Best of the Maldives: Readers Choice – Anantara Dhigu

Travel and Leisure 2010 Awards

My first foray into travel writing was working in Togo, West Africa in the early eighties where I both did writing as well as PR advance work for visiting press trips. The big coup (maybe not a PC term in this case), was getting Travel & Leisure magazine to do a feature on Togo as they are one of the longstanding travel press authorities.

Their latest T+L Reader’s Poll featured one Maldives resort as one of the Top 50 Hotels in the WorldAnantara Dhigu. With a score of ’92.14’ and coming in #37 worldwide, Anantara Dhigu is the 2010 ‘Reader’s Choice’.

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.”

Best of the Maldives: Toilet – Holiday Inn Male

Toto Washlet C110    Toto Washlet C110 2

 

 

 

 

 

  
If you are looking for an even shorter ‘pit stop’ in Male than a day stay, then the Holiday Inn Male offers distinctive facilities (to use a common euphemism) for that too.

Many of the bathrooms are distinctive with outdoor facilities or perhaps a water bungalow with the bath over the water, but the Holiday Inn Male actually has a distinctive toilet itself. It features the ‘Toto Washlet C110’ toilet which is the gadget lovers commode with NASA-like capabilities. It is the only toilet that I have ever used with a Control Panel.

“With the touch of a button, a nozzle extends from under the seat for soothing warm-water cleansing, virtually eliminating the need for toilet paper. The nozzle, which self cleans before and after every use, can be set to move back-and-forth for maximum comfort and optimum cleansing. The specially designed contoured seat is also heated to provide maximum comfort.”

Holiday Inn Male - Toilet

 

 

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Best of the Maldives: Eco-friendly Villas – Alila Villas Hadahaa

alila villa hadahaa design

With the country of the Maldives pledged to become the first carbon neutral sovereign state in the world, all of the resorts are ramping up their green credentials. Mind you, being a collection of tiny, remote islands has always meant that the country has had to be pretty careful about managing its limited and expensive resources.

There are lots of ways to cut the resort carbon footprint across the infrastructure and operations, but one prominent ways is the villas themselves. One of the earliest and most advanced in this area is Alila Villas Hadahaa

“Alila Villas Hadahaa is the first property in the Maldives to achieve the prestigious Green Globe ‘Building, Planning and Design’ benchmark and was designed to best adapt to the tropical climate and natural environment of the island. This includes rainwater harvesting, waste treatment, high roofed areas and open ceilings. To confirm their local social responsibility, the resort has just launched a “Gift-to-Share” programme.”

The eco-friendliness extended to the spa villa as Alila Villas Hadahaa also was called out for the top Eco-Spa’ in the Maldives in the 2009 Asia Spa Awards.

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.

Best for Privacy – Banyan Tree Madivaru

Banyan Tree Madivaru Island

Recently someone posted a question to Trip Advisor Forums asking what the ‘most private’ resort in the Maldives was. Now the very definition of ‘privacy’ is a bit subjective and elicited a number of nominees – Naladhu, Dhoni Mighili. But if you are considering the purely objective measure of number of fellow guests on the island, then the winner is Banyan Tree Madivaru with its only 6 rooms. As described in the Forum and on the website

“The Banyan Tree Madivaru comprises 6 Tented Pool Villas. Each Tented Pool Villa comprises three individual tents, distinctively equipped to function as living, sleeping, and bath areas. The spacious bath tent features a pair of spa beds for enjoying in-villa treatments that include signature Banyan Tree Spa massages and facials. Interior furnishings exude a warm and tropical ambience, replete with timber flooring, rattan and teak furniture, handcrafted wooden and canvas accents, and luxurious ceiling canopies.”

Best of the Maldives: Bed Decoration – Meeru

Meeru Bed

‘Turning down the bed’ takes on an elaborately resplendent meaning at many tropical resorts and with so much colourful flora at their disposal, the Maldivians take this pre-slumber ceremony very seriously. Maldives Complete has assembled a collection of the most stunning examples it has come across, and in a tightly contested decision, we would give the rosette of repose to Meeru for the example displayed above. The sheer volume of petals in the heart combined with the distinctive touch of the palm leaf origami in the corners at the foot make it a real masterpiece.  Admire the other contenders here

Best of the Maldives: Biggest Suite – Island Hideaway

Island Hideaway Suite

At 1420 square metres, the largest suite in the diminutive Maldivian isles is the “Hideaway Palace” at the Island Hideaway resort at Dhonakhuli: “The Hideaway Palace comprises of five exclusive individual Villas which sit on top of a beautiful timber deck and are surrounded by a number of private Infinity Swimming Pools.”

Best of the Maldives: Most Nautical – Dhoni Mighili

Dhoni Mighili boat    Dhoni Mighili bedroom

The Maldives are all about being close to the ocean. In the tiny islands, the waterside is never more than a few yards away. The water bungalows put you right over the water. But the ultimate water bungalow, if you will, are Dhoni Mighili’s floating ‘villas’. Luxurious accommodation fashioned into the a traditionally styled Maldivian dhoni boat.

Dhoni Mighili is also highlighted in Time magazines ‘Best of Asia’ feature winning the ‘Best Place to Blow Serious Cash’ badge.

Best of the Maldives: Water Villas – Sonva Gili

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If being just a few feet away from the edge of the Maldives’ glorious waterside appeals, then one of the special treats of a visit to the Maldives is to be in one of the ‘water villas’ or ‘water bungalows’ where you can stay right on top of the water.  These days most resorts feature water villas (you can search on this characteristic with ‘Resort Finder’), but by far the most spectacular of all of these is the 7 “Crusoe Residences” at Soneva Gili (not to mention the special ‘Private Reserve’ residence). These villas are not just off the land, but they are actually detached from the land. Guests access them by their own personal motor transport.