Just came back from a week in Huvafen Fushi for our belated honeymoon.
We chose Huvafen Fushi over other resorts in Maldives for the following reasons:
1. It has house reef within easy swimming distance
2. It has plunge pool in the water bungalow and a main pool for those days when the sea may be too rough for a swim
3. Short speed boat ride from Male (prefer not going on seaplane journey)
4. Good feedbacks on Tripadvisor
We were really looking forward to the trip. When we arrived, we were met and transferred to the speed boat quite efficiently. On arriving at the island 35 mins later, we were met at the jetty by our villa butler and one of the managers.
We stayed in one of the lagoon bungalow towards the far end away from the island. The room was furnished with Bose speakers throughout, including the outside deck area and bathroom, which was a really nice touch. There was a nespresso coffee machine, raincoats for those rainy days, bathrobe, bedroom slippers, kettle, safe, dvd player, ipod with 10,000 songs and all the amenities expected in a luxury resort. Nothing much to fault the room apart from there was no clock at all in the room, and also the hairdryer only has two speed and not very powerful, which meant for girl with long hairs like me will take at least 10 mins just to dry the hair.
Room was cleaned twice a day, in the morning while we were at breakfast, and in the evening for a turn down service. Standard of cleaning was good. Cookies were served in a jar as part of the turn down service for all 7 days of the week, which got a bit boring. In other resorts we stayed before, we tend to get different thing at turn down, sometimes a turtle made from coconut, sometimes some seashells, sometimes some handicraft made from coconut tree leaves.
Water bungalow versus beach bungalow – We will definitely recommend the water bungalow any day. The beach bungalows are too close to the staff quarter as the island is really small.
Ocean bungalow versus lagoon bungalow – We didn’t book Ocean bungalow as most of the times we get upgraded anyway so was hoping to get lucky but as the resort was near full capacity, we didn’t get upgraded this time. We actually prefer the lagoon villa in the end, as the bungalow is facing direct sunlight only in the morning until just after noon, whereas the ocean bungalow has the afternoon sun. The ocean bungalow is slightly bigger with a living room and gets to see beautiful sunset. However, one can take equally beautiful sunset photo on the walkway between the water bungalows and the island anyway. So if you like sunny weather but don’t want to be lying right in the sun then go for lagoon bungalow, if you want to sunbath on your deck then go for the Ocean bungalow.
The house reef is in front of the pool and the Celsius restaurant. There are two channels which you could safely swim in and out to the deeper end of the reef so you won’t risk getting yourself cut by the corals. We prefer this house reef to Baros as it is deeper and less chance of getting cut by corals on low tide. We saw a lot of reef fishes, turtle and reef sharks. Snorkeling equipment can be rented for free from the water sport centre (Float) and there are life jackets in the room for those who are not strong swimmer. Wearing a life jacket is definitely recommended if you are not a strong swimmer as sometimes the water can be a bit rough. We swam out to the house reef via the channel by the swimming pool and then went with the current and came back in via the channel after the Celsius restaurant. We also went for a coral garden hopping trip, at USD90 per person, it is a bit expensive but we were given one free voucher as part of our honeymoon package. We also went on a guided night snorkeling trip at the house reef. It was amazing as you could see different type of fishes, such as the giant moray and the lion fish. Definitely recommend this if you are happy to spare USD65.
The sands are powdery soft in most part of the island and the best way to enjoy the island is to walk around barefoot.
Food and drinks
We went for bed and breakfast instead of half board which is an additional USD95 per person. We knew some guests recommended half board to save cost, but we went for B&B for the following reasons:
1. We are not big eater and we don’t normally eat a 3 course dinner and from experience knew we will struggle to do that every day and don’t want to feel obliged to eat 3 course just because we have already paid for it.
2. Half board will only allow you to eat at Celsius and offer you a 25% discount at Salt. We reviewed the menu at Celsius and noted that you will have to order the most expensive items in the menu for every meal to make it value for money to go on the half board basis (half board doesn’t include drinks anyway).
In the end we were really glad we didn’t go for half board. Although the food in Celsius was adequate, the food at Salt was miles better. In fact we would say the food at Salt is at par with some of the top restaurants we often frequent in London and we enjoyed every meal we had at Salt. The chef at Salt is really talented and the abalone with angel hair pasta, and the poached & seared squid are highly recommended. We were also given some free Hors D’oeuvres between our entrée and main course which was just so delicious in both the look and taste. All our meals excluding drinks cost us less than USD95 per person. At Celsius, definitely try the chocolate pudding. The cost of the food is not expensive by 5 star resorts standard. To give you a reference point, it is no more than what you would pay in any top London restaurants like Scott’s, Locanda Locatteli, Goodman or Gordan Ramsay. In fact it is not even that much more than mid price restaurant like Café Rouge. Soft drinks are reasonably priced at USD3.50, mineral waters are price between USD8 – 14, just be specified with what you want. Unless you are fuss with specific brand, go for Aqua Panna, which is cheaper. Otherwise the waiter will cheekily bring you the more expensive Voss without asking.
Breakfast is adequate but not fantastic. The choices are limited and we started to feel a bit bored after Day 3.
As for lunch, we didn’t have lunch every day as we were so busy snorkeling and lying on the lounge chair we somehow didn’t feel hungry. The Italian pizza from Fogliani was really good, wood burning stove, crisp base and delicious, proper Italian style.
The happy hours at UMBar is good and the drinks are half price. Non-alcoholic cocktails are only USD10 normally, and at half price it is cheaper than most of the trendy bars in London.
We were given offer on the massage as part of our honeymoon package, so we went for a 90 minutes couple massage and paid only the price for 60 mins. We also took up the offer of having the massage in the underwater treatment room for extra USD100 for the couple rather than extra USD100 per person. There are beautiful corals and a lot of fishes around the underwater spa room. The treatment room on the right hand side of the stair has more corals and fishes. After the treatment we were allowed to spend sometimes at a retreat area in the underwater spa, which we took the opportunity to take a lot of photos. Is it worth spending the extra USD100? We think it is if it is USD100 for a couple, rather than USD100 each. While you are having your massage face down, the put a mirror underneath at an angle so you could still see the fishes swimming in front of you, which we felt was an interesting experience. There is also a relaxing area at the spa which is quite nice. The massage itself was adequate, but nothing memorable, just like any massage anywhere.
We echo the comments by a few other travellers, the resort is beautiful, the house reef is amazing, the sands are so soft, the location is perfect, but the service left a bit to be desired. It wasn’t bad, but definitely not up to the standard we expected in a 5 stars resort. We won’t complain at all if we are going to a 3 star resort, but paying for a 5 star resorts, the expectation of service level will be different. To give a few examples:
1. In a resort which only have 44 rooms, we expect some of the guests facing staff to be briefed so they know who are there on honeymoon, who are there for special celebration etc. As we were there for our honeymoon, apart from our Thakuru, no other staff seems to be aware/interested/congratulated us on our wedding/honeymoon – This was so different from the service we got from Four Seasons Langkawi where we got married in June and spent a few days relaxing afterwards. We were congratulated on our wedding and my birthday at Four Seasons, the resort and the general managers spoke to us personally a couple of times to make sure everything was in good order, and we were made to feel really special throughout our stay there. By comparison, we felt we were just another guests passing through Huvafen Fushi. We are aware probably half the guests there are on honeymoon, but a truly successful resort will be able to make every guests feel special. Some morning we saw the manager turning up at Celsius for breakfast, but he never made any attempt to talk to the guests, let alone congratulate anyone there, including us, on our honeymoon.
2. We had a free honeymoon dinner, which was a nice touch and we were expecting to dine somewhere nice on the island and in private. The food was very delicious and the chef was very accommodating in changing a few things in the menu which I don’t eat. However, what let the special occasion down was the dinner was served at the beach where the Fogliani restaurant is (next to Celsius), along with another 2 honeymooning couples. This just made the honeymoon dinner so not private/romantic, and again, we felt we were just treated like another faceless nameless honeymooning couple, not special at all.
3. There was a Thakuru (villa butler) assigned to us on our arrival, but we don’t think she did much, apart from doing our check-in/check-out, bringing us on an introduction tour of the island, and answer a few questions here and there.
4. The service at the pool side was very slowed. There were only 8 sets of lounge chairs on either side of the pool and also 3 couple day bed in the shaded area by the pool. We spent a good part of our day by the day bed or lounge chair by the pool, and 9 out of 10 times we had to get the attention of the staff to bring us cold towel and drinks. We certainly didn’t expect to have to do this more than once. We expect staff at a 5 star resort to be trained to be alert, pro-active and provide service without being prompt by the guests.
5. The service at both Salt and Celsius were a bit disorientated at times. We felt some times the waiters and waitresses were a bit clueless and disorganized. For example, when we ordered sushi/sashimi for starter, we expect in any good restaurant, the waiter/waitress will bring the chopstick before or at the same time the dish is being served, not being prompted after the dish is being served and you have to stare at the dish and wait for another 5 mins for the chopstick to be brought over. Same thing happened when we ordered fried rice, and somehow they expected us to eat the rice with our fork and knife! The staff was not rude, but a lot of them seems to have this blank expression which didn’t come across as friendly at times.
Though we had very good food at Salt, they obviously did not have enough serving staff both times we were there. We had to ask for bread to be served, which in any good restaurant would be brought to us as soon as/very soon after we are seated without being prompt. We had to wait for a good 15 mins to get the attention of someone in order to get our order and a table of 6 sitting next to us who were there earlier than us only managed to order their food a good 30 mins after being seated. Both times we were there, they seem to have only 3 waiters/waitresses for 8-9 tables. This would be adequate if all the tables are set very close to each other, but at Salt when tables are spread out in different corner, it was difficult for serving staff to see us in the dark, especially when they didn’t seem to be very alert. We don’t feel there is a leader among the serving staff to ensure things are run smoothly. It is not something that a bit of training can’t fix.
6. On more than 3 occasions we saw some plastic bottles/ loose wood panel, plastic foam on the beach or in the water right next to the beach. We would expect in a 5 star resort there should be someone “patrolling” the beach every few hours to ensure no such things are lying around, since the island is so small one can walk the island in less than 15 mins.
Will we recommend the resort, well… it depends, it is a nice resort no doubt, and if the less than excellent service or being treated as just another guest on the island doesn’t bother you at all, then yes, the island itself is beautiful, the house reef and the delicious food at Salt may just sell it for you. Will we go back again? We love the house reef, but we won’t go back any time soon unless the service is improved.
- Best spot for sunrise is between the spa and the gym.
- Best spot for sunset if you are not staying in the Ocean bungalow is on the walkway between the water bungalows and the island
- Ask for water bungalow away from the island for more privacy
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Float at infinity's edge. Descend stairs for underground wine. Come out of your shell in the depths of an underwater spa room - the first and only in the world - where colour fish glide past the floor-to-ceiling-windows that reveal the beauty of the reef. Huvafen Fushi, a multi-award winning island resort located only 35 minutes by speedboat from Male, offers 44 naturally modern bungalows and the luxury of 'suites at sea,' traditional Maldivian sailboats fitted out with modern indulgences and the chance to escape and relax in a secluded island paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Huvafen Fushi Hotel Huvafen Fushi Island
- Huvafen Fushi Male
- Huvafen Fushi Hotel Male
- Huvafen Fushi Maldives Huvafen Fushi Island