Vilamendhoo resort and spa is located in the South Ari Atoll of the Maldives and we have just spent an absolutely wonderful week discovering the jollies of this not so small idyllic resort grounds. I know in the past l have mentioned Maldives as being on our bucket list of places to visit. It shot back up the list thanks to an irresistible flight deal from British Airways. We debated about going for at least ten whole seconds :-).
It turned out this is the best time to visit the Maldives (January through April), so we were quite excited. The Maldives has always been a playground for the rich and famous. Since we were neither, we wanted to make sure we got the biggest bang for our buck during the high season. My exhaustive research ultimately led me to Vilamendhoo resort and spa. The reviews were extremely positive, the price was fair for what we got compared to other resorts. The size of the island sounded perfect too. There were bigger resorts but l wanted more of a Gilligan’s Island cozy feel, not Club Med.
Getting to Vilamendhoo Resorts:
Our trip was a bit involved. We took the train from Seville to Madrid, and from there to London where we got the British Airways flight to Male, the capital of the Maldives. A further 25 minute flight on a seaplane took us out to the island. I had been apprehensive about being on a tiny plane, but WOW!, it was amazing. The scenery below as the plane whizzes over the islands is just spectacular. There are over 1100 islands in all, most of them uninhabited. Vilamendhoo is about 85 kilometers from Male. A boat met us as we exited the seaplane onto a raft and took us across to the resort. How cool is that? :-)
Our beach villa room at Vilamendhoo Resort:
Once we had been given a map of the island and instructions, we were shown to our room. We had splurged on a Beach villa. If we were doing this, we were going to do it in style. This was middle of the road as far as the room types offered. I have always wanted to stay in those over the water villas like you see in the movies, but that was an indulgence we chose to do without. The beach villa that we stayed in was so nice, perfect actually. The beach was just steps away from the villa, and with the curtains open, your view was of the endless ocean. The bathroom was open to the elements which felt a little weird at first, but you soon fall in love with showering while watching the birds. It has a high wall and complete privacy.
Related Reading: Saving money on Maldives vacation
The food at Vilamendhoo Resort:
Breakfast is included with all reservations. They offer Half Board (one other meal, no drinks), Full Board (3 meals, no drinks) and All Inclusive (3 meals and drinks, including alcohol). We went for the full board. I was a bit taken aback when l realized that no drinks meant absolutely no drinks, including water!). This l understand is standard for most resorts, so be prepared for that. A liter of water costs $3, so it is an added expense unless you go all-inclusive. The meals are buffet style and there is a huge variety of tasty food, overwhelming me to the point of not eating as much because of the many choices, yeah..right :-) . They also had theme nights, American, Italian, Mediterranean etc. There is definitely no shortage of choice, including vegetarian dishes. You were assigned a table and had the same waiter throughout which is a nice touch as he remembered just how much milk l liked in my coffee and other little things. If you’ve been on a cruise, you know how it is.
The fun stuff at Vilamendhoo resort Maldives:
Vilamendhoo is a paradise if you love water sports. I was shocked at the airport when l saw all these people with huge suitcases!!! Everyone knows you only need shorts, swimsuits and slippers..right? Turns out they are full of diving and snorkeling equipment :-). Vilamendhoo is a favorite for divers as it has an amazing house reef (this directly from our next door neighbors who were on their second visit to Vilamendhoo :-) ). I didn’t want to look stupid so l never asked what that meant. I googled it afterwards. Snorkeling can be very expensive if the resort has to take you out on a boat to reach it, sometimes $20 or more per person per day!. A good house reef?.. just put on your gear, swim for like 5 minutes..and BAM!..all the reef and coral life you can handle. Federico did some snorkeling too. I even enjoyed putting on those goggles and checking things out unda da sea! :-) from my very shallow water position. Just that alone keeps people coming back to Vilamendhoo. Read this blog by Linda If you’re looking for even more amazing experiences in the Maldives,
On our last night, we had dinner with 2 other couples. The first couple was on their 4th visit!, while the second couple was on their second visit. Says a lot about the place doesn’t it?. Paradise can get quite addictive :-). When we were not in the water, we were playing pool (met a nice Iranian guy and Turkish girlfriend..we won overall!!), playing ping-pong, or reading while swaying on the hammock. There is a tennis court, a football field, a mini golf course and a gym. There is live music and other things on rotation at the bars. Now, you know l was talked in to learning the traditional dance steps. Loved it!
The Duniye Spa at Vilamendhoo Resort:
You can keep all that snorkeling and diving stuff l said! The spa was where l belonged. When l wasn’t in the water or reading, l was befriending the ladies at the Duniye Spa! During the week, l went in for a stress relief massage (cause of all the stress l have you know..haha!), a ginger lemongrass scrub, a manicure, and a pedicure which l spread out over the week. I finally got to experience my over water desire. It was so nice to lie face down and watch the fish swim by through the opening in the floor. I would have gotten a facial too, but it was only half an hour. No..no way..a facial requires 60 minutes in my book, nothing less. After you get your treatment, you are brought some ginger tea in the recovery room which is one of the most beautiful spots on the whole island. Totally worth it!
Why Vilamendhoo Resort Maldives?
I considered a few things in choosing this luxury getaway. While trying to save money was foremost on my mind, l also knew what l wanted from the holiday. Maldives is a Muslim country and is very traditional. Staying at a regular hotel on one of the local islands could have saved us some dollars. l however, wanted to do nothing..and be pampered. I didn’t want to go hunting for a restaurant, wanted the option of drinking alcohol if we so wished and go around without covering my shoulders (women). Even though I am sure that the rules are definitely relaxed since tourism is a big part of the economy, l still like to respect the local culture. With Vilamendhoo and other resorts, you can just chill for your stay. The grounds and rooms are immaculate. We have stayed at great resorts before, in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. This has been our best experience so far.
The food was great, the staff excellent and the activities offered quite adequate. The price was not outrageous as opposed to the other tens of resorts that l researched :-) , where you get offered the same thing at a grossly inflated price. Vilamendhoo is what l would refer to as Value Luxury! We would definitely stay there again if we visit Maldives. You can check out Vilamendhoo resort prices here.
You can also check here for comparison.
The only small thing l have to mention about the open to nature bathroom that sucked were the night ants. There are these big ants indigenous to the island, and they only come out at night. It is quite disconcerting to see them. Thank goodness, they don’t bite and are gone by sunlight. We had brought some body insect repellent with us as most people said the Maldives had a lot of mosquitoes. We didn’t encounter a single one on Villamendhoo though. On our second night, l sprayed some on the floor..and what do you know, it repelled them :-) ..so it became a nightly routine and made me very happy. Remember to bring some with you for that purpose.
On the next blog post, l will do a cost breakdown of our Vilamendhoo resort stay and tips for having a great trip, . This trip was an amazing one to start the new year with. Hopefully, the rest will be just as awesome :-).
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Have you ever been to the Maldives? If so, how was your visit? If not, does Vilamendhoo resort sound like a resort experience you would like?