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Maafushivaru
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Reviewed 20 July 2012

We are writing this review on the last day of our 7 day stay in Maafushivaru. This is a long review so don’t feel the need to read all of this. This was our first trip to the Maldives and therefore we can’t really compare to other islands. In terms of our expectations, we had used the Kuoni brochure as guidance, read a lot on trip advisor, and our expectations varied between expecting a luxury experience through to a 4* hotel experience. As background, we arrived with Emirates at 08.30 in the morning into Male having taken a two day stopover in Dubai (but meaning we had to leave Dubai at 03.35 in the morning – not great). This review doesn’t cover our travel experience with Emirates or our stay in Dubai (both were fine) but focuses on our experiences from landing in Male and our stay on the island.
We arrived in Male to find a man with a Kuoni sign post immigration and they redirected us to another desk. They then gave us our seaplane tickets and redirected us to the check in counter for the flight. This was a simple enough process allowing us to leave our luggage with the seaplane operator and take a short bus ride (5min) to the seaplane terminal where we were redirected to the Maafushivaru lounge. The lounge was fine (nothing special) but had basic refreshments and snacks. We were in the lounge for about 35 minutes before being told to go to our gate for boarding. The boarding and flight were smooth and we were the first stop on a two sector flight.
We were left off at the floating pontoon and collected by a Dhoni by the island representatives – Nicole and Iulia – both very pleasant. From here on in I have divided the review into various categories:
First impressions
On arrival we found the Island to be beautiful, the communal areas were as expected (white wicker furniture everywhere), the pool was smaller than it looked on photos (but adequate) and our water villa (room 222) just about how it looked on the photos. We were All Inclusive and were disappointed to see that special coffees (i.e. Latte etc) and fruit juices were not included (as my wife does not drink) however noted that the cocktail menu was exhaustive for those who like to drink. We were also a bit disappointed that the best seats in the restaurant (overlooking the sea) were reserved for couples only which as a family of 3 (with a 17 year old) meant we were banned unless we wanted to sit as a couple with our son on a separate table. We were informed this was hotel policy so nothing could be changed. That said, apart from the seating, we were able to arrange something with the island so were happy by the end of the first day.
Having spent 6 days here, here are our thoughts:
Island
The island is stunning – it is small, as mentioned by other reviews, but as far as we were concerned just the right size. Having come in the ‘off season’ i.e. both outside normal school holidays and in the monsoon period the island was around 50% occupied which meant it was even more relaxed than others have mentioned in their reviews. It seems that as we leave this week the European school holidays have started and therefore there has been an increase in children (from what was a predominantly couple based island with 3-4 families). Not that this is an issue but just to let you know. Throughout the day you can often find a spot for yourself to relax on the beach and the twice daily trips to the sister island Lonobo are great for those in need for a different island (albeit tiny) experience.
Accommodation
We stayed in a Water Villa and in room 222 (which is the last villa at the end and was very private with amazing sunset views). We asked to look at a beach villa whilst we were there and whilst the furnishing was very similar it wasn’t to our taste as you are still off the beach surrounded by trees and we really wanted to be close to the water. So don’t be alarmed if staying in a beach villa as they are very nice but if I were staying in one of these I would request staying away from those between the water bar and water villas as they see a lot of traffic and aren’t as private as those on the other side of the island.
Back to the water villa, it was amazing to be able to swim through direct access to the sea and whilst we snorkelled around the villa we saw at least five reef sharks, sting ray, loads of different fish and only a 5 min snorkel from the house reef as well. As noted above, we also had a third person in our villa which we were worried would make the place cramped – but not at all – it worked perfectly (so if in a family with large enough children, don’t let that put you off booking). Everything worked fine, from ipod dock, to flat screen tv, to rain shower, bath (over looking deck and ocean).
Service
Having just arrived from Dubai (where everyone seems to be super attentive and friendly) we were initially surprised by the relaxed service provided by the staff however we grew to love it by the end of the holiday. Of particular note was our waiter Shifaz who always had a smile on his face and provided us with great attention and the F&B manager, Rafeeu who was very friendly and did his level best to accommodate our requests (with success!). All in all fantastic service and very friendly in their own way – can’t really fault them on this.
Our house boy came to service our room at least twice a day and did a fabulous job.
Food
There have been mixed reviews on tripadvisor regarding the food. It is not 5* standards for sure, however it is very passable, there is a great selection, themed nights and all of us were able to find a dish we enjoyed at every meal so we have absolutely no complaints. You have to remember you’re on a small island with around 50 other guests so you can’t expect too much.
All inclusive
As mentioned before the all inclusive seemed definitely worth it and to not have to worry about every drink was a relief (bearing in mind the non-alcoholic drinks cost around $4 - $6 and alcoholic from $5-$12).
Excursions/activities
We are active people so we were concerned about spending 7 days on a small island that we would get bored and have nothing do it. It was quite the contrary – from snorkelling on the amazing reefs (two on the island and a superb one on Lonobo), to table tennis, chess in the bar area, to the intro to snorkelling trip organised by Niv (the amazing marine biologist), the sunset cruise with champagne and the amazing whale shark snorkelling – all of this was brilliant. The price for the whale shark experience was really good value in comparison to other resorts (i.e. $35 vs $200 in other resorts). Niv is also part of the Maldives Whaleshark Research Programme which is good to know that the resort is committed to responsible tourism surrounding these fish.
Spa
We were a bit dubious about using the spa as previous experiences in hotels abroad has generally been disappointing. Not so here. My wife was so pleased with her experience she booked in for a second one saying it was the best massage she has had ever. So it seems like a big thumbs up for the spa at Maaf.
Entertainment
It was great to have a variety of entertainment each night from movie night, to live bands, to a dj one night and Maldivian dancing. Very nice to have the change in programme and in all cases you could just chill at the bar and have a drink if that was more your thing.
Weather
As mentioned we were in monsoon or rainy season and we were concerned that it would rain throughout our stay. We checked the weather from 2 weeks before our arrival (you can only check Male even though Maafushivaru is about 100km away) and the forecast was for showers every day. We arrived to partly cloudy weather but primarily sun and at the resort everyone had said the week before had been quite rainy and overcast, however from our arrival through to our last day it has been 90% sunny with some very intermittent cloud cover so I would have no hesitation in coming back in July again.

All in all – the place met all of our expectations and exceeded in some places. This is not a luxury resort (for those who want that go to the One & Only or something similar and be prepared to pay the price) but it is a chic place with great staff and a super island – it doesn’t get much better than this without having to remortgage the house! Thank you to all at Maafushivaru for making our stay special – we will return one day (not soon though, as there are more places we want to discover in the world).

Room Tip: Water villa room 222 is private
  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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11  Thank Kpfromuk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2012

This was our first trip to the Maldives and although we had some idea of what to expect due to the comments on tripadviser we were blown away by how fantastic this experience was. Arriving at Male we found the Kuoni desk no problem and were given our paperwork and shown where to check our baggage at the sea plane desk. The Maafushivaru lounge is great and after a short wait we were on a sea plane on our way. We arrived at the island and taken by boat from the plane to the main jetty and the view up to reception was the first of many fantastic sights that we had during our stay. Check in was quick and easy and the Kuoni rep was very pleasant and efficient. We chose this island as we wanted a small, quiet, and beautiful place to relax and chill out and the very short walk to our water villa proved we had made the right choice. As soon as we arrived we took our shoes off. you don’t need to wear them any where. If the wooden jetties get hot in the sun there are water containers and hand held showers to cool your feet. Sand floors are in reception and the bar. There is only one restaurant and Bar which we thought was great as there are not any No Go areas as there appears to be on other resort islands depending on accommodation.
The water villa was fantastic! Huge room with fantastic bathroom with great view from the bath and the shower out over the sea. We had our own private deck with sofa and 2 sun loungers and steps down to the sea. Within 10 mtrs of our steps the coral starts and there are hundreds of fish of many different types and colours. I have no other bench mark as I have never been to any other islands but we saw 3 reef sharks, 2 giant Moray eels, Lobster Turtles Lion fish parrot fish etc. during our stay. This was as far as I am concerned Brilliant. The Resident Marine Biologist was great and on the whale shark and Manta trips we went on we swam with both creatures which was a fantastic experience!
As to the food and service I have never been to a place before where service was so good. We were AI and the bar staff were so good I had a cocktail delivered to my table as I just finished the one I had without even asking for it! Considering we are on a desert island I cannot fault the food at all. When we go abroad we steer clear of the International offering and try the local fare. The Curries were out of this world. The best being the Pumpkin Curry. If you wanted a change the fresh pasta cooked as you wanted was also excellent. The Buffet had a huge variety of choice and all of it was quality. The drinks and cocktails were also great. The AI had drinks like Bombay Sapphire, Drambuie, Martell, Bacardi etc. with draft Carlsberg lager.
Our waiter for the week Simau could not have been mor attentive.
The Spa treatment we had was also superb. Even though there was some refurb going on to the spa it had no effect on the tranquility that the island provides.
We would have no hesitation in recommending this Island for a couple who want to have a tranquil and relaxing experience and we will be going back as soon as we can!

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank BigPhilWarboys
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2012

This was our fifth visit to the Maldives and our forth island. We stayed from 10th - 17th June 2012.

I knew that the island would be small because it only has 50 rooms, but I was not prepared for how small! We could walk round in five to ten minutes no problems.

When we first arrived, we walked up the jetty and sat in reception where we filled out our registration forms whilst we had a lovely nice cool fruit cocktail. We were than taken to our room by Nicole the Kuoni rep. (She was lovely!) On the way to our room Nicole showed us the coffee shop, restaurant and bar along the way.

We stayed in room 21 which was near the tepenyaki restaurant. This in our opinion was the best room on the island. We had a lovely bit of beach which we shared with only one other room. It was lovely and private and we really enjoyed the secluded feel.

When we walked into our room we were pleasantly surprised. It was luxury with the out door shower and the huge bed - which was very, very comfortable. The shampoo and shower gel were lovely and had a gorgeous smell!

We had tea and coffee making facilities but we never used them. The mini bar contained soft drinks and beer which was great - just nice to help yourself and sit on your deck watching the world go by.

The bar was lovely and had a great atmosphere and a very extensive cocktail list! I have pictures if anyone would like to read it, just pm me!

We went snorkelling a couple of times out side our room, just up towards the sea wall and aroung the dive school, but didn't see much there. We went round by the main jetty and that was amazing but we found the current all over the place and constantly changing as we snorkelled along.

We also snorkelled over at Lonubo which was excellent. We spent 2.5 hours on the island and had a walk about but got attacked by the nesting birds! It really was a lovely island. Make sure you take some water with you!

The restaurant was lovely and you could choose to eat inside or on the deck overlooking the ocean. We mainly ate inside as it was much quieter. We ate breakfast and evening meal in the restaurant and usually went to the coffee shop for an afternoon snack. This was sufficient for us as otherwise we would have overeaten!

We did not think the food was as good as we have had on other islands. The live cooking station produced some excellent pasta dishes but the buffet just wasn't as good. I feel awful saying this as I know this is a small island so they are catering for less people than where we have been before.

The bread was never fresh - only really good for toast and the rolls were the same. The cheese on the salad counter was not as good as other places we have been - I know that is picky - but it was something I really enjoyed having with my salads on our other island! I can't put my finger on what exactly wasn't as good about the food but it just didn't live up to our previous island nor of our expectations considering the cost difference between the two islands.

On the other hand I must recommend the hot chocolate cake - Mouth wateringly gorgeous!

We tried the Tepenyaki restaurant on our second last night and had it all to ourselves. Adam looked after us - the service was superb. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the show they put on. In my opinion it was well worth the money!

We would definately return to Maafushivaru for a totally relaxing experience but would probably do what we did this time and pair it with another island.

Room Tip: Room 21 was peaceful with only one other room sharing that bit of beach :-)
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank FreyaCumbria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 July 2012

We are nearing the end of our week in Maafushivaru and I think I might cry when we have to leave! We chose this island based on the reviews we read here on Tripadvisor and it certainly didn't let us down. This place is gorgeous.

We flew BA direct to Male and frankly, that was pretty horrible. A long, uncomfortable flight with disinterested and rude flight attendants who seemed offended to have to tend to cattle class passengers. But once in Male, everything became much easier. At the Kuoni desk a lovely lady introduced herself to us and led us to the check in desk for the hydroplane. From there, another lady took us to the Maafushivaru waiting room, which was really nicely furnished, had free drinks and a deck overlooking the water. When it was time for us to board, we were collected and yet again accompanied. The hydroplane made a short stop at another island before Maafushivaru, but the whole trip took only about half an hour.

We are staying in one of the water villas, which I highly recommend above the beach villas (although having never stayed in the beach villas, this recommendation is clearly biased). Our villa is nice and spacious and clearly designed for maximum privacy: when you are on the deck, people in other villas can't see you. Same with the big windows overlooking the water. I guess swimmers could look up into them, but being at a height, peeking would be difficult. Most people stayed closed to their villa when in the water or they snorkelled away into the reef.

We did a bit of snorkelling, which I highly recommend. Staying at a water villa is a bit like being inside an aquarium: the fish free link swim around and nib at the coral and algae on the stairs and the stilts. And when you snorkel to the coral, it is amazing the number of different fish that you can see. Truly astonishing,

Moving on to the food: I am not sure what people expect, but I find it really nice. The resort makes a huge effort to have some diversity, and I always found something to eat that I really, really liked. My one piece of advice would be to not expect American/European fare and instead embrace the Asian food: the curries are amazing and I sometimes chose dahl and rice for breakfast instead of bacon and sausages, which frankly in this heat are quite unappetising (I don't eat those anyway so might be biased). The desserts are out of this world and quite light so we aren't worried about piling weight on.

We didn't choose the all inclusive option because we are not drinkers, so we pay for every coffee we have in the coffee area and also we pay for our drinks with our meals. This last bit is a bit annoying: I would expect a full board option to cover water and/or soft drinks with your meals but this is not the case. It won't add to a huge tab but it seems a bit incongruent.

The staff at Maafushivaru are wonderful, always polite and smiling and nothing seems too much effort from them. A really nice detail was that when Nicole, the wonderful Kuoni rep, found out that we got engaged on our first night there, she arranged for congratulation cards and a bottle of champagne to be delivered to our villa. Such a nice touch!

As for the weather, this is rainy season so there has been some of that. We quite often get storms at night and some days the weather has been cloudy, but since we are both pale of the kind that burns and never tans, that has worked out in our favour by allowing us to sit on the deck and read our books without having to be worrying about looking like cooked prawns. If you are a sun worshipper, though, you might want to visit outside the rainy season.

Another thing that we really enjoyed is that the island never feels crowded; we often walk around it on our way to meals or back and we see maybe one or two people. At meal time, there are enough guests (mostly couples) to make it look busy but not too busy.

All in all, we are truly happy to have chosen Maafushivaru - it has been a perfect holiday for us!

Room Tip: We stayed in room 205 which is one of the sunrise rooms. But we kept sleeping through it!
  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank MysoreBound
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2012

We are in the middle of our stay here for our honeymoon and are extremely impressed. The kuoni reps both at male and also in resort could not be more helpful, professional and pleasant. We arrived by seaplane and caught out first glimpses of what can only be described as paradise. A very warm welcome by the kuoni rep Nicole and reception team to a tiny island with only 50 rooms, White sands, immaculately maintained, superb well designed and equipped water bungalows. Very good choice and quality of food, great service and staff who genuinely appear to want to ensure you are having a good time. We did the whale shark tour and the people running it were so enthusiastic about ensuring we saw so much marine life. It was fabulous. Our only problem will be when we have to leave next week. Would highly recommend if you would like a peaceful getaway to what can only be described as paradise. Would love to return.

  • Stayed: June 2012
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2  Thank Kathyb1970
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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