Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa
Best Experience: All Inclusive, Family, Activities, Spa
Given the need for the Maldives in the 5-star family premium all inclusive hotels, Centara built one from scratch in South Ari atoll (dismantling what used to be Machchafushi). Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa is a perfect match for honeymooners, families and groups on incentives trips, and has a reputation for hosting renewal of vows on its idyllic sandy beach surrounded by lazy palms and sparkling azure waters. The hotel does not look like a typical Maldivian resort, but it works brilliantly. Today, Centara Grand competes on an equal footing with Lily Beach and slightly behind Constance Moofushi.
Built in 2009, this 112-room luxury resort is an exceptional value for the Maldives. Prices for rooms are quite reasonable compared to other elite properties, where only a few offer all-inclusive Centara privileges. Alcohol, a la carte dining, daily 30-minute massages, water sports rental, kid's facilities, Wi-Fi and excursions are covered by an all-inclusive plan, making this resort stand out from the crowd. The biggest disadvantage of the resort is its extraordinary location, at least 30 minutes from Male airport by plane. Slightly less luxurious property, Centara Ras Fushi is adult oriented and offers a wide choice of food plans for couples who want to spend a little less.
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After a scenic flight and a speedboat trip, guests are welcomed by Centara Grand's staff with check-in and glasses of champagne. The island is tiny and guests can easily explore its interior by walking along shady paths among coconut trees. Almost half of the resort is built on stilts over a beautiful lagoon, including a fitness center, a lobby, a lobby bar, an Italian restaurant and most of the villas.
Instead of copying the brown and tanned color palette of classic thatched, wooden and sandy resorts, Centara created something similar to the atmosphere of a Mediterranean seaside village or perhaps sun-scorched Caribbean idyll. The color scheme is all white and blue with a yellow tinge, up to decorative details, such as models of sailing yachts and lighthouses. It is impossible not to be agitated by the ease and festive mood of all this.
Seriously renovated in 2014, Centara Grand Island blends the colorful, modern design and elements of a traditional Maldivian resort, such as high ceilings and thatched palm roofs. With the exception of some dirty shower stalls and a well-groomed tennis court, the resort looks fresh and modern.
Like most Maldives resorts, Centara Grand is surrounded by beautiful beaches with white sand and a clear turquoise lagoon. The sunloungers are enough for all guests (some of them are slightly tarnished, and some have umbrellas from the palapa), and beach towels are provided in the rooms. The impressive house reef is located off the shore and guests can easily reach the corals to see the colorful marine life. Less than the picturesque walls, sandbags are used to prevent erosion in some places but for the most part the beaches are attractive and the island is everywhere clean. DOWNLOAD RESORT MAP
The Centara is run by a Thai company and the vast majority of guests from China and other parts of Asia (so much that most of the plates are in Chinese). The clientele is very international, without a separate nation with more than 20% of the rooms (except perhaps during the Chinese New Year). Staff from many different countries, and they are all very well prepared and managed. All together set a friendly and cheerful tone, which extends to the entire resort.
Many people prefer snorkeling, free daily massage, diving or kayaking, or lounging on white sand beaches or sunbathing by the pool. In the evening in one of the bars expect live music, with serenades for guests. Those who want an extra level of privacy can buy themselves a place in the club area with a private pool, restaurant, beach and the best an all-inclusive drinks.
Interesting fact: Centara held the first underwater wedding in the Maldives on a sunken shipwreck near the island.
Set amongst the perfect islands and blue ocean of South Ari Atoll (Alifu Atoll) in the Republic of Maldives, the resort offers both seaplane transfer and domestic flight transfer to guarantee the most convenient option for guests. Centara Grand is located on the private island in 115 kilometers south-west of Male. The cheapest way to reach the island is a 30-minute flight from Male International Airport to Maamigili domestic airport followed by a 15-minute speedboat transfer to the resort. Those who are willing to pay more can order a seaplane (which offers a more scenic views). Seaplane transfers the guests directly to the resort. The guests can easily explore all the beaches in 10 minutes. Staff of 270 people live and work on the island all year round.
Centara has six categories of rooms, including Beachfront Suites, Luxury Beachfront Pool Villas with 1- or 2-bedroom and Ocean Water Villas with direct access to the lagoon.
The most basic types of rooms are Beach Suites and Deluxe Water Villas offering a lot of space on 87 square meters, but nevertheless you can place an extra bed or a cot here. The bright, modern rooms come with parquet floors, pillows of blue and orange colors and large bathrooms with bathtubs and showers. Beach Suites is a two-story accommodation and has a bedroom and an additional bathroom on the second floor that makes them more like beach houses than apartments. These rooms are interlocked and mostly located on the sunset side (32 of 42 villas). Facilities and amenities are impressive and the same for each room. In addition to the fact that now all rooms have a mini-bar (with free content), Hi-Fi stereos with iPod, DVD players, flat-screen TVs, private patios, bathrobes, electric kettles, complimentary bottled water, espresso machine , a wine fridge, instant coffee and free Wi-Fi. Today, drinks and snacks in the mini bar are free of charge.
18 Deluxe Water Villas is a local standard for overwater accommodation. All rooms are lovely, large, white and light. A bed for children and a cot can be installed additionally. This villa is also suitable for couples. Furniture is low, casual, informal, even funny.
Centara is one of the few resorts in the Maldives where families with children are allowed to stay in water villas (many hotels are more cautious in this matter and offer overwater bungalows for adults only, for security reasons). Deluxe Family Water Villas accommodates up to five guests and has child-friendly facilities such as bunk beds, Playstation gaming consoles and locks that protects a toddler from falling out of the villa into lagoon. The biggest is Luxury Beachfront Pool Villa (159 sq.m.) has its own butler, who is called the "villa masterowner of the villa", and who organizes excursions and orders a table in the restaurant for guests.
10 Deluxe Family Water Villas are equally pleasant inside and have an excellent section for kids that can be separated. Inside there is a bunk bed and own screen and PlayStation. The room is equipped with 2 separate sinks and a round jacuzzi. The sun deck is a big size, well furnished and has steps into the water (with a children's lock) for the house reef snorkeling.
34 Sunset Ocean Pool Villas are not so different from Deluxe Water Villas, but obviously they have an advantage over sunset. They also obviously have a balcony on the second level, to which you approach with a spiral staircase from the outside, but there is not much except a higher view of the ocean. The top category includes 8 beach villas with two bedrooms and a swimming pool, which can accommodate 4 adults and one child or 2 adults and 3 children. Each of them has its own pool and separate lounge, but for me the rooms do not work so well. In the hall a bit crowded and the garden is small with a large round bath near one wall. However, this is the outstanding category, and it includes automatic membership in the Island Club.
For some, the Island Club is a bit strange. This is a "resort in the resort" for which there is no big purpose. It has a nice swimming pool overlooking the sunset and a setting where people can easily make friends, but some guests feel a little cut off from the rest of the resort. One of them will certainly get more, with attentive staff offering the best brands of drinks, fine snacks and cool towels. Special Thai and Italian restaurants also come with an all inclusive package of these guests. In addition to all villas with a two-bedroom pool, Island Club is also an option for guests of Sunset Ocean Pool Villas and Luxury Beachfront Pool Villas. I must say that the all-inclusive plan is very generous for everyone and really impressive.
Restaurants and Bars
The food options in the resort is the top class. In the main restaurant expect buffet dining, and specialty restaurants offer excellent opportunities for changing the diet. Since this is a Thai hotel, the signature Thai restaurant is authentic and especially good. Guests can get cooking lessons with a Thai chef.
In fact, Centara Grand has four restaurants but if you consider a private restaurant in the club area, most guests have access to three only. The Reef is the main buffet restaurant serving breakfast with champagne, lunch and dinner. This is the only restaurant that does not require pre-orders, but the quality of food here leaves much to be desired for a luxury resort. Most dishes on offer are mediocre and warmed up. Instead, we recommend eating in two other a la carte restaurants: Azzuri Mare (Italian and seafood) and Suan Bua (Thai). The Reef also has a live Teppanyaki table where guests can reserve seats.
Centara's All Inclusive plan includes drinks and cocktails, snacks in two bars, most items in the mini bar and meals in all three restaurants. The exception is only premium alcohol drinks and some more expensive menu items.
In-villa dining serves a selection of international dishes and snacks, and a nightly Sundowners Party offers flavourful tapas in a convivial ambience.
Evening hours in the main bar usually end rather late with plentiful conversations. Although the resort as a whole would not be described as barefoot, there is soft sand on the floor and lots of spots and seats to relax and enjoy a pleasant evening before another good day.
Aqua is a one the island’s best spots to lay back and admire spectacular ocean views and sunsets. Laze in comfort and tranquillity as you sip your favourite cocktail and enjoy light bites and snacks. Set overwater, opposite Azzuri Mare on the western side of the island, Aqua is perfect for pre-dinner cocktails or a nightcap. Sundowner parties are held daily.
Built on two storeys, with pool tables and games on the mezzanine level and a casual sand-floor setting on the ground floor, Coral Bar & Lounge is located just off the swimming pool deck.
ULTIMATE All Inclusive Plan - What's included
The Ultimate All-Inclusive delivers an unrivalled carefree holiday experience and includes assistance with airport transfers, complimentary wireless internet access, sumptuous champagne breakfasts, a choice of three dining venues for lunch and dinner, beverages served throughout the day, water sports and water activities, excursions, and health and well-being services including daily credits to redeem at SPA Cenvaree. Diving is now included; guests can enjoy up to three dives per villa per week as an alternative to spa treatments.
All non-motorized water sports are free if the guests know how to run the catamaran and windsurfing, otherwise you have to pay for the lesson. Snorkelling gear is also free off charge. The house reef is easily accessible from most of Water Villas and the snorkel is very good. Machchafushi was once a German diving island and although resort construction has led to some degradation at the local level, corals are recovering well and this area remains the world famous diving spot in the Maldives.
The Centara has a variety of facilities awaits adults and younger guests, and the latter will enjoy a children’s pool and the Kids’ Club with supervised Camp Safari for the youngsters and E-Zone entertainment zone for those in their teens. The resort has an attractive beach pool with a shallow children's section, a beautiful but expensive Thai Cenvaree SPA (guests receive a daily $ 100 resort credit that buys a 30-minute massage) and a fitness center overlooking the ocean, built on stilts over the lagoon. Guests can snorkel right next to the beach on the beautiful reef house, and the nearest site offers interesting rack-diving. A children's club with a playground is provided for free, and the games room offers snooker, billiards, ping-pong and table hockey. Other offers include beach volleyball, a tennis court, a souvenir shop and emergency medical services.
Parents can leave their children in the children's club free of charge. If you want to pay in addition, you can buy popular excursions, such as a private picnic on the sandbanks or scuba diving courses PADI. Guests can also pay extra for "Premium" to go on parasailing or to rent a water-bike. Laundry, babysitting and 24-hour room service are available on request.
Centara Grand Island Resort receives excellent reviews from almost every guest. The size and luxury of the rooms receive high marks, as are the service and the staff as a whole. Food is rated highly for quality, but there is not enough variety that is not typical for luxury all-inclusive resorts. Snorkeling is also a great experience with many guests raving about swimming and marine life.
Those who paid extra for the premium Island Club looked quite pleased with the extra restaurant, pool, food and activities, but even those who passed by felt that they had many options and they did not lose. Centara Grand Island Resort seems to be a very reliable choice among Maldives all-inclusive hotels in its price range.
Pros: What Guests Love
- A beautiful and greenery island with white sandy beaches. Easy to navigate
- Friendly and helpful staff
- A good house reef snorkeling and diving (plus real wreck-diving near the shore)
- All inclusive meals plan in three restaurants (a la carte and buffet) and two bars, as well as 24-hour room service
- Quality and varied food in a la carte restaurants.
- Beautiful beach infinity pool with shallow children's sector
- Kid's club and daily activities for children included free of charge
- Free rental for most non-motorized water sports; Free windsurfing lesson, banana boat trips and tjubing
- Free Wi-Fi throughout the resort
- High-class Thai spa with hydrotherapy pools and bath; Free daily 30-minute massage
- Private club with its own restaurant, pool and beach (chargeable)
- Overwater fitness center with ocean view
What You Need to Know
- The resort is located on a private island in South Ari Atoll in 30 minutes by domestic flight from Male airport + short boat ride
- Check-in from 15:00, Check-out before 12:00
- A la carte restaurants are quickly filled without prior reservation
"Buffet food" is an average meal
- Some dishes and cocktails are not included in all inclusive package
- The beach area is the best around beach villas on the island's north side.
- Mask, snorkel and fins - for free
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