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Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives
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Reviewed September 15, 2013 via mobile

We stayed as a family of 4 with two young children 1 and 5 years old for 11 days 3 weeks ago at the Shangri La Vilingilli.This was our third visit to the resort over the last 3 years, prior to which we have stayed at the One and Only Reethi Rah and Four Seasons KH ( as a couple, before children).
At the outset, it needs to be made clear that this is not a "run of the mill" All Inclusive type of resort nor is it a cheap charter flight group holiday type of destination.
This is an exclusive resort that caters to honeymooners and families alike. It is not near Male, rather it is probably one if the further-most southern resort in the maldives and south of the equator, so there is an extra 90 minutes flight from Male to reach this paradise - well worth it.
In our view this makes the resort even more exclusive and harder to reach for large group based excursioners.

Do not let the extra distance/ travel put you off, for as soon as you land in male, you are in the hands of Shangri la staff and the Shangri La royal treatment starts. Your bags are taken off you and you are taken to an excellent lounge where you can refresh yourself or if you have a few hours to wait you can choose to take their boat and travel to the Traders resort/ hotel , a 10 min speedboat ride away for Breakfast or lunch or just to get into the holiday mindset - Maldivian weather, crystal clear azure blue waters and pampering that you will continue to expect for the rest of your holiday. The grpund team would accompany you back refreshed onto your short flight over the equator (you get a certificate from the stewardess for crossing the equator!) to Gan airport at Addu atoll, where you are whisked to Shangri la's private airport terminal and a speedboat awaits you for a 10 minute journey through some of the most amazing island scenery into your island paradise. You are then buggied by your own butler/ villa host to your private villa where your bags that you left behind in Male join you again.
The Villas are all large private pool villas with their own entrances and views to the beach ( some rocky and aome sandy) and sea beyond with significant foliage offering privacy from the beach area.There is never anyone in the beach anyway, as most people use the large areas in front if their own villas.
There are Water villas, tree villas, sunset ( atoll facing) and sunrise (ocean facing) villas. Water villas and Sunrise villas are usually always breezy. Tree villas and Water villas are not suitable for families with young children. We took a water villa for my parents who visited for a few days when we were there forbour previous trip over a year ago and they are wonderful for honeymooners and in general for couples for that ideallic "Robinson Crusoe" sensation and to be surrounded by water with resident fish beneath your dwelling.
Delux Beach villas are the highest category - on the beach, slightly bigger than the pool villas and same sized as tree and the normal beach villas.
Personally, that are all mostly the same sizes and I would never fret about which category you have booked -they are all fabulous and if you are unhappy the management do their utmost to make you
Happy with moves when possible.
There is always water and fruits brought to your room every day. The living and bedroom areas have IPhone compatible Bose systems and large screen TVs and DVD players, refrigerators etc. we have a daughter with special dietary needs and anaphylaxis to certain ingredients, and so we carried a lot of her snacks etc with us. This is un- necessary as if you let them know beforehand exactly what the special dietary requirements are - Chef Bryan - the executive chef personally ensures that you or the child is catered for in all ways across the 3 wonderful restaurants and in room service - Certainly during our stay , we would personally like to commend the wonderful effort by Chef Bryan in keeping our daughter happy with her baking sessions, special egg free ice creams and pancakes and meals. A very big thank you to him and his very hard working jaavu and In House dining team !
The 3 restaurants are :
1. Jaavu ( B fast, lunch and dinner) - most picturesque and perhaps largest of the three - also the one with buffets on certain days etc.
2. Dr Ali's -Amazing restaurant and certainly our favourite throughout our stay - caters with an Indian, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese menus, with individual chefs and sections for these menus. Overlooking the breezy Indian Ocean side and fabulous service. the staff are a micture of maldivians and Expats under the capable hands of Hassan, one if the F&B Managers and an impressionable local Maldivian. Sanjay , the mitre D is a true asset and reflects the Shangri - la spirit in every way , always caring and fussingnover our children and meeting their near impossible demands at te a ! Well done !
Chef Murari's creations are amazing. He is a slightly shy chef overseeing a significant proportion of the Kitchen, his Indian and Maldivian preparations are divine. Don't miss the Cooking class and follow on lunch that he offers ! Well done. Murari - you are avtrue asset to Dr Alis. 3. Fashala Restaurant - Romantic surroundings almost appears to be sitting on stilts on a peninsular beach with crabs running around the beach that is lit up. We had dinner once and it was a very humid, windless night, so suffered slightly, and preferred the windy/ breezier or choice of air conditioning options of the other two restaurants. The menu is limited - mostly seafood. The management perhaps needs to relook at the ventilation and menu options at this restaurant.

SPA : This is Shangri La's own "chi" spa, excellent therapists in lovely seafront based surroundings. Though we had 2-3 sessions each and thoroughly enjoyed them, I would consider them as being well worth the prices, even though it is at the highest end of the luxury spa marketsand.

GOLF : one of the first Maldivian resorts with a 9 hole golf course - I didn't play this time but was tempting to consider a round - time flies in the resort !

GYM : well equipped and the Indonesian manager - Manaf is always so friendly, supportive and pro- active.

TRAVEL : Excellent new bicycles ( thank heavens for that as the previous ones weren't great). Great to bicycle around the island with the kids with regular stops at the golf course, gym, fish feeding lake , Fashala etc . Buggies are always around at your beck and call - never were late whenever we needed them and the Maldivian drivers are ever so polite .
Off island you can rent a car and explore the Atoll or rent bicycles on the main islands - all linked by a long internal road and can become a full or half day excursion if you like a cultural and local society exploratory day.Always smear yourself with the anti- mosquito creams on a daily basis as this is a tropical island and is prone to its usual load of mozzies. The resort constantly fumigates the island and it helps .

DIVING : You can pick up your own snorkelling gear as soon as you arrive and snorkel at designated places or just off your own beach, there is always something to see. In terms of Diving , this is a divers paradise - A big Thank you to Radomir and his colleagues, I had some fabulous dives on Manta Point where we were exposed to a procession of giant Mantas in their dozens and grey white tipped sharks, the local Admirality british wreck in the Atoll - magical! , La cuppola with its caves and even simply diving off the northern and southern house reefs were amazing with their resident population of giant turtles and amazing multicoloured reef fishes. This is diving that is luxurious - boat crew of 3-4 to help you with anything you need including lavazza expressos after dives, Nitrox, often the entire boat was just for myself and another guest, both of us having one to one dive instructors most of the time taking us down - don't miss it .

MANAGEMENT : What can we say - efficiency, right from the outset . Always courteous, "client is always right", patient and friendly attitude gets the resort full marks as being one if the most guest focussed and effective guest satisfaction gaining resort in the world (we do travel extensively across the continents and we understand and appreciate well trained personnel in high end resorts, There are senior guest managers such as Jessica - who will arrange anything that you need. Considering that this is a small dot in the middle if the Indian Ocean where everything needs to be imported from australia, India or the Middle East, it is amazing as to how responsive the staff can be in procuring things that guests ask for. There is a constantly roving team of senior managers/ Asst Managers who seem to miss very little and are always politely watching interactions from a distance and trouble shooting or nipping things in the bud.
Lastly - the man responsible for this amazing place - Rene Egle -the General Manager. Rene took over from his predecessor Jens appx 18 months ago , and we met him during our previous visit for the very first time just as he was taking over a few days before we were heading back to the UK. At that time he was expressing how challenging it was was going to be to step into Jens shoes (Jens set the resort up from Scratch many years ago and has moved to Tokyo ). As a family, we are delighted to say that Rene - you have accomplished an amazing transformation of the resort over the last 18 months.
Rene has transformed an already well run and excellent resort into perhaps one of the sleekest, most luxurious and exclusive resorts in the world. Well done and keep up the excellent work .

For those readers who are looking to travel :

1. This place is not the cheapest but when compared to the top end resorts across the maldives - you get better and more inclusive value for your money at Shangri la.
2. If you like Eastern style hospitality as opposed to American / Mexican resort style hospitality then this definitely the resort.
3. If you have young children - babies, toddlers or teenagers - do not even think twice, it has everything they need - cool zone ( Rifa and Manu are great with kids) , play areas, teen clubs , extensive programme etc
4. Exclusivity - Large enough to be very private and exclusive in every right .
5. Longer journey than some other resorts (especially those in north male atoll) -however the extra leg adds luxury adventure and the transit time is made to appear as though you have already arrived into Shangri La by the amazing airport ground team and the presence of Shangri La's Traders Hotel near by to the airport.
6. The guests are from all over the world - mostly well heeled, so you are in general in great company - there are exploratory small groups of Chinese families , couples and families from across Europe, the Americas and succesful, well travelled families from the emerging economies too. So conversations across the restaurants or on dive boats, at breakfast or whilst with children are all varies, interesting and adds to the holiday experience overall.

I am aware that there are no major negative points in the review above, but this is to assure readers that during our last visit there really wasn't anything major that the Shangri la team could do to improve upon. We shall be going back soon.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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6  Thank RavBug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Villingili, General Manager at Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives, responded to this reviewResponded September 18, 2013

Dear RavBug,

The team and I were blown away by your amazing review which I have proudly shared today with my management team. It was a pleasure meeting you and your (enlarged) family again after two years. I would like to thank you for taking the time to write and share your staying experience in such great detail.

Being ranked by you as the most luxurious and exclusive resorts in the world is a compliment that really put smiles on the faces of the team - we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for that!

Most importantly, we are happy your children received the service they deserve; we want them to feel as special as they are - in particular Ella! I also would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyalty and we can’t wait to have you back on the island soon in order to create many more unforgettable memories.

Warm regards from Chef Brian and his team, “the impressionable local Maldivian” Hassan, Sanjay, Chef Murari, Manaf, all the buggy drivers, Radomir, Jessica, and all the rest of my team,

Rene D. Egle
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 6, 2013

Excellent experience; exceeded my expectations! Gorgeous villas where any amenity possible is provided. Phenomenal staff anticipate requests, providing guests best experience. Highly recommended! Definitely going again!

Room Tip: Make sure to have mosquito repellant if taking an Ocean View Villa.
  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled with friends
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Review collected in partnership with shangri-la.com
1  Thank Lana G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Villingili, General Manager at Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives, responded to this reviewResponded September 9, 2013

Dear Lana G,

I was extremely happy to see your feedback and that our service and villas exceeded your expectations. It was a great comment to share with my team.

We look forward to welcome you back again soon in our little island for another amazing stay!

With warm regards,

Rene D Egle
General Manager

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Reviewed August 31, 2013

First I would like to thank the Duty Manger John for everything he has done to make our stay memorable, I would Like to also thank Hassan Ibrahim for really going over his way to make us happy. without a doubt one if the best services i have ever experienced in a hotel. They really try their best to make the stay memorable, and the staff is really friendly and helpful. the only issue i can think of is our hosts..other than than it was just wonderful.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Review collected in partnership with shangri-la.com
Thank HSGAZZAZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Villingili, General Manager at Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives, responded to this reviewResponded September 4, 2013

Dear HSGAZZAZ,

Thank you for your review which I had the pleasure to share with my team.

My colleagues and I really grateful for your great feedback, especially John and Hassan who were very happy to learn that they have made your stay a memorable one!

I look forward welcoming you soon again.

Kind Regards,

Rene D Egle
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 26, 2013

We have just returned from a 2 week holiday with our 9 year old and 6 year old.

From the moment we stepped on the boat to go over to Shangri La island we felt that we were in the hands of professionals. We were greeted by several members of staff with buggies waiting to take us to our Double Beach Villa without having the hassle of checking in at a reception, everything was done very informally at our villa by our very own butler "Iby" It was a welcome change from the majority of the hotels we visit which was greatly appreciated after our 20 hour journey.

We were all given a bicycle to get around this small but MAGNIFICENT island where we visited the immaculate Gym and Spa, the great kids club where the staff greeted our children by their first names without introduction, the 3 wonderful restaurants, the beach, the pool and the whispering palms area for snorkelling. Not to forget the little boutiques, jewellery shops and the pool and snooker room. We felt very safe letting our children explore and have some freedom.

In the evening the whole island is lit by fairy lights and lanterns as you ride around the paths which is absolutely magical.

Our children absolutely loved every moment of this holiday, they saw tropical fish, turtles, sting rays and fed tiny sharks every night before dinner as part of the hotels many free activities.

The BBQ's held on wednesday and saturday nights were sumptuous, giant scampis, fresh tuna, squid, prawns, wagyu beef, kebabs, every salad you can think of and much more. There really was so much choice, sitting under the stars while the local band played well known songs acoustically. Dr Ali's restaurant served some of the best Arabic, Chinese and Indian dishes I have ever tasted and the theme changed nightly.

On one night we went for the beach private BBQ where we were taken to another beach villa lit up by candles and decorated with fresh flowers. The chef gave us many options of a menu, lovely meats and fish which he had marinated and cooked for us, it was definitely an experience we will not forget.

Our double villa included 2 single beds and 1 double for ourselves and our children, had they been a little older and more mature we would have used our 2nd villa for them to sleep in but there was more than enough room for them in ours. Beautiful bathroom with freestanding marble bath and indoor or outdoor shower. The staff supply sun creams, after sun, insect repellent and all the usual toiletries you expect from a 5 star luxury resort.

Our 2nd villa had TV, minibar, sofa and chairs which we treated like our living room.

Not to forget the lovely pool at the foot of our bed with 2 sun loungers emerged and a regular supply of fresh towels every day and night.

Having stayed in Dubai many times we can honestly say the staff at this resort are genuinely happy and are well cared for, the majority live on the neighbouring island which we took the advantage of seeing on one of the hotel trips which also hosts an old British Military base.

We also took the opportunity to see the dolphins which was a lovely afternoon.

All in all, although we like to see the world and try to go somewhere new every year we cannot wait to come back to this resort, the GM here has got it spot on.

Thank you for a lovely 2 weeks, my children say its the best place they have ever been and I am inclined to agree.

Room Tip: The beach villas give you the best of both worlds, great if you have children
  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Awkeye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Villingili, General Manager at Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives, responded to this reviewResponded August 29, 2013

Dear Awkeye,

I have shared your great comments with my team and on behalf of all of them I would like to thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and complementary review about our resort.

We all were quite touched when you called our resort the best place your children have ever been and I hope they returned home with sparkling eyes and a head full of magical moments that they will remember for a long time to come.

I am delighted to hear you appreciated the various dining experiences, especially in Dr Ali where you tasted the cuisine of our Indian, Egyptian and Chinese Chefs. You couldn’t have given us a better feedback for the Private Beach BBQ as we definitely aim to create unforgettable memories through this unique experience! I am also happy to hear that you took the opportunity to visit the neighboring islands. We are located in the smallest Atoll and our proximity to them is unique in the Maldives. I do hope you had a chance to get an insight into the local culture and I hope you found it interesting.

I really look forward to welcome your family back soon to create new and unforgettable memories!

Thank you once more for this review.


With kind regards,

Rene D. Egle
General Manager

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Reviewed August 18, 2013

Water villa is nice and peaceful. 95% of the guests are Mainland Chinese. Buffet breakfast is disappointing with food ran out half an hour before it finishes and not re-filled. We are here for our honeymoon for the next 5 days. Though I wouldn't recommend any one to come here for their honeymoon. Doesn't feel very romantic with so many Mainland Chinese tourist around you all the time.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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7  Thank HK5566
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Villingili, General Manager at Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives, responded to this reviewResponded August 19, 2013

Dear HK5566,

Thank you very much for sharing your feedback.

I am very disappointed to hear about your experience with us so far and I will meet with you as soon as possible. We will do our utmost to make the remaining five days of your honeymoon truly enjoyable.

Kind Regards,

Rene D Egle
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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