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Ian and Jo's 2015 Vilamendhoo Trip with Pics 
PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:45 pm Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford
Many of you will know that Vilamendhoo Resort and Spa is part of Crown and Champa Resorts who also runs Meeru Resort and Spa. We were lucky enough to be able to fit in an extra Maldives visit this year so we thought that this should be the time when we find out for ourselves what Vila has to offer.
We travelled from M'Cr via Abu Dhabi with Etihad. This decision was made for us as we needed to travel on a Friday after work but still needed to arrive in Male’ in plenty of time to catch the seaplane (which doesn’t fly after dark). Boat transfers aren’t an option as Vila is further away from the airport. Depending on the weather, a boat trip would take around 2 – 2 1/2 hours. We were happy with Etihad’s service and thought it compared well with Emirates. As with Emirates, they decided to put on a different plane to the one we pre-booked our seats on. Unlike Emirates, this caused a problem as the bigger plane added a seat between us and we found a man booked into the seat between us. Emirates automatically change this for you so that you remain together. We thought, however, that Etihad offered better food. We’re not veggies but often prefer this food. Etihad offer a veggie dish to all customers in economy plus two meat dishes. All flights took off promptly and arrived in good time.
One thing to consider if you do decide to travel via Abu Dhabi is that they are building a brand new airport. This is not affecting the current building as, being the middle east, they are simply building a brand new structure on a different bit of desert. It does mean, however, that the runway being used is the new one which is a long way from the operating building and the only way to get to and from the planes is on convoluted and time consuming bus trips.
Once at Male’ airport, we were checking in at the seaplane desk. Your bags are weighed here (20kg and 5 kg max) and re-labelled before going off to the seaplanes. We were then taken on a bus trip round the airport and dropped off at the seaplane departure lounge. Crown and Champa Resorts have their own lounge which is beautiful - free chilled drinks, cool towels, air con, clean toilets and a great view – heaven! Sadly, no sooner had we arrived but we were whisked off to get on our plane. At this point, the heavens opened and we got very wet on the short walk to the plane. 14 passengers basically fills the plane and all baggage, including hand luggage, is stored at the back. It’s very cosy!
Crown and Champa Resorts lounge at Male’ airport

TMA seaplane

TMA Seaplane

Vilamendhoo – view from the seaplane


The rain stopped before we landed at Vila’s pontoon and we stepped out and swapped places on the transfer boat with people who were heading home (v. sad – felt really bad about taking their place). Once on Vila, it really was a mini Meeru experience – definitely a Meeru delight!
Rooms
Vila has 30 JWV (known as the 300s) located on the northern tip of the island, 26 JBV down either side of the northern end of the island, 108 BV on either side of the southern end of the island and 17 garden rooms in a central southern location. We stayed in two JBVs – 202 and 213. I know that prior to our visit we read some concerns about semi-detached rooms. One of our rooms was a semi and I can honestly say it wasn’t a problem. Your outside dividing wall is full height and you are more likely to be over looked by your detached neighbours because, like Meeru, the only separation here is vegetation. Our room was superbly presented with a welcome decoration on the bed. We received our AIP bubbly and fruit. All AIP (in the room, bars and restaurants) is exactly like Meeru. JBVs come in two internal sizes. The basic layout for all is square rather than the Meeru L shape. Some rooms have the large open space to your left as you enter the room (on Meeru, sofas and coffee tables are generally here) and some rooms do not have this space. All rooms are spacious enough though and there is plenty of storage space. I have to say that I prefer the Vila bathroom layout in the land based rooms as these too are squarer and it seems to make them lighter and more spacious. Interestingly, there are no taps on the front of these rooms, unlike Meeru. I use these to rinse snorkel gear generally as well as washing off more stubborn sand. On Vila, you do need to use the water in the urn.
Front of our room showing great, comfortable seats. Notice near the door there’s an outside switch for your outside light!

Welcome message on our bed

Our bathroom – squarer layout

View of beach showing a run of JBV/BV




Bars and Pools
Vila has 3 bars (Sunset, Bonthi and Boashi). The Bonthi Bar serves the same purpose as the Kakuni Bar mixed with a little Dhoni. This is where the evening entertainment is generally found, films are shown in the day during wet weather and it’s very child friendly. The layout of the inside is naturally split in to two so those wanting to sit and chat can do so away from the entertainment in the other half of the room. The Boashi Bar is next to the family pool in the centre of the island and is a more outdoor affair, similar to the bar at the infinity pool at Meeru. This pool has no sea views but is still an attractive place to visit and is popular not just with families but couples too. We visited it when it was busy and when it was quiet – not sure why there was such a difference in two days – suppose it just depends what people decide to do on a day to day basis. The Sunset Bar is adults only and at the northern end of the island (similar to the Uthuru). It has a much smaller internal seating area but a vast outside seating area and there’s also an infinity pool here (smaller than Meeru’s and no Roman end/Jacuzzis). The Hot Rock is inside the Sunset Bar and is basically a small section of the inside area set up with Hot Rock Tables. There’s no advertising boards or obvious signs as to what it is (other than a small plaque on the external wall) and its outside seating is on the beach. Many nights, there were no guests and it is an adults’ only restaurant. The beach tables looked lovely as they were set up like full moon dinner tables. The staff at all bars were fantastic as you would expect. The drinks menus are exactly the same as Meeru’s although staff interpretations of cocktails differ between islands (e.g. an African Rambo on Vila is made as per the description but on Meeru, they add cream). One big difference on Vila is that on wet days, the bars on Vila stay relatively quiet. The water based activities are so central to everyone’s daily plans that the vast majority of guests are ‘at sea’ most of the day, whatever the weather.
Family Pool in a central location

Sunset Bar Seating

Sunset Infinity Pool





Asian Wok
Vila’s Wok is located on the southern tip of the island, arching out to the west, much the same as Meeru’s and it is well and truly over the water. Its construction is the same although the inside floor space at Vila is reduced. There are no glass viewing panels nor pre-dinner seating areas inside but there is a teppanyaki bar and a lovely outside dining area. As you’re near a coral reef you see literally hundreds of fish as you dine and the menu is as fantastic as Meeru’s. We ate there once and we also had the opportunity to dine at a full moon dinner on the beach and sample their cooking outside – yum!
Asian Wok with Jo

Asian Wok showing outside seating area to right of picture

Full Moon dreaming – what a beautiful night




Reef and Beaches
Vila’s USP has to be, without doubt, the reef. It really is gob-smackingly beautiful. There are areas of beach which have lagoon areas for bathers but quickly, at clearly marked points, you can be snorkelling over coral and the drop off to deeper water. Red buoys indicate gaps in the reef where you can traverse safely without damaging the coral and between the buoys there are lines of orange floating rings which mark the direction of the reef and act as stopping off points it you want a rest along the way. Now, I have to say, I’m not a confident swimmer and an even less confident snorkeller but I was able to snorkel along these routes. My new tribord mask, a flotation vest and choosing a route which went with the flow of the current meant I always felt safe. On Meeru I might snorkel 3-5 times in a fortnight whereas on Vila we regularly snorkelled twice a day. Words and pictures cannot do justice to the beauty which was literally steps from our room. We did take one trip out to snorkel at Manta point. We saw lots of Manta but I didn’t really enjoy this trip. Lots of boats are at the same point making the water choppy. Your boat is hard to identify when you’ve had enough and there are lots of other snorkellers, all with GoPros, desperate for the best shot. Expect to get kicked in the face or elbowed on the head. I quickly felt battle scarred and exhausted. Confident swimmers enjoyed the trip more but all preferred a flotation vest which the trip provides.
Turtle seen just steps away from our room

Jo kitted out in tribord mask and flotation vest for comfortable and enjoyable snorkelling

Swimmers & Turtle whilst on Manta and Turtle trip

Cuttlefish seen whilst walking along JWV jetty


Finally, the beaches… Meeru works hard to maintain its beaches. It does this by pumping sand back to shore, leaving holes in the seabed some distance out. Vila can’t do this as the delicate reef is so near. Instead, they rely on sand bags and concrete groynes in some places to protect and preserve the beach. None of this spoilt the beauty. Instead, it simply acted as a reminder of how delicate this beautiful environment is.
Concrete Groynes to the south of the main jetty

View of Infinity Pool from JVW jetty at North end of island. A section of beach is being protected with sand bags

Stunning beaches with great lagoon areas for bathers


Would I go back? - Yes, in a heartbeat. Still lots to do and much I’d like to repeat. Meeru will always be my first love, though.
Is Vila suitable for children? Well, there were certainly plenty there. The answer to this depends on what your family likes to do. The family pool is great on Vila but I’d say Meeru’s is in a more attractive location. There are safe beach and sea areas although the beaches can be narrow outside some of the BVs. If your children like snorkelling, this place wins hand down. Also, try dives are better as on day one you are on a real reef.
All, in all, a great holiday. I don’t regret missing a Meeru trip and I now know first-hand what it’s really like. That said, I can’t wait to get back to Meeru…….. Oh… for more money and more time!


Last edited by JoanneLorna on Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:20 pm; edited 7 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:49 pm Reply with quote
Jen
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 365
Location: N.E.Lincs
Wow what a great report and the photographs certainly brought back some memory's.....sitting outside the wok, just the two of us...beautiful. Loved the central swimming pool which when we were there was hardly used. It is gorgeous, surrounded by massive palm trees, flowers and plants and when the sun starts to go down you can watch the fruit bats leaving the trees.

Really pleased you enjoyed the snorkelling....I think I didn't try it out enough!
Your snorkels look very interesting, never seen anything like them before. Will have to investigate.

Glad you had a great time and an experience of another island.

Jen
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:42 am Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford
Hi Jen
Thanks for the reply. I agree that the central pool is very beautiful and definitely a good place to spend a few hours. There were a lot of fruit bats on the island. We have seen an increase in the number that roost on Meeru (previously they would all fly away as the sun set) but I think there were definitely more on Vila.
I have to thank this forum for the face mask. ivorfatarse posted a link in the diving and snorkelling section and I had to find out more. They are sooooo much better than the traditional mask and snorkel. As I posted live from Vila, the only limitation is that the careful air flow system can limit the amount of oxygen. Too strenuous a swim and you may find yourself struggling for air. They never leaked, you have a wide viewing angle and they never suffered from condensation. The best moment was when we stumbled upon the turtle. We were able to talk to each other wearing these masks. A really special moment.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:20 pm Reply with quote
Casey Jones
Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 1455
Location: Cumbria
A nice read..very enjoyable on a very wet afternoon here. We visited Vila in 2011 not long after its refurb and we had villa 175 which was right beside the double palm trees that leaned into the lagoon. Did you try to climb them? We seen many try and many fall off Laughing
We found the density of villas a bit much for us, but also the vegetation between them was very young so privacy may be better now. As you say look no further for a great house reef as Vila has one of the best also the addition of those concrete groynes are a new addition as these were not here back in 2011, but if it helps to rejuvinate the beaches then a price worth paying as some areas were indeed eroded badly.

Finally can you confirm that children can walk on the beach around the adult only end (obviously not allowed to linger at the facilities..bar, pool etc) or is there a definate divide with signs on the beach etc as some reviews say different things. No concern to us but I have been questioned for advice on this as in 2011 children were free to walk all beach areas.

Thanks again and great pics Very Happy

Casey Cool

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:45 pm Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford
Hi Casey
Thanks for your reply. I can't put into words how exciting I found the snorkelling over the house reef, That alone is worth a repeat trip. Walking around the island we noticed evidence that there had at some point been some clear demarcation - 'adults only' signs on paths and vegetation which had clearly been planted to separate the 2 sections of beach. I do think this has gone now although much like meeru, the north end facilities are adults only. The water sports centre is right next to the sunset beach and children came there to wind surf and paddle board and this was definitely adult side of the vegetation. We did see families walk past also although it would be difficult to get right round the north end (tide depending) due to the sand bags on the beach. One of the main snorkel routes ended near the Sunset Bar and children regularly go in and out here.
In summary I would say that there had been some separation at some point but I saw no evidence of it being adhered to. Whether the rule does still exist and it only gets enforced if a guest makes a complaint - who knows. We know that Meeru used to separate guests more formally than it does now so it could be that CCR has relaxed the rules a little and has left one or two signs simply because no one has thought to remove them.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:43 pm Reply with quote
sams
Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 1629
Location: Scotland
Thank you for a great trip report on beautiful Vilamendhoo.

The snorkelling made Vila special for us, we are just about to book our repeat visit.

I loved the pool in the middle of the island, the vegetation around that area is wonderful, I can't wait for a swim in there followed by a cocktail or two, we often had the entire pool to ourselves Smile

The fact it is like Meeru made us feel at home as soon as we got there.

Our friends who experienced there first Maldives holiday with us on Vila are joining us again ..... another couple bitten by the Maldives bug!

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2015 3:39 pm Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford
Hi Sams
Thanks for the feedback. Vila is really like a home from home for Meeruites. I hope you enjoy your next visit. It's so exciting once you've committed to a booking
Jo Fishing Fishing

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:07 pm Reply with quote
sams
Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 1629
Location: Scotland
JoanneLorna wrote:
Hi Sams
Thanks for the feedback. Vila is really like a home from home for Meeruites. I hope you enjoy your next visit. It's so exciting once you've committed to a booking
Jo Fishing Fishing


Now official booked up for second trip to Vila bounce bounce bounce bounce


Thanks again for your lovely trip report 😊

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:00 pm Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford

So exciting....it won't be long before you're sitting here watching the world go by

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:01 pm Reply with quote
Jen
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 365
Location: N.E.Lincs
Ooh they didn't have them when we were there.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:06 pm Reply with quote
sams
Joined: 21 Dec 2006
Posts: 1629
Location: Scotland
JoanneLorna wrote:

So exciting....it won't be long before you're sitting here watching the world go by


I can't wait the countdown has begun, these are new since we were there too 😊🐠🔆

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:20 pm Reply with quote
debandmark
Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 599
Loved reading your post Ian and Jo...photo's got me lost in the world I want to be, instead of watching the depressing news!!! What I wouldn't give to escape to 'No news, no shoes' right now!!!!

Deb

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:11 pm Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford
Hi sams and Deb
Yes this style of seat is appearing in Vila and Meeru as bars get a makeover. Dead comfy to relax on but not very elegant to get in and out of!
I agree Deb, it's bad times at the moment and happy holidays seem very distant. Will try to post some more pics to keep up all our spirits Nemo

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:10 pm Reply with quote
debandmark
Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 599
Hi Jo,

More photo's would be lovely...wish I could work out how to put photo's on...perhaps with these long winter evenings I'll try again!!!

Let's hope they put some nice chairs like this outside the Dhoni Bar. Really don't like the chairs. Inside it's all lay down and sleepy, and outside is too cafeteria for the evening...Kakuni style outside would be nice....and yes, I have mentioned it to Meeru!!!

I think about 18weeks to go, perhaps I'll start thinking about how many days that is.....

Deb

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:32 pm Reply with quote
JoanneLorna
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 504
Location: stafford
Hi Deb
I agree about the chairs outside the Dhoni. On Vila, our room had Kakuni style chairs outside. They were fab and I quite happily sat there watching the rain. I have often commented that Meeru doesn't have many comfortable seats. The chairs outside The Pavillion used to be a nightmare and then they added cushions so that people without supermodel leg lengths could sit more comfortably. The least comfortable must still be at the Uthuru though.

Regarding countdown, I've had my forum account hacked!!!! A ticker appeared by magic. Ian said I shouldn't have left myself logged on on our shared computer. I don't think that's an acceptable reason for him to think it's okay to abuse my user area. Revenge is a dish best served cold.....watch this space!
Jo

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Ian and Jo's 2015 Vilamendhoo Trip with Pics 
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