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“A small part of paradise.”
Review of Maafushivaru

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Maafushivaru
Certificate of Excellence
New Forest, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“A small part of paradise.”
Reviewed 3 April 2014

Our first visit, staying for 7 days. Our beach villa (128) was very comfortable and well positioned for the beach and snorkeling on the house reef. Maafushivaru is a small, beautifully presented island with very happy, smiling staff. The buffets were fine but the all inclusive wine (french boxed) was a big disappointment. Manager Ron was very hands on and did sort that problem for us. They could'nt do enough for you.

Room Tip: 128 is on the trade wind side so nice and cool on the beach, the other side gets very hot.
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank Ken_and_Jane_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Singapore
Level 6 Contributor
77 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 93 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 March 2014

We stayed at Maafushivaru for 5 nights in March 2014. My wife and I stayed in a water villa while our daughter and nanny stayed in a beach villa.

The villas were both very nice though the water villas are in our opinion the ones to go for. The Maldives are famous for water villas and it is delightful to just step down into the lagoon and swim with a variety of fish. While nice, the beach villa is more comparable to what you might get in other beach resorts around the world so not so special. Neither of the villas are especially large, and they are simply furnished, but they fit the island location perfectly. We did not feel like we needed more luxurious accommodation.

The staff at Maafushivaru are almost all very nice (the exception being a sour-faced waiter named Ilham whom we think should be encouraged to excel in a non-service profession). The staff go out of their way to make your stay pleasant and they are happy to talk. Most of the chefs are from Sri Lanka, most of the waiters from the Maldives, there are five Filipina working in the bar and reception and the spa is mostly staffed with ladies from Thailand and Bali. They all stay in the rather small staff compound, sometimes as many as 8 sharing a room.

We paid for everything apart from tip to the staff using credit cards. We tipped a dollar each per bag, 10 dollars each to the room boys, 10 dollars to the bar, 10-20 dollars each to three chefs and 5 dollars per excursion. Salaries are modest so we think you should bring some dollar bills for tipping.

The excursions are all very good. But be careful with the whale shark excursion if you are not a strong swimmer as this takes place on the open sea with quite strong currents.

The hygiene standards are excellent. We do not have the strongest stomachs and are occasionally taken ill while on holidays. None us had any unfortunate episode during our stay which is great given the challenges of shipping and storing food in the tropics.

The internet works well most of the time. We even managed to have a few Facetime video calls with grandparents without problems.

The house boys were a bit on the lazy side sometimes leaving only a single towel and forgetting to put new shampoo and soap in the room. But this was easily resolved by a call to the reception or we simply ignored it as there is no point being too picky while on holidays.

The transfer to the resort was a bit slow with a rather long waiting time in the lounge. They wait until they fill up all or most of the seats in the plane so it does not really feel like an air taxi service. We landed before noon but only checked in at 16:19 as per the receipt for paying for the seaplane transfer. So it took us as long time to get from Male airport to the resort as it took us flying from Singapore to Male. And this was despite the effective seaplane flying time being only 25 minutes.

The key challenge with the resort is that it in some aspects feels like it is 20 years behind its time. There is not much sustainability thinking – something which is quite surprising given that the Maldives is at great threat from future sea-level rise. The hotel is operated by 4 diesel generators burning fossil fuels around the clock. Surely, it would be appropriate to install some solar panels given that the island is baking in the sun during most of the daylight hours? Our first candidate would be to install solar water-heaters on top of each villa and then some additional photovoltaic panels on top of the staff area in the centre of the island.

The food also feels like it is 20-years behind its time. You will not go hungry but it could be made more exciting. The restaurant tried to have something for everything and as a result ends up as a “Jack of all trades, master of none”. They will at various times try to cook lapin aux herbes, coq au vin, shepherd’s pie, irish lamb stew, Sichuan beef and many more dishes from around the world. We think the restaurant would function better if they cut back on the number of dishes and introduced more live cooking stations. While some have commented that that food kept warm is great, we did not like the canteen style taste of the heated food. If you are a foodie, we suggest you focus on the salads, the grilled fish and the cook-to-order pasta station. Some improvements we recommend include:
• Grilling the fish on charcoal near the beach instead of on an electric grill.
• Teaching the restaurant staff how to prepare Eggs Benedict for breakfast.
• Making their breakfast “vienoisserie” crispy instead of soggy.
• Creating a “toss your own salad” station rather than just having ready-made salads.
• Allowing the Sri Lankan chefs to make some authentic spicy curries rather than the toned down versions they serve for tourists. We did get them to create some great curries for us that tasted like the real thing.
• Expanding the fish cooking station to include some prawns and squid. It felt strange not having any prawns during the week. We came back from holidays craving seafood. We suggest introducing this even if price needs to be increased.

The bar list also felt a bit dated. There is a very limited selection of bag-in-box house wines limited to one red, one white and one rose and they aren’t great. It would have been good to have had at least a couple of white and red house wines to select from. It would also have been good with some updates to the drinks lists including a wider martini selection (e.g. lychee martini, apple martini).

In summary we think the best way to enjoy Maafushivaru is to stay in a water villa, to take part in several excursions and to come prepared that it is not a food destination.

Room Tip: Sunset water villa far out on the jetty
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
12 Thank Swedish_Expat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston, Texas, USA
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 March 2014 via mobile

Most wonderful vacation for my husband & I. Had an over the water bungalow, most beautiful, the the farthest one out, outside shower with the view of the ocean. We had great dives in Maldives, but our most favorite is diving out of our own back porch & snorkeling! So much to see, so calm waters, we snorkeled for hours.

Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank lanie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2014

This is a beautiful and superbly managed hotel filled with attentive, responsive and cheerful staff. The food is great, with loads of variety. It is extremely comfortable, well-appointed and well laid-out. We did a number of trips, all of which were incredible - the marine life around the island is absolutely astonishing. The jewel in the crown is the private island lonubo which is truly the Maldivian dream of the desert island - absolutely picture perfect. Ron and the team will fall over themselves to ensure that your holiday is perfect, and our Kuoni rep Barbara was also superb.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank RichardBroadbent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 6 Contributor
196 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2014 via mobile

We chose this island after having trawled through multiple holiday brochures and read many reviews on Trip Advisor and I can say the homework paid off!
The island is small and I agree with other reviewers you often feel as if you are the only one's there, as no one else can be seen and it is so quiet. You can walk around the island in under 10 minutes, with it's immaculate white sand and beautifully kept grounds. We stayed in a Water villa for 12 nights giving us direct access to the sea via steps, making easy access for swimming and snorkelling out to the reef. This was our first attempt at snorkelling and although a little apprehensive, what you see at the edge of the reef made it well worth the effort! The villa itself is large and had everything we needed, tea / coffee machine, mini bar with regular supplies of water & non alcoholic drinks, hair dryer, plentiful toiletries and of course the most amazing view to wake up to! The room is attended to twice daily by friendly, yet discrete staff.
We stayed 'all inclusive' which for us proved the best value. There is always a good selection of food choices at all meal times, good flavours and although buffet style, it feels very relaxed with the staff running the restaurant in a friendly, efficient way. You always get the same waiter which is a nice touch.
My husband only tends to like white or sparkling wine when having an alcoholic drink. Sparkling wine is not in the all inclusive package but when this was mentioned to the management team they immediately allowed us to add sparkling wine to our package! Thank you Ron & Marie for that as it was such a lovely gesture.
We spent a great deal of time lounging around the pool / swimming in the pool as it offered more shade. The pool bar staff again are very friendly and attentive, filling up empty glasses!!!
Entertainment is laid on every night, is relaxed and generally easy listening or watching a film etc with no pressure to join in anything or stay and watch if you don't want to.
In summary, after 10 days away I am usually ready to go home, however I can honestly say this is the one place I really didn't want to leave as it felt so perfect, from the moment we arrived via the sea plane to the time we left!
Would I recommend it, you bet I would! Could I find fault in any way, no I couldn't!
Thank you team for making it a wonderful, relaxing 12 days for us.

Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank Roose1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bristol
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 March 2014

Having been to Maafushivaru in March 2012 and had the most amazing holiday ever, I couldn't wait to go back.I was however advised by several that having had such a magical time that it was probably a mistake to return because it would more than likely be a disappointment and not be as a good on a return visit. How wrong can you be? It was just as amazing and even more so. There has been a change in management and in my opinion Ron and his team with Kuoni rep Barbara are doing a stellar job. All staff seem even happier and I believe that's because they now work much more as a team and they have developed a culture whereby each and every person goes out of their way to make your holiday as memorable as possible, even down to the gardeners and maintenance people. It really seems to matter to every member of staff that you are having a good time.The beach was cleaner with less rubbish being washed in and the island itself kept immaculate. Often you feel like you almost have the island to yourself as there are parts of the day when no one else seems to be around. I love that you can walk the whole perimeter of the island. The house reef was amazing and on one early morning snorkel we saw a turtle, five eagle rays which were very nosey, four sharks a mixture of black and white tip and so much more it was just incredible. Our room was kept spotlessly clean by Naseer who is a very bright intelligent young man and a real character. He was always asking was there anything more we needed and making towel creations. To boot he is an amazing dancer, heading up the Bodu Beru on Maldivian night. Aminul and his team at the water bar are outstanding, Jean, Jaisa, Elsie and of course Ruwan All make you feel very special and constantly running around filling empty glasses. Having visited several islands in my opinion this island is by far the best and for me is a dream place to be. It's incredibly relaxed there and I can't see how anyone could fail to enjoy their stay. I have been home two days and am already trying to think of ways to save and get back there.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Donna S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canterbury, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 March 2014

My husband and I went on honeymoon to Maafushivaru in January 2014, and loved every second of our time there. I can’t recommend this resort highly enough – in summary, it’s beautiful and welcoming and an absolutely paradise!

More detailed review follows…

Seaplane and arrival:

Once we arrived at Malé, we found our way to the seaplane transfer desk with the help of the resort's airport staff and from there made our way to the seaplane lounge. We had quite a long wait here as a storm had come in just before we landed, delaying our international flight and also putting seaplane transfers on hold for a time. The staff at the lounge were very helpful though, and kept us informed as to the flights and there were plenty of snacks and refreshments to keep us happy.


The seaplane transfer was incredible - a real experience and absolutely amazing views. Cramped and hot inside though, so if you get an opportunity to change into something a bit cooler, I would recommend it! Quite noisy, so if you need to protect your hearing, I would bring earplugs just in case. The flight time from Malé to Maafushivaru was about 30 mins, and made one stop at another nearby island on the way to drop off and pick up other passengers.


The seaplane leaves you on a little pontoon that is anchored a short distance from the island, and you transfer from there to the island itself on a traditional boat (takes about 5 mins). The staff were very helpful, carrying our luggage for us off of and onto the boat and once we were checked in took it straight to our room. On our boat over we were greeted by our Kuoni rep, Babs, and the resort manager, Ron who were both so friendly and helpful, and checked in on us throughout our stay. At check-in, we were given a fruit juice refreshment which was very welcome as were were hot and still in our wintry clothes that we'd had on since we left London the day before!

Accomodation:

Babs took us to our villa (number 122) and showed us how everything worked and explained a bit about the island before we settled in. Our villa was gorgeous - it had its own private decking area which caught lots of sun and looked straight out onto the beach. It took us about 30 seconds to walk from the villa into the sea. It’s worth mentioning at this point that not all beach villas had views to the sea, as many were set back behind trees. They were however, still very close to the sea. Our villa had an open-air shower which was great – it also came with an indoor shower, but we never used it as we loved the novelty of the outdoor one so much! The bathroom came with complimentary L’Occitane toiletries too which were lovely, and were also replenished regularly if we used them all up. That being said, I would take care to bring plenty of your own toiletries and sun cream – there’s only one shop on the island, and it can be expensive! Our villa also came with its own electronic safe (although personally we never felt that we had to use it), air conditioning, television and DVD player espresso machine and mini-fridge with soft drinks and water. Our bed was huge and very comfortable and for the most part we slept well. The only problem we had was the fumigation that takes place regularly to kill mosquitos – it’s a noisy machine which comes around in the early hours once a week. I imagine if you were in the water villas you wouldn’t hear it. However as noisy as it was, it was only 10 mins of noise, and it meant that we didn’t have to worry about mosquito bites and any of the diseases that they can carry.

Food and Drink

We were on the all-inclusive option, which gave us:
- All meals in the main restaurant
- Very wide variety of drinks, including beers, wines, and a considerable selection of spirits and soft drinks and water
- Afternoon tea in the library (tea, coffee, finger sandwiches and cakes)

The food in the main restaurant was lovely. Every day had a different theme (e.g. island cuisines, curry night, barbeque night…) and the food was always delicious and varied. Special mention should go to the grill area, where for dinner and lunch the chefs would prepare you fresh grilled and/or baked fish and cooked delicious pasta fresh for you too. At breakfast time, this area cooked bacon, sausage and waffles freshly for you, and would also cook eggs any way you like them too.

The waiting staff are all lovely. You are assigned a waiter who will wait your table at all your meals and they are very friendly and chatty, and can give some good pointers on where is best to go snorkelling!

There wasn’t much available on the all-inclusive outside of meal times, so if you are a big eater you may struggle to find a mid-morning snack. We overate at almost every meal though (we couldn’t help ourselves… we wanted to try everything!) so got by fine. There was also the afternoon tea if we needed a pick-me-up though.

The bar was equally brilliant. The staff were all very friendly and always made sure that you had a drink! Cocktails were all yummy and there were a lot of different ones to choose from – we were quite spoiled for choice. They also put the football on for us one night too.

As we were on honeymoon, we also had a candle-lit dinner on the beach which was lovely. For this, we had full table service from a pre-ordered menu. From memory, we ate ceviche, steak and fresh fruit, but there is a choice of two or three options for each course.

There is a teriyaki restaurant, however as this wasn’t included in the all-inclusive, we didn’t go. It looked lovely, and was situated on its own little jetty near the water villas, but I can’t comment on the food etc.

It’s worth mentioning that even on the all-inclusive you will need to sign for everything. However this gets deducted to zero (unless you purchase something that isn’t on the all-inclusive) and is just for the resort’s invoicing purposes.

Snorkelling and swimming

The all-inclusive allows you use of flippers and snorkelling gear which is useful, and which was in good condition.

The house reef at Maafushivaru is absolutely gorgeous. It has some of the best snorkelling I’ve ever experienced, and I would say it definitely rivals the Great Barrier Reef. We saw more species than I can even begin to name, but to list a few:
- White-tip reef sharks
- Grey reef sharks
- Titan triggerfish
- Sea turtles
- Moray eels
- Many reef fish, including tangs, needlefish, parrot fish, jack fish, snappers…
- Sting rays (porcupine rays, pink rays, feathertail rays, eagle rays)
- Barracuda
- Tuna

And the above was just on the house reef and neighbouring Lonubo Island. While there were sharks, these didn’t come particularly close to people and at no point did we ever feel in danger. They only grow to around 5 feet in length, and aren’t interested in people much! The best places to spot them were on the reef edges, although we also saw them swim around under the main jetty by the reception after there had been some rougher weather. We were more concerned with the triggerfish, which were patrolling along the reef edge to and had read they can be quite territorial, so we kept our distance although they never bothered us.

We had quite windy weather while we were at the resort which made the sea a bit choppy and the current quite strong. We were still both able to swim around the island, however swimming against the current was very difficult at times. Something to bear in mind if you go out as it can be easy to tire yourself out without realising it if you’re having as much fun as we were! Once while using a ladder to climb out of the water, a strong wave pushed me back onto the reef and I got a bit scratched, so you do need to be careful (although this is advice I would give to anyone swimming in any water – best to always have your wits about you!). We also made the mistake of trying to swim around the entire reef on Lonubo – although the island is much smaller, the reef is much bigger and it actually takes longer to swim around the Lonubo reef than the main island reef. Lonubo only has a couple of channels into the island again, and they are both on one side of the island so it’s best to stick near these if you can.

The resort obviously has a pool, but we enjoyed snorkelling so much that we only used it once. It was very clean and well-maintained though and good to have a dip in when it got a bit hot when sunbathing.

There is also a PADI diving centre, although we didn’t use it. However it did seem well equipped, and they offered regular excursions and night dives too.

Excursions and entertainment

There were many excursions on offer, and we took part in a couple. Firstly, the sunset cruise which came as part of the all-inclusive. The cruise took us out to the more open areas of water not far from the island. It was nice to be on the water and watch the sunset into the sea. The cruise also supplied sparkling wine, and we saw dolphins which was an added bonus.

Secondly, we took part in the whale shark expedition. This was an extra cost of about US$50 per person (bear in mind there is an extra 18% of the cost added in service charge and tax to everything in the Maldives). The expedition was great. It was about 45 mins out on a boat to another reef, at which point the crew would then scout out whale sharks. Once one was found, it is a bit of a mad scramble to get into the water as there can be quite a few people on the expedition with you. For this reason, I would definitely recommend that you be a confident snorkeller, as it can get quite busy in the water and you need to be able to swim to follow the shark. We were lucky and saw 2/3 sharks, and they were amazing. Being able to swim alongside them was incredible, and I would definitely recommend the trip!

Maafushivaru also has its own tiny sister island (Lonubo) which you can sign up to visit for free as many times as you like during your stay. The boat that shuttles you to/from there leaves about three times a day and each trip lasts about 2-3 hours before pick up again. It’s possible to have the island reserved for yourself for lunch or dinner, and you can stay on it overnight too, although it is quite expensive.

Other excursions that we didn’t go were the manta ray trip, night diving, guided snorkelling and others. All did require you to pay extra to go on them though.

The resort also puts on entertainment many nights, including movie night, disco night and talks given by the resident marine biologists. I would definitely recommend going on the island tour. It was really nice to learn a bit more about the flora on the island and about how it is run day-to-day behind the scenes. We were both impressed with the effort that goes into making sure the island causes as little pollution and waste as possible, by them taking measures including investigating more efficient generators, having their own carpenter and mechanic to carry out repairs on the island without having to ship in parts and specialists, and storing and recycling water and waste. It was also good to see that the staff who live on the island are well looked after too, and have their own temple for worship and recreational areas.

Wildlife

In addition to the wildlife mentioned above, we also encountered geckos, lizards, fruit bats, and a few different bird species too. There weren’t many insects. Some butterflies and small ants, and one cockroach, but these last two have to be expected in tropical climates. The island also has many crabs living on it and most nights we saw glowing shrimp wash up on the beach. These were incredible – so bright that when you walked through then and lifted your feet up, they lit up all around you like a flashlight.

Spending on the island and cash

The island operates on a cashless system, so anything you buy (including in the shop and when signing up for excursions) will be added to your room bill and then you can pay it all off at the end of your stay. You can ask at reception if you want to check in on your current spend. The only time we used cash (US$) was to tip the staff at the end of our stay. We were there for ten days and tipped about $20 to our room boy and waiter each and the bar staff as they had provided brilliant service throughout our stay. We also tipped the boat staff when we went out on excursions too.

Room Tip: In general, water villas have better views as the beach villas are set back from the beach behind so...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank Steffi333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Maafushivaru

Property: Maafushivaru
Address:
Region: Maldives > Alifu Atoll > Southern Ari Atoll
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Southern Ari Atoll
#9 Luxury Hotel in Southern Ari Atoll
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Southern Ari Atoll
#9 Spa Hotel in Southern Ari Atoll
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Maafushivaru 5*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Reached by a picturesque flight over the mysterious atolls of the Maldives, Maafushivaru is a quiet island knitted with lush flora surrounded by pure white sandy beaches and incredible turquoise lagoon. Next to the resort is the tiny desert island of Lonubo, exclusive to Maafushivaru guests. A visit to this beautiful island is a must. You can choose from daily visits for basking in the sun and snorkeling the beautiful reef, or ultimately book to stay overnight, an island just for you and your beloved, even if only for a night. Slumber at your choice of three distinct villas. Beach Villas are sited on postcard perfect beaches whilst the Water Villas are built on stilts over the Indian Ocean providing sunset and sunrise vistas that will be forever etched in your memory. For a fun filled holiday, the Pool Villa is the right pick for families or friends travelling together, featuring two separate villas with a shared pool. Summon the bon vivant inside of you with the delectable fare. Cuisine Gallery showcases a potpourri of dishes from all over the world. While 135° East is your key for an authentic Japanese cuisine displaying the art of teppanyaki and the hibachi steakhouse. Sip favourite sunset cocktails at Water Bar with eclectic evening entertainment ranging from Maldivian evenings, to laser shows and disco nights under the starlit sky. Located on the water’s edge, instill a sense of calm and quietude at the Spa with signature product line Voya focusing on healing therapies and rituals. Explore rich underwater life on the house reefs of Maafushivaru and Lonubo, where fish teem and corals bloom colourfully. Dive with whale sharks and mantas in famed spots down south. Discover the epitome of Maldives – Maafushivaru. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Maafushivaru Hotel South Ari Atoll
Maafushivaru Tclub Hotel
Maafushivaru Maldives/Southern Ari Atoll

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