My wife and I honeymooned in Huvafen last year. First, let me say how much we enjoyed the good aspects. The accommodation is excellent and genuinely five-star as befits the price position of the place. We loved the lighting and entertainment system, the coffee facilities and superb bathroom views, as well as just being able to step down into the clear water with fish all around.
The infinity pool is best in class at the moment and the communal areas including the Lair are first-rate. Having WiFi throughout the resort is a wonderful facility as well as a superb technical achievement! We partook of the Dolphin Cruise (magical) and hired a Dhoni for a morning (although this turned into a day) and the House Reef is a significant improvement on my experience at Rangali. They take marine biology very seriously and there is huge enthusiasm and knowledge on hand for first-time snorkelers and experienced divers alike.
The Spa is very nicely appointed and we had a really lovely morning in there. We were given a warm welcome and were approached for feedback on the second evening, which gave us a real sense of a place looking to keep improving. But having been honest about one or two minor points (we both work in service industries), the welcome ground sharply to a halt.
Given we parted with £10,000 all-in for our Honeymoon, the service at Huvafen leaves plenty to be desired. There are 200 staff around the place, which makes it seem far more congested than need be, but they spend most of the time chatting and on their phones. Guests are treated as a bit of a nuisance, rather as if they are doing us a favour by letting us stay there.
Following our honest feedback, it was all that the GM could do to muster a good morning to us and on our third morning he actually walked away from me while I was feeding back positively to him at breakfast. I am not convinced that the management team instills a proper service ethic in staff, hence appointments missed and some very "reluctant exits" from our bungalow by staff expecting tips on top of the 10% service charge. The staff have football matches laid on for them (listed as guest activities but no guests were encouraged to take part) but service by the pool and in the restaurants was slow and attitudes by some (not all) very direct ("you don't like the food? What's wrong with it?" when we simply couldn't manage the huge portions in the heat).
When we were served tepid mineral water and asked for a cold bottle, the reaction was one of thinly-veiled resentment. Asking for olive oil and balsamic vinegar with focaccia, for salt and pepper, butter and jam, extra plates; all these shouldn't have been necessary but were treated as an imposition when we requested them. Service with a smile was not only lacking but seemed totally out of the question. We felt by the end of our honeymoon that we had outstayed our welcome and that the staff were almost sick of the sight of us and us asking for things that should have been provided anyway. All we were doing is prompting them politely according to the five-star service we believed we had paid for and Huvafen promised.
We had a particularly awful experience on our final Sunday when a camera crew was on the island to film promotional material. Having settled in the communal area, my wife was asked to vacate her hammock in favour of the model being filmed as it had better lighting than the ones in the shade. Taken aback, we retreated to our sun bed but it quickly became clear that the crew wanted the entire area cleared as they surrounded us, throwing us - the paying client - some dirty looks. The camera was brought right back to the edge of where we were relaxing. We took off to the Lair and as soon as we left they sat on and occupied the loungers we had just got up off. We stay at hotels all over the world and my wife is in the travel industry - never once have I been cleared off my place of relaxation by those in the pay of who we are paying.
Many staff answering the telephone couldn't speak English very well and promised to pass on messages for return calls that never happened. It took us 45 minutes to locate a needle and thread to mend my wife's dress. Foam pillows listed as options were "run out" from the beginning, there were no ice creams available during our second week because the supplier's "boat had broken down for a month now" and certain foods - including the wines the resort prides itself on - were unavailable. Sure, things happen in hotels and if we had been in a three-star resort we could have understood this but for £10,000 we expect pillows on the list to be available, to find other ice cream suppliers and someone to keep on top of the purchasing. We also expect housekeeping to be helpful and quick, service by the pool to be attentive and above all, the occasional indication that people are going the extra mile; we certainly looked in vain for that. The only currency staff seemed bothered about was the green paper kind; on the few occasions we felt it appropriate to use this, we saw a very different and more committed approach. Disgraceful.
Our most serious complaint is about the food, which is frankly an outrage. One understands why in a remote location not everything will always be local or fresh in order to cater for all tastes. But the quality of the food vs price is verging on contempt for the customer. There are plenty of people walking around with chef's jackets on. But I wonder what they do. Breakfast is generally adequate, with the option of juices (unchilled) and eggs cooked to order. However it was very inconsistent; we had a fantastic eggs Benedict (cooked in the main kitchen) on our second day, followed by a version the very next day where the eggs were undercooked, bacon replaced ham (also unavailable) and the hollandaise was split. This lack of standard is simply not acceptable. It is okay to say that we should have sent things back if they weren't up to scratch but we simply didn't have the inclination to wait for the chef to get it right meal after meal. In any case, we surmised the problem isn't one rogue chef, it's a fundamental and systemic lack of rigour in the service standard.
We were led to believe that fresh wood-fired pizza would be available to eat for lunch on the beach at Fogliani's and this is clearly alluded to on the website. Throughout our stay, the wood oven was out of order and the pizzas were, we found out, instead done in the microwave. $25 for a microwaved pizza makes me very, very angry and represents an attempt in my view to take guests as fools. Clearly we were not worthy of an equally good substitute, merely what Huvafen felt it could get away with - at least inconvenience to itself. Interestingly "wood-fired reef fish" remained on the specials board; we later found out this was being cooked in a conventional oven.
Similarly in Celsius, there was a limited menu in the evening that became very repetitive after a week or so and some of the ingredients, for example potatoes, were very poor quality and clearly desiccated in a microwave rather than water-cooked. My wife had a soufflé that could be lifted out of its ramakin with a fork as one solid lump. I asked how this was done - in a microwave or from fresh and was told it was fresh. If this was the case, it was done extraordinarily poorly; if it wasn't, then it would only be another in a series of misrepresentations.
We did enjoy our Honeymoon Dinner in Salt, which at least appeared to have chefs preparing food in it. Wanting to give it another go, we booked in for a second sitting on 7 September looking forward to fresh fish (again, check the menu online as I did while researching) and I asked for an Indian Ocean lobster. On enquiring where the lobster was, I was told it was frozen. Frozen lobster, at $15 per 100g plus 10%. Surprised, I chose the lagoon crab at $55, only to be told that this was frozen too. I was astonished when we were then told that all the fish were frozen after being caught when the Salt menu clearly implies the contrary. Despite the waitress's assurance that it was "very nice", we didn't dine at Salt that evening or any other. We simply refuse to pay $200 for a meal of glorified freezer food. It's a total insult to anyone who stays there and I would expect a luxury resort to engineer a way that fresh seafood on its doorstep can be kept alive (shellfish) or chilled long enough to be served in its signature restaurant.
Even the lobster for the obscenely expensive $250-a-head Lobster and Champagne evening is pre-despatched and presented on ice. On our final Sunday, we noted six covers for this special, with a vast majority of guests packing out Celsius to avoid a $500 meal of frozen seafood. Notably among the takers was the marketing director, choosing to ignore his customers' obvious preference in favour of being seen to dine with those with money to spare. Instead of asking the guests themselves why more weren't taking up the special, he looked as though he had all the answers and was just interested in enjoying himself. It seemed to sum up the priorities and complacency of the management team all too well.
The issues that we raised on our second day were never satisfactorily addressed; our leaking taps (the taps in the bathroom are the only element that lets down the accommodation) were put down to problems with salt in the water and ignored. We had said we didn't appreciate being touted for business by the island shop (but nothing was done as he did it again a week later) and some poor planning that meant we were handed over to a different Thakaru temporarily the same day we arrived was diluted to a "communication issue" and left at that. Huvafen Fushi is a place that seems convinced of its own excellence and unwilling to accept it may have important areas in which to improve.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.