Two months of settling and still settling in Hulhumalé got me seriously exhausted so it was time for an escape. Now I was aching for one because I am a big place person but Hulhumalé is so tiny even though I must confess, I like the place. It is far better than the neighboring Malé which can overwhelm with its narrow streets and concrete jungle. I can already feel the frowns of Malé fans! Well, let me get to the point here because this review is not of Malé or Hulhumalé but of a tiny but a fresh new property called Malahini Kuda Bandos. Kuda Bandos landed in our lap when we were desperately looking for an overnight outing and I came across an advertisement, well we jumped at the opportunity. If you have ever been to Maldives in the past decade, you must have heard about Bandos. Yep Bandos is the well-known big sister of Kuda Bandos. In fact till last year, Kuda Bandos used to serve as uninhabited picnic island for Bandos’ guests. Then the construction for this new property started and I must say they have done a fantastic job!
Before we start, we highly recommend reading our blog on Maldives. Its a detailed article on places to see and things to do in Maldives.
Now back to our review
Getting to Kuda Bandos
It was 29th of October and we were to catch our resort boat from Malé. Well, the weather was stormy and so was the speedboat ride but we were in the best of moods to let a little rain spoil it for us. The staff on the boat was courteous and provided us with life jackets. My four year old got a special colorful jacket which stole my heart! Very neat and super cute! In about 20 minutes we reached Kuda Bandos and again the staff from the resort was there with umbrellas to escort us till the reception. Just 20 minutes away from the capital city and we felt a complete sense of wilderness and abandon.
The blue water shimmered under the jetty from the lights emanating from the reception area. Once the rain stopped I went out to jetty again and saw a reef shark!! I obviously got excited, I had never seen one! The reception at Kuda Bandos was a very modern yet rustic affair. In fact, the entire jetty has a quaint look with lamp posts that look like simple logs with bulbs at the end.
The lobby was very well lit with a huge seating capacity and hundreds of cushions. I loved the floor though which was “no floor”….it was all sand which made us all take off our footwear. Holiday mode instantly! We were served with refreshing iced teas as welcome drinks. They took quite some-time to process our check-in, a little longer than we expected but then everything thereafter was taken care of promptly.
Our Beach Villa
So we stayed in room no. 104 which is a super pretty beach villa. The room was truly modern, minimalistic-ally done but, far from boring. The entire villa was really spacious and the good guys at Bandos had converted the seater in the room into a single bed for our son. Mind you….we never requested for the same.
There were plenty of cushions neatly stacked in the wardrobe. We were welcomed with fruit sticks in our room that had pineapple, cherry and black grape arranged neatly on a toothpick and stylishly dunked in a small peg glass. With beach facing side of the room made up of full length windows, we could not wait to see the sea in the morning!
Then it was time to enter the bathroom which was as huge as the room itself and had a very signature style setting (many upscale Maldivian resorts boast of this feature) of a partially open bathroom! There was a small Banana plantation in the shower area, a bathtub and huge wash basin. The bathroom could be actually used as a place to chat up and have some fun! Really! Toiletries and hair dryer was available on request.
We only needed shampoo and shower gel that were already provided. However, one thing I missed there was a bathrobe and slippers because every time we entered the room from beach, we ended up soiling the entire floor. And here I must mention the quirky “Do not disturb” which reflects the fun attitude of this resort. I will not tell you…let the picture below speak for itself.
As I ventured in the backyard which is actually the front portion facing the beach, I was greeted by towering coconut trees swaying to the wind. There were hundreds of crabs there but they are gentle creatures, the minute your foot taps on the ground, they simply run away. We walked on the beach which was shrouded by darkness but I am sure a full moon night could weave magic here. Nevertheless, the sound of the sea and waving coconut trees created an orchestra and we sat down on the beach lounging chairs to just listen. The adjoining room ended a level behind which ensured privacy in the backyard on the beach but that is not the case with all rooms. Also, every beach villa’s veranda has a wooden hanger where you can dry your towels, we hanged beach towels on it and used it to secure a little privacy.
As the morning arrived, we were surprised by the unhindered view to the paradise that Maldives is! Azure blue sea embracing the white sand with some super green foliage in the foreground to the side….oh it was breathtaking, a kind of morning you always wish for but seldom get!
Morning came at 6.30 am for us and we saw the staff cleaning the beach. Due to close proximity to Malé, a lot of rubbish gets washed ashore but as I said, it is all cleaned up before guests begin to throng the beach. Ocean here is marvellous but I am not sure how apt it is for snorkelling because the rains had made it a little choppy when we visited the resort. Any how a bright sunny day said hello and we could not wait to get into the inviting waters.
Now it is a small island so most of the people gather at this big patch of beach in front of the beach villas. The mood is celebratory and it was quite nice to see people sunbathing, swimming, reading or simply lazing under the sun! That is the whole point isnt it? But those who are looking for some privacy can definitely venture towards other open areas that are small but do not have a lot of people. For example, the area in front of the gym or beside the bar usually sees a lesser crowd.
The food rambles…
We had three meals at Kuda Bandos that started with the dinner on the night of arrival. Now the dining area itself is humongous for an island this tiny. There are three seating areas enclosing the buffet area which makes access to food equidistant from all. The setting again is rustic cum modern with wooden floor and thatched roof. In the mornings you can see Malé at the horizon and few resorts at the distance but it never interferes with the serenity of the place. In fact, the view is quite stunning!
Dinner: They had an extensive spread at the salad counter where you could also make your own salad with fresh veggies and a pick of about 5-6 sauces. Cocktail sauce is what I loved the most! There was Tuna Salad (of course!), eggplant salad, beef salad, mixed veg salad amongst others. The tuna soup in coconut milk was heavenly with delicate flavors. There was an assortment of bread to go with the soup. The main course had something for everyone- a live pasta counter, grilled beef and fish, steamed rice, leek & egg fried rice, chicken curry and mashed potatoes. The dessert spread was quite modest with rich chocolate cake, warm vanilla pudding and a local delicacy.
Breakfast: With stunning view of the morning, breakfast was quite delightful. They had a live counter for choice of eggs, breads, different kinds of yoghurts, juice, noodles, sausages, bean salad, and mashed potatoes.
Lunch: It was a set menu with a 4-course meal. Under each head- Soup, Salad, main course and dessert, there were choices. There were about 3 salads with one pure vegetarian salad. The soup had only one choice that of roast potato soup which was delicious albeit a little heavy. The main course had a choice between grilled fish, Maldivian chicken curry and a beef preparation. Maldivian chicken curry was yum with spices but no chilies so one could enjoy it thoroughly. The accompaniments were pickles, fried chips called poppadum and rice. Grilled fish was also served with rice and roasted potatoes. For me, they were on the blander side though fish was perfect!
Kuda Bandos has amenities like a bar, a spa and a gym. Now Bar has both open as well as indoor seating. Indoor area has pool tables and outdoors, you can sip on a drink with bigger Bandos creating a picturesque setting at a distance. I did not have time for Spa but they boast of a bouquet of spa treatments. The gym is pretty basic, it is really tiny with some 2-3 machines inside. Choice of water activities is available within resort where you can pick any adventure sports like snorkelling, kayaking, water scooter, banana boat etc.
They also have a small shop where you can pick souvenirs and clothing too. The best and unique thing about Kuda Bandos is that you can request to be taken to Bandos for a visit and meal. So if you do decide to stay at Kuda Bandos for more than a day, this is something you must do.
All in all, it was a great stay and the one that brought about a refreshing change for us. I stayed there from 29th-30th October with my husband and son in beach villa 104. I must mention here that rooms 105 and 106 do not enjoy beach view as they have thick vegetation on the sand clearing right on the beach. Though it is ideal for those who like to laze in shade and venture in water under the sun. We were there on full-board basis meaning all meals were included but were charged for a water bottle in the restaurant during dinner. At breakfast, the water was available for free and for lunch we carried complimentary water from the room. It is also advisable to compare mini bar prices and main bar prices before you go on ordering spree.
One thing this property is missing is a swimming pool but as I said you can always visit the property next door, however, mind the charges. Since it is a new property work on landscaping was on at the time but they take utmost care to never bother or disturb the guests. Kuda Bandos is a place to just laze and enjoy some sun and sand. If you like a busy holiday with tonnes of things to do then it may not be the best option for you. So check what activities they can arrange before you do bookings.
So this was Malahini Kuda Bandos, a resort that gives you a nice Maldivian experience. If you were here, let us know about your experience in the comments below….like always it’s a pleasure to hear from our readers.
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