We stayed at Vivanta for 4 nights in mid October. We booked the hotel about 1 month in advance and informed the hotel by email that we will celebrate my birthday and my pregnancy with our first child. We were really looking forward to our holiday in the Maldives for the first time but we were truly disappointed.
Lots of things went wrong during our stay:
Upon arrival at the airport, we were the very first passenger at the hotel booth but first unpleasant surprise: they couldn't find us on their list of guests to pick up. After a phone call and lots of searching in their drawer, they found our names with a remark "no flight details provided". This was of course not correct, I got a confirmation email from Shipra on the 13th of September that they received our flight details. Lucky us, there were 3 more couples on the same flight going to the same hotel, so we did have a boat waiting for us.
During the first 3 days we had a couple of incidents with the hotel staff making mistakes, but we decided to ignore them so we can enjoy our holiday. On our 2nd last day, things got out of hands, so I decided to list all of them here:
We were upgraded to a water villa for our first night (we arrived late in the evening) and were told that we will need to move to our beach villa at 11am the next day. The water villa had a nice view, but beware, the photos shown on their website are not correct. They are photoshopped! The removed the stone wall from their photos on their website.
The male staff who showed us to our water villa made us very uncomfortable. First he introduced things to us that didn't work. For example he said, here you can switch on the lights for the deck outside, then we went outside and it was pitch black. He just pretended everything is fine until just before he left he discovered that he didn't push the card correct, so there was actually no electricity during the whole introduction. After that he just stayed there and didn't leave, although we thanked him and very clearly dismissed him. He just stood in our room and said nothing for at least 1-2 minutes. My husband suddenly realized, he was waiting for a tip. We are not used to this because we travel mostly in South-Asia for beach holidays and it is not common there to do this.
The water villa itself is nice because you have direct access to the water from your deck but it is not the typical water villa you are used to from the Maldives. The villas are not on water, but attached to the beach. The interior looks a bit empty, needs a bit more decoration. The bathroom was nice, very big bathtub.
We preferred the beach villa though because you have direct access to the beach (only the closest ones to the watersports center though) + some nice shades from the palm trees. The deck on the water villas are completely exposed to the sun.
The next morning we went for a very early breakfast at 7am and for a swim, so we could be ready for our move at 11am. At 10:45 someone called to our room but we were too late to pick up. We called back within 5 mins asking who called. The receiver didn't know and said will call us back. No one called back. At 11am we were ready with our luggage and waiting for the bell boy. No one came, so we called again asking when we can move. The lady on the phone said, we were not supposed to move until 5pm. We couldn't believe that, we packed everything already and didnt want to unpack a 2nd time. We said we want to move ASAP. She said ok, she will try. In the meantime we went to the pool bar for lunch and a drink. Just after we ordered a staff member showed up and said he wants to move us now. We said, sorry, cannot, we just ordered. He was clearly disappointed although they were late, not us. During our drinks another lady came and asked the same thing again and we said, we need another 15mins.
After that we finally moved to our beach villa.
The island is very small which is fine, but they almost completely built around the whole island, which means, you have no access to the beach/water, except at the small beach right next to the pier. You cannot go for a walk around the island.
The snorkeling is very nice at their house reef but we couldn't find any soft corals.
3) Water sports center:
We wanted to join some organized trips and checked their "today and tomorrow schedule". We found something interesting for the next day and asked to sign up. The guy told us the information shown on the board is actually not correct, they don't update it and the activity we wanted is not on tomorrow's schedule.
What a disappointment! Why show a schedule if it is not correct? They also told us we need to approach other guests ourselves if we want to book a scenery flight or an island hopping trip. We never had this problem before that we couldn't book an activity and have to organize 5 couples ourselves. We didn't know any of the other guests and thought it is not appropriate to bother them on their honeymoons.
It felt like begging. So we were not able to do any island hopping or the scenery flight.
On my birthday we booked a couple treatment for my husband and me. They didn't offer any prenatal massages, so I could only choose a Facial. The lady who did my facial was a smoker. I could smell the cigarette smell on her hands when she massaged my face. I am a nonsmoker so this was a very unpleasant experience for me.
The food for lunch and dinner was good, although very pricey (normal in the Maldives). Breakfast got boring after 2 days because it was always the same small buffet.
There are mostly men working in this resort and their English isn't that good (except the higher positions). We had always the same guy as our waiter in the main restaurant and he always only mumbled something which we couldn't understand and never smiled.
One morning he spilled my husbands juice, didn't apologize and walked away. We had to call another waiter to clean up his mess. The next day the same thing happened again. He made me very uncomfortable because he never smiled.
On 2 occasions I told one of the staff that I am pregnant: a) barkeeper asked why we don't drink any alcoholic drinks and I said I am pregnant and he replied "Oh no". This is not the correct way to respond to such news. He realized it later on and came back and apologized.
b) at the Spa I informed the male staff that I am pregnant and he answered "I am sorry". No idea what he meant with that. Both situations made me uncomfortable because I am happy to be pregnant and they made it look like I am ill.
7) Sting ray feeding
The sting ray feeding was really fun however they let guests touch and even snorkel around them while we fed them. They had a brochure in every room "Save the Maldives" which states that you must not touch any animals.
However, at this resport even the staff encouraged guests to touch the sting rays and go into the water with them.
There were almost only Mainland Chinese guests on the island during our stay which means lots of smokers and they smoke everywhere (pool, bar, beach, even on the little motor boat we took to the sand bank etc.). As a pregnant woman this disturbed me even more than usual. Imagine you are in the middle of the Indian ocean on a little boat and you have to breathe in cigarette smoke. It was disgusting.
This was a nightmare and made me decide to write all of this down. On the day before our departure we went to the reception to inform them once more about our departure the next day because we knew they lost our flight details.
The lady told us someone will contact us during the day to ask for the details. Someone came by our villa in the early afternoon asking for the flight details. We told him and he left. Later in the afternoon we walked along the beach when another staff approached us asking the same question again. We told her we just informed her colleague about this but provided the flight details once more.
In the evening someone called to our room asking a third(!) time about our flight. I got annoyed and said I provided the information twice today already. She said she will check again and call me back. 2mins later she called back and had our flight details.
Then she told us we have to leave 4 hours(!!!) before our flight although the lady at reception told us it will be 3 hours. I complained and said we want to leave earlier because we don't want to stay 3 hours at the airport.
She said, cannot change because other guests also take the same boat to catch the same flight (which meant all of us had to wait 3 hours).
At this point we were really disappointed and angry. We chose a resort that is close to the airport so we have as little travel time as possible.
The boat trip only took around 50mins (there are no traffic jams on the sea), so we arrived more than 3 hours before our flight's departure. On the boat were a few male hotel staff in regular clothes (I guess they had their day off). One of them continually stared at me and my husband, probably because we are a mixed couple, me being Caucasian and he is Chinese. Hotel staff should know better that this is rude behavior.
At the airport, the check-in counter hasn't even opened yet, so we had to wait 1.5 hours on a bench before we could check-in (there is nothing else to do in the check-in hall, no restaurants or shops). Of course our flight was delayed, so we were more than 4 hours at the airport.
We really tried hard to ignore all their mistakes and mishaps but the last day made us so angry that we decided to write a negative review here on Tripadvisor.
We blame the management for not training the staff well and not organizing the hotel operations better. We are business owners ourselves and we know, if the staff is doing something wrong, often you have to blame the management for not training them correct.
We are very seasoned travelers, going on business trips and holidays on a monthly basis and are very familiar with airport operations and 5* hotels. Unfortunately, this was the worst 5* hotel we ever visited. It was the first time that we were both looking forward to leave and go back home (after only 4 days).
We recommend to travelers who live in East Asia to better travel to Thailand, the Philippines, Bali, Fiji, Malaysia etc. with beautiful beaches, fantastic local food and very, very friendly and ever smiling hotel staff (for a lower price than in the Maldives).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- VIVANTA BY TAJ. A FRESH NEW WAY TO HOLIDAY.Vivanta By Taj - Coral Reef, Maldives has all the exotic ocean views and dramatic sunsets that are de rigueur for any tropical holiday. The twist comes when you step into your villa and instead of the usual beach dcor, find a streamlined, sophisticated take on resort accommodations. Vivanta by Taj has revamped the resort experience from stem to stern and offers the ideal escape at a stunning value proposition. Divers, beach bunnies, and honeymooners - we welcome you. After you descend into Male airport, a luxury speedboat spirits you and your luggage away to Hembadhu Island, where you arrive at Vivanta by Taj - Coral Reef. The resort is a diver's dream destination with numerous diving sites and it's very own 1000 year old coral-reef and shipwreck to explore. For those that prefer to stay on land, the view of the lagoon dotted with water villas is hypnotic. No matter where you travelled from, your world is about to become filled with white sand and magnificent coconut palms. Let Vivanta by Taj introduce you to bliss. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Vivanta By Taj Coral Reef Maldives Hotel Hembadhu
- Taj Coral Reef Hotel
- Hotel Taj Coral Reef
- Taj Coral Reef Maldives
- Taj Coral Reef Resort Maldives
- Vivanta By Taj Coral Reef Maldives Hembadhu