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Old Apr 10, 15, 2:47 am
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 1,981
Stayed at the Holiday Inn in Maldives over Easter. Overall a lovely stay and a great resort. We stayed for five nights in the standard Garden Villa. Cost worked out at around US$264 a night bed and breakfast. We went as a couple.

Arrived into MLE and once we got our bags we waited for other pax, at which point we were taken to our boat transfer. The boat truthfully was not comfortable at all. Luckily it was just a 45 minute ride. Cost of transfer was around US$220 (net) return per person. Damn expensive if you ask me. Yes I know fuel, costs, etc are high in Maldives, but why they don’t build the transfer price into the room rate I don’t know, as there isn’t really any other means of getting to the resort.

Anyway, get to the resort and proceed with check in. I should point out it is close to midnight and we are quite tired. The check in staff start giving us a detailed breakdown of the facilities of the resort. Luckily he sees that we are nearly dozing off (not because we are bored, but because we are very tired). Anyway we are quickly taken by buggy to our room.

Room impressions. For the standard room, I would say quite happy. The room is a bit dated, and it is showing it’s age for sure. But it's a very good size. Double bed, counter, nice outside lounging area and semi outdoors bathrooms. Initially we did find the bathroom concept a bit strange, but in reality it was fine, and actually quite nice. Decent bed, good firmness and a choice of soft or hard pillows. Unfortunately the missus found the pillows either too hard or soft (very very minor issue though). Room came with an orange juice presser and a french coffee press with Illy coffee. Both were very well appreciated and used every day. Nice touch. The orange juice presser was a bit of a mess, but it was nice to have fresh orange juice in the room every day. Six oranges was enough for one glass of juice. While we had a garden view, in effect we were right next to one of the beaches (about a 1 minute walk). Also free water and milk in the room. Water was in the form of glass bottles, with free refills. Luckily we had brought plastic containers for when we were not in the room (we got these from the boat transfer).

The resort itself is quite big especially compared where we stayed last time in the Maldives (Baros). I think it took about 20 – 30 mins to walk round the whole island. In real first world problems mode, sometimes it was a pain to walk from one area to another, especially in the heat. But the hotel offered buggy pick up and drop off service, so we survived. Because they size of the resort it would have been great if they just had some sort of buggy bus route going.

There were three beaches on the Island and a swimming pool. The majority of activity was towards the front of the Island where reception, the swimming pool and the various food options were. While the resort seemed busy, we never felt there was never enough room or it was crowded. The only time we felt things were a bit busy was during breakfast, but even then there was enough room to sit everyone. As this is a family resort and it was Easter, there were, well loads of families and kids. We knew this when we booked, but if you are a couple looking for peace and calm, be warned. A total mix of nationalities from nearly every continent. There have been lots of stories in the press about the Mainland Chinese taking over the Maldives, but we did not feel that at the Holiday Inn.

F&B wise things were not cheap. Again this is something we were expecting, but still the shock was there. We had paid for bed and breakfast and overall the breakfast was pretty good. Nice touch was that we would get Illy espressos and cappuccinos. Breakfast had a very good spread and a good mix of Asian, South Asian and Western foods. Fruits were sometimes a bit scarce though. Otherwise the food options were pretty much the same all round (and not cheap!!) Pizzas and pastas were about US$25 – 30 gross and the portions weren’t that big. Everything was subject to 10% service and 12% GST. One day we opted to have some nachos. This turned out to be a some Doritos with the extras for US$25 gross. As for drinks, soft drinks were US$5 gross, but beer on tap was also US$5 gross. Coming from Hong Kong, that wasn’t too bad at all. Quality of the food wasn’t too bad at all, but just wish they had a bigger selection. Also we found towards the end of our stay that a bunch of cocktails were on a 2for1 offer (at US$12 gross per cocktail), so that wasn’t bad at all. We did bring a bunch of our own snacks, so we felt we didn’t want to opt for HB or FB and I’m glad we opted for that. Even though we spent quite a bit on F&B I think we still spent less than if we had opted for HB or FB. I think our total F&B for the five nights (excluding the Kitchen spend) came out to about US$275 net.

The Kitchen, which was the resort’s “high end” restaurant was frankly a total let down food wise. It was a great setting on the beach and great service, but the food was terrible, especially for the price. I’m vegetarian and had told the staff about this a few days before. The Kitchen actually had a vegetarian menu which consisted mainly of pasta dishes. I opted for risotto. What I got was some rice cooked in tomato sauce and some vegetables thrown in. My wife got lobster soup for starter, which she was generally happy with. For her main she opted for a sea food ravioli, which she thought was extremely average. We also opted for desert, which was something lychee based. Very average. Our total bill for this meal was US$175 net (and this was without drinks).

I did go diving a few times, and wow, just wow. Amazing visibility, clear blue seas and a massive range of sea life. Mind blowing stuff. Only downside, cost. Even with my own equipment I was paying around US$84 net per dive. But again, this is the Maldives. We also took some surfing lessons at about US$70 net per person. Unfortunately the day we went there were not much breaks, so not the best conditions, but hey, that’s nature and not much we can do about that.

While the resort had several beaches, it didn’t really have a house reef to speak off. This meant to see any sea life while snorkelling, involved joining a snorkelling trip. The resort offered both paid and free options. We opted for the free option, which went at 9.30 every morning and you got about 30 mins time in the sea. The ride was only 5 mins and the snorkelling was very nice indeed. As it was Easter, the places did get filled up quickly, so you did need to sign up a day or so in advance. This is one thing this resort really does miss and from our previous Maldives experience, we really did miss just being able to jump into the house reef whenever we wanted to. Should add that the resort had free sunblock stations everywhere.

The hotel had a bunch of other activities and water-sports, some of which were free and some you had to pay for. In essence you could do lots or you could spend your days just lazing around. I think we opted for a happy medium of a few activities and quite a bit of lazing around. In the evenings we would play a bit of pool and foosball as well. As an IHG member (which is free) we had free wifi all around the hotel, including in our room. Otherwise free wifi was limited to the reception area. While we had free wifi, it was slow, but fine to check emails and do a bit of web surfing. Not good for streaming or anything intense. But, very minor problem.

On our final day, we did not have a boat transfer until 8pm. The resort was kind enough to let us keep our room until 4pm. Rest of the time we hung around the pool and then cleaned up in the shower area next to the dining area. It wasn’t the best shower area, but it did the job. It would have been nicer to have a better shower, area, maybe near the gym as there were not really any options for keep your clothes while you showered. Boat ride back was fine, and the return boat was so much more comfortable than the one we had when we arrived.

Finally, staff. This might sound controversial, but I did find them a bit moody at times. Don't get me wrong, nothing was done wrong and they did a great job and were very helpful and attentive, but I just didn’t get any warmth from them. Don't know, might be a personal thing.

Overall, I think, for the price it was an amazing stay. The views were proper postcard sun kissed island and it felt like that being there. It was stunning. The resort was very nice and well appointed. Not luxury (especially compared to our last stay at the Baros) but by no means budget as well. Glad we went and missing it already.
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