Holiday Inn Kandooma -- Maldives

Old Feb 17, 15, 12:55 pm
  #181  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
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BACKGROUND

I stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma with my wife and 18 month-old son for six nights in February 2015. We opted to go fully a la carte and pay for all food and drinks, predominantly eating from Room Service, at the special evening events or at the 'Bokkura Coffee Club' (aka. poolside restaurant). We did not eat at the higher-end restaurant ('The Kitchen') or at the buffet ('Kandooma Cafe'). We also did not go on any excursions, even the free snorkeling trip in the morning as we were having a thoroughly lazy holiday!

ACCOMODATION

The stay was booked using IHG Rewards Points - 210,000 for six nights in a 'Garden Villa'. For reference the cheapest room only rate during our stay was US$380++/night so I consider this excellent value for the points used.

I contacted the hotel in advance via email and arranged an upsell to a Garden View Beach House for US$50++ per night despite being an IHG Platinum member, as given the nature of the resort and comments online I did not expect a complimentary upgrade and with my family travelling I was keen for predictability and ease wherever possible! In hindsight I would say this was worth it as we did use the extra outside space downstairs to hang out in the shade during the hottest times, but I wouldn't pay more than that. We stayed in No. 46 which was perfect - far enough from the communal facilities not to get any noise, 1 minutes from the peaceful West Beach but not so far I couldn't carry my son up to the main facilities area.

http://holidayinnmaldives.com/villas/ does a good job of describing the different room options available. If you like background noise from the sea then the East side of the Island where all the Beach Villas (nos. 76-125 I think, though note they're set back behind a good 20 yards of trees from the beach itself) and Sea View Beach Houses (nos. 125-160) are located as the sea is rougher on that side. You're also furthest from the communal facilities there and get the sun in your front windows during the morning in the Beach Houses.

The room was fine - it could have done with being a bit bigger (32sqm in total + outside space) but there was a balcony we sat out on most nights whilst our son slept and as mentioned above the outside area downstairs was useful for us. The semi-outside shower was a little quirky but worked well, and as posted elsewhere we did have a big can of 'bug spray' in the room but had barely any issue with ants in the room itself (just a few in the bathroom one morning).

FOOD & DRINK

We opted to eat & drink fully a la carte which was the correct decision for our circumstances. I'm not a fan of buffets and we generally eat lighter at breakfast in hot climates. If we'd been travelling child-free we probably would have indulged in enough cocktails to make the 'stay spirited' package (aka. basic all-inclusive drinks) break even at US$89++ per night (bearing in mind cocktails individually are around the US$12++ mark) but as we weren't drinking too much we didn't bother.

Breakfast - We had room service breakfast every day (other than the first when we slept until 10.30 because of the time difference), sharing a single breakfast between the three (well, two-and-a-half) of us. US$25++ for the basic option (fresh juice, cereal, fruit plate, bread/pastry basket) or US$32++ to add a smoothie and eggs to order. No additional tray/delivery charges. This compares with US$38++ per person in the buffet. It worked very easily for us just calling when we all woke and got delivery every day within 20-25 minutes.

Lunch - We ate every day at the poolside cafe. They offer sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, salads and a variety of standard Asian dishes cooked to order. You order by filling in a form choosing options for your chosen lunch (eg. choose bread/protein/salad contents for your sandwich, protein/vegetable/sauce options for your pizza etc...). We ordered from the kids menu for our son most days and were not charged for this, and either shared a pizza between my wife and I or ordered a dish each based on how hungry we were.

Dinner - We ate either at the poolside cafe, from room service or at any special event that was on (eg. seafood barbecue on a Sunday, beach barbecue on a Monday). Worth noting that the basic all-inclusive food package does not cover these events (though you get something like a US$20 discount on the US$90-100 price). We really enjoyed them, particularly the seafood barbecue where I made short work of a couple of dozen prawns, several pieces of tuna and marlin and a pile of calamari as well as the cooked-to-order noodles/rice that was on offer. Room service is from the poolside cafe menu (and at the same prices) which we ordered one night when our son fell asleep early and ate downstairs in our villa. The cafe offers a full menu in the evenings which includes pizza/pasta/sandwiches/salads as per lunchtime but also a large variety of Western, Asian and Indian dishes, and grilled steaks/fish. We had both the meat and vegetable thali offerings on different nights which we particularly enjoyed.

Wine/Drinks - I don't know whether the 'Seasonal Offer' on bottles of wine was actually an offer or just regular prices, but we had a bottle of white with dinner on two nights for around US$50++ (with several bottles for US$65++ or less on offer), and one night bought and extra bottle to take back to the room and keep in the minibar (as the minibar wine was US$52++ per bottle and not great). There's a reasonable range - maybe a dozen bottles of each colour including covering all the common grapes. I mostly stuck to bottles of Tiger beer (US$7++) and my wife to wine by the glass with meals (all US$11/12++) but we had the odd cocktail here and there and a bottle of Sri Lankan Lion Stout with an Indian meal that moderated the spices and packed a punch at nearly 9% ABV!

FACILITIES

Pool area was nice, with the large pool subdivided into several areas of different depths (deepest about 5ft) that made it perfectly usable for all even with snorkeling practice going on! Never had a problem getting a pair of sunbeds around there late morning despite the resort being busy, though mostly in the shade (which is what we were looking for with our son really). West Beach quieter and no problem finding sunbeds there any time, though it gets less of a breeze and was pretty hot. Played with my son on the pool area beach every day, no litter on land or in the sea that I saw and one day a 5ft Manta Ray swam right up to us whilst we were paddling!

I did some snorkeling around the island and there is really not a lot of marine life (compared to our last stay on Moofushi where the whole place was surrounded by reef). I can't speak for the offshore snorkeling trip as I didn't do it, I assume there's more to see out there. Sea a lovely temperature for swimming in February.

New pool in the kids' club still not finished, and our son was a little small to leave in there so we didn't use it.

You can walk around the whole island at a leisurely pace in 20-25 minutes.

I'd recommend a sunset drink on 'The Terrace' (ie. on top of The Kitchen restaurant). We went up a couple of times and had the place to ourselves.

STAFF

Universally good - all were particularly friendly and played with my son whilst we were eating at the poolside cafe (kudos particularly to Daisy and Dasantha, thank you!). Preferences for food and drink remembered by the third day, little extras for our son offered pro-actively (eg. room service delivery chap offered and went back to base to get us some extra milk one morning, barman gave us a little cup of apple juice when we ordered cocktails at sunset). Check-in/out very efficient and 3.30pm late checkout offered pro-actively as we were on a 4pm boat.

COSTS

Arriving at noon on a Saturday and leaving at 4pm the following Friday (so six nights, lunch-to-lunch) we spent US$2600 in total:
  • $400 on room upgrade ($50++ per night)
  • $400 on return boat transfers for two adults
  • $1800 (ie. $300 per night) on food & drink

The Maldives is not a cheap destination; I consider $2600+points a very good deal for a week all-in.

SUMMARY

Would I return? If I had a stash of IHG points to burn and there was availability at peak times I absolutely would, or if looking to go off peak there are some great rates (down to US$180++/night I have seen). I had moderate expectations for the stay and they were all surpassed. However, the overwater villas are a significant premium and had we paid cash for one of them all-in we would have been paying pretty much the same as the going rate for all-inclusive at Constance Moofushi where we stayed on our honeymoon (points earning an attractive extra in this case, overall experience/F&B/facilities/accomodation not quite as good though).
BA97 is offline  
Old Feb 17, 15, 2:38 pm
  #182  
 
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Way to go BA97

Way to go, appreciate your help and insight. YGPM.
AX
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Old Feb 18, 15, 6:56 am
  #183  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
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Beverages

Are Beverages included in Fulboardl and Halfboard Packages?
How much drinking Water is provided for free per Day?
Waht is the price for a Bottle of Drinking Water?
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Old Feb 18, 15, 7:56 am
  #184  
 
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Nice post BA97. I went on points in January and did get a complimentary upgrade to Beach Villa (#39) so got lucky there. Agree that $50 per night seems reasonable for the larger villa and view.

I went with my wife and 6m old girl and our eating tactic was to eat what we wanted ala carte and don't regret the decision. We did eat everywhere as honestly eating the same place for a week would drive me even more crazy. Did room service dinner which worked well. Overall good use of points I think, but Maldives is (very) expensive no matter what!

Water was as much as we could drink I think. Free at meals and amply refilled at the room everyday.
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Old Mar 26, 15, 7:30 pm
  #185  
 
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think if I book a revenue night in a sea view beach house, followed by 4 standard room award nights they'll make me change after the first night?
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Old Mar 27, 15, 2:08 am
  #186  
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they'll make me change after the first night?
hmm if think if the room free you dont need to chance. Mybe you get an "offer" when you checkin. You can take an category btween the first and the last reservation.
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Old Apr 2, 15, 3:59 pm
  #187  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Couldn't find any recent posts regarding cost to upgrade to OWB for reward stay. I'm Plat AMB, if it matters.
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Old Apr 10, 15, 2:47 am
  #188  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 1,977
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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Old Apr 10, 15, 9:26 am
  #189  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Originally Posted by DaveInLA View Post
Couldn't find any recent posts regarding cost to upgrade to OWB for reward stay. I'm Plat AMB, if it matters.
Anybody?
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Old Apr 10, 15, 9:47 am
  #190  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Originally Posted by DaveInLA View Post
Anybody?
I would email the hotel and ask. I found them to be very responsive via email.

Given the pitiful amount IHG Rewards Club will be paying them for the basic rooms I would not be surprised if they either flat out refused or offered you a nightly upgrade rate that was way in excess of the rate difference between Garden Villa and OWB (which can already be $400+ depending on season). You never know, of course!
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Old Apr 14, 15, 1:23 pm
  #191  
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its possible to arrange the own transfer?
I see sleep is cheap food is 3x expense.
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Old Apr 14, 15, 1:36 pm
  #192  
 
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Originally Posted by ToGo View Post
its possible to arrange the own transfer?
I see sleep is cheap food is 3x expense.
It's the Maldives. Stop thinking 'cheap' and start thinking 'cheaper than it could be'.

I am not sure arranging your own 40 minute boat ride would be possible, or if it was save you any money anyway. If you're an extremely good swimmer you could give it a whirl :-)
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Old Jun 27, 15, 7:34 pm
  #193  
 
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Great post - many thanks for the time and effort.
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Old Jul 13, 15, 1:34 am
  #194  
 
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Do I have extra benefits if I'm a AMB member?
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Old Jul 13, 15, 3:18 pm
  #195  
 
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Originally Posted by DancePlaza View Post
Do I have extra benefits if I'm a AMB member?
AMB is IC only.
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