WHAT do you wear when you’re invited to the launch party of the Maldives’ coolest new beach club? A selection of Helmut Lang jumpsuits? Top to toe new season Prada?
I checked my bank balance.
Thankfully, there was a sale on at General Pants.
I’ll admit it: I was nervous about this trip.
Beach Rouge — located on a private island in the Maldives’ exclusive Ari Atoll — is not just a beach club.
It’s the kind of place where Alexa Chung, Pixie Geldof and Daisy Lowe might spend New Year’s Eve. (In fact they did just that last year, on a neighbouring island.)
At this end of the scale, you don’t blow up balloons and eat cake to celebrate your opening.
You fly in VIPs from every continent, book rock stars for entertainment, take over the entire island and throw a week-long party.
The guest list included world-famous gurus, big-name musicians, international politicians, a handful of billionaires and the uber-fashionable editors from French Vogue, Tatler, Harpers Bazaar and Vanity Fair.
Oh — and me.
As a lowly journalist — and sole Australian in attendance — I was simply there to report on the fabulousness. (Not that I was complaining.)
I’ve never experienced anything like it.
The party conversation was hilarious.
“I just won’t drink tap water anymore,” I heard someone declare on night one. “It’s revolting.”
(They needn’t have worried — tap water doesn’t exist in this world. There’s still, there’s sparkling and there’s three different kinds of kombucha. Take your pick.)
“Ugh, she was sooo badly behaved on that trip,” said a second person. (They were talking about Kate Moss.)
Another gem: “So I said to her, ‘Sharon my dear, you’re only famous because you got your v*g out’.”
You could not make it up.
The beach club is only open to guests at the island’s achingly hip resort, LUX* South Ari Atoll. (If you’re considering it, start saving. A ‘normal’ overwater villa — not even a fancy one with a pool — goes for $2450 per day.)
It’s the kind of place where guests are basically wrapped in cotton wool and hand-fed rare and exotic grapes peeled by the milky white feet of virginal princesses.
Every day, you’re greeted by staff who walk around lightly spritzing guests with the mist of orange blossoms.
Yes, you read right. Spritzing people. With a fragrant mist.
This is someone’s actual job.
There is also a man who simply rides around the island on a bicycle, handing out scoops of handmade ice cream in unusual flavours like bubblegum. (My favourite: cookie.)
Everyone looks more beautiful than usual here, which at first I thought was due to the hands of some excellent surgeons.
Then I found out that the resort actually hired a lighting genius named Robert Cliff (responsible for the homes of Elton John, Paul McCartney and George Michael, among others), to design flattering lighting schemes that make guests more attractive.
As you might image, where there is money there is eccentricity.
Scarlett Etienne — who according to the internet is a “global musical nomad”, which I think means she attends lots of parties and occasionally DJs — was particularly fascinating to me.
Over the course of the week she strutted around dressed like Lady Gaga, always with a parasol, parading a selection of several of these giant, colourful flower-thingies on her head.
I did wonder how hot her head must have gotten, considering how close to the equator we were, but never once did I see her take them off.
She even wore them to breakfast.
Another man wore the same set of ostentatiously bright robes — with turban to match — to every event, day and night.
“Oh my gosh,” the glamorous woman next to me whispered, when he first swept into the party. “That’s Kamalroop Singh!”
“Who’s that?” I asked.
She looked at me incredulously, because obviously I have been living under the rock of a slum-dog peasant-person.
“Kamal Singh,” she repeated. “He’s like, the golden door to true yoga.”
I thought about this for a moment.
“Right,” I finally said. “Of course. The golden door.”
(To be fair, Kamal did seem like a legit guru. He travels the world teaching meditation, is fluent in two ancient Indian languages, has a PhD in an obscure religious text, and is an actual Sikh. He was brought to the island to teach guests yoga. Because, you know, a regular yoga teacher wouldn’t have been good enough.)
The Maldives is traditionally a place for honeymooners, but a new breed of cashed-up Gen Ys are creating demand for holiday hot spots that are equal parts luxurious and cool.
And yep. LUX* is cool.
Beach Rouge has a floating dance floor, a roster of international DJs and its own series of albums, curated by the same DJs who spin tracks at the Victoria’s Secret shows. Naturally.
While we were there one night, the biggest electronic act in South Africa — a crazy-amazing band called Goodluck, who opened Pharrell Williams’ world tour last year — got up and played a small after-dinner concert. You know. Just for the guests.
Another night we were treated to a personal display of fireworks, which were synchronised to appear with dessert. (Dessert was an oversized, hollowed out chocolate egg, filled with chunks of caramel and a kind of liquid crème brulee, in case you were wondering. I ate all of mine.)
Obviously, I did my best to remain calm and composed at all times.
But I’m not sure how I’ll go back to tap water.
Georgia Rickard is a Sydney-based travel journalist. She covers luxury, adventure and occasionally on more urban wildlife, for a wide range of media including the BBC and Sky News. Follow her on Instagram..