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‘My Favourite Hotel’ review – Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma, Maldives (bookable on IHG points)

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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 review

As always you can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reader reviews by clicking here

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!)

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives review

Overview

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.

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives review

Transfer

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.

Review Holiday Inn Kandooma Maldives

Our villa

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.

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives review

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!

Review Holiday Inn Kandooma Maldives

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.

Review Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives

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.

Review Holiday Inn Kandooma Maldives

Conclusion

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 per IHG point.

.You can find out more, and book, on the resort’s website here.


IHG Rewards update – September 2021:

Get bonus points: IHG Rewards is not currently running a global promotion.

New to IHG Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards points, you can buy them here.

You will receive a mystery bonus, usually 100%, when you buy IHG Rewards points by 8th October 2021.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (28)

  • Alex W says:

    How much was the transfer without discount? For me this needs to be factored in to the ‘pence let point’ value.
    How much is it to upgrade to all inclusive? Can it be done on a points booking? Are kids included?
    Looks like a great hotel but need a bit more info.

    • Alex W says:

      ‘pence per point’

      • blenz101 says:

        Have to agree with Alex, this review is really light on any detail to be able to make it of use to anybody considering a trip to the Maldives.

        In short, it’s 45mins by speedboat (free?), upgrades from and unknown status don’t get you much, they offer a buffet breakfast with hot and cold items, minibar is expensive, and the hotel has beaches and pools to use.

        I would have thought the flight time from India would we irrelevant to most people. The garden view villas were never going to have a view of the beach. The delayed transfer seems to be a big part of the review and implied when ‘things turned sour’ that there were other issues? Would have also been useful to know what the compensation was, did they give points, cash discount, take off the cost of your evening meal one night etc. Some detail on the resturants available, food beyond breakfast including costs given this is supposed to be a review of the lower end, drinks?, general ambiance, service levels, friendly well trained staff?, what were the trips and at what price point, quality of the snorkling/reef. How much did the basic garden room cost outside of the pandemic?

        Also, would be good to be consistent in currency and for HfP to covert everything in one sentence to the same currency or at least bracket the home currency in the same way the BBC News does when dealing with non-GBP figures.

        • MarcB says:

          All in all, sounds like you may as well go to Majorca for a week for a similar (cheaper) experience and not have the hassle flying half way round the world…

          • Alex W says:

            I think that’s exactly the point, we don’t want the usual ‘Brits abroad’ lager louts etc and DO want to fly half way round the world to avoid them. Before booking such a long trip you’d want some more reassurance that it will be worth the journey! A 90min flight from India is not representative of the journey that most people would be doing.

        • Rob says:

          It was only a very short stay, to be fair. Basically a weekend break.

          What I would say is …. what works for a weekend break after a 90 minute flight may not be what you want for a week after a 9 hour flight.

        • Crafty says:

          I was looking forward to reading this review and you’ve summarised well everything that it lacks. I am surprised this didn’t get editorial intervention before publication!

  • Erico1875 says:

    Those water villas look like shipping containers dumped in a row on Blackpool Pier
    Quite close to Male, similar price you can book Meeru which is far far prettier

    • blenz101 says:

      The main pool also looks like something you would see in a water park in Malaga

    • TGLoyalty says:

      For the price what are you expecting in The Maldives ?

  • Anna says:

    I think this resort looks great value for the Maldives and I imagine the underwater world for diving and snorkelling is just as good as at the more expensive ones! I looked at it for next Easter but flights were astronomical and no award availability when I need to burn avios and 241s. A definite contender though. They do offer a half board package if you don’t think you’d get the full value out of Al.

  • Anna says:

    I’m not really sure why these articles are called “My Favourite Hotel” – the vast majority of them have been about the writer’s first visit! Favourite would surely refer to somewhere tried and tested several times and therefore worthy of returning to?

    • Rhys says:

      It’s possible to have a favourite without having stayed several times! I don’t think I’ve ever stayed more than once….too many new places to see/do!

    • Rob says:

      To be fair, this 3rd batch was specifically set up to focus on ‘unique’ hotels – perhaps we should have renamed it? Not sure Kandooma would have qualified if we’d renamed it though.

    • Nathan says:

      It’s entirely subjective! For many years, if asked for my favourite hotel, I would have answered the Metropole in Brussels.
      That would have had little to do with the hotel itself and was nearly 20 years ago, but memories persist somewhat.
      Since then, the world turns and circumstances change, adding quite a few nights at various branded mostly mid-tier chains regularly whilst working to a growing misanthropy leads one to avoid all hotels unless necessary and certainly for holidays. Thank your chosen deity for the internet!
      PS
      On the ‘tried and tested’ point raised, you might want to give The Sparrow a look if you are fortunate enough to find yourself in Stockholm.

  • Damien says:

    I stayed there for about 4 days after a 10 day stay in the Conrad. It’s not 5*, but it has it’s charms. It gets a lot of the airlines staff. If you went there direct after getting off a BA flight, odds are you would be on the same boat as them.

    One thing the review failed to mention is that you need to sign up for the boat that takes you to the house reef. This only has limited numbers, so do it ASAP. The reef is ok, and far better than anything you’ll be able to swim near directly of the island.

  • Jo says:

    Thanks damian, that to me is the most relevant point. The main reason we go to the maldives is for the off beach excellent snorkeling. I wouldn’t consider going all that way if I had to catch a boat to the reef.

    • Damien says:

      There’s a beach area to the East of their overwater bungalows which does have a fair bit of sea life. Though it’s hard to swim over when the tide is low as the coral will scrape you. You also see some larger fish under the walkway and bungalows. Nothing to special. Also, they do have a dive center.. it’s probably way better value than some of the others you might encounter.
      https://photos.app.goo.gl/mAArhvkdn3pAciVTA

  • Pete says:

    As someone with limited knowledge of the Maldives (and, admittedly fairly limited interest too!), I found this quite interesting.

    • Blenz101 says:

      I think the grumbles are just it was a missed opportunity to provide some actual detail on the resort itself. I think those who have commented all know this is a paid reader contribution but we just hoped the HfP team would have been able to extract some more detail after the first draft was supplied so the review had a bit more value to the reader.

      All that said, I am planning another trip to the Maldives in the new year and previous articles and comments have given some fantastic inspiration and a real steer on what represents value on points.

      A trip to the Maldives will be expensive and for many a once in a lifetime experience, people will naturally research this type and want a level of detail beyond what could be found in a holiday brochure. If I was Googling the name of the resort and this review came up I would have learned very little.

  • Jimmy says:

    Had a stay there in 2010. Thing is back then it was 15k per night for garden villa. Tried the old trick of booking the first night in an overwater villa for cash – hoping they would let us stay in it rather than move us. Bad news was they didn’t and moved us over. The good news was clearly there was some sort of glitch as on my return back home all the points had then been refunded. 🙂 🙂 this was when you could earn thousands of points for free from their closed and their check in app (anyone remember that?)

    • Damien says:

      Same. Tried the overwater villa at first few then a voucher for the last night. Didn’t work.

    • xcalx says:

      I also stayed a couple of times back in 2009/10 when it was 15k per night. Using the old BMI Singapore routing zone 2 to zone 10 for a crazy low amount of miles.

      First time as gold, 5 nights upgraded to a sea view Beachhouse Villa.
      Second time as Plat upgraded to overwater villa for 4 nights then to a sea view beachouse villa for the last night (booked by mrs xcalx as gold)

      A nice detour on our Switzerland, Dubia, Thailand, Bali, Singapore trips

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