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Maldives Recs for 2019 trip

Maldives Recs for 2019 trip

Old Jul 7, 18, 4:33 am
  #76  
formerly known as deathscar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Hong Kong
Programs: Virtuoso | SPG | Hyatt Prive
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Originally Posted by MikeFromTokyo View Post

And what the hell happened re F&B? This is extremely unusual. Based on your review, I think they may owe you substantial service recovery, and a chance to regain your confidence on a future stay so they can get it right.
I'm sure a staff member will come around offering a discount if it's booked today...
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Old Jul 7, 18, 5:27 am
  #77  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: England
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Originally Posted by MikeFromTokyo View Post
I am sure it was objectively disappointing on this occasion, but could it also be that you ended up staying at these resorts in the “wrong” order as you mentioned before? Perhaps an ascending order or Soneva Fushi, Velaa, and finally Cheval Blanc would have lessened the feeling of disappointment? Starting with the very best and then going “down” to properties that are not quite at the same level, on the other hand, would make you even more acutely aware of their shortcomings.
I don't disagree that this definitely played its part and going first would have helped, but I also really think the overall service was simply just not good, regardless of what you compare it to.

On top of the above, things like:
  • booking dinner at their new Out of the Blue, then arriving and being sat next to a massive family, to the point that you would think we were some extension of theirs - were we speaking the same language, we could have joined in with their conversations. When we enquire whether there's a booking in place and where we should be sat they confirm it, but say it's first come first served, so there's actually no point in having a booking anyway.
  • our butler never seemed to understand or us vice versa. One day he was due to pick us up at 6:30 and apparently knocked (we were right near the door and never heard it), so he left and just went off somewhere else as we didn't answer. We had to call 3 times to get hold of him to come back, even though we phoned at 6:35.
  • our return flights being booked 11 hours earlier than they should have and us only finding out as we kept chasing to find out when they were, as we were sure they'd screw it up.
  • Several times there were just no staff around and then when waiters did arrive they were not much better than not having staff around.
  • We were on the buggy to be taken somewhere and it broke down
  • Housekeeping walking in on us in the bedroom as they thought we were having breakfast
  • Out of the Blue opened a few weeks prior to our arrival, yet it was 75% finished and construction workers were still on site. Why the rush to open somewhere during off-peak?
Like many properties, it's never one major incident, it's just lots of little things that you begin to see and they make you feel a certain way. Never seeing any management may seem minor, but it's just another point where you wonder if they can be bothered to send over people to disrupt your breakfast to sell you something, why not check up on you too?

I will not profess to be a fan of rustic - although I do like North Island - but that really didn't feel the issue here. I liked some of the facilities on the island, but felt for the prices they charge that they need to get the soft product a lot better to be truly competitive with elsewhere. My theory, although I've nothing to back this up with, is that when they opened Jani, a lot of the great staff went over there to help get it going. I've seen it plenty of times before and it would explain it.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 5:52 am
  #78  
formerly known as deathscar
 
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The lack of management to meet and greet and around the resort during key times of the day to chat with staff is another Soneva complaint I've regularly heard.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 6:28 am
  #79  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Having stayed at Cheval Blanc, Velaa and Soneva Jani. I agreed 100% with MacMyDay review. My preference is Cheval Blanc>Velaa and would return to both in a heartbeat, despite the initial fiasco with CBR. We have a disastrous stay at Soneva Jani and would never return. I still remember fondly of the best apple cider (Gold Emotion) I have ever tasted at CBR.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 6:57 am
  #80  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Originally Posted by silverlim View Post
Having stayed at Cheval Blanc, Velaa and Soneva Jani. I agreed 100% with MacMyDay review. My preference is Cheval Blanc>Velaa and would return to both in a heartbeat, despite the initial fiasco with CBR. We have a disastrous stay at Soneva Jani and would never return. I still remember fondly of the best apple cider (Gold Emotion) I have ever tasted at CBR.
I had a bottle of Gold Emotion too whilst in their new teppanyaki restaurant - it felt really thoughtful that they included something so decent for us non-drinkers.

Glad to hear your CBR stayed managed to come good, as I distinctly remember your thread about being walked. They did not show themselves in the highest light, but their offer to you in the end was incredible and, having been and experienced their amazing service, I'm sure you got even better during your time.

I am not sure if you've posted it anywhere, but I would be interested to hear of your Jani experience.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 9:47 am
  #81  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Originally Posted by MacMyDay View Post
I don't disagree that this definitely played its part and going first would have helped, but I also really think the overall service was simply just not good, regardless of what you compare it to.

On top of the above, things like:
  • booking dinner at their new Out of the Blue, then arriving and being sat next to a massive family, to the point that you would think we were some extension of theirs - were we speaking the same language, we could have joined in with their conversations. When we enquire whether there's a booking in place and where we should be sat they confirm it, but say it's first come first served, so there's actually no point in having a booking anyway.
  • our butler never seemed to understand or us vice versa. One day he was due to pick us up at 6:30 and apparently knocked (we were right near the door and never heard it), so he left and just went off somewhere else as we didn't answer. We had to call 3 times to get hold of him to come back, even though we phoned at 6:35.
  • our return flights being booked 11 hours earlier than they should have and us only finding out as we kept chasing to find out when they were, as we were sure they'd screw it up.
  • Several times there were just no staff around and then when waiters did arrive they were not much better than not having staff around.
  • We were on the buggy to be taken somewhere and it broke down
  • Housekeeping walking in on us in the bedroom as they thought we were having breakfast
  • Out of the Blue opened a few weeks prior to our arrival, yet it was 75% finished and construction workers were still on site. Why the rush to open somewhere during off-peak?
Like many properties, it's never one major incident, it's just lots of little things that you begin to see and they make you feel a certain way. Never seeing any management may seem minor, but it's just another point where you wonder if they can be bothered to send over people to disrupt your breakfast to sell you something, why not check up on you too?

I will not profess to be a fan of rustic - although I do like North Island - but that really didn't feel the issue here. I liked some of the facilities on the island, but felt for the prices they charge that they need to get the soft product a lot better to be truly competitive with elsewhere. My theory, although I've nothing to back this up with, is that when they opened Jani, a lot of the great staff went over there to help get it going. I've seen it plenty of times before and it would explain it.
It’s absolutely unacceptable that you had such an awful service experience. And there is absolutely no excuse at the Soneva price point - or at any even remotely high end resort - for management to not be visible and proactively checking in to see how things are going.

They should definitely make things right on a future stay at any of their three resorts.

Regarding the outdoor bathrooms, and the rusticity, I actually love it. It’s pure heaven in the high and shoulder seasons for me. It just does not work well during the wet season or at other times when weather is hot or humid.

To a certain extent one also has to be “into” the no-news-no-shoes and SLOW life concept. However that is beside the point, as the service you experienced was not acceptable for reasons completely unrelated to this, and that should have been entirely avoidable if management had been present.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 10:30 am
  #82  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: UK
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When I went to the Maldives it was all about the beach, the reef, the snorkelling, the diving, the fishes. We were at the Taj resort, they fed us tinned pasta, you were lucky if you had an egg for breakfast (their own chickens were unreliable) and they were trying to grow their own tomatoes. And when I read about a golf buggy breaking down, a butler forgetting to ring the bell and outdoor bathrooms being a bit muggy, I think, is there a reason to go back? I think not.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 10:37 am
  #83  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Originally Posted by Pausanias View Post
When I went to the Maldives it was all about the beach, the reef, the snorkelling, the diving, the fishes. We were at the Taj resort, they fed us tinned pasta, you were lucky if you had an egg for breakfast (their own chickens were unreliable) and they were trying to grow their own tomatoes. And when I read about a golf buggy breaking down, a butler forgetting to ring the bell and outdoor bathrooms being a bit muggy, I think, is there a reason to go back? I think not.
Are you referring to Taj Exotica? Or was there previously another Taj resort?


Last edited by MikeFromTokyo; Jul 7, 18 at 11:50 am
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Old Jul 7, 18, 1:50 pm
  #84  
 
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MikefromTokyo - This was the original 'luxury' resort in the Maldives, included in Rene Lecler's 300 Best Hotels in the World. It was the Biyadoo resort. They also had a neighbouring island and a ferry between the two. It was incredibly rustic, lots of charm, and lots of flaws but they were ground-breaking. They had a duck that waddled around attacking any guest that strayed close to it.

The house reef was absolutely stunning. I saw 1000s of tropical reef fish, sharks, mantas, the lot. It changed my life.

We got there from Adelaide. Flew to Singapore in an otherwise empty business class cabin. Then Singers to Male. Then a three-hour boat trip to the resort. This was seriously off the map. Environmentally pure. Don't get me started on these new resorts like Cheval Blanc. No single country has done more to damage their environment than the Maldives and hotel chains have jumped on it without a single care in the world except for making money. I think Soneva Fushi started out with the right ideas.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 3:04 pm
  #85  
 
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Originally Posted by Pausanias View Post
MikefromTokyo - This was the original 'luxury' resort in the Maldives, included in Rene Lecler's 300 Best Hotels in the World. It was the Biyadoo resort. They also had a neighbouring island and a ferry between the two. It was incredibly rustic, lots of charm, and lots of flaws but they were ground-breaking. They had a duck that waddled around attacking any guest that strayed close to it.

The house reef was absolutely stunning. I saw 1000s of tropical reef fish, sharks, mantas, the lot. It changed my life.

We got there from Adelaide. Flew to Singapore in an otherwise empty business class cabin. Then Singers to Male. Then a three-hour boat trip to the resort. This was seriously off the map. Environmentally pure. Don't get me started on these new resorts like Cheval Blanc. No single country has done more to damage their environment than the Maldives and hotel chains have jumped on it without a single care in the world except for making money. I think Soneva Fushi started out with the right ideas.
Does the Biyadoo resort still exist? I’ll have to check it out.

I am in my mid thirties and actually sometimes begrudge being born too late to have experienced great resorts and hotels before the environment was spoilt and/or the crowds adversely affected them and drove prices through the roof. What you are describing is exactly the type of experience I would love.

I also would have loved hotel Bora Bora. An older family fried has regaled me with stories of how wonderful it used to be.

And I do agree, Soneva Fushi continues to be a favorite of mine, because they and Gili did start our with the right idea. However, with Fushi changing its style and putting in increasingly large residence villas, and over water instillations, I fear that they are losing track of the original Robinson Crusoe, cast away kind of feeling. For me sometimes less really is more. Fewer people, fewer irritations, simplicity, back to nature, etc... Unfortunately that does not seem to be the general trend of the tourism industry in the Maldives now. And it is exactly that, an industry.
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Old Jul 8, 18, 3:35 am
  #86  
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
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Biyadhoo does still exist but it's an all-inclusive three-star for the mass market that's seen better days. I'd say it's gone from being rustic to being run down but the price you pay reflects that. I don't think it's what you're looking for.
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Old Jul 8, 18, 4:18 am
  #87  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Originally Posted by MikeFromTokyo View Post
And I do agree, Soneva Fushi continues to be a favorite of mine, because they and Gili did start our with the right idea. However, with Fushi changing its style and putting in increasingly large residence villas, and over water instillations, I fear that they are losing track of the original Robinson Crusoe, cast away kind of feeling. For me sometimes less really is more. Fewer people, fewer irritations, simplicity, back to nature, etc... Unfortunately that does not seem to be the general trend of the tourism industry in the Maldives now. And it is exactly that, an industry.
You actually reminded me of our leaving present from Soneva: a framed picture of our room, with a note regarding how they were the first property in the Maldives to allow you to buy residences. I didn't see any last-minute offers in this case.

What you have described as what you're after is North Island. I know it is stupidly expensive, but it is really one of a kind and 50% of their revenue goes into conservation. Wilderness Safaris entire culture of conservation, community and eco-tourism is incredible.
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Old Jul 8, 18, 6:14 am
  #88  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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North Island doesn't strike me as remote or rustic. Just another high-end joint for oligarchs or honeymooning royals. Try this for size -

https://howtospendit.ft.com/travel/2...ve-star-resort

Not been to this hotel as it's brand new but I have been to the country. It has one of the three best beaches I've ever seen and the landscape and cultural history is outstanding.
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Old Jul 8, 18, 6:56 am
  #89  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Originally Posted by MacMyDay View Post
You actually reminded me of our leaving present from Soneva: a framed picture of our room, with a note regarding how they were the first property in the Maldives to allow you to buy residences. I didn't see any last-minute offers in this case.

What you have described as what you're after is North Island. I know it is stupidly expensive, but it is really one of a kind and 50% of their revenue goes into conservation. Wilderness Safaris entire culture of conservation, community and eco-tourism is incredible.
It’s really tacky that they used your departure as an opportunity to remind you they sold residences - just in case you wanted to extend your subpar sojourn for the rest of your life - that option exists!

In all seriousness, I would love to own a residence there it it were still of a classic, understated design. I am not happy with some of the new styling, which is over the top and looks like Jani.

Honestly, I very seldom if ever find a resort that is perfect for me. It’s an elusive search for me. There just are so few places in the world that strike a perfect balance of understatement, environmental sensitivity, while at the same time being luxurious in my eyes. And my concept of “luxury” is more along the lines of a refined, but very simple experience in which a resort exists more in harmony within its surroundings instead of destroying them.

Although it is over the top, if I had the money I would take FS Voavah for my personal holidays with family and friends. It has Four Seasons service and F&B quality, and most importantly the ultimate luxury - not having to share one’s space with anyone - while still having access to FS LG if desired. I dare not even ask what it costs, as I cannot afford it anytime soon.

Last edited by MikeFromTokyo; Jul 8, 18 at 7:01 am
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Old Jul 8, 18, 12:14 pm
  #90  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
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Originally Posted by MacMyDay View Post
What you have described as what you're after is North Island. I know it is stupidly expensive, but it is really one of a kind and 50% of their revenue goes into conservation. Wilderness Safaris entire culture of conservation, community and eco-tourism is incredible.
Ratua Private Island in Vanuatu also comes to mind. And I believe the owners plow 100% of the profits back into local organizations.
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