This is the second time we have been to Bandos (as we went in 2003) and our 8th trip to the Maldives. We adore the Maldives due to the pristine beaches, amazing snorkelling/diving and sense of total safety and relaxation. As we have 4 year old twins, we chose Bandos due to the convenience of being very close to the airport, and having a kids club that could supervise the children whilst we dive/snorkel, and this worked very well.
The island and resort is large by Maldivan standards, having capacity for up to 500 guests, but it does not feel crowded as there are plenty of beaches and many different sections of accommodation. Our deluxe villa was the same accommodation we stayed in a decade ago as a 'junior suite' though it had been done up with wood flooring, and was just large enough to fit in two single beds for the children. Everything was clean and comfortable, and there is now a large TV with satellite channels and free wifi (if fairly slow in the evening) which was great to amuse the kids either side of lunch when we were avoiding the high sun. Plenty of towels, bedding changed daily and cleaned twice a day. All round very pleasant, and quiet. Bottled water is provided with the room for free, and we got a bottle of wine and fruit basket on arrival (perhaps due to being repeat guests).
We went full board, and the restaurant does offer a wide array of food - 2 soups, a salad bar, breads, pasta with two sauce choices, rice, curry, meat, fish, vegetables and a wonderful assortment of desserts (including one of the best ranges of fruit we've seen on certain days, though other days had just 3 fruit - mainly papaya, weird bland pears and melon). As a vegetarian family where the kids don't like curry we got a bit bored with the choices (as it felt like quite a lot of white sauce/pasta/bread/rice), but once we mentioned this the chef often made us a vegetable pizza or some chips for the kids. If I went again I'd go half board and use the sea breeze cafe as the prices for lunch were pretty reasonable and this would give more variety, but it wouldn't be problematic to go on a bed and breakfast basis and then choose how many days to upgrade to include the buffet meal for on arrival. There is also a Thai restaurant and sometimes a barbecue, but both were quite expensive and we didn't try them.
The kids club was very quiet - often our children were the only kids there, but we felt they were cared for well and the kids liked having their hair braided by the ladies there, and doing colouring and dancing with them. It is open for a morning and afternoon session, but closed from 12-2, so you couldn't leave the kids to do a whole day trip. We learned to leave a bottle of water as they don't provide anything for the kids to drink, and they did sometimes let the kids nap (when we wouldn't normally allow this) but they were very kind and amenable.
The pool was lovely - about 35m across and not too busy to swim lengths, and with amazing dragonflies hovering by day and fruit bats flying over in the afternoon/evening. There is a nice kids pool, and a bubble area, with swim up bar. There are comfortable wooden sun loungers, with towels and floatation jackets available (with plenty loungers to spare, as it was fairly quiet).
The snorkelling was good - I saw a huge variety of fish and even an octopus on the house reef. You can snorkel in the shallows and over the dead coral rocks around most of the island, but the best snorkelling is from one cut through to another to the right of the dive centre (a fairly limited area compared to some other islands, but pleasant enough). The glass bottom boat trip was good for the kids (who went for free) but I think I saw a lot more snorkelling myself.
Diving was totally exceptional. I saw turtles, dolphins, nurse sharks, octopuses, more morays and lion fish than I could count, manta rays wider than my arm-span and an amazing variety of soft corals and sea life. Mausoom was the best guide and instructor I've dived with in all my trips to the Maldives and gave me some great adventure diving experiences, learning about currents and sea life, gaining my nitrox certification and diving into caves and overhangs. If I go back to this resort it will be to dive with him again and complete my advanced open water certification.
The spa was also amazing. The Balinese staff give a brilliant full body massage, which really wrings the stress out of your body. It really helped to rid me of the aches and pains of the flight and make me feel totally relaxed, and I went back for a second one on my last day. It isn't cheap at $100-$130 a pop, but was well worth it for the experience. The idea of the jacuzzi/sauna/steam room/plunge pool doesn't quite work (steam wasn't even on when I went) but it is a well created environment and the service was great.
In terms of the glitches that stopped this being the perfect trip, it was mainly a lack of those special touches that make you feel valued and a sense of being milked for the maximum money. So we didn't have a fixed table for our meals despite being full board and a family with young children, and had to find tables each meal - often having to push together two small tables to make a family table - when all previous resorts have given us a table that is ours throughout our stay. The waiter and room cleaner both changed during the stay, so we didn't build a personal relationship. We didn't get our room/bed decorated with flowers even on the last day or any fancy pleating of the sheets as we have always had in other resorts. The dive centre tried to charge me $2 to use a snorkel despite me having booked $800 of diving with them (as snorkels are not issued with the diving kit). We had to point out that our late lunch on arrival was part of our full board to not be charged an extra $48, and we didn't get given the promised 10% off all drinks and purchases for being repeat guests. Every purchase had a 10% service charge and tax added on top, making it quite expensive, and not giving the option to tip who you felt gave great service.
So overall it was another lovely experience of the Maldives, and a decent comfortable island to stay on that didn't feel too crowded. It was a good choice for a family with young children, and the diving was exceptional. However they could easily have made this close to perfect and for the price I'm a hint disappointed that they didn't.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Not wishing to rest on the laurels of our existing achievements, Bandos Maldives had in the past year undertaken a major refurbishment project with the intention of transforming ourselves into a hotel that is truly reflective of the times. Careful consideration however, was given at all times to ensure that the old-world refinement for which the island has a reputation remained uncompromised. Under the project, major facelifts have been given to the front desk, lobby areas, shops, restaurants and bars and have furthermore commissioned a new swimming pool and additional accommodation facilities all of which perfectly blend with the island's tropical splendour and give visitors a taste of the Maldivian aesthetic. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bandos Island Hotel Bandos
- Bandos Island Resort Maldives
- Bandos Island Maldives
- Bandos Maldives