Best of the Maldives: View – Holiday Inn Male

Holiday Inn Male - View

 

 

At 13 floors up, the Azure restaurant (and pool) of the Holiday Inn Male is the best hotel view in the Maldives. I counted 17 islands visible from this elevated perch not to mention the many toings and froing of boats in the harbour and the surrounding environs.

Normally, I would hesitate to include Male hotels as ‘resorts’. It has no beach, no alcohol (Male is ‘dry’ while the resort islands are granted special licenses). However, I do have the Nasandhura in Male as well as the Hulhule resort on Hulhule island which is more like Male in characteristics than a dedicated resort island. Also, I suspect that a number of Holiday Inn ‘Priority Club’ member maybe interested in exploiting their points as a vehicle for getting to the Maldives.

The Azure restaurant shown here just opened the 15 October and features absolutely delicious fusion (French/Japanese) dishes.

If you are looking for a ‘room with a view’ in the Maldives, Holiday Inn Male is the highest and furthest.

Best of the Maldives: Choice – Kurumba

Kurumba snorkel

Given my experience and investigation into Maldives resorts, people often ask me ‘which one is my favourite?’ It is a bit like asking which of your children are your favourites. They are all great in their own distinct way. But it is their ‘own distinct ways’, many of which are highlighted by MaldiveComplete’s ‘Best Of’ posts, that either turn on or turn off people. Some people like a big island, other like small. Some like lots of activities, others like peaceful tranquillity. Some like family catering, others like to avoid children for the stay. That is why it is important to know what is important to you and then select for those key features. This is why two off the key features of MaldivesComplete is a (a) database filter/search facility (‘Resort Search’), and (b) this very own ‘Best Of’ highlights.

But sometimes decisions are a tough thing. Especially if you your preferences vary or if you are in a diverse group. In that case, what you might want it lots of choices. Kind of like an American cake mix aisle. After having stayed there last week and cross referenced a few data points, I am convinced that if ‘choice’ is what you want, then Kurumba offers the widest, deepest set of resort ‘choice’ in the Maldives.

Two upcoming ‘Best Of’ awards for Kurumba are ‘Most Room Types’ (7…and that’s without having any water bungalows), and ‘Most Dining Choices’ (10…seafood, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Arab/Lebanese, Indian, buffet, coffee hours and two bars). And if 10 isn’t enough for you, then you have easy access to Male where a whole host of further offering await you (I especially recommend the Holiday Inn Male rooftop Azure restaurant, but there are a range of ethnic eateries as well as a range of very good Maldivian restaraunts featuring local fare). Kurumba also has 3 pools, 3 tennis courts, 2 gyms when most resorts will typically have one. Finally, the water sports centre features everything imaginable (including ‘pedal surf’ and soon a ‘sup’).

As I said in my ‘Kurumba Wrap Up’ post, I think groups (extended families, corporate team/groups) would work well at Kurumba because there is such a range of offerings and choices that there is something satisfying for everyone. Some of the more boutique resorts in the Maldives are amazing in certain special ways, but sometimes those ‘ways’ are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Maldives Kurumba Visit – Day 6: Meal Plan

Kurumba beach dinner

Not only did we do our whole trip DIY (buying resort, air travel, connections all separately), but we also opted for the a la carte meal plan (versus full or half board). This decision of which meal plan is one of the most prominent in deciding a Maldives visit.

We are happy with the a la carte for the following reasons. First, Kurumba has lots of restaurants (10) to choose from. Perhaps a smaller island would have less choice and restaurant options and this advantage would be less strong. Secondly, we prized flexibility whether we even ate. We had planned on going to Male for a day where we had lots of options to dine quite inexpensively so not having to pay for this day is an advantage. Also, 3 of our 4 strong party are watching their diet (and the 4th is not a big eater) and so several times we either skipped lunch after a big breakfast or felt like a small snack for dinner after a big lunch.

So far this week, our decision has been by and large a good one. Kurumba offers a $50 (+10% service) half board supplement and a $80 (+10% service) full board supplement. If we had taken either of those, we probably would have saved some money on our total meal bill. But, our meals would have been confined wholly to the Vihamana restaurant with its themed buffet style eating. I checked out the buffet and the food looks diverse and delicious. But you are still stuck with the selection on offer that night rather than the whole range of the other 9 restaurants.

Perhaps more of an issue is the dining location. This issue was particularly acute because all of the restaurants have tiled floors. We much prefer the sand floors so many resorts offer. Though natural floors are not everyone’s cup of tea, most people I speak to about the Maldives do prefer them and in fact find it one of the ‘wow’ factors. Also, all but one of the restaurants are quite removed from the water’s edge (and lovely ocean with its gently lapping water is a defining characteristic of the islands obviously). Going a la carte, we had more options to eat ‘where’ we wanted to. Some of our best meals were in special locations. The first was the beach side eating area by the pool. This spot is the best dining area on the island and yet they close it for dinner. Go figure. Probably my biggest beef with the resort is this issue.

One way we managed a ‘beach dinner’ was to order room service. The room service menu is a rich selection of offerings from the various restaurants which when it arrived we simply took it outside to our beach chairs and tables to eat by the ocean and under the palm trees. It was the kind of exotic setting that we savour in the Maldives. We since found out that the resort rules say “Glass containers or any other breakable substances that shatter, are prohibited on the beach.” We didn’t bring any glass, but I guess the plates would officially be ‘breakable…that shatter’ (though hard to do on soft sand). I guess if you want to follow our lead for romantic beach side room service, you might want to bring some plastic or paper plates to move your meal to in order to abide by the rules strictly.

Also, the food came in very generous portions. Halfway through the week we figured this out and made it a family rule that we could only order one portion (side or main) because that was almost always enough. If we have stuck to that approach, we would have saved more money early on and probably would have gotten our food bill down to the supplement costs for the standard service. Still, we would have preferred our approach because our dining was more distinctive with more special settings. Some honeymoon friends adopted the strategy of sharing portions which also worked well to halve their food bill.

Overall, the food was uniformly without fault and on many occasions truly distinctive. Of particular note were the soups (especially the gazpacho), sushi platter, and Black Bean Beef (Chinese). Food quality is a real plus at Kurumba and I hope they make some changes to make the eating locations just as special.

PS. Love the tables at the Ocean Reef restaurant. We are thinking of making similar ones for our own dining room table we liked them so much.

Kurumba table

Best of the Maldives: Food Safety – Kanuhuraa

Food Safety Asia

Despite being an exotic locale, the Maldives food is as high, as clean, and as safe a standard as you will find anywhere. The only food problem I have encountered in our many trips was friend who suffered an allergic reaction to the fresh pineapple.

But if you are particularly fussy about such considerations, then according to the Food Safety Asia organisation, Kanuhuraa is the resort for you.

“Kanuhura, Madives was awarded as ‘Full FSA recommendation’ by the Food Safety Asia Ltd, officials from the resort have said. According to a press release issued by the resort ‘Kanuhura is the first resort in Maldives among 22 resorts audited by the FSA, testing and rating all 5 Star resorts on Food Safety and Food Quality throughout the year on a monthly basis.’ “

Best of the Maldives: Dining Experience – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Dining

One resort that has embraced our dining on the beach top tip is the newly inaugurated Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa. They are proactively offering to serve meals on the beach in a variety of idyllic and romantic places…

“The resort will also feature Dine By Design, Shangri-La is moving the dining experience outside restaurant walls to a variety of private locations around the resort. From a torch-lit dinner in the middle of a jungle to a quiet picnic on a beach, guests will enjoy meals prepared by the resort's expert culinary team.”

Top Tip – Dine on the Beach

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Many of the resorts hold special ‘beach dinners’ which sometimes are just part of the normal agenda and sometimes incur a supplement charge. Do not miss these. Not only is there usually a distinctive buffet of locally caught seafood and local dishes (or whatever the theme is), but also the pleasure of eating by candle-light with your bare feet in the warm sand and the ocean gently lapping the shore a few feet away is one of the most idyllic dining experiences.

But you don’t have to wait until ‘beach buffet’ night. Most of the restaurants are right beside the beach, but often their tables are under an enclosure. Often the enclosure is not much more than a thatched roof. We always ask if we can have our table moved from the electric light lit enclosed area onto the beach itself closer to the water and under the countless stars. Sometimes the wait staff get a little thrown off balance by the request, but in general the people there are so service oriented, so relaxed and friendly, they are willing to accommodate. It is a small adjustment that transforms each evening’s dinner from delightful to divine.

(The picture above is our family at the Coco Palm beach restaurant nestled in the palm trees during the day to protect against the sun, but where we moved our tables out to the water’s edge in the background at night).

Best of the Maldives: Restaurant – Ithaa at Conrad Maldives Rangali

Conrad Hilton Rangali Maldives Restaurant

While just about any part of the Maldives are dazzling and remarkable, a few place within the magical atolls stand out even for paradise.

There are dozens of enchanting ways to enjoy a meal in the Maldives – on the beach with the water lapping at your toes, on a deserted spit of sand in the middle of the ocean – but perhaps none so distinctive and ‘Maldivian’ as the Conrad Maldives Rangali’s Ithaa underwater restaurant.

“Dine 16 feet below sea level at Ithaa, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s unique undersea restaurant. Marvel at 180° views of reef and marine life, sip champagne cocktails and sample Maldivian-Western fusion cuisine at this spectacular Maldives venue – the world’s first all-glass, undersea restaurant.”