I have yearned to get to Biyadhoo for longer than any other resort I’ve haven’t seen yet. When I first started going to the Maldives in the 90s, it had a reputation for one of the best house reefs in the Maldives and terrific value. I never went because the apartment block lodging didn’t really appeal to the family, but we finally fit it into our post-pandemic return tour..
The value is still there and accented by a special promotion to induce people back in the early days where uncertainty remained high. I paid less per night for bed and breakfast than I sometimes pay for my bar bill at luxury properties. For about £100/nt, we couldn’t buy our dinner in the UK never mind A DAY IN PARADISE! It was the Lidl/Aldi of resorts – super cheap but limited choice, service and aesthetics. Nothing fancy, but still couldn’t really fault it for anything.
The premises on land significantly exceeded our expectations. I guess at those prices I was expected run-down and limited infrastructure, but instead the facilities and rooms were mostly smart and appealing. Mind you a few more licks of paint in certain places (like the duplex stairwells) wouldn’t go amiss, but the rooms were very attractive, clean, fresh and comfortable (they had a bit of a refurb a few years ago).
And there were plenty of expectation exceeding pleasant surprises. Their spa is brilliant with treatments cheaper than we can get at home (£50 for 50 minutes) and quality as high as the fanciest facilities. Lori even got a bonus creative little hair braiding by her therapist which she really liked (see below).
Some aspects were a bit of a mixed bag. The sand throughout the island – beach as well as interior paths and common areas like the bar – was exceedingly soft. Unfortunately, it was not possible to circumambulate (a word made for Maldives islands) the entre island as the far side was blocked from access. The dinner was superb (BBQ one night), but the lunches were quite mediocre. The whole place could do with a customer UX make-over to fix a plethora of small but annoying oversights and issues. For example, when we arrived a single woman handled the prolonged (over a half hour) registration of about a dozen guests that had arrived while three idle men stood at the registration desk doing nothing.
Unfortunately, the house reef (like so many in the Maldives) is a shadow of what its former self must have been. Hardly any live coral, and (not surprisingly as the obvious knock-on effect) very modest marine life. Still, the diving is great. We did a couple of dives with the resort’s Dive Ocean dive center where we enjoyed another serendipity encounter. As our dive master was registering us he looked at Lori’s PADI card and shouted to his manager, “Hey, Antonio…you certified this woman 20 years ago at Coco Palm!” The small world of small islands.
This week the UK budget was delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a pretty stark theme of austerity. So what is a Maldives aficionado to do in such times of austerity?
Naturally, all sorts of pre-booking, pre-opening, last-minute and other quirky deals can be found. But all things being equal, the rack-rate lowest starting point is Asdu Sun. They quoted a penny-preserving rate for mid-July of $70 per person per day on full board (flights not included).
But you do get less…unless you truly think less is more. Speaking with Reservations, Asdu Sun takes pride in being back to basics island. No mini-bars. No spa. No fitness centre. No underwater golf range. Not even hot water! The reservations assisted boasted (perhaps another superlative for them) of being the ‘simplest island’. Old school nostalgic simplicity. A plot of sand and a palm tree.
If you are looking for something a little less spartan, Biyadhoo is often cited as one of the best economy-priced resorts. They have hot water and a spa as well as a one of the best house reefs. They quoted $191 for two people per day (for 2 people sharing) Full Board in July which works out to $95 per person per day.
Hopefully, in the future the Maldives government will pave the way for even more economical options according to recent reports on their concerns about catering to the mid-market.
Maybe Asdu Sun’s nickname should be ‘ASDA Sun’. The tag line fits, “Saving you money every day.”
Having been an active TA Maldives Forum participant (“Maldives Complete”) for a while now, I’ve noticed that one does see the same sort of things come around as regularly as sting rays at feeding time. Discussions mosquitos, weather, snorkelling, children, snorkelling children, whale sharks. Many of these have been helpfully turned into FAQs by the Destination Experts (DEs). Obviously, one that comes around very regularly (about one out of every ten posts I discovered) is the question “Which resort?”. With over a hundred resorts to choose from and a few dozen more in the works, we can all appreciate the dilemma.
But for all of the extensive choice, I found it curious that some resorts seemed to dominate the Forum while other great ones were virtually non-existent. I wondered whether it was just my perception so I did a little test. I pulled the Maldives Forum posts for the past six months (August through January) and simply logged any resorts mentioned in the post title. Not extremely scientific as an indicator, but easy, effective and objective.
Vilamendhoo came out the most popular resort enquired about. But just only as they pipped Reethi Beach 49 mentions to 48 over the last 6 months. Rounding out the top 5 were Kuramathi (40 mentions), Lily Beach (38), and Biyadhoo (37). The lions share are shown above which you can click on to see in a clearer, larger version.
I was also intrigued by the quite prominent resorts that have never come up on the forum at least as an explicit post. Many were Italian oriented resorts more like to go to an Italian language site – Alimatha, Dhiggiri, Gangehi, Kihaadhuffaru, Madoogali. Other were pretty exclusive so that the butlers probably book the travel – Banyan Tree Madivaru, Dhoni Island, Nika, The Rania Experience. There was clearly an bias towards the lower priced resorts in terms of mentions. Admittedly, while there are typically fewer rooms/guest on the more expensive/exclusive islands, the modest difference in bed number was not enough to explain the quite extreme difference in post numbers.