I’m in two minds about Filitheyo. Parts of my experience here were lovely, but there are plenty of little things which add up to turn the holiday into an average, rather than very good or amazing one. It has potential though!
It all began at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (Male Airport). I had to remind myself not to be put off too much – it’s currently undergoing some MAJOR building work, so it all looks terrible. We were met by two blokes – one a representative of the travel company (who did nothing more than hand us an envelope with a letter saying ‘welcome to the Maldives’) and the man from Filitheyo. He gave us the hotel registration cards (red for boys, green for girls), took us through to where we could check in for the seaplane flight, had our bags weighed and registered and promised us we would be on the first (and earlier) flight. ‘Brilliant’, we thought as we bundled on to the minibus for the 5 minute transfer to the Maldivian Air Taxi terminal. Alas, it was not to be - we had to wait a few hours for the next plane – plenty of time to use their free wi-fi and fill out those hotel registration cards. After a cramped, noisy, hot and breath-taking seaplane ride (I loved it), we’d arrived at Filitheyo International Airport!
Getting on the Dhoni for the ride to the island, we realised that we were the only two guests to check-in (everyone else must have gotten the earlier flight). It did mean that check-in was quick and efficient (those cards ready to go) and the welcome drink and cold towel dispatched quickly. We were shown to our room by a miserable hotel porter who worked incredibly hard for a tip by staring at my husband and following him round the room in a concentrated effort of both silence and intimidation. Eventually ushered away by a tip which clearly wasn’t enough, we had the room to ourselves to work out were everything was.
We had paid a little extra for a Deluxe room, partly for the extra space and partly after reading other reviews which bemoaned the paper thin walls. The rooms looked clean, with the usual furniture and an outside bathroom/shower. The bedroom had a TV with a limited selection of stations with poor reception and a CD player, as well as a safe. I completely agree with a previous reviewer with regards to the TV – either have something that works, or not at all. Also, it would have been helpful to have a CD library, to borrow for music in the room – hardly anyone has portable CD players these days and tend not to carry CD’s with them. The outdoor bathroom, housed all the usual. The bath could only produce a trickle of water (a bath probably would have taken a week to fill), but the outdoor shower had decent pressure – hurrah). The wardrobe was unusually outside, (my husband thought it was to remove the creases in the clothes as there was no iron) with limited room due to the tea/coffee, minibar and fridge being in one of the cupboards. As a whole, it all seemed a little ‘faded’ – a little like a favourite t-shirt – the colours aren’t as bright as they used to be, but you still like it and it’s comfortable and soft. The bed definitely not soft though and there was a crack in the basin for one of the sinks, visible rawlplugs in one of the walls, very basic toiletries and an endless army of ants.
I’m glad we paid that little more for a Deluxe, rather than a Superior though. After walking round the island later, I thought that the beach, although narrower on the Deluxe hut side, seemed to have more space between sun lounger spots (you are allocated one for the week, just outside your room) and was not as crowded. Although access to the reef is slightly better on Superior side (it’s a shorter swim to the reef) for the seclusion and sense of space, the Deluxe wins for me. Everywhere is a short walk away, wherever you are on the island! I would have been heart-broken if I had been allocated a Superior around room number 100 and more. That part of the island seemed to be basically maintained, there was hardly any beach (in some places none that was pure sand) and the rooms seemed (from the outside) in worse condition.
We went half-board, which seemed better value for us (and this decision will depend on how much you eat/drink), so meals were in the main restaurant. Breakfast was nothing special – the usual mix (without the cheeses and meats you find in continental buffet breakfasts) and I feel like I have eaten enough apples to last a lifetime as they were the predominant fruit in the morning fruit salad! Evening meals, also buffet style, were a lot better. Every night there was always a sushi station, pasta bar, salad station (with some lovely freshly dressed salads), grilled reef fish, breads (including freshly cooked naan) and home-made sorbet and ice cream. The rest of the choices include curry (always at least one meat and one veg), cooked meat and/or fish and vegetables and a vegetarian selection. The main courses were a bit hit and miss (badly cooked beef curry.. which I still could be chewing on) but the salads and puddings never disappointed. You are allocated a table (and therefore a waiter) at the beginning of the week, which has some positives and negatives – for me, I never really felt that our waiter was attentive enough – he never got to grips with our regular (by this I mean the same every time) drink order (tea and coffee for breakfast, glass of wine and a beer in the evening) and wasn’t around much to clear our plates or ask if everything was okay or if we wanted another drink. On the occasions we did see him, we tried to strike up a conversation but it was difficult, because of his indifference. Another point with the food and drink is that although it was nice to receive popcorn with your cocktails prior to dinner, I would have preferred some free drinking water, either in the room or with dinner!
All your disappointments with the room, the hardness of the bed, the cost of a cocktail, the curry for dinner (again) all magically disappear the minute you stick your head under water. The reason why you pay so much money for a holiday here is not because of the room, or the staff or the quality of the sunlounger – it’s all for what goes on underwater. The snorkelling (and diving) is amazing. We were lucky with great visibility and a decent variety of fish and even a turtle or two, without some of the nastier underwater surprises (lots of sea urchins, jellyfish, biting sharks). The only negatives would be that on both sides of the island there can be a fair amount of dead, rough coral to get past to get to the reef and that the currents can be deceptive, especially (we found) around the latter part of the holiday around the Water Villa side. A suggestion here would be to put up a notice in reception of the water condition.
We also went on a couple of excursions, a house reef dive (husband) and a spa treatment (me). Night fishing – lots of fun (and a great chance to see a sunset from somewhere other than the sunset bar!) but we both felt that the Dhoni crew were over eager to help – it would have been better if they had showed you what to do properly and then let you get on with it, rather than not showing you what to do and then holding the line themselves for most of the time. I appreciate where they were coming from – they wanted you to have a catch, so it’s easy to forgive them (especially as they were all so lovely)! Snorkel safari – again, no complaints. It’s nice to get off the island but felt that of the three reefs we went to, only one of them was on a par with the house reef, which is a testament to how good it is. Spa treatment – I had a pedicure, which has lasted me all the way home. They used OPI polish, which I feel is one of the better brands and the spa space is nice and relaxing. It was also lovely to relax with some ginger tea and fruit after the treatment.
Some final points.
- Have some small change for tips – although our porter wasn’t deserving of his, plenty of people on the island are. Yes, I know there is 10% service tax included so don’t feel like you HAVE to give something, but it’s nice to recognise those that really do well (and they appreciate it).
- As others have mentioned, take industrial strength bug repellent with you and remember lots of high factor suncream. Remember your anti-histamines (if you are like me and swell up) as there was no doctor when we were there.
- If you have a 10am Emirates flight from Male – it’s an early start for you (we were having breakfast at 5.30am).
- When deciding whether to go half board or all inclusive.. drinks are approx. $4 for a small bottle of coke (300mls, equivalent to a can), spirits are mainly around $4.60 and cocktails are $13 (all of these prices include service and sales taxes). We also took an empty bottle with us to drink boiled and cooled tap water. Food wise, we tended to have a reasonable breakfast, then dinner and skipped lunch. All trips include a snack and/or drink.
- As well as taking your own snorkelling kit, consider buying a rash vest and swim shorts – the sun can be brutal, which you tend not to notice when you are out snorkelling!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to a breath-taking island paradise of leafy jungle foliage and sparkling white sand. Filitheyo resort is situated in Faafu Atoll, one of the most pristine atolls in the Maldives, abundant in colorful marine life and vibrant coral. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Filitheyo Island Hotel Faafu Atoll
- Hotel Filitheyo Island