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The Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon resort in the Ari Atoll shows that a luxurious holiday in the Maldives is also doable on an average budget. The idyllic island with its impressive house reef is considered a true diver’s paradise. I stayed for several days and summarized my impressions in this review.
The Maldives were everything I was hoping for: an idyllic dream destination with crystal clear waters, white beaches and an impressive underwater world. What I did not know: a holiday in paradise is not as expensive as one would believe when you book at the right time… and there is free Wifi to make your friends at home really jealous ;)
Location & Getting In
The small island of Ellaidhoo is located in the northern section of the Ari Atoll, relatively central in the Maldives. The Ari Atoll is situated directly southwest of the capital Male with its international airport. It is possible to get to Ellaidhoo by speedboat (90 minutes). If you prefer a faster (but more expensive) way and also want to enjoy a breathtaking round-trip over the islands you should take a sea plane (20 minutes, highly recommended!).
Nevertheless, you are far away from big cities and other resorts, as the atoll extends over a large area – only 2 other islands can be seen on the horizon. Apart from that, the Ari Atoll is a great diving area. The hotel offers Day trips to the “Fish head” on a regular base.
Rooms & Facilities
The Ellaidhoo by Cinnamon is run as a 4 * resort and offers rooms in 3 different categories:
- Superior Rooms – these are double rooms in a larger bungalow with 4 units (2 upstairs with balcony, 2 downstairs with terrace). The rooms are very spacious, air conditioned and come with seating, TV, mini bar, work desk and a large open-air bathroom.
- Beach bungalow – these are private, free-standing bungalows directly on the beach, however the size of the room is a bit smaller than the superior rooms, although they have the same equipment.
- Water bungalow – the best category on the island. The location of these bungalows is simply sensational: on wooden poles directly above the reef with a clear sea view. Each bungalow has 2 units; each room has its own balcony directly above the water. The facilities are the same as in the other categories, but with a better proximity to the pool with restaurant and bar (the best spot to watch the sunset!)
The nice thing about this resort is that almost all the bungalows are located directly on the sea; you can relax at your bungalow. Even if you want to dive or snorkel, you only have to walk a few steps since the bungalows are just a few meters from everything.
I myself chose to go with the superior room and was very pleased with it, mainly due to the size of the room and the open-air bath (shower with a view of palm trees!). As for the decor, you can see here and there that it is not a brand new resort. All in all, I would rate the Ellaidhoo Maldives as a 3.5 star resort (the infrastructure in the Maldives should be considered here). In addition, there is a pool, bar and free wifi in the rooms.
Things to do & Atmosphere
As mentioned at the beginning, the island is an ideal base for divers or those who would like to get into diving – with a diving center that is open 24 hours (night dives and snorkeling are possible, too!). They have their own diving school with PADI certified instructors. The small, white beach and the great infinity pool were my favorite places to relax and unwind.
The atmosphere on Ellaidhoo is very relaxed: there are many sun loungers and quiet corners with hammocks stretched between the coconut palms, guests spread out over the whole island. The complex also has a spa and a fitness center. If you want something different, you can take a closer look at the tours on offer – including day trips to one of the local islands, numerous diving excursions or a city tour through Male.
I have to highlight the incredibly friendly, helpful staff. I have rarely experienced such good service. From the check-in and general guest service to the restaurant and cleaning staff, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. For many guests, a holiday here is something very special, and the resort’s staff is definitely aware of this.
A large percentage of the staff comes from neighboring Sri Lanka (where the Cinnamon hotel group has its base), which is known for its hospitality. Even when something went wrong with my order, it was immediately fixed and remedied by a wide smile.
Food & Drinks
Depending on the booking, you can use the large buffet or order a lá carte. Due to the high price of the day ticket and the decent selection, I recommend booking at least half board. I personally enjoyed the choices offered by the buffets: a mixture of local and Sinhalese cuisine, with a few international dishes. For lunch and dinner there was also a salad bar, a cooking station (daily dish and various pasta options) and a desert buffet (cake, ice cream, fruit).
Also the breakfast selection was rich: freshly prepared omelets, scrambled or fried eggs, as well as waffles, pancakes and hot food – but also cereals, fruits and various juices. In general, however, as far as fruit and vegetables are concerned, one’s expectations should be somewhat lower – this is due to the climate and the long transport routes.
As for the drinks, I had fresh coconuts (for breakfast), water (during the day) and beer (in the evening) – they have solid Lion Lager on tap. The cocktails you get in the all-inclusive package are rather mediocre, unfortunately.
The whole resort is very well maintained, clean and neat. Our room was even cleaned twice a day – once in the morning (basic cleaning) and in the late afternoon (since you always bring sand into the room). There were also new water bottles, shower and bath towels daily.
Besides the location and the reef, certainly one of the most convincing arguments is the offered cost-performance. If you make a reservation well in advance and check out the dates (for example, June), you can already score a stay starting at 130€ for 2 people including breakfast in a superior room (= 65 € p.P.). You might also find some good deals on Booking: if you have the “Genius” status you get a 10% discount.
Please note that there are extra transfer costs from the airport for every resort on the Maldives (for Ellaidhoo the costs for the round trip is at about 180€ via speed boat and at around 365€ via sea plane).
All in all, I was thrilled by Ellaidhoo in the Maldives and could really relax there. It was just as I have always imagined the Maldives to be. See following my review of the Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon in summary:
My Video about Ellaidhoo & the Maldives
Have you been to the Ellaidhoo by Cinnamon in the Maldives?
Please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below. You can share this and other posts via Facebook or Twitter – you’ll find the corresponding buttons on the left and the bottom navigation.
Note: I was in the Maldives shooting for my YouTube channel and a TV show on DW TV in collaboration with the Cinnamon group. The writing of blog articles was not part of this cooperation, but happened freely because I was excited by the price-performance ratio, and wanted to share my experience with my readers. All the recommendations, opinions, and ironic remarks are, as always, my own. This article contains affiliate links to Booking.com to allow you to book directly. For you, however, no extra costs are included!