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Casey's Trip Report to Kandolhu June 2014 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:45 pm Reply with quote
Casey Jones
Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 1455
Location: Cumbria
KANDOLHU ISLAND 17.06.14 - 27.06.14

This was our 6th visit to the Maldives and this time we choose tiny Kandolhu in the North Ari Atoll. We wanted small, boutique, a la carte, house reef from beach so all boxes ticked regarding the initial selection of resort and a bonus of being part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World chain. A seaplane transfer from Male of about 25 minutes to a resort Island close by (they use Safari, Maayafushi, W or Constance Halaveli)as the seaplane does not land near to Kandolhu keeping things very tranquil. We landed at Constance Halaveli and boarded our ten minute speedboat transfer to Kandolhu.



Kandolhu reopened in February this year after being totally refurbished with everything being rebuilt to a high specification with the Island hosting just 30 villas that perfectly combine natural elements of the Maldives with modern architecture and creature-comforts of various types and 4 restaurants to indulge in the mouth watering a la carte food menu's that we had already perused on their main website.

We had booked originally a Beach Pool Villa but due to some very high tides on the previous full moon, the sand and seawater had penetrated the private pools which are very close to the beach damaging the filtration system so they had to take these out of service. As the Island was only running at 42% occupancy we were upgraded to one of the Duplex Villas facing the sunset. These are of an upstairs / downstairs design with balcony with fabulous uninterrupted views of the Ocean and larger private pools with fixtures and fittings being top class and contemporary (as are all the villas). We thought maybe they would have worked better with the living area on the top floor and the bedroom on the ground but that is of course subjective and personal and we were fully satisfied with our upgrade to this villa type.

We opted for the Ultimate Inclusions (AI) package for our stay and we were not dissapointed in what was included as was by far the most generous all inclusive for any of our other Maldives holidays. You really have everything covered from a fully stocked chilled mini-bar with a further desktop mini-bar of half bottles of premium branded spirits (Sapphire Gin, Absolut Vodka, Jack Daniels, Barcardi and Johnny Walker), Nespress coffee capsules, snacks of crisps and nuts, swiss chocolate and Toblerone and even Haribo sweets! Not forgetting the unique in-room wine chiller stocked with 26 bottles of carefully picked award winning wines of either red, white or rose all available to you if you are all inclusive or very reasonably priced at 40 USD per bottle if not.

As mentioned the a la carte food is seriously high quality and perfectly presented each meal time and cooked to perfection. No set hours after breakfast for eating, just take a seat in the Market restaurant between 12pm to 7pm to eat when you want to eat. We found this flexibility a refreshing change and not come across anywhere else as we often found ourselves having some very late lunches. The other restaurants are the Sea Grill in which you can savour sizzling meat or indulge in freshly caught seafood served from the grill. The Olive sits above the Market and serves Italian and Mediterranean classics and Banzai the Japanese themed restaurant which sits only six people so booking is advised and this serves sushi, succulent sashimi or meat and seafood grilled to perfection on the teppan. Bit of show here so bring your camera. Banzai is closed on a Sunday, but the Market remains open instead for choice and the one which we thought had the better menu anyway. All the restaurants had an extensive menu, but we found the Sea Grill desserts a little lacking as they were only four choices and for a 10 night stay were coming a bit repetitive so just choosing an ice cream option. So maybe some more blackboard specials would suffice. Overall though the food was top class and you will not go hungry for sure, but three a la carte meals a day was tough towards the end and we just had to skip breakfast a few mornings as we were just not hungry enough come lunch (and we like our food!).

Great team at the Vilu bar and all the drinks were of high quality with premium brands and an extensive cocktail list, beautifully prepared juices and smoothies with quality ingredients. I like a beer and good to know that bottles of Corona were available on AI but they also had San Miquel or Carlsberg on draught. The speciality coffees were great with the best latte in the Maldives so far and always our first choice after dinner.

The whole Island is spotless and everything is constantly monitored such as maintenance checking each individual private pool a couple of times a day and cleaned of leaves and debris before you even rise out of bed each morning - It's attention to detail like that you remember.

The Spa treatments are always wonderful on all our visits and the Varu Spa was no different and we thoroughly enjoyed what was being offered and the use of the VOYA products were divine in both the presentation and of use. If you like the smell in the villa they sell the room scent with reeds in the Spa at a very reasonable price and no more expensive than the VOYA website so we just had to have a bottle. The treatment room is a little soulless as there is no windows for a view, but no great deal as you are face down most of the time! Worth mentioning that you can use the sauna, chill pools and steam rooms at anytime - no need to book a treatment but you do get 20% discount off a treatment if on AI.

A great team at the watersports department - very eager to please and help even for beginners or confidence lacking. Worth taking their advice and experience in regards to the house reef of which it is outstanding, plenty of fish to see and you will see turtles! even standing on the arrivals jetty you will see them coming up for air.

A few excursions on offer and we did the AI sunset cruise with Champagne & Canapes and the private excursion to a deserted Island (Meerufenfushi) with picnic lunch (a lot of food!), cool box full of drinks, parasol for shade then set up camp for a couple of hours and enjoy the true castaway experience and little snorkelling thrown into the mix. Then picked up and went on a mini cruise around some of the resorts around the North Ari or further snorkelling if you prefer.

Personally all rooms are in great positions anywhere on the Island but if I were to pick then I would avoid Beach Pool Villa 101 nearest to the arrivals jetty as some sand bagging evident but was put in place for the recent high tides, but still have some original protection still located which encroach to the left of this villa. All the others are OK. The best Duplex Villa is 106 which is very private with high vegetation on the right and just the watersports centre to the left and as you can see on the Island map this is a stand alone Duplex Villa. All the others are perfectly OK but Duplex villas 119, 118 and 117 have the ocean water villas in front so worth noting from a personal point of view if location is important. The vegetation is still pretty new also so not as dense from a privacy point of view but is developing quickly. Best beach villas with jacuzzi in my opinion is villa 112 which has high vegetation either side for privacy and all these villas have the best beach in regards to the softness of the sand as well as being good value for money as they also have uninterrupted views. Beach villa 107 seems a little dark and shady due to surrounding foliage and will require the sun beds to be moved further towards the beach away from the main villa. All the Water villas are OK but personal preference for the end rooms of the Ocean villas and the Ocean pool villas would be advantageous for the feeling of space.

In conclusion then, a top unique 5 star resort. It will get better with time once a few 'teething' issues have been ironed out for sure. The vegetation will grow for more privacy in some villa category's. Very intimate and totally chilled out place, amazing house reef accesible from the beach and efforts should be made to keep it that way to keep it in prestine condition. Each Island is different, each guest is different, finding a happy medium is difficult. I think Kandolhu has found it, sure we had a couple of hiccups in regards to our booking with reception and Kuoni and yes some minor communication problems along with some house keeping issues but we can overlook some training and teething issues for a very new resort which in our case was handled professionally by management when brought to their attention and suitably dealt with to our satisfaction.

So to Marc & Laura (management) keep up the good work, your interaction and interpersonal skills with ALL your guests is something you rarely see nowadays. You treated us like a friend and not just a guest villa number. We have learned that people will always forget what you said, people will always forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Line those chocolate cake shots up on the bar one more time Marc - we may be coming back!!!

My photos can be found on Flickr on the following link....

KANDOLHU PHOTOS

Casey Cool

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Meeru 08/09, Kuramathi 2010, Vilamendhoo 2011, Maafushivaru 2013,
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:28 pm Reply with quote
sams
Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 1629
Location: Scotland
Great trip report Casey, Kandolhu sounds wonderful.

Love the photos too Smile

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:12 pm Reply with quote
karyn
Joined: 13 Apr 2011
Posts: 397
Location: Derbyshire
Really enjoyed reading your report and looking at your brilliant photographs. Kandolhu looks and sounds like a fabulous resort! Very Happy

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:50 pm Reply with quote
soobs
Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 737
Location: Cheshire
OMG how good does that look? it's what dreams are made of it's out of my budget for sure I could only afford Meeru when it was a Thomson holiday!!!
You are very lucky to have experienced that it looks truly beautiful.

Your report is fantastic as are the photo's thanks you

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:59 pm Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford
Really enjoyed reading this- thank you Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:32 pm Reply with quote
Ann & Forbes
Joined: 01 Jan 2010
Posts: 271
Location: Jersey
Woweee you can certainly pick'em Casey Jones........love love love all of the photos. I think we might just have to start a new Kandolhu holiday pot......thank you so much for sharing Casey, really appreciated.
Ann & Forbes Very Happy

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:11 am Reply with quote
Casey Jones
Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 1455
Location: Cumbria
Thanks for the comments guys, the management are still tweaking a few things as it such a new resort. We loved a lot of the things they are doing and we really did feel as if the Island had a true Maldives feel about the place. Maybe a quiet acoustic guitarist on some nights would be beneficial for a little atmosphere in the bar as they provide no entertainment (but they did show some world cup games on the big screen and soon some movies) but very low key is the name of the game here as usually only no more than five or six guests having a drink at the bar after dinner as the AI is so good your villa has everything you require, but only 15 of the villas out of 30 were occupied so can be expected.

Prices have shot up by a fair amount for next year also, so glad we got a bargain when we booked before the opening.

Casey Cool

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:21 pm Reply with quote
Ann & Forbes
Joined: 01 Jan 2010
Posts: 271
Location: Jersey
Checked out the prices and as you say there is a bit of a hike..........would have to book the cheapest month and maybe only for 10 days instead of the usual 14 nights.....how did you get on with 10 nights Casey?

Ann Smile

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:01 am Reply with quote
Casey Jones
Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 1455
Location: Cumbria
Hi Ann,

We found 10 nights just perfect really....don't think our livers would appreciate 14!! Laughing certainly the house reef would keep you busy if you like to snorkel / dive. Each restaurant has its own menu, so although plenty of choice regarding the food on offer we were starting to struggle with the 3 meals a la carte food (in fact you can eat as much as you want between 12 - 7pm in the main Market restaurant) and maybe skipping breakfast so we thought overall 10 nights suited us, but we usually go for 10 or 11 nights anyway.

Worth the money?...overall I think so, romantic, tranquil, super quiet, intimate, house reef, no groynes so perfect views, top class contemporary accommodation and the best AI I have been on in the Maldives. Although we had a Duplex Villa with private pool we found the Beach Jacuzzi Villas (no pool) equally as good and great location and would probably just choose one of these if we went back to save some cash.

Casey Cool

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:30 pm Reply with quote
Ann & Forbes
Joined: 01 Jan 2010
Posts: 271
Location: Jersey
Cheers Casey.....sounds wonderful.......plenty time to save as can't go until 2016........goodness knows what the price will be like by then but hubby has his heart set on going now......I think it's the chilled wine cabinet in the Villa that done it for him Laughing

Many thanks
Ann Very Happy

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Casey's Trip Report to Kandolhu June 2014 
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