A Golden Jubilee of authentic Maldivian hospitality, legacy and innovation
Luxury private island resort Baros Maldives is celebrating an extraordinary milestone this December – its 50th Anniversary. This special moment commemorates not only the island’s pioneering successes, but the deep-rooted values that have led it to become one of the most legendary resorts in the Maldives today.
Nestled in North Male’ Atoll, a short 25-minute speedboat ride from the International Airport, Baros is an icon of authentic Maldivian hospitality. Just the third resort to open in the Maldives, Baros welcomed guests for the first time in December 1973. Seven blocks of rooms with palm leaf walls, coconut thatched roofs, sandy floors and repurposed ship bunks reflected an era of simplicity. On arrival, guests would leap from a traditional dhoni, wading through the gentle surf to reach the untouched shores. Fresh water was a luxury that arrived in buckets, and it was the whispering sea breeze that cooled the rooms. Enthusiastic divers were drawn to the island by the allure of spearfishing and the promise of an untouched natural sanctuary; 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 thatched roofs and small tiled bathrooms were built. In 1984, the resort installed its first desalination plant, offering fresh water and luxury bathtubs, a feat that revolutionised the Maldivian tourism landscape. Even then, the island’s owner, local 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 its inherent allure as a truly authentic island. While others embraced modernity, Baros chose to intertwine its structures with nature, weaving the island’s lush vegetation into its architecture.
The use of artificial shade was cast aside in favour of preserving the 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. Nature takes centre stage at Baros not only on land: beneath the turquoise waters that lap its shore lies a hidden treasure – a world-class house reef teeming with life. This marine wonderland, just a short swim from 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 where guests can participate in reef conservation and nurture the beauty that defines the island’s underwater realm.
Baros’ 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 the Maldives. Its desalination plant that opened in 1984 was the country’s first, and set a benchmark in the tourism industry. The iconic Piano Deck in the Baros Lagoon, and two-story overwater Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge, demonstrate the resort’s unwavering dedication to paving the way for development, whilst staying true to the timeless elegance that makes it so unique.
As Baros has evolved over the past five decades, culinary excellence has remained at its heart. In addition to two other gourmet restaurants, its signature The Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge, established in 2005, stands as a beacon of fine dining in the Maldives. Here, the Flambéed Lobster Bisque, prepared tableside on a Flambée Gueridon, along with many other well-loved classics, have drawn guests from around the world for years.
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 tribute 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 such as Mohamed Zihunee, who joined Baros as its very first employee, and is still there to this day, and Ibrahim Afzal who started working on the island at just 16, and now after 36 years is currently serving as Laundry Manager, embody 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’ story. These are just a few examples of the enduring bonds formed over the years.
Similarly, Baros’s repeat guest percentage is no less impressive, exceeding 30%, with some guests having visited over 50 times. One German couple has visited Baros 54 times, while a British couple has visited 32 times and others over 20 times. These guests are part of the Baros family, forging innate connections with the team.
Baros consistently ranks at the top on guest rating platforms and has garnered numerous awards and accolades. It 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.
Today, Baros shines as brightly as ever, with continuous renovation in recent years amounting to investments exceeding USD 6.8 million. These updates are all carried out with the utmost 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 in the shifting Maldivian hospitality landscape, a bastion of local values, and a testament to innovation and unfading beauty.