Let me preface this review by saying that my wife and I have been to dozens of islands in the Maldives. We usually stick with islands that are accessible by speedboat or seaplane, as we did not find the prospect of an additional domestic flight that appealing after a long international flight. We broke this tradition when we visited the Park Hyatt Hadahaa earlier this year, a resort located in the same atoll as Robinson Club. As you can read in that review, the Park Hyatt turned out to be our favorite resort of all. We happily took the opportunity to return to the Huvadhu Atoll to visit another resort we had read so much about and one that actually opened around the same time as the Park Hyatt (late 2009).
Accommodations: We stayed in a Lagoon Villa facing the west. These are no doubt one of, if not the best value in their price class. At 115 square meters, these villas are incredibly spacious and well appointed. Lovely glass panels in the floor and plenty of light to accentuate the airiness of the room. The decks of the Lagoon Villas are huge and one of the largest we've experienced in the Maldives. The elevated jacuzzi with its own roof was a very nice touch.
These villas have a stunning view of the brilliant turquoise lagoon and are incredibly private. You cannot see any other villa from your deck, only sweeping views of the lagoon and horizon. This was one of my main criticisms of the water villas at the Park Hyatt and one area where those at Robinson Club excelled. Easily 5-star accommodations but at 4-star prices. In fact, we have paid more than double the amount for a comparable room at supposedly higher end resorts.
Staff: Service was excellent in general. Attentive and responsive to requests. Dive Center was excellent in pointing out aspects of the house reef. I can't think of anything that stood out in particular, but I felt the service was on par with 5-star resorts I have previously visited in the Maldives.
Dining: Everybody is booked into a meal plan they call Full Board Plus. This is essentially all meals with drinks included. The quality of food was fantastic for a buffet style restaurant and a definite highlight of the resort. A nice mix of dishes from all cuisines was on display throughout our stay, and we particularly enjoyed the various live cooking/preparation stations. The food was definite 5-star quality, in particular the freshness and presentation of the dishes. Possibly the best buffet we have experienced in the Maldives along with Mirihi's. There is a nice mix of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages to choose from at meals, including various wines. There is a set menu or gala dinner (table service) once a week that is a nice change in atmosphere from all the buffet dining.
We actually preferred this to the genuine all inclusive plans at some resort islands, as we typically don't manage to take advantage of all the extras thrown in (we're light drinkers and don't really fancy most excursions offered in those plans).
Setting: Like Hadahaa, this was another stunningly beautiful island. It is a slightly larger island than Hadahaa but still very quiet and romantic. There is practically no plane or boat traffic of any kind in this atoll, though I really don't mind hearing an occasional seaplane take-off or land. There are 101 rooms on the island including the water villas, but I hardly saw anyone else on the beaches or lagoon during my stay. They did a very good job spacing the rooms on the island to ensure maximum privacy for all guests.
Lush vegetation abounds in the interior of the island while a beautiful beach hugs the entire island. There are no unattractive sea defences, and I did not notice any problems with erosion on the island. The white sand covering the beaches is powder soft, though the Park Hyatt still has the softest sand of all the islands I've visited. There is a large and brilliantly turquoise lagoon on one side of the island, and there is an outstanding house reef surrounding the whole island.
House Reef: An excellent house reef is one of our main prerequisites when choosing a resort island. The one at Robinson Club is definitely in the Top 3 of my list of best house reefs. We have been to several resorts that claim to have the best house reef in the Maldives; a few of the more recent resorts with very good to outstanding reefs we visited were Park Hyatt, Mirihi, Athuruga, Lily Beach, W Retreat, and Angsana Ihuru. If I were to rate the reefs at these resorts based on the health and beauty of the corals, I would say that Park Hyatt's is the best followed by Robinson Club and Mirihi's reefs.
The hard corals in the atoll shared by Park Hyatt and Robinson Club are well known for their spectacularity. They managed to escape the mass bleaching from the El Nino event over a decade ago and are a good example of how the rest of the reefs in the Maldives used to look like. The table top corals in particular are very large and impressive compared to even healthy reefs in the other atolls. As with any other reef, you can expect to see the usual cast of Maldivian sealife when snorkeling or diving. We snorkleled around the entire island several times during our stay and always saw something new each session.
Conclusion: Robinson Club is most definitely a 5-star resort but without all the frills of the established luxury brands. Don't be fooled by the name of the resort and the fact that it offers an all inclusive meal plan. Everything is of superb quality at this island, and the fact that it charges only 4-star prices is even more reason to stay here. Robinson Club has so far been the best value for money of any resort I've stayed at in the Maldives.
Along with the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Robinson Club has become one of my favorite islands and one that I would love to return to. The only drawback is its location so far south in the Maldives. I really dislike the additional domestic plane and speedboat transfer, and it took us almost 4 hours from landing at Malé to reach the resort. Nonetheless, this is a small price to pay when you consider the unspoiled location and exceptional coral reefs of this atoll. There are very few whale sharks and manta rays in this atoll (but tons of other sharks and pelagics) according to the Dive Center, so I would stick with the South Ari Atoll if seeing those are of great importance. Otherwise, this island offers just about everything one could want from a perfect Maldivian paradise.