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Kandolhu Maldives 5.0

North Ari Atoll, Alifu Atoll, Maldives

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Five-pearl boutique with a private feel and an active, accessible house reef
  • On its own small, beautiful island -- 25 minutes via seaplane from Male airport
  • Luxurious villas come with sundecks, outdoor showers, and ocean views
  • Thoughtful room amenities include iPads, stocked wine fridges and minibars, adapters, and flashlights
  • Four a la carte restaurants and a beachside bar with several meal plan options provides variety
  • PADI-certified dive shop offers beginner classes, snorkeling, and water sports
  • On-site spa with no-appointment-necessary access to the steam room, sauna, or pool
  • State-of-the-art gym features cardio, weights, and exercise equipment
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Seaplane-only access
  • Limited social interaction (a pro for some)
  • Some find the decor a bit bland for the level of luxury

Bottom Line

A top-notch five-pearl luxury boutique, Kandolhu Maldives is home to 30 villas, all featuring private sundecks and sea views. Surrounded by a fish-filled house reef and close to good dive spots, it’s a good option for underwater lovers -- and it offers various packages, including an all-inclusive plan. This small, screensaver-come-to-life island has four a la carte restaurants, a relaxing beachside bar, spa, dive center, library lounge, and state-of-the-art gym. Favoring couples, this idyllic island is set up for privacy, limited social interaction, and relaxation. Upscale and contemporary styled rooms are outfitted with all the trimmings -- from fluffy towels to wine fridges --  and can feature outdoor bathrooms, private beach areas, and personal dipping pools.

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Scene

Island size and layout make for a feeling of privacy; ideal for spending quality time with loved ones

The experience of Kandohlu Maldives starts with the 30-minute seaplane transfer over turquoise waters, dotted with both inhabited and uninhabited islands. One of the smaller resort islands, Kandohlu is picture-perfect, straight-out-of-a-screensaver island, with fine white sand, stunning crystal clear waters, and tall palms growing toward the sky. This luxury spot was designed by a Maldivian architect and furnished with simple yet elegantly chic and well-made German decor elements. While some Maldivian resorts may not live up to the challenge, Kandolhu's inner and outer beauty can match your mind's eye of the Maldives. 

Upon arrival, guests are greeted at the dock with refreshing drinks before being led down impeccably maintained sand paths to their rooms. Though there is a chic, open-air lobby, in-room check-ins are the norm. After a quick orientation and explanation of the room's and hotel's many features, guests are left to enjoy their holiday. Opened in February 2014, Kandohlu Maldives’ main focus is privacy and relaxation. The resort and amenities are designed with the intention of maximizing time in the private villas and minimizing interactions with other guests for a true couple-centric or family-friendly holiday. So, if you are looking for a wild island party or resort-planned group activities, you may want to skip quiet Kandolhu Maldives -- though there are plenty of excursions and places to plop down and relax, read a book, grab a drink or bite to eat, or just soak up the sun. 

Location

Located on Kandolhu Island in the North Ari Atoll, around a 25-minute seaplane flight from Male

Kandohlu Maldives is located in the Maldives' North Ari Atoll archipelago on Kandolhu (formerly Kandolhudhoo) Island. In addition to being surrounded by a natural, vibrant coral reef system, the island is also within an hour boating distance to over 30 dive sites and four protected marine habitats. Kandolhu’s size is on the smaller side, making for an easy 15-minute walk around the shoreline and just seven-minute jaunt across. On a direct flight from Male airport, Kandolhu Island can be reached in about 25 minutes via seaplane (no speedboat option is available). 

Rooms

Spacious and simple-but-swanky rooms with thoughtful amenities; most with outdoor bathrooms and direct sea access

With all of Kandholu’s 30 villas, the highlights are in the details. Each villa uses soft, natural color schemes, specific woods to compliment the villa’s size, and minimalist decor accents to create a simple-but-elegant vibe. Some may find the look a tad too simple for a five-pearl resort, but the overall vibe create is rustic luxury.

Regardless of room type, you can expect to find comfortable king-sized beds with fluffy comforters, ice-cold air-conditioning, private outdoor deck space, large flat-screen TVs, high ceilings, sleek desk areas, and keycard-dependent electricity. Aside from the expected bathrobe and slippers, in the closet you’ll find laptop-sized safes, umbrellas, flashlights, ironing materials, and beach bags. Well-thought-out details can be found in every corner, from the informational iPads and multi-country adaptors, to the expansive minibar selections and curated personal wine fridges, and the large, soft towels and exfoliating loofahs in the bathrooms. Other bathroom features include free-standing tubs, bowl sinks, dual vanities, and organic VOYA products. Many bathrooms are completely outdoors or require you to walk outside to reach them -- which means braving the heat and humidity to wash up, brush your teeth, or use the toilet.

Highest category rooms, like the overwater Ocean Pool Villas, have private infinity dipping pools and sleek, outdoor glassed-in bathrooms with sliding doors that open up to large decks outfitted with patio furniture and panoramic views of the ocean. Mid-level rooms, like the Duplex Pool Villas, are dual-level units with dedicated living rooms, sundecks, wholly outdoor bathrooms, and private infinity pools on the ground levels. The upper level of each has a bedroom, half-bath, and smaller outdoor balcony deck. Pool Villas are along the beach, but each has a privacy screen via thick mangroves, and features two wooden decks with furniture and a personal plunge pool. Bathrooms in these units are indoors, facing the back decks, though they do have large outdoor shower garden areas. Even the lower-category Jacuzzi Beach Villa has its perks with two outdoor showers and a whirlpool bathtub

All guests receive two free one-liter bottles of drinking water and turndown treats, though minibar and wine fridge costs vary depending on your meal plan.

Beach

Crystal-clear water makes for easy shallow-swimming fish and shark viewing.

Because most of Kandohlu’s rooms are located directly on the beach, there is only a small section of beach set up for public use. Located just in front of The Market and Vilu Bar, the beach area is peppered with slightly seawater-worn wicker furniture, a handful of umbrellas and padded loungers, and a few seating areas beneath the shady mangroves. The water surrounding the island is so clear you can view some of the shallow-dwelling baby reef sharks, colorful fish, and small schools of fish just by standing shin-deep in the water.

Food

Surprising number of dining options for a small island; no buffet lunch or dinners

Because of its small size, Kandohlu is able to offer its guests a la carte dining across all four restaurants. Cuisine ranges from a tiny six-seater Japanese teppanyaki spot, Banzai; to a large outdoor grill with a fresh catch display case and traditional tandoori oven at Sea Grill; to Mediterranean dishes with a second-floor view at Olive; to the overall international fare found on the menu at The Market. The Market is the only all-day option starting with a healthy breakfast buffet featuring meats and cheeses as well as in-house made items from breads to yogurts, granola, and fresh juices, and an a la carte menu with traditional Maldivian, eastern Asia, and typical European/American hot selections.

There are three meal plans ranging from a basic bed-and-breakfast option, to a full board (food only), and an all-encompassing “Ultimate” all-inclusive plan that even includes wine from the in-room wine fridge as well as other bonuses. Room service is also available for an extra fee.

Drinks

Open-air beachside bar and extensive in-room minibar and wine-fridge selection

Sharing a roof with The Market, Vilu Bar is an all-day, open-air bar with covered indoor seating or ocean-facing deck setups of thick-padded, contemporary wicker chairs and tables (and ashtrays). The bar has a full and well-priced (for the Maldives) cocktail menu, a wide range of international top shelf and local liquors, an extensive wine list, and beers. While this space is mostly empty during the day, many guests stop by for a drink before or after dinner.

All-Inclusive

All-around all-inclusive package covers food, drink, discounts, and activities

Kandohlu’s Ultimate All-Inclusive packages not only includes meals, snacks, and soft drinks; international alcohol; and free bottles of wine from the in-room wine chiller -- but it will also get you better prices on top-shelf booze and imported beers, a discount on spa treatments, free snorkeling equipment rental, unlimited use of non-motorized water sports, and your choice of either a champagne sunset cruise or hour-long guided snorkel tour around the island where you can see rays, turtles, tons of fish, and baby black-tipped reef sharks.

Features

A teeming house reef, PADI dive shop, water sports, spa, gym, and shop with eco-friendly products

Besides its stunning natural beauty, one of the standout features of Kandohlu Maldives is its natural surrounding house reef where it’s common to spot black-tipped reef sharks, turtles, a variety of fish, and rays. You can pick up snorkel gear from the PADI-certified dive shop and walk directly out into the water mask-on-face or sign up for a guided tour. Some of the Maldives’ best dive sites are nearby, so even if you aren’t certified just yet, you can learn here at Kandohlu. There’s also a handful of water sports available like windsurfing, catamaran sailing, and stand-up paddleboats. The hotel can also arrange for day trips, sunset cruises, and even wedding vow renewals.

If the heat gets to you or if you’re looking for some assisted relaxation, Varu Spa is available for massages, and body and beauty treatments using VOYA brand products. Whether or not you’ve got an appointment, you can still take advantage of the spa’s steam room, sauna, and outdoor plunge pool lounge area. Those who want to be a little more active can head across the path to the state-of-the-art gym and break a sweat on the cardio machines, using the free weights, or realigning with some power yoga.

The resort also has 24-hour reception, free Wi-Fi, an upper-level library lounge with panoramic views, and an on-site boutique with things from postcards, to biodegradable sunblock, to jewelry and clothes.

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Address

North Ari Atoll

Also Known As

  • Kandolhu Island