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Gem of the Maldives
We left Milan with Meridiana Fly April 24 and arrived on time April 25 in Male, where we started our second Maldivian adventure. I planned and longed for this trip, as far back as 2004, when for the first time I had met the Maldivian paradise , thanks to friends who on that occasion had planned everything for us , and I was madly and hopelessly in love ...
We quickly found the fast boat and we started the journey. I remember that the sea was quite rough (at least in my opinion) and after an hour or so almost everyone had seasickness. I, who boasted that he had never suffered from seasickness , I haven't done exception!
Upon arrival , however, we were greeted by a welcome cocktail and we were escorted to our bungalows . Our bungalow was the number 138 , on the north- east side of the island . Our room was a bit ' old , but clean and functional, with Maldivian shower and all the space needed to store a few things we needed . Outside the bungalow a porch allowed you to sit while relaxing watching the green sea , herons at all frightened by tourists, Dhoni , flying foxes , hens Maldivian who passed for crumbs or water to drink into a container placed next to the porch to rinse our feet from the sand.
We were in Bathala for two weeks, from April the 25th until May the 9th, and the weather is literally flew!
The reef is gorgeous, full of coral and fish of every kind and size , it seems to swim in an aquarium! Unfortunately our new underwater camera , bought for the occasion, is stuck on the third day , and I could not vent my desire to bring home every image of the fish, which seemed to me all wonderful ... but on the other hand we have photographed very the island ... and even a few fish , however , with a lower quality camera , but at least it was functioning!
The food was great (buffet) , and all the staff were lovely . The entertainment was very soft , just the right just enough to involve you not overdo it ...
We made several excursions: snorkelling safari , fishing expeditions, an aperitif at sunset on the sand , the desert island full day + the island of fishermen ... all beautiful!
Then the tour operator was Azemar , with Italian management , I now know that things have changed, but the island is and will always remain a hidden gem in the sea, with its beautiful corals full of life!
We made the return journey by seaplane ( given the experience of going ) , so we could say goodbye to our little paradise from above , capturing his last images of that wonderful journey!
Just got back from our third trip to Biyadhoo (4th-18th Feb).We chose this island for its laid back, casual and friendly feel.Had a longer than usual wait at the airport for the boat as we were waiting for a late flight.Soon got to the island in the usual 40 minutes or so. When we got there we were greeted by guest relations and the Kuoni rep Daisey. Soon checked in and were given a large family room (50) in the first block on the West side of the island. This opened out onto one of the best parts of the beach. We had two weeks of brilliant sunshine with no rain. All the staff were brilliant as usual, our room boy Zahir was brilliant he kept the room spotlessly clean and had bed decorations every day. Our waiter this year was Moussa who again was brilliant and kept us amused with his stories. The bar staff soon got to know our drinks orders and even had them waiting for us when they saw us coming they even remembered us from previous visits.All the other staff were also very good and all so friendly. The Chefs also remembered us and all the food was very good especially the bread and the sweets. The reef was good as usual although we thought the water on the drop off seemed a bit colder this year but did not stop us spending hours in the water. Met up with plenty of repeat guests which speaks volumes for the island. Daisey the Kuoni rep was very good and was always willing to talk and make time for you.If you are thinking of booking a holiday on Biyadhoo do it now the rooms might be a bit dated but are very clean and comfortable and everything is in working order. They were doing a lot of painting while we were there so everything looked clean and fresh. The reef is fantastic and so easy to access.Thanks for another great holiday and we are already thinking of booking for next year.
Departing from Venice on 15 April, with Qatar and we arrived punctually in Male on16th to 7.50.
Flight convenient and enjoyable. Despite all my fears, being my first time with scheduled flights and speaking little English, the transfer from the airport of Doha was easier than I thought. The airport in Doha, which is great, it is much more organized than our Italian airports; there are always people who ask you if you need help.
Quickly we found our Dertour contact, who immediately escorted us to the fast boat. I needed to buy a refill from Dhiraagu (which opens at 8), and the guy waited for me, while I was buying. In the fast boat was just us and within 25 minutes we arrived at Biyadhoo, where we met a cordial Hadhy, who explained us everything about snorkelig on the island, excursions, restaurant hours, etc. .... and despite the my poor English, we understood very well.
We were allocated room 120 in the morning, because our room, the 90 would be available from 2 pm.
For the room I have to thank Aisha, to whom I had written asking just for a room on the top floor, west side, etc. etc. and that accomodated me big time!
The room was in the corner of the building, very spacious, with two beds (one obviously we did not use), a small terrace with two chairs (never used), and a wooden drying rack. The decor was old-fashioned , but functional, ditto for the bathroom. The cleanliness was meticulous and towels were changed daily, both for the sea than those for the bathroom. We were in Biyadhoo for 14 nights, and for a good 4 or 5 times we found the bed decorated with flowers, each time in a different way!
All the staff (front desk, rooms, restaurant ....) was really friendly and did everything to make us feel at ease.
About the restaurant , it is enough to say that I grew up 2 kg .... the desserts, especially the mousse, were divine! For the rest there were always spicy foods or not, a lot of different types of vegetables, pasta ever (even if overcooked, but good) and rice served in increasingly different ways, meat and fish, watermelon pineapple almost always ...
The island is really very green, with a real "micro-jungle" inside, with towering palm trees and lots of plants growing under their canopy and under other huge ficus. It has a small street that runs parallel to the gritty sand beach along almost the entire circumference of the island and many trails that cut inside, generally reserved for the staff. One of these paths, rather wide, also leads to a very small mosque very accurate and the sports field.
The animation is really nothing, but it was so that was fine for us.
We were there mainly for snorkeling, and we had got to make a complete tour of the island a couple of times. Corals were, however, in several points very gray and lacking in color, although there are corners really alive and beautiful. The gray area is more to the south, while to the east, north and west are the best corals. The fish are in my opinion the strong point of the island: there are all kinds and for all tastes, never seen so many fish, whether individuals, which in mixed groups, which "clouds" of the same species. I state that we were in the water at least 3 hours, 3 hours and a half a day, but every day we saw at least 4 to 6 titan triggerfish, moray eels 2-3, if not most, one or two octopuses, and then countless fish surgeon, other species of triggerfish, butterfly, groupers, fusiliers, starfish .... We saw turtles 4 times in 14 days, then a shark reef, plus other "puppies" in shallow water in the morning, I was sorry not to have seen sea eagles, but it will be for another time ....
In the first week there were a few Italian people, many more in the second week. The guests were mainly German and English, but also French and other nationalities. There were also children of the island, especially in preschool (even 1 or 2 years), but there was no entertainment for them.
We did two tours: dolphin (and they were a lot) and sunset fishing (a disappointment, we took only some insignificant little fishes ....but fishes were happy !). A foreign lady had fished with hook an octopus, who did not want to give up and stay in the bucket ... poor octopus, do not tell you how that turned out.
The weather was really good: 12 days of full sun; ½ hour of an afternoon thunderstorm, then sun, the penultimate day, half day (the last) of the rough sea.
I have been very pleased with my stay at Biyadhoo, especially for snorkelling, and I would go back again tomorrow, if it were possible!
The overall experience was great. we the media team stayed in a Jacuzzi Pool Villa which was beautifully designed, although i must say the flooring are very dangerous.
the beach is super clean, visitors can engage with a lot of activities or chose to sit back and relax. the food was great, tried some local Maldivian dishes, almost similar to what we get in Malaysia.
speedboat trip from airport to resort and vice versa was a brilliant too. From the moment we landed everyone we met was friendly and helpful. and i actually returned to Bandos Island again few months later.
Went on a once in a lifetime trip to see whalesharks and was fortunate enough to see around 5 of them. We were the first and only boat there when we enetered the water and swam with one for a whale. There was a rather large girl who kept swimming into me, pushing me closer and closer to the whaleshark making it impossible to keep the 3m rule distance. She kicked me in the head and pushed and shoved me, not sure where in Europe she was from as I never heard her talk, but this seemed typical behaviour for the trip. I later found out my other half had his full mask and snorkel kicked off his head whilst in deep water and luckily he managed to retrieve his own Mask, but in the process kicked off ones of his fins, kicking so hard to get back up to surface after retrieving his mask. Someone else found his fin, but he returned back from the trip with no snorkel and had to buy a new one on the island at $30, plus he missed a large part of the trip.
When we surfaced we were surrounded by approx 8-10 boats, with everyone diving off. One boat load of Chinese tourists jumped in with lifevests, and couldn't even put there face in the water, either through buoyancy issues with the vests or fear? Consequently there were rapidly finning and kicking violenty whilst floating upright, and kicked the whaleshark, which consequently swam off. Obviously there is no need to fin with a life jacket, especially when you head is above the water? Maybe its fear? But I don't think they should be on a trip in open water if they can't swim, I think it is totally irresponsible of the tour operators and should be banned. Its dangerous to the whalesharks and dangerous to everyone else.
When I surfaced I felt sorry for the whalesharks, I felt they were harassed....and I'm not sure I would repeat the experience.
Great flight with Ethiad from Manchester to Male travelling via Abu Dhabi. We have been to the Maldives 4 times previously and have flown with Emirates twice and Thomsons once. Ethiad compared well with Emirates, they both offer exceptional levels of service.
The Crew was amazing, a lady found out it was our honeymoon just through chatting to us and brought us a complementary bottle of champagne which was very thoughtful. When we flew with Thomsons/first choice we saw SO many couples who had paid for champagne, who had to keep asking for it. It was so nice to get it free without asking and to be the only ones on the plane with it, rather than one of many,
We didn't like Abu Dhabi airport as it was overcrowded, inefficient and we didn't feel the staff were very friendly. We do prefer flying via Dubai.
Ethiad Coral Economy has one of the world’s most spacious and ergonomically designed economy seats. Generous meals made from quality ingredients accompanied by a complimentary bar service.
Three meal choices rather than two. 10.4-inch touch screen on most flights In-seat power sockets
Audio/ethernet connectivity. Cradle recline ensures more comfortable ergonomic seating position.
We went to Biyadhoo in Sepptember 2012 for an 11 day holiday and whilst there we decided to sign up for some trips. The best one ever, has to be an amazing trip to Manta Point! We swam with endless Mantas for approximately 1 hour whilst they circled around us scooping up Plankton. It was probably the most magical memory I have of the Maldives due to the intimacy of the experience and being almost alone with them in deep water in the middle of the Indian Ocean! They weren't frightened of us, and almost bumped into us, before briefly dipping down below us to scoop more plankton! They are such graceful magical creatures and I find it hard to comprehend how anyone could chop them up to use their gills in Chinese Medicine, something which has never been approved, so clearly doesn't work.
NOTE: It seems that the Manta Ray is very curious when it comes to humans. They tend to gather around those that are scuba diving. While these creatures don’t pose a threat to humans the interaction can be deadly for them. When a Manta Ray touches a human their mucus membrane that protects them can be removed. As a result they are very susceptible to various viruses and bacteria found in the water. SO DON'T TOUCH THEM - There is no need to. We could of, but didn't? Why do you need to touch them? What does it prove? What does it gain? Nothing, but may kill one, so please treat them with respect if you do see them. Manta Rays are highly intelligent and these harmless rays have a short tail and no stinging spine. So just remember to respect them.
Anyway it was a simply wonderful experience! We even saw a turtle!
kandholhu (KANDHOLODHOO) snorkeling trip
We visited kandholhu on a snorkeling trip from Athuruga. I'd read some impressive stats about kandholhu and was really looking forward to the snorkeling trip. Unfortunately we had to stay as a group and swim at the pace of the group which was incredibly frustrating! Due to this, we only actually saw half the reef and then after around an hour we were asked to get back on the boat. Its a joke that Athuruga charge US $38 dollars each for what is described as a 3-4hr trip. In reality you never step foot on land, so you don't get to see the island and you spend 2 hours travelling, only to be dragged out of the sea after less than 1 hour of snorkeling. The half of the reef I saw was good, but certainly not the best in the Maldives - as I've seen it described.
Thudufushi - pretty island
We visited Thudufushi in May 2013 as part of our honeymoon. Its a pretty little island and the sister island to Athuruga. It has lovely wide beaches, but very similar to Athuruga in terms of rooms, water villas and island layout. The food was similar to Athuruga, maybe slightly better. It had more variety in terms of ice-creams and ice-cream toppings, fresh mint for mojitos etc, which Athuruga seems to lack. The snorkeling was awful when we tried to swim around the entire island due to virtually no visibility. The weather had whipped up white sediment and you could virtually see nothing, so in turn we literally saw nothing on the reef! Also we tried to get out near the water jetty footpath, and really really struggled despite being extremely competent swimmers and snorkelers. The bad experience may have been down to the bad weather, but it did put us off returning, as we would be very dissapointed if those conditions prevailed for 2 weeks.
Stayed two weeks in Athuruga for our honeymoon. We spent the first week in a beach villa and the second week in a water villa. Athuruga is a beautiful small island and the smallest of the 4 islands we have so far stayed on. The beach villas have lovely bathrooms and everything you need. They are quite dark, but lovely. When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely Korean girl, who took us to our room, where there was Champagne and a fruit platter. We spent most of the day snorkeling the housereef which is lovely. I had high expectations of the housereef and it was good, but not amazing.
We did go on 2 snorkeling trips to Thudufushi and Kandholhu, which were ok, but spoiled by the fact you have to stay in a group and snorkel together like kids? Must be an Italian thing and totally put us off wanting to do any more trips, especially as some of the people in the group were pretty poor swimmers/snorkelers. The visibility at Thudufushi was non-exsistent the day we visited and everyone was really disappointed. Although it was great to spend some time on a different island and sample the rooms and restaurant.
The second week we moved to the water villas which were great, absolutely stunning and light. We loved staying in them and having the walk in closet and having breakfast outside. But the big put-off was seeing 3 cockroaches in the watervilla bathroom in one week - Yuk!
I would visit Athuruga again, but maybe in a fews years depending on price.
Stunning and excellent service
I've been twice to the six senses spa at Laamu and I've had an amazing service from all staff and I must also say that the setting and it architecture is mind blowing.
Five treatment rooms and four stunning nests line the beach front...set among Laamu’s abundant vegetation overlooking the Indian Ocean, these airy, the private cocoons are simply out of this world, I even had a treatment while there was a thunderstorm outside... felt blessed.
stayed 7 nights on OWB 72 on jetty C and overall the stay was excellent. I must say that it wasn't a pure 5 stars rating, trying to nail it here:
The amazing stuff:
a) the service - top notch, you just don't get what you want if you really don't want to (or you just can't afford it). The staff is pure perfection.
b) The villas, the overall slow life concept, the materials used on the island are stunning
c) the outdoor cinema, the food (I strongly recommend the chilli table at Leaf), the star gazing, the spa are a must and give the property that extra special atmosphere
d) the island is suffering from severe erosion and there are some unpleasant settings where you just think "this doesn't look promising" - I wonder how much of this is due to the overwater villas... high density also doesn't help
e) the house reef could be much better even though I've managed to see 1 shark, 2 turtles and loads of diverse fish in a couple of hours of snorkelling. It seems to be regenerating and building up though
f) I felt more towards the end of my stay the service, by some reason, that it didn't keep the same level. The room was not being tidy up with the same quality
g) (on this one there's nothing the resort could do as this is just my preference) too many japanese groups who tend to be really noisy.. too many families as well. Nonetheless, guests are overall quite mixed, friendly and what you'd expect on a paradise island
In sum: you cant wrong, go there as soon as you can before it's too late. The lows is just me being really picky and because I've been to French Polynesia recently..
Amazing, truly amazing
Soneva Fushi is an amazing island with a fabulous setting (yes, let's ignore the neighbour island on the sunset side..) and with a very professional staff. The SLOW life concept (including the no shoes non-enforced policy) is unique, has been part of the foundation of the resort back in 1995 but you do need time to adjust which is fine as you'll always want to come back anyway.
Located in the Baa Atoll, Soneva Fushi has a huge impact on one's that is looking for a genuine Robinson Crusoe experience, for a unique accommodation in the middle of a luxurious vegetation - this is what I call a true island experience.
I've stayed at a Crusoe Villa on the sunrise side which had a very good house reef a few steps away from it, the housekeeping was spotless (they even tied up our clothes every single day!), our Miss Friday was effortless (Thank you so much Natsumi!!) and the icing on top of the cake for me has been Federica, from the Diving Center, with whom I had the most amazing and unforgettable moments (I could literally just go on the sea every single day with her - I already miss you Federica!).
So island, accommodation and setting wise I find it very hard to believe there's any island in the Maldives which can beat Soneva Fushi... with regards to food, service/staff, profile of the guests please don't take it to heart but here's my thoughts.. please note that none of these would prevent me from wanting so desperately to go back.
Staff/service: they've been very very good throughout my stay but for such a gem I'd perhaps wanted more - exception goes to Natsumi, Federica, Tim, Akhmeem and a few other folks.
Food: I found it wonderful but I did prefer Laamu, the flavours, the intensity of the menu, the Chilli table experience.. the best food I've ever had.
Staff: I did find the staff overall super efficient, professional and attentive but the Laamu staff was more enthusiastic, vibrant and humble (which is something that I love). I wanted to avoid comparisons but I just can't.
Profile of the guests: this is where things perhaps go out of control from the resort and you just either accept it or not - I know that the period I've stayed at this property is a popular one (Easter holidays) so I was expecting families and that's fine. However, what I was not expecting was a considerable amount of eastern european visitors who clearly don't have manners, just "money" - I've seen staff being just patronised quite often, I've never seen words like "please" and "thank you" being so often forgotten - I wonder why some staff may well need a boost of motivation... on top of that, in general, it was obvious to me that they don't value the island enough (ask the crows who have been hit a couple of times just because of their "caw caw caw"...)
In summary: If I'll go back to Soneva Fushi: yes, very soon. If I've found the experience memorable: yes, and I'll think about it every singe day. If I hesitate to recommend it whenever there's a discussion on the Maldives: never, ever.
Asia's Boutique Airline
Fly Boutique.. Feel Unique! This is Bangkok Airways' slogan and I must admit that it is honored in the best way. Bangkok Airways is awarded as Third Place in World's Best Regional Airline by Skytrax for 2013 and, again, I must admit, this was a good evaluation.
For the very first time, I had to reach Maldives from a different location than my homeland Switzerland and had the opportunity to experience this regional airline company too.
BA flys 5 days per week from BKK SUVARNABHUMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT to Maldives (honestly now I don't remember which are the 2 days off duty) with a very comfortable 4 and a half flight, landing short before midday in Maldives.
The purchase of your BA's ticket gives you, automatically, the complimentary access to the BA's airport lounge in BKK, where refreshing drinks, coffee, tea, salted and sweet snacks, computers' station or wifi are at your disposal.
Well, I was very lucky, my flight to Maldives had a very low occupancy so that I could have a 3 row seats only for me and I enjoyed my space really at best! (see my attached pictures)
The cabin crew team was 'extremely' polite and kind, also visual announcing, with its uniform's color, in different blue shades, my Maldives. What a plus point!!..
During the flight, I was served with an appetizer and a main meal. I asked for more snacks since they were really fantastic and I got plenty of them delivered!! Hummy!! and my shrimps were delicious too.
"Congratulations Bangkok Airways! You were able to add a gourmet note to my flight!"
I can only warm suggest Bangkok Airways to reach Maldives from Thailand. Mine was really a unique, boutique experience!!
Very good place
We were in Maaya the first two weeks of August 2012. The village is small (max 178 persons) , it is densely " lived " because the bungalow , in groups of 4 units, are lumped together. The privacy here is really low ( also because of the Maldivian open-air bath ) . In front of the rooms there is of course the beach, where in some places the space between the beds is less than one meter ... let's say that it's hard to feel alone on this island ( especially if it is full) . A note on the sun .... a disaster! They should be ashamed ! Not even in the worst resort I've seen anything like it! Cots plastic insufficient, dirty , old, broken and patched with wood and screws. No mat to separate the cloth / leather from the couch , so being able to be comfortable lying becomes a business. Perhaps we should remind friends to Francorosso , and the owner of the property , that change 170/200 beds is not a big expense ... after all we are in a seaside resort and the sunbeds are important, and staying here is not exactly cheap ! Also advisable to number the beds according to the rooms to avoid quarrels Italian free beach !
ISLAND : The island is small , but very murettata . There are moles / walls / pontoons at a distance of about 50 meters ( and even less) for the entire perimeter , and also about 15% of the island ( overwater side and towards the tongue of sand ) has concrete walls that separate containment the beach from the sea (no waterline ) . In every corner you can see stone walls , piers or sand bags ... erosion is relentless in this island. During the period of our stay was also activated a pump to move the sand and rebuild a bit of beach.
OVERWATER : not recommended in all respects ! Do not have a private beach area , they have little privacy and are too close to the generator (which feels and how , both at the level of smog that noise - and unlike what has been written previously by others, works 24 hours a day ) .
RESTAURANT : perfect, nothing to say! All good and well cooked ... amazing if we think that we are the Maldives ( notoriously poor country and with difficulties in finding food). The chefs are all delightful . Raw fish at will (there is the blast in the village) . Never eaten so well in the Maldives in many years of travel .
ENTERTAINMENT: soft but never mind. The guys are not even able to organize anything for the day mid-August ( with an afternoon of bad weather ) ... the face of animation soft , maybe it was better if it were not in place and there was a biologist or possibly one more person to diving . Great and cute boys instead of diving ( Fluffy in the first place) . Francorosso : it is detected very bad . First, they had the bright idea to sell the resort , last minute prices less than half of the list price (in the face of trusted clients who buy before the holidays - that seriously ) , filling to capacity the village (the other years in the village same period was 50% of capacity) . Result: people who have in the village of Maldivian spirit had very little and spent the day at the beach screaming , exchanging bags of garbage into the sea to maintain etc ... mah (meta wrong ? Targets to be reviewed ? ) ! Guests ranged from couples on their honeymoon in families with very small children (the two things do not go well together ... surely seen the tears and lamentations of the young) . In this sense we see that in Francorosso have ideas a bit ' confused about the positioning of the village, ok .. the business but also a bit ' of seriousness would not hurt every now and then .
SPA: good but very expensive in basic services . However, there are packages that are able to lower some prices of individual services . Recommended in the days of bad weather ! Under water : everything ok , good barrier ( easily accessible ) , although the lagoon is very poor ... apart from some shark rarely seen . In any case , this is the point that repays all the downsides highlighted previously . Recommendation for couples looking for a little ' more than solitude and tranquility would recommend you look at other facilities of other operators (possibly remaining in Francorosso Dhiggiri I would say that it is probably better). "
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