Dreaming of the perfect lazy, romantic, upscale vacation? Look no further than the Maldives, an atoll in the Indian Ocean.
As a part of our first journey to Asia, Husband and I spent 7 languid nights lounging at the Constance Halaveli resort in The Maldives. For more about The Maldives and how to get there, my prior post “The Maldives: Getting there is Part of the Fun!”
Choosing a Resort in The Maldives
One of the most daunting parts of the planning was selecting a resort in The Maldives. There are over 160 to choose from, each its own separate island. The vast majority of these earn 4 1/2 or 5 star ratings on Tripadvisor; it’s hard to go wrong from a quality standpoint.
Considerations when choosing a resort
Here are the major things we considered, not necessarily in order:
Type of Room: Does the resort offer over-water villas, and did they include a private plunge pool? We quickly realized that we wanted to experience what differentiates The Maldives from Florida or the Caribbean, and it’s definitely those beautiful over-water villas. This eliminated about half of the resorts, as not all of the islands support this type of structure.
Location: How long is the connection from Male ? With only 7 nights, we didn’t want to spend 4+ hours each way just getting to and from Male Airport
Food and Drink: Since each resort is its own island, visitors to The Maldives will be dining only at their resort. Most resorts offer some choice between a-la-carte, Half board (breakfast and dinner included), Full board (3 meals a day included). Some are fully All Inclusive (including alcoholic beverages), while others offer drink packages, and some throw in spa credit or other perks.
Reviews: Specific, recent reviews and comments on Tripadvisor, Booking.com, etc. I think I’ve mentioned before, I tend to focus on 3 and 4 star reviews, which in my experience generally contain the highest percentage of legitimate concerns and criticisms. If a resort hasn’t had a 3 or 4 star review in over a year, well… that’s probably a good thing?!
TOTAL cost: Making a few assumptions about our eating and drinking habits, and adding in the cost of transfers and gratuities, we tried to create an ‘apples to apples’ total cost comparison.
Booking Options: Where can we book, and can we leverage any Amex or Chase Ultimate perks? I looked at booking on the Amex and Chase websites, TripAdvisor, Luxury Escapes, Booking.com, and the resorts’ own websites. Once I had narrowed down the list, I also Googled “XYZ resort deals”.
Cancellation Policies: Although we have annual travel insurance policy to protect us in case of emergency, flexibility is still a consideration. How much upfront deposit is required? What are the cancellation timelines? Are there cancellation penalties?
Duh, I’m a banker…. I made a spreadsheet. Of course I made a spreadsheet!
- JA Manafuru
- Hideaway Beach
- You & Me Maldives
- Mercure Maldives Kooddoo
- Obu Select Sangeli
- And the winner: Constance Halaveli
I am sure that any of these choices would have been just as satisfying, and I’m also sure I missed a few possibilities.
We ended up finding a great deal for the Constance Halaveli through a UK website called Turquoise Holidays – this is why the Google searches are an important step. I’m not sure whether Turquoise Holidays has a special relationship with the Constance resorts, or is perhaps an aggregator that had rooms to sell, but the total price for our stay was about $1k less than any other booking engine, including Constance’s own website.
Constance Halaveli Resort
Constance Hotels is a small, upscale chain operating only in the Indian Ocean: the Maldives, Seychelles, and Mauritius. I had first read about them through my good friend and fellow wonderful travel blogger, Bencard’s Bites, who wrote about her experience at a sister resort in 2014: Welcome to Paradise, it’s called Moofooshi.
Luxury with a decided foodie orientation? Sign me up!!
Travelers to Constance Halaveli are required to book a 1.5 hour seaplane ride from Male through the resort, who coordinates the flights on Trans Maldivian Airways.
On arrival, we were greeted “White Lotus” style at the pier, by smiling staff members holding up a Welcome sign. There were about 6 couples on the plane, and as we exited, our luggage was whisked away, while a Guest Relations staff member stepped forward to become each couple’s personal escort through the check-in process. Ours was Silvia, from Italy. She handed us a welcome drink as well as all of the vouchers and paperwork that came with our package, and explained the dining options, which I will review shortly. Silvia drove us via golf cart over the long wooden jetty to our Villa.
Silvia smiled when she saw our villa assignment, number 83 – I strongly suggest asking for this villa, as it’s situated on an angle such that the rear deck and pool are almost entirely private.
Although I had spent a lot of time reviewing photos and videos before arrival, we were still STUNNED by the size and beauty of our villa. Hands down, this is the nicest place I have ever stayed .
The villa is about 2/3 of the way down the jetty. Pros and Cons to this location: CON: it was almost half a mile just to get back to the resort. Given the intense heat, this sometimes seemed like a long walk, atlhough it was lovely in the cooler evening. Golf cart rides are always an option. PRO: The further out your villa is situated on the pier, the fewer rumbly golf carts pass your villa. More distance = more privacy. I’d choose this location again, overall.
The unbelievable WATER and sea life
What mesmerized me the most about our stay at Constance Halaveli was the abundance of sea life in the shallow waters surrounding our villa and the pier.
From our villa, a staircase descended into crystal clear blue water approximately 2 feet deep. That shallow depth extended several hundred yards, and the water teemed with a variety of fish including rays and sharks of the non-deadly variety. We could have snorkeled, but there was actually no need – we could just stand in the water and look at the fish and corals.
Periodically, a pod of jumping fish would swim rapidly by, with birds swooping and diving, trying to catch their dinner. Husband and I called it “The Show” and sat on the deck watching it in the mornings. As in, “Hey, honey, our show is on!” Who needs Netflix?
We also had several daily avian visitors as well as a large tropical carpenter bee (see: Xyocopa latices) who languidly floated from one end of our deck to the other all day long. I normally hate bees, but this one was just so….. mellow.
This is not how I normally spend my days in Delaware.
Constance Halaveli’s primary dining is at Jihaz, an open air buffet with an ever changing variety of choices. Yes, a buffet. But this buffet was a cut above. A chef prepared a variety of made to order dishes in line with the daily cuisine (Indian, Japanese, Seafood, etc.). In addition the buffet included plentiful bread choices, rice and soups, copious fresh fruits and vegetables, decadent deserts, and an ice cream bar.
We never dined at the adjacent sushi bar (there was sushi available at the buffet), as it was only available certain hours. We tended to eat just twice a day. Sometimes breakfast, sometimes lunch, always dinner.
There is also a specialty restaurant, Jing, serving beautifully plated, seafood-heavy dishes. Jing is situated about halfway down the Jetty and right over the water. We dined here twice and found it to be a quiet, romantic experience.
The Constance Halaveli, like many Maldives resorts, is on a small island. The entire island is less than one square mile of habitable property. As a result, activities on the property are limited to the beaches, a resort pool, a tennis court, and a gym. The resort also offers various water-related activities such as a sunset cruise, kayaks, and floats.
There is also a world-class spa, where massage rooms include a window to watch the enchanting sea life swim by below your massage table.
Candidly, if you are looking for an action-packed vacation, this is NOT your place. If you are looking to relax, rest, and recharge with nature and 5 star dining, then YES
Service and Atmosphere
Service at the Constance Halaveli was refined and utterly gracious, attentive without becoming bothersome. The staff stays on the island grounds, given the logistical challenges. They hailed from many countries, including India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Ireland and were very well trained. Several of them, including the hosts and hostesses at both restaurants and several bartenders, knew our name and villa number on sight within 24 hours, as well as our drink of choice. One thing we couldn’t get used to was often being addressed as “mamsir”, which is a Filipino term of respect.
Fellow guests during our stay, who hailed primarily from Asia and the UK, were probably 75% couples and 25% families on Easter break. Of the couples, probably 75% were under 30 and on their honeymoon; the rest were middle-aged and often celebrating a milestone anniversary or birthday. Socially speaking, given this guest mix, the Constance Haleveli is not likely to be a place where you will meet a bunch of new friends or party late into the night.
Should YOU go to the Maldives and the Constance Halaveli?
- You want to disconnect from the world
- You love the ocean and nature
- You want a quiet, romantic atmosphere
- You are OK with a long day (or days) of travel to and from your resort. And never leaving until checkout, once you are there.
- You want to relax and spend hours each day sunbathing, swimming, watching the fish, reading, and napping
- You want high- quality dining that’s effortless to reach and always available
- You hate buffets
- You want an unlimited choice of restaurants and cuisines to try each day
- You are looking for an endless list of activities to keep you busy each day
- You like to explore a new location each day
- You want to party or go clubbing with the locals or other guests
What to pack for the Maldives:
Don’t go crazy overpacking. It’s hot, and it’s casual. Also your luggage is limited to 25kg (20kg “checked”, which means loaded in the back of of the cabin, and 5kg hand luggage. There are no overhead bins). But don’t forget:
- Sunscreen, and lots of it!
- Bug Spray
- Swimsuits and coverups
- A type “D” (British) plug adaptor, although many resorts will have them available
- A hat or hats
- Water shoes, for walking around in the water which contains sharp rocks and coral
- T shirts and shorts for lounging around your villa or the resort duringthe day
- For the evenings:
- (Ladies) Light dresses and sandals for evening dining. You can bring a light sweater or stole but the dining is open air and we were never cold or over-air conditioned
- (Gentlemen) resort-wear short sleeve shirts and light slacks or shorts
- Leave the fancy shoes at home, you will be walking on a wooden jetty or barefoot in the sand
We absolutely loved our stay at the Constance Haleveli in the beautiful Maldives. I finished 3 books in just a week, there is that much downtime. After the noise, color, pollution, and dense population of India, the Maldvies was a tranquil respite. Given the cost and distance from home, we are likely to return only if a)we are otherwise going to be in the area, or b)we hit it big in Atlantic City. But the Maldvies will surely be a unique and highly treasured pin in my world travel map.