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Maldives luxury resort with best diving/food

Maldives luxury resort with best diving/food

Old Jun 23, 14, 7:55 pm
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Maldives luxury resort with best diving/food

Help please! My husband and I are considering the Maldives for 2016, so plenty of time to plan. We are avid divers and foodies but prefer casual elegance (so barefoot luxury is fine with us). Price isn't really an object, but we don't want to pay for stuff/overly formal; we'd rather pay more for better service and food availability. We'd prefer a pool villa, and I can do either OW or beach, but my husband likely will prefer OW. We are open to trying more than 1 property if the transfer isn't too crazy, but it would be nice to stay at one if that's available, especially so we can dive more. I'm also a point whore, so we both will get Hyatt Visas (I'm Plat but will be Diamond by then) to give us 4 free nights at the Park Hyatt--since we understand they have great diving. We also have tons of Chase UR points to blow on more nights at the PH if appropriate. Still, that doesn't restrict us to the PH if that isn't the best place for what we want, but offers us the choice to stay there or stay there and another great property...or we can just stay somewhere else and use the 4 Hyatt nights for another great Park Hyatt location. Good AIR CON is critical--as I need it to be 18 C or cooler to sleep.

We like having privacy and views with our villa/suite, but we enjoy meeting other some people too when out and about. I like the idea of fewer children. I'm SPG Plat but don't think the W will cut it for us--even though I have plenty of SPG points to stay for free there (unless I learn that the diving in that vicinity is amazing!). We mostly want a fantastic villa with amazing food and service at a property that has access to incredible diving. We had considered the 2 FS properties and the FS Explorer, but many have been critical of the diving quality. We've been to the Blue Hole Belize and Red Sea, which are the best diving we've enjoyed thus far, so we don't like just good diving--we're looking for big pelagic life, whale sharks, sharks, rays, turtles, etc. Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef was good but not amazing diving in our estimation for perspective--and Lizard was overpriced for what we got IMO, even with us at their amazing Pavilion.

For the record, we've loved Amanjiwo (pool suite), Amankila (Indrakila Suite), Amanusa (Amanusa Suite), Cayo Espanto (Belize), Halkin by Como, Upper House in HK, Peninsula Bev Hills, Amansara (pool suite), Dock House Cape Town, La Residence Franchhoek, and other high end places. We liked the idea of Amanwana but the diving was terrible when we went and the air con unsatisfactory. We are not fans of too fancy or pretention, and I don't want to dress up in paradise (even being gay!). My husband likes spa stuff, I could care less--and I don't think it would make the difference on property selection.

Appreciate any help you can share!
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Old Jun 23, 14, 9:34 pm
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Interesting. I have a trip (5th) to MLE coming up in early September and will probably only start planning next month.

Last edited by RichardInSF; Jun 24, 14 at 1:19 pm Reason: Delete duplication of long post immediately above.
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Old Jun 23, 14, 9:39 pm
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Been discussed plenty. The forum loves both FS properties and O&O (haven't been to either).

There's also the Cheval Blanc that has just opened, along with Velaa Private Island and new COMO.

I have stayed at the W though - if you can get it for free and if diving/an amazing reef is your biggest criteria then I would seriously suggest the W as it has a stunning house reef. As I've mentioned, this W is a lot more toned down than the other Ws (don't expect Aman, but it doesn't have quite the whacky W feel to it that Bali/Samui do). Service is largely very good, but food isn't.

Not sure what the diving near Gili Lankanfushi or Huvafen Fushi is like?
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Old Jun 24, 14, 4:11 am
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As far as diving is concerned, I can't think of a reason why any resort in the Maldives would be disappointing. Within a short boat ride's distance of all resorts there will be excellent dive sites to explore. If you want a spectacular house reef, on the other hand, that narrows the filed considerably. And, as pointed out by deathscar, there are threads discussing this.

One resort that I don't believe has ever been mentioned on this forum is Dusit Thani Maldives. Though not obviously a luxury brand the DT Maldives has very elegant accommodations (both land and water villas with pool are available), charming, Thai infused hospitality and excellent food with lots of variety. Their house reef is quite simply breathtaking, the dive shop is very well run and they have a resident marine biologist who is a gem. Overall that seems to tick pretty much all of the boxes for the OP.

ETA: I've just seen that the OP has cross posted on the other Maldives thread. Mods, you may wish to merge.

Last edited by Cheetah_SA; Jun 24, 14 at 4:16 am
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Old Jun 24, 14, 5:31 am
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Well, if you didn't like the diving at Amanwana, that tells me you are very serious about large pelagics (which is just the opposite of my husband and me....we also like the little things, colors, corals, etc.).

With this in mind, I think you should look into the best dive operation and then begin a conversation with the resort(s) you've narrowed to. I still think the FS Explorer would be a great choice if you make sure to communicate what you hope to see ahead of time. Also when is the best time to go for what you hope to see.

The dive center at the FS LG is spectacular. We had some wonderful guides and marine biologists there.

Last edited by Ericka; Jun 24, 14 at 5:37 am
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Old Jun 24, 14, 9:16 am
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bhrubin - Great diving and luxury accommodation are not often close friends which is perhaps why most serious divers don't bother with hotels but go on boats. I guess you know about the whales in Tonga and also the French Polynesian island of Rurutu which is in the Austral group.
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Old Jun 24, 14, 10:42 am
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I have been 4 times to Maldives but not staying at pure luxury resort. Have been to Conrad, PH, FS and also Angaga. Although Conrad has great house reef, the boat diving was not challenging thus eliminate most of the best spot in South Ari Atoll. The reason is, dive center has to balance all the diver that stay in Conrad. Angaga also operated by the same dive center and offer the best, wild and challenging dive spot. But Angaga are medium resort for divers. Most of the diver visit this resort are experienced.
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Old Jun 24, 14, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Pausanias View Post
bhrubin - Great diving and luxury accommodation are not often close friends which is perhaps why most serious divers don't bother with hotels but go on boats. I guess you know about the whales in Tonga and also the French Polynesian island of Rurutu which is in the Austral group.
Agreed, but we continue to look and hope. Our stay at Cayo Espanto in Belize offered us the chance to stay in casual luxury while having access to some of our favorite diving in the world (especially the Blue Hole). I am loathe to try some live-aboards since I am so requiring of very good air con to sleep (max of 19 C/69 F); otherwise, we would be doing those often.

The Ritz and FS in Sharm-El-Sheikh probably offered the best luxury for the best diving we've experienced other than Cayo Espanto. Lizard Island in Australia also offered luxury, but their food was so-so and it was ridiculously overpriced in our view for the diving we sought; Cod Hole was fantastic there, but nothing else really blew us away. We are considering Qualia for a return trip to the Great Barrier, since it's on the inner reef as opposed to Lizard being on the outer reef. We also are considering the St. Regis Bora Bora since we can stay for free there on SPG points (I'm Plat so likely to get upgraded too for free; otherwise we'd have considered the FS Bora Bora).

It may be that for the Maldives, the FS Explorer pushes us to stay at the FSLG property so we can do the FS live-aboard experience--giving us a likely best chance scenario to do a live aboard in luxury and get some of the best diving possible.

We also are considering the Amanikan live-aboard out of Amanwana. We previously went to Amanwana in May 2009 while in Indonesia, and unfortunately had a very bad dive experience--little life, terrible divemaster, extremely warm water (>92 F!). We know it's possible that we just went at the wrong time and were unlucky, which can happen, so we're willing to go again ONLY for the Amanikan excursion to either Raja Ampat (supposed to be some of the best diving ANYWHERE) or Komodo (a lifelong dream to go). But Amanikan is REALLY pricey, so we just want to make sure we exhaust other options before splurging there.

It may be that the Maldives just aren't the best place for us to spend our time and money to get what we want. While beautiful, it's still just another holiday where you're staring out at the tropical blue seas from a small island; if the diving and luxury/food can't meet the standard of the prices, I'd rather just not bother and go somewhere else where the luxury and diving are better.
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Old Jun 24, 14, 2:13 pm
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Ahhhhh. Amanikan. A girl can dream.
But seriously, if you consider sharing, you can bring the price down a bit.

Actually, have you researched whether Raja Ampat is a good spot for large pelagics?
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Old Jun 24, 14, 2:49 pm
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I was in Raja Ampat earlier this year - it was part of a long expedition cruise from Auckland and unfortunately we had rather poor weather. One of our expedition team, a man who has dived just about everywhere, said it was pretty good but that the seas around the Banda Islands were better, and I can second that. Komodo has become a fairly nasty theme park these days. I first visited in 1988, there were four tourists on the entire island and we had to buy and then butcher a goat as a sort of visitors' fee. We went back this year, on the same trip, and what we saw there was fairly depressing. However, I'd love to encounter a Komodo in the water!
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Old Jun 24, 14, 6:46 pm
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As far as diving and food I had a fairly good experience at O&O in Maldives.
Relatively close to the resort they have some exciting pass that can be both trilling (very very strong current) and rewarding in terms of scenario especially for "big size". You need to be very detailed with the dive master about what do you want just to avoid they put you together with children and learner and bring everybody to boring environment.

The food in the main restaurant is ok and I particularly like their enormous menu...you can eat there for a month and not get bored. The japanese place was fair too (considering you are in Maldives). The only restaurant i was totally disappointed was the lebanese, bizarre given the fact it was a favorite among all guests.
Please note here you have not house reef!

Concerning barefoot luxury I can tell you that diving was for me generally disappointing in Soneva Fushi and I have been diving here two/three times a day for ten days. Food was mixed: generally limited in choice and most of a hit and miss in all restaurant. Believe it or not their best was for me buffet that we usually do not like but here were particularly nice.
The reef is gorgeous and I spent days snorkeling around it.

In case you decide to go anyway to Baa Atoll (where Soneva and FSLG are located) make sure to contact in advance the diving in those resort and enquire them about trip to protected marine areas....in case you care for more details about this we should use pm.

last: Blueline7 is just back from Maldives and he reported positively about diving and food at Taj
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Old Jun 24, 14, 8:10 pm
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Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post
I am loathe to try some live-aboards since I am so requiring of very good air con to sleep (max of 19 C/69 F); otherwise, we would be doing those often.
A quick point about temperatures. I have been to the Maldives a few times, including, most recently, two trips to the PH Hadahaa. One point that was true in the OW villas at the PH, as it was in all other OW villas I've stayed in at other resorts in the Maldives, is that the air conditioning really struggles to cool the room below about 74F/23C. With beach or inland villas, I almost never have this problem. I'd be curious if others have stayed in OW villas in the Maldives that were able to get really cold.

A few years ago, I had an interesting chat with the chief engineer at one resort about why so many places seem to struggle with this, and he said the problem is caused by the fact that the insulation -- particularly around sliding doors -- wears so quickly due to the strong winds and saltwater, and that the useful life of insulation for an overwater villa is something like 80-90% shorter than beach rooms. He actually described this -- not sanitation or desalinating the water -- as the most challenging engineering problem, and one of the biggest energy draws, for Maldivian resorts.

Anyway, I know this was sort of a tangent, but I've only ever heard room-to-room temperature comparisons, and I'd be curious if this is less of a problem at other resorts' OW villas. Hopefully, this digression will help the OP
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Old Jun 24, 14, 11:58 pm
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I would combine FSLG with a cruise on FS explorer, as well as a shorter stay at FSKH.
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Old Jun 25, 14, 4:00 am
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Originally Posted by dr58 View Post
Anyway, I know this was sort of a tangent, but I've only ever heard room-to-room temperature comparisons, and I'd be curious if this is less of a problem at other resorts' OW villas. Hopefully, this digression will help the OP
This problem seems to be particularly acute at PH and is mentioned repeatedly in trip reports. I hadn't realised it was much more widespread. Our only experience in an OW villa (we much prefer on-land accommodations, partly because of the shade, and that is what we chose at PH) was at Dusit Thani and we had no problems.
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Old Jun 25, 14, 5:09 am
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Speaking of Raja Ampat, there's also the Alila Purnama in addition to the Amanikan.
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