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Reviewed 22 April 2009

Stayed at the CRE from 1-16 April in a Garden Room Bungalow.

Arrival at the resort by sea plane was fine and we were greeted with the usual cool drink and cold towel. We checked in and were shown straight to our room. The room was large and spacious, very comfortable firm king sized bed with bedside tables, tea and coffee making facilities, TV, fridge with mini bar (don’t bother with that though as you will be charged and can get water and other stuff from the bars), desk/mirror, large wardrobe, chest for suitcases etc arm chair, large umbrella, (hopefully you won’t need it), 2 lifejackets. The room was really quite dark (as I’d been told already on TA); there was air conditioning and a ceiling fan - which kept everything nice and cool. There is a combination safe inside the wardrobe which is handy, but very difficult to put in the numbers as it’s pitch dark inside! In fact, it was almost impossible to see what colour your clothes were because of the lighting - or lack of it.
There is an outside shower, wc, sink etc and the roof comes to just past where you shower, so don’t worry about having to get up in the night to use the loo if it’s raining - you’ll be fine and won’t get wet. A few toiletries are provided, but you should make sure you bring plenty of your own. There is a long line up for you to hang out any washing. One of those pipe hairdryers is outside too - but I found with the heat of the hairdryer and the temperature outside anyway, it was just too much to dry my hair outside and preferred to use my own travel hairdryer inside the room with the cool aircon on high!
Your room boy will change your towels and make up your room at least twice a day - ours did anyway. He will leave you clean beach towels too every evening and turn your bedsheets down at night. We only saw our ‘boy’ twice as he was very discreet and never disturbed us at all; he was quick and efficient and also ensured our room was sprayed inside and out every day to guard against any insects - this was especially important following the uninvited guest that I found on my first morning sitting on the side of our laundry basket in the outside bathroom. I had been told that the chances of seeing any spiders was slim and, as an arachnophobic, that was music to my ears, but the massive Huntsman spider was a BIG shock! Following the spraying however - there were no repeat visits!

We did have the chance to look round a water bungalow and it was really lovely inside and very light and airey, but at $220 per night extra, out of our budget. We also looked round one of the beach bungalows and were surprised to see that it was slightly smaller than our garden bungalow and nothing special at all and equally as dark - so we were more than happy to stay where we were and happy that we hadn’t forked out extra for the beach bungalow.

Meals were served in the main restaurant, buffet style. You are assigned your seats for the duration of your holiday, and we were given a ‘booth’ on the right hand side where there are no ceiling fans and we both found it difficult to get in and out of the cramped seats. We requested to move and our waiter Ashraf kindly moved us to a proper table under a ceiling fan. The waiters are quite efficient; they get on with their work and don’t chit-chat with you - in fact they don’t really speak unless spoken to - I think that’s the way they are trained, but they are quite friendly if you do talk to them. There is plenty of variety for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you just go and help yourself to whatever you want (if you’re all inclusive, which we were and which I would totally recommend as a small bottle of Coke/Fanta is about $3, so costs could mount up quickly).
The food was fine and I personally cannot eat curries and hot spicy foot, but found plenty of other nice things to eat - but the hot stuff is there if you want it! I loved the freshly cooked pasta and the real bacon for breakfast!

The island is very small, you can walk leisurely round it in about 15-20 minutes and although there seemed to be loads of people there, it never seemed crowded during the day as a lot of people were off diving. The pool was never really packed and we always found somewhere to sit - the pool guy Abdul was very good and will put towels out in a specific spot every day for you if you ask him. The grounds are kept very well and there are lots of people out every day sweeping up leaves and making sure everything is tidy. All the staff were really friendly and helpful, especially Pradeep at the bar - he is a really sweet guy and will happily supply you with drinks for hours!

There’s not a lot of entertainment in the evenings, just a trio of local singers that will go round from table to table and that’s about it. There’s a pool table and a football table. I think there’s a gym and other pool tables near the spa, but we didn’t use them. Occasional crab racing and excursions, e.g. fishing, snorkelling etc, some trips seemed to be quite expensive ($300 for a trip to another island).

It’s a very casual island and no one dresses up; the restaurant, bars etc all have sand on the floor and the whole island is covered in it, so forget the heels and pretty sandals, flip flops are all you’ll need - apart from perhaps aqua shoes for the sea.
I don’t think I saw a single woman wearing any make up at all during our stay - probably because the rooms are too dark to find your face to put any on, but it leaves you totally relaxed and not worrying about your make up or GHD’s etc a real change. You don’t need to dress up either so your packing should be really light; even in the evenings people just wore loose/light casual clothes, the emphasis on keeping cool and wearing T shirts and shorts or skirts etc.

I’m sure everyone is aware of the ray feeding at 6.30pm every night; it has changed from the film clips I saw on YouTube before I went, they no longer allow you to hand feed the rays from the beach and to touch them and get into the water with them, instead the food is thrown to them from the side of the water by the bar area and the rays know exactly what time to come and are always waiting for it. Other fish usually show up too and it’s quite a spectacle to watch, there’s even a shark now and then, or a moray eel. I think it’s probably better for the rays this new way.

When we arrived in Male everyone we spoke to said that Ellaidhoo was the best island in the whole of the Maldives for diving and snorkelling and had the best reef - I don’t do either, but from what I saw just from walking round the boardwalk by where the water bungalows are, and from what the other snorkellers and divers said, I can tell you that they are probably right! The sea life is amazing and varied and people said that you see something different every time you go out. I know from just walking round that this is true; I’ve never seen so many fish of that size, colour etc before, including beautiful parrot fish, trevallys, triggers, turtles, rays, squid, half beaks, moray eels, sharks, octopus, and many, many more. I even saw huge great fruit bats flying round the island, lovely lizards, crabs, cockatiels (I think - they were white parrot type things!).

If I can think of anything negative about the island it would probably be the darkness of our room - but there again, it kept it cool and relaxed and gave me a good excuse not to bother with make up; and when all said and done, you really don’t spend much time in there. The only other problem would be that we went during the Easter holidays and there were an awful lot of kids there; I would probably choose to go at another time of year given preference and hindsight. Some times in the evenings when you just wanted to sit quiet and have a drink and a chat, you had loads of kids running round and round screaming and shouting and totally disturbing the peace of the place - completely ignored by their parents too I might say. Most of the kids were well behaved, but we did get a particular group that were unsupervised by their mother (who was on the beach all day) whilst they were left to their own devices round the pool and became extremely rowdy; breaking the sun beds and throwing balls around. Luckily they eventually went home and peace resumed - it would have been better if the management had said something to them or the mother. There were notices up stating that children were not allowed in the pool unsupervised by adults - but perhaps the notices should be put up in different languages!

There are 2 small shops by reception, one seems to sell bits of silver jewellery and Pringles and crisps - very expensive crisps, some were £8 a bag! The other shop sells a postcard and I mean A postcard, there is only one sort and he only had 5 copies of that! We had to wait 4 days for stamps to arrive. He has a few souvenirs and T shirts etc, sun cream (mega expensive) but not a great supply. I would suggest that you wait until you get to Male airport on the way home for any souvenirs and make sure that you bring plenty of sun creams, shampoo etc with you! It’s also extremely important to make sure you take with you supplies of any medication that you think you might need as there’s no chemist or anything on the island. You can rent masks and fins from the dive shop; fins were $5 per day, but I would really recommend that you bring your own gear with you as not all masks will fit properly and you wouldn't want to miss a thing in the water believe me!

By the way, there is an all inclusive menu available by the pool that we weren’t told about till right near the end of our holiday; as the restaurant by the pool is for the water bungalow guests only, we didn’t realise that we could order food from there. You can get your drinks from there all the time, but no one told us about the food! You can order sandwiches; ham, cheese, tuna, chicken etc with fries and salad at lunch time and it’s very nice and makes a change from going back to the restaurant for a proper sit down do. They also have snacks every day at both bars; sandwiches and samosas etc.

All in all, we had a really great holiday - despite 5 days of rain the first week - and I would thoroughly and warmly recommend it. As I said before, it’s a very small island and there isn’t a lot of entertainment - it might be too laid back and secluded for some people. We found it was nice just to sit around and chat in the evenings; we met some really nice people and had lots of fun. If you want a good 4* hotel with an excellent 7* reef, then this is the place for you.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank GinaG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 April 2009

Well what can I say, absolutely perfect, there were a few minor niggles which I shall explain as we go along.
As expected, long flight but we upgraded, highly recommended and made the flight much more bearable.
Sea Plane transfer was very quick and no delays, although the return flight was a bit late and some passengers had to sprint to the check-in desk.
The Island is very small but most of the day there were very few people about as the majority of visitors went diving.
On the subject of diving, there really is no need, the reef around this island is second to none in the entire maldives, it really is spectacular and only a few feet from the beach.
beware of 'nesting' Titan Trigger fish, they will chase you if you get too close to their nest, I had to leave the water several times to change my shorts...
we saw Turtles and more large Moral eels than you could imagine, they are very dosile, some 6ft long and quite intimidating. many eels are in a couple of feet of water and are not really bothered by snorkelers, although I wouldnt recommend trying to smooth one.
As many others have said, the staff are really great, the pool boy will close the pool if he sees the slightest bit of sand in his pool, just joking although he is pasionate over its cleanliness.
The restaurant is excellent, a bit on the warm side to say the least, heaven knows how the poor chefs stand there and cook for you without melting away.
On the subject of the food, Curry for breakfast if you want it, curry for lunch and even for dinner, but there are plenty of alternatives.
We went sunset fishing, well worth the trip. One of our friend nearly got yanked overboard so hold on to your lines tight.
On the downside, we made the mistake of going during school holidays, the island was a really nice tranquil piece of paradise, then the Italians arrived this their packs of screaming kids. They had no respect for others, took over the beach, invaded the pool, broke the seating around the pool and really made the stay quite unpleasant.
There was one rather irritating Italian woman, on day one she blatently took our sun loungers to park her clan of brats on, when confronted she denied doing so despite the tracks left in the sand from where she had taken them, we had words to say the least.
This same woman was not all inclusive, needless to say she sent her kids into the restaurants on thieving missions numerous times a day.
Apart from this, we made some great friends while we were there, a couple of daft 'brummies' and a couple of 'geezers' from the smoke, they know who they are, thanks for making the stay so enjoyable.
I must just say that I suspected our room boy had hidden or removed our air conditioning control, I was most upset by this. Upon returning to UK, my other half foung the said article in her make-up bag, sorry room boy.
On a lighter note we had some real laughs, a great island and we will be going back, although not in school holidays.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank MrGeorgefromBristol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2009

This was our 13th trip to the Maldives and by far the best.
There is no point banging on about the Monarch flight as it's a no frills service from A to B. The 25 minute air taxi flight is always fun though!

What a fantastic Island Chaaya Reef is!
We were met by several old friends from previous resorts including: Rajeeva, Muhtu, Oleg, Mohammed as well as many new ones.
The whole experience is one of relaxation, wonderful food, excellent service and nothing is too much trouble. The island was full while we were there, but always seemed empty, where did everyone go? You have your own sun loungers outside your room and easy access to the sea. The coral is beautiful, along with all the sea life, fruit bats and birds on the island.
If we could have stayed another week we would, but would never want to go home, so we have to look forward to another visit soon and for longer this time. This was the opinion from all of our party, very emotional on leaving.

Chaaya Reef is definitely a must if you want a relaxing holiday and we will all be returning for three weeks in early 2010!

Any questions - feel free to ask!

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled with friends
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6  Thank Jonno-Wendy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2009

We stayed at this resort for 5 nights. After arriving in Male, we had to wait about 3 hours for our float plane. It was a nice flight over the islands as we got to see a couple of other resorts en route. Upon arrival at our resort, we had to wait out on a small dock for the resort boat to pick us up. The flight crew were very nice and would not leave until the resort picked us up. They were very apologetic for not being there to meet us and did have cold towels and drinks waiting for us.

We booked the each bungalows based on other readers reviews. We did not care for the bungalows as we found them dark and cramped. I did not like the bathroom beind outside.We spoke to Ali at reception and he arranged for us to move to the waterfront villas the next day. We liked the villas much better. They are very bright and spacious and the bathroom is very modern. There is also a deck over the water so you watch the sea life right from your deck. We would definately recommend the villas over the other accommodation.

Another advantage of the villas is that they have their own restaurant. It is a nice open air setting and it is less crowded. (The restaurant for the other accommodation is very hot and crowded.) Donald, the restaurant manager. is a great person. He introduced himself on our first visit to the restaurant and he wanted to make sure that everything was to our liking. For the evening meals, Donald would space out the tables around the pool so it was nice and airy and you didn't feel that you were listening to someone else's conversation. Donald kept a keen eye on everything and made sure that all your requests were attended to. The food was very good. There was lots of selection and there were always two chefs offering various hot dishes. Freddi, one of our servers, always had a smile and remembered your name.

The villas and restaurant also afford great sunsets. It was a great spot to sit and have a drink and watch the sky change colours. The bar staff were also very friendly. We opted for the all inclusive plan and would recommend doing this as the drinks are expensive.

This is a great island for snorkeling. There is a reef all around the island with a huge variety of sea life and coral. The coral is making a comeback. It was really nice to just wander out from your room to snorkel. We had stayed at another resort previously here there was not much sea life and you had to take a boat trip to another island for good snorkeling. There is no need to do that here.

This is a well run resort. The management do all they can to meet your requests and make sure you have an enjoyable stay. We found all the staff to be very friendly.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank PenderIslandToto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 April 2009

I can only echo much of what has already been said. Great staff, fantastic snorkelling and diving, great food (though dining room could get very hot if near the cooking!). We spent 1 night in a water bungalow and felt very pleased we had not paid for the upgrade. They have an industrial feel to them, the huge window cannot be blacked out so we woke as we are light sleepers; but the main reason was there is NO sound proofing as the wall does not meet the ceiling at the apex where it is semi detached..........every (and I mean EVERY) sound can be heard from the other room. Folk did not seem to find this a problem so maybe it was just us! But be warned... The other rooms seemed fantastic - many of the garden bungalows were fine but a couple were a bit off piste. We had a superior and they were really great. Would not hesitate to recommend and return for one of the most relaxing holidays ever - have done other 5 star resorts in the Maldives, and tho' CR is 3/4* it gives them a run for their money - especially at the price

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Diver1460
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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