As promised, here is my review..
We stayed at Kandolhu for 7 nights, late June 2022.
We luckily only had to wait for 30 minutes for the seaplane. After about 45 minutes (we had a few stops on the way) we landed at W resort and was taken further to Kandolhu by a 10-minute boat trip.
When we arrived at the resort, our villa was not ready. But the resort let us use beach villa 110 for a few hours until it was ready, which was a nice gesture. After that we moved to our pool villa 103. We were very happy with that villa. It has a bit less vegetation in front, compared to a few others which had more dense foliage. There are only 5 villas in this category, and 103 is the one in the middle.
For the second half of the holiday, we stayed in ocean pool villa 210, which we loved. The bathroom, while not very large for being a 5-star resort (by Maldivian standards), was truly magical. Two of the walls are all glass panels that go all the way up to the very high ceiling. They do become quite hot when the sun is out, but there were large sliding doors on three sides which lets a nice breeze go through the bathroom.
It was so nice to wake up and go to the bathroom in the mornings, with the ocean at your doorstep. It is the nicest bathroom I have had in the Maldives so far.
The outside deck was also more spacious than it looked on photos.
Ocean pool villa 210 is the second last villa on the jetty. 210 and 211 has a bit less lagoon colours in front of it, but on the other hand the reef drop off was much closer, which is important to us.
Our friends had a duplex villa, so we had the opportunity to check out all villa types except the standard water villas. I must say that they all have their pros and cons.
The entry level beach villas are located on the best part of the beach, where the sand was also softest. They had in my opinion the best outdoor showers. So, if a pool or extra space is not necessary, it could be a good option for you.
The pool villas had the nicest outdoor space amongst the beach villas, and the decking is very large, as they have an L-shape and covering two sides of the villa, so they are very nice if you want to get out of the sun or to be covered during rain when sitting outside. They are also the most private villas, and on the quietest side of the island. The pool is not very big (9 sqm) but we were fine about that.
The duplex villas are two floor buildings, and do have an additional bathroom (3 showers in total), and the bedroom and living room is totally separated on different floors. They also have a balcony on first floor which is lovely for watching sunsets (unless you are in the ones behind the water villas). The duplex villas also have the biggest pools (18 sqm). However, half of the area is very shallow.
They are also the best beach villas for sun worshippers wanting to sunbathe on the deck.
The ocean pool villas are the only category with a pool above water, and they had the nicest bathrooms. That being said, they have also the smallest pools (7 sqm), but the decks were in sufficient size. This was my favourite type of accommodation at Kandolhu, as I just love pool water villas when being in the Maldives, but it also comes at a price.
So which villa category you should go for, is really up to what is important to you and what your budget allows you to choose.
I should also mention that all rooms were kept spotlessly clean by the housekeeping team throughout the holiday.
The island really is a small and beautiful gem. The vegetation is very nice, but as it is a small island, there is no real jungle to explore. But it is very well kept and it is comfortable to walk barefoot on all the internal pathways. The beaches are also very pretty, but that being said, there was lots of erosion on the west side where the duplex villas are located. This is a seasonal thing, and also differ from year to year. During the changeover to Hulhangu season in May, the weather was really rough, so a lot of the sand moved Eastwards. This also happened at many other islands in the Maldives during this time, and is part of nature. And they really tried their best to refill with sand on the west side. So, I will not let this have an impact on my review.
The sand quality varies from somewhat coarse to talcum soft around the island.
As the island is really small, and only 30 villas in total, I must say that it is impressive with 5 dining outlets on such a small number of guests. The food was certainly good, and as we dined at all the restaurants, there was still lots of dishes I would have liked to try by the end of the holiday. I will however go against the crowd, and say that Olive was my favourite restaurant. I know lots of people prefer Sea Grill, where they really have great food too, but the atmosphere when sitting on the balcony at Olive overlooking the beach and the ocean, with a nice breeze under the stars, really made it for me.
The favourite spot for lunch was Ata Roa, as the tacos and ceviches were really tasty, and sitting next to the turquoise water is something I always enjoy when in the Maldives. It is also the only overwater outlet on the island.
There is just one bar, which is nicely situated on the beach. The drinks were of good quality and it was a lovely spot to sit in the evenings. They lit it up with torches and a glass framed fireplace, but the light is dim enough to watch the stars. A truly magical setting…
The service was simply outstanding in all departments, and the staff are maybe the greatest aspect of the resort. Not much else to say than, BRAVO!!
The house reef was very good, there were only a few areas where there were big schools of fish, and the best part for that was on the South East side. There were also swarms of small fish in the shallows. But I would not categorise the house reef as a fish soup. But it had really a great variety of marine life. There was also a lot of sharks (black tips, white tips, nurse sharks and silver tip). It also had more turtles and anemones than I have seen anywhere else.
The best part for me was the regrowth of corals on the house reef. And especially around the service jetty, where it now has beautiful coral gardens. It was really encouraging to see how the house reef is bouncing back to a healthy one.
The spa was also very good. I must say that I really love the architecture of the building. The treatments done by the skilled therapists was also a lovely experience.
I would also like to mention a few other great things:
-You are entitled to one free bag of laundry in the beginning of your stay, so we would not have to pack clothes for the trip back home.
-The amenities in the bathrooms are of the brand VOYA. It is a really nice brand and the best products I have had in a hotel room ever.
There are also a few points for improvements (like on any island):
– In the minibar you have 30 bottles of wines replenished daily (and included if on all inclusive). But I think there should have been more than 4 beers. There were two bottles of Corona and two cans of Carlsberg. I would have easily traded away a few bottles of wine for a few extra bottles of beer. That being said, after asking for a few more, the problem was solved for the rest of the holiday.
-On the «Ultimate Inclusions» all-inclusive list it is written «Villa Dining with a tray surcharge» I was reading that as villa dining was included, but with a tray surcharge. It really just meant that you can order (and pay for) food with an extra surcharge, like you can on any meal plan. I was really looking forward to be able to have a few meals outside of the villa which was included, so was a bit disappointed when I found out. But if I never saw it on the all-inclusive list, I would not have thought about it at all. So, I would remove that from the list.
I would say that the service was maybe the best I’ve had at any resort in the Maldives. But in the other aspects I have other favourites in the Maldives. But what was really special about Kandolhu, is that there were no bad aspects at all (like there usually is). So, all in all, Kandolhu has become one of my favourite resorts in the Maldives. I hope to come back to this special little island one day, with its wonderful team that makes it so great!
I first of all want to thank every one of the staff members, THANK YOU!
But would also wish to give a special thanks to:
Estella in the f&b team, thank you for caring so much about your guests. It is clear that our well-being is at the highest priority, so you made us feel very special and looked after.
Maan, also in the f&b team. Thank you for the lovely talks. You are showing that you understand what understated luxury is all about. You manage to be professional in an elegant way, but at the same time keeping it relaxed (not overdoing it). You are showing great professional skills as a waiter. Keep up with the good work!
And finally, Jaleel, which kept the standards up at the resort until Monica and Guillaume was back at the end of our holiday. There is probably no one that knows this island better than you do.
Paula at Magic of Maldives, thank you for sorting out this holiday for us! After several cancellations during the time of the pandemic, you have been working tirelessly to work out a good solution for your clients.
But what is making a holiday truly sensational, is to share it with wonderful friends. Thank you for the memories we made together at Kandolhu..