You can read the trip review in the previous post. Also check out more of the pictures here. http://www.busscher.us/holiday/maldives/
Archive for October, 2009
Four Seasons Kuda Huraa vs Angsana Velavaura’s ‘In Ocean Villas’
My trip report from our recent trip to the Maldives is broken into several sections. I’ve blended a trip report and a comparison of the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and the Angsana Velavaru’s ‘In Ocean Villas’. We spent 4 nights at both of these resorts. Read on to see which one is the winner… you may be surprised.
Winner = Angsana In Ocean Villa (but only by a little)
The FS (Four Seasons) villa was very nice but the IOV (In Ocean Villa) at the Angsana narrowly wins the better villa category. The FS room had more of a local flavor with a thatched roof and exposed wood.
Both villas were well appointed with the latest ammenities. Flat screen TVs (FS was bigger), Ipod docs (FS had a fully Bose system with AUX Ipod input, Angsana just had a Bose Ipod doc), complimentary water, snorkel equipment, private in villa pool, etc.
The Angasana IOV are brand new (just finished in July). It is a huge 2 storey villa with a large private plunge pool, multiple lounge areas, a walkway out to another lounge area that has access to one of the most beautiful reefs we’ve ever seen. We did have a few things break in the room but these things can be attributed to the issues with new construction. One of the dimmer knobs broke, the safety latch on the door was loose because a screw was missing, a burned out light bulb, the toilet ran the first night even after I opened it up and fixed it myself, and the door stop on the shower door came flying off with enough force to ricochet around the shower several times. All of these things were fixed quickly but just be prepared to have things fall apart until they work out the bugs.
The IOV don’t have as much privacy as the FS villas. The villas are pretty close together and if a guest next door is in their pool or out on the walkway they can easily see into your room. The most private villa to get is room 351 which is a premier In Ocean Villa with a sunet view. You only have a villa on one side that can see into your room. The absolute best rooms to get are the 2 bedroom villas which are at the very end of the boardwalk but they are considerbly more expensive. The IOV are very modern and overall we liked the room at the IOV a little better than the FS but that had to do more with location and the view than the room itself.
Gallery of the InOcean Villa at the Angsana Velavaru
The FS villa is much more private. We had a Sunrise Beach Bungalow which was right on the beach. We were able to walk out right onto the beach into the ocean where they had just started an artificial reef. The reef was just planted so nothing much to see yet but there was still a decent amount of fish. The private in villa pool was hidden from view from other guests by a high wall of dense trees which made it difficult (but not impossible) for people to peer in. The bathroom had an outdoor shower (in addition to the indoor shower) which was nice for rinsing off after snorkerling and not dragging any sand inside. Overall, a very nice villa but not as good as the Angsana’s IOV.
Gallery of the Villa at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
Winner = Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
Service is where the FS won hands down. We did have a few problems with our stay at the FS but the management stepped in and went above and beyond to resolve things. For example, part of the package entilled us to a romantic dinner which can either be served in your villa or at one of the 2 restaurants. When given the choice I booked a private bungalow at the resturant by the over the water villas for Sunday. There is only 2 private dining bungalows. 1 at the indian restaurant and 1 at the reef restuarant. It turned out that the reef restaurant was closed on Sunday but the staff didn’t seem to know that when he took the reservation. The problem was they didn’t let me know it was closed until Sunday afternoon and by that time the other private bungalow was reserved. The 2 private bungalows at both restaurants were both booked for the next day as well BUT the pool deck was available. Having “dinner under the stars” as they call it on either on the beach or the pool deck is a significant upcharge but they provided this for free because of the miscommunication.
The other minor issue turned out to be very funny. We needed to transfer back to Male to catch a seaplane to the Angsana Velavaru. The Maldives has a very funny system that they only let you know around 6-7pm the night before when your seaplane will leave the next day. I requested via e-mail to both the Agsana and the FS before my arrival that I wanted to catch the latest flight out in the afternoon. I also mentioned this again upon check in and again the day before check out. The day before our departure we went to bed about 10pm with still no word about depature time. When we woke up in the morning the message waiting light was blinking on the phone. The message said you need to leave at 8:30 am to catch your seaplane. It was 7:45am. We weren’t packed and my wife was at yoga. There was no way we would make the 8:30 flight. I called the front desk and told them to book one in the afternoon as I instructed several times. After some back and forth with the Angsana they eventually arranged a flight for the afternoon (which turned out to have 6 other people on it anyway so I’m not sure why we weren’t orginally booked on that flight). From what I gathered I think it was the Angsana that made the mistake not the FS. However, the FS took it upon themselves to make up for it. They gave us a late checkout which is usually billed at 50% of the day rate. The manager also applogized multiple times. The best part is that upon arrival of the Angsana there was a bottle of champange waiting from “your friends at the Four Seasons”. Very nice touch. What makes it evenier funnier is the staff checking us in at the Angsana attempted to take credit for the “complimentary” champange. I believed it until I read the card next to the bottle.
Service at the Angsana was also good but nowhere near the level of the FS. They did give us a bottle a wine for dinner because of the several things breaking in our room which was nice. One of the main differences that was evident is that there is more foreign staff at the FS. The Angsana is run almost entirely by locals with the excpetion of the IOV manager who is only there to help with the opening.
With the exception of the manager the staff didn’t know who we were. They would always ask our room number at breakfast, dinner, etc (this never happened at the FS). The most shocking lack of customer service was when we booked a private dawn fishing trip. The boat captain and the helper didn’t speak any english at all. They just gave us a fishing pole and smiled. I started to ask questions on what to do and he said “sorry, no english”. I couldn’t believe it. How could they send us out on a boat with nobody that speaks english. Other than being really bad service it could have been a safety issue.
Luckily fishing is pretty self explanatory and we ended up catching some pretty big fish that was very tasty.
Winner = Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
The winner. Hands down. Is the Four Seasons. The food at the FS is just amazing. Really, really amazing. So amazing it’s hard to put into words. The food here would easliy pass as 5 star quality in any big city. This is a impressive feat given the remoteness of the Maldives and the reputation most of the resorts have for their lack of food quality.
The food at the Angsana helps fuel the streotype that the food in the maldives is bad. They have a mediterean/italian resaurtant at the IOV that is just horrible. The first night we were there they had a buffet and it was bad… really, really bad. The only thing that was remotely edible was the bread and tomato soup. They charged $80 per person for the privelage. I would have rather paid $80 for a Big Mac. Another strange thing is that water is complimentary in the villa but they change $8 a bottle in the restaurants. They have a restaurant on the island called Funa which is not bad. They serve more seafood (fish, prawns, lobster) and various curries which were actually pretty good if not a little over priced. The onyl problem is it’s only open 3 days a week. The other restuarant on the island is buffet style which we didn’t go to but if the buffet at the meditearan restaurant is any indication I wouldn’t get your hopes up. The breakfast buffet is also subpar. None of the food items at the Angsana made us sick but when you charge upwards of $80 per person for dinner the expectation is to be feed some good food. Like I said, I would have rather paid $80 for a Big Mac.
Winner = Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
If cost isn’t a consideration then the FS wins again. Their scuba and watersports center are great. They are stocked with the latest gear and the friendliest and most helpfull people you’ll ever meet. The only downside is cost. Almost all the costs are double what they are at the Angsana. The Agnsana’s dive center and watersports center aren’t bad but the gear is older and the staff isn’t nearly as friendly or as experienced as the FS. Also, they both close for almost 2 hours for lunch. I’ve never been to a resort where key guest activities close in the middle of the day. Very strange and it turned out to be an inconvience for us. One of the divemaster’s at the Angsana was particulary bad as well. Even to the point it was dangerous. He didn’t seem very experienced. Forgetting equipment, not pointing out stuff while diving, not making sure other divers are ok on air or on dive time. The other divemaster we had was much better but it comes down to consitency of service. The Agnsana just doesn’t have it which is why it doesn’t come close to the FS.
Snorkeling: Winner = Angsana Velavaura
This is the only category where the FS is woefully behind the Angsana. The house reef at the FS isnice but ordinary and is only accessible by boat once a day which they charge $10 per person for. Theyare working on an artificial reef that is accessible via the beach but it will never be better than the real thing.
The reef that is accessible about 10-20 meters from the Angsana IOV is truely magnificent. It is someof the best snorkeling we’ve even done. The current can be a little strong at times but if you time the tides right you can go out when it’s very calm. The snorkeling alone is reason enough to stay at the Angsana even with the food and service issues.
Where would we stay if we would go back to the Maldives?
Winner = Angsana In Ocean Villa
That is a tough question and although it may be surprising given how critical I was about the Angsana, they have one thing the Four Seasons doesn’t have and can’t achieve how much they try… amazing snorkeling. We would just bring some of our own food with us and adjust our expectations that the service doesn’t match the price level the resort tries to charge. I would go soon though because the prices are sure to go up once the word gets out about these new villas. The rumor is they could easily double from the introductory price of $750 per night (premier In Ocean Villa).
If your not a snorkeling fanatic then the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa is the place to stay because it wins in every other category.