We have just returned from a two week holiday on Veligandu. This was our fourth visit – but our first since the island’s extensive refurbishment programme completed in December 2007. We fell in love with the island during our first visit back in 2003 and returned last month hoping that the ‘new’ Veligandu would continue to be ‘a little piece of heaven on earth’. We were not disappointed! The refurbishment programme has been a real triumph! The updated facilities are fantastic and the excellent standards regarding cleanliness and efficiency have been maintained. Many of the former staff have remained on Veligandu and continue to provide the friendly and first class service for which this resort has so deservedly earned a high reputation. It is evident that the customer experience continues to be the priority of the senior management team and everything is done to ensure that your holiday is special in every way.
We stayed in one of the newly built jacuzzi water villas. There are three categories of accommodation – but all are beautiful with the same contemporary feel with regards to furniture, fixtures and fittings. The en-suite bathroom facilities are perfect with a sliding door that enables you to have an open air facility should you chose. Each room has a wide screen TV but we chose not to use it as we really prefer the ‘no news, no shoes’ experience of The Maldives. The rooms are serviced by your designated room boy twice daily. They do a very thorough job so that your accommodation is constantly looking clean and fresh.
The sand floor restaurant has had a complete makeover and it is now also possible to enjoy dinner outside on the raised decked area. Not only can you star gaze whilst having your meal, but you can also look over the decking into the shallow water beneath and watch the baby sharks playfully hassle the other fish. The number of tables outside is limited, so availability is on a first come first served basis. However, the restaurant management team endeavour to ensure that all guests have an opportunity to dine outdoors on several occasions during their stay. All meals are self service buffet style enabling you to make as many choices as you wish. In all honesty, every single meal was a really pleasurable experience. Not only because of the wonderful quality of food and the variety of dishes available, but also because of the staff. The waiters are the best that we have ever come across! Without exception, they are consistently attentive, polite and efficient. Whilst all of the chefs are clearly very highly skilled, watch out for Raja the breakfast chef, he makes preparing eggs an art form!
The bar has been relocated since the refurbishment. It is now much bigger and combines contemporary furniture and fittings within a traditional Maldivian thatched structure. The seating area is really spacious and varied. For example; there are modern swivel seats around the bar; comfortable reclining couches from where you can lie looking out to sea; and large swivelling bucket chairs set around a drinks table. There are also tables and chairs outside where you can sit under the stars all night long whilst the waiters serve you your drinks. Some of these tables are situated beside the newly installed infinity pool, its colourful lights within showing the outline of a hammerhead shark. You will find that the bar staff are a dynamic team that is constantly cheerful, helpful and attentive. A number of social events are held in the bar on selected nights. For example: crab racing; quizzes; and dancing. However, participation is entirely optional and it is still possible to sit in the bar and enjoy a quiet relaxing drink whilst these events are ongoing.
The island’s guest relations officer is friendly, charming and so helpful. She meets and greets you on your arrival. She also is present for many of the excursions and takes the lead in the bar entertainment programme.
This year, we decided to take scuba diving lessons under the direction of the Ocean Pro diving team. The quality of tuition was really impressive and the dive team were extremely friendly and fun whilst retaining an entirely professional approach.
The gardeners on the island have done an outstanding job and also deserve a special mention. Given the fact that the island has been radically changed and was only reopened three months ago, the plantation programme is so impressive. The ground staff have done an excellent job of combining established palm trees and colourful shrubs with new plants. Every part of the island looks well cared for, orderly and pretty.
Much of the house reef is excellent for snorkelling. Over the years, we have seen most of the beautiful creatures that you can expect to see in the Indian Ocean. However, the highlight for us on this visit was following a turtle for an hour as it ambled along the reef in our company before gracefully swimming off into the deep blue. Just magical! A pod of dolphins were seen by a number of guests at various spots around the island on most days - we always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! Whilst the house reef is very good indeed, the snorkelling safari is an absolute must for anyone who likes looking at ‘what lies beneath’. This trip takes you by small boat to three areas where you can jump in the sea and swim with a vast variety of fish swimming amidst some really beautiful corals.
Hopefully, from this review, you will conclude that our experience of the ‘new’ Veligandu was every bit as pleasurable, indeed more, than before. The facilities are fantastic and the staff must be some of the best in The Maldives!