We just returned from our 8th trip to the Maldives (always a different island resort). Often people ask which one is the best. All locations have there key strengths and weaknesses: I don't think there is "the" single best. It is definitively not Lilly Beach.
Lilly Beach offers a very nice island experience in South Ari Atoll. It is however clearly over-rated and does not play in the same league than some other islands (Halaveli, Four Seasons Landaa, Kanuhura). The strengths are it's pool infrastructure (Aqua Bar for sunset is very nice, Vibes Bar for more kids-oriented activities also good) and it's house-reef (very nice, very long, easy accessible). The service level is ok, but not great (never flowers on the bed, tables at dinner inside instead of outside when there is a slight chance of rain). The Spa is ok, but not great (nevertheless as expensive as the great ones).
The dive-center is very professional. While we did not see one single big shark in 16 dives (only small white tip), we were able to see a whale shark (full day dhoni tour to the southern edge of the ari atoll, but non-divers can take a speed boat) and dozens of mantas (just 30 minutes away form Lilly Beach). Nice corals and colors.
The water villa (321) was very nice and is worth the upgrade from the non-recommendable Lagoon-villas (small like beach villas, in a diesel-smelling part of the island). Beach villas are rather small, but ok, if you don't mind having adjacent neighbor. We recommend water villa numbers 319-321 for sunset and nicest view (on the other side the view is on Vilamendhoo Island)
The platinum plan and the food were disappointing. The choice of wine, spirits and other included items is much more limited than for example in Moofushi. The food was not what I expect from a 5 star resort. In the Maldives I truly enjoy getting super fresh fish in different forms (sushi, sashimi, carpaccio, tartar, grilled etc.), fresh fruit juices and healthy food. I am not suggesting there was no fish served, but for our taste, it was not at all in the spirit of other dinner experiences you can have in the Maldives. The island manager argued he had just lost his chef and his replacement would fix the problem.
The island has also some bizarre rules which we have never seen before in any other island: Snorkelling after 1730 and swimming after 1800 (in lagoon as well as in the pools) is forbidden (appearantly because a lot of guest cannot swim....)
So, in summary, Lilly Beach offers a good holiday experience. But do not expect a truly 5 star island, so make sure you do not pay a 5 or even 6 star hotel package price. Islands like Moofushi or Halaveli offer better price-value.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In the deep blue sea of the Indian Ocean, among the scattered small Islands known as the Garland of Flowers (Maldive Islands) of indescribable nature, Lily Beach Resort is the island - Huvahendhoo at the South East Ari-Atoll. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lily Beach Hotel South Ari Atoll
- Lily Beach Resort And Spa
- Lily Beach Resort All Inclusive
- Lily Beach Maldives