Luxury private island resort Baros Maldives stands at the precipice of an extraordinary milestone as it celebrates 50 years in operation. This year is not merely a commemoration but a testament to the values that have guided this iconic Maldivian island resort through the decades.
Nestled in North Male’ Atoll, a short 25-minute speedboat ride from the International Airport, Baros is an icon of authentic Maldivian hospitality. The third resort to open in the Maldives, Baros received guests for the first time in December 1973. Seven blocks of rooms with palm leaf walls, coconut thatch roofs, sandy floors and repurposed ship bunks reflected an era of simplicity. Guests, on arrival, would leap from a traditional Maldivian dhoni, wading through the gentle surf to reach the untouched shores. Freshwater was a luxury that arrived in buckets, and the sea breeze was the only air conditioning available. In those early days, it took two hours from the airport by dhoni, for guests to reach Baros. These early visitors were enthusiastic divers, drawn by the allure of spearfishing and the promise of an untouched natural sanctuary they could make their own. Baros became their canvas, a place to savour barbecued fish by moonlight while sharing stories with their Maldivian hosts and gazing upon the starry tapestry above.
A decade on, Baros had evolved. Coral and lime walls replaced palm leaf mats, plywood ceilings replaced the thatch roofs and small tiled bathrooms were built. In 1984, the resort installed the first desalination plant, offering fresh water and luxury bathtubs in guest rooms, a feat that revolutionised the Maldivian tourism landscape. Even then, the island’s owners, the locally owned family-run company Universal Enterprises, recognised the true essence of Baros lay in its untouched beauty. For Baros, the journey was not just about growth but also the preservation of the inherent allure of Baros, an authentic island sanctuary. While others embraced modernity, Baros chose to intertwine its structures with nature, weaving the island’s lush vegetation into the very architecture.
The use of artificial shade was cast aside in favour of preserving the island’s lush vegetation, including 374 palm trees that continue to grace the island today, a testament to the owners’ devotion to the environment and the island’s history as a coconut palm plantation. Walking beneath these natural canopies, guests become one with nature.
Beneath the waves, Baros conceals another treasure – a world-class house reef teeming with life. This marine wonderland, a short swim from the guest villas, is a haven for both divers and snorkellers. The resident marine biology team’s passion and dedication shine through initiatives such as the coral cube project which invites guests to actively participate in reef conservation, and nurture the very beauty that defines the island’s underwater realm.
While many focus on environmental sustainability, Baros extends this ethos to its people. The Baros team is comprised of dedicated members, some of whom have served the company for decades. With over 15 nationalities, Baros stands as a witness to unity. Here, diversity is celebrated, and every team member is embraced as family. In a country abundant with opportunities, Baros’s staff choose loyalty, drawn by the promise of growth and the chance to become future leaders in tourism. At Baros, the majority of staff are Maldivians, with the management team comprising over 50% locals – a rarity in the Maldivian hospitality industry. The resort’s commitment to nurturing local talent has not only created leaders at Baros but it has played a pivotal role in developing local talent in the industry, with former employees holding key positions in local and international hotel chains and resorts across the Maldives and the Indian Ocean.
Baros’s journey is marked by innovation. It was among the first resorts to introduce open-air bathrooms as well as the stylish over-water bungalows that are now synonymous with Maldives. In 1984, it established the country’s first desalination plant, setting a new benchmark for innovation in luxury tourism. The two-story overwater Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge, and the iconic Piano Deck in the Baros Lagoon, are both testament to Baros’s commitment to timeless elegance.
Amidst these innovations, culinary excellence remains at the heart of Baros. In addition to two other gourmet class restaurants, the signature The Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge, established in 2005, stands as a beacon of fine dining in the Maldives.
Here, the Cognac Flambéed Lobster Bisque, prepared tableside in classic style on a Flambée Gueridon, has drawn guests from around the world for 15 years, a testament to Baros’s dedication to the art of classic cuisine.
As Baros enters its sixth decade, it remains proudly Maldivian, steadfastly rooted in its ethos. Here, the focus is on the journey, not the destination. In a world that changes, Baros stands as a resolute testament to what the Maldives should be – a pure and unpretentious experience.
Baros’s legendary service is not just about luxury; it’s about heartfelt dedication. Team members like Mohamed Zihunee, who served for 41.5 years and held employee ID number one, and Ibrahim Afzal who joined Baros as a busboy at just the age of 16, and after 36 years is currently serving as Laundry Manager in Housekeeping, embodying the soul of Baros. Ahmed (or Dive Ahmed as he’s fondly called), with 25,000 dives under his belt, is another remarkable figure in Baros’s story. These are just a few examples of the enduring bonds formed on this island. Similarly, Baros’s repeat guest percentage is no less impressive, exceeding 30%, with some guests visiting over 50 times. A German couple has visited Baros 54 times while another British couple has visited 32 times and others over 20 times. These guests are part of the Baros family, forging innate bonds with the team.
Baros consistently ranks at the top on guest rating platforms and has garnered numerous awards and accolades, shining as brightly as ever. The island resort was named the “World’s Most Romantic Resort” in 2022 for the seventh time in ten years by the World Travel Awards, received the title of “Indian Ocean’s Most Romantic Resort” for the tenth consecutive year in 2022, and was nominated as the Best Honeymoon Resort in 2021 by Elle Bridal Awards. Baros was also awarded the honour of “The Maldives Icon” at the prestigious Hideaways awards at ITB 2023 and recognised by Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2023 among the Top 20 Resorts in the Indian Ocean.
“Traditions at Baros are kept relevant, with a predominantly Maldivian team’s passion, care, and commitment to genuine, independent Maldivian grace and hospitality,” said Ibrahim Shijah, General Manager of Baros Maldives. “As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we look forward to a year filled with celebrations, exciting events, ambitious new initiatives, and adventures, embodying the values that define Baros.”
In honour of its Golden Jubilee, Baros embarks on a year of jubilant festivities. On the 3rd of December, Baros is poised to host a grand event graced by the owning family, distinguished invitees, cherished in-house guests and devoted team members.
Today, Baros shines as brightly as ever, with continuous renovation in recent years, amounting to USD 6.8 million in investments. These updates are all carried out with the utmost care and respect for the natural environment and highlight local craftsmanship.
In a world where others compete to show what the Maldives can be, Baros remains resolute in standing for what it should be. A beacon on the shifting Maldivian landscape, a bastion of local values, and a testament to astute innovation and unfading beauty.