Having last visited the Maldives some 15 years back, I was elated when the chance to go on an inspection trip to three resorts with Jetabout Holidays came in March. Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa was one of the resorts on the list. The Centara brand name is familiar to me as it is one of Thailand’s leading hotel group, which is highly regarded for its excellent service. Having inspected another resort, the Lux* South Ari Atoll just a two days prior to arriving at this resort, I was naturally in a “comparison” mindset as I seek out the differences between resorts so that I can share the information in my travelogue.
So does this resort lives up to it’s acclaimed brand name ? I certainly think so as memories of moments at this lovely resort still linger vividly after the trip. While it may not have the chic factor of some other newer higher-end resorts, this resort charms in her own unique ways.
Located on the island of Machchafushi, Alif Dhaal Atoll, this 112 villas and suites resort opened in late 2009 and is one of 3 Centara properties in Maldives. The resort was voted Maldives’ most family-friendly resort two years in succession and has a wealth of activities and superb facilities that makes this resort an ideal hideaway for couples , honeymooners, or families. Of key interest to vacationers would be the resort’s “ultimate All-Inclusive’ package” that provides for everything you could desire, from diving to dining, spa to excursions, and everything in between including champagne breakfasts and sunset cruises.
Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa Maldives is 97.4km from Malé Velana International Airport. It can be accessed via a 25min direct sea plane transfer (during daylight) or a 20min domestic flight to Maamigili airport followed by a 15min speedboat transfer (evening hours). .
The opportunity to view the amazing Maldivian scenery is one of the perks of seaplane transfer. The ride in the cramped cabin may not be that comfortable but it makes up for it by saving up on precious vacation time.
Touch down at the resort. The landing on the sea was smooth thanks to the pilots’ skill and good weather.
Disembarking and waiting for the resort dhoni (Maldivian traditional boat) for transfer to the jetty.
Resort staff standing by to welcome arriving guests. Arriving or departing guests will feel the warmth of the staff at the resort jetty. Memories of a wonderful vacation forever sealed by the heart-warming gesture and Maldivian hospitality.
Our accommodation, the Beach Suite. Spacious at 935 sg.ft with relaxing living room, a king bed on the mezzanine level and an spacious bathroom with an outdoor shower. Comes with complimentary wireless internet access, flat-screen TVs with international channels and in-room movies, DVD player, IDD telephone line, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, free minibar items, tea and coffee making facilities, in-room safe and a hairdryer.
Pathway to the Deluxe Water Villa. Set on the northern side of the island, these spacious (925 sg.ft) come with soothing décor of white with splashes of colour, rattan and hardwood furnishings. Its terrace faces the endless horizon and guests can swim or go snorkeling in the lagoon.
Bath amenities of the Sunset Ocean Pool Villa. Functionality and aesthetics are both woven into the gorgeous room throughout.
The Sunset Ocean Pool Villa (1183 sg.ft.) comes with a 129 sg.ft plunge pool looking across the ocean. Guests can snorkel only a few steps down from the terrace. These villas on the western end of the island boast sublime sunset views and feature a terrace for lounging and basking in the sun, a sea-gazing bedroom.
The Ocean Water Villa are newly refurbished villas set on the western end of the island. Each villa has a spacious terrace for lounging and basking in the sun, a sea-gazing bedroom and steps that lead directly into the lagoon. Spacious 1,183 sg.ft of living area, including an outdoor terrace where chefs can prepare a private dinner, roomy bedroom with high ceilings and dominated by soothing whites, rattan and hardwood furnishings.
Guest can simply lounge on the netting on the terrace edge and plan their next dream vacation to Maldives.
Gastronomic adventure at the resort
Guests who took up the resort Ultimate All-Inclusive package will find their stay enhanced and absolutely carefree. All meals are included. Sumptuous champagne breakfasts are available through mid-morning at Reef Restaurant, lunches and dinners are to be enjoyed at the Azurri Mare Italian Restaurant, the Suan Bua Thai restaurant or Reef Restaurant, and selected beverages are served from 10am until midnight . Guest can even savour daily afternoon teas and sundowner parties!
The teppan yaki at the Reef restaurant is available to guests on the all-inclusive package, but seating at this meal is subject to advance reservation.
Superb seafood feast at the Azzuri Mare, a 55-seats Italian and seafood restaurant. The fresh catch of the day prepared Italian style, along with Italian signature dishes and flavour-filled pastas and pizza, with its beautiful views across the lagoon. The restaurant provides plenty of visual action with its open kitchen, and the a la carte menu and set menus feature vegetarian options. Couples and families alike will love this diner for its gorgeous ambience.
You can trust the chef’s culinary skill at the resort, and the seafood can’t get any fresher. Trust me.
Panfried sea bass for you ? with a Rosè wine to go along ?
What you can do
There is so many things that guests can choose from land to sea-based activities, from fast to slow paced or simply doing nothing. That’s the beauty of vacation at the Maldives, even lounging at the swimming pool and taking in the amazing scenery makes it all worthwhile. But to maximize on the resort offerings, its highly advisable to observe the events timing so that you do not “miss the boat”.
One of the highlights of the resort would be the fish feeding session daily between 6.00-6.20pm near the resort house reef. Huge stingrays, sharks, moral eels, etc, all appear out of no where. Not quite a uncontrolled feeding frenzy but definitely an eye-opening experience for those who only seen such lovely marine creatures on television.
The huge stingrays all displayed very enthusiast feeding behaviour, thrashing out of the water at times to secure the food.
The resort house reef is one the places that even non-avid snorkelers will spend a great deal of time. The healthy house reefs have various structures built-in to provide a safe breeding ground for fishes. And this shows through the abundance of marine life at the site.
It can get somewhat crowded at the reef sometimes. But that’s a happy problem.
The resort spa, Cenvaree, has professional masseurs that are well trained by the resort headquarter. I vouch that I had my best Swedish and Shiatsu massage ever right here.
Guests can simply slow down and luxuriate among the many chill out spots throughout the resort. Do something or do nothing, that’s the way to go.
For avid stargazers, the unpolluted night skies of the Maldives Atolls presents plenty opportunities to spot the Milky Way and constellation. Or perhaps practise star trails photography?
A final word
A visit to Maldives is never complete without experiencing the wonders of the underwater world. The land scenery view was breathtaking but do trade in your sunglasses for a snorkel mask and take a peek into the world beneath. This is where the real magic of the Maldives is. And this resort with its house reef teeming with vibrant marine life, certainly perked up the overall trip experience. Sure, we did not not manage to spot the “big guy” during the Whale Shark snorkeling session but it’s still a pleasurable stay at this cosy and homely resort. If I do visit the Maldives again, i will make sure to make a date with my underwater friends at the house reef.
Thank you for joining me for the pixels journey. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and find it useful. Should you feel like packing your bags now and visit Centara Grand Maldives, you will be pleased to know that there is a special promotion by Jetabout Holidays for this resort.
All pictures used in the article are all rights reserved and copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and Jetabout Holidays.