Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives ~ An ultimate honeymoon paradise
The long awaited Maldives post is finally up! Oh Maldives~ What a heavenly, magical, picturesque place! Maldives is always listed as the top of most people's travel bucket list. I was lucky to have my honeymoon there!
As an impromptu traveler, hubby booked our honeymoon trip just one week before we flew (Whaaaaaaat?! Yea, tell me about it). I still remember the adrenaline rush I got when he told me," Baby, prepare your beach wear, we are flying to Maldives in a week's time!". And so
was his pick for our honeymoon destination.
We flew in to Maldives from Penang via
and with the late and only departure time from Penang to Maldives (Male Int' Airport), it would be wise to have your first night stay in Hulhuale as you will be arriving late and I personally don't see it is wise spending a bomb for a brief overnight stay. Before we proceed further, let me do some clarification. Hulhumale is a relatively new town in Maldives where it is near to their international airport. Do not get confused between Hulhumale and Male as you need to get a ferry across for the latter one - too much work! Most Maldives' resort transfers are done at the airport so staying at Hulhumale would be the most convenient choice.
Hotel H78 Hulhumale
We opted for
for our overnight stay with breakfast and airport transfer included. It is a decent beach-front boutique hotel which has just recently opened. Despite the late pick up we experienced at the airport (pretty much a let down), the staff were friendly and tried their best to accommodate to the guests' requests. The room we stayed in was clean and chic with well-functioning showers. The small room size would be the only complaint if I had to nitpick but I think that is fine if it's just for an overnight stay. I would recommend this hotel for those who are looking for an overnight stay in Hulhumale before departing to one of the islands in Maldives the next day. We also managed to view our first sunrise of our honeymoon from their rooftop terrace.
Hotel's interior - marine theme
Sunrise view from rooftop terrace at H78
The next morning, we went back to Maldives International Airport to take a domestic flight to Gan then a connecting speed boat to Villingili Island where Shangri-La Resort is located at. Shangri-La's
service is top-notch
as they communicated with H78 (the hotel we stayed in Hulhumale) beforehand on the airport transfer to ensure a smooth journey for us. A representative was already there waiting for us when we stepped out of the car. The check in process was fast and smooth and very quickly, we found ourselves resting in the private lounge while waiting for the domestic flight departure.
Ready to board the plane!
Window view from airplane - islands of Maldives
After 1.5 hours, we arrived at Gan airport and were greeted by Shangri-La's representatives to get on their private speed boat to the resort. We were welcomed by fresh coconut drinks and warmly greeted by the F&B Director, Mr. Mohammad Asif and our friendly personal hosts who would go the extra miles for our requests, Mr. Gehan and Mr. Anas. We were then escorted to our water villa for direct check in (Smooth and convenient!).
I see the definition of
the moment I stepped into my water villa. A bottle of champagne was prepared for our honeymoon celebration. Other than that, we also had daily replenished fresh fruits. The room is exceptionally spacious with
166 sqm / 1787 sqft of luxury
, with an open and airy atmosphere. The villa features an oversize tub in the bathroom with both indoor and open-air showers. Its
Bose home theatre system
with DVD player brought in-room movie experience to another level. The highlight of this villa must be the
over water hammock
which I laze on most of the time during my stay, overlooking the incredible views of the Indian Ocean. This Maldivian luxury villa exude a sense of serenity, with touches of Middle Eastern and Indian elements in the decor.
The water villas are located at 2 different areas - Whispering Palms and Serenity Bay. Whispering Palms water is shallower and is nearer to the house reef, some villas with sunset views while Serenity Bay water is deeper (over the head) and is located at a more secluded area. According to online reviews, Whispering Palms is apparently more popular. But really, it all depends on personal preference and I reckon both are as magnificent. Our water villa was at the Whispering Palms side.
And that marks the beginning of our paradise honeymoon ......
We were soon blown away by the enchanted sea view and the crystal clear turquoise water. The view was absolutely picturesque and breath-taking! We felt so relaxed and peaceful during our stay in this heaven-on-earth. It's a magical dream come true!
Not to mention the sunset view from our water villa is superb amazing as well! It is a bliss to see the pinkish-orange sky reflecting on the sea water - absolutely spectacular! (sorry for the spam of photos but I am very excited to share the beauty of this paradise with you!)
Dining in Shangri-La Villingili
Shangri-La's restaurants serve up a wide array of delectable dishes and fine beverages.
Rise and Shine in paradise with sumptuous international buffet breakfast at
, which is an al fresco dining during the day and refined Western fare in the evening. The breakfast buffet also features live cooking stations manned by the chefs to ensure personal preferences are met. It is beautifully located along the turquoise shoreline, offering stunning vistas across the ocean. With lofty ceilings, beachside pavilions and expansive outdoor seating, the restaurant exudes a fresh, contemporary feel.
Breakfast with stunning sea views
I must give credit to Javvu's customer service and chef on this. So, hubby was looking for the Maldivian fish curry which was available in the buffet line the morning before but was not available then. The chef came over to greet us and hubby was telling him how he appreciated the fish curry he had the day before, and after a while, we were surprised by a serving of their Maldivian fish curry! How thoughtful of them :)
With the sous chef in Javvu
With the beautiful ocean as a backdrop, the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine offers fine seafood and prime steaks. We felt honoured to be
invited to dine in Fashala for 2 of the nights
! Fashala is uniquely located at the northern tip of the island, where the tranquil lagoon waters meet the Indian Ocean. The rhythmic sound of the waves, the iridescence of the water and the star-studded sky create the perfect setting for an intimate dining experience. We indulged ourselves in the relaxed surroundings while listening to the calming tunes, overlooking the ocean.
While the overall dining experience was good, I would like to highlight their signature Local tuna tartar and Tiramisu.
The local tuna tartar was served on a big slab of pink salt, with chopped onions, grilled vegetables, drizzled with fresh lemon emulsion, and coated with crushed pistachio and herbs. The tuna was very fresh and the flavour was very well infused with the Somalian pink salt, however it gets a little too salty towards the end. Probably they should look into serving the vegetables separately (off the salt) to make them compliment the saltiness of the fish.
The tiramisu did not disappoint at all! We enjoyed it very much. An excellent blend of coffee liquor and cream melted in the mouth.
Left: Fashala manager, Sheikh ; Right: Chef, Alessio Sanna from Italy
An amazing restaurant and certainly our favourite throughout our stay - focus on fine cuisine from the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Arabian Gulf, with the venue's three distinctive living rooms reflect the sumptuous eclectic cultures and cuisines of these regions. The cuisine is simple, fresh and innovative and is the first of its kind in the Maldives. We had fish curry and lamb leg served with naan and basmati rice, finishing our meal with Kulfi as dessert. Every dish was very palatable and we soon labelled it as our top-pick restaurant in this resort.
Maldivian yellow fin tune curry (must try in Maldives!)
Lamb leg marinated with seven spices
Kulfi (traditional indian ice cream)
In room dining
We were feeling lazy on one of the nights so we decided to order in room dining (the truth was we were too mesmerised with the sunset view and lost track of time, LOL).
The in-room dining service was efficient and they made us feel like home when they cared to make up a romantic space for us to dine outdoor at our villa.
Fish & chips and Grilled tuna steak
Private Garden Lunch
Throughout our stay, we experienced one private dining during lunch at the Chef's Garden which was an interesting place where all the fresh ingredients used by the chefs in the resort are planted here. It was supposed to be a private dinner at Mount Villingili but it rained that night so we shifted the private dining to next day's lunch.
The setting was exclusive with the colourful garden as a backdrop and a chef was there to prepare the food. The food was served by course but tasted mediocre despite the exclusivity and private ambience.
After lunch, we reserved some bread and went off to fish feeding at a pond nearby the chef's garden. There were a lot of fishes (and they are huge ones!) in the pond and they swarmed when the bread hits the water - quite an astounding scene.
Shangri-La Villingili has its own house reef which makes snorkelling awesome for all hotel guests. We had fun swimming with fishes and even saw baby sharks (Sorry, we don't have good pictures of the under-water world as we were distracted by the corals and fishes)! However, in my honest opinion, despite the super crystal clear water and the amount of fishes we saw, I reckon the snorkelling could be somehow better (in terms of the species we saw). I always hear Maldives is one of the top snorkelling spots in the world hence I would expect the snorkelling experience to leave a strong impression. I was a tad disappointed we did not see turtles but our snorkel guide told us they were supposed to be there (I guess it depends on luck too).
Many thanks to our snorkelling guide for bringing us around
CHI, The Spa
We pampered our body and soul at their secluded spa village which offers personal peace, enchantment and well-being. The spa session was well taken care by their professional masseur and we left the spa feeling totally relaxed and rejuvenated. We opted for their Aroma Vitality massage and the signature Kandu Boli Ritual where they use Cowrie shell to massage the body and face, and warm coconut oil will be drizzled on the hair before undergoing a heavenly scalp massage. And yes, you hair will become oily after this spa treatment and it is recommended to leave it overnight for full moisturising.
That pretty much summed up our honeymoon with Shangri-La Villingili Maldives. It has been the best stay for us so far and we look forward to revisit this awe-inspiring paradise (and will definitely stay for more days)!
Now, please allow me to spam you with more beautiful pictures of Maldives (I promise this is the last batch lol). If you notice, there are different colours of the sea because the brightness of the sun reflects how the sea colour appear. If the day is very sunny, you get crystal clear water and if there are clouds and overcast, the water would be solid turquoise. I think all of them look wonderful anyway. What is your preference?
Our friendly personal island host - Mr. Gehan
With the F&B director, Mr. Mohammad Asif. Thank you for your kind hospitality throughout our stay!
How can one get enough of this?!
So long, Maldives. Till we meet again!
Thank you Shangri-La Villingili for an awesome and wonderful experience!