Baros is one of those resorts that has built up a devoted following of repeat visitors. It has been closed, rebuilt and re-opened several times in its long existence, reinventing itself as something new and better still. New but maybe not so different.
A devoted clientele
Baros is one of those resorts that has built up a devoted following of repeat visitors. It has been closed, rebuilt and re-opened several times in its long existence, reinventing itself as something new and better still. New but maybe not so different. It always manages to retain the essential intimacy, friendliness and closeness to nature that people so love about Baros. But the most recent changes of build, style and service now place the resort among the elite.
With each aspect of the resort designed as an 'event' to draw out more pleasure, Baros leaves guests with even deeper impressions than before. Impressions that linger even longer in the memory.
A striking line of view as you arrive
Walking down the jetty for the first time, one's eyes are drawn to the beautiful lines of the restaurants built into the lagoon. Combined with entering the grand reception, impressive yet not overstated, guests get an immediate and satisfying sense of arrival. Or even, as they say of owning a luxury car, of having arrived.
This impression is enriched when guests get to their room and look around. The quality of the workmanship is obvious; the style is modern and a touch 'different'. There are four main categories, the Deluxe Villas, the Baros Villas, the Baros Pool Villas, the Baros Premium Pool Villas (with plunge pool and Jacuzzi) and the Water Villas - not including the one Baros Residence.
Rooms from a designer magazine
The Deluxe Villas are excellent; elegant and simple (without a four-poster). The other categories give you the feeling of walking into a coffee table book of chic hotel rooms. The designer fittings, the brilliantly concealed television and DVD player, the Pininfarina coffee maker and the well-stocked wine cooler tell you that a great deal of thought and attention has gone into making the rooms a significant part of your holiday.
The second category Baros Villas are fine but the premium land rooms, the Baros Pool Villas are really spectacular, with their private beachside location as much as their rich casual design.
When I tell you that every room is just a few feet away from the beach or the lagoon and each has a very large deck with a bolstered daybed and a dining table, then you won't be surprised to read that a large portion of guests are not seen anywhere else on the resort for days on end. As the wines in the cooler are very well priced and room service is 24 hours a day, it makes 'staying at home' a most enticing option.
In fact it is the food and wine as much as the beautiful setting that secures Baros's place among the elite resorts. The Lighthouse Restaurant is the one building that is not thatched, but it has a dramatic white peaked roof that marks it out as the icon of the resort. Upstairs is a classy lounge bar with panoramic views, which is just the place for a preprandial martini cocktail or glass of champagne. Downstairs is one of the true haute cuisine restaurants in the country, serving an eclectic menu of Asian and Mediterranean classics and fusions. Not only is the wine cellar extensive but renowned wine growers are invited to present and talk about their vintages.
The second restaurant of note is the Cayenne Grill where seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes are prepared in your choice of eight distinct styles and served at your own thatched pavilion on decking beside the water's edge. The Lime Restaurant is the all-day and more informal dining option. As everyone comes on a bed and breakfast arrangement these restaurants, as well as the villa dining, are critical to the resort's success and reputation.
The much-loved Sails
Unusually the main bar is not on the water's edge but inside the island, under tall palms. Called Sails, it has long been the heart of the resort for the returning friends of Baros. It is at once intimate and open. A delightful place.
The usual factors that build a resort's reputation have always been here. Snorkelling is good and access is very good, as the reef runs close around most of the island. The beach surrounds the island and is mostly excellent with just a small area of less fine sand in front of some deluxe rooms. A low wall in the lagoon has been deemed necessary in order to protect the beach from erosion.
Natural Maldivian beauty
The island is still an example of Maldivian nature at its best. The replanted plants and flowers have blossomed to their original glory around the public areas.
Baros is a multi-award winning island but these can only give you an idea of the invisible magic that makes a resort stand out from the rest over time. The latest gong is the award of the Eco Dive Centre status, which makes it the first resort in the Maldives to offer the Reef Check EcoDiver programme, focused on knowledge of the reef and its preservation.
The final critical factor for a top resort is the quality of the staff, and Baros is admirably served by new top professionals, as well as others who have stayed with the resort year after year, much to the returning guests' delight.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville.