Best of the Maldives: Ex Pats – Hulhule

Hulhule bar

 

 

Oxymoron – a word that appears self contradictory. Like ‘losing Patriots’ or ‘local foreigners’. In a world championship every bit as ‘Super’ as the hype (which is a tall order in the USA), the ‘Pats’ (my hometown team) fell short of the mark in the final minutes on Sunday.

For anyone perplexed by why ‘American Football’ (aka ‘NFL’) is bigger than all other sports combined in America, I highly recommend (for those who have access) the BBC iPlayer’s recording of Super Bowl XLVI for an illustration of what makes American Football the sport with the most drama and athleticism in the world at minute 2:17.

For those players making this pinnacle game their career denouement and looking for a place to chill in the Maldives, Hulhule is the place to go for ‘Ex Pats’.

‘Expatriates’ that is. Hulhule Hotel is a popular watering hole for various Male and other island ex-pats and resort workers who converge on the big city. But as Male is dry, the foreigners seek a place to imbibe and the hotspot of choice is is Hulhule hotel which has a liquor license.

So if you want an insider’s view with an outsider’s perspective of life in paradise, then stop on into Hulhule for a chat with some of the semi-locals. 

Best of the Maldives: Buffet Vista – Hulhule

Hulhule Buffet

 

Everyday is an air show in the Maldives. One of the most exciting parts of a trip there is the arrival. When your plane first touches the edges of the sprawling archipelago you are treated to an other-worldly vision of a blue kaleidoscope. Always do whatever you can to get a window seat for flights in and out of Male airport.

This view was formally recognized this week by the website PrivateFly.com who surveyed their members for the ‘Top 10 Airport Approaches in the World’ and Male came in #5…

"It is an Island Airport, on its own island..The airport is surrounded by deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees…approaching over the Maldivian Atolls where you often see turtles and dolphins on approach."

The airport touchdown isn’t the only thing at Hulhule with a great vista. The Hulhule Hotel features its restaurant buffet on its 4th floor with the best mealtime vistas in the Maldives. Most buffets are relegated to the interior of the island without even a glimpse of the ocean, but at Hulhule the entire expanse of blueness is spread before you as copiously as the delectable items before you with big picture windows on both sides of the room.

Sometimes there are less attractive tankers in bay, other times some of the glitziest yachts. One of the sights, obviously, is the Male airport, so the restaurant also would have made a great grandstand for this week’s airshow.

Enjoy the approach yourself with some of the videos on YouTube

Male airport

Best of the Maldives: Basketball – Hulhule

Hulhule Basketball

 

The ‘Ides of March’ marks the opening jump ball to ‘March Madness’ in the sport of basketball. The world’s biggest university sports tournament kicked off yesterday with game one of the NCAA Div I Basketball Championship Clemson vs. UAB.

If you want to celebrate the spirit of March Madness and keep your foul shooting up to scratch or maybe run a bit of one-on-one on holiday, then several resorts claim to have a hoop – Paradise Island, Sun, Holiday Island, Royal, and Diva. But only Hulhule has a confirmed, bona fide court. I checked it out during my last visit and the basket is regulation height, the backboard in fine shape and the court itself level and even. The hotel has basketballs on hand for guests to use. Swish!

Best of the Maldives: Fitness Centre Size – Hulhule Hotel

Hulhule Gym 1

 

So your New Year’s Resolution is to get fit? Lose a few pounds? Perhaps work off a few of those Traders mocktails?

There was a time when the ‘fitness centre’ was an after-thought to a Maldive resort (some would say appropriately so for anything with the word ‘work’ as in ‘workout’ in it). Often a closet somewhere with some random barbells and a tired treadmill. These days, resorts have understood that keeping up fitness (especially with the plenty of rest, time available and buffet temptations) are an important piece of infrastructure. Most of the 4 star resorts and better now have commendable gyms with a range of up-to-date equipment.

But the biggest, best-equipped centre I can find is the Hulhule Hotel. 22 machines in total including a rowing machine and cross-trainer. For the class school weight trainer, they have full Olympic free weights with a wider range of benches than my local sports centre in the UK.

 

Hulhule Gym 2

Best of the Maldives: Closest to Airport – Hulhule

Hulhule near airport

 

One of the common questions on the Maldives Trip Advisor Forum is where to stay for a quick Male stop-over. If you are going for the sheer mathematics of convenience, then the closest hotel/resort to the Male airport is Hulhule. The picture above shows the hotel snapped from the water taxi ranks in front of the airport. I strolled the few hundred yards of waterside in a few minutes to check it out during one of my many transits out of Male during my recent tour.

Some people dismiss Hulhule as a weaker offering relative to the dedicated resorts sprinkled across the atolls. But compared to ‘airport hotels’ around the world, Hulhule re-defines the genre. Instead of being tucked into some industrial park, the hotel is surrounded by water. Instead of being an empty guest warehouse, it actually has invested in extensive entertainment facilities including basketball, archery, pitch-and-putt golf, one of the largest and best equipped fitness centres I have seen and a fine pool.

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Best of the Maldives: Hotel – Hulhule

World Travel Awards

Despite all of the great features of the new Holiday Inn Male, the Maldives ‘hotel’ (as a opposed to ‘resort’) that has officially captured the ‘Best Of’ prize (repeatedly) would be the Hulhule Hotel.

Hulhule is actually a credible destination place to stay in the Maldives with a broad range of facilities and services. It has the advantage of not even needing to leave the island of the airport and as such is away from the relative hustle-bustle of the capital. It would appeal especially to a group looking for a ‘hotel’ (as a ‘resort’ might convey an unprofessional or ‘junket/jolly’ atmosphere) in this great destination that is specially suited for business meetings and conferences.

“Travel industry’s equivalent to the Oscar’s”, the World Travel Awards are the most comprehensive and most prestigious awards program in the global travel industry. Hulhulé Island Hotel commenced operations in 2000. Since then, the Hotel has been a key member of the travel and trade business in the Maldives. Hulhule Island Hotel also boasts of being the ‘Best Culinary Establishment’ at Maldives and the team is proud in having professionals such as the ‘Most Outstanding Chef’ and ‘Top Maldivian Chef’ of the last Hotel Asia Exhibition & Culinary Challenge. Last year, Hulhule Island Hotel was declared the ‘Winner’ of the ‘World Luxury Hotel Awards 2008’ held at Cape Town in October, 2008.”