Sun Aqua Vilu Reef

Meedhuffushi South Nilandhe Atoll
5 star hotel

Reviews summary

4
Good
( 1073 reviews)
Brilliant
705
Good
240
Average
67
Poor
35
Awful
26
 

17 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog

different I can assure you

3
Average
by
Reviewed Mon 26th of November 2012

"having just returned from vilu reef, thought you would like to know that you dont have to share a table any longer! However, the restaurant feels like you are in a canteen as the tables and chairs are so close together.

We were orginally booked half board but didnt fancy eating in the restaurant for dinner so we ate every evening in the Sunset restaurant. What can I say about this! Fantastic setting, brilliant food and extremely attentive service. Chef was superb in that he cooked us whatever fish we wanted and in anyway we wanted.

Not alot could be said for the waiters in the main restaurant!

We thought that the costs were extremely reasonable - approx £13 for a bottle of perfectly good Chablis. Lobster was around £45 for the two of us.

Beware it is mainly an 'italian' resort with a sprinkling of Japanese, German, French and us Brits.

Weather was fantastic and the lagoon was warm.

Just beware of your journey home, Male airport wont let you check in until 4hrs prior to your flt and the last seaplane from Vilu Reef is at 1700 so you have a long long wait at the airport. You could go over to the capital but in the dark it is a bit tricky."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 10th of March 2007

Top service

4
Good
by
Reviewed Mon 12th of November 2012

"We visited Vilu Reef in late November 2006 for two weeks on half board. We are a UK couple in our forties visiting the Maldives for the fifth time. Here are our thoughts:

The island : It's small and room density is high with a lot of water villas added in recent years. Not necessarily a problem, but they haven't extended the restaurant so many people have to share tables. The system is same table, same waiter throughout your stay as on other islands.

It can be tricky to find a way from the inside of the island to the beach without feeling you're walking through someone else's space, some rooms are so close together that you just can't squeeze through.

There is plenty of vegetation, especially very tall coconut palms. The island is kept clean and tidy with a daily sweep of leaves and other debris.

The room : We had a beach bungalow and thought it good apart from the lack of light as the close neighbours and abundant trees shut out much of the light to the small windows. The room itself was large and the open air bathroom was also a good size. Nothing looked too dated or in need of replacement. The bed and was comfortable. There are wooden chairs and loungers on the room's deck and plastic loungers for use on the beach.

The room had a kettle, hairdryer, minibar/fridge, safe and satellite TV. A hot drink range was provided but you had to pay for the lot if you used any of it which is fine if you're going to use all the herbal infusions etc. It was only $10, but we were glad we had our own tea bags and milk powder.

We were offered an upgrade to a water villa for the last three nights but declined as we were perfectly happy with what we had and didn't want the hassle. A week might have been different!

Food : The main restaurant is buffet style with excellent quality and range. Breakfast was ok but other meals were better - on a par with Filitheyo. There were pastas, curries, grilled/roast meats, fish, vegetable dishes and snack stuff like pizza slices at every meal. Desserts were much better than I expected: Gateaux, puddings, sorbets etc. plus fruit. Any queues were shortlived and fresh food was brought out quickly even in the last minutes of the meal time. If your expectations are realistic considering you're miles from anywhere then you'll be very happy with the food. The highlight was roast turkey on thanksgiving day!

We were surprised by the number of smokers in the restaurant. Many of the European visitors smoke, frequently between courses and as it's quite a cosy restaurant it was a pain at times.

We ate lunch in the buffet restaurant a couple of times and it was a similar spread to the evening meals. It was all fresh dishes though - not like Kuredu where lunch was simply the leftovers from the previous supper. They charge $15 for a buffet lunch and as the a la carte/pool bar snacks are cheaper we went there most days. The a la carte restaurant was deserted at lunchtimes, I guess most people are all inclusive. We recommend the Chef's salad and the pasta.

The staff : Most impressed. They really made an effort and any request was acted upon. Ahmed the roomboy was outstanding. 11/10 for his bed linen artwork.

The reef/snorkelling : We were disappointed by the house reef for two reasons. Firstly the guide books and brochures claim it has good snorkelling but we didn't consider it as good as any of the other islands we've visited (Filitheyo, Reethi Beach, Kuredu, Vakarufalhi). Secondly they have a restriction on where you can snorkel because of the danger of strong currents. However this was a bit daft when the restricted areas are flat calm and current free and the permitted area has big swells! The life guard came and asked us to move a few times. It's worth snorkelling the reef to the left of the jetty which is in the lagoon, but is restricted because it's out of the view of the lifeguard. We saw turtles, napoleonfish and eagle rays here. On the main (permitted) reef there were lionfish, morays, turtles, barracuda, napoleonfish and plenty more. Didn't see any sharks on the house reef though.

Dive centre : Excellent, probably equal best I've encountered in the Maldives (tied with Filitheyo). They are laid back but friendly, thorough and their service standards are high. The boat crew actually assemble and disassemble your kit you which makes you really lazy. They do charge $20 per boat trip though, so you are paying for it.

The numbers diving seemed low, about 15-18 divers each time on an island with 200+ visitors. I reckon it would be a good place to start diving if you're thinking about it. The staff really do seem concerned that their divers are enjoying it.

Gym : An unexpected bonus - the equipment actually worked! (At Filitheyo it didn't). There's a treadmill (max speed 14 kph I think), cross trainer, static bike and weights. No a/c so most users went along in the early evening.

Pool : This is good. It is up to 1.6m deep in places and is in good condition. It's kidney shaped with a longest straight line of about 28 metres. We went swimming at around 6.30pm and were usually the only people in it.

Trips : Spoiled a bit by the weather, it was overcast and a bit windy for much of the time we were there. We went on three of the snorkel trips and found the guide and crew persevered in finding sites with safe conditions and decent visibility. On one trip we were in and out of the water four times in search of good snorkelling, None of the trips were particularly memorable, but they did their best. Don't forget to take a few $s to tip the boat crew.

Other facilities : tennis and badminton courts, both hard/tarmac surface. We didn't use them but they look smart and new. Equipment is free from reception. There is also a spa and a water sports centre.

In conclusion : There are a couple of small negatives (shared tables, really naff piped music in bars/restaurants) but loads more positives like the food and the outstanding staff. As our number one priority is great snorkelling we would try somewhere else rather than revisit Vilu Reef, but we certainly would not discourage anyone from going.
Andy"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 9th of February 2007

Warning about the house reef

4
Good
by
Reviewed Wed 12th of December 2012

"Just got back from Vilu Reef last night.

I think the review below dated 15th December 2006 is very accurate as regards the reef, lagoon and surrounding area.

However, I wanted to expand on the house reef. Due to a strong current, or high winds making the ocean choppy, we did not actually get on the reef to snorkel until the 6th day. By the end of two weeks, we had only been on it about 3 times (and the weather was sunny/hot, not stormy). We checked virtually every morning and afternoon to see if the conditions were right and most times they werent. We spoke to the lifeguard each time we went on the reef, to double check it was ok. One day, it looked ok and the life guard said it was but I soon realised it was not. We virtually had to drag ourselves back on the rope. The current was very strong and fairly big waves suddenly came over.

OK, I am not the most confident snorkeller there ever was but I just wanted to warn anyone else out there like me.

This wasnt the sedate snorkelling I have enjoyed elsewhere in the Maldives.

So if you go, take your opportunites when you can to get on the reef."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 7th of February 2007

Poor house reef

2
Poor
by
Reviewed Mon 26th of November 2012

"This place is full of Japanese honeymooners.
Was told that the house reef was excellent - it is NOT!
We dive and had planned on diving the house reef - apparently this is a 15 minute dive due to strong currents. we had to spend an extra $500 to go boat diving everyday. Dive centre well organised and professional. Some difficulty finding sites - descended to 20 m and then had to return to boat twice to find the reef.
Real mix of nationalities - Italians, Japanese, British, French, German.
Very little socializing, everyone just sits on their own table and talks to no-one.
Don't get a beach bungalow on the inhabited island side - you can hear the calls to prayer!
Not a relaxed place - the buffet was frantic. Lots of average food.
Maldives are not worth the premium, there are so many beautiful places to go, this is an overpriced and boring one."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Mon 1st of January 2007

Desert Island Dream

3
Average
by
Reviewed Wed 12th of December 2012

"Taking our 8th trip to the Maldives and our 1st at Vilu Reef, this review is written as compared to other Maldivian resorts.

We flew with Monarch from London Gatwick via Manchester in Premium Class. The cabin crew were rude, talking amongst themselves non-stop, our TV's did not work during the whole flight, they refused to move us to empty seats that had workable TVs. They were more interested in people who had upgrade from the economy class and taking their money (£70 one way) and giving them a workable TV! When I missed my drink due to being asleep and requested politely for a coffee only to be told "can you come along and get it yourself?". I was sat in the front row inches from the air crew! Other passengers gasped in amazement. Needless to say, our journey on the way back was a little better with a workable TV. Hooray! So unless you want a budget holiday, my advice would be take a flight with a reputable airline.

We stayed at Vilu Reef for 2 weeks end of July/Aug 06 taking the 35 mins seaplane flight from Male over scenic corals and turquoise waters to the South Nilandhe Atoll.

We spent a week on a beach villa and a week on a water villa. All rooms were serviced twice a day. The beach villa is shaped into a nautilius shell with a 4 poster bed in the middle. Satellite TV, mini bar, ceiling fan, hairdryer, airconditioning, room safe, and partially outdoor bathroom with separate shower and bath. Separate small dressing room although ours were rather cramped and not well designed at all. The only other criticism is that there was not much natural light into the room, but then we hardly spent much time in the room anyway. In common with most Maldivian islands these days, the beach villas are set back amongst vegetation to maintain the island's ecological appeal, which gives respite from the hot sun. Each beach villa came with it's own decking and 2 padded wooden loungers. Two further plastic loungers were available to pull out to the sandy beach. Some thatched umbrellas were situated on the beach. We stayed in the beach villa right next to the pool and were initially concerned we may be affected by the noise from the pool but this was not the case. In fact, it was great nipping next door to the pool bar and ordering whatever we wanted from the AI package, or having a dip in the pool to cool off as well as the warm sea, or simply to use their seating/loungers round the pool for a quiet drink or to read a book.

The 2nd week was spent in a jacuzzi water villa and these were luxurious compared to the beach villas, nicely kitted out in the Maldivian style, 4 poster kingsize bed, airconditioning, ceiling fan, hairdryer, writing desk, chaise lounge, satellite TV/CD (bring your own CD's!, Vilu Reef does not have a library) bedside tables, floor, table and bedside lamps. The spacious bedroom had french doors to a balcony where it was lovely, warm & romantic to wake up to the dawn each morning. Wardrobes, mini safe. Tea/Coffee/kettle etc. The bathroom was luxurous, 2 sinks, bath overlooking the decking and ocean. There was a jacuzzi bath outside on the decking which was fantastic at the end of the day to cool down with a glass or two. Bear in mind it takes a while to fill up and that it does not offer TOTAL privacy! Wooden decking had 2 padded wooden loungers, a table, 2 chairs and steps down to the ocean with a swim up platform. We had all sorts of fish swimming under our decking, including an leopard ray. Remember it would not quite be possible to have sun all day on the decking so it would be worth requesting the sunrise or sunset side when checking in. There is a little spit of beach by the water bungalows with plastic loungers with "WB" written on them for the water bungalow guests should "their" bit of sun disappears from the decking - nice touch.

If you can afford it, go for the Honeymoon Water Villas. They are simply beautiful with glass panelling on 3 sides offering panoramic views, exquisitely furnished, plus an an extra room and in a prime location. They also have an outdoor shower. Vilu Reef has 5 honeymoon villas, 35 jacuzzi water villas, 20 garden villas and 62 beach villas. They also have one presidential suite which is situated on end the water bungalow complex and has 2 bedrooms and a kitchenette. Although the water bungalows are nice for that "over water" living, it did feel it was rather too large for the island, taking away that "natural" feeling. But don't let that distract you from Vilu Reef - for a first time visitor to the Maldives or a water bungalow enthusiast, this island will blow your mind!

If you are a water bungalow guest, make sure you take flip flops at least, the wooden decking to the WB's is absolutely hot!

The Island's garden villas are situated in the middle of the island and in blocks of two with no sea view whatsoever. They are twin bedded rooms with a verandah and a TV. Okay for those who are not that bothered with luxurious living or scenic views.

We took the AI package for the 1st time in the Maldives, and we were glad we did. Entertainment was laid on every night, and the AI package is excellent on Vilu Reef. You just order your drinks (many branded drinks are on the AI package) as you go along and each morning at breakfast (or lunch if you miss breakfast!) you just sign for what you had the day before. The meal package is buffet style and plenty of it and caters for all tastes. Tip - best way to deal with the breakfast, lunch and dinner is to ration yourself each day rather than to have a bit of everything (which is very tempting!) and that way the food will not become too "samey" over the course of your holiday. Breakfast is served 0800-1000 hours, Lunch 1300-1430 hrs and Dinner 2000-2200 hours. As far as I could see, no one had to share their tables. There were themed food nights as well as the normal buffet food. A weekly dinner on the beach is the norm. Romantic candlelit dinner on the beach is a must, well away from everyone and catered for all your needs with waiter service. There is a separate restaurant for the water bungalow guests for breakfast, with a menu on the AI package. We took ours in the main restaurant as we preferred the buffet and less stuffy atmosphere. The over water la a carte restaurant is recommended for that special dinner.

Vilu Reef offered excursions, Big Game Fishing (we took the half day morning trip and it was fantastic and we were well looked after by the crew with free complimentary drinks, and breakfast), Snorkelling, Night Fishing (a good laugh!), Dolphin Cruise, Sun Set Cruise.

We took the snorkelling trips to Shark Point and Turtle Point. Shark Point was just off Velavaru and although we did not see any sharks we did see a turtle, and an array of different reef fishes. We also took the half day trip to the local inhabited fishing Meedhoo island, where one had the opportunity to buy gifts from the few shops there. Other inhabited islands available (depending on the season) are Bandidhoo, Hulhudheli and Ribidhoo.

The main bar is open from 1000 hrs every day until the last guest leaves in the evening. The Pool Bar is situated at the opposite end of the island near the water bungalows.

The Dive School is operated by Sun International Diving School offering scuba diving and all types of courses - Padi Open /Water, Referral, Advanced open water, Medic first aid & Rescue courses, Dive Master and Assistant Instructor courses. The instructors speak, English, German, Italian, French and Japanese.

The Water Sports Centre offer windsurfing, catamaran sailing, banana boat riding, canoeing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, knee boarding, fun tubes. They offer courses for cataramaran sailing, beginners and advanced. Other sports are available in their well equipped outdoor tennis court and badminton court in the cool shade. Volleyball on the beach.

There is a well stocked shop which you can purchase items to be added to your room bill, selling hand crafts, souvenirs, books, postcards, stamps, suntan lotion, toiletries etc. There is a Jewellery Shop.

The Spa offered all sorts of treatments of which I have a price list which I can give on request if you find "Activegirl" (Maldives expert) on the forum. I did not have the opportunity to take advantage of the treatments, we were far too busy!

Vilu Reef's motto is "your wish is our command" and they do live up to their name. They are understanding, polite and very willing to cater to your needs should you have a problem. But don't expect them to be quick! The Maldivian pace of life is slow. We had a problem with our safe (battery apparently ran out!) and had to wait over an hour for someone to come and fix it so should you have a complaint do plan ahead especially if you have booked a trip or going out for dinner, etc. If it's a simple thing like a blown light bulb then report it to housekeeping and the room boy will fix it whilst you are out.

The beach is lovely white sand, although the spit at the end by the water bungalows is a little corally, the lagoon side has uninterrupted views with a wide beach whereas the snorkelling side has narrow beach (especially when the tide is in) and debris is washed up on the snorkelling side from the neighbouring inhabited island. The beach cleaners do try their bit coming along twice a day to collect debris, seaweed and sweep the sand. Marine life is great on the snorkelling side although the currents can be strong but it is roped off and a lifeguard keeps watch all day. At night a security guard is situated here to ensure no one from the inhabited island comes to Vilu Reef which is great for guest security. Dolphins regularly pass by and is visable from the Pool Bar at approx 5pm nearly every day, playing and jumping out of the water.

We only had one night's of heavy rain and 20 mins during one day during our two weeks in the supposedly rainy season so don't let the rainy season be a barrier to your holiday.

All in all we had a fantastic holiday, great weather, great friendly staff (especially at the Pool Bar), good restaurant service. I would go back."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 22nd of December 2006

Close adjacent island is ugly and the house reef is below par

2
Poor
by
Reviewed Tue 6th of November 2012

"We arrived via Srilankan Airlines 3/12/06 for 10 nights - 8 were in beach villa 154 and 2 in water villa 431. We had booked via Kuoni. The flight and sea plane transfer was very good and no delays.

We have been to the Maldives twice before and also to several resory islands on the Gt Barrier Reef Australia.

The first thing that hit us upon arrival at Vilu Reef was a feeling of disappointment as slap bang next to this resort is a residential island that is very unattractive.

This means that unless you are on the lagoon side (which luckily we were) then you look directly at this other island and it's messy buildings for your whole stay. It is close, at a guess we would say only half a mile.

Then there was a man made sea wall that stands 3' above the water with a lifeguard hut stationed on the middle off it. This wall is extended much further than the old photos shown on their website

Hardly the picture of an undeveloped South Nilandhe Atoll Island that we had expected.

Also you will likely hear the loud tanoy chanting from this adjacent island.

Our next disappointment was the snorkelling. The house reef is far below the standard of others that we have experienced such as Filetheyo and Kuredu and it is smaller. In addition to this they only run one snorkel trip per day and it costs $29 per person - actually everything is plus 10% service charge so it's $31.90 each
this covers one trip and 2 snorkel sites.

Unfortunately then we found out that they only go to 3 sites in total
Paradise reef, Turtle point and Shark point. So if you make one trip for 2 hours you have already covered 2 out of 3 of the sites.

We explained to Vilu Reef that this was not what we had expected and asked to be refunded less 1 days stay so that we could move to another island. Neither Vilu Reef or Kuoni would offer us anything towards doing this so we had no choice except to stay and make the best of it.

The next problem was that we were approach by their lifeguard boat as we were snorkelling reef that is in the lagoon side. (better than the house reef) Ourselves and another guest were informed that we must get in his boat and get out of the water. He said that it was spoiling it for the other guests as we were not allowed to snorkel in the lagoon or anywhere other than bouys 1-3 on the main reef.

We refused to get in his boat but said we would swin to the shore. He escorted us, asked for our room numbers and said again that no snorkelling was allowed in the lagoon area.
Later we demanded an explanation from the Vilu Reef management.

Their manager explained that it was due to the fact that some guests had lost their lives at the resort on the main reef due to the strong currents so they had to be very careful. We again pointed out that we were in the lagoon and nowhere near the outer reef currents.

We then asked about snorkelling from our water villa and were told that this was not allowed either. It was reconfirmed that the only place allowed for snorkelling was between bouys 1-2 & 3 on the reef. This really made no sense as the Watervillas had ladders leading down to the water. We asked about swimming and the manager again said no.

We called Kuoni to try and get early flights home only to be told that all flights were full. Finally we got a call from the VR management saying that it was all a big mistake and we could snorkel the lagoon reef after all.

All of this experience had created bad feeling for us. We managed to find some good snorkelling by going out with the dive boat, luckily one of us dives so they allowed us to do that (without a diver in your party you are stuck with the resort snorkelling). Also the watersports provided a half day catermaran trip for $40 each (+10% VR service charge) that included great snorkelling.

The diving centre and the watersports are independently run ie.. not by the resort and both are very good. Infact the diving centre is the best we have experienced anywhere in the world. The dive guides are extremely enthusiastic about what they do and really made the diving memorable.

Food: the food in the main restuarant was not that great, comparing it to others Vilu Reef would score only 5/10. The fresh cooked food, ie.. pasta was very good but you cannot fancy that every night. The service on the other hand was 10/10 but that tends to be the case in most Maldive resorts from our experience.

Their Sunset restuarant was again great service but the food, although seemingly endless, it was overcooked and nothing special. When you first arrive at the resort they tell you that if you are AI then you get 15% off in the Sunset restuarant "except the Lobster" they said. When we got our final bill they said that there was no discount for the meals we had, but we did not have the lobster and we are all inclusive - "it does not work like that and also it is plus 10% service charge" they said ! - we could not be bothered to agrue further to get the amount deducted.

The Water Villas are a high standard, in fact in our opinion they are out of sync with the resort. ie.. they are 5 star water villas in what for us was a 3 star resort.

We will be asking Kuoni for an explanation as to why this resort is not accurately described both in their sales brochure and on Vilu Reefs web site.

The Kuoni rep in the Mladives promised to come to the resort on 6/12/06, we waited for him and then called him only to find out that he was not coming after all. He seemed completely unfamiliar with anything about the island - as if he had never been there.

So to sum up our feelings about this resort

Island Location and surrounding area 3/10
Island Internal beauty and vegetation 8/10
Island house reef snorkelling 3/10
Island boat trip snorkelling 3/10
Dive centre and dive trips 9/10
Watersports centre 7/10
Water Villa no. 431 9/10 on the lagoon side view
Beach Villa no.154 6/10 on the lagoon side view
others on the reef side with piles of sand bags outside 1/10 (best locations are 103 and 104 - 7/10)
Food 5/10
Waiters, bar staff and room service 9/10
Island cleanliness 9/10
Close area sea cleanliness 5/10 - plastic bottles and even a used nappy floating by, rubbish from adjacent island we think.

It is also worth mentioning that many of the beach villas are deep in vegetation so a direct veiw from your deck to the sea is not possible so they are not really beach villas. Some beach villas are far better located than others so you may have a fight to get a decent one if the resort is busy.

We met other people who had a similar opinion to us about this place - it depends a great deal upon what you expect with a Maldivian resort. Our opinion is that this resort is not accurately shown on it's web site, if it had been then we would never have booked our holiday there."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 15th of December 2006

Moulds itself to what you want from your holiday

4
Good
by
Reviewed Sat 8th of December 2012

"We stayed at Vilu Reef for 12 nights for the first two weeks of November 2006 as our honeymoon.

We flew Emirates from London Heathrow, after reading bad reviews of the charter flights. Emirates weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either. Also, as we had to change planes at Dubai, and stop in Sri Lanka too, it was a lot of travelling. It was further extended as we had to wait for two hours for the sea plane transfer – it was delayed.

On landing, Vilu Reef turned out to be a fairly typical run-of-the-mill holiday resort. I was maybe expecting a little more and felt a little disappointed. It is not an isolated desert island. On the sea side there is an inhabitated island 1000m or less away with a boatyard. However, by the end of the holiday, this initial disappointment was completely gone and I would rate it as a lovely place to stay.

THE ROOMS: We stayed the first few nights in a beach villa overlooking the lagoon. The first swim was beautiful. Within seconds I was amazed at what I had seen under the water, and the lagoon side is just the perfect place. We had originally requested a villa on the opposite side of the island for the snorkelling, but it didn’t happen. Anyway, we soon realised the sun is better on the lagoon side. Many of the beach areas on the sea side are very shaded in the afternoon. The room was good, very clean, but nothing extravagant. The bathroom is outside which is novel, and does have the benefit of having lots of space for your wet gear.

The next eight nights we stayed in a water villa. Now, this was perfect. It really is a step up and we really enjoyed the villa. Highlights included a bath overlooking the lagoon with a gigantic picture window. In fact, they are great bathrooms, BIG shower. Outside, there are steps down into the lagoon – each evening after dinner, we sat there with the lights on the water watching the fish. Very romantic. We didn't use the outside jacuzzi bath, well apart from washing our scuba gear in! We had a couple of rainy days, and enjoyed swivelling the TV round to watch James Bond from our bed.

FOOD: We are both foodies, and have eaten at some fantastic restaurants around the globe. As such we were not expecting much, as every night is ‘buffet night’. But actually, the food was much, much better than we imagined. There is a lot of variety, each night is themed….Asian, American, international….along with some more consistent dishes like lots of salad (quite innovative ones at that), pizza, pasta etc. So there were probably 15 or so main courses to pick from each night. And, it really was enjoyable. In fact, some of the dishes were delightful. Also, as we were honeymooners we did not have to share our table each night, but most other people did. Once a week, the tables are moved to the beach. This is a nice touch as the restaurant is in the middle of the island, so for most of the time you sadly do not get the sea view.

ACTIVITIES: We thought we’d have lots of time to sit around. We were wrong. Aside from the excellent snorkelling on the house reef, there are lots of excursions to keep you entertained. We did quite a few and loved them. The whole day snorkel is great, with a picnic on an uninhabited island. The house reef is pretty good, and very accessible. A tip though -- there is actually some great snorkelling around the water villas, though no-one snorkels there. The rock formations in the middle hold quite a variety that is even more accessible than the house reef. For example, you can stare face to face with Stingrays and Moray Eels without having to dive. There is some nightlife, but it wasn't something we indulged in - prefering the more romantic walks along the moon-lit beaches.

DIVE CENTRE: The dive centre is fantastic. The boat trips are certainly the way I would like to dive in the future. Everything is done for you. Even your BCD and wet-suit etc is cleaned by the staff. You also use the same equipment for the whole time you are there – including the loan of a dive computer for your duration, at no extra hire cost. All dives seem to be based on 20m for 50mins or 50 bar minimum. $50 a dive plus $20 for the boat. A morning session is thus two dives plus boat. There is some wonderful diving near this resort.

STAFF: Fantastic, friendly, helpful, fun. They remember who you are.

GUESTS: Mainly German and Italian while we were there. But all laid back.

SUMMARY: A fairly straightforward and unpretentious resort. Casual. Excellent water villas. Lots to do. Great snorkelling and fantastic diving nearby. Can be quite romantic too. We were sad to leave.

'A middle-sized, well organised resort that moulds itself to what you want from your holiday - but get a water villa!'

-

There was however one negative that really disappointed me – well, p’ed me off actually. As we were waiting to leave, we were playing on the beach. One of the staff approached us and said we had not paid for a bottle of water from our mini-bar from the day before. The thing was – we hadn’t touched the mini-bar for a couple of days, and I knew the small bottle of water was still in there when I left the room. I told them so, but still they insisted I paid and I got dragged from the beach to the cashiers for the sake of $2.50."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Mon 20th of November 2006

Fantastic Honeymoon Experience

4
Good
by
Reviewed Sat 8th of December 2012

"From arriving to the sound of drums and the taste of fresh coconut cocktail, this place is heaven on earth, with a few very minor irritations. We stayed 11 nights on this amazing little island without getting bored for a minute. After a couple of days time has no relevance other than mealtimes and you wish you could stay forever.

We booked a Jacuzzi Water Villa and asked for one in a quiet location, which we got, right at the end of the walkway. The Villa was amazing, split level decking at the rear, with steps down into the sea, which was warm and fairly calm with a fair array of reef fish. There was a fairly comprehensive mini bar which was restocked daily, excellent air conditioning, and a wonderful bathroom. The Jacuzzi on the deck however is a standard sized bath, and takes an eternity to fill. We're talking nearly an hour!

The main restaurant (AI) is a bit of a free for all, the food is pretty random. Certain things are very good, others not so. They try hard on certain days to sell you the lobster dinner, its a lot of eating but very expensive. The majority of tables in the main restaurant are for four people so you are expected to share with another couple of the same nationality. We asked to move to our own table 3 times before it was sorted, but it eventually was. The waiter in this restaurant serves you for the duration of your stay, ours was a bit 'off' we thought. The speciality restaurant was a different world however, the food was excellent (bearing in mind it cannot be classed as fine dining), service first class and prices reasonably comparable to a mid range restaurant in the UK. We ate here every other night. Bear in mind however everything with the exception of coconuts is imported.

We booked AI and were impressed at the variety of drinks available as part of the AI package. Only premium brands are excluded (Jack Daniels, Budweiser etc) However avoid the house wine, its dreadful. The local draught beer is almost addictive!

We took up the offer of night fishing and ate our catch (which they barbequed to perfection) on the beach the next night under the stars. Fantastic. We also did the half day trip to a local inhabited island which was eye opening and provided some fantastic photo and present shopping opportunities.

The seaplane transfer to and from Male is exciting and wasnt too turbulent. I would advise against flying with Monarch as we spoke to several people who said it was awful. We flew scheduled with Emirates, reasonable in economy but business class on return leg excellent. We booked with an independent travel agent, Maldives Direct, who were exceptional in every respect as they have personally been to the resorts they sell, unlike the thomas cook and first choices of this world. I definatly would reccomend the Water Villas, the beach villas arent very private, and the garden villas looked small and a little dated.

Phew, that was a long review!"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 14th of November 2006

This place is something special

5
Brilliant
by
Reviewed Tue 6th of November 2012

"Stayed at Vilu Reef in September 2006 for a two week honeymoon in a Beach Villa.
Firstly, the place really is as good as the photographs show and this really is a piece of paradise. This was my first visit to the Maldives, but it will not be my last.
What I could not understand was although the resort had full occupancy during our stay, you hardly ever saw anyone else! You seemed to have the beach to yourselves, thanks to excellent landscaping, you never saw or heard your neighbours and you were always served within seconds of entering the bar.
The level of service is excellent and the food is both plentiful, varied and of not a bad quality at all. There are a number of trips such as fishing, dolphin watching, snorkelling, island hopping etc organised on a daily basis. All are very well organised and good value.
A few tips for those thinking of visiting;
Please consider the ‘all inclusive’ package. It is excellent value with all food and drink included. My wife and I drank beer almost exclusively, but at $5 for a glass, my bar bill would have been over $800. Some people we met drank mainly vodka and gin and their bill would have been nearly $2,400! With the all-inclusive package, all this is included at no additional cost. Also the drink brands are well known, Gordon’s, Bells, Bacardi etc., not local brews.
Stay in a Beach Villa or Water Villa rather than the Garden Villas which are located towards the interior of the island. Beach Villas are just yards from the water’s edge and the Water Villas are the ones on stilts which you will see in the photographs.
Don’t take too many clothes! No need to dress up anywhere and tee-shirts and shorts are acceptable everywhere. Shoes are an optional extra – you really don’t need them!
Finally, would I go again? Yes, like a shot! Good value, excellent, helpful service and all that I was expecting. Absolutely fantastic!"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 6th of October 2006

Great place!!

4
Good
by
Reviewed Mon 12th of November 2012

"THE PROS:
-We had rented a beach villa, which was very nice and something like 5 meters from the beach, hence 25 meters from the coral reef! The only hitch was we didn't have a direct view of the beach like many of the other beach villas, but it didn't really matter.

-The coral reef IS REALLY 20 meters from the beach, on our side of the island. If you room is on the other side you might have to walk a little, but walking the longest way around the island only takes 20 minutes!

-After several attempts to move us to a water villa for 83 $ per day/per person, the staff finally offered us the upgrade for free because the island was overbooked and they needed our beach villa for new arrivals. So if they ask you, you know what to do :) The water villas are very very nice, with jacuzzi, privacy and you are right above the water, and if you don't take their offer you stand a good chance of getting one for free, since the island is always overbooked :)

-Food is excellent. If you go night fishing you have dinner on the beach the following day and can eat your own fish. Nice sunsets on the ocean if you do this excursion, too. We also did the dolphin cruise and saw hundreds of them!

-The rooms and island are clean, the staff is friendly eventhough they really get miserable salaries.

-Excellent spot for snorkeling. Rays/some sharks/barracuda/turtles and thousands of fish that you can see just by wearing a mask and tuba only a few inches from the beach!!!!! You don't have to be a good swimmer, which I am not. But beware of strong current, if you swim too far the guard will come and tell you to stay closer to the island (for a good reason too).

-Personal experience: my birthday was during on holiday. The room boy decorated our bed with flowers for the occasion.

THE CONTRAS:
-At the restaurant you always sit at the same table so you can tip your waiter at the end of your stay. I you are from a country (France, for instance) from which few holidaymakers come, you stand a good chance of keeping it for yourself. If you are from Italy or Germany though, you might have to share your table with some fellow nationals. This may be a problem for some people; but I think they avoid this for honeymooners and don't mix peope from different countries.

-The beach villas ARE wonderful, but be aware that there are further away from the reef as they are on the other side of the island. That was my only regret when we moved to the water villa.

-I think you should avoid GARDEN villas, from what I read on this site and also from comments from another guy there who didn't look very happy with his. On our last day we were lent a garden villa for showering and it did look kind of derelict.

-On our last day, we asked to keep the water villas until 3 PM as I had booked a night flight; but were told this was not possible. Hence, if you are leaving on the evening, be aware that check-out time might be at noon anyway -depending on new arrivals but as I said, the island has a strong turnover. Once you have checked out, you can still go snorkeling as they lend you a garden villa for showering. But then, you'll have to leave at around 4 and wait at the airport for a long time -plus one hour time difference between Vilu Reef and Mahe.

-Even if you are all inclusive, be aware that you need dollars in cach to tip your waiter, room boy and porter. I think that's OK because they get such low wages, but it's worth knowing. You're under no obligation to leave tips, though. If you do, you have to count about 10 to 20 US dollars per week for the waiter and room boy.

OVERALL, I enjoyed this stay very much and strongly recommend it, even with the small drawbacks described. It was my second best holiday and definitely the best one for snorkeling!"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 6th of October 2006

Myself and my husband chose Vilu Reef as...

4
Good
by
Reviewed Thu 11th of September 2008

"Myself and my husband chose Vilu Reef as our honeymoon destination this August, and was not dissapointed. The island is just as the brochures show unspoilt paradise.

We booked a beach bungalow to stay in, but a note to the squimish, these come with an outside bathroom, so if you are not a big fan of Gecos or insects of any kind then i would maybe think twice about booking one up. After 5 days we upgraded to a water bungalow at the hotels reception, which is very easy to do, and not as expensive as pre booking it from home as the hotel also gave our first two nights in it for free!

The water bungalow was amazing, and by far the best thing we did as not only did we have our own ladder from our decking into the sea, but the bathroom is inside and very plush - no bugs or lizards to be found!

The hotel also has board games and cards which the bars will be more then happy to provide you with for extra entertainment by the pool.

This hotel also operates a tab policy where everything you do pay for ( cocktails, gifts, upgrades, minibar, icecream, internet etc, is all charged to your room which means no need for money (except for tipping) as you just settle up the bill at the end of your stay.

There is shampoo, shower gel and soap provided in all rooms, and the hairdryers provided are excellent, the rooms are cleaned twice a day, and this resort has UK plug sockets so no need for adaptors.

Overall the food was good with alot of varity and themed nights, and you even have the opportunity to go night fishing and have you catch cooked up for you! We also had a candlelit dinner for our honeymoon which is complimentry from the hotel which i would highly recommend too.

All in all, the staff were very friendly and helpful, and we met some great people whilst there. A real feel good holiday resort with many nationalities visiting (especially italiens). There are also more children on the island then expected so if you do have children then they are most certainly catered for.

Look forward to booking up our next trip, and hopefully seeing vilu reef again!

"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Thu 11th of September 2008

We've just returned from our honeymoon a...

5
Brilliant
by
Reviewed Tue 2nd of September 2008

"We've just returned from our honeymoon at this resort - and we had the time of our lives. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left the staff did absolutely everything they could to ensure our holiday was a fantastic experience.

We stayed in a water villa and were so pleased we opted for that - they are very, very good. The room boy service was similarly excellent and we tipped him very well.

The whole island is kept spotlessly clean and tidy. The water life is incredible - we saw endless beautiful fish, manta ray, reef shark. Snorkelling is superb here.

When we look back at the photos we feel so happy but also sad to not still be there!

We will definitely be going back at our earliest opportunity."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 2nd of September 2008

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Sun Aqua Vilu Reef is also called

  • Vilu Reef Beach & Spa Resort
  • Vilu Reef Beach And Spa
  • Vilu Reef Beach Hotel

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