew what to expect. But it was better in real life.

Our check-in was slick and efficient and as we were a bit early and the hotel was at capacity (despite being early June), we accept the invite to have a tour of the grounds (which I highly recommend all guests do) and had lunch.

The hotel has 300+ rooms and 9 dining options – and occupies some seriously stunning grounds. The gardens are its pride and joy – but I have to say that I really liked how the room buildings integrated with the setting. There is a lot of space, a lot of pools and it does not feel crowded at all.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante benidorm view

The photo above shows you how close you are to Benidorm – a few kilometres and a world away. Nothing to worry about.

 

Our room at Asia Gardens

Our booking was last minute and the hotel was at capacity, so we had the last room left, which was a Superior Deluxe Room. I thought it was very spacious, well appointed and we loved the bed and linens.

We also had a very large balcony and we were near a stream, so it made for a very relaxing soundtrack.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante deluxe double superior bedroom 2 welcome amenity

This is the second lowest category of rooms – so it gives you an indication of that to expect as you go up ‘the ladder’.

There was a lot of storage (and plenty of hangers) and I cannot fault the room. My only comment would be that there weren’t available power sockets on each side of the bed (the hotel is 10 years old +) but we made do with those by the seating area.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante deluxe double superior bedroom 1

 

Our bathroom at Asia Gardens

We had a very nice bathroom, with a walk-in shower, separate loo and bidet area and a full bathtub, with a ‘window’ to the rest of the room.

The only thing I didn’t understand why the shower compartment did not have electricity – and I did mention this to the new General Manager, who said he was looking into it (so if you have been since the Summer of 2017, can you let me know?). To put it this way – one needs light in the shower.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante deluxe double superior bedroom bathroom details penhaligon

The toiletries were Penhaligon’s (which are on my list of hotel toiletries worth stealing), but they were the little ones.

On the first day, we told housekeeping that we would only want turndown after 8pm (because Spain), and we never had a problem with it, which is worth noting.

 

The gardens and the pools

With the hotel being called Asia Gardens, you do build some expectations – and they were met. The gardens are incredible – and impeccably maintained. It was a delight to walk around the hotel (which is obviously set up so you do not really have to leave) at all times of the day.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante garden waterfall

Every corner you turned, you were surprised with a new feature – a lot of ponds and my favourite was the waterfall. And just for the record – this did not feel like any kind of amusement or theme park. The hotel is stunning and the number of repeat guests (including quite well known uber-discreet celebrities) speaks for itself.

This is a place to enjoy some peace and quiet – and sunbathe a little. The pools are, without a doubt, one of the hotel highlights and there is one for any need. A quiet pool, an adult pool, a family pool, a pool inside a pool, a secret pool… you name it.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante resort pool

And one thing worth noting – no sun lounger thieves. We got up a bit earlier so we could fly the drone and not disturb anyone and at 9am, no one was out. No one was in a rush, and that was lovely.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante benidorm suite pool drone DJI

If you are staying in a suite, you also have access to the Suites pool which isn’t particularly easy to find or marked – but we did. It is just a smaller pool with a different seating area – and everyone there was super quiet.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante benidorm suite pool

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante benidorm suite pool ana

 

Our meals & cocktails at Asia Gardens

First things first – breakfast. Served buffet style at the Udaipur restaurant, it was excellent. Service was slick (as everywhere else in the hotel) despite being quite busy and I loved the churros and the grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante udaipur buffet restaurant breakfast churros

On the topic of food – and if you were like me a bit afraid that you were not going to feel like you were not in Spain, please don’t be.

We had a great Asian meal at Koh Samui, the fine dining Asian restaurant one night – it really was good, but the lunches we had on 2 occasions and the other dinner we had were very very Spanish (and that is exactly what we wanted).

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante koh samui gourmet fine dining asian restaurant

Our poolside lunches were excellent – and as we were in the Comunitat Valenciana (where paella originally comes from in Spain), we tried all different types of paella and rice dishes. And I am picky – and I loved it.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante paella pool lunch restaurant

The other dinner we had, we went to In Black, where we had some of our favourite Spanish dishes with a modern twist – from the foie mit-cuit, to a fabulous ceviche and the very local ‘ajo blanco’. Great Spanish wine list to match too (our dinners were approximately 120-150 Euros for two, including wine. Lunch was about 50-80 Euros with a glass of wine each and of course, plenty of seafood).

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante in black gourmet restaurant

On the drinks front, we were a bit disappointed with the bar – it was great for pre-dinner drinks, but it could do with a bit more ambiance after dinner. The gins, however, were epic.

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante benidorm suite pool gin tonic

 

The Thai Spa at Asia Gardens

asia gardens luxury hotel spain alicante thai spa massage treatment room

One of the highlights of the hotel – and most guests are clever and pre-booked their spa treatments. Guess who did not? Me! I had hoped to go to the spa every day for a massage, but we could only get one slot for a 50-minute massage (106 Euros) each on our last day, literally just before we left.

The spa also organises a significant number of classes every day – from yoga, to pilates, tai chi and more. I missed out on all of this – but I am not worried because I can really see myself returning (and 100% understand why most guests do).

 

The service

We both thought (and discussed at length) that service was very good – if you were lost (which happened a few times), the staff would take you there without you even asking. The level of English was excellent. Anything you wanted was no problem. Even on the last day at the pool, I asked our pool attendant to call the restaurant and have our paella ready at 2.45pm – she didn’t bat an eyelid. Because we were in Spain – and we actually felt that – and that is how you pre-book a paella or any dish that takes a bit longer to cook. The things I learned from my father…

 

The journey back

On our penultimate day, we asked to rent a car (and for it to be dropped on and off at the hotel) so we could visit Alicante. Sovereign doesn’t have a concierge in this area like they do in their key locations – like Madeira, Algarve, Halkidiki, Mallorca and many other places, but they had a local agent who was very helpful. Our car materialised as we requested (and very well priced at 50 Euros a day with all the insurance) and our transfers were, of course, on time and the usual Mercedes service.

sovereign luxury holidays monarch flight from alicante hendricks gin

We flew back with Monarch (which is no longer), and were actually quite impressed – the ‘extra space’ seats were twice than any other airline I have seen (business class included), and for once, there was proper gin available (even if it was missing the cucumber!).

 

Final Verdict

We really enjoyed our 4-day weekend at Asia Gardens (and I am so glad Sovereign suggested it, as something different). This is a place to go to and relax, in style (of course) and enjoy great food and weather. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then do not hesitate. We are going back for sure.

 

xo

Mrs. O

 

Disclaimer and fact box: I was a guest of Sovereign on this occasion and, as always, opinions, are mine. 

Sovereign is offering a week at the five star Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa from £1149 per person, including return flights with British Airways, seven nights accommodation in a Superior Deluxe room, including breakfast. Private resort transfers are included as well as access to the No.1 Lounge, where available. The price includes a saving £502 per couple, departing 12th October 2017.

Alternatively, from £1799 with a saving of £903 per couple, the price includes a stay in a suite (which comes with access to a separate pool).

The post A hotel to remember: a review of Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, Spain appeared first on Mrs. O Around the World – a luxury travel blog by Ana Silva O'Reilly.

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