16 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Paradise, not for the grumpy, or those who will find a fualt with anywhere.
"This was our first visit to the maldives and reading previous reviews left us a little undecided on what to expect......
My advive: Don't read them.... go and enjoy yourself in paradise. Go with that in mind and you will all most certainly fall in love with the Maldives....
This was our Honeymoon and was the first chance we had to spend some quality time together without the kids and our only wish was to relax. Relax we certainly did with heavenly surroundings.
On the supposedly shoddy accomodation: Well we had a beautiful appartment on stilts (water villa)in the sea overlooking crystal clear waters. Outside & indoor bathroom, excellent air conditioning and anything you could possibly need. Plasma tv with surround sound. The rooms were cleaned twice daily and the beds were arranged differently every evening.
We stayed on the island CHAAYA REEF ELLAIDHOO and the island was totally amazing. Bright white sands, transparent waters and beautiful forestation. The attention to detail was out of this world.
The staff Couldn't have been more friendly or helpful. They would run around after you all day if you let them. The food was perfect, I was a bit aprehensive before we went because I am quite picky but the choice was outstanding and the quality second to none. In fact I Don't think I have ever eaten so well.
To round it up: If you would like a holiday where you can truely relax in paradise, with service fit for royalty and perfect weather to go with it, then, CHAAYA REEF ELLAIDHOO is the place for you.
I may not be the hardest person in the world to please but this place left me feeling totally amazed that places like this really do exist. One thing is for sure, We are are going back....."
- Travel date: Sat 26th of December 2009
Almost faultless- absolute paradise
"We went in July, having been May 07 without the children to the Maldives to another island called Kuramathi. Determined to return to the Maldives but with our three children aged 12,13 &16 we opted to try another island and plumped for Ellaidhoo as advertised as great for snorkelling and we got a great deal through 'First Choice' on the internet with an all inc package.
Please, please don't be put off by previous poor reviews-This was booked as a 3star holiday but the island setting its sights on working its way up to a 4 or 5star. We all had a brilliant time- the children were never bored as there was always the option of snorkelling or swimming by the beautiful pool.
The island is amazing. It has such a fantastic reef just on from the sea wall. Weather was great with just the odd short, sharp shower for no longer than half an hour at a time.
We were bowled over by the amount of wonderful fish and one highlight was my daughter swimming with a group of manta rays drifting along the reef. We had no qualms about the childrens safety snorkelling and were on the reef at least twice a day. By the restaurant was particularly good as the corals are recovering from the bleaching here and the colours are amazing. We didn't see the turtles but others staying with us managed to spot them.
The Staff and Restaurant
Again the island was only 30% occupied during our stay. We were thoroughly spoilt by all the staff. The staff were exceptionally friendly- and you are greeted by every staff member we passed as we walked around the island. Nothing was too much trouble for anyone, minor problems were promptly rectified. The waiters and restaurant staff were very attentive and took time to give napkin folding lessons to my inquisitive daughter as every day there was a more elaborate napkin on the table. These ranged from boats to turtles! Food was unbelievable with every conceivable option for breakfast and wonderful varied dishes throughout our fortnights stay. If you go on the Evening fishing trip they cook your catch for you to eat the next day. The chefs are very front of house and take real pride in their food. The mini desserts were a work of art and as much as I tried not to be tempted at both lunch and dinner, unfortunately they were too much to resist. What we found particularly good was the invitation from the waiters for my son to play football with them in their free period every afternoon- he enjoyed this so much despite the heat and language barrier.
This was very low key- which was perfect for such a relaxing holiday. A band played at dinner- they were very good - it was just great to relax and make new friends with the band playing in the background. There was the odd crab racing night and bingo which was very entertaining.
This was brilliant and inc all non branded spirits, san miguel, and their wonderful fresh fruit juices. A limited no. of cocktails were available which over the fortnight got a bit boring. Other cocktails were price at 10usd.
We had two ajoining superior garden rooms - one step back from the beach bungalows and they were great- quite dark but very cool and clean and well decorated. The outside bathrooms were wonderful- lying in the bath with a heron watching over you and lizards chirping away in the small garden.
We were put under no pressure to tip but obviously due to the level of service were more than keen to leave a tip to the staff that were particularly attentive to us
All work is completed apart from the leisure centre with the tennis courts and spa. We went for our free massage on arrival but this was in the staff accommodation block which was very tatty. Even when the work is completely finished - I think I would be disappointed with the spa treatment area being away from the beach - Last year in Kuramathi the spa was on a pier out to sea- far more relaxing.
What more can I say- really wonderful- no other holiday will match any Maldives holiday. My only concern is when we return to the Maldives, will any other island match up to the standards of Ellaidhoo?"
- Travel date: Thu 31st of July 2008
Not a 4* resort! But great place to chill out.
"We stayed at Ellaidhoo at the beginning of July 2008. We were there for 2 weeks and we had a lovely time.
Pro's: The food is great, the staff are really friendly, the rooms have been updated and the decor is good, relaxed resort - you do not have to dress up for dinner, the infinity pool is pretty, the rooms were tidied and cleaned at least twice a day. Very good gym.
Cons: Entertainment not so good - same music day in day out makes your stay rather a monotonous one!, snorkeling ok - its not the best island for snorkeling - Ive seen better reef at Vilamendhoo (cant vouch for diving as I dont dive), surrounded by italians who were very loud and roudy - if you came away for a quiet holiday forget it!, spa was in the staff quarters and there were no jacuzzis (this is currently being built). No snack menu at the bars - basically you get what you are given - could be tuna sandwich fingers or the odd samosa. (Vilamendhoo has a good snack menu in the afternoon), electrics in the room are very bad - light bulbs keep going, water dropping from air conditioning into electric sockets in the bathroom.
My recommendation if you are booking this holiday for the spa - dont until you are sure that it is available! We were miss sold this part of the holiday! Book a beach bungalow, they have access to the best/only part of the beach (we stayed in room 305) - be prepared to bag your seats very early in the morning though, as one day an italian couple took our seats which were right outside our villa, theyd seen us there all week and they still wouldnt move, we had to find somewhere else to sit that day!
Overall, value for money, you pay for what you get ;)"
- Travel date: Tue 29th of July 2008
Best Sri Lankan hospitality in the Maldives
"We stayed in Ellaidhoo in June when the SW monsoon should be bringing rain each day. It didn't - we had one day's rain. That was already a plus.
We were on an all-inclusive deal out of Frankfurt.
Got there by seaplane from Male in about 20 mins.
The resort was at 30% capacity and was marvellously relaxed and easygoing. The food, particularly if, like us, you think that Sri Lankan cuisine is among the best in the world, was fresh, tasty, varied and exotic. The excellent service was what you would expect from a resort that is part of one of Sri Lanka's major hotel chains.
The island, around which you can walk in twenty minutes, has the best snorkelling we have ever come across. You can walk 3 metres from your bungalow, put on your gear, swim a few metres across a small lagoon made by the sea defences and then be on the edge of the house reef. Following a turtle for 30 mins along the reef before it surfaced to play with us was unforgettable. The reef seemed to be full of morays.
Diving was relaxed, friendly and safe. The locations were stunning. Fish Head's Napoleon Fish are curious and very big up close."
- Travel date: Fri 25th of July 2008
"This is our second visit to Maldives. Our top priority is snorkeling. Finally chose Ellaidhoo due its great review on snorkeling.
Ellaidhoo did not fail us in this aspect. We had been to Redang, Perhentian, Tioman, Phuket and Maldives Hakura island, Ellaidhoo definitely is the best. During high tide, just barely 20 metres from shore and you are among all types of fish. And when low tide, you are able to snorkel with fish in waist high water. This is perfect for me as I am not a good swimmer. Do take note that island with good diving does not equivalent to good snorkeling. Ellaidhoo is excellent for both activities. We got to snorkel with a 5 feet shark. It's kind of scary at first but was too facinated by it after awhile. This might not be a common sight as we only encounter it once. There was once a real big moral eel glide pass and it scared the hell out of me as I was only metres above it. If you are not a good swimmer and snorkeling is your top priority, I would highly recommend Ellaidhoo. You will not be disappointed with the marine life there. The best spot for snorkeling is the sea in front room 201.
We stayed in a suprior room, number 201. The location of this room is fantastic. Main restaurant is just next door with main bar only few metres away. We walked around and island and realised that the best snorkeling spot is just in front our room. We did not have high expectation for the room as our package was quite cheap. We thought the room is going to be very basic, but how wrong was that. The room is very spacious and tastefully decorated. The shower and toilet is outdoor and it is very spacious. Shower gel, shampoo, soap are all provided. But you might want to bring your own as I donât find them adequate. There is a hair dryer mount to the wall and it's very convenient to use. They also provide 2 life vest in the cupboard.
Do note that the bed is very hard. I am not a fussy sleeper but still find the bed uncomfortable to sleep in. The daybed is softer though. My husband who happens to be a fussy sleeper, ended up sleeping on the daybed instead.
Room is quite dark even though we have switched on all the lights. Maybe this is their intention of making the room looks more romantic but I personally wish it was brighter.
Food, service and staff
We are on all inclusive. The food is not something to shout about. However you will definitely be able to find something to eat. House wine is average, not too good neither is it very bad. They have a variety of cocktail for all inclusive at their bar. Cocktail is also only average not excellent. They have a very nice pool next to the water bungalow restaurant. We found the occasional dipping in the pool pure breeze. We noticed that the service staff at the water bungalow restaurant is of a higher standard. They spoke good English, service was prompt and staff always smiling. Staff at the main restaurant and main bar had a very bad service attitude. They don't speak proper English and always seem unhappy to serve. Their service was slow and it took ages for them to prepare cocktail compared to the bar at the water bungalow which was always very prompt. A waiter at the main bar even asked us for tip when he delivered drinks to our table. He kept saying price, price which we couldn't understand as we were on all inclusive. We then realised that he was actually asking for tips! Overall I will rate the service and staff at the main restuarant as very poor and the water bungalow restuarant as excellent. It is such a shame that the same island provide double standard from staff. Do look carefully at your bill when you checked out. We were billed few items which was supposed to be all inclusive. Although it was taken out after we point out to them, we still feel that it shld not be there in the first place. It's kind of like they are purposely trying to make you pay more if you did not notice. Do also note that if you had your lunch on your first day, you will not entitle to lunch on the last day of your departure. We were not informed and only got to know this when we finished our meal. We ended up paying US$25 per pax for the buffet lunch and US$20 for a glass of red wine and a beer. Although the amount is not huge but it left a sour taste for us. We could have asked for an earlier transfer and would have better meals at Male with a quarter of the price paid. What left us bewildered was the lack of information from the staff. They could have informed us before the meal that we are no longer on all inclusive plan, at least we were given a chance to decide if we still want to go ahead.
I would honestly suggest that if you are looking for island with long stretch of sand, big lagoon for swimming, great view from beach, you are better off with other island as Ellaidhoo will not be able to provide you these. However if you are looking for value for money accommodation, great snorkeling and diving, you drink a lot, then Ellaidhoo will suit you very well. However do always check with staff what is in your all inclusive plan to avoid paying items which you thought is inclusive. Example, only draughtsbeer is inlcusve, can beer is chargeble. Only coke is inclusive, diet coke is chargeable. Sandwich with french fries is inclusive during snack time, but if you asked for only french fries it will be charged. I was charged US$3.3 for a plate of french fries but managed to argue away the charge as I found this ridiculous. I simply refused to pay them. I was not informed that it will be chargeable and what's wrong with not wanting to waste food therefore had asked to exclude the sandwich.
Overall I had a wonderful time at Ellaidhoo. Will definitely return. In fact we are planning to bring our children along the next time, simply because the snorkeling is wonderful."
- Travel date: Sat 10th of May 2008
"Having never been to the Maldives before, I hoped it would live up to the dream of paradise white sands and warm blue water. Although the flight was long, the Island more than made up for it and was the perfect relaxation we had hoped for.
The staff were very friendly and spoke excellent English and really did make your stay comfortable.
There was a good choice of food on offer and always something to take your fancy as well as all inclusive drink including bottled water, which was a must.
We tried the snorkling, which I would recommend to anyone even if you don't think you fancy it - the fish and coral are a must see!
One recommendation is to make sure you have a good insect bite cream as there are the a few mosquitto's about.
We only stayed a week, but because we didn't fancy diving or fishing, this was plenty long enough. Time enough to get a good tan and read some books, to return feeling thoroughly refreshed!"
- Travel date: Wed 2nd of April 2008
"Just returned from a great holiday at Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo. We had been apprehensive after reading the reviews which were saying that the island was still not ready. We noticed changes every day during our stay...a previous review said that the pool bar shuts between 4 and 6. This now remains open all day. The staff are doing a super job and any complaints appear to be listened to and rectified. Food is very good. Those staying in the water bungalows eat only in the restaurant at the pool side. The food I think is similar to that in the main dining room...its just a question of space...theres not enough room in the main to accomodate all. All is buffet style but plenty of variety so something different every day..always hot and very fresh.
Bar staff are super and will make cocktails to your own taste. Standard of All Inclusive drinks is good (Beer is Fosters or San Miguel)
Rooms are of a high standard and the attention to detail by the Room Boys is second to none. Be aware that if you are booking a Water Bungalow there are no direct steps into the sea from your room. We found this a minor disappointment. If going back to the island we would be more than happy to stay in any of the rooms ...they all looked good. In fact the beach bungalows and superior rooms are probably much more private than the Water Bungalows.
The beach is small but really nice...the sand is true coral sand and never too hot to walk on with bare feet. Snorkelling is excellent with the reef very easily accessible.
The pool area is beautiful. We didn't think we would ever use a pool in the Maldives!! But we did and it was lovely to have a dip in the pool after snorkelling followed by a nice cool beer!
We met loads of lovely people. Because the island is so small(15 Minutes to walk around) you tend to get speaking to others with no effort. (only if you want to of course!) Generally German English Dutch Swiss French and a few Italians!!
Some people have complained about islands having the barrier walls around the outside. Ellaidhoo has one right the way around. However on witnessing a couple of storms while we were there this is really necessary to protect the beach and the rooms. Coral has grown on the inside and this is great for snorkellers who are not confidant and who do not wish to go right out onto the reef as it attracts loads of fish.
We loved the place. Excellent holiday. The next time we go to the maldives we would like to try somewhere different but would we go back to Chaaya Reef ellaidhoo?? Absolutely Yes!!
PS. 6....No!! 7 Blue Islands Please....Ha Ha"
- Travel date: Sat 22nd of March 2008
Magical Honeymoon at Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo!
"We stayed for 2 weeks in Feb for our honeymoon. Before travelling we, like many people who we met on the Island worried about this place due to the lack of info on the net and the couple of bad reports we had read on here.
I woud like to say this place is awesome, it is the first time I have visited the Maldives so have nothing to compare to however we did not in 2 weeks meet anybody with a bad word to say about this place(even though many of them had been to many other islands here before)
Accomodation was fab, food was ok, staff and service was fantastic. Diving & snorkellng the best. Yes - the beach is not that long and there is a wall part way around however it does not spoil the exeprience at all as the beach was never crowded at any time of day, there were never more than 10 people on the beach at anytime, we found our spot on the beach and were there for the whole 2 weeks. Quiet & peaceful even though we were there in peak season.
Anyway my husband and I are now saving to go back as we loved it that much so anyone booked to go - YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT - you'll have a fantastic time, it's an awesome place and you will love it."
- Travel date: Sun 16th of March 2008
what a lovely surprise this time!
"what a fantastic change in the island since jan,john keells and the staff have worked so hard to get the island ready for further visitors!
typically the island on first impressions as you approach by dhoni looks like a different island.the water villas are fantastic
the food is very good, the infinity pool is very inviting im pleased to advise that anyone who visits the island should be pleasntly surprised you never feel overcrowded or in the masses due to most people being around there bungalows and there bit of beach! at mealtimes the staff are very attentative always smiling
if on ai then you can have toasted sandwhiches at around 4pm
the draught beer is san miguel a popular beer from spain or tiger beer,the cocktails are also very good.
anyone who visits must try the snorkeling and even the non divers can dive the reef at the fantastic dive school Dive and sail
whos chocolate addicted staff are always there to help! they love
white and milk chocs so if you are going throw a cadburys or terrys orange in the suitcase lol.
also must mention the fishing trip at $35 dollars each an absolute must for those who love the anticipation of not knowing what ur gunna catch and catching the likes of barracuda ,red snapper,and trevelli almost every cast!with the sunset and the occasional dolphin what more could you ask for!
very casual island no need to wear long trousers just shorts and flip flops if need be .Also try the lobster n prawns with zahir in the maddi restaurant.
We are returning again this year as we have found it to be very cost effective without using a tour operator,almost half price!!!
I will post as many photos as poss and if anyone has questions please feel free to email me."
- Travel date: Wed 5th of March 2008
Will be better given time .. I hope !
"Formerly known as Ellaidhoo, the island has now been taken over by a Sri Lankan company (John Keele) and is known as CHAAYA REEF, although everyone stills calls it by its original name Ellaidhoo.
Having had the benefit of visiting several islands in the Maldives, I suppose its easy for me to be critical of an island that to be honest should not be open until maybe the end of February or even March. Quite simply it is not finished and many works are still being carried out which certainly has made me a little negative about Chaaya.
The island is really a diving island, a very (I mean very) close house reef which is superb for snorkelers and there is very little current. The new owners do appear to be trying to lift the standards and make this island a bit more up market and attract more honeymooners/luxury holidayers than just rely on diving as the main attraction, but I think it will be a tough call because the one disappointment is the lack of beech, yes there is a 150m stretch of quite nice wide beech but three quarters of the island has walls which is necessary to stop the erosion but that combined with dozens of visible sand bags within the walls makes this island far less attractive than some islands I have visited.
All inclusive really is a must as like all other islands I have visited the drinks are very expensive. The bars open at 10am and your AI package will include all Local drinks/beers and some cocktails (cocktails really are not worth shouting about unless you pay for the better liquors). Snacks are available at the Harbour bar/cocktail bar from about 4pm until 6pm (chips fresh sandwiches), although you really have to be quite firm to get them to cook for you, if not they will point you to the biscuits and coffee laid on at that time. The restaurant has a sand floor and is buffet style from 7:30am-10am breakfast, 12:30-2pm dinner, 7:30pm (it says 8pm in the room book) until 10pm in the evening, the food is quite varied and is generally good.
Plus points: Sea plane transfer is a fantastic way to the Atolls although if your a nervous flyer its best take some calms. Staff are very polite and very good (most read on), the guy at the pool bar 'Nassau' is fantastic always smiling and very attentive, infact he made the holiday for us. Lovely pool and pool bar area (probably the best/most attractive part of Chaaya and also where the water bungalows are). Very well cared for Spa and health club with tennis courts adjacent plus two excellent 9 Ball pool tables and Gym upstairs. Very well decorated rooms, obviously the rooms have just been refurbed.
Bad points: There is a serious rat infestation problem, this was for me very off putting, I know were in the Tropics but seeing them in the pool bar kitchen, in the bathrooms (Bathrooms are open in all standard, superior & beech bungalows) is a HUGE turn off. Room 321 had a couple leave the island because of the rat problem, they sent them to another Chaaya island 'SUN'. There was a regular rat catcher there.
The island was no where near finished. We had to be moved from our original room (superior two storey, room 223) in the middle of the night water was leaking through the sockets making the lights 'short out' and come on/off at own will (not great at 3am). Worse thing was we reported this with the TV not working (it had not been wired up!!) the shower flooding (drain smell not great), air cons thermostat broke so it was either hot or freezing to the reception 5 times. It took the fuses to blow out and us to be put in darkness for them to listen. We then got moved the next afternoon to room 304 (Beech bungalow) but had to spend that night in a standard room (be aware that most have adjoining doors to the neighbours and quite frankly you can hear them breathe)
Pool bar shuts at 3pm until 5pm probably the busiest time, why oh why ??. If the staff needed a break they should shut from 5pm to 7pm. Staff do make you feel guilty about staying at cocktail bar for drinks after midnight which you will have to pay for after midnight. By this I mean they pack the drinks away, turn lights off etc, I have never experienced this in a resort/hotel. The guy at the pool bar was very different, if you wanted a drink he wouldnât care what the time was.
Other advice is 'Do not' have a standard room, the position of them amongst the door sharing is not great, if you can afford it upgrade to superior or Beech bungalow. The water bungalows are brand new are perfectly situated but do not have steps to lagoon which many on other islands do and the balconies quite frankly are ridiculously small, they do however have nice big new LCD TV's and lovely bathrooms, my advice would be to go for the Superior or Beech Bungalows. Over all I think besides the rodent friends and our experience with the room problems, the island is about right being rated as a 3* and yes we enjoyed it overall, but with time I think it will improve and so will the quality as works are still planned for Chaaya Reef. Final note is I will be giving Cosmos a verbal over the blatant misrepresentation with regards to works being carried etc. Anyone who needs any advice, please feel free to contact me, I have many more pictures of the new Ellaidhoo."
- Travel date: Thu 7th of February 2008
Not yet finished
"We have just returned from 2 weeks of what was supposed to be relaxation. The room we were given was in the middle of major renovations, the terrible banging and very noisy building work started at 7.30am and continued until 10pm making it impossible to sleep later than 7.30am and very noisy anywhere near the room during the day. Unfortunately we were not able to change rooms until the end of the 1st week due to the hotel being overbooked.
Throughout the holiday it was not possible to sunbathe undisturbed by the pool area due to other building work and the loud noise created by the power-tools used by workmen working on the water bungalows. The bungalows that were almost finished were being fitted out with beds, wardrobes, chests of draws etc and so there was a constant stream of workman placing and moving furniture around the pool area. The pool bar was also being fitted out so there was more disturbance from this.
On one evening while having a drink in the main bar we heard power tools still being used at 11.30pm.
Lighting of pathways was also a major problem for the 1st week â it was non existent in some areas making it difficult to negotiate all the electrical wires hanging near the room and lying in the sand, bare electrical connections were left exposed.
The island had a major rat infestation which was very scary when walking to and from the rooms in the evening, more importantly the rats were coming into the bathrooms walking over everything and nibbling on the soap and toothpaste which was very unhygienic, we had to keep our toothbrushes and toothpaste in our room in order to keep them away from the rats, when we complained we were told that the hotel management were aware of the situation and were trying to deal with the problem.
At first there was a problem with where you could get drinks, but this was sorted out after we showed the management that it stated in the brochure that the pool bar was included in the facilities we could use on an all inclusive holiday.
On a positive note i think the island will be very good once it has been completed and any other teething problems sorted out.
The staff were friendly especially our waiter Nafiz, our room boy Maseeh and Aisha from guest relations.
The food was good for an all inclusive resort plenty of variety.
my husband and i did not dive but everyone we spoke to who did said it was fantastic.
All the problems really are just because they opened too early when the building work is finished i am sure that the place will be the island of calm and tranquility that the brochures describe."
- Travel date: Thu 31st of January 2008
Please bear in mind that this review is...
"Please bear in mind that this review is several years old. I went shortly after the Tsunami and this was my third island and sixth or seventh visit to the Maldives, but the first time I came with a companion.
I would agree with the other reviews on the general environment - the beach is small, most of the accommodation are in semi-detached bungalows with an outer row around the island and an inner row. There are also some 2 story row rooms.
The diving was excellent with Sea Explorers. The house reef is similarly enough to keep one happily occupied for at least a week as a diver and the snorkelling is very good. The house reef is only a few metres from the beach or the shore. Sea walls surround the island making it safe(r) from erosion and the channels around the island are deep making for very good sea life and easy for snorkellers to see.
The food was boring - reasonably good quality but rather repetitive. Staff lovely - and I have found nearly all Maldivians friendly and helpful. The staff try really hard given that this isn't the most beautiful island and make an effort with the gardening.
The bar was terribly quiet for a divers' island and Mr Nigel was the only one dancing usually.
There are birds and the usual other animals on this island (no free roaming cats or chickens which I miss - this keeps the less welcome insect life down, but is not the norm now on any tourist islands.)
I was able to move from an inner row to one of the 2-3 bungalows facing the beach, which was admittedly a much nicer view.
So all in all not the prettiest island particularly in terms of beaches, or in terms of food. Diving and dive staff - great /unbeatable.
- Travel date: Sun 12th of August 2007