My husband and I have just returned from our 10-night honeymoon at the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and we are full of praise for this resort. Like other reviewers, we have stayed at many 5* resorts and the BT really does live up to expectations - but with a twist. Unlike some 5* hotels, the BT embraces its natural surroundings which only adds to its appeal. It takes its environmental responsibilities seriously with a marine research lab on-site (complete with turtle breeding and coral replacement programmes), de-salinated water, and lovely bathroom condiments in re-usable china pots to name a few. Refreshingly, it is not decorated as 'sterile chic' but with beautiful woods, thatched roofs and neutral furnishings in keeping with the culture. Our room was large with a very comfortable four-poster bed. The outdoor bathroom was great fun and very useful too with an indoor and outdoor shower (not to mention the wildlife that made its way in and out - very entertaining!). You have everything you need in your room, including some fragrant incense sticks and oils to burn which we took advantage of every day. Our villa assistant, Mustafha, was great and we would come back every evening to find a little gift such as a stuffed turtle or a bottle of champagne waiting for us. The restaurant was amazing - the food was fantastic. If you're looking for pizza and pasta then you lose out - but you do gain wonderful curries, fresh fish and sushi, not to mention the vast array of desserts. We looked forward to every mealtime and ate far too much. Our waiter Hachim was so helpful and kind - for example, when he found out that we liked curry, he would bring out little curries for us to try from the kitchen. He also brought complimentary glasses of champagne to help us celebrate eating our catch of red snapper from the night fishing. The bar was great - many gin and tonics were consumed here in the late afternoon, just before dinner, watching the staff play football on the beach. The spa was out of this world - I am not normally one for massages, but now I realise it was because I had never had it done the BT way. The spa therapists have have hundreds of hours of training and it shows. My husband and I had a wonderful couples massage for 2 hours and a complimentary massage lesson which was good fun. The environmental officers at the marine lab are very friendly and helpful. We went night snorkelling one evening and although terrifying at first, it was one of the best experiences of our holiday. It was like something out of a Disney film as we shone our torches at the reef to see a turtle slowing swimming down to the depths, a massive lobster creeping along the edge, a lazy shark sleeping at the bottom and a moray eel hiding in the shadows. Not to mention the hundreds of colourful fish which kept us entertained - including one trigger fish which seemed to take a liking to my striped bikini and followed me for a while. The house reef is spectacular but one can only imagine how amazing it was before El Nino. The island lost 90% of its reef due to the sea temperature change but the BT have made a massive effort to restore it with a mixture of painstaking care and attention and technology. They do stingray and turtle feeding every day at 5pm which is also a real highlight and attracts visitors from other resorts.
All in all, there are a lot of things that make the BT one of the best places we have ever stayed but the one USP we think it has is its exceptional service. We generally have low expectations as the UK is so bad at it, but we were seriously impressed by the staff. Everyone (and I mean, everyone) knew our name and would say "Hello Mr and Mrs X, how are you today?" when we walked past. We had one small problem with the room and when we complained, we received a bottle of champagne on ice with a written apology from the front office manager later on that evening. We barely had to lift a finger whilst we were there and they seemed to anticipate what we wanted, before we knew we wanted it!
The only thing that cast a shadow over our trip (literally) was the weather. We were the unlucky ones who lost out in the rainy season with 2 solid days of torrential rain and only a few half-days of sunshine. But, this is the risk you take when you go out of season so I wouldn't let this put you off. We still came back with a tan!
My advice would be - if you're a fan of nature and you're looking for a beach hotel that is romantic, charming and friendly with simple, understated luxury then the BT is for you. If you want a soulless hotel with umpteen restaurants, four different kinds of toothpaste and an infinity pool, I would go somewhere else...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Cast away on a secluded coral atoll in the paradisaical Maldives archipelago, you experience a sense of magic, romance and tranquility at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru that's second to none. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru Maldives