18 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Another trip to Paradise
"We have visited the Maldives for the fourth year in a row now, never felt the urge before to write a review although we like to read other people's experiences. This time is different though and having had a week to reflect on Kandooma, it has come out very positively! We started the holiday with an impulsive decision at the airport by upgrading our seats with Sri Lankan Airlines to business class and it was superb! We arrived at Male fresh and wide awake, greeted by a representative from Kandooma. The boat trip to the island was a breeze and the welcoming ritual of a drink and cool towel at arrival received with gratitude!
When taken to our room, we were slightly confused since we booked a beach bungalow but were lead up the stairs into our room which seemed more like the Duplex villa's we'd seen on the website! It was explained to us that we had been upgraded for free because they overbooked the bungalows. No complaints from our side- The room was great! Very spacious, clean and with excellent views from the balcony.All that was promised, was delivered: The fruit press with fresh oranges, fresh coffeee and tea, bottles of water, big beach towels and spectacular views! I have read about other people being upgraded for free but never thought that would happen to us. Thank you so much because the room was a winner!!
Our villa was on the 'rough' side where the 'no swimming' signs are but that didn't bother us. If you are a confident swimmer (as we are) you could brave the current and the snorkeling was brilliant. I saw 3 turtles in an hour of snorkeling. There are bits of coral but there were also plenty of places wihere the sand was soft and white. After all, we are on a coral island! I love the elements: Wind, Water & Current that make these islands what they are. It is a shame that Kandooma does not have an icredible house reef that is easy accessible but they make up for this with many other unique things and they are working very hard to create a new reef.
We loved the Deck and we have not come across such a place on any of the other islands. The views of the sunset were amazing from the Deck and there was always plenty of room to sit.
The pool provides incredible views and we loved the fact that we were not stuck in a buffet restaurant at the same table for the duration but that we could sit wherever we wanted, enjoying the views. We dined in the Kitchen restaurant 5 times and would have loved to do this every night if our budget had allowed to do so. The food was second to none and we received vouchers for a complimentary bottle of wine with our dinner twice.
We had lunch at our villa a couple of times which was also unique, loved the take away option!
We did a sunset cruise and a 2 hour catamaran trip with snorkeling stops. Both were good fun and very well guided. We appreciated the fact of how the island tries to encourage the interaction between staff and guests. We enjoyed the welcome drinks at the Deck where we had an opportunity to meet several members of staff.
We used the gym frequently which was well equipped. We also used the diving facilities as my husband is a very keen diver. The dive sites are so close by, that it only takes a small part out of your day so plenty of time for sunbathing!
We walked around the island one night and heard the drums from the local neighbouring island which did sound a bit intimidating, especially when this was accompanied by a laser light shone right at us. We thought it was quite amusing and ducked and dived between the trees to escape the light whilst they cheered when they spotted us again. All good fun and we only heard it once and it stopped at 9 pm.
I was impressed with the attention to detail of the service provided, e.g. we did not only receive a newsletter in English every morning but also one in Dutch because they must have noticed my nationality in my passport.
We were given another free bottle of wine two days before our departure with the compliments of the manager.
All in all we have had a fantastic time and loved every minute!"
- Travel date: Sun 21st of March 2010
A great value trip to paradise
"After enduring one of the coldest winters in living memory I decided to book a trip to the Maldives. I decided to stay at Kandooma, as it seemed good value for money. I was not disappointed. We travelled full board, the food was great; lots to choose from. I can recommend the grilled fish (freshly cooked while you wait!)
There is also a speciality resturant which was very good.
I thought the reef was amazing, but be sure to get up early for the best snorkelling. Fish are nocturnal. Also beware; some parts of the island are not suitable for swimming due to strong currents."
- Travel date: Wed 10th of March 2010
"Just returned from this Hotel.
Whilst settling my bill on the last day I wanted to pay some cash and the rest on Credit Card. I had given my Credit Card details as is the norm at other hotels. They told me that $1.100 had been taken from my Credit Card on our arrival.
No other hotel I've stayed at before has taken money from my Credit Card till my last day, so BEWARE.
Another problem we had was a group of 42 divers arrived at the hotel. The management did whatever this group wanted. They reserved tables on the Terrace for meals. At one time these tables were laid and unoccupied for 2 hrs 20 min before they arrived.
We saw couples being moved halfway through their meals to make way for the divers. We were told to eat our meals inside or on the beach in the dark.
People were told to stop smoking on the Terrace by the waiter, who, 5 min later was running about with ashtrays for this diving group. As a non smoker even I found this appalling.
Every night we went up onto the roof bar to watch the sunset and have drinks, on our last evening we were told we could not as the diving group had reserved it, yet all week none of them had ventured up there.
We ate in the Kitchen 3 nights but were told on our last night we were unable to, as the diving group had taken it over.
If I return to this hotel I would want to know if any large groups were booked during my stay.
I felt that the friendliness and service to other guests evaporated once the diving group arrived causing dual standards.
The hotel was excellent until the arrival of this large group."
- Travel date: Sun 7th of March 2010
Wanted to stay there forever!
"we spent 10 nights there, in beach villas no 95, as part of our honeymoon and it was fantastic. the rooms are spacious and the bed is big and comfortable, there is a LCD tv and even ani pod dock and radio. the outside day bed and hammock is fantastic for the late afternoon lazyness. we really loved the indoor/outdoor bathroom. everything from the bath towels to bed linen and beach towels was top quality. the room was cleaned twice a day and the orange presser, coffee plunger etc was great amenities in the room.
we went on reef snorkelling trips, a sunset cuise and my husband loved the night fishing and did that a few times. if you catch some nice size fishes they prepare up to two of them for you to eat, for free.
snorkelling in front of ou beach villa was great, although there is no reef. the only downfall to the resort is that there is no house reef to where you can swin on your own, you have to go with a boat.
i would resommend this resort to anybody, the resorts in the maldives are very expensive and as this being one of the "budget" or cheaper resorts (although there isn't really any budget resort in the maldives) it does not stand back for any of the other."
- Travel date: Tue 2nd of March 2010
You need to take an American Express Gold card if you stay here
"We have recently taken a 2 week stay at the above 4 * island resort, via Thomsons at a total cost of Â£5801.99, between 20 January and 03 February 2010 to celebrate our 30th / Pearl wedding anniversary. Unfortunately we were very disappointed with several aspects of our holiday. We should also explain that we have previously visited the Maldives in 2005, at a 3* resort, to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary so we are able to draw upon previous experience and make comparisons. We cannot dive due to health problems but enjoy the aquatic and marine life via snorkelling, swimming and boat trips. The main points to note are:
1. We were never informed that there was a 10% service charge on absolutely everything plus on top of that we were still expected to tip the staff at every interaction. This was excessively greedy and added an extra $170 to our final bill.
To have your breakfast delivered to room is and extra $5 + 10%
2. As the Maldives is an Islamic state understandably we were not allowed to take alcohol onto the island. The resort took advantage of that by charging excessively high costs for the minibar purchases and bar drinks:
- Half bottle of blended whisky = $38 + 10%
- Half bottle of gin = $35 + 10%
- All mixers $4 + 10%
3. There were no parasols on the beach; however you could hire a tent at Â£10 + 10% per day. We had to do this 4 times during our stay = $44, as my husband is fair haired and pale skinned and therefore burns easily even with high factor sun cream if there is no proper shade. You can only obtain limited shade from palm trees due to the breeze.
4. We were unable to swim off the island due to very strong currents. There were DO NOT SWIM signs all around the island along the beach. You do not expect this in the Maldives.
5. There were no pedaloes provided as stated in the Thomson brochure although this was understandable due to the very strong currents, which you do not expect this in the Maldives.
6. There was no gently sloping sand into the sea it was a series of sudden drop offs even when walking into the minimal designated safe swimming areas. You do not expect this in the Maldives.
7. There was very limited coral off the island; approx 80% of it is dead. You do not expect this in the Maldives. Plus the visibility is very poor when viewing the small amount of decent coral due to strong currents churning up the sand and also due to the depth as a result of the sudden drop off into the sea â it was not shallow.
8. There was a daily complimentary snorkel trip to same house reef. This was OK but repetitive and boring seeing same things over and over again. Again this snorkelling was limited due to strong currents.
9. The resort provided a vast array or activities and excursions to stave off cabin fever however these were very expensive + 10%. We booked a joint spa treatment and took 6 excursions to enable us to see some decent coral and to relieve boredom at great additional expense:
i. Night Fishing for 2 = $55
ii. Picnic Island for 2 = $132
iii. Catamaran to Turtle reef for 2 = $77
iv. Speedboat to Dolphin Pod for 2 = $110
v. Dolphin Trip for 2 = $66
vi. Sunset Cruise for 2 = $110
vii. 1 hour Spa massage for 2 = $165
10. The resort manager had to be prompted and shamed into doing something special for our 30th wedding anniversary despite this being noted on booking and at arrival at the resort. Initially all we got was a generic resort card wishing us a good day from the resort manager Brendan but signed by someone else!
11. The return journey was a nightmare. Whilst we appreciate that Thompsonâs is not responsible for the decision to close Manchester Airport the subsequent transport arrangements made were less than satisfactory:
i. We were approx 10 minutes from landing at Manchester when we were diverted to East Midlands Airport due to snow. It then took 4 hours to get from East Midlands to Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport.
ii. To get from the airplane into East Midlands airport we had to go outside uncovered in the freezing cold and heavy rain twice.
iii. The air stewardess told me to leave the 2 x blankets behind that I had taken to protect us from the rain and cold as we were not dressed to be exposed to the elements â as this would not have happened at Manchester. She made me feel like a thief. I ignored her. The air steward, Gio, then tried to snatch them off me as I left the plane but I ducked out of his reach! I would never have dreamed of taking these blankets in ordinary circumstances. We are not that hard up â we paid an extra Â£300 each to fly Premier class.
iv. At East Midlands we were herded into a cold waiting area and no warm drinks were provided.
v. 3 coaches took us to Manchester Airport and we were dropped off at the Coach Park near the Radisson hotel which is no where near Terminal 2.
vi. There was no snow at Manchester â we were told it had melted!
vii. We were extremely tired driving home due to the additional 4 hours travel time from East Midlands to Manchester; this added an element of risk to our return car journey. Our return journey took a total of 22 hours.
Finally you do not mention that this resort island mainly caters for Japanese, Chinese and Korean guests, approx 80% of the guests are East Asian, who travel in large family groups consisting of children and elderly, they form card schools and are very noisy. There are also Karaoke nights in Chinese. This is not conducive to the romantic quiet getaway from it all holidays you expect in the Maldives.
We really do think that Thomson should provide more accurate information in their holiday brochure regarding the Kandooma resort."
- Travel date: Mon 1st of March 2010
The Fabulous Kandooma Experience
"We stayed at the Kandooma (Now Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma) for 6 nights for our Honeymoon trip across Sri Lanka, Maldives and India.
We went thru several properties before we decided on Kandooma, primarily because of the low room rate it offered for a Beach Villa (which seemed too good, given the kind of amenities they promised)
I emailed the hotel staff, Maria Tsimpra to confirm everything and she said just wait till you get here.. you will enjoy every bit of it.
The moment we landed our experience started.. a beautiful 40 min boat ride to the island, very courteous staff and drinking water on the boat. Our luggage was taken care of immediately and directly sent to our rooms.
The reception team was very very courteous and refreshing Virgin Caprioshka awaited us with a weekly event schedule and map of the island.
We were walked to our room, which was about 200 m from the reception area, with an indepth briefing of the hotel and its offerings.
The moment we entered the room, we just fell in love with it. It had everything in white.. and had everything one could dream of..
A Large bed, I-pod Dock, Aroma Oil Burner, Mini Bar, 6 Oranges and A juicer, Milk, 2 Mineral Water bottles, Coffee n Tea Maker, Hammock, LCD TV, Sunken Bath Tub, Open Air Rain Shower, and Wooden Flooring.. the list was just as was promised.
The entire experience on Kandooma was just mesmerising... lying down by the pool sipping a cooler, dining by the sea at The Kitchen Restaurant, lying under the wide open sky and star gazing on The Deck - Bar.. Amazing Wood Fired ovens churned out the best thin crust pizzas...
The Chef specially prepared vegetarian indian breakfast for us every day and personally made sure it was served hot to us..
The pool staff - Ganesh the manager went out of his way to help all the guest and everyone on the island always had a smile..
We thoroughly enjoyed the water sports - The Catamaran Sailing is a must everyone should do.. its a 1 hour ride in to the sea ..
My wife kept telling me how happy she was and loved the fact that we picked the Kandooma..
Kandooma has an entertainment area where different events like Quizzes, movies, Live Band etc took place on different week nights...
They even provided Sun Tan Lotion and flavored water on the Beach during the afternoons..
We can just keep going on and on about our Kandooma experience and we think anyone on their Honeymoon to Maldives should definitely stay here.. they gave us more for our money than we could imagine and we really had a good time.
The only issue we faced was that Kandooma was taken over by Holiday Inn and although we were members of Priority Club, the points were not credited to our account due to some technical reason.. It didnât seem fair, but we couldnât do anything about it.
Akshat & Pooja"
- Travel date: Sat 13th of February 2010
Perfect Family Holiday
"First time in the Maldives and the biggest concerns before we went were being ripped off by drink/food prices and not having anything for the kids to do. I'm pleased to say that Kandooma delivered on all fronts.
Airport transfer - we arrived in the middle of a storm, much to my wife's disbelief, but the boat trip was fine once you have crossed over to the Atoll, 1st 10 mins
Rooms - very nice, we had a 2 room family beach villa, can't imagine much more that anyone would want from a room
Cleanliness - very good, the chap looking after our room must have cleaned it 3 times a day!
Food - we had buffet b'fast (plenty of choice) and a la carte for the rest of our meals. They could have a more varied a la carte menu for the adults, but kids were more than catered for. It is also very relaxed, dressing up for dinner is a clean pair of shorts and t-shirt
Drink - very reasonably priced, $4.40 for a draft beer is actually quite cheap. There are 3 very reasonable white wines to choose from at $38-42 per bottle. Of course you can spend more but there really is no need.
Kids Club - very easy as kids can come and go as they please
Kids General - the resort is great for families and so it is reasonable to assume that other kids will be around and so your kids will be able to play with others that they meet. Our kids are 3,6 and 8
Activities - we went night fishing (a 10 min ride from the island for an hour's fishing and so fun but not in any way arduous), kayaking, sailing, snorkelling and we hired a speedboat to go dolphin watching (we saw a pod of around 200 dolphins!). I used the Spa (deep tissue massage - no complaints) and the gym most days (good equipment and nobady in it). I also spent alot of time lazing around reading a book and so I think that there is planty for everyone.
Staff - couldn't do enough, I'm not usually a review writer but I have made the effort because I think that the staff deserve it.
Summary: This is not what I imagined a typical Maldive hotel to be like - couples staring in to each others eyes and ferociously expensive. Kandooma is a great place for a family holiday, try it."
- Travel date: Mon 18th of January 2010
kandooma Island - Holiday Inn Resort
"Having not been to the Maldives before, we were extremely pleased to have chosen this one. It is now run by the Holiday Inn/Intercontinental Group, a chain of hotels worldwide that we stay in regularly. To us it was a beautiful island, The speedboat transfer from Male to the island was brilliant and coming into the island the views were fab. We were warmly greated and given cocktails and cold towels and water before being walked to our room. Our luggage was already in our accommodation by the time we had arrived. We had a duplex beach villa (no: 155), it was 5 minutes walk to the pool and restaurant. The duplex was very impressive, clean and tidy with a well stocked mini bar, orange press, tea and coffee making faclities. There was also an Ipod station and large flat screen TV. Airconditioning was very effective and the outdoor showers were a novelty but great with plenty of hot water.The staff were very friendly at all times. The maintenance staff were busy as well as it appeared that the island is still going through some rennovation work and upgrade, but this was not noticable or intrusive at all. Breakfast, lunch and dinner on the buffet service was good with changes each day. We did eat in The Kitchen (a la carte) for three nights and although very expensive, the food and service was very good. The roof bar above The Kitchen was very romantic and we laid each night on large beds wih cocktails watching shooting stars!. The resort is trying to get away from "room service" that is why they offer such a well stocked mini bar and other facilities in the villas. They also offer a pizza/pasta delivery service to your room day and night, or to your sunbed during the day. The weather was very very hot whilst we were there, for a few days we laid outside our villa by the sea, then changed views and sat by the pool for the remaining days, hiring the tents (10 dollars daily), which are two large size beds under a tent giving enough shade and your own personal space on the beach. Beware you have to book these tents in advance from the day you arrive as they are very popular. The pool is absolutely lovely and the sea and sand gorgeous. Each day ice cold water is supplied at poolside, together with Factor 30 sun cream. There are parts of the island that has strong currents and very stoney with broken coral, but this is made up by other parts of the island with beautiful beaches and calm sky blue waters. Two nights of the week they had live entertainment by way of the "Palm Fever" group, these guys were brilliant! There was karaoke on one night (which we declined to join in) and other nights were bingo/quiz and classic movies. It was all very relaxed and a lot of guests would choose to sit outside their villas at night taking in the atmosphere. We went on the dolphin cruise and were lucky enough to see dolphins and pilot whales playing. On our return from the dolphin cruise we were lucky enough to see the most amazing sunset returning to the island. Snorkelling was good and we saw a stingray only a few feet from the island on our last day. We did not use the Spa as appeared quite expensive, but from the outside it looked great. My husband jogged round the island on most days and used the gym daily, which he could not complain about. On the Saturday he joined in the football match between staff. They have a football pitch and basket ball pitch in the middle of the island, as well as a tennis court, although a little run down.
We had a very relaxing week long holiday, we only wish we could have stayed longer. We will most definitely be going back and thank you to all the staff on Kandooma for helping to make out stay so wonderful."
- Travel date: Wed 13th of January 2010
Definitely Want to Come Back
"We had been informed by a fellow traveller and friend who stayed at Kandooma a few weeks before we did that he had had a dissapointing experience at Kandooma. His main complaint had been about the food, even the food at The Kitchen, the resort's premier dining outlet, which boasts an ambitious and impressive menu, which he deemed highly overpriced and a let down.
We never ate at The Kitchen, and had all our meals at the poolside cafe. To be honest, on arrival, our opinion was tainted by what our friend had told us and we were not very well received at the jetty. We were in fact largely ignored by the GRO who only spoke to and directed two of the guests, who arrived with us, one of whom was a Caucasian male, to the reception desk. Perhaps it was because we were Asian (she was Caucasian) perhaps it was not. We''ll never know.
We arrived as a group of 5 but there were only 4 seats and 4 welcome drinks prepared for us. I had to remain standing while a chair was gotten for me and my drink came a few minutes later. Our GRO (Jai) promptly apologised and explained that he had been informed that we would be a group of 4. To his credit, though we arrived at the tail end of the buffet breakfast (included in our package) he invited us to have some breakfast while we waited for our rooms to be prepared. The breakfast spread was quite well filled, though we arrived very late and we had an unexpectedly pleasant though short meal. What perked me up and made me hopeful was the excellent coffee which arrived in a large double walled plunger pot. I though it very generous of management.
Our rooms (two adjoining beachfront units) took our breath away. The units throughout the island look very unassuming and simple on the outside, but inside, it was all elegant, pristine white and aqua and very tastefully furnished with a restrained hand and eye to detail. There was none of the ubiquitous Bali inspired rustic dark wood theme you usually find in tropical resorts. We found it very different and very refreshing. There were 6 oranges, a citrus press, a full sized can of both ground Illy Coffee, and Dilmah loose leaf tea, a teapot, coffee plunger, cocktail shaker and measure, two large glass bottles of distilled rain water for drinking, a toaster and enough crockery and silverware for the whole family. The bottles of alcohol were much larger than the miniatures usually provided in hotels. I was impressed. We had taken the least expensive units available. The beds were very comfortable and the sheets were crisp and spotless. The television was a huge flat screen one. The bathroom was large, with a sunken bath and an open top shower.
Lunch at the resort cafe was a letdown. My husband's pasta dish had a diconcerting long, dark, strand of human hair in it. My two younger son's order of the kiddy meal fish and chips came with the fish so dark, it looked burnt. My teenager's order of fish and chips was fishy, unappetisingly so. My order of Penne Marinara was also extremely fishy with the morsels of seafood in it disintegrating at the slightest touch of my fork. To their credit, the waiter who served us, handled the matter with aplomb when we complained. Santosa was professional, pleasant and saw to it that our meals were replaced. When I declined to have my order replaced, the price of my lunch was excluded from the bill, though we did not ask for it. Our children were given complementary ice creams, again unasked and apologies were very forthcoming and sincere.
At dinner, we ate at the poolside and we were really spoiled by attentive staff who knowledgeably made menu recommendations and engaged in friendly conversation with us. We had the same waiter for the remainder of our holiday, Shohag, who greatly added to the pleasure of our stay. After dinner, the GM of the resort came to chat with us and again apologised for our dissapointment at lunch. He personally assured us that they would make up for the poor lunch we had and they delivered on that promise. I almost felt like a celebrity or a VIP, so friendly and attentive were the staff.
Our rooms were always promptly and well cleaned, after breakfast and before dinner. Toiletries, beverages, oranges etc, were always replenished without asking.
Resort facilities were more than satisfactory. We had internet access, gaming rooms, pool tables, ping pong, etc at our disposal. Unlike many other resorts we've been to, there were never any restrictions on usage. We were quite embarassed, late one night, to realise that we had hogged the pool table for several very gregarious and noisy games and yet, no one came to tell us to quiet down or let other guests have a go.
The swimming pool was gorgeous and the view beyond it, just breathtaking. I was so inspired by the beauty of the surrounding waters that I even ventured out in a kayak, something I never thought I'd do. Rates for facilities are on the whole reasonable and staff are mostly friendly and more than willing to help or answer queries.
I don't know if everyone is treated as we were during our stay, but I hope so, because Kandooma is different from many of the resorts around the Maldives that we have stayed in. Their safety standards are probably the highest we have encountered in the Maldives, the look and feel of the resort is again refreshingly different and the staff mostly exceeded our expectations. I hope the management recognises its strengths and trades on them, while working out the few kinks we experienced, so that the next time we go there, we'll be able to give them 5 stars."
- Travel date: Tue 22nd of December 2009
Kandooma may not have the best beaches compared to some resorts in the region but the hotel's fantastic boutique feel and cool design makes up for it. The Duplex Villa's are splendid and the housekeeping is second to none. The Beach Villas looked equally well positioned and as stylish.
For active people there is plenty to do. Keen divers won't be disappointed with the Euro dive centre and it's brand new equipment and close proximity to famous sites. Daily snorkeling trips to nearby reefs are a must for those who don't dive as is the Aqua safari with resident marine Biologist Crystal.
The sunset bar is beautiful with it's bean bags and chill out sofa beds and serves great cocktails and tapas. The buffet meal was top notch and the setting for the The Kitchen restaurant is magnificent with an option to sit out on the beach next to the ocean. The BBQ service at your villa is also highly recommended!
The main beach is in front of a huge well designed infinity pool and parts of the island have nice areas to sit in both the sun and shade with sun beds, hammocks and wooden swinging beds scattered all over the island. Staff are warm and friendly and the place is well managed. I'm sure the resort will be a huge success just like one of the groups other hotels in Langkawi (Cafe Del Mar) always top rated on tripadvisor.
Little touches such as fresh oranges and press in the room, free WIFI, IPOD dock and speakers, plasma TV, well stocked minibar, modern gym and efficient air-con make the stay all the better.
Our only criticism is that on a couple occasions we felt a little neglected by either the bar or cafe waiters. This only happened on a couple of occasions and the majority of the staff are incredibly efficient and friendly. Although the Spa was fantastic but we personally thought it was a little expensive in context to other prices in the resort, this wasn't helped by sterling to dollar exchange rates at the time of our trip.
We recommend the resort highly, especially to active people who like a 5 star resort with a casual boutique feel.
Carl & Em (London)"
- Travel date: Thu 20th of November 2008
not a great one
"we stayed at kandooma 2 weeks after the opening.
the place is nice, clean and the rooms are great. we stayed in the duplex but i have to say that you don't get to spend to much time in the room if they are far away from the pool because there is nobody that can serve you anything on the other beaches....the island isn't big you can go around it in 20 min walk and go across it in 5. so when you get there request a room as close as you can to the main area.
the island has organize trip for snorkelling lovers (there isn't anything to see around Kandooma) to the close island where the snorkelling is great but book your seat on the boat in advance as it gets full very quickly.
We didn't do any diving but we met some other guest who did it and told us that the diving center is very good.
I raccomend the night fishing...an incredible experience!!
the bad note is surely the lack of presence by the managment if you consider that we didn't know who was who and we were guest on a honeymoon on a very small island, and for the fact that when we arrived we asked to change the room to another location but only after my 3 attempt to remind them of my request they manage to allocate another one (the island at that time had only a dozen guest). we also told them that we were on honeymoon on arrival but only after 3 days thanks to the bar manager they gave us a complementary half bottle of champagne in the room for honeymoon couples.
another bad note is the number of rats present on the island. apparently is a commun problem in the maldives....we saw quite a few of them.and to top that up as our duplex was on the opposite side of the island (not far from the water villas) at night we had to go through a very little illuminated path where you couldn't see much around you (a rat scared the [--] out of me...and my wife with her scream!).
the price of the wine is reasonable for the maldives and if you catch something during your fishing trip they can cook it for you.
I have stayed in better places. the island has potential but i wouldn't go back there."
- Travel date: Sat 13th of September 2008
"We went to Kandooma on our honeymoon for 6 nights in the 2nd week of August. And it was one of the most amazing holiday experiences of my life.
I am from India & Maldives was my first choice for the honeymoon, but for some strange reason not many tour operators had details/rates for the resorts in Maldives. Everyone would keep us waiting with a standard reply of âwe will get back to youâ, with much difficulty we figured out that only Thomas cook from here could book us at a resort. In fact I would suggest anyone going from India should book through TC as they seem to be the only ones who can get a holiday in the Maldives.
Initially we were looking to book at Thulhagiri, but they had offered us Kandooma later, we booked it without a second thought after looking at their website. But after seeing the reviews at Trip advisor (the first few were really bad) we tried changing to Adaaran fushi. Thatâs when we got this long mail from Kandooma explaining all the queries I had raised. We decided to stick to Kandooma & I am so glad we did.
The pick-up at the airport was flawless, absolutely fast, & within no time we were in Kandooma, its about a 40-min ride from the airport. We were greeted with the usual welcome drink etc:, the guest relations rep showed us around the resort & took pains to explain everything to us. But here comes the exciting part, we had booked 3 nights in a beach villa & 3 nights in a water villa, but we were told that we had been upgraded to a water villa for all 6 nights. The water villas were absolutely amazing, a nice white feel to the room, the open air shower, the Jacuzzi, the rather big hammock right above the water, free snorkeling kit et al. The citrus press (with the stock replenished everyday) , the IPOD docking station, the open air bathroom, the loose leaf tea I can go on & on about the water villa, there was a massive attention to detail & a near perfect utilization of space. When we walked in there was a complimentary bottle of Champagne & a personalized note from the manager of the resort congratulating us. That really set the tone for the next 6 days at the resort.
Kandooma is run by HPL resorts, a Singapore based company so we could see a lot of people from Singapore, but there were Europeans, some Indians as well. The staff was from all over Australians, British, Indians (the whole chef team was Indian, which was kinda nice as I could strike up a conversation with them anytime, & they would cook nice vegetartian stuff too as my wife is a vegan). There is a marine biologist as well (her nameâs Crystal I think), she conducts snorkeling trips ( I think 4 times a week), its kinda guided snorkeling trip where you snorkel along with her & she shows you various kinds of fishes. This I thought was a real differentiator for Kandooma.
I think if oneâs looking for an activity filled holiday, Kandoomaâs the place to be, there was a lot to cater to everyoneâs taste; sample this, thereâs a star gazing night on one of the days where they place a powerful telescope in the lounge area, then thereâs stuff like underwater hockey, pentaque, cricket, football, kayaking, para sailingâ¦itâs a packed calendar. Thereâs stuff for everyone.
The resort has a pool bar, a fine dining restaurant called the Kitchen & then the buffet spread is served in the Kandooma cafÃ©. Of the 3 I found the buffet spread for breakfast & dinner to be really good, the poolside bar has a limited menu, not too bad though. The kitchen to me was not up to the mark, not only did it have a limited menu for veggies, the chef just refused to see us on both the times we asked for him to get some suggestions, that was a let down. The room service attracts a 5 $ service charge, so I guess you are better off walking all the way. In fact itâs a good to note that everything on the resort has a 10% service charge.
On the water activities front, there is a dive centre run by Euro divers, we couldnât muster enough courage to go scuba diving as we are not such expert swimmers. The dive sites around Kandooma are supposed to be really good, this I figured when I looked at the video shot by the videographer at Kandooma, there were some really nice shots of sharks, mantas, turtles et al. However we managed to snorkel everyday of the trip barring day 1 of our stay. Kandooma doesnât have a good house reef, so they have arranged for a daily snorkeling trip at 3 PM which is complimentary, a local dhoni takes you to the Biyadhoo house reef which is close by. There will be a couple of guys from the resort almost acting like lifeguards. Now, this trip goes on for about 45 minutes (of snorkeling). Just a note of caution here, you need to book yourself on this trip in advance, especially in the peak season time, as the boat can accommodate about 25-30 people. Though you can snorkel at the Kandooma house reef, it is a shallow reef & lot of it is strewn by a rocky surface. I would highly recommend the Aqua safari trip, (in which you are accompanied by the marine biologist), this will set you back by about 25$ or so, but its worth that. She explains you all the kinds of fishes you are going to see, before you dive into the water, & post the trip she gives a presentation on the marine life youâve seen,. In fact she is also involved in the reef-scaping project, in which they are trying to build a reef around Kandooma using coral trays. We saw a few when we were snorkeling.
At the end of it , I would say that Kandoomaâs unique differentiators are its staff. I found the staff to be really friendly, always ready to strike a conversation with you. On the second day of the trip Elizabeth (the marketing manager) came & had a long chat with us. She had told us that she was surprised at the initial reviews (someone had mentioned about rats, but we couldnât spot any) & the fact that they wanted to provide something for everyone. The resort has a lot for everyone, even for the honeymooners, or couples with children and for anyone who wants a relaxed or an activity filled holiday. The chef team was nice & so was the housekeeping, the guest relations & on the last day, when we had to go to Male, the guest relations at the airport set up the visit in no time including arranging for a local guide at no cost.
All in all I would say this was a perfect holiday experience. I really feel Kandooma will go from strength and end up being one of the more popular resorts in Maldives. I do hope that the personal touch remains & resort maintains its informality. I am sure I have missed out a lot of things here, thereâs a lot about Kandooma that can go in here. But if anyone has any queries surely get in touch with me on [email protected]"
- Travel date: Thu 4th of September 2008