Banana banana banana banana don’t stand on the coral today…
We stayed here from the 23rd Feb to 9th March 2009. This was our 9th trip to the Maldives, 1st to Ellaidhoo and what a fantastic island. I would rate this in my top 3 but the overall holiday was number one. The staff were fantastic, the level of service you get is 5 star and I really wanted to cry when I left. The island has something about it that gives it a good feel which I think is a combination of many factors and very good management.
The Flights - Monarch, I have always said ‘They are not that bad’ but I have changed my mind. On the way out the ground staff had their grumpy pants on and pulled up very tight! We pre-booked extra leg room seats and we were one of the very first to check in. We asked for a window seat and the one next to it but were given seats B and C. When we got on the plane guess what - a lady had the window seat (A) and was separated from her partner across the isle by us!? They had checked in very late. We all moved to get the seats we had asked for. Why are Monarch so difficult? On the way home they ran out of bottled water after less than two hours, juice quickly after that. This is just crazy, they did provide a small 100ml cup if asked for but you needed one ever 15min and there was just not enough staff to serve ~330 passengers every 15min with 100ml water. I had taken my aspirin and was wearing my flight socks, I had done my bit to prevent DVT – where was my water? As you can’t take any onboard I suggest only fly Monarch if you are a camel or a sponge.
Seaplane - Upon landing in Male we did not have to wait ages for the seaplane as we had anticipated based on previous reviews – instead only had to wait ~40 minutes.
The Room - We stayed in a water bungalow and it was fantastic. This is the first time in the Maldives we have ever stayed in a room bright enough to adequately see what you were doing, there are a lot of windows to let in the light. The room is very well equipped with huge comfortable bed, sofa, desk, TV, bar fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, very large safe (fitted a netbook), iron and ironing board, rain coats, life jackets, dressing gowns, slippers, umbrellas, a torch, beach towels, hair dryer, body lotion, shower gel, soap, toothbrushes and razor but I would take you own toiletries. The water bungalow room had a very high ceiling with a mezzanine level that can’t be reached but adds to the light and airiness of the room. The balcony also seemed bigger than I imagined with fantastic views. Off the main bedroom area is a dressing room with two sinks and cupboard space and off that is a shower cubicle and toilet then an open air area with a corner bath and drying space. There is lots of cupboard and draw space although the hanging space is not very tall. The only thing I missed was not having a full length mirror in the room. We were in room 401 which was very close to the bar and restaurant and just off the main beach. You are not supposed to take drinks back to your room, we were on all inclusive and there was no problem taking back a couple of beers to watch the sunset or to take back your nightcap (just make sure you take your glasses back). The mini bar is expensive about $12.5 for a tiny bottle of wine.
The Restaurants - We ate at the water bungalow restaurant this serves buffet style meals for the water bungalow guests. I had the misconception before my trip regarding the use of this (the sea food) restaurant - basically the water bungalow restaurant doubles as a speciality restaurant for all guests but is used to serve the water bungalow guest their meals. I would not worry if you are in the main restaurant as if anything the main restaurant had more choice but this is because it caters for more people. We did go and look around the main restaurant and it looked lovely. Both restaurants would cater for a table for two. When we first arrived I was actually shocked at what appeared to be a very limited choice in food at the WB restaurant, but just like the reef you have to look over the edge as behind the counter the chefs cooked lots of food from scratch - pasta, chicken, steak, fish, samosas, omelettes - all sorts of things. There is a chef called Rhino he looks scary but has a real good sense of humour. The restaurant manager is Donald he is lovely and nothing is too much trouble for him. If you have any special eating requirement I am sure he would oblige. Speciality meals are around $100-150 for two, we had ours on the beach and had a 4 course meal with fillet steak but lobster and seafood also available, a lovely setting to celebrate a birthday or anniversary under the stars. There is also a small band that serenades you whilst you are eating - if you hear the banana song it will be with you forever! Thus the title of this review. At first we thought this a little cheesy but actually it added to our holiday experience. The other thing I would like to mention is that the dress code was very relaxed during the day and we even saw guests arrive to lunch in just a speedo costume although I do not think the island approved of this and they were asked to put on a top. My husband wore linen trousers or three quarters with a shirt most evenings and I wore sun dresses or sometimes a cocktail dress but nothing to dressy and always just flip flops or bare foot.
Bars - There are two/three bars - the main bar with lovely sea views also has an inside seating area if it rains and a pool bar at the water bungalow end. All guest can use all the bar areas. At 6.30pm there is ray feeding at the main bar and once a week crab racing courtesy of Donald (Thursday evenings). There is an all inclusive cocktail list which is quite good. Another review mentioned the wine tasting a little like port, this was true at first but seemed to get better after a few days. It may have been just a bad batch. The white and red on AI is Australian boxed wine and was actually quite good. They do have an extensive wine list available including champagne. A bottle of wine starts at around $30 so best to go AI unless you have unlimited funds. The beer is Fosters and San Miguel and always cold and tasty. Snacks are served at 4pm at both bars and in the evening before dinner you get a very tasty variation on Bombay mix with your pre-dinner drink.
The island - is surrounded by a wall - I guess if you are reading this you are aware of this already. I was surprised to meet some guests that did not know this prior to their arrival. There is a main beach, but whichever room you are in I would think you would find your own bit of beach or place by the pool. There never seemed to be a shortage of sun beds and the island was full when we went. The pool area is looked after by Anthony and if he knows you are coming everyday he saves you a space and you are provided with extra towels. He is a really friendly chap. We do not dive so did not use the dive school although we did go on one snorkelling trip which was excellent and cost $40 per person and visited 3 reefs. We did not use the spa but spoke to people who had who were very happy with the treatments. During our 14 night stay we were not bitten once by any mossies etc. The island is sprayed every couple of days.
Snorkelling - You can snorkel around the entire island. It is best to check with the dive school in regards to currents and best spots to exit from until you are acquainted with the reef. The best place to start is out at the front of the dive school you can even snorkel past the boat quay as there are few comings and goings and they will look out for you. This is one of the best house reefs we have experienced, with lots of coral re-growth. You will be able to see Maldivian Clown Fish (Nemos) which we have not seen at every island, we saw a great variety of sea life (sharks, rays, parrot, angel, trigger, eels etc) and even some that we had not encountered before. The Titan Triggers seemed to be more laid back here but we still gave them a wide berth. From the water bungalow decking area we saw 4 octopus – we’ve never seen these before and they were fascinating to watch. The snorkelling trip takes you to the house reef off Kandhulhu Island, we had actually been there before and has wonderful table top corals, so I would recommend that. Please do not stand on the coral, we saw too many guests do this.
Other Guests – A nice mix of friendly Italian, Russian, Japanese, French, German and English. We usually stick to ourselves but met some lovely people. Hello to Jan, Chris, Debbie, Iain, Joe, Jamie, Jean and Steve.
Staff – Manager Ghazzali, Donald, Deesan, Anthony, Predee, Hussain and room boy Karlo we think you are fantastic and if Mr John Keels is reading this you should feel proud as the staff make an island that is already paradise that little bit more special.
We hope to see you again very soon
Nick and Nat
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo, like all nature's wonders, is blessed with a spectacular offering for marine enthusiasts, is known the world over as the dive island in the Maldives.In the shade. Under the palms. On the Beach. Over the water. There are plenty of stylish types of living spaces to choose from at Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo. The 112 rooms are delightfully designed to blend in with the tropical backdrop and its natural environment.A stunning location combined with star-class facilities and outstanding levels of service. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo Hotel North Ari Atoll
- Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo Resort