We stayed in this hotel from 9 May till 23 May 2009. Our first impression of the Maldives was the number of staff wearing masks, obviously to protect them from the swine flu. Many people were surprised that only some of the staff wore masks but others didn't. A matter of personal choice, I suppose. We waited for a long time at passport control, so long that we missed our speedboat transfer but happily we were given an upgrade to seaplane. The islands looked amazing from the air.
When we reached Sun Island we were led along the jetty towards reception, admiring the literally thousands of fish swimming around.
Check in was reasonably fast and we were taken to our room by buggy. Our first impressions of the room were, Oh, this is nice but is that it? It was nice and clean, but we have had better on many occasions. Not exactly what we would call Super Deluxe, I'm afraid. Our section of the beach was tiny, with only a couple of hours of dry sand when the sun was out.
We went for our first meal at lunchtime and were shown to the table which was to be ours for the duration of the holiday. It was in a nice location, right on the edge of the restaurant overlooking the beach (through the trees).
Our waiter, Waseem, was very pleasant and attentive the whole time. We found during our stay that the food was generally very good. There wasn't a great deal of variety at each mealtime, but there was always something we liked. There was something different at each mealtime, with very little repetition. One thing we were disappointed with, though, were the curries. We had expected an abundance, but on most days it was vegetable curry, with vegetable dhal. The Maldivian fish soup made a lot of appearances too. Briyani was served twice and Beef Madras once, and they were really good. One question though. Why on earth was the plain rice placed along with all the other food in the evenings. Surely a pot of it could be put next to the curries?
Were we in for a surprise when we went for a drink in the main bar. After we had had a couple we decided to take our drinks back to the room to finish unpacking and chill. As soon as we started to walk away along the beach we were assailed by a waiter who shouted, yes shouted at us that we couldn't take the drinks and he actually demanded our glasses back. We felt like small children and just sat there dumbfounded. We wanted to order more drinks but none of the waiters seemed to want to serve us. It was as if we had committed some unpardonable sin. Eventually we managed to persuade a waiter to serve us and we felt obliged to apologise for trying to take our drinks out. Surely, this very odd rule should be made perfectly clear to all guests on arrival. After all, not everyone has been to the Maldives before. We came to the conclusion that the rule exists to persuade guests to buy drinks from the mini bar. At a minimum of $9.50 I don't think so. One round of our drinks including mixers would have cost us in the region of £20. We decided to make sure we had our share in the bar.
Another bone of contention was the fact that we couldn't take a plate of food out of the restaurant to eat on the beach, unless we were happy to pay for it. Sorry, but we were under the impression that All Inclusive meant we had already paid for it. We didn't want or expect to have more than our fair share, just the option to eat in other locations occasionally. But no, not allowed. We couldn't even take out a bread roll to feed the fish! A woman on the table next to us was even shouted at, yes, again, shouted at when she threw a crust of bread to a bird just outside the restaurant.
There is a distinct lack of lighting at night. You could hardly make out the path sometimes. One night we almost trod on a snake in the middle of the path. Another night a branch had fallen from a tree right across the path from our room. It was only by chance that we saw it, otherwise there could have been a nast accident. Which brings me nicely to the bikes. Yes, a great idea for getting around, but surely they could be fitted with some kind of light. We lost count of the number of times we and others were nearly mown down by some lunatic not bothering to look where he was going.
The two employees who look after the sunbeds around the pool and on the beach have a nice little earner going. They reserve all the umbrellas and then proceed to dole them out to the highest payers. On two occasions we paid a dollar, quite happy to carry on doing so throughout the holiday. Surprise, surprise, on the next morning they were all magically "taken". Very odd, then that a number of them remained unused all day. There were book, flippers, caps etc on them, but oddly no-one came to use them. We heard one woman telling a friend that they had paid $10 for the attendants to keep their umbrella for them for the whole holiday. Odd that, I thought $1 a day for 14 days would add up to more than $10.
Going back to the main bar. We discovered that the tables on the right side of the terrace as you come out of the bar are always the ones to fill up first. After a couple of nights we discovered the reason for this. The service on the left side is atrocious. One night, after waiting for ages for a drink we saw our "waiter" strolling around in the bar area, chatting, playing with his tray and generally ignoring the tables he was supposed to be serving at. I decided enough was enough and went to the bar myself, only to be told to "go and sit down and your waiter will bring your drinks". I told them we had already been waiting for 15 minutes and would like bar service. At this point someone, possibly some kind of supervisor, asked what the problem was. I told him and he said he would send our drinks. Within about a minute the waiter was at our table with the smallest servings we have ever had in our lives. At that point we noticed an empty tabel on the right side of the terrace and moved over there. We had no more trouble the whole night.
If you get the chance, sit on the right side and try to get served by Naseem or Faisal. Two excellent waiters who will look after you in the afternoon, evening and night times and thoroughly deserve their tips. Try to avoid the tall one with a small moustache and a permanent scowl on the left side.
There were many more things that we were disappointed by, but this rant has gone on long enough. On the whole it's fair to say that we enjoyed the holiday but we were left quite disillusioned and would not return. We may try a different resort in the Maldives, but we would certainly do a lot of research first. After all, this trip cost us something like twice the price that a holiday to the Caribbean usually costs. If anyone has any questions please email me.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sun Island measuring about 1.6 km in length and around 380 meters in width has 350 elegantly furnished guestrooms, including 72 water bungalows, out of which, 4 are Presidential Suites, 218 Super Deluxe Beach Bungalows and 60 Deluxe Beach Bungalows. All Deluxe and Super Deluxe Beach Bungalows are built on the beach ensuring a direct view of the shore and sea. All Water Bungalows are built on stilts in the lagoon overlooking the vast horizon of either the sunrise or sunset view, from your private deck. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sun Island Hotel South Ari Atoll
- Sun Island Resort Maldives
- Sun Island Maldives
- Hotel Sun Island