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Reviewed March 14, 2009

Having read about Angsana Velavaru’s 1st year anniversary promotion in the papers, my girlfriends and I decided to take off to the Maldives for some sun, sand and sea. Lo & behold, this charming little gem in the southern part of the Maldives archipelago surpassed our expectations for a myriad of reasons.

OVERNIGHTER
SIA – which monopolises the route between the Maldives & Asia – flies into the Maldives around 2230 & the seaplane operates only in the day, hence we had to choose between an overnighter at the Male airport hotel and one of the several resorts in the North Male Atoll. As Angsana Velavaru is one of four resorts under the Banyan Tree group (which is headquartered in Singapore by the way, so quite well known at home), the reservations person recommended we try out Angsana Ihuru which is about 20-plus minutes by speedboat. The speedboat ride in almost pitch darkness was in itself was an unexpected surprise as you look out into the night sky aglow with many twinkling stars, seemingly welcoming you. What a way to start off a visit to the Maldives!

GLIMPSES OF MALDIVES FROM ABOVE
Getting to Angsana Velavaru in the south requires a 40-min seaplane journey from Male, which the resort helped arrange. For the uninitiated, this is really quite amazing, for you get an entirely different perspective of the Maldives as the cheery yellow & blue TMA aircraft glides amidst the clouds: Peculiar-shaped islands clustered in atolls amidst sparkling turquoise waters.

Note: A return seaplane ticket costs USD 340. However, because we took the 5D package under the 1st year anniversary promotion, we got to enjoy complimentary seaplane transfers. Oh, and the propellers could be rather noisy, so ear plugs would come in handy.

ARRIVAL AT ANGSANA VELAVARU
The seaplane landed near a floating platform and a speedboat came quickly to bring us over to the island. Within five minutes, we finally stepped foot on Velavaru island and were ushered into the pretty reception lobby area (which had these cute white clay turtle figurines mounted on the main panel; we learnt later that ‘Velavaru’ means ‘Turtle’ in the local Dhivehi language).

There are about 70+ villas on the Velavaru Island, and two of us stayed in Villa 101, which is very first villa from the reception lobby & Marine Centre.

It was interesting to see how many people were staying on the island the same time as us. We found out from the management that occupancy was around 90% when we were there. Which was somewhat unbelievable for you don’t really feel that there are so many people when you are pottering around the island. I suppose it may be because the island is big enough for people to spread out around the beach/ shallow lagoon (if they are out of their villas), plus there are several day-trip activities that one can sign up for.

Then at lunch/ dinner time, that is when most people would congregate at the all-day dining restaurant. Which is great too, cos you get to see the different mix of people – from the poster-perfect Danish family with their well-mannered & adorable daughters in pretty white flocks, to the ‘matured’ group of Italian ladies in their printed swimsuits, to quite a handful of stylish couples that hail from assorted countries like France, Japan, Spain. And of course, there were the four of us Singaporean girls in our voile kaftans and sarongs. Everyone adds to the international, vibrant, friendly atmosphere that we’ve come to associate Angsana Velavaru with.

SERVICE & ACTIVITIES
We came to the Maldives not quite knowing what to expect of the hospitality service standards.

At our first meal on the island (lunch at Kaani), we were greeted by Saeed who was to be in meals/ days to come, our dedicated waiter every time we appeared at the restaurant. While English may not be his native language, we appreciated his efforts to find out our names, to engage us in small banter without being intrusive. Such personal service, we soon noticed, was evident throughout the restaurant, as all the waiters in their flowery sarong & light blue shirts would usually be attending to the same guests.

A minor gripe would be the wi-fi internet access, which was operating at what we called in jest ‘Maldivian time’. Apparently this was due to some satellite issues, which is pretty much beyond the resort’s control. Then again, when in the Maldives, one should not be spending too much time with the laptop or blackberry!

Our five days at Angsana Velavaru passed like a dream. Some afternoons were spent snorkelling in the deep blue (and after that, basking on the upper open-air level of the traditional dhoni as it brought us back to the island). Others were split between heavenly massages (my favourite has to be the Ibu’s Secret – certainly helped loosen up the tight shoulder muscles from all those hours hunched in front of the laptop!), and reading on the beach while occasionally slipping in sweet slumber. In the evenings, we would make our way to the bar by the beach and order our mojitos, caipirinhas, and margaritas from the affable Rukman (I think he was the bar supervisor). In fact, we even signed up for a session of cocktail-making in the hope that we would be able to replicate these yummy drinks when we return home (which I did attempt since returning to Singapore, but my mojito just didn’t quite taste the same without the dash of Maldivian sea breeze and ocean views).

An interesting point to note at Angsana Velavaru is that they have a Marine Lab on the island. We were lucky that our stay coincided with their monthly reef cleaning exercise. Again, we didn’t quite know what to expect since all we had was a letter in our villa telling us that there was such an activity the next day. But it sounded interesting enough so we signed up at the Marine Lab. The next morning, we were out in the sea, led by the effervescent Mirta who is the Marine Lab Manager. There we learnt to look out for the pin cushions & crown of thorns which apparently are harmful to the delicate corals. Our mission was to find these ‘predators’ and remove them where appropriate. So there we were – a bunch of guests AND resort staff – going through the water looking for the ‘predators’. I thought it was really nice that as a guest I could get involved in giving back to the nature.

FAVOURITE TAKEAWAY
This would have to be the delightful memories from every meal! Being typical Singaporeans, food ranks high on our list of priorities. In fact, we were concerned that there may not be enough food (or lack of variety) on the island, so we packed some instant cup noodles for this trip. Which was unnecessary as we soon discovered. For every meal was a treat – a sumptuous AND healthy spread of international & Maldivian selections. You would have about 4-5 different types of salads, in addition to the normal mix of lettuce & leafy greens, olives, pickles, carrots, tomatoes, etc. The mains would always include one dish of Maldivian curry (we had different versions for every meal – fish, dill, vegetable, duck) alongside international items like Thai fried noodles, Italian pasta, and vegetable gratin. There’s also the grill, where every meal there would be three different items for selection, so we would have snapper, reef fish, lamb chops, chicken, corn, steak, potato.

I love breads, and for me the pastry corner was a dream, especially at breakfast with the assortment of fluffy light croissants, tasty petit danish and hearty artisan breads. You would think that after all this one would be stuffed, not true! For we would longingly linger around the dessert table and contemplate what to choose from the spread (usually there would be about 5-7 options). Our favourite dessert would have to be the flambé bananas with mango ice-cream. Pure pleasure. And such fun to see the chef toss and flambé the bananas in front of you. I made sure to take some pics and hopefully will get down to replicating it at home sometime soon with the dark rum bought at DFS!

What was so delightful about the buffets was the range of dishes at every meal – very balanced, healthy and hearty; as well as how the chef would vary the selection at every meal, every day. This meant that during the 5 days that we were there, we feasted on different buffet spreads at every meal. Which in a way is like going to a different restaurant for every meal, except that in this instance, it was the same restaurant, same island!

ALL IN ALL...
This was a perfect getaway for us. There was plenty to activities to keep us occupied or happily idle, service was friendly, spa treatments were indulgent, and food, excellent. I would certainly recommend Angsana Velavaru to those searching for that elusive spot of unadulterated delight in the Maldives, without the crowd.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled with friends
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7  Thank devilina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed March 12, 2009

The Angsana resort is quite nice. It is on a small island and there are only about 45 villas there. Each villa is supplied with a large (1.5 litre) bottled water each day. There is complimentary tea and coffee and an electric kettle. The room is equipped with a mini bar, in-room safe, terry cloth robes, plastic slippers (can wear to the beach), patio with reclining chair and swing, ceiling fan, remote controlled air-conditioning, cd-player, incense, outdoor (private) shower with hot and cold water, apples in the room that double as decorations can be eaten and will be replenished each day. We signed up for the half-board meal plan which includes daily breakfast and dinner. (There is no need for lunch). The buffet breakfast selection was sufficient, not overwhelming, same as for the dinner buffet. The food is generally good. A virgin colada and a regular cocktail will set you back US$18.50. A bottle of water during dinner is US$6. A 500ml tiger beer (draught) is US$10.Due to low monthly wages (US$150/mth), staff expects tips, you can pay either at the end of your stay, sign it to your bill or pay directly to the waiter and housekeeper. We paid only US$5 to our housekeeper for a 3 night stay and US$5 to our waiter.Staff are friendly. There's not much to do on the island except to relax. (that's the whole point isn't it?) Use of the snorkling gear and the canoe is free of charge, maybe the sailboats are free as well, not sure.

  • Stayed: July 2006, travelled with family
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4  Thank evenpar4me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed March 2, 2009

We spent four nights and five days at this ludicrously beautiful island three weeks and ago and we are still talking about it. I note that some of the reviews wondered whether the beauty of the island or the resort deserves praise, but we would say the two complement each other well which is a testament to the set up of the resort.

The resort takes about 40 minutes by sea plane, a transfer that his handled without trouble when you exit Male airport. Locate your resort stand, the staff will introduce themselves, the bags are whisked away and you are taken by mini van to the sea plane lounge. We waited about thirty minutes for the sea plane but the times may differ..The flight is fantastic, laying out the incredibly beauty of the Maldives for you to ogle at. Make sure you change your money at the airport as there are no facilities at the resort and you may need cash to tip staff. They seem happier with US dollars that the local currency.

The welcome at the resort is smooth and the check in is conducted in your villa/room. the sand that begins at the beach when you alight from your boat stretches right through the lobby so kick off your shoes and don't bother putting them back on till you head home! That sums up the resort really..staff that are invisible unless you choose to become friendly, no cars, no television( although we are told they are putting them in which is a shame because it will spoil the sense of the place) and the beauty of the water and trees.

We stayed in the pool villa with the outdoor shower which is great when the beach gets too hot blazing hot and you want to cool off and lay around in the shade. Im a paranoid sort but did not notice any one up a tree ( staff or otherwise) looking over the walls.The shower in the room and toilet have an open door and window that looks into the private yard, its private yes but can get some getting used to initially..

The rooms are quite close together and a loud conversation can be overheard..especially if your windows are open. There is complimentary water in the rooms, both sparkling and still and bottle of wine. If you don't drink it is exchanged for fruit mocktails. There are tea and coffee making facilities as well and the island is sprayed in the evening to keep off mosquitoes.There is also a plug in repellent provided in the room as well as bug spray. There is CD player in the room and a fan and air conditioner. There are complimentary sandals provided so pack one less pair. With the outdoor element in the room design there are ants and geckos if these bother you - but the room itself was well looked after and clean.

The food at the buffet is more than enough but not extraordinary. There is a salad bar, fresh fruit, two pastas, fish cooked in sauce and fresh grilled, a meat dish in addition to a grilled version, a curry and rice dish. A good selection of deserts and fresh fruit to finish. the bar has a shisha/ hubbly bubbly which is great.

The better option is half board because breakfast is very filling and abundant and dinner begins at 7pm. You can snack from the bar ( great pizzas) if you get hungry or down a cocktail/mocktail to stave for a snack till dinner..Water is dear and not included in the board price.

The staff are attentive and not pushy. We were disappointed that local island visits are only conducted once a week ( a Tuesday). You don't get a f eel for the local culture because the food is only served once (on Friday when the staff also put on singing show) and the souvenir shop only sells Agnsana branded goodies, no local handicrafts or mementos.

There is snorkeling gear provided free of charge and trip goes out once a day..the coral is not the best, much of it is dead due unseasonal water temperatures last year apparently but still lots of fun. If you are not a swimmer use a life jacket..the boat will stay close to you.

The resort is ideal as a getaway and to spend time with whomever you are traveling with. Its a mixed crowd of honeymooners, families, older couples and younger ones from all parts of the world, Italians being dominant when we were there. At stay two nights and get two free its great value for money as well.

Children depending on their nature may get bored - but the lack of television encourages exploration of the beach, and reef surrounding the island. Invest in some reef shoes to make walking in some of the sea easier..

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank AbhaD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 20, 2009

My husband and I visited Maldives during 12-17 Feb 09 to celebrate Valentine's Day. This is our first time viist. Our package included 1night stay at Hulhule Hotel in Males. Had good rest in the hotel (spacious and clean room was assigned) before we took seaplane in the next morning to Angsana.

Warm greetings from staff of Angsana at the airport and hotel lounge for seaplane. Gorgeous view from the seaplane. Very personalised and efficient check-in at the resort. We opted for deluxe breachfront pool villa. Very spacious, clean and well-equipped with all amenities. More privacy than beach villa / jetpool villa.

Our package is on full board basis....fresh imported food were served for all meals (buffet style) in Kaani Restaurant (main restaurant). Same waiter served you throughout your stay. We paid a bit extra on the Valentine's Day to have dinner in the over-water restaurant. 50% discount on food was offered for guests on full / half board basis.

We tried massage at the resort spa for twice and enjoyed it very much. Price is fair and advance booking is a must.

Free of charge snorkelling at ttje resort's house reef is being provided on a daily basis. We tried once but we found that more fun to have snorkelling around the resort. The reefs are just feets from our villa.....we can see many many different kind of fishes, rays, starfish and even small shark ....

We tried night fishing (US$50 per person) for 2 hours starting from 6pm. We enjoyed this as well and we caught a big red snapper. The resort cooked the fish for us on next day dinner.

We tried private charter (US$385) for 3 hours started at around 6:30 am. We caught tuna and wahoo. We asked the resort to arange tuna sashimi for us.

All staff are friendly, polite and helpful. Housekeeping is ok. Weather was excellent during our stay. Don't worry that not much reviews can be found for this resort. You won't feel regret if you choose this resort.

It's really a paradise and we are already planning for our 2nd visit next year!!

One more tips, if you wish to buy souvenirs / gifts, please do it at the duty-free shops at the airport before boarding gates.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Seapig18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 8, 2009

We liked this resort overall but we would prefer if there was more privcy between the villas. Also you need to be careful when going to your secluded shower in the villa which is outside as from time to time the staff are up the palm trees pruning them and I am sure getting an eye full if they are lucky which is not acceptable. The food in the buffet was overall good but it needs more variety as after a week you do start to get a little bored of it. Finally the island is overrun with those very tropical birds crows. At one stage they were everywhere and they are most annoying especially when you consider their size as it not little pieces of bread they can take from the table but full loaves ! Air conditioning in the villas is old and noisy. No more issues here and we really enjoyed ourselves so we would return and hopefully by this time the crows have been exterminated.

Stayed: January 2009
7  Thank gatoDublin_Ireland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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