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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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