Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from the cheaper end of the Maldives.
When reader Karen suggested reviewing the Holiday Inn, we jumped at the chance. Head for Points often covers hugely expensive resorts in the Maldives – JW Marriott and Waldorf-Astoria have opened new properties recently – but we tend to ignore the fact that more wallet-friendly alternatives exist.
Holiday Inn Kandooma in the Maldives (click for their website) is a great budget friendly alternative to other well known resorts. Here is reader Karen’s review.
(Anika note: We have added in some additional PR pictures of the hotel. It should be pretty clear which ones these are!)
Visiting the Maldives has always been on my bucket list but I never seemed to have got around to it. The opportunity finally arose when we were visiting family in India and my husband and I fancied a few days away. It had to be somewhere not too far and picturesque with nice weather – the Maldives fitted the bill perfectly.
I knew from previous research that the Maldives is an expensive place to visit and a lot of the resorts are only accessible by seaplane which is not for me! I was keen to do this trip on a budget and to avoid a seaplane by any means which is why I chose Holiday Inn Kandooma.
The pictures on the website looked very pretty, the room rates were good, there was a speedboat transfer from Male and we would also earn some IHG Rewards Club points – perfect!
We flew down from Bangalore to Male with Air India which took just 1.5 hours.
Arriving at Holday Inn Kandooma
Ours was the only flight arriving at that time so after a quick walk across the tarmac we got to immigration, were quickly processed and on our way to arrivals.
This is where things turned sour. To cut a long story short, after a failure of communication by the rep we ended up waiting nearly an hour and half for our transfer to the resort.
Luckily the speedboat ride to the resort was pretty quick at just 45 minutes. As we arrived we were amazed that the resort looked just as good as the pictures on the website.
We exited the boat and took a short buggy ride to reception where the manager checked us in. He already knew that I wasn’t happy about the transfer and apologised. I reiterated that if I had been kept informed it wouldn’t have been that big of a problem.
The hotel offers a variety of rooms to suit all budgets from a basic garden room to overwater villas.
I booked a standard Garden View Villa and due to our IHG Rewards Club status they upgraded us to a Garden View Beachhouse Villa.
Our villa was split over two levels. An open area downstairs, with a seating area, and an outdoor shower and an enclosed area upstairs with the bedroom and bathroom.
The accommodation was a good size. You entered into the bedroom which had a small balcony, an area with tea/coffee making facilities and at the back of the room was a dressing area with the toilet and shower. The room was really nice and although we couldn’t see the sea or the beach we were only a few minutes walk away.
Food and drink at Holiday Inn Kandooma
I had booked a room with breakfast and the hotel emailed me before our stay with upgrade options for lunch, dinner or all inclusive. As we only wanted breakfast and a light snack dinner we decided that it was not worth upgrading, and to be honest the all-inclusive prices had looked better at the time of booking.
Breakfast was set near the reception area with a choice of dining inside or outside. We sat inside as it was cooler. The buffet was vast with lots of choices from around the world. There was an area with hot food and live cooking stations and an air-conditioned room with juices and cold items. The food was really good.
As with any Maldives resort additional food and drinks were expensive. A half bottle of spirits from the mini bar was £50!
What can you do at Holiday Inn Kandooma?
The resort was beautiful with many different beach areas. It also had an amazing outdoor pool overlooking the ocean.
There was a local island within swimming distance, but guests were banned from swimming over.
The resort had plenty on offer whether you wanted to chill on the beach/pool or take one of the many paid trips offered by the resort. They also had a spa on site. We chose to relax on the beach in one of the cabanas and used the snorkelling equipment and kayaks which were both free of charge to hire.
We had a fantastic three night stay. The staff were lovely and the island is beautiful with many different parts to explore. Even though the hotel was nearly at capacity whilst we were there, it didn’t feel like it. Apart from the main pool area and during breakfast we never really saw anyone else.
I must give credit where it’s due – at check out when going through the bill I saw, to my surprise, that we had been heavily comped for the delayed transfers which rounded off a perfect stay.
Given that we only took a 90 minute flight to Male and were only planning a short break, the resort gave us everything we needed.
Whilst pricing is probably not typical at present, the current ‘from’ price is stated as $257 per night including taxes. Reward night pricing varies due to IHG’s new revenue based structure but you seem to get just under 1 cent per point which is far better than the HfP target of 0.4p.
You can find out more, and book, on the resort’s website here.