If I could give half stars, I'd give it a 4.5, but since it was one of the better places I've ever stayed in my life, I was generous and rounded up. My husband and I spent 11 nights in the Maldives to celebrate our honeymoon, 6 nights at the Six Senses Laamu and 5 at the W Retreat & Spa. Coming all the way from NY, we really wanted to choose the right resort(s), and we absolutely did not go wrong with these two. When I did research for this trip, I hoped for more resort comparison, so I'll include some comparisons here. I also wrote a full review of the W. We were at the Six Senses the last week of February, the W the first week of March.
Overall: We preferred the resort layout of the Six Senses, it was more beautiful with much of the actual property being over water (though the beach at the W was nicer). We loved the natural aesthetic, pretty much everything was exposed to the elements in some way (i.e open air bathrooms), and the water was the perfect shade of bright turquoise. In terms of service, I would say they were equal. A nice touch at the Six Senses was your own personal butler (GEM), though I didn't find this particularly more efficient than just dialing the "whatever whenever" line at the W. However, at SS they seem to know exactly where you are at all times and clean your room when you are away, never disturbing you. We loved having bikes to navigate around the island and to ride up and down the jetties! At the W, they only have staff-driven golf buggies, or you walk. Slight edge to SS for it's beauty and value for your money. Many resorts in its class charge $2000/night for a water villa, we paid less than half that for their highest over-water room category. SS is a relatively long haul (domestic flight + speedboat) from Male, so it should be good value as long as it is on the outskirts of the main resort zone.
Food: No complaints here. Leaf at lunch (Vietnamese) was our favorite. Dinner at Leaf (Mediterranean) was good, too. The breakfast spread was impressive, and the breakfast area had gorgeous views all around. We did not eat at Zen, but heard it was so-so. My husband has celiac disease, and the chef greeted us literally within 5 minutes of setting foot on the island and let us know that all kitchens were aware of his gluten-free needs. Gluten free bread was available at all meals throughout our stay (at the W, too). It was amazing not having to explain this to the waiters at every meal like we usually do! We didn't go to the Maldives for the food, but we really didn't have a bad meal during our trip. People balk at how expensive it is, but you need to realize what you're getting yourself into when you go to resorts like these and eating in a remote country where nearly everything is imported. It was also nice that the SS had its own desalination plant and recyclable bottled water, because we didn't really feel great about all the imported plastic bottled water ubiquitous at the W. And my husband quite liked the taste of the desalinated water.
Room: We were in a Laamu Water Villa near the very end of Jetty A, on the sunset (outer) facing side. In our opinion, this was the best place to stay because you get sun all day long without it ever being too strong. We heard from other guests we met that the sunrise side gets very direct, bright sunlight in the early AM, and then is completely in the shade in the afternoon. We were able to have comfortable sun on our patio all day long. Yes, you can see the restaurants if you crane your neck to the far left, but this is also where you can see the most incredible sunsets we've ever seen. The room is so thoughtfully designed, with a huge, comfortable patio, and we loved the open air rain shower. The only criticism was that the bed was slightly uncomfortable - couldn't put my finger on why. For comfort, the W rooms were more comfortable, modern, and spacious.
Crowd: Mostly honeymooners, young couples, young families, not too many kids and the ones that were there were not noticeable. Seemed that about half were from Asia, and the other half from Europe. Americans like us were in the minority. The crowd at the W was visibly more moneyed, older, but around the same ethnic mix. Note that both resorts told us that the types of guests that they see vary throughout the year depending on holiday seasons (i.e. more Chinese in the summer, more Europeans in the winter).
Snorkelling/Diving: This is where the W beat the SS hands down. More on that in my W review. However, it's still the Maldives, and the snorkelling at the SS was still fantastic. You would not be disappointed. We went on four dives, which were all great, and we saw lots of different fish, eels, turtles. No sharks or rays though. The diving center is fantastic and beautifully located over water. The facilities are new, clean and organized, and the staff, Petra and David in particular, were wonderful. The main issue with our diving experience was with the boats. The quality of the boats did not match the quality of the resort. They were uncomfortable, the crew didn't speak English and were unfriendly, all of which can really affect your mood when you dive. The boats were the one thing during our whole stay that left something to be desired. The same boat was used for our fishing trip...
Fishing/Boats: The only negative of our trip. We did a morning Maldivian hand line fishing trip for 4 hours, the staff were not engaged, barely spoke English, and there was no safety briefing. As a result, my husband, who is an avid and experienced fisherman, got severe ropeburn on both his hands. I don't want to dwell on this bad experience, but I will stay that our concerns were addressed swiftly and genuinely by management, and I certainly hope they improve their boat situation in the future. Seeing as how we spent A LOT of our trip on boats, this is the ONE thing that would give us hesitation about returning to SS. (The boats at the W were phenomenal!)
Yoga: Yoga with Emily was great! The Honeymoon yoga in particular was a favorite (it's basically couples yoga, you don't need to actually be on your honeymoon). The studio is on the 2nd floor of the gym, open air, facing the ocean. So gorgeous! Way nicer than the W yoga area which is just the garden in front of where everyone eats breakfast (though we did do an amazing oceanfront private yoga class at the W spa, but it wasn't free). Not all yoga/gym classes are free at the SS, and it seems arbitrary which classes are free and when. If yoga is to be an important part of your vacation, SS is definitely the way to go.
Spa: We got a couples massage overlooking the beach, and it was INCREDIBLE! The therapists are top-notch, well-trained, and really know what they are doing. We felt amazing after. The bathroom/changing area left something to be desired, however. It is also open air, so the humidity may make some uncomfortable, but we quite liked it. If you're more about the quality of the treatment than the luxuriousness of the facilities, you won't be disappointed. The W treatments weren't nearly as good, but the facilities/relaxation area almost made up for it. (more in my W review)
PRIVATE ISLAND: Most resorts have this "Robinson Crusoe" private island experience, where you get to spend the day on your own deserted island. We didn't go to the W's private island, but I can confidently say it's nearly impossible to beat the private island at the Six Senses. Solely based on the fact that it is a 30 min speedboat ride from the resort and felt completely and utterly remote. It was the highlight of our trip. They left us with enough food to last a week, which we had the leftovers delivered to our room when we returned. It is so beyond-words beautiful. We did not want to leave. More great snorkelling, gorgeous beach, and just the overall feeling that it was an incredibly special experience that you couldn't get anywhere else in the world. The W private island looked gorgeous as well, but you can see it from the resort, only about a 5 min boat ride, so it wouldn't have as "deserted" of a feeling. BIG caveat though about the SS private island. Perhaps they do this to make more money, but there are actually at least two private islands. We dropped off another couple at the first one, and it wasn't even close to as nice nor as remote as ours. We didn't know which island we were assigned to in advance, and I don't know how they chose who got the better one, or even if the other couple paid the same as we did. They told us that they drop off at that island first because if people see the other (more beautiful) island, they would refuse to get off at the less-nice one. So we felt really lucky. I'm not sure we would have thought the experience was as awesome on the other island, but we have the benefit of knowing better. So, if you care, try to request the "best" island.
Jaffai dinner local island experience: Do this!! We visited a nearby local inhabited island, toured around a little bit, and had a homecooked feast, by one of the locals. I am purposely going to be discreet about the details, because so much of what made this experience one of the most special of our entire trip were all the surprises. So I don't want to spoil them. All I will say is that, if you have the adventurous spirit to do this, and eat what you are served, you won't be disappointed. We were absolutely blown away. HUGE shout out to Hafiz and Ahmad who made this a highlight of our trip! Incredibly, they told us in the 2 years they've been open, we were only the third couple to have done this excursion. Take our advice and be one of the few to experience this. But bring insect repellent if you do.
If you put a gun to our heads and asked us which resort we'd rather go back to, we'd probably choose the Six Senses, mainly because of the cost. The W was twice as expensive. The W was amazing, but not $2x amazing. Not a knock on the W in any way, we just feel that the SS is really doing the laid-back luxury thing the right way. If you don't want that laid-back, all-natural feeling, and you prefer modern comfort with air-conditioned everything, then the SS is not for you. But we had an amazing time and didn't want to leave!
- Also Known As:
- Six Senses Laamu Hotel Olhuveli Island
- 6 Senses Laamu
- Six Senses Laamu Hotel
- Six Senses Laamu Laamu Atoll, Maldives
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Dolphins spin all along the shores of Six Senses Laamu, located in the pristine Laamu Atoll. From Male’ Airport, it is just a forty minute flight along the beautiful Maldivian coastline followed by a short speed boat trip. Offering 97 villas, both overwater and on the beach, and an abundance of dining options, water sports, spa and other great activities. Service is second to none with your butler overseeing every need from arrival to departure. ... more less
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