Robinson Crusoe Island retreat
Our holiday at Medhufushi redefined all that a holiday should be. We spent 7 short nights there and were very reluctant to leave. We actively seek out high quality, first class locations, with a feel and authenticity of the culture of the country that we are staying. We are independent travelers at heart, with no inclination to go to destinations that are anything other than unique. It was our first venture into the Maldives and we truly fell in love. If you want glitz and glamour, this is not the place for you.
If you want bare foot relaxed elegance with crisp linen sheets that are changed each day, attentive and unobtrusive service then this will truly knock your socks off. We stayed in a beach villa that reminded us of the colonial era. Solid wooden floors, giant and luxurious beds, quite air conditioning, flat screen TV, DVD player, great mini bar etc. Our bathroom was also a delight. We probably spent more time in the bathroom than is normal….but with a large outside rain shower and walled garden, twin sinks, fluffy white towels and great toiletries, it was hard not to. The room had an outside deck with a swing seat for two, a couple of sun beds with fresh towels provided each day. On our first day we moved our sun beds a few yards onto the beach so that we could dip our feet into the turquoise waters when ever the mood took us. As a result, our room boy made sure that our sun beds were in position each morning. One day, seduced by the Robinson Crusoe feel, we walked along the talcum powder beach, found a hammock and relaxed by the pool…..completely forgetting that we had left the key to the villa, underwater camera and all kinds of other things on our sun bed. When we realized, naturally we were thrown into a blind panic, but we need not have worried. The staff had realized exactly what we had done (I guess this must be fairly common) and had stored our belongings with reception.
The hotel staff were exceptional. They took a real pride in all that they did, always smiling, always helpful. It really made us understand what hospitality should be. It has set the standard for anywhere else that we go. We have never experienced such a charming and breathtaking place. Our only bitter regret was that we did not stay longer.
We enjoyed everything about this place. The food was fantastic. We went “half board”. At breakfast and dinner, there was so much quality choice that I always felt sad that I did not have the capacity to eat and try absolutely everything. The executive head chef was English; he had a team of chefs that were expert in producing, fresh, delicious food with stunning variety each and every day. Even on the morning of our departure, we enjoyed fresh baked bread, along with a breakfast that had been freshly prepared. It really set us up for a day of travel. I absolutely must stress that the food at Medhufushi was fantastic. Each evening there was choices that made your head spin: veal, beef, lamb, fish, curries, breads, salads, pasta, soups, sushi, game, chicken, exotic fruits, crisp vegetables, a cheese board to die for, home made ice creams, pastries, cakes, puddings, fruit salads….. some items they even freshly prepared food in front of you. We did not feel the need to venture into the a la carte restaurant – we shall save that for our next visit in March…..
When we booked our holiday at Medhufushi, we were slightly concerned that we would be at a loss for things to do. We could not have been more wrong. I had daily spa treatments, the prices were listed in US $. In essence the costs are half what you would pay in Europe. The girls were from Bali and where very attentive, again they redefined what a person should expect from a spa. I can recommend the facials. Each of the massages are quite different …. It seemed wrong not to try everything….so I did!
My partner tried out windsurfing and kite surfing. He loved it so much that mastered both very well. He even persuaded me to try snorking. We went out on a speed boat and although I was very reluctant, my partner and Massy (from the watersports team on the island), held one hand each and gave me enough confidence to breath and relax so that I could enjoy the dazzling intoxicating beauty of the underwater coral gardens. The fish were a sight to behold.
We went on private trips to deserted beaches, not because we do not like people, but because we could. This place caters for everything. There are so many things that we did not get time to do, such as dolphin watching, learning how to sail, scuba diving, private dining and trying out the a la carte restaurant.
For the entire time we were at Medhufushi, we felt pampered and completely relaxed. They have a great wine list, great beers and cocktails that are a far cry from anything that I have experienced in the past. We felt that the drinks were good value. We can only compare against our experience of 5 star hotels. This place beats all of the others hands down.
This is a perfect place for everyone - in my mind it is the place to come to have your senses stimulated, with like minded people that respect that downtime is so very precious. We will return in March with my elderly mother, my sisters and their partners. We have booked four beach villas; the manager of Medhufushi (Thomas Meyer) and his team has arranged our seaplane flights and has made it an enjoyable and easy experience. He made us feel as though we were the only guests at Medhufushi, speaking to other guests, he and his team made them feel exactly the same way. I fully expect that I will not see my family for the entire week that we are there…..it is just an opportunity for us to enjoy the relaxed elegance in a place that truly has a Robinson Crusoe feel.
We booked our flights with Air Sri Lanka. They go direct to Male with the return flight via Colombo (fantastic gems! Great duty free shops!.... all of the designers you should expect). We took night flights out of Heathrow. The flight was generally good and comfortable, but we understand from other guests that some of the other Airlines are better. So it is better to do your homework if you are not going as part of a package tour. For our trip in March 08, we have chosen Air Sri Lanka again because the flight times really suit us and we can travel via night flights each way. The seaplane transfers are great fun, a mini adventure in thier own right.
Medhufushi really is a place to come home to.
Great place to relax
Recently spent 10 wonderful days in Medhufushi, our third visit to The Maldives. The standard of service was excellent, we could not fault it, all the staff so friendly and helpful.
We did the free snorkelling trip many times, wonderful first time experience for me personnally, just amazed at the marine life and the boat crew were so encouraging.
Also saw many dolphins on the Dolphin Trip, would definitely recommend this trip.
Not much night life, but that didn't bother us and we just wanted to unwind and sip a few cocktails in the evening in the lovely bars.
Saw beautiful sunsets.
The only downside to our trip was the sea grass washing up on the sunset side but the staff did all they could to keep it at bay on a daily basis. There were rocks to snorkel round just off the beach in front of our villa no. 107 which was a perfect location for the beach and not too far from the amenities. The beach on the east side near the Water Villas is better for snorkelling but there is quite a strong current at times.
We would certainly revisit and have no hesitation in recommending for a really relaxing and carefree holiday. We would not travel Sri Lankan airlines again, much prefer Emirates which we have used on previous visits.
Excellent diving. Good resort but definitely not 5-star
We visited Medhufushi for a week in mid-November 2007, and since I found this site so helpful in choosing the resort, I’ve decided to post a review here.
The summary first: It was good by most people’s standards, but it definitely did not have that special something required to justify its five stars. However the diving was truly awesome. Would I go back? Not if I could find the same quality of diving elsewhere. However, if I had to go back to Medhufushi, I’d know what to expect, and that you only get what you pay for, and I’m sure I’d have an enjoyable time.
The background to our trip is this. Four years ago we spent 2 weeks at the One&Only Kanuhura in the Maldives, where we had a terrific time and learned to scuba dive. We wanted a similar sort of holiday – a week’s quiet relaxation and some diving – so we ended up at Medhufushi. We knew that Kanuhura was something special, but with Medhufushi billed as 5-star we hoped for the best. Unfortunately we hoped too much. Medhufushi is not a patch on Kanuhura. It's good, but it's not in the same league.
So the message is, if you have been somewhere in the Maldives where they really do things properly, Medhufushi may disappoint. However I suspect that anyone who’s never done this kind of holiday will have their socks knocked off.
In no particular order, here are my observations.
The island is long and very narrow, with a wide pathway leading end-to-end, meeting at the central resort buildings (reception, restaurant, gym etc) in the middle. The vegetation has been left extremely thick around the perimeter, shielding the beach from the villas except for a narrow opening for each villa or pair of villas to access the beach. Strangely though, the vegetation within that perimeter has been thinned to just the coconut palms. This means that from any point within the island, one can see beach villas in every direction. Worse, from sitting on the sun-deck of one villa, you can potentially see five or ten more villas’ sun decks in each direction. Private and secluded it is not. Fortunately for us, resort occupancy was extremely low during our visit and few of those sun decks were occupied. We were very lucky. The northern tip of the island is the staff quarters.
Happily, we were allocated precisely the villa we had hoped for. I had looked at satellite photos and realised that we wanted to be on the sunset side (west), but because the restaurant, pool, watersports, dive school and over-water bar complex all front out onto this side, we wanted to be some distance away. I sent a request by email, and although they could not guarantee anything, we got one of the very pair I had described in my email. This was an impressive start to our stay. Our side of the island had a prevailing breeze throughout our stay, which made it very pleasant and comfortable. Other guests on the other side of the island complained of the stillness and heat, although this may be seasonal. (See photos for the official resort map. We were in villa 200).
The villa itself was nice and clean, if a little dark and slightly small. The double bed dominated the room, with a 2-metre horseshoe of floor space all the way around. The four side windows, two each side, may have helped slightly, but they remained blinded throughout our stay, as one side looked out onto one neighbours’ sun deck and the other side straight to the matching windows of our twin villa on the other side.
On arrival at the villa I was rather surprised that the porter hung around as if expecting a tip. Our experience of Kanuhura was that the staff were forbidden to accept tips, and guests could enjoy their stay without ever having to reach for cash. This happened again with the houseboy/cleaner at the end of our stay. I was happy to commend him on my feedback form, but I had no cash to tip with, and he got none.
The room contained a digital safe (free to use), flat screen TV (not huge but neither was the room), DVD player (impossible to turn off subtitles, strangely), kettle, minibar, hair dryer and an international electrical socket converter. The underlying electrical sockets themselves were standard UK design. The air conditioning in the room worked well, even during the day when we had the sun-deck door open for access.
The bathroom was very small and, disappointingly, contained no bath. As is common in the Maldives, only the wash-basin end of the room was under cover, with the far end walled off but open to the sky. Nevertheless, it was so small that one stepped directly from the covered area into the canopy under the shower. Actually seeing the sky was therefore not a reality. Unfortunately it was much easier to see the air conditioning unit and pipework. The toilet was in an adjacent room, small and functional. There was a pair of basins, with very nice taps.
The shower was fine, but it took a very long time (more than five minutes) to get hot water. We were told this was because they use solar heating. That explained nothing to me, and I suspect that it’s because the hot water is produced centrally and piped out. This at least means there is no risk of running out. Some villas (and every pair of water villas) did have solar hot water units on top. Shampoo and shower gel were provided and topped up daily, but they were generic unbranded products.
The sun-deck was nice, with a wooden bench, a wooden swing wide enough for two to sit or one to recline, and two nice solid wooden sun loungers. However the villas are built in mirrored pairs, and barely 10 feet away was the sun deck of our next door neighbours, not shielded or secluded from us in any way whatsoever. Between the two was a bare patch of sand, with a slightly pathetic grid of nine spindly plants recently planted (two already dead) to try and develop some privacy one day in the future. Every pair of villas is the same, and if your neighbours happen to be on their sun-deck then you won’t have privacy.
Insects were generally not a problem on our stay. I normally react extremely badly, so I know when I’ve been bitten. I was bitten once or twice a day during our stay, which is low, but still once or twice more than on Kanuhura, even though they regularly fogged the resort. Ants, however were everywhere. Tiny ants under a millimetre long were easily ignored and stayed on the sand. However large black ants half an inch long were endemic. At times, from the shower, I could see 50 or more climbing the bathroom wall. On complaining to reception, the house-boy was sent with a can of ordinary insect spray which he emptied down an ant-hole, with some success. However they were clueless as to Nippon or any other ant-powder product which they could use to selectively exterminate every ant’s nest on the island within a week. This they need to do. On three nights, we were woken at night to find one of these ants crawling up one of our legs in bed. Fortunately it seems they do not bite. But they have a strong grip, and you cannot simply blow them off like most other insects. These ants were perhaps the biggest annoyance of the holiday.
Food was good, and with reasonable variety, except for the one themed night – Mexican – which was something of a disaster. Friday night was particularly good, including several Maldivian and Sri Lankan specialities.
Buffet breakfast catered for everyone, with continental breakfasts of both sorts (cold sliced meats and cheeses for the Germans, croissants and pastries for the French), plus cereals, cooked breakfast, fruit, miso soup (alternating with a rice soup called congee) for the Japanese, plus tea, coffee and juices. It’s worth noting that the resort is German-run, but that the staff all speak English. While there were plenty of Brits there, certain things seemed very European. For example, the non-smoking area in the restaurant constituted a very small fraction, furthest away from the servery.
We went half board after our experience in Kanuhura, which was definitely the right thing to do. A buffet lunch would have been too much. When we did want lunch, we went to the over-water bar area, where the “snacks” were in fact complete lunches. Despite costing on average $11, the portion sizes were extremely generous and the quality generally good.
Dinner was generally excellent. There was a sashimi station with up to three types of fish each night, soup, salads, a roast station, various speciality dishes, a number of curries of various sorts and a selection of desserts.
I was interested to see pork available, presumably because of the German influence in the resort. The Maldives is a muslim country, and although they obviously allow alcohol in the resorts, pork products were not available at Kanuhura when we were there, although there was a very amusing imitation bacon. Here, pork products were everywhere.
Wine was available by the glass or the bottle, and an unfinished bottle could be stored at the restaurant for the following evening. Typical bottles were $35 and up. Water at mealtime had to be paid for, and this was the one area where Medhufushi was better than Kanuhura. The table water was bottled spring water, whereas at Kanuhura one felt cheated having to pay for the very same desalinated water one could have got for free from the tap in one’s room. By the same token, people took bottles of water away with them at the end of the meal and brought them back next time. So if you wanted water at dinner but didn’t need spring water, you could simply bring a topped-up bottle from your room and nobody would know or mind.
We had the same waiter at every meal, who would recognise us after day one, and find us a table and deal with coffee in the morning or wine in the evening. Service was often slow, and we would often have finished our started by the time the wine arrived.
There is an a la carte restaurant over the water but we only ever saw 2 groups eating in there in a week. We looked at the menu and it looked very disappointing, overpriced and boring. The dishes were those one would find in any generic modern european restaurant in London. I thought it was a wasted opportunity to showcase local specialities and of course the local seafood. I was not surprised to see that restaurant permanently empty.
The dive school was excellent. If you’re learning and it matters that you get the PADI qualification, then check before you go. Although all the dive instructors are PADI certified themselves, the dive school does not seem to be affiliated to PADI. The whole team was very friendly, the system efficient, and the diving excellent. There are two boats which each go out twice daily, allowing you to pick a morning and an afternoon dive should you wish. Dive sites were typically just 25 mins from the resort. We hadn’t dived in 4 years since qualifying, but Dani was a brilliant instructor, putting at our ease reminding us what to do, and guiding just the two of us on our first dive. For our second dive, she persuaded us to go to a site called “Mantas and More”. We were nervous, because this site has a current. However it was absolutely worth it. We saw sharks, turtles, marlin, giant clams, lobsters, and more shoals of tiny brightly-coloured fish than I had imagined possible. A pod of dolphins swam with the boat on the way home. Other dive sites were nearly as impressive, but I would dive at Mantas and More again tomorrow given a chance.
Those are my main observations. There were many minor things which suggested a general lack of attention to detail. These things are listed in brief here:
We didn’t go into any water villas, but we did notice that they are arranged in a pair of arcs, 20 to each arc… except that the arcs curve the wrong way. This means that from the sun deck of any water villa, you can see directly onto the sun deck of every single other water villa on that arc. If the arc curved the other way, each sun deck would be essentially private with an uninterrupted view. A mistake like that is, to me, unforgivable, and suggestive of some of the other problems with the resort.
Medhufushi is in the same time zone as the rest of the Maldives, GMT+5. This means sunrise at 5:50am and sunset at 5:50pm. For a holiday destination where nobody is up before 8am, this is somewhat crazy. Kanuhura is at GMT+4, so an hour’s daylight is saved, and sunset is not until nearly 7pm. Where the whole island is a resort and nobody has to go anywhere, why would you not do this?
The beach is not very wide around the island, and there is no shade at all on the beach. Kanuhura provided a permanent thatched sun-shade on the beach in front of each villa. Without this at Medhufushi, very few people actually use the beach. This is a real shame.
The beach itself is unfortunately not pristine and white. There are significant amounts of sea-grass off shore, and dead sea-grass washes up on the beach all day long. Although the beach is swept every day, the beach is always littered with the stuff, which does significantly spoil the view. Whether the sweeping was better at Kanuhura, or there was less sea-grass, I’m not sure, but the beaches were certainly much more your “perfect desert island” at Kanuhura.
Whilst the sun-loungers are high quality, the cushions are dark green plastic-covered foam. This makes them very hot in the sunshine, and prevents them from “breathing”, so that they’re uncomfortably sticky even when covered with a towel. The beach towels provided are only long enough to cover half the sun-lounger. (Guess what? At Kanuhura I remember them being huge, and long enough to cover the whole thing. And the lounger-cushions were fabric covered, which may have needed more cleaning but were infinitely more comfortable.) You can request extra towels, and you will then receive extra every day.
Finally, on departure, I wanted to record some of my thoughts so that the management could make simple improvements. I had to go and ask for a feedback form myself, as it seems they don’t give them out.
It’s worth noting that AAA Resorts (which runs Medhufushi) has no lounge at Male airport, unlike some of the true 5-star hotels. However the new Maldivian Air Taxi lounge is very nice if required. There was no AAA representative at the desk to meet us on arrival, which was somewhat disappointing. Although I believe it used to be necessary to land offshore at Medhufushi and be boated in, there is now a proper seaplane platform.
Tsunami damage is not apparent on the island at all. There is a dead tree stranded on the reef to the east of the island, but that’s all. The devastation still visible on Google Earth (lat 2.88, long 73.57) – see the water villas – is long gone. Three small islands shown to the south of Medhufushi on maps of the Maldives have been simply washed away. The beach at Medhufushi has also been altered. Beach villas 165 to 170 (immediately south of the honeymoon jetty) have no beach whatsoever, and no access to the waterfront. Furthermore, their sundecks are so overgrown with foliage that they see no sun. If you are unlucky enough to get one of these 6 villas, you will be spending your time around the pool. This also means it’s impossible to circumabulate the island on the beach, as it just runs out. On the other hand, the beach in front of 105-110 is extremely wide. These villas would be great if not for the traffic of people taking the scenic routh from the water villas to/from the island centre. As far as I could see, all the other villas had normal beach.
That’s everything I can think of. Sorry it’s so long. I have focused, as I did when I was there, on the things that could have been better. I repeat again, this resort is not 5-star. But it’s a very solid 4-star and if you go with 4-star expectations you probably won’t be disappointed. If you’re going just to dive, you’ll have a fantastic time.
After picking my Maldives hotel mainly by using tripadvisor I thought I would add my own review. Apologies but I think this is going to be quite long!
We booked using Cosmos and flew with Monarch. I had heard quite bad reviews about both of these companies and found a lot of the after sales staff on the phone help lines in the UK seemed to have an attitude and getting answers on transfers and sitting together on the plane was a bit of a nightmare. So I was a bit apprehensive before we went.
However everyone we met from the Cosmos desk at Gatwick, to the monarch check in and for the rest of the holiday was lovely and it was all organised like clockwork. There were no problems with Monarch (standard seats) - the flights were on time, the legroom adequate for us (we are 5 '8'') and the food and cheerful flight attendants ranked above most other economy scheduled flights that I have been on, including BA long haul.
If you sit on the right of the seaplane you see the best views of Male and also medhufushi as you come in to land. Take earplugs as the engines are very noisy for 40 minutes. Oh and we got vouchers from the Medhufushi representative at the seaplane departure lounge for a free cold soft drink which was nice.
All in all, we had a lovely week at Medhufushi, I haven't been to any other hotels in the Maldives and I am sure the top hotels like the One and Only and the Hilton are in a different league but for us Medhufushi was beautiful, the people were lovely and we had a very relaxing and fun stay. I would say Medhufushi was better than any 5 star hotels I have stayed at in the UK and that the top hotels in the Maldives should really be 6 or 7 stars - then Medhufushi is deserving of the 5 stars it has.
The water villas as has been mentioned are well designed and modern, the massive bed was a bit firm but comfy, the Maldivian swing on the veranda was a nice touch and the bathroom had double sinks, a massive walk in shower and spacious bath - good for using on a rainy day! The toilet seat broke but housekeeping came out within the hour to fix it. Take your own shampoo and conditioner as there was no conditioner provided. The bath foam and shower gel was nice though. We got a 1.5 litre bottle of water and a complimentary fruit plate each day (two bits of everything so you can share!) as well as a bottle of red wine and some mini cakes on the first day. (for no particular reason we weren't on honeymoon or repeat guests etc). I also liked the bowls of water and ladles that are placed along the jetty to the water villas so you can cool your feet if the wood gets hot! There is a flatscreen TV and DVD but tried not to watch too much - it’s better to have a no news holiday I think. The sound of the water was not disturbing to sleep except for when it was very windy on a couple of nights and then I did wake up a few times. I still think the upgrade was worth it to have a water bungalow experience and the sunsets were beautiful.
Our only problem with the villa was the steps into the water as they were slippery. I know that this is natural as they are submerged at high tides and they were scrubbed about two times a week by our room boy in a snorkel! I hate when people moan over things like that but my boyfriend fell spectacularly down them on our last day and got grazes all over his arms and thighs. So hold onto the rail at all times and don’t get cocky!
There were large stingrays, and some fish in the lagoon around our bungalow which you can see when you snorkel. Mostly the fish were smallish but there were some larger fish around particularly at high tide (when the currents get very strong - not many people swum in the afternoons because of this but the mornings were calm). We also had a pair of lion fish living around our steps which can sting badly but were very interesting and beautiful to watch. A guy from the dive centre came round to our villa with a fish book to identify them when we asked whether it was safe to swim near them.
We did some free snorkeling trips and the coral gardens were amazing. They are in quite deep water with a bit of a swell and current. I am not a strong swimmer or snorkeller but hired flippers and found I was able to survive!
We also did the dolphin watching trip. You go out to a channel where it is quite reliable the school of spinner dolphins will pass through and we saw about 30-50 riding the front of the boat and doing somersaults. You don’t swim with them (and when I saw the waves I didn’t want to!) but still was well worth it.
Hmm what else? We did half board and never felt like we had room for lunch after eating a massive breakfast. The restaurant had a nice romantic atmosphere despite being buffet. You can sit where you like but your waiter follows you. The cheapest wines worked out about £18 including service charge. We had things like Jacobs Creek and Hardys but it always tastes more expensive when it's served like expensive wine by the waiter! Buffets had a good selection and the food was always cooked really well. I’m vegetarian and found enough to eat but you really get your moneys worth if you like sushi, sashimi, fish and steaks! Don't bypass the curries which are there everyday as they were very good especially the sri lankan style vegetable curries. It was lovely to have as much freshly cut, tropical fruit to eat as you liked and the pastries, bread, jams and deserts were all freshly home made and good. They have a different ice cream and sorbet flavour a day and they were really good quality creamy style ones. Things like strawberry, kiwi and papaya and lime sorbets and coconut and lychee, peanut butter and mocha (not all together!) ice creams - yum!
We had a private dinner on a jetty which came to under £80 for two with wine and was four courses plus coffee. It was very romantic although they did play a love song CD with some quite depressing love songs - more funny than anything! You can also have tables set up on the beach at a quite private location although people can still walk past.
The bar was quite low key but the barmen were lovely - mainly from Sri lanka and very friendly. They have free pool and darts and a weekly crab race and it’s on stilts over the lagoon. You can sit at the bar or have table service. Some cocktails were nice but some were slightly not what I expected - its a bit hit and miss at about £7.50 for a cocktail but the spirits and beers are cheaper and more reliable! The fresh fruit juices were good too.
There weren’t many children - and those that were there were mostly of the cute toddler variety and well behaved and they stayed mainly around the pool area as you would expect.
The staff go to great lengths to give you a good service. The beaches and paths are swept all the time to keep them free from the seaweed that gets washed up in some parts and the island looking as perfect as they can. I would disagree with the comments to stop at the staff signs. We enjoyed walking all around the island, the staff end wasnt that bad at all. You have to get into the water (only up to your knees at most) at a few small points on the non sunset side. It makes me laugh when people complain about having bits of coral in the otherwise fine white sand. This is a real island, a hundred miles from the capital of a small, undeveloped island nation. I know we pay a lot of money to go but its not a disneyland manmade creation - a few bits of hard coral around shoudn't ruin your holiday!
The spa was beautiful. We had a full body massage and back massage and couples can have them in the same room. There were welcome cold towels and drinks, flowers in bowls placed for you to look at on the floor as you lay on your front and the aromatherapy foot bath and massage at the start of the full body was sooooo good. I think the best massage experience I have ever had.
If I have to pick any downsides it is that although the guest relations officers (who are western) were helpful and always accessable some of them and the managers were less friendly than the rest of the people who worked there. We had to go on an introductory tour on the first day with the French guest relations officer and as all the other people were French she seemed initially annoyed that she would have to translate to English for us. But then another guy came as well to translate for us which worked fine. At the managers cocktail reception (free drinks! yay!) the guy we think must be the manager seemed more interested in chatting to the older, richer looking guests and didn’t bother introducing himself to us. In fact we couldn’t really figure out who the top management were...
I don’t think this made much of a difference as the staff are so good and organised we never had to contact the management and reception always sorted out any requests we had.
Also I am more used to independent travelling so you have to get used to the fact you will be spoiled rotten and you are cut off from the local Muslim culture. It felt very indulgent and I worry about the impact of tourism, litter etc on the maldives.
All in all a great holiday for couples and those wanting a quiet, relaxed and friendly atmosphere. We spent about $600 extra on top of half board for a week between us which included the service charges (which I think and hope goes towards paying tips to all the staff including those behing the scenes who otherwise wouldnt get them), excursions, special meal, spa, kayaking and enough drinks for two quite lightweight people! ( a bottle of wine and a few other drinks a day) We thought this was quite reasonable. I would definitely consider going back if I go to the Maldives again.
As a groom with a wonderful wife to please I spent a long time researching Maldives islands for our honeymoon because I wanted to get something just right for our special holiday. The short review is that everything about our honeymoon holiday was perfect, the only thing that could have been better was the weather but we still came back with deep tans....
Our criteria were as follows: good accomodation, top quality food, access to dive sites (as we are both qualified divers), good beaches, a spa and the chance to be spolied a little.
We booked a beach vila on half board basis through Hayes & Jarvis online and flew out with First Choice - it was fine, attentive staff and good enough legroom; yes, you hve to pay a fiver to upgrade to better films and games and the choice was a little limited but it was a night flight so it didn't matter much really. All I would advise here is that it is worth reserving seats in advance as the plane was full and on the way back we nearly didn't get to sit together because arrival time at the international airport is dictated by the seaplane timetable so you can't make sure you arrive early to check in early.
Seaplane transfer was funky, the pilot kicked off his flip flops once we were airborne and flew barefoot. You get great views of the atolls as you fly and it really is like the postcards, small islands fringed by turqoise lagoons of the atolls merging with the deeper blue water further out.
We stayed in a beach villa the first night and because it was our honeymoon and the resort wasn't full were upgraded to a water villa for the rest of our stay. Both were lovely, you really wouldn't be disappointed staying in either. The beach villas are quite close together so you don't get much privacy if you want to sit on your veranda, which may not be to everyone's taste. As the other reviewes say, they are set back 5-10 metres off the beach, which means that you do get privacy from other people wandering along the beach. The water villa has its own veranda with steps down to the sea, and is private. Decor in both the beach and water villa rooms is very contemporary, chic, tasteful and expensive, the bathroom in the water villa is the best we have ever had (and we stay in hotels a great deal through our jobs) although is indoors so if you absolutely must have an outdoor bathroom then it will need to be a beach villa. The water villas have a bath and a shower, whereas the beach villas just have showers, and the bathroom is designed such that you can lie in the bath and have a view through the bedroom out towards the lagoon. A nice touch.
Food on HB basis was simply superb - at breakfast and in the evening. A risk with buffets is always that the food has been out on display for a long while and you therefore get something stale. Here, anything that absolutely must be served fresh, like the excellent sashimi available every day, or fresh fruit, is prepared for you by one of the sous chefs as you wait. The variety and choice was excellent and we didn't get bored of it over two weeks - and we are fussy about the quality of the food that we eat. I'd say that there were about 20 main course dishes each day and we ate five course meals most days, salads, sushi, main course, dessert and cheese. Oh, and I nearly forgot, the bread is baked fresh before every meal and it's not part-baked baguettes either, they have got a proper bread chef back there who does wonderful focaccia, ciabatta, loaves, crumpets, naan etc.
We ate a la carte one night and that was good too. And we had dinner on the beach at the southern tip of the island one night which was ridiculously romantic - and very good food too (I had the lamb).
The wine list was good enough and had some reasonably priced wines on it, there were at least ten reasonable quality bottles on sale for less than $40.
Staff throughout were great - we were signed a waiter on the first day, a young lad called Mohammed from a neighbouring island, he worked really hard for us and served us with a smile and a great sense of humour. The Maldivian room boy was great - very thorough, changed the towels twice a day, and came across as very trustworthy. The bar staff were from Sri Lanka and very friendly without being over familiar. We left tips on the last day of $25 each for our roomboy and waiter, they seemed pleased enough with that. The towel guy at the pool was so helpful, he came and turned our sunbeds to face the sun every day when it had passed overhead!
We did 10 dives at an average cost of about $60 per dive (all on Nitrox which was free but you need to be Nitrox qualified to use it). The dive shop is operated by a German chain called Werner Lau, the instructors were very good and as we are both experienced divers we were able to take advantage of the very good briefings and dive unguided. Dive sites were good (but not the best in the world), with good variety of fish although we were too late for mantas (best time Oct and Nov) and too early for whale sharks (Jan - March aparently). It works out slightly cheaper if you pre-book your diving but you wouldn't then have the flexibility to decide how mny dives you do - and when the sun was shining, because we were on honeymoon we often chose not to dive.
The spa was lovely - we went for the 150 minute couples massage at $300 and it was well worth every cent.
We were there between 10 and 24 December and the weather was changeable - a few days of rain, a few grey days but more days were sunny than not.
Overall there was nothing we could fault about the resort or its management. It made a great choice for our honeymoon.
Perfect start of the new year
The rooms have been renovated at the begnning of 2007.
The villas have contemporary style furnishing.
The villas are very clean and well equipped.
Buffet food is tasty and various. Don't expect gourmand dishes or Michelin stars at the buffet, even so the qualitiy is very good.
Try the á la carte restaurant or the special dinner, they try to offer gourmand dishes, but good to know, that the kitchen is the same for all the restaurants and bars on the island.
The island itself is very clean, and well maintained, but don't cross the staff area line, to avoid disappointment :-)
There is no house reef, so you have to travel 20 minutes by dhoni (free every day) for excellent snorkelling places.
There is a diving center, gym, bar and water sport center with lots of activities.
In most cases you don't have to wait for anything. For example, the capacity of the restaurant is equal of the number of the gests, there is enough sunbeds, long beaches if you like privacy, etc.
There is a huge and kind staff, they try to help you in every case.
They have an infinity pool.