We stayed here during Christmas 2011 for 9 nights (6 nights in beach villa and 3 nights in IOV).
Having never been to the Maldives before I can not compare to other resorts or Islands, but in my opinion the Atoll and the Resort is (almost) at the top of the game. The reason I do not give it the highest rating is that, compared to other places I have visited, it does come a little short. This is minor issues and should not keep you away from this place, as it is still a really nice place.
The Island is very well kept, super clean beach and nicely laid out, even during the Christmas time when there was rather high occupancy, you hardly notice any other guests. It is free from sandbags and boulders, so when staying on the island your main concern would be to chose from the sunset or sunrise side. Sunrise side has unobstructed views into the ocean, the beach is a little narrow but you will have almost complete privacy and tranquility. Our choice was the sunset side, since we would probably never be awake for sunrise anyways, and we actually enjoyed the views towards the IOV and the jetty, and we could follow the "bustling" activity of the occasional sea plane, the small boats meandering about and it was fairly close to the neighboring Atolls.
As many has mentioned, there is no immediate beach access to real snorkeling, you need to either take the complimentary boat or go to the IOV area and snorkel from there. The quality of the snorkeling is really good and the variety of fish is very high, corals seems to be in pretty good shape and the water was very clear. All their water sports equipment is of very high standard, we used the catamaran and kayaks and it was like brand new.
Our beach villa was really nice, tastefully decorated very well kept, everything in working order. We got a Jacuzzi Beach Villa, although we booked a regular one. The Jacuzzi is in the backyard and unless you really need a Jacuzzi, do not bother. The layout with the backyard was OK with the nice outside showers etc., but not really a place to hang out. The front patio on the other hand was great, well kept furniture, chairs, table, daybed, lounge chairs - really nice.
Our IOV was stunning, huge deck and pool area, very tastefully decorated, the roof deck was amazing. So many nice features in the rooms. We had gone out there to the restaurant one evening and decided to upgrade on our last three nights (Christmas) and they gave us a good deal on this. If you have the chance try it out, it is a really nice experience.
In relation to the F&B part, no issues at all, very good food, good variety and top notch personal service from the excellent staff. We had a half board and it was probably a good deal, although the F&B was not so expensive as we had feared. We booked through Maldives Direct and they advised us that this particular resort (and the sister resorts of Angsana and Banyan Tree) offered very good value for money in respect of F&B and did not charge excessively high prices.
The Spa was also really nice, super treatments and a very serene spa area. As others have mentioned it is maybe not the best idea to have the Spa next to the children's playground. We went to the spa a couple of times, and there was no children at the playground, so not a problem for us, but since the spa area is inside / outside it could be a problem at times.
The staff was great, always helpful, chatty and after a few days they all know you name, preferences for breakfast, choice of drinks etc., very relaxed and informal as it should be in a place like this. In my opinion the found the right balance for the location.
Well if everything was so nice, why only 4/5?
Let me explain; the daily housekeeping was a little uneven, e.g forgot to refill coffee or water, towels was a little hit and miss, as mentioned, nothing major, but at this level (and price) it has to be consistent and flawless. When we checked into the IOV they intially wanted to put us in a villa that was next to a Villa where some renovations was ongoing, that should not have happened. They then took us to another one and (i think) due to this last minute change they missed out on the whole "experience" of presenting the room, also this should not happen at this level. In the IOV there was no fruit basket (although advertised) and when asked about this, they said "only for honey moon" - we asked for an ice bucket to cool the water and wine, the brought one but they did not automatically refill on a daily basis. You could say, they have the physical frame work for making your stay absolutely fabulous, but somehow failed to reach the level you would expect. I mentioned this to the IOV manager the next morning,and he agreed that this (our small issues) was not up to the standard they would normally deliver, I believe this to be true, since in general everything worked really well. That same evening we where surprised by complimentary sunset snacks and champagne on the roof deck, now that is how you aknowledge a mistake has happend and let the guest know you care about their petty grievances - very well done!!
Would we stay here again, probably not, since we rarely go to the same places, but should our travels take us to the Maldives again, then maybe - at least the 4 Angsana and Banyan Tree resorts in the Maldives would be on top of the list. I our book the Angsana Velavaru was such a good ambassador for the brand, that we would be delighted to stay in another Angsana.
Thanks to all the staff for a wonderful vacation.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC