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Vilamendhoo May 2013 
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:52 pm Reply with quote
leanneclark
Joined: 19 Sep 2011
Posts: 124
Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire
Well, we have been back for a month now and still have the blues. I thought i would share a copy of the tripadvisor review i've posted. It's a little long and it could be better written and constructed but I've just whacked this out whilst sitting on a work conference call. That's what I call multi-tasking Very Happy

We booked this trip with only a month before we departed. It will be a big birthday for me next May and weíve decided to celebrate it in the Maldives. Being May, itís classed as off season and therefore, rainy/monsoon season. We didnít want to risk spending 2 weeks next May in the Maldives if the weather was going to be a wash-out so we decided to book a cheeky last minute week as a Ďtasterí for next year.
We spent 2 weeks previously on Meeru in February the year before and absolutely loved it. The number of repeat guests there is phenomenal and their experience of visiting other islands has left a lot of the repeaters with regrets and disappointment. This therefore played on our minds as we didnít want to risk disappointment however the one thing that we felt Meeru lacked slightly was the coral and subsequent marine life.

Therefore after some research, we opted for Vila due to the reviews of the coral and it being part of CCR chain of which Meeru is a part of. From looking at the pictures and reviews, the islands had very similar facilities and dťcor which would give us that familiarity factor.

We spent a week at Vila from May 20th Ė 27th. As we booked a month before we departed so the only rooms available were GV and BV so we opted for the BV. Our 2 weeks in Meeru were in a JWV so we were disappointed in the small amount of rooms left but that was our fault for booking so last minute and it also shows the popularity of the island.

Upon arrival at Male, you are transferred by bus to the CCR lounge at the seaplane terminal. Itís only about a 2 minute journey and itís a quick turnaround from when you clear customs. Our seaplane was slightly delayed as the heavens opened about 5 minutes after we arrived and when I say they opened, they opened. After about an hour, we were on our way. It was a shame that the skies werenít clear but we still had a good view from the plane and took some great pictures. After an 11 hour journey from Gatwick, we were hoping for a quick transfer however, our plane dropped off some passengers at another island which was a little frustrating at the time but it gave us the chance to have a good old nose at a neighbouring island

So after taking back off again, Vila finally came into view and it looked so stunning. I got butterflies just looking at it and instantly felt relaxed. Is there anywhere else in the world where you instantly feel relaxed?

After arriving at the seaplane platform in the sea, there is a short boat transfer to the island. A cold towel and a chilled drink awaits you at check-in. There were a large number of arrivals and everyone was handled very quickly it was really well organised. After 5 minutes, we had our key and were on route to our BV which we would call home for the next 7 days.

Our BV was really lovely. No complaints whatsoever. Would we have preferred a JBV? No, not really. We may have used the jaquzzi once so it wouldnít have been worth the extra money. Were we bothered about not eating in the adult restaurant? Not at all so the BV was absolutely perfect for us. Given that we had been spoiled previously in a JWV for 2 weeks, it was so nice to step out on to the beach, be in the sea within 10 steps and then within 5 feet, be surrounded by coral and fish. We had initially planned to enquire about upgrading to a JWV for the last few nights however, we just fell in love with out BV. We had emailed in advance and asked for a detached villa as some of them were semis and we were looking for some privacy.

Unfortunately, it continued to rain heavily for the rest of the day and the following day Ė non-stop with heavy storms in the night. I have never experienced rain like it but not once did it dampen our spirits. There are 4 bars to choose from and thereís one not far from wherever you are staying so even if it does rain, grab your book or tablet and go and enjoy the view from one of the beautiful bars.

Every day, the staff go and play football. Paul got chatting with the staff and ended up playing 3 times with them as well as the staff vs. guests match on the Sunday. Be warned, itís in the middle of the island and very hot so if you are planning on playing/watching, then take plenty of water.

Day 3 Ė woke up to total silence. Peaked out of the window and the sun was beaming. Hurrah!! Raced for the shower and was up and walking round the island by 6.15am. We had no idea how long the sun would last so we wanted to make the most of it. What a beautiful island. The colour of the sea is just ridiculous and the sand is mostly softly soft although there are some rough bits but just think of it as the most perfect foot exfoliated you will ever have

For the remainder of our holiday, the weather was absolutely perfect. Hardly any clouds and hot hot sun. There are parts of the island where you will get a great breeze however, the sunburn is deceiving so take a high SPF and avoid the lobster look that a lot of the guests were sporting. It may be rainy season but this means the temperature is hotter than peak season so be careful. If you are someone that gets bitten by mossies as letís be honest, some of us suffer a lot more than others, then wear SPF that includes repellent as it does make a difference. I got bitten 1 in 6 days but on my last day, I foolishly swapped to a different cream with no repellent and I got attacked. Bites everywhere and not just little ones either. Itchy blighters that made sleeping and travelling back on a long flight very uncomfortable.

I would recommend taking your own snorkelling gear as apparently its expensive to hire plus, please take an underwater camera as its so worth it. We took 2; 1 waterproof camera and our nice camera which we bought a housing for. The pictures from our camera/housing were stunning so it was worth the investment. The marine life from the water sports centre down towards the Asian Wok is the best part of the island and if you are lucky, you will see the turtle that lives there near the watersports reef exit point. The current can be a little strong at times, especially by the Wok so if you arenít the best or most confident swimmer, then life jackets/buoyancy aids are available to hire for free at the watersports centre. It can be a little tiring out there as thereís just so much to see that you wonít want to come back for a rest.

So on to the food. 8lb gain in 7 days should demonstrate that the food is good. There is curry at all 3 sittings which you quickly get used to and the puddings are amazing. There is a lack of carver meat which is the only thing I noted. Cava/Sparkling Wine is also available with breakfast on a Sunday which is a lovely treat. There is a lot of food choice and it doesnít get repetitive so there is no pressure to pay to eat elsewhere however, there are options to mix things up a bit. Dinners on the beach, full moon dinner which was a beach BBQ for those guests who are there during the full moon, Hot Rocks and Asian Wok. We loved the Asian Wok on Meeru and couldnít wait to return. We did the teriyaki which is an experience in itself. I think they can only cater for 6-8 each night so itís worth booking in advance as you may not get in on the same day. Charge includes service but its worth taking some tip money too and itís a fantastic experience. The A íla Carte was great as well and both options do offer value for money compared to prices back home. We did the A Ďla Carte on the day of the full moon and the view was spectacular. We had drinks on the decking before the meal and we were seated for our meal facing the moon. It was a clear night and it really was quite breathtaking and rather emotional. Amazing food, amazing service and a beautiful location. Whats not to love.

Itís worth going All Inclusive as drinks, including water, are expensive. Even if you arenít an alcohol drinker, itís still worth it. There are a choice of about 6 All Inc cocktails which are actually all really lovely so itís very easy to stick to the drinks that are included in the price although the cocktail list is rather tempting. They have removed the Ice Cream from the Iced Coffees which is a shame but they are still nice with a drop of rum in them.

If you are All Inc, you also get a half bottle of Champagne which is delivered during your first evening. It would be lovely to share this at your favourite place on the island or like me, I popped mine whilst watching the staff vs. guests match on Sunday as a reward for being a very understanding g/f

So the routine for our holiday involved a walk round the island, breakfast, snorkelling, lunch, sunbathe, football/reading, dinner, entertainment, bed. Amazing.

As a previous CCR guests, we were invited to the weekly repeaters cocktail party which was lovely. Nibbles and drinks were supplied whilst staff and guests mingled. All very civilised and it was nice to share experiences with everyone.

There is entertainment every night. Itís not a lively resort but does anyone really want that from Maldivian holiday? Karaoke, disco, bands, crab racing and more were all available and kept everyone entertainment.
You are offered a free 15 minute massage when you arrive which is to be used within the first few days of arrival. You can upgrade your 15 minute voucher which will give you 30% of a normal treatment. As the treatments are expensive, this can be very advantageous. We had a Full Moon massage which was $378 plus tips on top which wasnít cheap. It was over 2 hours long and includes a bath with champagne and you do feel really relaxed afterwards. We wanted to splash out and treat ourselves however, we would never spend this much on a treatment at home. After your treatment, you are moved to the relaxation room with a pot of ginger and lemongrass tea which is delicious.

Sunsets are beautiful and the best place to watch them from id the sunset bar as the sun goes down behind the JWV. As part of the All Inc package, you also get a sunset cruise which hopefully involved some dolphin spotting.

We didnít go on any excursions due to being on the island for only a week but we heard good reviews of the Turtle/Manta trip as well as the Whale Shark excursion. However, feedback received from the whale shark trip is there is too many people at any one time and crowding round the sharksÖincluding some guests from other countries who kept trying to grab their tails. Be respectful people!

Everyone on the island works extremely hard and all staff appeared to really enjoy their job. Our waiter Assad was absolutely fantastic. I know most people say the same about their waiter but Assad was brilliant. He had stealth like skills as he appeared out of nowhere with more drinks, pulling out my chair for me etc. We had a real laugh with him and missed his presence on his day off.

Upon arrival on the island, we were greeted by the very lovely Solah who is the islands operations director. He previously worked at Meeru and their loss is Vilaís gain. The guests loved him and he always went out of his way to check everything was ok. He was a total superstar and one of the reasons we are looking forward to a return booking.

We travelled with First Choice which is part of the Tui group. Tui have removed the Maldives from their list of destinations from April 2014. Vila was exclusive to Tui so at the moment, no other UK operators are offering Vila from May 2014 onwards. We are desperate to make our return booking and wanted to ideally avoid doing every direct as itís working out more expensive. I understand that other tour operators are engaged so I hope thereís good news in the near future as we want to get everything booked for our 2 weeks next May. As much as we fell in love with Meeru, Vila has pipped it to the post for a return journey.

If you are reading this in the hope of deciding where to go, then donít hesitate as you will love it. If you are reading this as you have already booked, you will have an amazing time and Iím really jealous. If you are reading this as you have recently returnedÖare you as depressed as me? Lol

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Vila May 13
Meeru Jan/Feb 12
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:19 pm Reply with quote
sams
Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 1629
Location: Scotland
Great trip report. We are thinking of a late deal to either Meeru or Vila next May for our silver wedding anniversary, so it's great to hear how much you enjoyed it Cool

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:30 pm Reply with quote
karyn
Joined: 13 Apr 2011
Posts: 397
Location: Derbyshire
Brilliant report Leanne, sounds like you and Paul had an amazing time. Was it the sealife and coral that made Vila a slightly more appealing option?

x

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:39 pm Reply with quote
leanneclark
Joined: 19 Sep 2011
Posts: 124
Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire
Hiya chick

It was the snorkelling that made it for us. You could do it round the whole island rather than just concentrating on the bit by the 700's. The rest of it was very similar to Meeru and of course, Paul got to play loads of footie.

It is a smaller island but you don't really notice it.

So because of the delights of the sea, it will be a Vila return for me Cool Laughing

Xx

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:20 pm Reply with quote
chrissi
Joined: 03 Jan 2005
Posts: 40
Sounds amazing. I am packing now for my 10th trip to Meeru, but, like you, would love to try Vila. I have been looking for next year and Hayes & Jarvis go to Vila and also Travelbag. Thanks for such a lovely trip report and I'm looking forward to seeing Vila for myself!
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It was a tough choice but.... 
PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 4:58 pm Reply with quote
leanneclark
Joined: 19 Sep 2011
Posts: 124
Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire
....we have just booked a return trip to Vila.

It was a tough decision (well, as tough as choosing a paradise island can be) and although we think Meeru offers more choice in way of activities and bars which I guess is down to size, the underwater experience of Vila is just too hard to resist. It really is spectacular!

So, here's to May 2014

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:51 am Reply with quote
karyn
Joined: 13 Apr 2011
Posts: 397
Location: Derbyshire
Whooo hoo! Good for you! May isn't too long to wait either! We're dithering about whether to book for 2014 or whether to wait until 2015 - decisions, decisions! We'll be returning to Meeru though.

Hope you and Paul are both well.

xxx

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:17 pm Reply with quote
leanneclark
Joined: 19 Sep 2011
Posts: 124
Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire
Hey chick

We really were torn as where to return but the sea at Vila gives it the edge for us. However regardless of what Island, we are going for 16 days so that Paul is on the island for 3 Sundays.......I wonder why! Lol

Loads of love to you and Roy
Xxx

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:03 pm Reply with quote
Jen
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 365
Location: N.E.Lincs
Hi Leanne, Loved reading your trip report about Vilamendhoo. Sounds like you had a great time.

We have been to Meeru 4 times, Kuramathi once and have now booked for Vilamendhoo. I feel a bit worried as the beaches seem so narrow and are confused as to where would be the best villa location. We are in a beach villa. We love having our own spot on the beach and love sunbathing .....so where is a good bit of beach with detached villa. Hope you can help.

Haven't been to Meeru for 4 or 5 years now but it is still our first love and I still read this forum regularly just don't post.

We are going 5th May for 18 nights and feel so lucky....and excited !!

Jen
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:14 pm Reply with quote
leanneclark
Joined: 19 Sep 2011
Posts: 124
Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire
Hi Jen

I'm not sure if it's north or South but if you want the side with the best beach for BV's, then don't go for the side with the jetty as some of the beach there is a little narrow. For us though, the jetty side is perfect as the reef there is a lot closer to the beach and therefore more accessible. We love sunbathing also and did all of ours at the sunset pool which is an infinity pool. Stunning...and of course cocktails are easily obtained 😎

We mailed ahead last time and asked for a detached villa and we were lucky enough to get one. We will be requesting the same in a couple of weeks.

We are arriving on May 17th so perhaps our paths will cross 😃

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:27 pm Reply with quote
Jen
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 365
Location: N.E.Lincs
Thanks for the quick reply.

North is the windy side, south more sunny and jetty side from what I can make out.

I think we may just request detached, see where they put us then request a move if we like another part of the island.

Thanks and I'm sure we will cross paths at some point.

Might visit the football match lol

Jen
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:15 pm Reply with quote
sue&nige
Joined: 10 Mar 2013
Posts: 44
The beach villas down by the Asian Wok on the south side are in a lovely spot and have a good beach area, there are not too many detached villas, we didnt find the semi's a problem, have a great time.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:40 pm Reply with quote
Jen
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 365
Location: N.E.Lincs
Thanks Sue&Nige. Will have a look. Don't suppose it really matters in the end, at least we will be back in the Maldives.

Jen
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:30 pm Reply with quote
Casey Jones
Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 1455
Location: Cumbria
Jen wrote:

North is the windy side, south more sunny and jetty side from what I can make out.


Hi Jen,
Your dates are smack back in the monsoon changeover into the wet season so you may find at some point that in fact the north side will be the more calmer side and the south becomes a bit choppy...not an exact science these monsoon changeovers as they could arrive early or late.

Casey Cool

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:37 am Reply with quote
Jen
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 365
Location: N.E.Lincs
Thanks Casey.

Think it is a case of wait and see then. Just hope it's later and we don't get too much rain.

The most rain I have seen was on Meeru in March and we had 5 days of bad weather.....and that is a good season. We also got rain the day we renewed our vows, we were out on the little boat struggling to get back to shore, we got drenched lol.

Jen
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Vilamendhoo May 2013 
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