We come to Maldives quite often, usually seeking for nature, privacy, comfort. And if you are frequent traveller there, you usually note every new opening of luxury resort, know difference between corals and fauna in various atolls and know exactly what you want to get/feel/see on your next trip.
After visiting Noonu atoll several times (from Viceroy), snorkeling on every second reef and tilla in the area, and realizing that it is the best place for snorkeling in Maldives we definitely wanted to return. It took us a year waiting since we first saw a construction site and in the end of January 2014 we returned.
Luckily it was not our first visit to recently opened hotel (Grand opening took place on November 2013) and we were ready for some "irregularities", which usually dissapear in a while. And of course there were some. But in general except for some "natural cases" you could never guess that this hotel was finished only two months before and didn't even have any palm tree six months ago. Amazing villas, great food, the best staff ever which provides the best service. As became normal for Maldives all the best employees from all over archipelago come to try better life in new luxury resort. If it happens to coincide with professional and motivated management - result may exceed any reasonable expectations. And so happened here.
It starts from arrival to Male. New luxury lounge in the airport to wait for the seaplane, which looks like mini private jet and takes only hotel guests. That makes local flight expectation time much shorter and far more comfortable.
Location. After 40 minutes flight you arrive at the hotel which occupies in reality 5 islands in the middle of turquoise lagoon. 3 of them interconnected and 4 of them artificial. Actually Rooms stand on three connected islands while one more is SPA and another is for "owners villa" (owners villa was still not finished so construction site might also be considered as a minor "irregularity"). Main island is natural and accommodates restaurants, bars, boutique (with some nice branded souvenirs), lobby and diving center (on the jetty).
Accommodation. This hotel has the best decorated, equipped and most comfortable rooms in Maldives! All of them are similar with difference in location and some of them have second building for large families. Every villa is divided into three areas: living room, bedroom and bathroom, with high ceilings, huge windows and enormous swimming pool with deck for sun beds. Even water villas have a 10 m. long pool. Room facilities are the most modern and comfortable I saw in Maldives. You can manage everything from lighting and TV to window shades and door lock from Ipad.
Three interconnected islands together make something like crescent and here come difficulties. Unfortunately nature doesn't distinguish brands, so this resort's crescent became simply an artificial obstacle for currents and winds. So when in December wind changed, southern (outer) side of crescent became open for nature. Some beach damage, some palms fallen down, some rubbish brought up... Usual for new hotels in Maldives. In a while waves will bring more sand from lagoon and the islands will become settled. In May wind will change and there will be no problems at all, because Northern side of hotel is protected by lagoon, but in January it brought some difficulties with allocation, because living in some of the rooms was impossible. But front desk and management was acting fast and helpful so we didn't really noticed that weather disadvantages. Every day people were working on the problems so I'm pretty much sure that it will become memories from the past by next winter season.
Service. It is really outstanding. Never seen before in Maldives. And, surprise, it is everywhere. You have a majordomo (best who is a chief of cleaning team. He or she learns your preferences, habits, routine and you always have what you want or need in proper manner and in time. Add to this perfect communication skills. Same for restaurants, reception, boutique... You really feel yourself special guest here. Same for General Manager. Renato is Fantastic person himself and you really see his achievements in leading and motivating the staff and managing the resort. Aisha and Yusuf - our majordomos became like part of family for us and Natalia from front-desk did great job satisfying our needs (three rooms including aged parents and lots of special requests:). Hotel team is one of the best memories we have from our stay in CB.
Food. There are four restaurants in the hotel. Food is great everywhere, even in room service menu. Fresh fish (as well as all the rest) cooked by really descent chiefs. And what is my favorite - if you know what you like - just ask, no mater if it is on menu. "1947" is haut cousin and works only week-end. You need advance reservation (I tried once, but was 9th on the waiting list). "Diptyque" is a food show. Half Japanese, half Spanish. Joint table in each half (tastes differ, not actually my type of place). "White" bar and restaurant - main facility. Really great. Good food, nice lounge atmosphere at the pool site, amazing architecture. "Deelani" - the best in my opinion. Located on the main jetty close to diving center (just like Fish in W). With mostly seafood and asiatic menu. Here you can really feel like dining in the open sea :)
Snorkeling. This is not the strong point in this hotel. Cheval Blanc doesn't have any house reef (at least accessible from the beach). So if you like exploring sea-life by island-hopping like us, you need to rent a boat. But the thing is at the time of our stay there were no boats on the island... Not quite true, they had two dhoni's which brought guests to SPA and one diving dhoni. But all privately booked snorkeling speedboat trips around were done by 27 seats water taxi from neighboring islands (not always clean and working)... Diving center management lived own life on another not so customer oriented planet... (unfortunately it became usual for luxury hotel in Maldives). Although boat crew was fantastic. So we had some funny stories there.
A HUGE thanks to Renato (GM), who couldn't change the situation (Luxury Cheval Blanc boats and yachts were simply late to arrive, one of them appeared on final day of our stay and the rest were following), but after being involved managed to make it all look reasonable and made us feel comfort.
By the way. If you like snorkeling I recommend taking a speed-boat and exploring Noonu atoll. It's unforgettable. Lots of turtles, eagle rays, mantas in a fish "soup" over coral gardens. My favorite places: Felivaru, Kedhivaru, Huivani, Raafushi (unusual corals and great caves for diving as well) and Karinmavattaru (loots of dolphins, although they come even to hotel lagoon for mating!).
To sum up, it was our best Maldives vacations so far. Even parents, who are quite picky and demanding due to age were totally happy for the first time. I wish all the best to the resort and its team, especially in settling the rest of "irregularities" and sure that we will return there soon.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set in the pristine Noonu Atoll, Cheval Blanc Randheli is an intimate and contemporary hideaway a 40-minute journey north of Male. The 45-villa Maison has been conceived in harmony with the island's lush vegetation and lagoon views. ... more less
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