Holiday Inn Resort Maldives Kandooma Review
Book the Holiday Inn Resort Maldives Kandooma here.
I spent 2 nights here in August 2012. I was on a mini-RTW from San Francisco via Osaka and Shanghai (flights later got cancelled because of the hurricane that made landfall that day), Singapore, India and Europe.
The majority of my time I'd be spending in India and I only planned 2 nights in the Maldives. I initially considered the Park Hyatt Hadahaa and the two Hiltons but the local flight costs ($450+) scared me off. At the time I also was not as heavily invested in both programs as I am now.
Enter Priority Club - which provides award redemptions for the Holiday Inn at 25k Priority Club points. Although this will go up by March 18th 2013 you can still redeem at this level until March 18th by calling in to make an award reservation. At the time that represented $150 (you could buy 5k points at $30). A very good value for the rather expensive Maldives resorts. Also the island is reachable by speedboat and transportation is charged 'only' $180 return.
Due to the hurricane in Shanghai my flights were all changed and I spend one night in Male island before my hotel stay. The Maldives is a very interesting place as land is so scarce and most islands are so small they are used only for one thing. There is an airport island, a trash island etc. Male island is the MOST densely populated spot on earth and while it has no pretty beaches or resorts it is really interesting. It's like a mini Hong Kong in the middle of the Indian ocean. Roads are almost too small for cars so walking and motorbikes are the way to go. I highly recommend staying on the island for a day.
While the weather was warm and sunny the day before the morning of my departure to the Kandooma island was stormy with heavy rains, winds and high surf. Now the island nation depends on the water as we depend on roads but the equipment used is pretty dismal so I feared for wet laptops and wet gear. However the speed boat used by the hotel is new and well maintained. The ride was choppy but we got through the rain and surf and reached the hotel in about 60 minutes. The view is beautiful with lots of little islands coming up along the way.
Once pulled into the harbor the check in agents came out and greeted us with a soft drink and sat down with all of us for check-in. I was stunned to realize how multi-national the staff was Italy, India, Netherlands, Spain - like an Emirates crew in its early day. Very friendly check in.
The resort is the only thing on the island but there is a 'local island' just on the other side of a small sandy bay. Though visitors are discouraged to go/swim there. A local ferry from Male goes to the local island for just $1.50 so it maybe a way to save on transportation you can convince the resort to pick you up there (it's a one minute boat ride!).
The resort consists of villas with or without ocean view and over water bungalows. I received a two story, garden view villa which I found very well designed. Fresh colors and new furniture and a huge patio plus ample lounging room downstairs. It had an outdoor shower and a lots of privacy - it overlooked a 'park' with no other villas or bungalows.
I chose the half-board menu which was about $75/day and provided a breakfast with a huge selection and great quality as well as a dinner equally good. I was quite surprised how good the food was. I mean all ingredients need to be shipped from Male and there is lot's of pre-planning required to provide a perfect dinner.
To my surprise the windward side of the island featured a real surf with a number of eager Australian surfers taking advantage of it. The spot is rocky and waters are very shallow - so it's for advanced surfers only but it was great fun to watch them.
The lee-ward side featured a nice beach with some fish and corals. However the island has no access to a real lagoon which can supply you with lots of shallow, warm water with tons of fish. So while it's really beautiful it wasn't the Maldives experience I expected :)
But best of all the island was so quiet - I'm a huge fan of space and quiet and that's what I got here - I could hang out at my villa or at the beach and hardly see a soul or sound the whole day. Perfect for me!
There is also a large pool, a basketball court and some other activities provided by the resort. There is also a free snorkeling excursion provided by the hotel. Otherwise there isn't too much to do on the island - so it can get boring quickly.
I found the internet surprisingly reliable and quite fast for the remote location.
I think for a short stay this is a good choice. Especially if you aren't rich of Hilton and Hyatt points.
However they are certainly the better resorts in the Maldives you can get on Points. The Hilton is probably the best value redemption with the Hyatt following shortly after. Radisson plans to open it's first Maldives resort in December 2013 so that's a good use of the cheap 50k points we all accumulated.