If you prefer more leisurely seaside activity (or lack thereof), you don’t get much more relaxed than a spa treatment. And you don’t get much closer to the water, without actually being over it, than Malahini Kuda Bandos’ Alize Spa. Their treatment room opens completely to the beachfront just a few feet from the water’s edge. But there is no compromise in privacy as that section of the beach is covered with green foliage. As you settle down to your treatment, dappled green light filters into the room while you listen to the gentle lapping of the water on the sand (a soundscape that you don’t get in the fancy overwater spas).
Malahini Kuda Bandos could be described as the New Jersey of the Maldives – the affordable property Garden (Villa) State in the northeast of the country just across the harbour from the high rises of the local metropolis whose skyline rises out of the horizon with unsung touches of distinction in its own right.
The resort has more Garden Villas – 32 – than any other room category. In fact, more than any other resort except for Kuredu who does have a handful more, but also is an island literally ten times larger as well.
Our stay there was only the third time we had stayed in a garden villa. And the villas were the most modest of all the ones I had ever seen. Two story apartment blocks facing each other in tight proximity on the inside of the island. But the blueprint is a sensible way to get an optimal number of guests on a small island without spoiling too much of the beach and other common areas. As a result, like the residents of “Joisee”, visitors can find some of the lowest priced packages in the Maldives (especially when factoring in the low transfer cost being so close to Male). Maldives snobs might poo-poo anything less than a thatched roof private villa with ocean views, but they forget that such apartments are where many people on their beach holidays all over the world. These rooms just happen to be in the middle of an island paradise.
Malahini Kuda Bandos is one of the best bargains in the Maldives. With some promotions, you can find rooms just over $100. And that’s for a proper resort. Not a guesthouse. Not a hotel. The rooms are no Ritz Carlton and the restaurant is not Alain Ducasse, but it is the Maldives.
And it includes a number of first class features. The island is a gem with some of the softest sand on its beaches as you will find anywhere. Pancakes are lighter and fluffier than anywhere in UK and the buffet also includes Red Velvet Croissants (who knew those were even a thing). With an extensive buffet you can find something you like a lot. You are getting the same omelette, porridge, fresh fruit that you get a 5-star property. It has a very accessible housereef with a nice drop off (though it has also suffered the bleaching that has affected all Maldives reefs). The island is a convenient 15 minute transfer from Male, but you are far enough away from the capital that you don’t feel like the urban island is breathing down your neck, but instead is off in the distance on the horizon.
The rooms are simple, but they are new, fresh and attractive styling. The majority of rooms are Garden Villas which are not everyone’s idea of a tropical holiday (being in a block of apartments in the centre of the island), but they have their dividends. The underwhelming room forced us out of the room to go to the Bluu bar and enjoy a wonderful evening and morning by the beach. The obvious key attraction is their price. The bedrooms even an extra sleeper lounger for a child to stretch your room cost even further.
One final, observation that I’m not sure how to interpret: a very large proportion of the guests were two females. Wondering if I was just getting a skewed sample that was adding to a confirmation bias, I did a count of tables at breakfast, and yes, half the tables were occupied by two women. Curiously, Lori has been plotting over WhatAp during our trip for the dream of all her girl friends coming to the Maldives for a girlie trip. With a group of friends, the digs don’t have to be fancy, and you do need to sort of cater to the lower common budget so everyone can manage the trip. So maybe there is something in Malahini Kuda Bandos being a girlie escape destination.