This was our first trip to the Maldives and we did not know what to expect....
After a comfortable BA flight (incidentally, a cheaper package than with Thomsons!) we easily followed the procedures to our seaplane transfer and not long after landed on a small floating jetty in the sea and were picked up by the hotel's Dhoni to be taken to reception.
We were checked in swiftly. Before proceeding to our room we enquired if our request for a room on the South side of the island had been met (having read reviews on the North side being a bit noisy because of the jetty). Unfortunately all the rooms were full on the South. Before proceeding to our assigned room, as a contingency plan we enquired about upgrading to a jacuzzi water villa. We viewed the Beach Villa on the North and the JWV. The beach villa was small and dark in comparison to the JWV, there was no question of which room to go for. The JWV was spacious with a terrace at the back with the Jacuzzi and two loungers, as well as a front terrace with two loungers with steps leading to the sea. I'd recommend an upgrade for part of your stay, even one night if you can afterall, there aren't many resorts in the world where your room will be IN the sea!
We were well pleased with our decision to upgrade and figured we would have had a completely different holiday if we "lived" by the busy jetty for the week. The wet room and double sinks and bedroom / lounge provided us with ample space. The sound system was amazing - don't forget to take your music! Our room was cleaned daily and the Jacuzzi water changed frequently. We didn’t see one mosquito and no bites!
The snorkelling lesson was very good. Kaaloo was very patient and gave me confidence. They will lend you a life vest F.O.C. if you are in the AI plan.
Take your own snorkel set, the charge was US$5 a day to rent flippers and I think $8 to hire together with the goggles/breathing apparatus – glad we took our own as I wouldn’t fancy putting my mouth over where someone else’s has been.
The sea is stunning and crystal clear. You can walk far out to the reef in the mornings and see the tropical fish, baby sharks and stingrays. We saw a huge octopus from our room, apparently two live under the spa.
The spa is Balinese and I enjoyed a few massages. Very authentic and relaxing. All the girls are lovely. Always ask for a discount – you don’t ask, you don’t get!
FOOD / DRINK
Having been on numerous AI's and the price paid, we were very disappointed with the restricted AI here.
For AI drinks, the options were basic beer, wine (red or white out of a carton), whisky, vodka, rum and gin. The only cocktail that is included is the "daily special" was always foul. Iced tea and coffee were also included - these were nice (try the iced coffee with a shot of vodka!). Cappuccino’s and Lattes were chargeable. As with "normal" AI's don't expect any afternoon tea and cake.
The snack menu with chips, icecream etc was chargeable. You could order sandwiches throughout the day on the AI plan though. Only four small cans of beer were included in the minibar per day as well as soft drinks. A small bag of cashews was US$5! Tea and coffee making facilities in the room were good.
The dining times provided too short windows and too close from breakfast to lunchtime for our likings. We used the Ahima restaurant. The buffet meals and choices provided were good, although fish curry seemed to feature every day, even at breakfast! The other curries were delicious. We were disappointed with the lack of fresh seafood (prawns, mussels etc) and fresh fruit juices considering we were staying on a tropical island – sorry, smoothies were available but chargeable!!! I was very surprised to see that pork was served up, we don’t expect pork sausages when we visit places like Egypt or Dubai, as much as I love my ham, there’s no need for the hotel to compromise to this extent.
Our waiter Jameel was very attentive and friendly without being intrusive and RanaSinghe was our favourite chef, always cheerful and helpful.
It was also annoying to always have to quote your room number at the bars even though we were wearing these ridiculously wide white hospital bands on our wrists (indicating we were members of the feed and water me institute). They could have been much narrower and colourful with a holiday vibe as they usually are.
We went to Sunset bar most of the time.
The Bonthi bar was open 24 hours which is great if you can stay up! Service here was seriously lacking. I’d rank it as bar service rather than waiter service. Many times waiters just looked or diverted away when they saw that we wanted to place an order. My husband went up to one of the waiters one evening, who we assume was chatting to a manager as this other person was wearing a beige shirt and when he asked if we could order some drinks, the man in the beige shirt snapped and said “what’s your room number” and proceeded to be engrossed in conversation. So whoever you were on the 10th May night, please be more courteous!
Chargeable at $10 an hour (can be used through duration of stay). Good connection in the gift shop.
Local show nights are usually the biggest at most world hotels. Here almost all the guests retired to their rooms as soon as the slide show and local's presentation was finished on the Maldivian night. After the presentation the staff do try hard to make the night fun for guests. But the staff drumming and singing old folk songs and dancing didn’t seem to entice guests to join in. Maldivians are very genteel and shy and won’t beckon or drag guests to join in. I think a more colourful synchronised spectacle performed by male and female dancers would be more entertaining with a lively compere. Rather than (in a droning voice) if you don't dance now the singers say this will be their last song, which it was! A few of us got up to give moral support. The compere had the most UNenthusiastic tone ever – he even presented us to board the sunset cruise which was an anti-climax with our one glass of punch. I feel sorry for anyone who paid $25 for the trip.
Other nights, crab racing was fun, (none were harmed in the event!) as we saw number 3 running around for days after on the island! Games night was the theme for another night, where staff v guests in the games room and then guests v staff playing football. Not our idea of entertainment.
I must say, my favourite night was TUESDAY night!!! Disco night! And we must give a shout to Cordelia and Carin, it would have been another rubbish night without you. I wish we met you two lovely ladies earlier in our holiday. You were the life and soul of the night. Lucky there was a group of travel reviewers there that night who increased the numbers on the dance floor. The DJ was excellent, playing the absolute latest tracks and accommodating all requests. It was nice to leave on a high. Any one going to Vilamendhoo, look Cordelia and Carin up, they are so professional, informative and helpful.
Generally all the staff were very polite and courteous.
Lovely array of polite quiet guests. Mainly couples, a few European families with extremely well behaved kids.
We had a nice time. Vilamendhoo was really nice and we loved the fact that it felt fresh, new and clean having been through a refurbishment. The sea is beautiful and calm here.
Even though all the hotel was running at 100% capacity at times, it did not feel like it as there was so much space and lots of seating in the bars and restaurants.
Don’t forget to take waterproof camera(s)! Lots of sunblock - you'll need it, the sun is extremely hot!
Walk right to the end of the footbridge by the water villas.
If it’s your first trip to the Maldives, no walking out the resort to explore local life here! Don’t expect to do much else other than eat, sleep, drink and various water activities.
Enjoy it! It's a nice quiet resort.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vilamendhoo Island Resort, surrounded by a beautiful lagoon, an excellent house reef and long stretches of white, sandy beach, is the only Resort on the island of Vilamendhoo, South Ari Atoll. It is 900 meters long by 250 meters wide, about 55 acres. Your seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport is a scenic, 25 minute flight. 184 Rooms include 30 Jacuzzi water villas, 30 Jacuzzi beach villas, 111 beach villas and 13 garden rooms. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Vilamendhoo Island Hotel Vilamendhoo
- Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa Maldives
- Hotel Vilamendhoo Island