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“Good holiday option, decent accommodations; suited for families”

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Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 2, 2013

We just got back last week from Centara Grand, this being our third Maldavian holiday trip in 5 years, with the first being a couple thing with just the wife and I at the Banyan Tree, and a second at the Sheraton with the family and in-laws.

Overall, it is a decent resort with hits and misses, but definitely worth being an option to think about staying at. It just depends what you are looking for.

The house reefs and marine life are indeed nice, it may be an eye opener for many tourists and rightly so. To be honest however, it is above average and not more for Maldavian standards, which hare admittedly high!. We went on the all-inclusive package which was good - we considered the Island club but frankly I think that's a waste of time (for us anyway). We were there to enjoy the sun, sea, marine life, and chilling in our own room, the club added nothing in that respect in our opinion.

We stayed in a family 2-bedroom deluxe pool villa. We had wanted a water villa but the management declined as our family (2 adults and 3 kids of 13,9 and 3) were deemed too large a group for the family water villa. A pity there, and we didn't want to split the group up.

The good:

- What was really good was the service from the majority of the serving staff. For some reason, we have found that generally staff in the resorts we went to seemed a bit more reserved and less friendly, and it was no different at the Centara despite its Thai heritage and lineage - no typical warm greeting like we got from Centaras in Thailand. However, we have found that many of them are just earnest and professional in getting the job done. We spoke to many and after breaking the ice, they are friendly and eager to help. From the reception, to the restaurants (Sayyad, Niya etc), the sports centre (Hussein, Saif, etc you are all brilliant!), they were all just great.

- The gym: nicely equipped (unless you are a pro bodybuilder and/or training for a pro MMA fight). What a great view of the ocean!

- Kids activities. This had one of the more useful and actually active kiddie centres around. there were resorts we went to where a few tired toys and zero staff was all they had. We didn't actually use this but we always saw cheerful staff there, often with kids, and I think they're doing a good job. The playstation in the room was a good idea although the selection of games could be improved.

- The excursions. Awesome! We swam with whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, and caught a huge grouper and wahoo for dinners!

The so-so:

- The seaplane experience was great; our kids enjoyed the thrill of being on one for the first time. Getting on the seaplane however, was not fun. Others have already mentioned about the open air public waiting area (we were looking enviously at the others who had dedicated air-conditioned lounges). We were also told our flight was at a certain time when our airplane landed. At the seaplane waiting area, we were told it was delayed (although the TV signage said it was on time). we had to watch the planes ourselves and rush down to catch our seaplane as the staff there didn't bother to tell us it had come in on time.

- The rooms. Some of the rooms looked tired and could do with some freshening. The bathrooms are what you would expect in a Howard Johnson's Anahiem and I'm being generous here. It was OK but not great.

- The food was generally ok, sometimes very good, sometimes just blah.

The bad:

- Others have mentioned this too and it is a real issue. The reservation system for the restaurants and spa has to be improved. The Reef buffet is always open so you can get food no matter what, but the logic of making people wait till the day itself to book dining in the Italian, Thai, and Teppanyaki defeats me. We saw others complaining (justifiably) over this. people are here on holiday, not to scramble for reservations and stand in line in the morning! If you go on excursions, you can forget about making reservations.

We also couldn't get a single slot at the Spa, but it's no biggie on this trip.


- Ok I know the next point is not the hotel's fault, and I don't want to come across as being racially insensitive here. It's obvious there's a certain country group that has been targeted and that's understandable. Actually I and my family are ethically in the same race so I'm definitely not being unduly biased here. However, I MUST say some of these people really are very rude and crass. They can utterly ruin your holiday.

How? On excursions they think they own the boat and will trample on kids to get into the water first if a whale shark comes by. We actually chartered 2 private sessions and enjoyed these.

And why am I mentioning this if it's not the hotel's fault? I think they can help by implementing some rules - such as NO SPITTING in public in dining areas. I'm not talking about a discreet clearing of some phlegm due to a sore throat. I'm talking about 5 -10 seconds of loudly gathering up spittle and spewing it on the napkins (ugh, if you think about using it next), or on the floor next to you at breakfast. And repeated ad nauseam.

My kids lost their appetite and my 13 year old was stunned at the amount of floating phlegm that appeared in the sea on a snorkelling trip. It's very off-putting.

Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, and I would consider coming back on a family vacation. for a couples only vacation however, I think there are better options in the Maldives or elsewhere.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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5  Thank Bey0nder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 8, 2013

Our second holiday to the Maldives (last year we went to Conrad Rangali) and we weren't disappointed. Visited with my wife and sons aged 9 and 10 staying in one of ten 'Deluxe Family Water Villas'. Overall a fantastic location and in our opinion we were able to relax more here at Centara than at Conrad. Our main priorities on a Maldives holiday is access to a good house reef for snorkeling, an uncrowded swimming pool with shade and decent food and service. The rest is secondary for us.

Seaplane Transfer
Having been to the Maldives the previous year we knew broadly what to expect at the seaplane port. The difference between the Conrad and Centara holidays though is that the terminal Centara uses is the older part of the seaport and the 'departure lounge' is not air-conditioned and a long wait can get uncomfortable. Conrad have their own departure lounge which is similar to a business class airport lounge so they definately win on that front.

Room at Centara
We opted for a Deluxe Family Water Villa to accommodate us and it was a good choice. The room was fine the highlight being steps down to the reef meaning I could get out of bed, pick up my mask and fins and be snorkeling above a multitude of reef life within minutes. The only real negative with this room was the level of noise from the air con unit - we had to have it on all night as it was so hot, but it generated a significant amount of noise. Bring ear plugs if you are sensitive to noise! The mini-bar was a bit disappointing when we arrived but when we asked reception to stock it things improved. The reef around these villas is good. The walkway connecting the room to the island was always an interesting walk as there were large shoals of fish beneath being harried by sharks - it was fun to snorkel amongst the shoal of fish and spot the sharks darting in and out.

Island Club upgrade
This is what Centara call their exclusive area of the island consisting of a restaurant and swimming pool. We visited this swimming pool daily instead of the main pool as there were far fewer people here - usually our kids were the only people in the pool. Service here was excellent - thank you to Shamila and Avon for looking after us all week. We took breakfast here and often lunch and dinner. Food was very good and they would serve sorbets and afternoon tea as well. As the island is all inclusive, taking the Island Club upgrade means you get more choice of lunch and dinner venues (regular guests usually eat in the 'Reef' buffet restaurant). This option made the holiday for us - highly recommended.

Snorkeling
We like our snorkeling. As we mentioned the reef around the villa was good, we saw plenty of sharks and the usual Maldivian marine life. Also the reef between the sunset and luxury water villas at the other end of the island (near Island Club) was a bit of a swim out but fantastic. Good quality live hard coral and we spent several minutes with Hawksbill turtles and on a couple of occassions we swam with 5 or 6 reef sharks (all together!). Make sure you go there at high tide as in low time it becomes too shallow to snorkel out there. On several occassions we swam amongst those huge shoals of Surgeonfish - always good photo opportunities those!

Activities and excursions
We were pretty rubbish this year and didn't do any excursions (they have the normal things like sunset cruise, fishing trip, island visits, snorkeling etc). There were plenty of watersports on offer from the fun banana boat to wake-boarding and windsurfing.

Summary
We loved the island - it was small so getting from our villa to the Island Club pool only took a couple of minutes. The kids loved it and whilst the resort is smaller and not as high-end as Conrad, we had a better holiday - perhaps it was the exclusivity of the Island Club that did it for us. We met several guests who were repeat visitors and we understand why. The snorkeling was great - we spent some quality time with turtles and sharks and the ability to snorkel from the villa steps was superb. We tried to book again for April but it is all full!! October it is then...

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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6  Thank edralph_uk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 7, 2013

We stayed 4 nights for our honeymoon. The resort is lovely and the staff incredibly friendly and helpful. The all inclusive package is good value. There is good variety in the food and plenty of it. Moët for breakfast makes you feel well treated. You have to book the restaurants for dinner which is a little annoying. The wine list at least 6-8 different reds and whites. The cocktail list in unfortunately short and they don't seem to shake with ice are so are not that cold.

The activities included are great, we snorkelled with whale sharks, visited a local island, did a boat trip to the reef. Diving was well priced with good equipment and dive staff.

We stayed in a beach villa which was great. Walk out to beach and snorkel. Everyday there was new and beautiful sea life to see. Room could do with a bit of a touch up. Outdoor shower was delightful.

Overall we had a great time and were unhappy to leave. Would recommend a week minimum stay.

Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank Pipp a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2013

A real shame Centara that you feel it is OK to assume your guests are content to wait 3+ hours in a non air conditioned departure hall - having stepped off lengthy long haul flights often overnight. We met many guests who had experienced the same issue. Come on Centara you know when your guests are arriving - I wouldn't expect to wait more than an hour after all the sea plane is only a 20/25 minute transfer. Really poor start and would certainly be a negative if we were planning another trip. Other than that great time at Centara and really well looked after by some great staff especially in The Reef ( Ali and Sherry were so good to us!)

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank GDTalent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2013

First time to Maldives, the journey was good with a short transfer in Abu Dhabi, arriving in Male in time for our sea plane transfer to the Centara resort.

The reception at the resort was excellent and we had opted for a 2 bed pool villa (no 6).

The accomodation are very spacious indeed. The pool within our villa was a key highlight for the whole family and we ocassionally dipped into the beach as well. As an all inclusive package, you are spoilt for choice at the 3 restaurants and 2 bars.... the Thai restaurant was one of my favourites . We also managed to get good alternative vegetarian meals prepared for us at the Reef restaurant - compliments to Chef Ajay and Rana for their efforts.

The evening cocktails (margaritas for me) at the Aqua and Coral bars are great too. The service is also impacable.

The management of the whole resort is geared up for 100% customer delight and we were not dissapointed.

My only reservation was spotting couple of small mice within our accomodation and their surrounding, but the in resort pest control team - Bahar - was very attentive and took care of these small creatures for us... however my daughters (18+22 yrs) were left on high at all times, especially during the evening.

Not sure if anyone else had experienced these during their stay?

Beach/Pool Villa No 6 is a good location with a reasonable amount of beach at the back of the property. Pool Villas 1-4 have a small swimming/beach area upto the sand bag limit. Villa no 7 and 8 have uneven and rock access to the beach.

The daily 30min complimentary spa treartments were excellent and our family made the most of the slots - but pls advance book these slot straight after arrival... treatment by the therapists - Laxmi, Daranee, Tracy, AE and others was excellent too... thanks you ladies !

Overall - impressed, would definitely re visit in a few years time.

Room Tip: 2 bedroom Beach Villa with a pool - No 4-7 are central to the beach area. No 7 and 8 have runeven ac...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank JayMehta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 4, 2013

Our 8th time in the Maldives. Lovely resort, fabulous house reef and some of the best snorkelling I have experienced.

HOWEVER the five of us (2 adults and 3 kids under age 7) arrived at Male airport after a long flight from the UK at 9.19am. I was disgusted when I was told our sea plane would not be until 12.45pm - we booked the holiday 8 months ago so they've had a lot of time to organise the transfer! In fact we did not leave until 1.30pm and therefore did not get to the resort until 2.20pm - 5 hours after landing at Male! This has NEVER happened before in previous visit to the Maldives and was completely unacceptable given we were travelling with such young children. In addition, all other resorts I have travelled to had their own seaplane lounge with complementary beverages and resort staff AT THE AIRPORT who were able to to communicate time of plane and give updates and generally look after you. Centara offered nothing of the sort - we had little information and it was generally shambolic. What a shame.

The island is small and beautiful - we had a fabulous family villa with pool on a lovely beach. Amazing marine life and reef. Great food particularly at Azurri Mare however, on the negatives:
- to book a table at Azurri Mare we were told we had to queue up for half an hour at 11.30am each day to book for either lunch or dinner on the day. WE ARE ON HOLIDAY!!! Not acceptable. However, the restaurant was amazing and we had the best steak and
tuna I think I've ever had
- there is no where to have just a simple snack eg. club sandwich or burger or salad. This should be offered in the bar like in other Maldivian resorts. At lunchtime our only choice was a big buffet at the main restaurant or a 4 course set menu at the Thai (taking 2.5 hours) or to queue at 11.30 for a table at the Italian. This is not in line with other resorts and needs considering further
- food at buffet restaurant often cold but it was good, particularly the salads
- the Thai is set menu only. It would be good to have a proper menu with a choice
- Anul at the kids club was lovely and did a great job of babysitting our boys however they need to do more organised activities at the kidsclub rather than just playing around inside. After complaining, they did do cookie making but we felt there should be more.
- Icecream for kids limited to 3.30pm each day rather than all day - that is v unusual. They also had only 1 flavour - come on, it really wouldn't be hard to improve this! Milkshakes not included on the ALL Incl. package - why not?


Overall we had a fab time but felt the resort was not particularly well managed. I would have expected to have seen more of the Resort Manager (on other resorts they visit people EVERY DAY at each restaurant to check they are happy) so that I could discuss all the above but apart from at the Wednesday night cocktail party (which we couldn't attend as our kids were beyond exhausted!) he was nowhere to be seen.

One last point, the staff at the Reef restaurant were FANTASTIC with my boys - particularly Amil. Thanks so much.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Michelle M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 2, 2013

Enjoyed a fabulous week on this lovely island (island = hotel, hotel = island; you can walk round it in 10 mins.). The food and facilities were excellent - it took me a while to get used to Moet for breakfast, but I got there in the end! The all-inc package brings you all food and drink, a very professional daily massage, snorkelling equipment, a banana boat ride, and access to sea kayaks and pedaloes - it's certainly not worth paying extra for the island club, which adds very little.

We stayed in one of the eight family beach villas, and having poked around the other accommodation (including the water villas), we felt we definitely had the best deal. As well as your beach frontage, the villa brings you your own quite substantial pool under the shade of a huge palm, beach and garden sun loungers, plus shaded outside table and chairs (we had to ask for an extra chair, which was rapidly forthcoming). Within the villa there are two bedrooms, one with a door, the other on a mezzanine with en suite, so plenty of privacy. There's a sitting area, spacious bathroom and a fabulous outdoor shower.

Any quibbles? The minibar could have been better stocked - just soft drinks and the odd beer, no wine or shorts, though all were freely available from the bars. They could have done more to bring older children and teenagers together. The kids club was occupied only by younger children. There was a well equipped games area, but it was jammed on a mezzanine under the roof without air con. In those temperatures, one game of table tennis was sufficient to drench you in your own sweat! No attempt was made to attract teenagers so that they would meet each other eg. some sort of introductory event. Our teenager was very disappointed by this.

One thing which could have been much more than a quibble was a night-time fire towards the end of our week. We weren't alerted - although we were on a different part of the island, we felt we should have been - so did not witness anything first hand, but other guests were critical of the speed which it was dealt with (it seems some of the firefighting equipment did not work, and may not have been regularly checked; a team and equipment had to be brought from other islands). Certainly the fire did a fair amount of damage to the administration block (visible the next day) and closed one of the restaurants, and wi-fi and more basic comms (eg. telephone to reception) were down for the rest of the week we were there, and maybe beyond. Could have been nasty.

But the bottom line? We felt we had a really superb week at Centara.

Room Tip: If you have children, go for a family beach villa - they are all equally good.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Wyvernian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

Address: South Ari Atoll
Phone Number:
Location: Maldives > Alifu Atoll > Southern Ari Atoll > Centara Grand Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Centara Grand Island
Price Range: $742 - $1,681 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives 5*
Number of rooms: 112
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Surrounded by a stunning house reef that is a kaleidoscope of colour for snorkellers, and distinctive with its timbered walkways and colonial-style buildings, the five-star Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives is a barefoot paradise. With the Ultimate All-Inclusive concept, your stay is absolutely carefree meaning that all meals, spa treatments, activities and water sports, daily excursions, and even diving are all included. Weatherboard villas, thatched-roof buildings, a white-sand beach and sparkling lagoon are the setting for your honeymoon or fun-filled family holiday. Villas and beach suites are generously-sized (86-159 square metres); the over-water villas enjoy their own sundeck with steps down to the multihued coral reefs. Special villas for families have bunk beds in a children’s area, and you can also enjoy the option of an overwater villa with plunge pool. When it comes to dining, all your meals – and more – are included. Sumptuous champagne breakfasts are available at Reef Restaurant, lunches and dinners are to be enjoyed at the Azurri Mare Italian Restaurant, the Suan Bua Thai restaurant or Reef Restaurant. There are two bars on the island. Voted as Maldives’ most family-friendly resort two years in succession, the island has the ideal family itinerary: activities at the age-specific kids’ clubs, water activities like banana boat and tube rides, water sports, and pool games by thea children’s pool. Anyone in need of some deep relaxation can enjoy the daily spa treatments at Spa Cenvaree, yoga sessions, or simply laze beachside. Beside water sports and one of the best PADI dive centres in the Maldives, the resort’s house reef and lagoon provide fascination for snorkellers, and just off the reef there is a dedicated shipwreck that offers easy diving and a close-up view of turtles and whale sharks, manta rays, and surgeonfish. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Centara Grand Island Resort And Spa
Centara Grand Island Hotel Centara Grand Island
Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives

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