You don’t want even the trip of a lifetime to cost your life savings. That is why All-Inclusive (or “AI”) packages are so popular. You pay for your holiday and you know that is it. Everything is included. You can enjoy yourself and not have to worry about rocking up to the cashier’s desk on the final day and being hit with a massive outstanding bill. You don’t have to be thinking about every pina colada you order at the pool bar to figure out if you are still within your budget.
The problem is that AI packages themselves add a fair supplement to the price of the holiday. Especially in a location like the Maldives where alcohol is especially dear, giving guest unlimited access needs to be priced pretty high to make sure that they don’t drink the property out of all its profit. Unless you *really* like to drink, or you *really* value the peace of mind factor, I always counsel people against AI because it can add so much to your bill.
As a part of Kudafushi’s drive to be one of the best value 5-star resorts in the Maldives, it has introduced the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too (all the cake you want) package of the “Soft AI”. “Soft” as in “Soft Drinks” included. Kind of a “Full Board Plus”. That’s not just your waters (resort bottled still and sparkling) and fizzy drinks, but also a wide range of mocktails, coffees, teas, juices and even milk shakes (see bar menu above). On top of that, you are also allowed 2 beers from your mini-bar each day included in the price. And if you, are still hankering for a stiff drink but don’t want to budge from your budget, then the resort holds a cocktail hour every Thursday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm which serves free drink (and canapees to boot).
Don’t need all the fussy bells and whistles, but do want top notch quality throughout? Check out Kudafushi. It describes itself as an “entry level 5 star”. And it is positioned precisely where so many visitors want to be. They want to splash out for the luxury of seeing this paradise, they want to be assured of a solid standard of quality for the basic creature comforts, but on top of that they don’t really want to pay extra for lots of bonus amenities and luxuries that don’t exactly float their boat.
It’s an intriguing sub-segment, as I have seen a number of quite fine properties in the Maldives position themselves as “4+ stars”. So, what would be the difference between them and a starter for 5? I think the key thing is consistency. A 4+ might just have some quite exceptional features, but it also might have a number of aspects which really don’t make the 5-star grade. These resorts position themselves a “4+” so that guests are pleasantly surprised by the 5-star features without being slated on TripAdvisor for some of the aspects not quite at 5-star standard.
The property and its proposition reminded me of the UK High Street icon Marks and Spencers. “Marks and Sparks” are renowned for having simply the best quality, at a reasonable price, food and clothing. Smart looking basics like your first business suit, or your underwear. Curiously, while the clothing line is dependably mainstream, the food court section is a cut above most grocery competitors. Similarly, Kudafushi’s fare was quite distinctive. A destination leading pasta station, jumbo grilled prawns and homemade ice cream.
One area that was especially distinctive was the house reef. It had that relatively uncommon combination of both great lagoon snorkelling (lots of big coral blocks in shallows for easy snorkelling for beginners) and a rich, steep house-reef drop off. We encountered a lovely turtle in the shallows that we swam with for a while (he seemed totally nonplussed by our presence) and a manta had visited the house reef just a few days prior.
Kudafushi ticks every box for all the fundamentals of a great property. Lori (whose long and unruly hair is particularly challenged in the humid atmosphere and salty water of the Maldives) noted that even the shampoo in the villa was exceptionally good.. Kudafushi haven’t splashed out on lots of flashy design or opulent features, but every aspect is quite simply first rate. Smart and high standard throughout from the minute you arrive to the minute you leave.