So you’ve decided on a trip to the Maldives but are desperately struggling to find the one that will provide the best value in terms of price for luxury?
After a considerable amount of research and sifting through hundreds of reviews, we settled on Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa, spending an amazing two weeks in complete paradise.
Offering an adults-only section, an incredible house reef and spectacular feast every night, this gem is a firm favourite among repeat guests.
Your search for the most affordable luxury resort may be over, keep on reading to find out what makes Vilamendhoo the best resort in its league.
Where is Vilamendhoo?
Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa is situated in the South Ari Atoll in the Maldives.
South Ari Atoll is one of the largest and most beautiful of all the atolls. Visited for some of the best dive sites, the south in particular, is known for its roaming whale sharks and abundance of marine life.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Vilamendhoo Island offers warm weather and sea temperatures all year round. The South Ari Atoll does have a wet and dry season, so the best time to visit is generally from November to April.
However, weather systems in the Maldives are less reliable than they were years ago, so the best time to go should be when it suits you as nothing is guaranteed!
If you visit from May to October you can expect to pay far less for your trip, which makes it the perfect opportunity to experience Maldives luxury at great value.
During these months you should expect a little rain which comes in short bursts and will clear pretty quickly, the sun is always a few minutes away behind those clouds! If you love to surf, these months are the best times to head out and catch some fabulous waves.
Getting to the Island
The best way to get to the resort is by seaplane from Velana International Airport, the main airport in the Maldives. The island is 88 kilometers away and the flight takes around 25 minutes.
However, your holiday truly begins once you step foot off of your international flight and into Velana Airport, where a representative will greet you and show you the way to your lounge.
There are a selection of drinks and snacks available while you wait to board your seaplane, and the wifi connection is pretty good.
Arriving at Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa
There is a fabulous musical welcome from the staff at Vilamendhoo as you step foot onto the island, making your arrival one that is sure to put a smile on your face and ease you into the paradise that will become your home.
The check-in time at the resort is 14:00, so ideally you will have timed your arrival into Velana for the morning to make the most of your day.
Rooms are rarely turned around before 14.00, so whilst waiting you can either grab lunch, go for a swim or mooch around the island as you please. The staff are more than happy to tend to your needs whilst getting your room in tip top condition.
What Makes This Island Stand Out From Others?
There are over 140 resorts operating in the Maldives, so what makes Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa so special?
- World-class house reef. The resort has its own incredible house reef full of sea life, meaning you can forget about having to hop on a daily snorkelling trip.
- Food is amazing. No seriously, you’ll be talking about it forever. If you are worried about food related self-control or need to watch the pounds, then this island may not be for you!
- Provides THE BEST value in it’s range. Vilamendhoo is not competing with the likes of Six Senses or St Regis, but for mid-range affordable luxury you’ll struggle to find a better all-round resort.
More details on these later!
What are the Room Options?
There are four room types you can choose from at Vilamendhoo. Every room has recently had a soft refurbishment and they have a lovely clean, airy feel to them.
Garden Rooms are the most affordable. Though they aren’t immediately connected to the beach, they are a very short walk away and close to the resort’s bars and restaurants. These rooms allow for a maximum of two adults and two children and are 50 sqm.
Beach Villas are divided into two types: standalone and adjoining. Both are 55 sqm and have more or less the same features. The main difference being the standalone villas offer a little more privacy, with its own porch to admire the views across the ocean. Like the Garden Rooms, these are great for families.
Jacuzzi Beach Villas are in the ‘adults only’ area of the resort near to the Jacuzzi Water Villas and are 65 sqm. Each of these villas can house three guests, and they have a jacuzzi in the private sundeck. Easy access to the beach and main swimming pool guarantees a relaxing time on this part of the island.
Jacuzzi Water Villas are the most luxurious and spacious rooms the resort has to offer, at 85 sqm, with a private sundeck and stairs connecting directly into the amazing waters that surround you. Like the Jacuzzi Beach Villas, these are in the adult only part of the resort and only for guests 18 years and above.
Why We Highly Recommend The Water Villas At Vilamendhoo
While the Jacuzzi Water Villas are the most expensive option, they are absolutely worth it.
In fact, when we had decided on a Maldives holiday we were searching for the most affordable luxury water villa and Vilamendhoo offered so much more for our money in comparison to other resorts.
Here are a few reasons why it’s worth upgrading to a water villa:
- The water villas are located away from the family rooms, so you won’t see or hear any children tearing around during your stay (if that’s what you want!)
- You’ll have direct access to the sea any time of day or night and a sunset view to die for.
- You can spend long afternoons under the sun listening to your favorite songs on the sun deck, with plenty of distance between water villas that you need not worry about disturbing others.
- All of the water villas at Vilamendhoo are standalone. No immediate neighbours and once you’ve walked through the front door it’ll feel like you’re the only ones on the island.
- If you hate the sight of a few bugs or mosquitos, then the water villa is your friend! They can’t venture out that far (for obvious reasons) which was good enough to convince us to upgrade!
READ: Maldives – Incredibly Affordable Luxury Water Villas
9 Things To Do on Vilamendhoo Island
This island has plenty on offer to keep you entertained over 2 weeks. Whether you’re a water baby, a sun seeker, introvert or extrovert – there is something for everyone!
1. Snorkel in one of the best underwater worlds in the Maldives
Get your snorkeling gear ready and enjoy the underwater views around the island! Vilamendhoo is surrounded by coral reef with resident fish that you’ll get to know fairly well. We made friends with two baby cuttlefish who were always attached to the life ring nearest to our villa.
Snorkelling around the island in the shallows is a breeze and great for beginners. If you really want to see all that Vilamendhoo has to offer you’ll want to get to the drop-off points and explore the wonderful coral gardens teeming with sea life.
Vilamendhoo also has a book in the gift shop with pictures of all the different types of fish you’re likely to see, a worthwhile purchase.
Tip: Ask the Dive Centre about the best time to snorkel. This may change according to the tide and currents.
2. Make friends with the baby sharks and rays at the beach
The word ‘shark’ may create some anxiety, and I totally get that! But the ones you see at the Vilamendhoo are usually little nursing sharks. The bigger ones are also harmless but they hang around in much deeper water so unlikely to make it to shore.
Once you get used to swimming amongst these beauties you’ll never want to stop! It also becomes a little habit to try and spot some of the rays chilling just beneath the sand, amongst the teeny weeny crabs heading for cover as you stroll along in the evenings!
3. Spend a few relaxing hours in the Duniye Spa
The award-winning Duniye Spa is a great place to indulge and unwind whilst looking through the open doors out into the Indian ocean.
Their signature massage is £95 ($126) for 75 minutes and worth every penny. If you’re at Vilamendhoo Resort and Spa and want some quality ‘me time’ then this is the place to be.
They offer solo and couple treatments based on both traditional and modern approaches with a huge selection to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find an affordable treatment that’s budget friendly for you.
4. Scuba diving with their in-house team of divers
What’s really convenient about Vilamendhoo is that they have a PADI certified Dive Centre. Open every day, Euro-Divers regularly organise trips from the island. They also rent out dive equipment and accessories if you fancy heading off on your own to explore the house reef.
Vilamendhoo is a fantastic place to learn how to dive, especially if you’ve been putting it off for some time. Even children as young as 8 years old can sign up for a diving course, making it a must-do family activity. Plus, Euro-Divers are some of the friendliest and most helpful guides we’ve ever encountered.
5. Lounge around by one of the swimming pools
There’s so much water to dip your feet into around the island, but it doesn’t hurt to swim in some freshwater once in a while. There are two swimming pools in Vilamendhoo: the Boashi Pool and the Sunset Pool.
The Boashi is in the centre of the island and has a wading pool for kids and sun loungers that families can enjoy. The Sunset meanwhile, is an infinity pool exclusively for adults. All you’ll need is a camera and a steady hand – stalks regularly stop by to take a drink and make for great photo opportunities!
6. Spend a day out on the boat looking for whale sharks
Whale shark excursions are probably one of the most exciting things you can do whilst in Vilamendhoo. Nothing is guaranteed, but even just the thrill of potentially being able to see one of these gentle marine giants is enough to make a memorable day out.
If you really want to make the most of it, try going on the whale shark diving excursion. If they are spotted, you’re likely to be able to spend more time down there with the right equipment.
Top Tip: If you wake up in the morning and it looks like it’s going to be a cloudy day then ask if you can reschedule. Whale sharks can only be sighted when the sun’s rays are hitting the surface of the water and therefore very unlikely to spot any without it.
7. Guest vs Staff football match
This was far more fun than I would have expected it to be!
The Maldivians take sport quite seriously and manage to get a few games in during their ‘down time.’ Every Sunday they arrange a Guest vs Staff football match which you can participate in or watch from the sidelines for pure entertainment value!
You’ll have to make sure you take a good pair of trainers if you want to get involved though!
8. Burn off over-indulgent meals
You are more than likely going to be gorging on all of the amazing food that is available to you at Vilamendhoo. If you’d rather not hang on to the additional pounds then there is plenty you could be doing!
They offer a variety of land based sports, such as tennis, volleyball, badminton and a mini putting green.
The other popular option would be to snorkel more. Do not underestimate the energy spent doing this, especially if you are partial to some freediving! The swimming pool and fitness centre also provide further options.
9. Watch the most amazing sunrise
The sunrise at Vilamendhoo is so spectacular that the resort has set aside a whole viewing deck so you can get in on the action!
Built in 2018, the Funama Restaurant and Bonthi Bar deck makes for an amazing area to have breakfast as the sun says good morning to another beautiful day. For early risers and those taking up a dive first thing, this will be the place to soak up the best views.
What Excursions Do Vilamendhoo Offer?
Vilamendhoo Resort and Spa offers 13 excursions:
- Vila snorkelling Adventure
- Ocean Adventure (sea hopping and snorkelling)
- Whale Shark Excursion
- Manta and Turtle Excursion
- Turtle Excursion (Turtle Reef)
- Snorkelling Boat Trip
- Sunset ‘Punch’ Cruise
- Dhoni Sailing
- Trolling Fishing
- Jigging Fishing
- Casting Fishing
- Dhangethi Island Excursion
Depending on your package and length of stay, some of these will be included for free.
What Evening Entertainment is Offered?
Personally, I love it when a holiday destination offers a variety of options for nightlife. Evenings in Vilamendhoo were such a blast because the resort has something planned out for every day of the week (if you want to get involved).
On Mondays, they hold an Ocean Discovery Night at Bonthi Bar and a Marine Preservation slideshow presentation at Sunset Bar. Be sure to attend these if you want to learn about the island’s marine life in more detail!
The rest of the week features everything from reggae and karaoke nights at Bonthi Bar to a soft music night at the Sunset Bar. The live bands are great and full of talent, particularly enjoyable singing along to your favorite cover songs.
If you fancy having a chilled out evening under the stars then you can head for movie night every Sunday.
Food and Dining Options
If we’re being honest, food is one of the most important factors we consider when choosing a resort, especially when you are captive guests!
Vilamendhoo ticks all of the boxes here and came up top of the list for consistent reviews on quality and diversity of food.
It has two buffet restaurants: family-friendly Funama and adults-only Ahima, each offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Even for someone staying for two weeks it doesn’t get boring. There’s a wide variety of dishes to try and every night features a different cuisine from around the world, always incorporating a few local dishes too.
(I may have been that ‘crazy lady’ hunting around for the delicious Maldivan fish curry every night!)
Their a la carte restaurants are also impressive. The Asian Wok is a family-friendly restaurant overlooking the ocean, while the Hot Rock is an adults-only experience that allows you to cook your own meal on volcanic rocks.
As Vilamendhoo is an incredibly romantic island, you could always opt for a private dinner on the beach or room service for an additional fee.
Useful Things to Know About Vilamendhoo
It’s probably handy to note that the following are general comments for the majority of the Maldives, but nevertheless still handy to know!
1. There’s a dress code. While it’s perfectly fine to be dressed in swimwear on the beach or in your villa, public nudity is not allowed and a dress code is implemented in bars and restaurants at meal times. Men can dine in shorts and women just need to make sure their clothing is not transparent!
2. No drone zone. You might want to document every part of your trip, including what it looks like from the sky. However, the resort has banned flying devices for complete privacy and safety reasons.
3. Expect mosquitoes and bugs. The good thing is you can request for a mosquito net for your room before you arrive if you often like to keep doors and windows open. It’d also help to bring and use a good insect repellent to protect yourself while walking around at dusk. Bear in mind that land based rooms with open showers will be more prone to unwanted guests!
4. Damaged corals. This is a widespread problem across the Maldives. Even though the resort does its best to prevent people from standing on them, there are always a few that just don’t get it. Even with this, it does not affect the abundance of sea life around the island and the drop off points still remain beautifully intact. Basic aqua shoes are a must.
5. Expensive shops. You will need to make sure you have packed everything you need if you would rather avoid eye-wateringly expensive island goods! We’ve got you covered though, here is the perfect packing list for your Maldives trip.
Why We Recommend The All Inclusive Plus Package
In short, the All Inclusive Plus Package offers the best value for money and peace of mind.
It includes buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, a 24 hour snack menu, all-you-can-drink beverages (excluding premium alcohol), and a 20% discount at the a la carte restaurants. For every five nights you stay, you get one lunch or dinner at the Asian Wok Restaurant.
Aside from food perks, they offer a 20% discount on some spa treatments during your first two days on the island. The package also includes activities like one Sunset Cruise, Group Snorkelling Lesson, and Tennis Lesson, as well as access to the kayaks and fitness centre.
Plus, you’ll have a fully stocked mini bar in your room and most importantly, all the bottled water you’ll ever need. The Maldives is known for its excruciatingly expensive water, going all inclusive means that you don’t have to worry about how quickly your bill is adding up.
Booking Directly vs Package Holiday
Almost every trip we plan is booked independently without the use of a ‘package holiday.’ Flights and accommodation normally work out a little cheaper and provide greater flexibility when looking for the best options for your budget and timeframes.
The Maldives is one exception – unless you’re arranging a trip to one of the local islands. All private resorts agree on their best tariffs with travel agents and tour operators, making it impossible to find a direct deal that’s more cost-effective.
The plus side to this is that your trip will be protected by ATOL or ABTA should the company run into any financial difficulties.
Who are the Best Specialists in Maldives Package Holidays?
Without a doubt, Simply Maldives provides the best service and top value for package holidays to the Maldives. They have personally visited almost every resort out there, creating their own walk-around videos for each class of room.
Their first hand knowledge and fantastic rates are difficult to beat, which is why they are consistently given excellent feedback and reviews. No request is too much trouble. Their fab relationships with the resorts means that if you want a particular room number, they’ll most definitely make that happen.
Oh, and their website is so lovely and clear to navigate, you will find it a total breeze getting quotes.
If you choose to book through Simply Maldives let them know where you heard about them for that extra special treatment!
Do I Need Travel Insurance for the Maldives?
Absolutely. This is not because the Maldives poses any more risk than other destinations but because you want to limit the level of inconvenience or trauma should the unexpected happen.
Islands will generally have an on-call doctor and clinic with basic medical facilities, with Male being the nearest island with hospitals. Medical treatment can be hours away and emergency transportation is extremely expensive.
Without a doubt, our favourite place to search for travel insurance is TravelSupermarket. They have policies that can provide cover for COVID-19 related issues, just be sure to check out whether they have a 5-star defaqto rating.
COVID insurance cover is absolutely essential if you’re booking any travel over the next 12 months. Take a good look at the conditions to see what you’re willing to accept, making sure that you prioritise cover for medical treatments over holiday cancellation cover if cost is a consideration.
Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa offers unbeatable value in terms of features, namely the incredible house reef, delicious food and top-class water villas in its range. If you had any doubts, hopefully this post has put you at ease!
Have you now narrowed down your list of affordable luxury resorts for the Maldives? Or perhaps this post has answered some of those burning questions you were seeking from someone who has experienced the island first hand?
Either way, drop us a comment below or check out some of our other great posts on the Maldives.