Best resort in Maldives

Old Jun 15th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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Best resort in Maldives

Hi, we'll be spending part of our honeymoon in the Maldives (7 nights). What's the best 5-star hotel to stay at? We'll be there late August/early September - does it rain much at this time of year? Also, I've read some reviews that mention a very bad mosquito problem. Is this true? I'm a little concerned because they adore me! Thanks!
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Old Jun 15th, 2009, 05:40 PM
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The best 5 star resort in the Maldives - that's a difficult question. Not many people have been to all the top resorts there and advices from Tripadvisors are now more commercial than real.

I've been to 4 resorts in the Maldives and the best I've stayed so far are the Soneva resorts(Soneva Gili and Soneva Fushi). August is not the best time to go either but my last trip was during August and I found most of the resorts running below 50% occupancy. The sea, from the outer reef, is usually choppy during August and you can expect intermittent rain.

IMO the best resorts there are the Sonevas, Four Seasons, Banyan Tree and a few others.
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Old Jun 15th, 2009, 07:10 PM
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I agree that “best” can be such a relative term that it would be hard to say that there is only one which is best. Service may be your top priority, or total privacy, or a huge room or a great gym or a wide choice of restaurants. So you may want to think about what is important to you and then read about what the various hotels have to offer. There are certainly many good options to choose from in the Maldives. And new ones are opening all the time.

August is part of the rainy season in the Maldives. I believe from reading your other posts that you are also going to be in South Africa, so I don’t know if you have considered something like the beach areas of Tanzania which may be drier at that time. I believe you considered the Seychelles and Mauritius which may also be drier, I don’t know the weather patterns there, but do take a look at weatherbase.com and other weather websites to get an idea of rainfall. That being said, IMO, even the rainstorms/thunderstorms in the Maldives are magnificent, as the huge black thunderheads span the horizon and change the colour of the water. They are lovely to watch. The down sides are: (i) it is cloudier overall, which really affects the colour of the coral, (ii) it is choppier and currents are stronger, more of an issue for divers, as most snorkeling is done inside reefs and you are not subject to currents. However, if you are going primarily for diving, then having wind, rain and clouds are obviously not going to be what you want. But if your plan is to snorkel occasionally and do other water sports and just relax, then you may not mind rain. But do bear in mind that you might get entire afternoons of rain for your whole stay. And that each resort is on its own island, and that there is really nothing to do in terms of museums, shopping, etc on any of the islands. (Other than Gan, more on that below). Male, the capital is not much to write home about, and I would not really recco any time there (and wouldn’t want to take a day trip there on a rainy day in choppy seas in any event!).

Another thing which you may need to look into as you have 7 days (which is a relatively short time in the Maldives given the distance) is the location of your hotel and whether a sea plane is necessary to reach it versus a boat, and how that works with your international flight. Sea planes cannot fly at night, so if you have to take a seaplane to or your hotel to get to the airport at Male for your international flight, that can be a timing issue. International flights usually arrive or depart quite late in the evening, so you may have to overnight at the Male airport hotel, which is fine but quite expensive for what it is, and can make a long flight even longer. Moreover, if you have to do this overnight on both ends of your trip, this would only give you 5 days or perhaps a bit less at the resort. You might want to look into how flights work from SA before you commit to a location which requires a sea plane flight. A resort which can be reached by boat may work better for you, as they can run at night.

Most of the resorts in the Maldives (and all of the resorts mentioned above) are in North Male Atoll, South Male Atoll or nearby atolls, which are rainier in August. Addu Atoll, which is below the equator and in the far south, will be a bit drier in August, as the monsoon has moved northward and eastward at that point (the bulk of it is in India). Therefore, you might want to consider a resort in Addu Atoll. The Island of Gan, where the international airport for Addu Atoll is located, is actually a very charming little place. It is relatively undeveloped and is a string of islands linked by bridges. You could bicycle along the whole chain and it is interspersed with beaches and little villages. The main “city” is really a village, and has many of the old-style coral buildings left (Male has a few walls left in the one remaining part of the “old” town). The Gan airport is “international”, however, it generally is only for transit flights from Male, meaning you would take an international flight to Male and then change to a local flight to Gan. However, check to see if there are any international flights to Gan; my understanding is that they only take charter flights currently. However, the flight to Gan from Male would be a regular hard-landing surface aircraft and you could leave or arrive at night (schedules permitting).

There is a new Shangri-La Villingilli hotel in Addu Atoll, about a 10-minute boat ride from Gan Island. I saw it just before opening and it appears to be quite lovely. I believe that there are others opening in the area, you might do a search. (There is a hotel on Gan Island, called Equator Village, which I don’t believe is what you are looking for, it’s not 5 star.) There is also a quite nice, but 3/4 star, hotel also near Gan Island called J Resort Handhufushi which you might look at, see http://www.jhotelsandresorts.com/handhufushi/. It may not be as luxurious as you are looking for, but has a lovely beach and good snorkeling.

IMO the “best” hotels (in no particular order) are the two Four Seasons, the Reethi Rah and the Soneva Fushi. The Soneva Gilli is also quite nice. Of those two I preferred the Fushsi. I think the Gili is too close to Male, you get boat traffic, the views aren’t as good, and it just does not feel remote enough. I actually preferred the Four Seasons over both, but I like the room decor better mostly, it wasn’t a service issue or anything (service is really almost too much at the Soneva properties IMO). I have to say that I have not stayed at the Reethi Rah, but have eaten there, so can’t comment on the rooms. My only issue with the Soneva hotels is that they are more rustic in décor than sleek modern, and I have a bit of a personal issue with the whole you-must-take-off-your-shoes mentality. I don’t like to be told what to do, esp with regard to how I should choose to relax on my holidays. In terms of privacy at the Four Seasons, of the two Four Seasons, the villas at the Landaa Giraavaru are more spread out and would offer more privacy, IMO.

The beach at the Reethi Rah is actually man-made. It's still quite pretty, but it means that there is little snorkeling off the beach and the water is cloudier than you will see at other resorts. You have to go to a house reef 10-15 minutes by boat to snorkel. I have not seen the house reef so can't comment on it. But remember that the One and Only is quite close to Male, which is very developed, so I am not sure how great the house reef will be. The hotel is very nice of course, and would be fine for a honeymoon, but IMO the Maldives is about the water colour and the fish life and coral, and I am not sure you would totally appreciate all that from the One and Only. (The water colour from the airport hotel is lovely too, but once you see more remote places you can see the difference in water clarity and colour.) The Conrad is another choice, if you go to the Conrad, I am not sure I would pay for a water villa. I found them to be somewhat poorly designed and so there is almost no privacy and they are noisy, you can hear your neighbors. For less money, I think I would go with a beach villa there.

In terms of specifics, I prefer the reef sides of the resorts, as I like to be able to go from my room right into the reef for snorkeling. This is esp the case if you are in an over-water bungalow, you will see much more fish life from your room on the reef side. It’s also pleasant to listen to the surf hitting the reef walls. When making a booking, you should list a preference for reef or lagoon side if you can. (The lagoon side is also where the boats and seaplanes generally dock as well, and there may be noise issues, although I have not really found this to be a problem.) I prefer the sunrise side (if it’s also the reef side), as you can always find a place on the island from which to watch the sunset (with a bottle of wine), but seeing sunrise from your room is really lovely. Note that sunrise side is also moonrise side, and a full moon rising up over the water in the Maldives is just magnificent, so having this from your room is quite special. (Assuming your trip coincides with a full moon.)

If you are really concerned about privacy, get maps of all the resorts and locate areas you prefer which seem to offer the most privacy. Although hotels usually cannot guarantee a particular bungalow (unless you get some special suite), you should be able to specify an area (i.e. reef side, any villa no 8 through 15 or something similar).

I am on the fence as to the overwater villa versus beach villa debate. While I quite enjoy seeing the fish life from the water bungalow, it’s nice to be able to walk right out onto the beach, esp in the Maldives which has the great soft sand. There is also something about the contrast between the white white sand and the blue water colour that you don't get in the water villas. Also, if the water villas don't have plunge pools but the beach villas do, I think you would prefer the beach villas for that reason as well (esp for a honeymoon). Also, many water villas are set up so that there is not much privacy between them, and can be noisy. (This is definitely the case at the W.)
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Old Jun 15th, 2009, 08:30 PM
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August is probably not the best time to visit, but I wouldn't let that deter me.
As for best resort, I can highly recommend Lily Beach. We visited before the major refurb and it was superb. We experienced no mossie problems.
Take a look......http://www.lilybeachmaldives.com/
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 11:23 AM
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This is so helpful, especially Cicerone! I will definitely take all of this into consideration as I continue researching.
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 04:00 PM
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There is more discussion on flyertalk.com (luxury hotel) re the Maldives. Take a look at Tripadvisor too though I've been mislead before. One and Only Reethi Rah and Four Seasons LG are the most highly regarded there on FT. I've stayed at the Taj Exotica and Kanuhura and had a fabulous time at both. Planning to be at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru (they had a 50% off promo recenty) and maybe OORR. Alila has a new resort with opening specials and FS I believe have 4th night free deals. Check flyertalk's luxury hotel's "crisis discounts ....) thread. Unlike others I'm a resort hopper and only stay 2 to 3 nights at each resort. Another resort which I've contemplated is Naladhu's beachhouse. There are so many luxe properties in the Maldives.
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Old Jun 16th, 2009, 06:06 PM
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Angsana too has opening specials

http://www.angsana.com/EN/Properties...aru/Gallery/av
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 03:21 AM
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Wow, broad question. Like asking 'what is the best city in the world?', 'what is the best movie ever made?, etc.

It really depends on what you are looking for. Some are bigger with more extensive facilities, some are smaller and more quaint. Some are very posh, but you pay the price.

My website - www.maldivescomplete.com - (by the way, completely non-commercial, no advertising and no selling, just a Maldives fan shaing info with the world) allows you to filter by price (the most expensive in many cases to offer some of the most elaborate facilities and extensive service).

What I have found that I have had to do is to create an entire 'Best Of' page which has 'best of' awards for every thing from 'mantas' to 'seating'.

Bruce
www.maldivescomplete.com
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