Arrival: 13th March
Stay Duration: 9nights
Room type: Beach front villa
Room number: 35
Tour Operator: Kuoni
NB. Please note that this review was prepared during our stay and that the refurbishment mentioned is now complete.
Well, this is our second visit to the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. I am now sat in the Naiboli Bar writing this review which beats the hell out of doing it back in the UK on a dull and drizzly day!
This I confess was not as slick as on our first visit but this was due to issues outside the resort's control. The flight that was due in at the same time as ours was delayed which resulted in a wait for the other two passengers; unfortunately the delay was made worse because these Japanese guests were insisting that the 25 minute boat transfer should have been by plane and so were not keen to get on the boat! 40 minutes later we were off and the usual Banyan Tree quality of service and attention to detail was restored.
This was very special as we were welcomed back very warmly by name by the reception staff and a great number of the other staff members. Even those who were new to us welcomed us and thanked us for coming back which was such a nice touch.
Now one day into our stay and I can report that it is just as good the second time round as the first which I am sure I will be able to confirm at the end of both our stay and this review.
You should know that Vabbinfaru runs one hour ahead of Male so bear this in mind for flight/arrival times if you are trying to get here for a meal time.
We very much liked the sunset side of the island last time and so we were very pleased to get a villa 2 up from where we were last year. While it has to be said that the villas are not the largest available in the maldives, they are however without doubt large enough and very comfortable with nice little touches that differentiate them from other resorts we have stayed at.
It can be said that the rooms are a little tied, a fact that the Banyan Tree group is well aware of, which is why the resort will be closed down for two months this year for a complete refurbishment of all of the villas. I have seen the planed changes and they will bring the resort firmly into the 21st century providing even more luxurious accommodation. I will not list all the room facilities, I suggest you visit their web site, there are more extensive and more accurate than many of the tour company brochures.
When you come to a place like this, the quality of the food is absolutely paramount and the Banyan Tree does not disappoint! The breakfast has a good selection to meet all tastes and nationalities.
The buffet lunches are a feast with fresh salads and fruit along with a good selection of cooked offerings and the best barbecued cuts of meat, chicken and fresh fish I have had in a very long time (thanks to Rajesh)!
The evening meal has provided us with some of the best meals we have ever had...and the rest have been simply fantastic. 5 days of the week they consist of a 4 course meal with amuse bouche and sorbets, with the other 2 (fridays and Sundays) being of a buffet style.
From the the most important members of staff; your room boy, your waiter, the Marine Lab and the reception staff, "down" to the resort manager; the service, care and attention to detail is without fault!
On that subject I feel I should offer our heart felt thanks to:
Amir our room boy who looked after us so well and decorated our bed so beautifully on my wife's birthday.
Didi; our waiter for the second year, who always welcomed us with a smile. I have always maintained that in resorts such as these, service at table is a very difficult balancing act, to be attentive without being intrusive, not to force the conversation but to be interested in a guests day, no matter how often they have heard what is being said. Didi does this like the consummate professional he is.
Rejesh who cooks on the barbecue. My wife wants to take him home so we can have BBQ food that is not the charcoal I serve!
And Mirta and Moosa who put up with me "assisting" with the coral garden planting both this year and last. These two have made my holiday so interesting and enjoyable. Mirta, who runs the Marine lab, is a mine of useful information about the local environment, the ecology, the reefs and their inhabitants.
On this subject, no matter what your snorkelling proficiency may be, I highly recommend going to the briefing offered by the Marine Lab staff before collecting your snorkel, mask and fins. It is interesting, informative, gives you the necessary safety advice to allow you a very enjoyable time while being safe and importantly teaches the dos and donts while on the reef to help you to protect this beautifull ecosystem!
As one should expect, the whole pace to the island is one of pampered rest and relaxation with no pressure. As a result there is not, and should not be "entertainment staff" to push you into all sorts of exercise, silly pool games etc. you do however have facilities at you disposal should you wish including a very wide range of activities from wake boarding to a gentle snorkelling session, from deep sea fishing to scuba diving.
Whilst not strictly a resort facility, the reef is by far the best we have had the pleasure to see and great efforts are taken by the Banyan Tree to care for, maintain the reef while providing an improved experience for snorkelling and scuba diving guests.
There is also a ferry every two hours to the sister island of Angsana on Ihuru island where you can have a meal, snorkel, scuba dive etc. It is well with the trip.
For those wedded to their iPad, laptop etc, there is free WiFi in the Naiboli Bar and in all the rooms.
As one should expect, the connection speed is slower than in Europe/USA etc. and app updates to your iPad may well cause a bottle neck resulting in the loss of your internet & email connection. I suggest that iPad users do not accept any App Updates.
As previously mentioned, it was my wife's birthday while at the Banyan Tree. On her special day, we spent the day relaxing and snorkelling ( we saw a huge turtle on the reef, the feeding of the rays, then the feeding of the baby turtles...very cute). As the resort knew that our trip was a special celebration, at supper we were given a beautifully decorated table overlooking the beach, we were given a celebratory cake too and when we returned to our room our bed was beautifully decorated. It was a great end to a fantastic day.
Kuoni have been brilliant yet again on this 2 centre holiday, however there is very little for them to do on a resort like the Banyan Tree as the resort does everything. It is however nice to know they are at hand should there be an emergency.
I should not need to say this but; this is an island paradise and noise from you will affect the enjoyment of that paradise by others! Don't connect your iPod into the dock in your villa, wind it up loud, leave you villa doors open and sit on the beach all day as our neighbours did...till we had words.
I am always dissapointed when guests mark down any island resort because of the beach erosion prevention methods used. On this island and Ihuru white sandbags are used, others use rock buttresses, neither are ideal but they are essential to preserve the island, the habitat and the reef. Paradise has to be protected; don't moan about it, enjoy the fact that this small slice of heaven is here for you to enjoy! If it bothers you, there are fewer sand bags from the west round to the north side of the island if you are desperate for a "sandbag free" beach. Personally we prefer the north to east side of the island, I love to sit on the sand bags, watch the sunset, listen to the water lapping at my feet and then watch the hermit crabs emerge.
We are now on the last day of our 9 day stay and as predicted, I can report that the Banyan Tree is magical place that we will be returning to as soon as we possibley can!
At the end of my reviews I have taken to giving a synopsis and reasoning for the score that I have given. In this case, I do not believe there is a need to other than to say; this is still as near to perfection as we have yet found! 5/5. 10/10. Just plain paradise! Thank you to the whole Banyan team.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Cast away on a secluded coral atoll in the paradisaical Maldives archipelago, you experience a sense of magic, romance and tranquility at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru that's second to none. Cocoon yourself in a web of shimmering turquoise waters, swaying coconut trees, indigenous blooms and pure white sand. Free your spirit on the Maldives' North Male Atoll. In Maldivian, Vabbinfaru refers to a round island circled by a round coral reef. In this circle of peace, claim sanctuary at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru resort. Feel the natural sea breeze sweeping in from the majestic Indian Ocean, and let the resort's signature hospitality bring you peace and tranquillity. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru Maldives