First I would like to share with you some information about seasons and weather in this part of the world. Hope it will be useful, as I was searching in internet before my trip, but the information I saw was not precise or full.
Well, according to locals the best time to come to Maldives is from January to March. And the main problem during the rest of the year is not the rain, as you might thought (the rain can also happen in January-March, by the way). The main problem is a wind. Strong south-west monsoon. The north-east monsoon during January-March is supposed to be not that strong and brings more sun. Plus, the underwater visibility becomes better and mantas (and maybe other interesting sea creatures) come close to the shore and your chances to see them are much higher. Please note also that December is a changing season, and not a high season as advertised, which means that wind may be very strong and irritating, making the most of water activities impossible. June and July are also bad months in this respect.
So, the idea is that, depending on season, you just have to be very careful choosing the island. It should be BIG enough and have a swimming area (as well as accommodation options) not exposed to the SW monsoon during April-December and to the NE monsoon during January-March. Normally hotels have maps on their internet sites, so it's quite easy to define which side is where. Of course, all above is applicable, if swimming in the ocean and snorkeling is why you come to Maldives. If you come just to spend your days on a sun-bed with a book near your villa or to sit in the plunge pool, then any season will be OK for you.
We split our stay between 2 islands – Island Hideaway (see the separate review) and Constance Halaveli .
We stayed in Constance (CH) in the beginning of December in Water Villa 72.
We arrived to Male with a domestic flight from Hanimaadhoo airport, as CH was our second island, after Island Hideaway. Our flight to CH with Air Taxi from Male was delayed because of weather conditions (torrential rain and wind), so we were waiting for the flight in Constance lounge in Male airport. In one word - not impressing after Island Hideaway departure lounge at Hanimaadhoo airport. Though the space is conveniently organized, it's not roomy considering the number of passengers. The choice of food/drinks is not comparable to those in Island Hideaway lounge. The flight itself is a pleasant journey that takes approx. 30Min.
Upon arrival we found out that our agency (Sodis) didn't send to the hotel a request for a specific room we'd chosen. Though they confirmed that they had done so, after we arrived to Constance we were told that no specific room was requested for us. We immediately contacted the agency and asked them to forward us the message they'd sent to the hotel, but it turned out that they hadn't sent any message with a request. Bad work, Sodis.
So the villa we hoped we would stay in was not assigned for us. We spent a lot of time at the reception, had long negotiations with a manager responsible for rooms distribution, and, after all, he was so kind to give us a room we originally wanted. Though starting from the following day (it was occupied the day we arrived). Thank you again, Andras.
We arrived from Island Hideaway, and I think that this was a unique island and maybe the only one of that kind in Maldives.
After Island Hideaway, Constance felt like a big european overdeveloped and overcrowded resort with lots of people and plenty of villas where you can't feel the nature, not speaking of solitude. There are only 43 villas on Island Hideaway, and the island is about 1,5km long and 400m wide. Constance has 90 villas and the island is so tiny that you can go around it (slowly) in 10 min.
Plus, the island is surrounded by seawalls that never make the picture more attractive. The Presidential villa was still under construction at the time of our visit which means pipes in water, sandbags ... don't include this part of the island in your romantic sunset walk, and don't swim nearby – the water is muddy.
There are 30 villas on the island, and the remaining 60 are located on a 850 meters pontoon (the longest in Maldives by now).
Because of the small size of the island there are not many places where you can escape the wind. And in any case pontoon is not one of them. The wind was so strong that it was hard and sometimes even impossible to walk on pontoon to the villa, especially at night. And if it starts raining, when you are in the middle of your way, it's better to stop near the closest villa and wait until a buggy passes you by, or, if at night, just ask someone to call the buggy – pontoon has no railing, and the plank pontoon surface becomes slippery under the rain, so if the wind is strong you can easily misstep and fall into the ocean (it's shallow under the pontoon). And don't ever use an umbrella (you'll have it in your villa), if the wind is strong – you will be just blown away like Mary Poppins, and the umbrella will be broken.
You can always call a buggy, but if you like walking and don't like waiting (like us), then it's not a preferable option.
Weather was bad most of the time we were there. If it was not raining, still it was very windy. Sometimes at night I felt like our roof is going to get off.
A big (and maybe the only significant) PLUS of Constance Halaveli compared to Island Hideaway is that during the whole stay I saw NO INSECT anywhere. Not speaking of any rats. Only funny local chickens.
Swimming was challenging. I think we were the only ones who did this exercise, but we just decided not to let circumstances spoil the half of our vacation. Swimming in the ocean (not in the pool which I can practice at home) is one of the reasons you make all this long way to Maldives. Several days later I noticed Chinese group in orange life jackets (placed in every villa, they are meant to be used in case of emergency only) who were entering the lagoon. I think they were inspired by our example. No other enthusiasts. And this is understandable – the water looked like water in a boiling kettle, plus a current, so not a lot of pleasure. But it's an excellent exercise for a good swimmer in order not to get completely motionless – about a kilometer from villa 72 to the beach and back.
In terms of snorkeling, we saw several small sharks and once a manta passing by our villa. That is. But I think it's just because of the wrong season. In good calm weather I guess you can take a snorkeling excursion to the other side of the lagoon (actually, being a good swimmer and using flips I think it's possible to even swim over there) and see mantas and maybe something else.
I don't recommend you swimming around the island inside seawalls in windy weather – the bottom is close and it's full of broken corals and stones.
Villa is really great. Layout, design, furniture, equipment, amenities, if only the deck could be bigger and better laid out. But it's my personal perception, and I've just seen so many of them.
Very clever air conditioning system – you don't have this ugly device above your head blowing onto your face. Everything is hidden, and you just have a constant air intake of the chosen temperature.
Housekeeping was superficial, but this is as usual.
We wanted to be on the end of one of the pontoon branches and on the lagoon side, so asked our agency to request for us villa 72 (which Sodis agency failed to do). So we spent the first day in another villa and moved to 72 the second day of our stay (thanks to Andras, the responsible manager). The funny thing is that villa 72 looked like it was more intensively “used” then our first villa 42: more mold in bathroom, stains on the sofa etc. I think it's really popular and is always occupied, so looks really older then it's neighbors.
It's up to you to decide whether you want to be on the end of pontoon or not. It's far from the island and in a windy weather you will be more exposed to the wind (and remember – no railing!). But it's more private and view is unobstructed.
There is also villa 90 on the very end of the pontoon – a more extreme option. Plus, they seemed to freeze a construction over there in the ocean and stilts prominent from the ocean look dismal. Maybe they wanted to make a pontoon even longer, but then decided to stop, as they were already the first in Maldives with their 850 meters. Or they just got afraid the island would sink, if people staying overwater decide to come to the island altogether.
I would recommend to request a villa on the lagoon side rather than on the ocean side during SW monsoon. Maybe ocean side would be better during NE monsoon, plus you'll have a better sunset view there.
As I'm comparing with Island Hideaway, and we are very specific with our food selection (mainly fruits for breakfast and vegetables+fish+wine for dinner), so here IH beats CH in terms of morning fruit selection, presentation and friendliness of a person responsible for fruits cutting and distributing.
I also would like to mention a very important detail regarding water quality that is being used in restaurants. They use tap water (that smells of chlorine) for making your tea and coffee which of course affects the taste. To compare, this was not a case in IH, where, I can suppose, they use another disinfection/cleaning system. We ended up bringing a big bottle of water provided in our villa with us to the restaurant and giving it to the waiter. We mentioned about it in a comments form provided by the hotel and hopefully they will improve here.
Chefs in main restaurant are really welcome and friendly. Every night we had a special request for fish, and everything was perfectly done. We recommend you to ask a waiter to invite a chef to your table and discuss your preferences with him directly. We were not disappointed.
I cannot share absolute admiration of other reviewers regarding sommelier service. First night I explained what kind of wine I wanted with my meal and accepted sommelier's recommendation without checking details on the bottle. Afterwards it appeared that it was not the kind of wine I requested. Moreover, I noticed that they offer the same wine for other couples (I noticed the same bottles on many tables). So I can assume that there is no personal touch in their approach, but pure adjustment of current wine stock. So every following night I just took a big book (I can't call it a wine list) where you can find the wines from every possible region of the world and chose something based on my taste and price expectations. The variety of wines and prices is really impressing. A big plus.
With exception of several clueless girls at the reception desk, all staff members are attentive, accommodating and helpful.
AirTaxi Service (Constance Halaveli – Male Airport):
They put guests leaving with different international flights in one air taxi, so some of them might arrive to Male airport 2 hours before their international flight, some – 5 hours before. That means, instead of sending 2 air taxis, maybe half empty, Constance cuts down expenses putting everybody in one and thus sacrificing guests' convenience (in our case it came to several hours of precious morning sleep). And though the whole team including Resort Manager goes out to wave you goodbye, this spoiled our overall impression.
By the way, there is a very comfortable air conditioned lounge for guests waiting for their departure, with shower, library, computers etc. A building near the reception.
The island is extremely small for that number of guests, snorkeling is limited, no house reef, and I can suppose that staying overwater you will be exposed to the wind any time of the year. Just because you are in the open ocean and there's no shelter.
On the other side, villas are new and comfortable; in-villa entertainment system, service, food in restaurants and massages in SPA are all of a good quality, wine list is comprehensive, no insects or other unpleasant creatures, and you have your own plunge pool. If all above is what you expect from your Maldives vacation, then this place is ideal for you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxurious hideaway, intimate and magical setting; choose from one of the 57 Water Villas, 10 Beach Villas, 10 Family Beach Villas, 8 Double Storey Beach Villas or the lavish Presidential Beach Villa at Constance Halaveli Maldives. Experience luxury living at Constance Halaveli and enjoy the hotel’s private island setting in the Maldives’ North Ari Atoll. Stroll down white sandy beaches and swim in turquoise water teeming with colourful marine life while children can unleash their spirit of adventure at the Constance Kids Club. Lie back and relax on your own private sun terrace, dip in your own plunge pool, or take time to nurture body and mind at U Spa by Constance.Floating in the North Ari atoll and shaped like a curved Dhoni; (Maldivian boat) Constance Halaveli is a magical place where water and sand lie in contrast to the exuberant green foliage. Indulge in fine food and sumptuous flavours at Jahaz, Jing and Meeru restaurants For palate pleasing cocktails; divine vinous experiences, step in Jahaz, Jing Bar & Wine Cellars Be prepared for a memorable escape at Constance Halaveli Maldives! For ultimate comfort, all villas come with high raftered ceiling, their own private plunge pool and furnished terrace. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Constance Halaveli Hotel Alifu Atoll