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The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, south of Sri Lanka. Holidays to the Maldives, are on many people’s bucket list – and for good reason. There are something like 200 luxury resorts here.
Each resort is usually located on a private island, which brings a wonderful level of luxury. The Indian ocean is calm, and the water is crystal clear. A private island brings a level of isolation and calm that is difficult to replicate anywhere else.
The downside to the Maldives is the expense. When you visit, expect to get hosed at every step. The flights are expensive, the transfers to islands cost extra, and the food costs on each island are extortionate. But hey, who said paradise was free?!
The Holiday Inn is located on Kandooma Island, which is a 45-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport. I was greeted in the arrivals hall, and then escorted to the speedboat terminal. The terminal is right outside the entrance of the airport.
The price of the transfer is $229 per adult. My daughter is 3, so her ticket was free. The boat itself was pretty basic, and complimentary water was offered.
At check-in we were provided with welcome drinks and a big smile. However from there it quickly went downhill..
The staff came up to me and gave me a bill that was $100 more than the price on the confirmation. The price on my confirmation was $828 for 5 nights B&B (which is an excellent price - more on that below). I showed the lady my confirmation and assumed that would clear everything up – sadly I was wrong. It was 1 hour until we were able to go to our room, and I had to deal with a litany of nonsense.
After 1 hour, I said that I had had a long day, and that my 3 year old daughter was very tired. At that point, they gave us the key to our room.
I went to reception the day after, and they said that they would honour my $828 rate. I always knew they would honour my rate, but the service was pretty disgraceful for a few reasons:
I am lucky enough to have stayed at many amazing 5* hotels, but am still a big fan of the Holiday Inn brand. Why? Holiday Inn is a family friendly brand where kids eat free, and I find that there is a lot of consistency between different hotels. They do not have many luxury hotels, but I don’t expect luxury at the Holiday Inn!
Long story short, a combination of good experiences at Holiday Inns, excellent Tripadvisor reviews and the low price meant that I had high expectations of the resort. In all honesty, the expectations were not met.
I booked a B&B rate for $828 for 5 nights, with my wife and my daughter. This is an amazing price to stay in the Maldives. During my 5 days at the resort, it become clear that they had cut corners in many areas
I am in 2 minds about this. On one hand the hotel offers a low nightly rate, and allows people to experience the Maldives. On the flip side, it is disappointing that basics like Wi Fi and daily housekeeping are not provided.
My trip also involved a 5-day stay at the Conrad Maldives.
The Holiday Inn Maldives is located on a private Island (like all of the resorts in the Maldives). It has the following facilities:
The majority of facilities are congregated around the reception area. The island itself is pretty large – it took me 25 minutes to walk around the island. From the photos above, you will see that some of the sports facilities are not well maintained – especially the football pitch and volleyball court.
There is a buggy service available, to help residents to get around. I did not use it, as my room was 2 minutes from the main pool.
The best feature of the resort is the stunning view and calm blue waters, i.e. the reason why you came to the Maldives!
I uploaded a 1 minute video on Instagram (below). It shows a walk through from reception to the main pool and beach area. It gives you a real feel for the resort.
As an IHG Platinum member, I was upgraded to a better villa. I was assigned room 12, which is right next to the restaurants and the main pool. I believe that villas 1-20 are reserved for IHG status members.
I really liked the 1 bed villa. The decoration was functional, but it contained everything that I needed. There was an outside seating area downstairs, and the main room was upstairs, which contained:
Some fresh fruit was also provided upon arrival
Below is a 2 minute walk through of my villa. If you are considering a stay at this hotel, then I definitely recommend to take a look.
The overwater villas are small in number (maybe 20), and located on the far side of the island. It is about 10 minutes to walk to reception from there.
I didn't stay in an overwater villa, but I did walk round and snap some photos. To be honest, they did not look especially large or luxurious, and the outdoor decks had zero privacy.
The breakfast buffet was good – I would describe it as 4*/5* quality. It consisted of western and local options:
I liked the fact that they had a range of local options, in addition to standard western fare. You have the option to eat curries, dim sum and Asian dishes.
I had the breakfast buffet for 5 days, so I have a fairly good view of most dishes. I enjoyed the food, but by the 4th day, I found the buffet to be lacking variety. Twice a week, I don’t eat meat or eggs, and I found myself struggling on these days. The veg fried rice was served with egg on top!
I had French press coffee each morning, and enjoyed it. It was not amazing but solid – a little bitter.
There are only 2 restaurants at the Holiday Inn - the main restaurant by the pool and the fine dining restaurant (the Kitchen). The food is decent, but massively overpriced. This is typical of resorts in the Maldives, but it is disappointing that there are no other options. It would be nice if they had a bakery with some sandwiches or cakes in the day time.
The lowest priced dish was $23 for the Margherita pizza. Note that there is 25% added on for service charge and taxes – the price of food quickly adds up. We tried a few dishes during our time there:
All of the food was well made and enjoyable, but nothing was spectacular. After 5 days of eating there, I was certainly happy to eat something different. The menu reminded me of a London pub menu – the food was a similar quality but double the price!
Holiday Inn globally allows kids to eat free when with an adult. This offer is excellently observed by the hotel. There is a special kids menu with starter, main and dessert.
The infinity pool leads out to the main beach area. It is certainly very pleasant, as can be seen from the images in the slideshow. This area also contains a number of activities including aquatics centre, beach volleyball, pool table, table tennis and some other outdoor games.
I uploaded a 1 minute video walk through of the beach and pool area, so you can get a feel for just how nice it is. You can view this below. For all my disappointment with the wi-fi and lack of food variety, there is no doubting that the beach area is stunning.
There are lots of complimentary activities:
My wife did aqua aerobics each day and she loved it! It was fun and a great way to interact with the other guests.
There are also lots of chargeable activities - which are overpriced. Yoga classes are priced at $40 (before taxes and service charges). Most of the guests I spoke to did not do any of the chargeable activities, as they were massively overpriced.
In my view the very best thing about the holiday inn brand is the family friendliness. This resort was no different:
The kids club also has a few activities like computer games, soft play area and pool of balls.
IHG structure their loyalty program different to the other hotel chains (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott etc.). They provide weak benefits to elite members, but they make it easier to earn free nights. Their regular accelerate promotion provides personalised targets to members, often with generous bonuses. For this reason, the chain is excellent for light stayers.
As an IHG platinum, I got the following benefits:
These benefits are weak, but I knew that coming in.
I am in 2 minds about this place. The rate charged by the hotel is excellent for the Maldives, and it enables more people to enjoy the beauty of the Maldives. But I mustn’t disguise the fact that the hotel fell short in a few areas - poor wi-fi, no daily housekeeping and not enough food options. Also, the reception staff at check-in were ridiculous – trying to overcharge me.
Overall though, I had a really nice break at the Holiday Inn with my family. But would I come here again? Probably not
I have 2 sets of status with IHG
Elite benefits with IHG are the weakest of all the major chains, but this hotel managed to undershoot even those low expectations. I always felt like the hotel was doing the minimum possible with regards to elite recognition.
As an Ambassador, I am entitled to the following:
I got the room upgrade from a King Room to a Terrace suite. However, they gave me the very worst Suite with a severely blocked sea view.
For the first 2 days, I booked a club room with lounge benefits. The last 3 days were booked on points, without club lounge access. I had access to lounge benefits until 4pm on the 3rd day. During my discussions with lounge staff, it was made clear that if tried to enter the lounge at 4.05pm, I would have been denied entry!
On the 3rd day, I was told that I had to move rooms, as I no longer had lounge access. I requested to stay in the same room, but without lounge benefits, as I was travelling with my daughter. This request was accepted, but I should not have had to ask.
I did speak to the lounge staff and explain my frustrations. The lady asked why I cared as I had booked the room with points, and was staying for free – oh dear! I explained to her that I did not get the points for free, but that I stay at IHG hotels throughout the year. I had to save up for 2 years to get enough points.