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“Exactly what I hoped for”

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Happy Life Maldives Lodge
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Exactly what I hoped for”
Reviewed 30 May 2013

I stayed here for 14 days in april and it was just like I had imagined it. Vanessa patiently answered all the questions I had on forehand, and I had a few, as this was my first holiday alone. In two weeks I absolutely perfectly got used to being on this lovely small island, doing nothing, reading, swimming, snorkeling, looking for babysharks and sting rays, enjoying the good food and the friendly talks with the other guests and staff, collecting the most beautiful shells, enjoying the sunsets and the big bats flying over, walking around the village now and then, and just being all relaxed. The staff is wonderful and I didn't feel uncomfortable for one moment as a woman alone on the island. I had one of the upstairs rooms, big and comfortabel. It's not like a five star hotel where the rooms get cleaned every day, but I didn't mind and whenever I asked for clean sheets or towels I immediatly got what I asked for. The other reviews tell all about the activities you can do, just ask Hassan about the possibilities (and go nightfishing, or eat fresh lobster, or go snorkeling a bit more in the outer reef and see turtles and sharks :)). Thank you Hassan and team for a great holiday!

  • Stayed April 2013
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Helpful?
5 Thank NienkeNetherlands
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Brno, Czech Republic
Level Contributor
19 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 May 2013

Me and my girlfriend have spent amazing 7 nights (4th to 11th of May 2013) on this beautifull island. Didn't want to stay on resorst with hundreds of other people and for thousand $ and this is definitely the best you can choose.

About the weather, trips and beach:
The 3hrs boat trip from Male to Dhiffushi on Saturday afternoon was quite adventurous due to rough sea and quite a big thunderstorm (I have never seen bigger thunderstorm :-)). After this experience everything went better. Hassan was waiting for us at the harbour and showed us very nice and clean accomodation. First night was rainy and as well the first day was not very nice, but despite the fact that the sun was not shining we really got sun burned. Next six days the weather was just amazing, every day more than half of the day of sun and clear blue sky. The sea was moderate to rough but excellent for snorkeling and swimming. We did all the trips which were promised during our reservation and even more - Dolphine watching, Snorkeling, Sand bank visit and fishing as well. The best thing of all was that all the time we were alone on the boat and when 60 people from nearby Meeru resort were coming fo Snorkeling..we already did 2 hours of Snorkeling...alone and with very good feeling that the choice for this lodge was the right one:-). We have seen dolphins as well but unfortunately they did not have the right mood for playing so we have seen them only from big distance. The beach was very nice and nobody else except me and my girlfriend was there. It is very nice to have such a nice beach just for two people :-). No problem with bikini on the beach. Want to swim to Meeru resort because it is very close but you are not allowed to go to resort.

About the prices:
There are 5 shops on the island where you can buy very good non alcoholic bear Holsten (1$), standard drinks (Fanta, Sprite, juices(0,5$ - 2$)), lot of different snacks, chips(1$), tuna can, fruit etc. There are two pubs as well, where typical Maldivians meals are served - which are very very good and very very cheap.

About the people:
Not only Hassan with whole Happy Life Maldives team but almost everybody on this island was very nice and we absolutely did not feel uncomfortable. The people on the island are very friendly.

About the food and accomodation:
The food prepared by the team was just excelent and we are really missing it now :-(. You can choose almost everything you like, fish, pasta, chicken, beef, lot of vegetable and fruit - everything very fresh and tasty. We even ate the fish which my girlfriend has caught. The accomodation was very nice and modern, only the bed is a little bit hard and the mattress could be softer. Rooms are very clean. Be prepared that there is no hot water for shower but actually you do not need hot water in 32 degrees :-).

The last night when all the guys have prepared for us amazing night dinner on the beach with candles around us and lovely decorated bed in our room was perfect conclusion of more than perfect stay in Happy Life Maldives Lodge. Thank you again guys for everything and hopefully we will see you again!!!

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Martin_Zurek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
27 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 May 2013

After reading all the great reviews on tripadvisor we didn't hesitate to book Happy Life Maldives (HLM ) for a 5 night stay at the beginning of May - the start of the rainy season.

We knew we were taking a risk coming here at the very start of the "mid-season" (which should really be classified low season due to the small number of people and the rainy/windy weather) knowing that there would be a higher chance of rain but we thought it was worth the risk and we were excited to see the Maldives from a Maldivian perspective rather than from inside a glossy artificial resort. Plus we were interested in more than just sun as we were coming from Sri Lanka where we had spent 2 months under hot sunny skies.

The Maldives is in its infancy in terms of local guest house tourism but nonetheless Happy Life Maldives has been up and running for 18 months, has input and ownership from 'westerners' (Vanessa and her partner) and is close to resorts from which alot could and should be learned. However we feel Happy Life Maldives was completely mis-sold to us and we left feeling ripped off, disappointed and misinformed.

Firstly it is not cheap even at the 'special' price of $99pppn but we understand that the cost of living can be quite high in the Maldives so we were willing to pay the price.

On our arrival we were eventually met at the airport after over an hour and after chasing HLM management with phone calls. Despite informing Vanessa of our arrival times and flight numbers this had not apparently been conveyed to Hassan. Hassan, when he did arrive though was a friendly and informative host and took us to a restaurant in Male for lunch before the ferry left at 14.30.

The guest house was fairly new, the room was clean and well thought out with universal power sockets in good locations, A/C, ensuite etc however it was cleaned only once in the 5 nights that we were there and then only swept briefly. Sand got everywhere. Towels were not changed and bins not emptied during our stay and beach towels were not provided.

It rained alot although more at night and during late afternoons. When it was raining heavily guests spent time in their rooms. Although there was a lounge area it is made from concrete benches with no cushions and becomes very uncomfortable to spend any length of time. The mosquito level in the lounge was also high day and night although mosquito spray was provided. Consequently guests retreated to their rooms when it was raining as there was no where else to 'hang out'. The cafes in the village serve good fresh juices and non-alcoholic beer as well as short-eats both inside and out but you feel somehow unwelcome and uncomfortable. The village did not appear particularly happy, friendly nor welcoming as promised on the website but maybe that was just a cultural anomaly.

As well as rain there were strong winds making choppy seas. We were told this weather pattern would likely continue once it had started through to September which makes me wonder why the excursions are offered during this time as part of the package - the current and waves were apparently too strong for safe snorkelling and the visibility would be poor anyway, the tides were higher so the sand bank visit was difficult and and you were unlikely to see any dolphins in the rough water. The beach barbeque also would be unlikely to happen due to the night time wind and rain. We did one half hour dolphin excursion and saw nothing; the rest were cancelled.

Our advice therefore would be not to go in the 'Mid-season' unless for surfing or wind/kite-surfing and certainly don't get the Mid Season Offer but negotiate a per night price and clarify the price of each excursion/activity prior to confirming your booking. We were reluctantly given a part refund on our booking for some of the excursions we didn't take because of the bad weather but didn't agree on the amount that we were due with Vanessa.

During our stay all the guests were told that the excursions are US$40 per boat trip but Vanessa later emailed us to say that a sand bank trip was priced at US$15 and the snorkel trip at US$35 (dolphin trip wasn't clarified) She failed to advise us why Hassan was quoting $40 per trip. Some guests went on a sand bank trip and also did a bit of snorkelling on the same boat trip but then were told that that counted as two excursions and they only had a dolphin trip left. Try and plan different activities on different days as there is really a very limited amount to do on the island. You will be taking a risk if you pay for a package with all the excursions during the rainy season.

The website 'Specials' are very mis-leading and so is the communication between Vanessa during the booking. The website cleary states stay for 5 nights and pay for 4 and then goes onto describe the prices and whats included. Be very clear with all the prices and what is included prior to booking. We would also not advise paying upfront for the total cost of your stay as you are then trapped - make sure you are satisfied with what you will be getting before you pay the full balance - some guests wanted to leave early but had surrendered the full balance immediately on arrival.

Although Vanessa is the front person in communicating bookings (email and south-African phone) she has actually never been to the island as Hassan reliably informed us, so she often does not give the right advice or does not know the answer - it would have been better to communicate with Hassan who lives and works there. Vanessa's husband only comes once a year in August to surf so also has limited kmowledge and input and consequently the service is not to a western standard - all good if you weren't paying western prices!

The food was tasty and excellent throughout our stay although there were no drinks available other than tea, coffee and water - a short walk to the village resolved this but it would be nice if they provided some alternatives during the day.

Hasan and his local team are lovely and try their best to accommodate any request and are genuinely nice people; they even arranged a suprise birthday cake freshly baked for a guest! They have a wealth of knowledge about the Maldivian culture, people, customs and politics and will happily converse for hours.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
9 Thank EmmyLou11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hassan I, Manager at Happy Life Maldives Lodge, responded to this review, 30 May 2013
Dear EmmyLou11,

Thanks for your feedback. While some of your comments were difficult for us to hear, we understand where you are coming from and want to ensure your comments are addressed.

Firstly, we appreciate your positive feedback about the local team at Happy Life. We're proud to have such a welcoming and accommodating group of people taking care of the guests. We realize our great reviews are thanks to them.

While we can't control it, we do see it as unfortunate about the weather conditions during your stay. Guests generally find that the packages do provide good value with excursions though we can't know from week to week or how the weather will affect the planned trips. Many guests have enjoyed all their excursions during the entire stay within the mid-season. The prices are indeed $15 for sandbank and $35 for snorkeling - this has not changed and any other information you were given was false. The package and prices discussed prior to departure were correct and since they were discussed thoroughly it was assumed they were clear. We'll be sure to reiterate the costs and package inclusions to the local team.

The Maldives is an exclusive destination in which providing for tourist needs can be expensive (importing products, etc). Despite this, a great new alternative accommodation option of guest houses makes it possible for people, who would never normally be able to visit the country, to experience this destination at a fraction of the cost of resorts; it is still not, however, not a "budget" destination where you'll find rooms for $30 per night. These are not so much "western prices" but prices based on the market and characteristics of this unique place.

The common areas are on our list for upgrade though we hadn't received much comment about them until now. We understand that with in wet weather conditions that these areas are that much more important for guests and we're considering bringing forward the scheduled upgrade. The report of inadequate cleaning is upsetting and I'll be speaking to staff about upholding the standards we've set for them.

Certainly, we recognize that cleanliness, comfort and good service are of the utmost importance. While Vanessa hasn't visited the property, like many travel agents she is knowledgeable about the Happy Life without being onsite. Unfortunately there can be mis-communications from time to time. Also, Maldivian culture is easy going and not always focused on precisely following rules and guidelines like many are used to in Western service standards. This is one of the quirky elements of a local stay in the Maldives. We trust our local staff to do their best to care for the guests in the best way possible.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us. We do have the best intentions and when things go awry we want to make sure they are addressed.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney
Level Contributor
76 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 May 2013

Came across this place on facebook by accident, and finally decided to stay with them mainly cos the price was unbeatable and you get to stay in a village unlike other resorts.
Please note that, this place is a small place, and is not a resort but a smaller lodge that is located in a picturesque corner of Island of Dhiffushi. This island is about 2.5 hours by local ferry if you want to save the cost of an expensive speed boat ride. I decided to take this very long and slow journey as I was travelling solo. Ferry departs from Villingili Ferry terminal on the other side of Male's main ferry terminal. (No one in the main airport ferry terminal knows about the ferry to Dhiffushi so asking them was a bit of a time waster). Ferry cost about 20 rufiya which is great, and leaves in the afternoon (sorry I cant remember the time).

Lodge is a short stroll from where the ferry arrives and a staff member was there to pick me up and take me to the lodge. The lodge itself is a nice small place, and has coral sand in the main restaurant area. Although its quite open, you don't really feel the heat because of the fans.

I thought the rooms were impeccable, given that I was the only one to enjoy the very big room which usually accommodated for 3 people. It was fun! Bathroom was spotless and I admired the whole room setting. Only downside to the room was the tiny staircase which is quite steep and the lack of views from the 3 windows (yes 3!). Room was air conditioned and is great to avoid the day time heat if that's what you prefer.

Lodge is located next to a run down boat repair workshop and I think this gives its bad charm. However, the place is located very close to the beach, although you cannot consider it as a beach-front property. Price I paid included 3 meals and was well worth it. Food prepared by staff was tasty and I liked it. If you need more, you can always head to the numerous local cafes and have some hed hikka like I did. (I think I had more than enough). I even bought some local dried fish and 'mas mirus' (a local chillie paste equivalent) to take home.

Beach nearest to the lodge is excellent with crystal clear waters and you can just lay in the beach and admire the great view. Local women usually hang around the beach during the evening and clean it so its always clean. It is great for snorkeling too if you can as you can see some small fish around. I was able to see some baby shark very close to the beach. You can just borrow the kayak and go around the Island or close to Meeru Island resort.

You are free to walk around this island freely considering this is an actual village and you can see people going about their daily routines. Hassan will be happy to arrange anything else you want to do in the island like fishing, etc. Unfortunately I was too scared to go fishing at night with locals so I had to give it a miss :( (not that they are bad people, but because I am not a good swimmer). Prices seem economical so please ask Hassan!

If you prefer to go back to Male' by a speed boat, ask Hassan about the Sun Island resort speed boat service which would be cheaper. I decided to take this option as leaving around 5am in the morning by local ferry that takes 2.5hours is not worth it. (especially if you did it once!)

Room Tip: Upstairs rooms are best for a view
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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
9 Thank KrishanRodrigo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Warsaw, Poland
Level Contributor
30 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 May 2013

Great place to stay, definitely better then resort island. Very friendly staff and they have the best chef - the food served was delicious! Rooms are spacious enough and very clean - no housekeeping during our stay, but this is not a resort, its a guesthouse so have not expected it. Highly recommended!

Room Tip: top right room have the best view
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank L0velyb0y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 March 2013

It was pretty foolish of me to just stay here for just 24 hours. Nevertheless, I am more than happy to have spend that time in Happy Life Maldives.
Refreshing environment, good food, friendly staff, clean and comfortable rooms is what you will find here.
You can also interact with the friendly local islanders, unlike other resorts in Maldives where a resort occupy the whole island.
The guesthouse also arrange for adventure activities like dolphin watching trip, snorkeling etc.
Take a walk across the other end of the island and you can see a Frenchman who settled on the island (quite some time back) and helping the islanders with his Engineering expertise.
The private beach is amazing...you can probably spend the entire day (and also night) on the beach itself.

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank shijojo22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
Level Contributor
254 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 99 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 January 2013

I highly recommend this lodge to all friends as you will be in paradise surrounded by new long time friends who truly want you to have a magnificent holiday. The three meals/day were superb-better cooking than I could possibly muster. The decor of the rooms is a mix of Maldivian & modern-quite nice, well thought out. This lodge allows tourists to walk around the island and witness day to day Maldivian activities. The locals are friendly-please respect them and their culture as I witnessed a topless bather at the beach! For you surfers, there is a surf board available & for those who kayak, there's a double kayak available as well as snorkel gear. The snorkeling & dolphin excursion will satisfy your need to reconnect with sea life. This was a great holiday & offered more than the resorts as my experience at resorts has been meeting folks who are too much like myself. Awesome, awesome, all around awesome! Ask for the rooms upstairs as they offer an ocean view.

Room Tip: Try your best to arrive as early as possible into Male, go to the tourist info desk & ask where...
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  • Stayed January 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank LatinaGlobeTrotter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Happy Life Maldives Lodge

Property: Happy Life Maldives Lodge
Address: Bahuruva, 08030
Region: Maldives > Kaafu Atoll > North Male Atoll > Dhiffushi Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Speciality Lodging in Dhiffushi Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our modern lodge was built in 2011 and we opened our doors in January 2012.We are striving for nothing less but your perfect dream holiday! Our mantra is "No news, no shoes" and we offer you the real Maldivian experience. In other words: we are the ideal, affordable alternative to unpersonal, big resorts. This piece of paradise offers everything you need to be happy! From relaxing on the beach and tranquil village life, to unbelievable dive sights, fishing spots and of course amazing unspoiled waves for the perfect surf experience. With us you'll enjoy the local island experience with a la carte flexibility and the personal touch of a boutique guesthouse. We offer four double rooms, each with en-suite bathroom and ocean, beach and palm tree views. The beach is only 20 meters from your doorstep. Our local chef Umar and his crew will spoil you with Maldivian specialties such as sea food dishes or, if you like continental cuisine in our beautiful outdoor restaurant. Happy Life Maldives Guesthouse is also available for exclusive bookings for groups and big families. ... more   less 
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