We just returned from a week’s all inclusive holiday at the J resort, Alidhoo (formally Cinnamon Island), and we quite literally had the holiday of a lifetime. We read a few negative reviews about the place prior to coming which had meant that our expectations were quite low, but we could not have been more impressed. I’ve included some photos in the hope that this will help you decide if this island is for you.
Flight and transfer: These were very good indeed. The international flight is long but fine – decent enough leg room and your own entertainment system (you can upgrade for £5 to get on-demand films). Polite air crew and overall a much nicer experience than flying long-haul with most of the major airlines. When we arrived in Male we were met by the Thompson rep who advised us to wait in the café area until the domestic flight left in a few hours. Actually it was only about an hour’s wait, the representative rounded everyone up, escorted us to the domestic terminal, and helped us get our bags checked in. The flight lasted about 45 minutes, and the views were absolutely breathtaking. Upon landing at the small airport in the North of the Maldives we were met by the J resort representative, who walked us to the waiting speedboats, which then took us to the island. This journey lasted about 20 minutes. I would have liked a little more information about this process prior to departing the UK – not having ever been on a package holiday in the past I was unsure how everything worked. However my fiancé had been on a Thompson holiday before and was very relaxed about it all, saying that we would be told what to do when we landed – we were, and the journey was stress free.
The island: Absolutely beautiful. The weather was gorgeous, and we truly felt as though we were in paradise. Quite a lot has been written about the lack of a decent beach on Alidhoo, but for us it was really everything that we imagined (and better). We stayed in one of the beach villas, and quite literally had a beautiful beach on our doorstep. On our second day we walked around the whole island on the beach barefoot (took about 20 minutes). I’ve included photos of the beach outside our villa (which was amazing), and also of the beach further up, where it was more rocky/coral than white sand. If you were in one of the villas without a sandy beach outside you would only have to walk for a minute to get a sandy stretch where you could lay out your sun-loungers. So basically there isn’t soft white sand all around the island, but it is still a beautiful setting and if you can’t lie on the beach outside your room you can still find plenty of nice sun bathing spots. We went snorkelling on the stretch of reef outside our room and were blown away (the island hadn’t been sold as having great snorkelling so this came as a lovely surprise). We spent about half an hour with a turtle on our last day, and saw an impressive range of reef fish, a huge eel, etc. I’ve included a couple of photos for good measure. The free trip to the sandbank was well worth it – we saw manta rays and although the reef wasn’t as pretty as that off Alidhoo, the blissful location (again some photos included) made this an amazing experience.
The accommodation: The room was fab, absolutely huge, and in great condition. One of the other guests who had been the to Maldives previously commented how good the accommodation was compared to other resorts. You get a Jacuzzi on your porch (both on the beach villas and the “water villas”), a TV, stereo, DVD player, minibar, ironing board – all the usual stuff – as well as an enormous bed. The “outside” bathroom is great – you are of course completely secluded but can see the trees while you shower (in one of the three showers). The Jacuzzi took a bit of figuring out but once we had done that we used it every evening. One night our air con stopped working and within 5 minutes of calling reception (at about 2am) the technician came and fixed it. There was free wired internet (some other rooms had wi-fi) which was a nice bonus. The water villas were larger than the beach ones, but we were delighted by being on the beach. Guests staying in the water villas were very positive about them, although a couple of people said that the noise from the waves made getting to sleep hard for the first couple of nights. The infinity pool and bar made a nice alternative location – we spent most of our nights there after dinner. There were a couple of themed evenings and two singers who performed each night, as well as a karaoke one night. Cheesy but funny and not intrusive if you just want a quiet drink.
The food: Again no complaints. It was varied and plentiful, and almost always delicious. Good salad selection (lettuce, olives, cheese, bread, tomatoes, cold meats, etc) with a wide range of mains (different types of delicious curries, fish, beef, chicken or lamb being cooked fresh on the grill while you watch, fresh pasta, and western-type dishes like lasagne). The best food was usually the fish or any of the more regional dishes like the curries. In addition to the three meals a day from the restaurant there were also snacks available from the bar between meals – so you definitely do not go hungry! We only made it to breakfast on our last day as we enjoyed a lie-in and after stuffing ourselves in the evenings we wanted to just lie on the beach in the mornings until lunch. You can have free drinks (wine, beer, soft drinks) with your meals, and can have free drinks throughout the day from the bar by the pool, including a range of cocktails. You can also have free beer or certain soft drinks from the mini bar in your room – best to check with reception though what you can have for free because it is not cheap if you do have something that isn’t included.
Extras: Although we are both divers we didn’t go diving - had we stayed longer we definitely would have done. We were very happy just snorkelling and lying around on the beach and by the pool. The diving is apparently very good, although it is quite costly (around $100 for 2 dives). There are numerous other things you can pay extra for like banana boat rides, kayaking, wind surfing, having dinner on the beach, certain cocktails etc, but these are not pushed on you so you don’t ever feel pressured to pay for extras.
Service: The staff were very polite, incredibly friendly, and always went out of their way to make sure you were having a good time. I think it is normal to tip, so we left tips at the end of the week for the room service team, the bar staff, our server in the restaurant (we had the same guy most days), and we also gave a small tip to the porters and the guy who fixed our air con at 2am. The Thompson team were very good we thought – we got a service call the day we arrived to check everything was ok, and we were given her contact details in case we had any problems. There was also a Thompson representative on-site in the last few days - she was lovely and very professional.
What would we have changed?: We’d have stayed a few more days! I felt as though we really got fantastic value – luxury accommodation in an idyllic setting.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- As you take your first step towards an unforgettable experience let us escort you to your very own personalized hideaway. Lose yourself in intimate luxury and choose and illuminating experience as we offer you to unwind yourself in harmony. All our rooms are located in the beach front or in the ocean waters. The island boasts of 45 Beach Villas, 7 Duplex Beach Villas, 46 Ocean Villas and 1 Presidential suite. The villas are designed by magnificent architectural craftsmanship symbolizing a harmonious delight for Him & for Her. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- j Resorts Alidhoo Hotel Haa Aliff Atoll
- Cinnamon Island Alidhoo Hotel
- Cinnamon Island Alidhoo Resort