For a 4.5 star resort we were largely impressed with island and as it was our first visit to the Maldives we have nothing to compare it to. Highlights of our trip were the quality of accommodation, the food and the extremely friendly service.
The moment we arrived in Male we were taken to the seaplane terminal and was definitely one of the things we will remember for a very long time. It is not to be missed! Maldivian Air Taxi is one of two companies operating, but we were told MAT has the better safety record and we definitely saw them flying more frequently than the other one. Make sure you stick to the 20kgs weight limit per bag as the will always charge you excess baggage for every kilo over and there were some pretty hefty bills as people were unaware of this.
We had to wait a while for our air taxi which was a bit frustrating after a longhaul flight, but you don't get a choice you go when you are told.
On arrival at Centara we were taken the short boat ride to the resort reception to be greeted with a cold towel and a fruit drink. Very quickly we were taken by golf buggy to our Beach Villa, a two storey villa which was semi detached and would have been ideal but for the very noisy neighbours next door who liked to keep us awake with their music.
Our room though was large and roomy and the outside bath was truly awesome. The only aircon unit was in the upstairs bedroom and was very noisy and not really adequate as it didn't keep the downstairs very cool. There are 2 ceiling fans but the bathroom has nothing. Downstairs was a living area which we had as a second bedroom for our son. Off of the living area there were double sliding doors through to the bathroom and dressing area which was very impressive and led out to the outside bath and shower (there was also a good shower indoors as well). The downside of the open air access was the humidity and the mosquitos! Even though the resort is fumigated regularly our son received more than 60 bites in the first 3 days and we had to request a mosquito net for his bed. In fact we actually decided to upgrade our room to a water villa for the last couple of nights to try and escape them. We thought the beach villa was great but it was definitely worth the price of the upgrade as the water villa was awesome.
The marine life was spectacular and teaming with rays, turtles, large shoals of fish, Moray eels, sharks (harmless thankfully!) and the snorkelling is very safe and easy, although I did find it very annoying that we had to hire the snorkel, mask and fins which wasn't publicised anywhere before we went and, had I known I would have taken my own as $25 per person per week is very expensive and a bit of a rip off given how cheap they are to buy. The only watersports you get in the AI package are the kayaks and pedeloes. Everything else has to be hired and it's $55 per hour for a sail boat! It's a shame because they could make so much of their watersports and the guys looked very bored as there was little for them to do.
The dive center was very professionally run and compared to other places we have been in the world, we found it fairly expensive and EVERYTHING is charged as an extra. $70 per dive including the rental of tank, BCD and mask. But if you want a wetsuit it's another $5 and if you want to do a dive away from the resort it's another $22 on top to cover the cost of the boat.
It's not geared up for children and the Bubble Maker and the Try Dive is off the back of the dive center into deep water which was quite choppy. We had expected them to take our 10 year old from the beach to get him used to the water but they don't make it clear and don't realise teaching a child is about building confidence and Wolf the tall german may be a good diver but he certainly doesn't know what to do with children and we found the whole experience incredibly disappointing. Make sure if your child does want to try it out as you are charged $90 even if they get into the water and bob on the top. The hotel manager did take the charge off but the dive people didn't want to know.
I believe the exclusive "club" upgrade provides some of the above but from what we learnt the cost of the upgrade wasn't worth it and we didn't meet anybody who did. In fact the club pool was empty all the time we were there. It also gives priority restaurant bookings but we didn't have a problem booking when we wanted.
The food is simply fantastic for a 4* all inclusive resort. We really enjoyed our meals at the speciality Italian restaurant and Thai restaurant was nice but I would recommend the A La Carte as the set menu wasn't to our taste.
The Reef restaurant was extremely good and the quality and range of food - much of it freshly cooked in front of you - and by the personalised service offered by Ahmed who was always on hand to greet and seat us, and had our glasses topped up at very regular intervals!
Other reviewers have mentioned the Oriental guests and culturally they are more likely to push to the front of a queue and are oblivious to other guests. If you don't eat early enough we found that they did devour their way through everything, especially the desserts and there was little left by the time we got there. They do like to take photos of their piled high plates and their cocktails and we did find that they spoilt meal times as they were very noisy, so a quiet, leisurely dinner wasn't possible and we found we couldn't wait to get away.
It is amusing to spot the honeymooners in their striking matching shorts and beachwear ... and occasionally you will see the full wedding dress at breakfast. They also love their cameras which seem to be an extension of their personalities and their "staged" photo sessions.
This is a very quiet resort with no real organised activities. There is a very nice tennis court which we used a few times and rackets and balls are available from the kids club nearby. Be prepared for a very relaxing and chilled out experience, enjoy the food and drink and the fact you are in such a beautiful place.
If you do want contact with the outside world you can get reasonable wifi in your room for about $34 for 7 nights. We found that we couldn't get it anywhere else in the island.
Take light clothing and perhaps a couple of pairs of flip flops as you hardly wear shoes. Most of the island flooring is sand, including the restaurants so we hardly wore shoes. Go careful on the decking. Its very uneven and nails stick out in places. Some planks are loose and our son cut his foot open just walking from the Reef restaurant evening and had to be taken to the doctor. The hotel were very good and picked up the cost of the bill when asked.
Our exit from the resort was slightly unexpected. We went in Monsoon season and were very lucky to have hot sun every day. In the early morning of the day we were due to leave a violent storm blew in. The sea had a huge swell and the seaplanes, although still amazingly kept flying we did experience a big delay in them getting to us. The hotel's pontoon which the seaplanes tether too was too unstable so we were taken by boat to a more sheltered pontoon. After a couple of attempts the seaplane landed and we did finally get from the boat, onto the pontoon and onto the seaplane in the driving rain and very strong winds. Luckily the thunder and lightening had abated although there were distant rumbles. The staff at Centara were amazing and Hamish (The resort manager) accompanied us on the boat and helped allay our fears. He was instrumental in getting us onboard our aircraft. We made our BA flight with 2 mins to spare before the flight closed but amazingly the seaplane company had radioed ahead and we had a bus waiting for us with a personal porter assigned to get us through to the gate. A truly wonderful service and a massive relief as there was no BA flight for another 2 days!!!
I wouldn't go back to this resort any time soin, but not because we didn't like it, for all I have listed above we had a lovely relaxing holiday. There are so many islands to explore though so I would definitely visit the Maldives again, it was everything I expected and more.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Surrounded by a stunning house reef that is a kaleidoscope of colour for snorkellers, and distinctive with its timbered walkways and colonial-style buildings, the five-star Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives is a barefoot paradise. With the Ultimate All-Inclusive concept, your stay is absolutely carefree meaning that all meals, spa treatments, activities and water sports, daily excursions, and even diving are all included. Weatherboard villas, thatched-roof buildings, a white-sand beach and sparkling lagoon are the setting for your honeymoon or fun-filled family holiday. Villas and beach suites are generously-sized (86-159 square metres); the over-water villas enjoy their own sundeck with steps down to the multihued coral reefs. Special villas for families have bunk beds in a children’s area, and you can also enjoy the option of an overwater villa with plunge pool. When it comes to dining, all your meals – and more – are included. Sumptuous champagne breakfasts are available at Reef Restaurant, lunches and dinners are to be enjoyed at the Azurri Mare Italian Restaurant, the Suan Bua Thai restaurant or Reef Restaurant. There are two bars on the island. Voted as Maldives’ most family-friendly resort two years in succession, the island has the ideal family itinerary: activities at the age-specific kids’ clubs, water activities like banana boat and tube rides, water sports, and pool games by thea children’s pool. Anyone in need of some deep relaxation can enjoy the daily spa treatments at Spa Cenvaree, yoga sessions, or simply laze beachside. Beside water sports and one of the best PADI dive centres in the Maldives, the resort’s house reef and lagoon provide fascination for snorkellers, and just off the reef there is a dedicated shipwreck that offers easy diving and a close-up view of turtles and whale sharks, manta rays, and surgeonfish. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Centara Grand Island Hotel Centara Grand Island
- Centara Grand Island Resort And Spa
- Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives