A great value all rounder family friendly resort in Maldives to celebrate Christmas or New Year. The villas are spacious and they comfortably fit a king size bed as well as two single beds for the children. Indulging yourself in one of the Overwater Pool Suite is well worth the money. The food quality is decent, but they make it up with the abundance of variety, friendly service and decadent Christmas & New Year feasts. The best part of the resort is the mesmerising house reef, filled with colourful corals and fishes. You and your family are truly in paradise at Amari Havodda.
Where is it?
In paradise. Maldives is located in the middle of nowhere in the Indian Ocean, 600km south of India and 670km southwest of Sri Lanka. It is a collection of 1,190 islands that stretch 822km from north to south and 130km from west to east. That’s equivalent to a straight line from Brighton to Inverness and from Cambridge to Birmingham. 200 of the islands are inhabited and over 100 of them are private resort islands. Amari Havodda has been one of the private resort island since January 2016.
It located close to the southern tip within the Gaffe Dhaalu Atoll, 400km south of the Maldives capital Male, where all international flights land. Hence, in order to get to Amari Havodda, one will have to board a local propeller airplane to Kaadedhdhoo Domestic Airport, which is 60 minutes from Male International Airport. From there, it is another 15 minutes on an Amari Havodda-operated speedboat. The two closest other resorts are Raffles Maldives and Robinson Maldives.
In December 2021, the return air transfer from Male airport to Kaadedhdhoo airport cost £300 (US$390) per adult and £230 (US$300) per child by state-owned airline Maldivian.
The efficiency of the monopolistic state-owned airline Maldivian is not the best. Hence, there is likely to be a couple of hours wait at Male International Airport for your connecting flights both way. During this time, you will be guided by the Amari Havodda ground staff to relax at the Moonimaa Lounge operated by the airline. It is a basic but decent lounge with wi-fi, a simple food and drinks buffet (but no alcohol) and wall sockets to charge your phones and tablets.
On your return journey, there may also be waiting time at the Kaadedhdhoo airport after being dropped off by the hotel’s speedboat. Do note that domestic flight cancellation is not uncommon, hence, the hotel do recommend leaving lots of time to ensure you catch you return flight from Male. There is unfortunately no lounge to relax nor wi-fi to help you pass the time at Kaadedhdhoo. However, there is a simple local cafe with air-conditioning where you can park yourself. We recommend coming prepared with offline activities, like a book, a card game, a couple of conversational topics and some snacks.
What is it like?
Chic retreat. It is a place where you won’t be thinking about your worries in life. From the moment the tiny island with white sandy beach and waving palm trees comes into sight, the tense on your shoulders will ease away. It is an elegant and stylish secluded paradise.
Amari Havodda is an outdoor is indoor and indoor is outdoor expansive space. The reception, the dining areas and the bar are open spaces with soaring ceiling with amber-coloured wood beams. It is designed to maximise the jovial sensation from the sun, sea breeze and the liberating panoramic ocean-view.
The colour scheme is mostly white which carries through the tranquility from the fine silky sand encompassing the resort. It is interspersed with happy bright red beach umbrellas which contrast beautifully with the lively green from the palm trees to create an elegant fashionable wonderland.
What are the rooms like?
Blissfully secluded. There are 60 beachfront, 58 overwater villas and 2 overwater pool suites. We stayed in one of the two Overwater Pool Suite (Room no. 120) and Overwater Villa (Room no. 101) during our visit over New Year of 2022.
The overwater villas are a masterpiece in combining outdoor freedom, indoor comfort and privacy. It is built to greet you in the morning with unhindered appreciation of the endless Indian Ocean through the end to end glass doors as you wake up on the luxurious king size bed. The spacious double sinks bathroom is enclosed for your privacy but at the same time open with smartly placed windows for the sea breeze, hole-on-the-floor to admire the coral reef and half-roofs to shower under the stars.
The Overwater Pool Suite comes with a four-poster bed, full sized living room and an enormous outdoor wooden terrace with an infinity pool and outdoor shower. The terrace in the Overwater Villa is a touch narrow for a comfortable laze about for the whole family.
The rooms are air-conditioned and come with all the expected modern conveniences like complimentary wi-fi, 40-inch LED TV, telephone, espresso machine as well as bottled water and tea & coffee which are replenished daily.
Given the orientation, only a limited number of the Overwater Villas have a view of the sunset. We saw it from Room no. 120. Room no. 121 and 122 would have a great view of it too.
You have to walk through the room to get to the bathroom after snorkelling from the terrace. Make sure to leave some towels on the terrace before heading out. Also, apart from the Overwater Pool Suite, the Overwater Villas do not have an outdoor shower on the terrace to rise off the seawater.
At time of writing this for December 2021, it was well worth splashing out on the Overwater Pool Suite for £1,250 (US$1,645) per night. It is £250 (US$330) more expensive than the Overwater Villa per night but well worth the indulgence and extra space – 153m² vs 77m².
If you are looking to stay in one of the Beach Villas, the beach on the west side of the island suffers from a touch more erosion than the east side. You will get a view of the sunrise if you are on the west and sunset on the east.
Are there family-friendly rooms?
All of them. All the villas accommodate 2 adults and 2 children or 3 adults. Children are provided with proper wooden single beds, not a sofa bed nor a rollaway bed. Baby cots are available on request. They are also provided with towel, bathrobe and slipper, but not a cup nor a glass for water and tea or coffee.
As the villas are individual standalone buildings, there are, unfortunately, no connecting rooms nor larger villas for larger families or groups wanting to be closer together.
Children under 8 years old eat free of charge from the children’s menu.
If you want some adult time, the Kids Club is open from 9am to 6pm. It is located next to the gym, near the main area of the resort. It is a relatively basic set-up, but it works. Usual activities like colouring, playing with toys, reading a book, playing dress up and board games are available. There is an indoor air-conditioned area, as well as a large outdoor sand pit.
How are the dining options?
Sumptuous. There are three restaurants at Amari Havodda – an all-day buffet restaurant, a dinner-only seafood grill and a daytime-only pizza shack – as well as two bars.
Amaya Food Gallery
Guests will either be on the full-board or all inclusive package. Both includes breakfast, lunch and dinner at the high-ceiling and open Amaya Food Gallery, the all-day buffet restaurant. There is a bread, salad, fruits and cheese section, a hot food section, a dessert section as well as manned-stations for grill, stir-fry, noodle or pasta and special of the day. Love the freshly brewed healthy booster ginger honey tea that’s available daily.
All cuisines are represented and the selection are mostly different everyday. You will get Thai green curry, Italian spaghetti bolognese, Chinese spring rolls, Greek fried calamari, Indian samosa, American burger, European beef steak and the list goes on and on. The food is not gourmet quality as they normally aren’t due to the mass production nature of buffet, but the variety makes up for it.
Guests under full-board have unlimited soft drinks and bottle water here during meals, while all inclusive guests can also have cocktail, beer, wine, sparkling wine, liquor, juice as well as coffee & tea. All inclusive package is for an additional US$55 per person per night and has to be taken by all in your travelling party.
For the special evenings, there is the Japanese-decorated Ember Grill, a seafood grill restaurant at the northern tip of the island. Choose from ribeye steak (US$50 200g), lamb chops (US$45 180g), jumbo tiger prawns (US$60 3 pieces) and lobster (US$85 500g) as well as variety of vegetables.
Seatings are available around the main grill where you can watch the chefs in action, or you can opt for the more intimate dining under the stars on the beach itself. The food quality here is better than Amaya Food Gallery as they are made to order, but still pretty average.
Food consumed here are outside of the full-board or all inclusive packages. Drinks are chargeable if you are on full-board and included in you are on all inclusive package.
The 3rd option is tucking into a pizza at Pizza Kaage by the swimming pool. The delicious pizzas are made fresh to order under a little hut next to a chef’s herb garden. Enjoy them at the alfresco beach blue wooden table and chairs while being mesmerised by the turquoise Indian Ocean. The pizzas here are part of the all inclusive package (not full-board package) and it is open from 12pm to 6pm.
The hotel runs special celebrations like Christmas Eve Feast, New Year Eve Party & Dinner, New Year’s Day Brunch, etc where additional charges applies and they pull out all the stops for it. Make sure to pack a party outfit if you are there for those special occasions.
Located by the pool, Thari Bar serves cocktails, mocktails, spirits, wine, beer as well as snacks like ice cream, cheese platter, fish & chips, satay, spring rolls and samosa (US$12 per plate ). Service available while you are lounging by the pool or at the tables in the open-air Opens from 10am till late.
Food consumed here are not part of full-board nor all inclusive package. Drinks are included if you are on the all inclusive package.
This small bar on the other side of the island wasn’t open when we were there.
For the even more special occasions, speak to your appointed Amari Host (contactable via WhatsApp) and they will be more than happy to set-up a private candle-lit dinner by the beach or in your villa. As you expect, they are experienced on this front and there are a few pre-packaged options but are also able to cater to personalised requirements. Additional charges will apply.
What is there to do in the hotel?
Find nemo at the house reef
The house reef at Amari Havodda is one of the best in Maldives. Pick up your complimentary snorkel, mask and diving fin from the in-house Dive Centre on the northeastern side of the island and head out to the reef through one of the two snorkel channels.
You can snorkel all around the island and you will be in great company of reef sharks, groupers, hinds, sweetlips, butterfly fishes, angelfishes, anemonefishes, surgeonfishes, moorish idols and many more.
The best corals and therefore concentration of fishes is on the northeastern part of the island, to the left of the service jetty as you are walking out to the sea. The next best area is at the southern tip between the snorkelling channel and villa no. 120. But the reef around the whole island is mesmerising, take your time and explore. If you are in luck, you will come across one of the resident turtle, some eagle rays. Try to spot some lobsters too if you have the time.
To take it up a notch, try the 60-minute guided night snorkelling to experience the nocturnal sealife for US$55 per person. There is also an option to do it with special fluorescent lights which allow you to experience the corals and fishes in an Avatar-like fashion – US$115 per person.
The currents could be strong if it is windy. Get some pointers from any of the staff or at the Dive Centre. You will that find that most of the staff know the reef fairly well.
Do note that the complimentary snorkelling gears are subject to availability. Life jackets are chargeable at US$5 per day. Therefore, you may want to bring your own to avoid disappointment.
Make sure to use one of the two snorkelling channels to get to the reef. You will risk injury to yourself as well as to the fragile corals if you try to enter from other points. Entry to the channels are either from the beach in front of Amaya Food Gallery or from the end of the platform of the Overwater Villas on the northern end of the island.
Explore the atoll with the Dive Centre
The Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, where Amari Havodda is located, is the deepest and one of the largest atoll in Maldives. Its unique geographical attributes make it a paradise for sealife, big and small. We are not an experts on dive sites and scuba diving , but based on our conversation with Jinah, the Dive Centre Manager, there are plenty to offer for all level of divers.
If you don’t yet have a dive license, but keen to give it a try, they offer a scuba diving taster where you will learn the basic principles and doing a guided dive at the house reef with a qualified instructor.
Apart from diving and snorkelling, you can also explore the atoll by going on a dolphin search sunset cruise, an open-sea fishing excursion, a visit to a deserted island or local village.
Get active in the water
If you want to take a break from just lazing around in paradise, you can rent a kayak, a glass bottom canoe or a stand-up paddle board (US$25 – $35 for 60 mins) for a leisurely paddle around the island or rent a jet ski (US$95 for 15 mins) for a more exhilarating splash about the Indian Ocean.
There is also water skiing, wake boarding, fun bed ride (US$35 for 15 mins per person) as well as catamaran sailing and windsurfing (US$25 for 60 mins). Lessons are available for additional charges if required.
Rejuvenate with a facial and massage
There is no better form of relaxation than indulging in a spa session and Amari Havodda has that sorted out for you. Originating from Thailand, the land of massages, Amari Hotel has Breeze Spa in all its locations and has access to well trained and experience masseurs.
Treat yourself to one of the five Breeze Spa’s signature Mood Massages. The massages are named after the how you would like to feel after the massage – Dreamy, Serene, Rejuvenated, Invigorated and Energised. A 60-minute session is US$110 and 90-minute session is US$155.
After sipping the welcome butterfly-pea flower tea, you will be escorted through the spa garden to one of the six air-conditioned garden couple rooms. The high-ceilinged room is equipped with low lighting, candle lights and soft mood music. You will emerge from the room rejuvenated.
Apart from the Mood Massages, an extensive range of other massages, body scrubs, body wraps and facials available from 10am to 8pm. Make sure to book your session before arrival to make the most of it.
If you need to keep up with an exercise regime, there is a basic gym available on site. There is also a multi-purpose court for a game of tennis, volleyball or street soccer.
Who are the patrons?
As Amari Havodda is one of the few private island resorts in Maldives that caters for a family of 2 adults and 2 children in one villa, it is popular with families. It attracts visitors from all over the world.
Are they pet friendly?
N/A. Don’t think anyone thought about bringing their pet to the Maldives.