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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5 things to ensure a stress-free holiday

The busiest travel season of the year is upon us – so if you want to ensure a stress-free holiday, there are a few things you can plan ahead. Some are very very obvious – others not so much.

Here are 5 things to ensure a stress-free holiday for your upcoming Summer trips, assuming you are not booking with a travel advisor, in which case, they will be taking care of all these for you (or so they should!).

1. Book your flights directly with the airline

BA-Club-Europe-Seat

This may seem obvious, but it isn’t for many. Use Google Flights to check fares and, if the difference isn’t crazy, book your flights direct. Why? Because you will be a direct customer and the airline will be able to speak directly to you (and vice versa) in case you need to make any changes.

As a rule of thumb, before departure, if you book with a third party, all dealings have to take place with such company, which may add complexity, namely when things go wrong. Also, many airlines for some bizarre reason do not let you check-in online if you do not book direct.

All my upcoming travel is with British Airways and I know whatever I need, they are just a tweet away – I use Twitter’s Direct Message for 90% of my dealings with BA and also have my British Airways Executive Club Gold Sales Advisor, the lovely Geoff, available on email. It makes for a much more personal relationship and saves a lot of time as you can now get 24 hour service.

Also worth mentioning that if you are a one world Emerald (BA Gold and up), and your flight is departing from Heathrow’s Terminal 5, you will also have access to the First Wing, which is one of the best recent additions to the premium passenger experience. Whereas BA seems to be losing their ways a fair bit recently (which makes us all angry), this was a good move. You have dedicated security and direct access to the First Lounge.

british airways london heathrow terminal 5 first wing

2. Rent your car wisely

Renting a car is still very much a hit or miss experience – namely in Europe. Things can go well, or things can go very very wrong. We tend to make all our bookings with Avis (sometimes with Sixt) but we use the UK website (which is handy no matter where you are in the world). The prices are more transparent and they include all the insurance you need.

The other advantage is that Avis lets you cancel your booking up to 24 hours before without penalty, so you can shop around. Their new website and app are finally working a bit better. There seems to be a price drop pre-summer – and as an example, I had a booking for 8 days in Portugal for £575 and just made a new one for £345 for the exact same car and dates. If the difference of ‘paying now and paying at counter’ isn’t crazy, I will ‘pay later’, if not, they will refund the amount on your credit card quite quickly.

If you are a BA Executive Club Member, use these AWD codes on the Avis website when booking: Gold N744400; Silver N744300; Bronze N284300; Blue N744100.

And for the love of God, join Avis Preferred before you make your booking – it will save you hours of queuing at your holiday destination. Yes, you will jump the queue or, if they are a proper Avis location, your key and documents will be ready for you in the car and you will find it on a board: e.g. OREILLY D22 means, we go to D22 and get in our car there and then. When it works…

One final note, with regards to petrol – we always take the tank full to be returned full, with the exception of the USA where you can pre-pay (at the station) for a full tank and it actually works out at the same price. BUT ONLY if you specifically have it in your contract – check the prices locally. In 99% of other places, it isn’t worth it (in my opinion – and as you can imagine, all I can offer is my opinion and experience).

3. Excess Insurance

The whole topic of car hire insurance is almost mind-blowing – and whereas I still maintain that Avis is pretty decent, there is always the issue of the ‘extras’ and the ‘excess’ and it just drives me crazy.

We have been the proud owners of excess insurance now for a year (just renewed for a second) and it is the best £52 we have spent. There are lots of policies around – some cover just Europe, others cover Worldwide and I recommend Direct Car Hire Excess Insurance by AIG.

If something ‘happens’ to your hired car, you will pay the car hire company but then file a claim with the insurance company.

On 2 different trips with friends (one to Portugal and one to Italy) we were booking cars and I suggested Avis Preferred and the Excess Insurance to save us time  – guess what happened? None of them got it and a) we were done in 15 mins getting the car and had to wait a good 45 minutes for them and b) sadly, one couple had damage to the under part of their car (you can tell I am really good at ‘speaking car’) caused by the hotel valet and the other had a problem with the windscreen. Moral of the story: 750 Euros excess each, which could have been preventable.

4. Pre-book transfers

airport transfer blacklane hoppa

If hiring a car isn’t ideal (if you are going to a city or if you just don’t fancy driving), don’t just bank on getting a taxi at the airport. You and 200 of your closest friends with luggage trolleys, children and the lot will be queuing for one.

I highly recommend pre-booking a transfer and Blacklane is really really excellent and has great cars. If you are going to a more ‘summery’ destination and Blacklane doesn’t serve it, another option is Hoppa (but obviously a private transfer, not a shared one).

5. Shop around for your hotel

velassaru-maldives-slh-hotels-sovereign-luxury-holiday-main-pool

Although I am quite organised with my trips (I am not a last minute booker, but sometimes it happens), I like to know I have flexibility – if my plans change last minute, or if hotel prices change significantly. Because it does happen.

I have been making a fair number of hotel bookings with Booking.com and I have to say, I am quite impressed. They have a wide selection of room types (you know what you are booking – and you won’t be getting the one by the kitchen) and I really like the ‘Pay at the Property’ options with free cancellation 3 days before the trip. I think it is fair and I found myself changing hotels a couple of days before because the prices have changed too.

I also like how they now have a ‘Luxury‘ landing page so the hotel search results are much more targeted – and worry not, all the top hotels are actually there.

What other things would you suggest we add to this list? Let me know and we will turn this into a top 10!