Best of the Maldives: Battle of the Luxury AI

All Inclusive Maldives comparison table

In the traditional travel market, the term “all inclusive” often connotes a bit of a down market, budget holiday with white-label booze and tired buffets. I often get enquiries that are concerned about the quality of a resort because it has all-inclusive offer. As with so many aspects of luxury, the Maldives destination re-writes the conventional wisdom and the “AI” package is in many cases a cornucopia of luxury.

All-inclusive got its reputation catering to budget travellers who had saved up precisely a certain amount for their vacation and not a penny more. They couldn’t chance facing some big check-out bill of extra charges and still hope to pay the rent the next month. To some degree, the same dynamic takes place in the Maldives…but at an entirely elevated level. For many, a trip to the Maldives is a trip of a lifetime. Celebrating a special occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary or milestone, people splash out their life savings for this bucket list adventure. Despite spending thousands, they too want some bounds on just how much the trip will set them back. So a number of the finest resorts offer AI packages to help plan and contain their expenditure.

And it’s not just about financial planning. It’s also a handy convenience. Write your cheque and then don’t worry about prices or money or signing things at all for your entire holiday. Just let the resort pamper you with all they have on offer.

What is on offer is becoming a bit of an escalating arms race in its own right. When I visited the World Travel Market in London this year, I go around to the resorts exhibiting and ask about their distinctive features and offers. Two properties – Centara Grand and OZEN – claimed to have the “most luxurious” AI package in all the Maldives. And that’s no small claim given some of the extravagant packages on offer including a previous Best of the Maldives post on Lily Beach as well as an impressive rival I uncovered at Kandolhu this summer.

As the various inclusions are a bit of an apple-to-orange comparison, I’ve decided to assemble the summary table above to let you all figure out which opulent omneity best suits your tastes. I haven’t included the pretty standard stuff that many if not most resorts provide FOC to all guests like snorkelling equipment, wifi and use of non-motorised sports facilities.

I’ve also now added the Tag “All Inclusive” to track all of the best AI offers.

15 Romantic Suds

Atmosphere Kanifushi - tub

Happy Valentines Day sweethearts everywhere.  But especially in that global hotbed of romantic paradise, the Maldives

Get your clothes off for a hot and steamy, sensual delight, with a touch of perfume, bubbly, and flower petals. Yes, a romantic bubble bath. Here’s a not-so-dirty dozen of the best in the Maldives…

I’ve also added a “Maldives Tub Art” board to the Maldives Complete Pinterest so I can add more sexy suds as I find them.

I©Maldives
 

1. Atmosphere Kanifushi [above]

2. Cheval Blanc Randheli
Cheval Blanc Randeli tub

3. Vakarufalhi
Vakarufalhi - tub

4. Coco Bodu Hithi (thanks Paola)
Coco Bodu Hithi - tub

5. One & Only Reethi Rah
One & Only Reethi Rah - tub

6. Centara Ras Fushi
Centara Ras Fushi - tub

7. Kuramathi
Kuramathi - tub

8. Anantara Kihavah
Anantara Kihavah Villas - tub

9. Amilla Fushi
Amilla Fushi - tub

10.  Centara Grand
Centara Grand - tub

11. Loama Maamagili
Loama Maamagili - tub

12. Sun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - tub

13. Hideaway Beach
Hideaway Beach - tub

14. Zitahli Kudafunafaru
Zitahli Kudafunafaru - tub decor

15. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
image

Best of the Maldives: Water Villas for Children – Centara Grand

Centara Grand water villa children room

 

 

When we were growing up, we used to ask my parents, “There is a Fathers Day and a Mothers Day, but when is Children’s Day??” My parents always used to answer (disappointingly to us), “Every day is Childrens Day.” Well, there is finally a Childrens Day today. Universal Children’s Day, established to promote the welfare and well being of children around the world.

When I first started Maldives Complete, my very first inspiration was children. In the nineties, Maldives was known for (a) honeymooning, and (b) diving. But when we visited, we found it a great destination for children.

While the Maldives in general is great for children, one increasingly popular feature has become a bit of a child-challenged ghetto…water villas. The obvious reason is safety. The jetties are typically flat walkways which the occasional stumble can send adults (or even bikes and buggies) over the edge into the water below. There have been rumors, often cited by resorts where children are not allowed in water villas, that it is against Maldivian regulations to allow them, but that is not actually the case.

Given that today is International Children’s Day promoting the welfare of children, understanding the ins and outs of children in the water villas is an important subject.

The water villas are typically located in calm lagoon shallows so a rescue is pretty straightforward. As with bringing a child to a locale surrounded by water, however tranquil that water may be, vigilant attention to the child is always paramount anyway. And many parents are willing to pay the price of this extra diligence and supervision for the benefit of enjoying the distinctive water villa experience as a family.

Every resort is different when it comes to child policies in the water villas. I have been trying to capture most of the various policies in the Room Type Profiles. But the resort which seems to have to mot child-friendly approach is Centara Grand according to TripAdvisor’s Maldives Travel Article “Maldives: Children in the Maldives”…

Reputed to have the most family friendly villas in the Maldives and also the only resort which allows children in the Over Water Villas (OWV) without the need to sign a disclaimer first, Centara is a popular family choice. The pool is also a major draw.”

TripAdvisor Destination Expert Nefertari2 elaborates

The Family Water Villa's on Centara are children friendly. They have a railing, with vertical slats all the way around the decking which is at least a metre high and there is a gate which you can lock at the top of the stairs which leads to steps down into the lagoon. There is also a gate at the entrance of the Water Villa which is lockable to prevent the children from running straight onto the jetty as lets face it the robes won't stop them falling. They are the most child friendly water villa's I have seen in the Maldives.”

Best of the Maldives: Circus – Centara Grand

Centara Grand circus

 

Another performer who has sprung onto the Maldives resort scene with the greatest of ease is Khun Goy at Centara Grand

“Circus Under the Stars, staged regularly at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives, has as its star someone who is very well known on the island, for she is also known to guests as Khun Goy, the resort’s leisure and entertainments manager. The show, which is held on the beach, includes breath-taking performances on aerial silks and the flying trapeze. Khun Goy (the word ‘Khun’ means ‘Miss’) first had the idea for putting on shows during the Christmas and New Year holidays, and they proved such a hit with guests that the shows are now regular features, provided free of charge under the resort’s cashless island program. Her real name is Thaiyara Suvan, and she is a super-fit 34-year-old from Bangkok who began her career in the performance and fitness coaching business twelve years ago. She developed an interest in working on the flying trapeze and from that began to work on her skills with various forms of the aerial arts…She joined Centara Grand Island Resort in October of last year, where she teaches adults and children alike in aerobics, gymnastics and yoga, as well as organizing entertainment events.”

Best of the Maldives: Underwater Wedding Package – Centara Grand

Centara Grand underwater wedding 2

 

 

 

Your most romantic moments can be spent not just by the water, over the water or in the water, but actually under the water in the Maldives. A number of resorts do offer underwater weddings (eg. Anantara Kihavah, Conrad Rangali), but none is as elaborate and colourful as Centara Grand’s lavish affair. Newlyweds Chris and Janet inaugurated the coral garden ceremony offering in October (shown above).

What does one throw for good luck?

 

Centara Grand underwater wedding 1

 

Centara Grand underwater wedding 3

Best of the Maldives: Cashless – Centara Grand

Centara Grand spa treatment

 

Centara Grand is getting rid of another kind of paper in its business…cash. ETurboNews resports

“Guests arriving at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives from November 1, 2012 can leave both their shoes and their cash behind, because from that date the resort begins its Ultimate All-Inclusive experience. Although Centara has always featured fully-inclusive accommodation, Ultimate All-Inclusive takes this concept to an entirely new level and represents the ultimate in luxury escapes. Included are champagne breakfasts served all the way through until mid-morning, a choice of three restaurants for lunch, and sumptuous dinners that offer a daily theme buffet, Thai cuisine, Italian dining at a romantic overwater restaurant, Japanese teppanyaki cooked to order, fresh seafood, and international dishes…Also included are credits of US$100 per person, per day, to spend at Spa Cenvaree village spa, with a range of treatments that include foot massage, Indian head massage, face relaxing massage, and a choice of body scrubs and upper-back massage…The package also includes Wi-Fi access in the rooms and across the resort, use of fitness facilities with programs designed by a personal trainer, tennis, snorkeling equipment, motorized water sports, and windsurfing lessons…A number of off-island excursions are also included such as a whale shark tour, sunset fishing, sunset cruises, and the local island discovery tour.”

Other resort have done ulta-all-inclusive plans comparable to this, but one feature that stands out for me here is the $100 daily spa credit. Nice touch.