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Maafushivaru & Lonubo...June 2013 
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:46 pm Reply with quote
Casey Jones
Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 1455
Location: Cumbria
Introduction:

We have always wanted to try a small Maldivian Island, so we decided to book Maafushivaru for our 5th trip after been previously to Meeru (twice), Kuramathi & Vilamendhoo.
With only 27 Beach Villas, 22 Water Villas & 2 Deluxe Beach Villas (own pool), we felt this Island ticked all the boxes.

Flights:

Our flights were with Emirates again, and also on the A380 from Manchester. Checked in online the previous evening and discovered that our preferred and pre booked seats with extra legroom by a window at the very front of the plane had been moved by Emirates to a legroom seats in the middle section of four seats with no window. As we arrived at Manchester a bit early, I asked Emirates desk why this would be. The usual excuses about seat allocation not being guaranteed etc. and as it were a bassinet seat this was required for a child travelling. Totally understand this, but why move us to another bassinet seat area in the middle rows of the aircraft? So it seems someone with a child not only gets the required bassinet area, but also has the preference over a couple travelling to move us from the window seat. Made no sense to us but managed to get another favourite seat on the A380 which was 81 JK with extra legroom. Anyway departure on time, great attentive service from the cabin crew with great food & drink as usual and whiled away a few hours on the awesome ICE entertainment on board. A couple of movies later and we were soon landing into Dubai.

Emirates have its own A380 Terminal at Dubai, so this required us to transit on the new train from here to the departure area for our next flight to Male.
EK658 boarded and into our pre booked seats at the back of the plane 49JK which are one of the sets of two for our flight to the Maldives. Unusually this flight was half empty, so why they ran out of the chicken option is beyond me, anyway the lamb was just as good. A touch of turbulence had the cabin crew strapped in for around 30 minutes, but soon the atolls appeared like drops of petrol in the water along with emerald green Islands surrounded by pure white coral beaches – a wonderful sight every time as always.

Transfer:

Some things never change and the filling in of the immigration cards was a necessity before passing through passport control (which is now set up for iris & fingerprint recognition – but not in use when we passed through) to claim our luggage. Through the screening for any banned imports and into the newly refurbished arrivals hall.
Info pack from Kuoni and directed to the Maldivian Air Taxi seaplane check-in, just in time for the computer terminals to go down for 20 minutes. Eventually bags weighed and off to private lounge in the terminal for guests going to Maafushivaru & Kuramathi. Cooling drinks & a freshen up after completing the resorts registration card to save time once on the Island. We were soon called for our 30 minute flight to Maafushivaru and we were on our way. A quick drop of at Nika Island Resort and finally ‘Maaf’ – great views en route.
Dhoni waiting for the short hop to land, cocktail & cool towel waiting – we were finally here!

Accommodation:

You new how small this Island was when our walk to our beach villa was about one minute from reception. Decent size at 112 sq m, tastefully decorated in creams & whites with inside & outside showers and the usual facilities with the addition of ipod dock, coffee maker (pods), slippers & robes. Mini-bar available also on AI, but just soft drinks in there which seemed strange as you can get San Miguel in cans from the bar..No great hardship though as the bar was only minutes away.
Doors opened to the decking & beach view and about ten steps to the lovely beach – very happy!

Island:

A full gentle stroll around the Island will take you about seven minutes. One main restaurant, small sushi / teppanyaki over the water, a speciality coffee shop and a wine lounge. Just one bar with a great AI drinks package with pages of cocktails included.
The whole place immediately felt very intimate (which we liked and what we were looking for) you really felt as if you had the place to yourself. Just a couple of people walking past in around 3 hour’s sun bathing on the beach.
There is also an Island tour once a week where you get to see how the Island operates with access to the staff quarters and other areas you would not normally think about during its day to day operation. Stopping off at the staff coffee shop for high tea to ask any questions to any of the staff that are there not on duty.

Beach:

Excellent quality white sand all around with very little broken coral, except from the main jetty to the Spa where it is bit rocky so fish will accumulate to have a nibble on the algae there. Lagoon was lovely and sandy again with very little broken coral here which was unusual as we have always found on other Island lagoons which have been littered with dead coral.

All Inclusive:

As mentioned the AI (you can only go AI from the UK) has a vast array of cocktails included with the alcohol content being premium (Gordon’s, Beefeater, Bailey’s, Bacardi, Johnny Walker, Smirnoff etc.) Beer was San Miguel along with Carlsberg (other bottled beers available to purchase) and the usual soft drinks including diet mixers. Wine being of the usual red, white & rose were decent too but you could also purchase the better imported wines in the wine lounge if the AI was not to your taste.
Ahmnul & Elsie the bar waiters were exceptional and never letting your glass run dry and always had time for a laugh and a chat. We hope to see them again sometime.

Restaurant / Food:

As mentioned apart from the small sushi / teppanyaki restaurant, the main restaurant has an intimate feel. Although there were no children on the Island when we visited (except Tim’s the GM daughter) there is a small section where you can dine which is just for couples only and you can be seated on a first come – first served basis over looking the sea.
We found the food to be very good, maybe not quite the selection like on Meeru or Vilamendhoo for instance, but bear in mind you are only catering for around 100 guests max, so keeping waste to a minimum is the correct policy in my book. Always delicious and always hot (never just luke warm like other Island buffets we have visited) this is because the chefs are catering for a much smaller number and food was replenished in smaller amounts as opposed to vast amounts just sitting in the dishes. The chefs are happy to talk about any ingredients used and are always visible at meal times.

House Reef:

Snorkelling equipment is free on AI but we brought our own and used their fins. We don’t do a lot of snorkelling, but the house reef is very much alive with an abundance of all types of coral. Currents were strong in parts and there was regular introduction to snorkelling lessons with the resident marine biologist. Also a lot of snorkelling excursions are available including a night snorkel. I saw the resident turtle from the main jetty settling down for the night in the shallow reef.

Lonubo:

This is Maafushivaru’s very own private deserted Island which is situated just across the channel. A regular dhoni service twice a day (once in the morning and afternoon) serves this little bit of paradise. Great beaches & snorkelling await if you take the time to go over there. Private dinners also at a cost and even your own BBQ then settle down for the night on your exclusive Island hideaway in the accommodation on the Island. We were lucky enough to have the tiny Island all to ourselves on our anniversary (there is a caretaker there but you won’t see him after he brings you some mattresses for your sun beds). We were in hysterics after four nesting terns decided to attack us after landing as we walked around Lonubo – it was like a scene from a Hitchcock movie!

Spa:

We had a couple of treatments each in the Spa. A jet lag massage which was a 30 minute free massage courtesy of Kuoni for our anniversary and a further 90 minute relax massage with Tee Tree Oil as I had caught the sun a bit on my back so did help a lot. The wife settled for a manicure & pedicure when I was having mine. Worth noting also that you can use the facilities at the Spa such as the steam room & Jacuzzi and changing rooms / towels each day at no cost, which we thought was a nice touch.

Weather:

The first few days were somewhat overcast with showers then an extremely stormy day that actually suspended the seaplanes for an afternoon as the wind was very strong and some guests were delayed by up to four hours getting to Maafushivaru. Then a break in the weather and back to some decent amount of sunshine with calmer winds and fantastic clear night sky with the Milky Way proudly on show.

Kuoni:

This Island used to be exclusive to Kuoni (still is from the UK) but the market has forced it s owners (Universal) to open ten rooms to the general open market. These are predominantly occupied by the East Asian market and you can’t really blame them for doing so as this segment of the world continues to expand at its present rate, so rooms now available to likes of operators such as Purely Maldives.

Have to say that Kuoni were pretty decent in respect to our requests and as we were celebrating our 20th anniversary we got a complimentary beach dinner, massage, fruit and a bottle of bubbles – so well done Kuoni!
Also worth noting that you do not now get entry into the lounge at Male airport (used to be complimentary with any booked holiday to the Maldives) this has been taken over and refurbished by another company and charge $53 USD for entry, so I guess it was costing Kuoni a lot hence the change of policy. We wouldn’t have had time to use it anyway by the time we reached the airport due to slight delay leaving Male.

Departure:

So sadly time to leave after ten wonderful nights on ‘Maaf’. We feel we made many friends on this tiny Island, just like we make friends on the other Islands we have visited. But we concur that the intimacy was something special and did really feel like a true Maldives escape (didn’t get that feeling on Vilamendhoo due the density of the villas but still a great holiday). A total chilled place that we loved and pushed this place to our No1 favourite of all our Maldives Islands we have been to. It might be too quiet for some, but we loved it.

Seaplane back to Male and quickly onto the 10am Emirates departure to Dubai. A quick transit once again and onto Manchester on a busy 777-300 flight.
Stopped overnight at the Radisson Blu situated at the airport that ebookers had failed to notify us of the major refurbishment that is currently going on at this hotel so the hope of a quiet evening meal & drink after a long flight was not forthcoming due to the chaos of one pop-up restaurant & bar area that was overcrowded with people waiting on tables to eat. Comments left at reception and ebookers emailed with my concerns to which a 50% refund will be given in due course.
Direct train back to Cumbria the following morning and back home in 2 hours.

Conclusion:

I would recommend Maafushivaru if you are looking for an intimate and private escape. We liked the lack of people here compared to some of the bigger Islands. We liked the simplicity of one bar & one restaurant where you quickly got to know your fellow guests, staff & management. An excellent AI package which makes the slightly higher price worth it. An excellent Maldivian night that was curry heaven (like most nights really!) was informative with a range of locals exhibiting goods & displays of how they work, rest & play in the Maldives accompanied by some audience participation when the Bodu Beru drummers get on stage and strut their stuff (you are not allowed to sit down..beware of the conga line!!).
Movie nights on the beach on the big screen. Little touches like nibbles with pre dinner drinks & free wi-fi if that is important to you.
We will always remember our attentive service when we had our beach dinner on our anniversary night surrounded by candles & lanterns and our waiter bringing animals made from palm leaves after every course.
Don’t get me wrong, we loved Meeru, Kuramathi & Vilamendhoo, we just loved Maafushivaru that little bit more.

See you again soon Maafushivaru & Lonubo…..vakivelan!

Follow the link to see my photos and a small video in time- lapse of the sunset on Maafushivaru.

PHOTOS CLICK HERE

VIDEO CLICK HERE

Casey Cool


Last edited by Casey Jones on Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:27 am; edited 2 times in total

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:59 am Reply with quote
debandmark
Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 599
Lovely read...thanks

'Maa' looks and sounds great...have looked at it a few times on the Kuoni site, but with our 2children, completely out of our price range!! Maybe if we go on our own one day......

The universal resorts generally are fantastic...we went to Baros (before children) a few times and loved it, they upgraded the Island though and changed their policy on children, so havn't been back for a few years now!

Glad the gamble of trying somewhere new paid off!!!

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 7:29 pm Reply with quote
Ann & Forbes
Joined: 01 Jan 2010
Posts: 271
Location: Jersey
Loved reading your trip report Casey sounds as if you found your paradise island, looks so pretty...great pics Very Happy
Thank you for sharing Very Happy
Ann x

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Maafushivaru & Lonubo...June 2013 
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