We have just completed our 40th trip and we have spent it in the beautiful paradise, Maldives. It was nothing short of amazing and it has been a week of pure bliss considering how we ended up opting to take this as a last minute back up vacation.
I have to commend Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa for the wonderful experience. Having been a flight crew for almost a decade, I had the pleasure of staying in luxury hotels around the world and for me, Villingili ranks at the top. Special thanks to their Resident Manager Jonas Amstad and his amazing team for a job well done.
Our hotel booking was made two days before our departure date. We got lucky to have a room available for us even when it’s Eid holiday. We chose the romantic package for our stay which includes the following:
Scenic arrival and departure experiences: domestic round-trip flights from Male to Gan for two persons on a Maldivian Airlines Dash 8 - a twin-engine, turboprop, 50-seat airliner.
One bottle of Tattinger Brut Champagne in the villa upon arrival.
A mesmerising private cruise for two that provides a chance to spot spinner dolphins and take in the stunning scenery of the Indian Ocean.
Create your own spa journey with one daily 90-minute signature treatment of choice at CHI, The Spa.
'Dine by Design', one private culinary experience at preferred island setting - lush tropical jungle, on the beach or at the summit of Mount Villingili - including paired wines and a consultation with the chef to design a bespoke four-course menu.
One romantic three-course candlelit dinner for two with paired wines at Fashala, fine dining restaurant.
A fruit basket that is replenished every day.
Daily buffet breakfast for two persons at Javvu Restaurant, which overlooks turquoise waters.
We flew from Dubai to Male via Emirates Airline. From Male, we took a domestic Maldivian Air flight to Gan and from Gan we rode a private speedboat to Shangri-La Villingili. Guests going to Villingili by international commercial flight must stop over in Male, unless you’re considering private jet travel then you can arrive directly at Gan Airport.
Upon arrival at Male, a Shangri-La Airport representative welcomed and escorted us to the VIP Lounge where we waited for our connecting flight. He took our passports and did all the departure formalities. All we had to do was to show up on our flight.
Flight from Male to Gan was operated by Maldivian Air using a turboprop plane. Flight time was approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes including a stopover in one of the neighboring islands.
In Gan, there was a Shangri-La shuttle that transported us to the jetty to board the private speedboat going to the resort.
As soon as we arrived in the island, we were greeted by the management and staff who addressed us by our names. They gave us flowers and fresh coconut drinks as welcome gesture. The gentleman who was assigned as our personal villa host was Gehan, and Jessica, the resort's front office manager, was the one who helped us formulated our itinerary.
After the meet and greet, Gehan, our personal villa host drove us with his buggy to our water villa.
We were checked in at Villa 49 which is situated along the southwest part of the island in Serenity Bay.
Built on stilts in the resort's lagoon and connected to the island by a timber walkway, each villa has an open and airy atmosphere.
All water villas were set nicely so you can snorkel in the shallow parts of the bay teeming with corals and marine life.
Each villa is given two bicycles that the guests can use to explore the island.
Buggies are also available 24 hours at the guests' disposal.
Upon check-in, we were surprised to see our bed peppered with red rose petals.
There's also a list of choices of pillows to make our stay comfortable and tailored to our needs.
There's a bottle of champagne and fruit basket.
A fully stocked mini bar, coffee and tea facilities with good selection of complimentary Nespresso coffee pods and Dilmah loose leaf tea bags.
Upon request, Gehan, our villa host prepared us a bubble bath decorated with colorful hibiscus flowers. It's so beautiful!
But our best-loved feature of this villa is it's direct access to the ocean which allowed us to swim and snorkel anytime we want with lifeguard's supervision.
Villingili island is a former British military base with a lush forest, three freshwater lagoons and a mangrove swamp.
It is also home to variety of flora and fauna as well as more than 17,000 coconut trees, over six kilometres of picturesque coastline and 2 kilometres of white sandy beaches.
One of the largest resort islands in the Maldives, Villingili boasts an extravagant 9-hole golf course which includes Mt. Villingili, the country's highest elevation at 5 meters above sea level.
Shangri-La Villingili is known for it's exceptional dining facilities. There are 3 restaurants, 3 bars and an in-room dining here, all overlooking the beach. Dr. Ali, a fine dining that serves Asian cuisine. Fashala specializes on seafood and local farm produce while Javvu, the resort's central restaurant cafe, offers all day casual dining. Manzaru Bar and M-Lounge, are a perfect place to drink and lounge while watching the sunset. But if you feel lazy to go out, In Villa Dining offers a world class cuisine in the privacy of your home away from home.
Manzaru Bar and M-Lounge
Did you know that the resort has a huge chef's garden, where different herbs, fruits, and vegetables are grown? This is where they source most of the produce that they serve in the restaurants and the rest are bought from local farmers in Addu Atoll. Recently, Villingili was given a Silver Award for 2015 World Responsible Tourism in the category "Best Hotel for Local Sourcing" for its partnership with local farmers and creation of the Addu Meedhoo Cooperative Society.
But the highlight of our stay was the massage at Chi Spa. We've tried 4 different massage treatments during our stay in the resort and Kandu Boli was our favorite. Kandu Boli meaning “sea shell”, is a 1 hour 30 minutes exquisite body and face massage treatment with the use of cowrie seashells and the purest coconut oil produced locally by the farmers of Fuvahmulah island in the south of Maldives.
Chi Spa is one of the most indulgent spa treatment resorts on Earth by Condé Nast Johansens 2015. It's a spa within a spa setting. Each treatment villa is overlooking Indian Ocean and has its own private garden, steam room and jacuzzi.
The resort also prides itself for its enormous facilities. They have an entertainment centre with pin-board machines, billiard table and board hockey; a health club complete with high quality fitness equipment including sauna and steam; a kids club called Kids Cool Town where children can find toys and educational activities to ensure a fun-filled stay; a water-sports centre where guests can borrow sports equipments for kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, etc.; an eco centre where guests are given in-depth information about conservation works around Villingili Island; a tennis court, a volleyball court, a swimming pool, a diving pool, a PADI dive centre; and a beauty shop that offers variety of services from manicure, pedicure, foot spa, hair treatment, and wedding gown rental. They also have a souvenir shop and a boutique shop where guests can get beach essentials like swimsuits, boardshorts, slippers, espadrilles, shawls and hats.
Water Sports Centre
PADI Dive Centre
Guests have lots of fun activities to choose from in Villingili. During our stay, we went kayaking, joined the Dolphin Cruise, joined the Guided Snorkeling Trip and explored the island via the Villingili Eco Tour by Buggy.
Everything was perfect and we absolutely loved our stay. That's the good thing with tailored luxury holiday.
But in the end, nothing beats the impeccable service and genuine care that we've experienced. It made our stay truly memorable and left us wanting to go back soon.