This was our 14th trip to the Maldives and the 2nd to Robinson Club.
We landed later than expected on a BA flight. This was due to a delay caused by de-icing the aircraft back in the UK. We walked out of the Male airport terminal and within seconds were greeted by ground crew (Hummingbird for Purely Maldives) then within a few more seconds greeted by a Robinson Club Rep who informed us that because of our delay we would probably have to wait for the next domestic flight, approximately three hours! It was 10.55am. We were disappointed, but this was understandable. The rep apologised, but said he would see what he could do. He rang ahead and then asked us if we could run. We sprinted and made the 11.00 flight! The pilot waited for us on the tarmac while we cleared security and we took off moments later.
We flew into Kaadhdedhoo which took just over an hour and then promptly took the 20 min speed boat to Robinson Club. There were previous reports of rubbish at the local airport. This is no longer the case. The island and sea were both in pristine condition, but please note this is a very basic airport with limited facilities and any hanging about may require some insect repellent.
We arrived at Robinson Club with the expected smiley welcome, sparkling wine, fruit juice and canapés. The addition of complimentary flip-flops this time around was a surprise bonus. Some guests also received beach bags, as they did not have a full range of flip-flop sizes. Even with the slight stress in racing for our flight, it really was a perfect start to the holiday as we had arrived with plenty of time to shower and, unpack before heading off for lunch.
So what has changed? (See my previous review dated January 2011).
These are not all moans, just observations and also some improvements. By the time you are reading this the island will have been be closed for renovations and re-opened, so a lot of my niggles will have been addressed.
Our previous visit in 2011 was when the resort was less than a year old. By Feb 2013 it had begun to show a bit of wear. Not in the rooms, bar or restaurant areas, where on-going maintenance was evident. Just things like the patchy decking and towels not as fluffy as they had been when new. Also all the beach beds in the past had white covers, they had been replaced by blue in some places, so not as smart or as uniform in my opinion. These are just ultra-picky observations. The beach has all coconut roof umbrellas now giving the beach a more traditional Maldivian island feel. The beach beds are the wooden adjustable type. Beach villa guests have numbered beds on the beach, but there are plenty of unnumbered ones in-between. There were always free beds for all at the pool; these were rattan type beds and love nests. None of these were adjustable, but had comfortable cushions.
The staff wall area was a little tatty, but they are building a fixed wall behind it. The staff area that was fenced off previously with reeds is now getting a more permanent structure, but this was all being done behind the existing screening and no building noise or visual work was being undertaken. I only know, because I was looking for the cat which incidentally was fine, albeit a little more timid than the previous year. I doubt you would even see her unless you went looking. There are also two parrots in an aviary. I don't agree with caged birds and this is probably why they were not mentioned in my previous review; however it appears they are only in the cage to sleep and eat. The rest of the time they are free to fly around. So be aware if you hear squawking coming from your open-air bathroom.
We had a few small issues with our garden room. I will not go into full room details this time, as these can be found in my previous review. Some rooms now have clothes drying racks. This would be an advantage to have in all the rooms. Our room did not have one and our room was also missing a full length mirror. I called my pillow 'a bag with lumps', my husband however liked them! We had a problem with Fruit Bats dropping nuts onto our roof at night. At night it sounded more like we were being bombarded by coconuts. After two nights with little sleep we spoke to reception. They sent someone to sort the overhang branch out. The following night was fine and then the bat returned and we had another sleepless night. Reception then sent a guy up to pick off all the fruit. We had silent nights after that. We were offered a change of room, but we didn't really want the hassle. Looking around only a few garden villas would have an issue with overhanging branches. I managed to work out the coffee machine this time around so spent many an early morning on the terrace with a cup of coffee before breakfast. There is quite a good choice of teas and coffees, also fortune cookies.
The decking around the island was a bit patchy in places, especially where they have replaced planks on the main jetty and some of the beach villas, in some places the wood was in different shades. This didn't really affect us, but some of the main jetty and some of the villas decking has been repaired and not yet varnished the same colour, so a bit patchy looking. Not so good for photos this time around, but I am sure this will be sorted out once the island re-opens. The resort has renewed its contract. I can't remember for how many years, but enough to warrant spending money on the outstanding maintenance issues once and for all.
Each Saturday at 11.30 am a pool party was held. You can avoid this if you like by staying away from the pool area. My husband wanted to, but was dragged there under duress. At first he sulked on a sun lounger surfing the web on his I-pad and then a group of bikini clad Australian school teachers arrived from a neighbouring island and the next thing I knew hubby was in the pool, camera at the ready. Complimentary sparkling wine, floating trays of appetisers, king prawns, various dips, tomatoes, gherkins, olives and feta. What's not to like? He actually asked to go the following week! Sadly for him the teachers had only stayed one night before returning home.
The main restaurant - There were complaints in early reviews in regards to tiles lifting. They were covered with sand. The restaurant food serving area is just bare cement, but this looks good and blends in well with the sand. This is a short term solution I believe. We will have to see what the renovations will bring.
I have read about lack of vegetarian food types. I can't understand this, but I would advise to have a good look around. For instance Hash browns and baked beans were in the Maldivian section at breakfast. And the soup had been moved to the desert section. There were also lots of health food options, such as cold soups and smoothies. As previous - salad items were housed in fridges and built to order, as was the Sushi, so nothing was left hanging around for too long. If you can't find something just ask. At my request I had the typical Maldivian breakfast of Mas Huni every second day, which composed of tuna, onion, coconut, lime and chili all served with freshly-baked flatbread. I had smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese on the other days or fish curry for breakfast. There were lots of other choices available such as the egg station, sausages, bacon and healthy options such as muesli and yogurt and fresh juice. There were many live cooking stations for lunch and dinner that did wok dishes, pasta, pizza, fish, BBQ, also the usual curries and freshly baked bread and a Chef Selection of the day all hosted by an international team of chefs. Dim Sum, Turkish pizza (Pide) and shawarmas were new on the menu this year. Also a few things I have not had in the Maldives before, two things that come to mind were sundried tomatoes and polenta. Meat dishes were of good quality including fillet of beef and rack of lamb. There is still a very good selection of cheeses (around ten) including blue, camembert and brie. Deserts are still all individual portions, although the ice cream was not as good as last time. The complimentary bottled wine was still as good Malbec/ Merlot, a Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay and a Rose. Drinks are complimentary with meals, beer, wine, soft drinks and bottled water. We enjoyed eating most of our meals outside on the decking overlooking the sea. You are not allocated a table or waiter at this resort, so you can pick where you like, either outside over the decking or inside under ceiling fans. There is no table sharing and meal times only appear busier on the Gala evenings (Black & white and white evening (captain's party) this time around) Five course sit down meal, wonderful atmosphere and artistically created dishes. The staff put a lot of effort into making the guests happy, although we came to the conclusion that the general manager (German) was a little put out that us 'Brits' had somehow stumbled upon his exclusive island. The food and service was however still outstanding.
One of the generators packed up for a few days, but this did not affect us, some villas had patchy power though.
There was some evidence of beach erosion. The area between the Das Edel Restaurant and in front of the main bar area and restaurant and along to the row of beach front garden villas there was no beach. I only managed to walk around the island a couple of times at low tide. There were also some sandbags. A wall has been built along the beach in front of the Das Edel. I believe now that the island has renewed the lease it is going to get outside help with a dredger to replace sand. There is still plenty of beach space with no overcrowding, but if you want to walk around the island maybe take reef shoes to traverse areas of dead coral. All in all, the beach was not as wide as it was in 2011, but this may be seasonal. Two of the water villas to the right (looking out to sea) were beached this year when a sandbank formed.
During our previous visit the Beach Bar (near the garden rooms) was open in the late afternoons, this time it was the Sun Downer bar (nearest the WV's). Although the island has several bars they appear not all to be utilised all of the time. There are new bean bags, a hammock and they have also added decking to the Sun Down Bar area. Complimentary canapés are served at sundown, drinks start at around $8. There was no sweet afternoon as was held previously.
Hammocks have also been placed around the island in designated garden relax areas. There were also a few golf carts this time around. I am not sure that these are necessary and seem to be used mainly by staff.
We recognised a lot of the staff from our previous trip and were pleased to see many had been promoted. We also recognised some of the guests, including a German couple on their 4th trip to the island.
It is still a very quiet island, although you can find things going on if you look for them. Daily yoga lessons, beach golf, Pilates, Aqua Fit and snorkel excursion on the house reef (usually two a day), a weekly Kayak around the island and behind the scenes tour. There is a beach volley ball court (inland) which hosts various activities including beach tennis. At additional cost – Big game fishing, catamaran courses, sunset cruise and various trips are on offer. There is an art studio; this seems more geared towards teenagers or for people wanting a Photography session than general use. The 'Wellfit' (fitness) area and gym is even more discreet this time around as the plant growth on the island is more established, offering further screening. There is a sauna, not that we used it.
There was still no loud visible entertainment, only the pool party and the weekly beach Party. As on most islands there are themed evenings in the restaurant. Some themes spilled over into the day. Maldivian day had staff carrying fresh coconut branches along the beach right up to your sun lounger where they split open the green coconut with a machete and you could enjoy the fresh coconut water. A small Maldivian market was held in the main bar that evening. There was a weekly Beach BBQ at Das Edel – one which was pirate themed. Whenever we did venture into the main bar it was empty; however we rarely ventured there after dinner as we are early risers.
The Reef – This is where Robinson club again is a cut above the rest in its price range. I recommend to take a couple of the free guided snorkel trips, as we ventured into area that we would not have found otherwise, and we felt more confident in a small group rather than just as a couple. We discovered Shark Point. At the beginning of our fortnight holiday it appeared that there was more marine life than during our first visit, however the wind picked up shortly thereafter exposing areas of reef and making it slightly more difficult to snorkel. We saw turtles daily, but sadly no Dolphins. The staff assured us they have daily sightings when the sea is flat. I swam with a Green Turtle for at least 10 min and I have excellent footage. Other than that all of the usual culprits were spotted along with soft corals and beautiful pink and purple anemones. There is no fish feeding on this island and also there is a sign board on the beach and a weekly presentation in regards to reef preservation, conservation and pollution.
Any issues we had with the island were minor. I still rate Robinson Club Maldives highly. My husband said he had the most relaxing holiday ever! It is such a fantastic natural and unpretentious island with internal meandering natural sand paths (you will get lost), established gardens, wide powder-soft white beaches fringed with green palms and views out to an unblemished turquoise ocean. The half board plus makes it good value for money too, certainly the best value 4 star resort that we have come across in the Maldives.
To Azmeel, Waheed, Samy, Wadey, Irsshad, Muawii for making our holiday special (we hope to see you all again soon). And to Purely Maldives who got us there and back without a hitch. Richard even offered to get us to the airport when we were snowed in. We would like to say 'A big thank you to you all'.
If you want to know anything specific, don't hesitate to ask.