As some of you will have seen my picture posts to Facebook, you’re aware that I’ve just come back from a beautiful vacation in the Maldives with my little family. We have been to the Maldives 3 times since living in India (yes, we are incredibly lucky, but I like to justify it by thinking that our flight to the Maldives from where we are in India is a shorter plane ride and a cheaper plane ticket than going from New York to Florida!) We’ve stayed at Anantara Dhigu and Kurumba in the past. This time we stayed at an all-inclusive resort, Lily Beach Resort& Spa. This place was recommended to us when we first arrived in India and we’ve heard a few positive stories from others since so decided to give it a try for our last trip to the Maldives while living in India (wishful thinking that we’ll make it back someday!) Here are my thoughts on the resort 🙂
- Impressed by the all-inclusive food & beverage. Maybe I have a warped opinion of all-inclusive resorts, but I’ve always thought they’d be very mainstream with regard to the included food and drink, but this resort altered my opinion. The food at this resort was delicious & we were able to get any drink we could dream of (including choices from a very large, region-varied wine list!). Our room had a mini bar that was replenished daily, including a new bottle of both red and white wine (should you have chosen to drink 2 bottles per day!) Their main restaurant served buffet breakfast, lunch & dinner daily. There was extensive choice for both breakfast and dinner, and the dinner theme changed every night so we had slightly different things to choose from. We got lunch poolside each day, and the menu also included loads of things. We were able to use one of their specialty restaurants once during our visit, Tamarind, which served delicious pan-Asian cuisine. There were 2 specialty restaurants not included on the all-inclusive package (one serving Teppanyaki and the other fine French cuisine) but we didn’t use these given the food & drink already included was delicious.
- Staff. The people who work at the resort are super friendly and take time to get to know you a bit (but not to the point of intruding on your vacation). They remember what you’ve had to drink so they can offer it to you the next day, everyone acknowledges you with a “hello” or “good morning/afternoon/evening” as you walk past, and they try to accommodate requests as best as they can. They are truly trying to make your trip memorable and enjoyable.
- Layout of the resort. The main restaurant and shops are located in the middle of the island, which makes them easily accessible regardless of where your villa is. There are two pools at opposite ends of the resort so you can have a different view when enjoying each pool. The lobby, main bar and restaurant are all sand-floor, which I have never seen before at any resort we have been to but actually gives a really cool and laid back feel to them. Each type of villa is grouped together so you have a general idea where they are located: water villas are obviously in the water at one end of the resort, the lagoon villas are all sunrise villas on one side of the resort, and the beach villas are sunset villas which line the other side of the resort (good to know if you plan on staying here!)
- Greeting and waiting area at Male airport. We were greeted by a representative of the resort who helped with our luggage and directed us to a private resort lounge while we waited for the seaplane. The lounge was air conditioned (much welcomed!) with complimentary food and drinks. It was a relaxing way to start the vacation.
- Most water sport equipment is included. Snorkels, kayaks, peddler boats – all included in what you’ve paid for. You can also get the snorkel equipment upon arrival and return it at departure so guests don’t need to waste time getting & returning it each day.
Areas they can improve:
- Excursions linked to the all-inclusive package. Having paid quite a bit for the trip, the resort should make more an effort to include additional excursions in their package and accommodate the number of guests who want to attend without it being an issue. The resort only had 3 included excursions (sunset cruise, sunset fishing and a trip to a local island), and the number of people accepted to each excursion was capped pretty low. Given there is no choice but to do the all-inclusive package here, the resort needs to make better efforts to accommodate a larger number of people and include other excursions in the package as it doesn’t cost much (or anything?) to run them.
- Dinner at Tamarind was pre-booked for us, which is fine, but it then conflicted with the only day we were able to get onto the sunset cruise by 15 minutes. Instead of just allowing us to come 15 minutes late, they made a big deal about having to change the reservation and how we would no longer get a table outside (which was absolutely necessary as the outside tables are situated on stilts over the water!). After a few back and forth phone calls, they sorted it for us, but arriving 15 minutes late shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place.
- Seaplanes. I will admit that taking a seaplane to and from the resort was really cool. I have 2 videos of take-off from the “runway” ocean, and they will always make me smile. The views are wonderful. HOWEVER, given the choice in the future, I would pick an island I can get to by speedboat. The seaplane times are partially governed by the resort and partially by Trans-maldivian Airways. We had to wait over an hour to get the seaplane to the resort after landing in Male, and we had a departure time of 7:15am from the resort when we left for an international flight leaving at 11:20am, so were up before 6am. The seaplane was then delayed an hour (!!!) They also make multiple stops across near resorts, so we spent a lot of time wasted on a small plane instead of enjoying the resort we paid for. The seaplane terminal is also not part of the regular airport so we needed to take a bus to get to it. All extra, unwanted journey time. Speedboats are right outside the airport entrance and exit and take guests straight to and from the resort. No extra stops. No wasted time. WIN.
Overall we had a great vacation and would recommend it to others, but you need to make sure you are eating and drinking your moneys worth! The resort has amazing views in all directions, only really seeing some palm trees from other resorts in the distance and open ocean for miles. The Maldives has a way of forcing you to relax, and if you are ever lucky enough to visit, YOU MUST MUST MUST!! We were super sad to leave, especially knowing we won’t be back there for a long time (at best), but we are so thankful to have visited several times while living in India.
Now… who thinks I can convince Jeremy to go back there from New York?? 😉