Chaaya Island, Dhonveli is a beautiful place - hugely romantic, scenery you must see before you die, and on the face of it, a paradise on Earth. The main problem though is that the island is run by profiteering imbeciles.
On arrival, you are given what seems to be a refreshing local fruit juice welcome drink, which is actually a small DelMonte orange juice with a straw in it. We were then shown to our room, which was where the fun (sic) began.
We had booked a 'Superior' room from the Thomsons brochure, and on entering we were pleasantly surprised to find UK plug sockets, so there was no need to mess around with phone charger converters.I went for a shower to refresh after the ten hour flight, and presumed that the ancient-looking arrangement of shower-head onto a sloping floor, though hardly desirable, would probably drain sufficiently. This presumption was a little out, and we still had a paddling pool the next morning. As the bath was further into the room, this made any further attempts to refresh ourselves virtually impossible - nevertheless, we tried to run a bath - which filled up VERY slowly with yellowy putrid looking water. The matching sink unit also had yellowy putrid looking water.
Our first of many trips to the office ensued, and the manager duly arrived ten minutes later to offer us a change of room. The first change of room had even slower running yellow water than the first room, but the next room we tried had the yellow water running normally again. Enter the Thomsons rep - who explained to us that 'Superior Room' didn't actually mean 'Superior' as this is the Maldives. We took this to mean that the translation in Maldivian was probably 'Condemned' then, but the lady from Thomsons then said that she had 'used her influence' to get us an upgraded room - if we paid an extra $400. We thanked her and said that we would find her after lunch to confirm.
Lunch turned out to be a choice of two (one meat, one fish) freshly cooked meals, with three choices of rice, or two choices of stale looking potatoes as an accompaniment. We ended up having a salad, and went back to tell the rep our decision - we wanted to go home. An hour later, the rep found us to give us the news that we were now going to be upgraded for free but couldn't move in until tomorrow.
The new room was better, but VERY dark - this was due however to 'architecture' - it 'being the Maldives'. The king sized bed had a regular double mattress on the frame, leaving a huge wooden plinth which took much skin off our legs until we learned the fine art of having to walk sideways in small steps. The water was clear though, so we decided to give it all another go, and we decided to go and buy some wi-fi.
The manager was seemingly very helpful with this, saying that instead of buying two weeks of wi-fi, we should only buy one week and keep 'logging out', as it was on a 'rolling over' tarriff, and there would be more than enough to see us through the fortnight. Just skipping forward a week here - after seven days, the wi-fi had run out. On telling the manager, he informed us that the one week thing was a special offer, which had run out before we had purchased it. It wasn't his fault though - this WAS the Maldives after all - so we left the second week alone, thinking that if this were the UK (instead of the Maldives), the manager would have been sent to the job-centre for imbecilic incompetence.
Back to the wi-fi that we DID get to use - we found that the router had a Maldives plug which was jammed into a UK socket. We didn't bother going back to the office as we had by now worked out that this was a pointless exercise.
On to the food - this was quite pleasant, but with a very limited choice, and an even more limited accompaniment menu - as mentioned before, usually three rices, two potatoes and a pizza, or a couple of choices of Maldivian curries. The menu was rotated between the three restaurants on the island, so you would get something different on most nights that was freshly cooked. We found the 'windows' for food were very restrictive, with just one two-hour sitting for each of breakfast, lunch and evening meal. You have to watch carefully for the 'imported' foods, which were incomprehensible in their implementation - I'll just keep this very basic - but - if you went for a bar snack of toasted sandwich, fries, and dip, BEFORE 11.30am, you would get the snack as part of your all-inclusive deal. If you ordered the same meal at 11.40am, you would be charged $9 for a plate of fries due to them having to be imported. This is due to one of three reasons - customers are thicko yes-men, who readily put up with this practice - or it is yet another blatant rip-off - or it is the Maldives.This type of scam operates at various points throughout the day, so get your timings right. Also - watch out for the families of little ants that reside in some of the bar tables, as you don't want them tucking in to your $9 fries.
The island itself is wonderful, with surfing waves on one side, and a calm lagoon on the other, that should cater for all tastes. The beach is excellent, but watch out for the strip of green slime on the lagoon side that will have you straight into the doctors surgery if you aren't careful. We also had power cuts on four nights of our final week, plunging the island into total darkness for a few hours at a time, but of course - this is the Maldives.
All in all, a lovely holiday, spoiled only by blatant profiteering, cheap practices and poor management The accommodation itself is very tired and in need of refurbishment in many cases, and be prepared for a shock if you go Maldives 'all inclusive' when you get your bill at the end of your stay. The $500 extra that we got stung for was one final insulting parting shot.a la Maldives.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.