2022 marks the 50th year of tourism in the Maldives and its success story of sustained growth. When Baros opened in December 1973, it was only the third resort in the Maldives, and with tourism only just starting out, its opening helped to ignite the world’s fascination with the island archipelago.
In 1972, two resorts were constructed in the Maldives to accommodate a sudden influx of Italian tourists; just a year later, the government selected a further six islands to be developed for tourism. Baros, originally a coconut palm plantation, was the first of the six island resorts to open.
Baros is owned by Universal Enterprises Pvt Ltd and operated by Universal Resorts, a Maldivian family company and a pioneer in developing the tourism industry in the Maldives. For over 50 years now, Universal Resorts has played a key role in branding the island nation as one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world. Baros is the essence of the Maldives, from its fabled and loyal service, hospitality, and pride in being Maldivian, to its architecture designed by one of the most talented local architects, Mohamed Shafeeq. Baros is a legend in its own right - an icon to be celebrated.
Initially, Baros offered 28 rustic sand floor thatched cabanas on the beach, fashioned after a Robinson Crusoe style hideaway. Coconut thatching was the most available and oldest form of roofing on the island, the leaves woven for both rooves and walls. Guests were attracted to the concept of staying on their own island, free to do as they wished, in paradise. Open only during the European winter months, Baros became known by European travellers as a beautiful “back to nature” resort.
By 1985, Baros had expanded and there were a total of 40 rooms including 10 detached beach rooms. A coral sandstone masonry construction technique with thatch roofs and cement floors was used, and Baros had introduced the Maldives’ first desalination plant. 1992 brought the addition of 12 further water bungalows in the lagoon on the underdeveloped side of the island; these were only the second water bungalows in the Maldives.
Careful attention was paid to the Maldives’ architectural heritage. A rustic bar was constructed amidst a palm grove – now known as Sails Bar, it has remained in the same place. Sails was originally designed to resemble a typical Maldivian compound with a central living area and wraparound veranda, shaded and kept cool by a pitched thatched roof. The original Turtle restaurant was constructed over two wings, a layout duplicated by its replacement, the present day Lime Restaurant.
32 years later, Baros, a clear pioneer in the Maldives tourism industry was reinvented. The resort was closed for 7 months and underwent a massive rebuilding and rebranding programme, with every effort made to preserve its island authenticity and unique charm. All original vegetation was protected, so much so that villas were built incorporate existing palm trees into the architecture. The scale of work included renovation and refurbishment of 30 overwater villas, the creation of the Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge with its iconic roof structure evoking the open sails of a dhoni, and the building of the diving school main jetty and the main harbour. In December that same year, Baros reopened as a luxury 5-star boutique resort with 45 beach villas and 30 over-water villas that inspire romance, intimacy, and coziness.
Divers Baros Maldives is one of the first dive centres to open in the Maldives, and was officially certified in December 2010 as one of the first Eco Dive Centres in the country. The centre is dedicated to guarding and conserving coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to protect the marine environment for future generations.
Long hailed as an iconic retreat in the Maldives, Baros still retains what guests have always loved - a sense of exclusive seclusion on a private island with lush tropical foliage and colourful flowers, framed by a seemingly endless powder-soft white beach and a turquoise lagoon surrounded by a world-class coral house reef. Today Baros, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World, is an award-winning private island resort and home to 75 sophisticated villas.
Baros is celebrated for its authentic Maldivian spirit, legendary service, outstanding comfort, and understated elegance. The devoted Baros team upholds its renowned service standards.
Shijah Ibrahim, General Manager said, “It is a great privilege to lead such an incredible team, many of whom have worked for Baros for several decades. It is mostly thanks to their dedication that many of our guests return every year.”