Hotel Review: Paradise Island Resort & Spa, Maldives
On our last trip to the Maldives, we were invited to experience Paradise Island, a Villa Hotels property, as they are undergoing an exciting renovation just 15 minutes from Malé. We had a great time exploring the expansive property, so read on to learn what to expect!
Paradise Island is located just a quick 15 minutes from Malé and Velana International Airport. It also sits directly facing Gili Lankanfushi resort and can be seen from half the overwater villas and one half of the beach. On the main beach of the resort, the water is a stunning teal blue with calm water for swimming. The side of the water villas does have a view of Gili Lankanfushi but also has much shallower water with a bit of coral at low tide.
Due to the proximity to Malé and the surrounding heavily populated islands, Paradise has a solid amount of boat traffic, seaplane traffic and light pollution. That being said, it’s also incredibly convenient to access and is a great location for a shorter stay, in particular.
Lobby & Check in experience: 4/5
Lobby and check in actually begins at the airport in the Maldives when you locate the resort’s station to check into the transfer. Since Paradise Island is a quick boat transfer from Malé, the transfer experience can be relatively short. Paradise Island does not have an arrivals lounge and wait times can be between 10 minutes to about an hour. We waited approximately 45 minutes for our transfer to depart. There are a few cafes and fast food options in the airport terminal while you wait if you want to buy some food and water (they do accept credit cards).
The property has a few ferries they operate, so depending on how many guests are arriving and departing you may end up on a newer, faster vessel than we had on the way to the resort. We are told they are buying a new fleet of ferries, much like the high-speed boats we experienced at Crossroads so stay tuned for that if you are booking after 2023. The hotel does require you to wear a life jacket, which was a first for us and was a bit unpleasant due to the musty smell.
Once we arrived at the property, it was a completely different experience. We were greeted on the dock by the management team and a welcome beverage that was a lovely treat after that boat ride. The management team introduced themselves and told us all about the hotel and welcomed us with open arms. Our butler met us to begin the check in and took us to the main bar for another beverage and an explanation of the property and amenities. Shortly after, we headed to our overwater villa.
Paradise Island has 9 different room types and 282 rooms total. The resort plans to renovate all rooms at the resort in the next year and at this time, only the Deluxe Beach Pool Villa is updated.
We were booked into the Water Villa, which sits at 828 square feet including the outdoor patio. While the room is not renovated with the new style, we had a beautiful view out to the lagoon and the room itself was spacious and comfortable. The bathroom features a dual vanity, large rainshower and direct access to the patio. The bedroom features a minibar, king bed and small sitting area. They do offer a variety of nicely branded bath amenities, including Q-tips, a nail kit and more. They do only offer body lotion, shampoo and body wash and we do hope in the future that they uplevel their products and include a conditioner. They do sell conditioner in the onsite store, though, they were sold out during our stay as I imagine people are as confused as we were to not have conditioner.
The patio has a comfortable lounge cushion, dinette and outdoor tub. The access to the lagoon is directly in front. Due to the rock formations to protect the lagoon, the water is pristinely calm and we spent many afternoons lounging around and looking out at the fish and rays swimming under the clear water.
The way the villas are built is actually two separate rooms in one overwater bungalow structure. While there is not a connecting door, you are sharing a wall with another couple or family, which can be a bit loud depending on who your neighbors are. If you are a honeymooning couple, I would probably recommend booking one of the one-bedroom overwater villas to avoid the sound issue and have a bit more privacy on your outdoor patio.
On our last night, we were upgraded to a one-bedroom overwater villa suite and it was a wonderful surprise. While dated, the room is massive with floor to ceiling doors that completely open to the outside deck that includes a pool. The bathroom even features a dual-rain shower and outdoor whirlpool. This room has immense potential to be jaw-dropping after the renovation, particularly with the beautiful view of Gili Lankanfushi ahead.
If you are debating which room type to book, we would absolutely recommend booking their renovated Deluxe Beach Villa until the rest of the property is renovated thanks to the fun, quirky new style that has really brought a refreshed style to the hotel. The beach where the Deluxe villas are located is also fantastic for swimming and enjoying what the Maldives is known for: the stunning white sand and teal water.
Paradise Island recently underwent a full Forbes service training for the entire staff and it shows. The service across the property, regardless of the team member being a manager or a bartender, was excellent and extremely refined. It is very clear that the staff are well trained and very happy to be there to serve you – proud is a great word for the service at Paradise.
They also offer twice daily housekeeping and our housekeeper is one of the best we have had in a long time. Multiple times we arrived back to the room to have our clothes that were strewn across the chair, nicely folded on our futon. The attention to detail and care of our personal items was really appreciated.
Restaurant staff was also excellent, remembering guest names and always serving you with a smile. They do also offer poolside drink service and overall, it was fast and efficient.
Guests have access to a butler throughout their stay and can contact the butler at any time using Whatsapp. Our butler was available for what felt like 24/7 and he really kept us on track. He booked all our restaurants and appointments and was always around to take us from one place to another.
We felt the service could have been a bit more seamless was the handling of all-inclusive package guests. The property advertised its new Cocoon Lounge, and yet all-inclusive guests did not have access to the bar. Restricting access like this feels particularly disappointing when multiple staff members encourage guests to go there. With adjustments in policies and a direct focus on the guest experience, we have no doubt that the service rating will increase. The service was one of the highlights of the stay, so it is very clear their training and upskilling are just the start of their transformation.
Paradise Island offers 2 main buffet restaurants and 3 a la carte restaurants. Guests on the all inclusive plan can only access the a la carte restaurant of their choice once per stay as part of that package.
Bageecha is the main buffet restaurant on Paradise Island. Of the two buffets, this was the better one. It offered a wide selection of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a large selection of fresh made-to-order stations. We found ourselves defaulting to Bageecha thanks to the assortment of fresh and healthier options. Each meal featured selections from many different cuisines, including middle eastern, American and Asian options. Their cocktails, wine and beer were good while their coffee was not particularly good. It’s also conveniently located next to the main pool.
The Lagoon Restaurant is the second buffet and is located along the overwater villa jetty and is only accessible to guests staying in the overwater bungalows. While the location and layout of this restaurant is beautiful, the food selections were far less varied and offered the same selections for all meals with little to no variation and was primarily Indian cuisine. We found it was great for a meal or two but was quickly repetitive. Their drinks were the same as Bageecha and were great with the exception of the coffee. We also found it odd that they never set up their outdoor tables and there are no umbrellas at the restaurant. Therefore, all guests had to be seated inside and it quickly filled up.
That aside, the service at this outlet was fantastic – the staff were so friendly and were very attentive. We do hope in the future that they vary their meals a bit as this is supposed to be the premiere buffet and perhaps offer a bar atmosphere at night with nice outdoor seating and some music as a great value-add for overwater bungalow guests.
Furumathi is one of the 3 a la carte restaurants and features a fresh seafood menu with Maldivian influences. This was by far our favorite restaurant on property and we came here twice. If you are on the all inclusive plan, this is the one to choose if you are allotted an a la carte meal. We loved the selection of fresh seafood and the wonderful atmosphere being at the far tip of the jetty.
Ristorante Al Tramonto
The Italian restaurant is a great choice for guests looking for a delicious pizza in a beautiful setting. Al Tramonto is located near the entry jetty and has a spectacular sunset view and lovely service. They recently updated the menu at the restaurant and we really enjoyed their pizza and the burrata dish. Be sure to book a table right around sunset for the best views, but they also do not have an umbrellas so expect to sit indoors until sunset.
The Teppanyaki restaurant is the only one we did not try as we prefer outdoor dining when we travel but this is the final a la carte option on property. This restaurant is located near the main lobby and offers an air conditioned reprieve from the heat.
There are a few bars on property as well for guests to enjoy. The main bar, Hulhangu, is the largest bar and is the site of all the nightly entertainment. The new cocktail menu on the property is fantastic and Hulhangu makes the best version of our favorite cocktail, the Thyme to Unwind. There is also a bar, Athiri, located next to the water sports center. The beverage menus across the outlets were the same so you can really decide where to go based on where you are on the resort and the mood you’re in.
Overall, the food was a bit inconsistent. Some of the outlets, like Furumathi, were fantastic, while others like the selection in the Lagoon restaurant fell short. We also felt it was an odd choice to only allow all-inclusive guests to access 1 a la carte restaurant during their stay as it led to the a la carte restaurants being virtually empty every night we went out. We hope with the renovation that they update their policies and allow guests to access these fantastic dining venues if they are on an all-inclusive plan to not only create a lively atmosphere at the restaurants, but also showcase their best food offerings to all their guests, especially those that spend significantly more for the all-inclusive plan.
Personally, we feel the a la carte option is stronger than the all-inclusive plan due to the limitations. We feel the price of that package add-on is too high and too restrictive compared to comparable properties in the area and what they offer all-inclusive guests. A la carte pricing is generally a better choice for those looking to experience the higher end restaurants at Paradise and not feel as restricted.
Paradise Island has a huge selection of amenities for guests to take advantage of, including a spa, fitness center, water sports center and more.
The spa was a wonderful experience and we had an excellent couples massage in a beautiful outdoor setting. Their prices were very reasonable compared to similarly priced properties and the masseuses were excellent. We loved the outdoor pavilions where the massages took place as you could hear nothing but the sound of the wind rustling the trees.
There are a number of excursions and activities guests can partake in as well. We had the opportunity to try out the semi-submarine adventure and it was a great option for guests who are not interested in snorkeling or scuba diving. They take you on a partially submerged submarine that drives out of the lagoon into the reef area for 30 minutes.
They also have excursions to sandbars and amazing snorkeling trips. We took part in a sandbar + turtle point snorkeling trip and it was fantastic. The boat was full, so it is clearly a very popular activity. It takes about 40 minutes to arrive at the sandbar and turtle area from the resort. We saw a number of beautiful turtles and fish. The guides did a great job helping those who were less comfortable in the water and the snorkeling equipment was high quality.
The watersports center has sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and even kitesurfing. We brought our own gear but it was amazing to experience kiteboarding on such a spectacular, flat lagoon protected from the open sea just outside the barriers.
Lastly, the hotel offers a number of complimentary activities by the pool, such as aqua aerobics and evening entertainment like fire dancers, magic shows and more.
In general, there was so much to do on property that there is no way the 5 days we spent was enough to experience it all. If one thing is true, it’s that you will not be bored here. One thing to note is that if you are sensitive to the sun, be aware that there are no umbrellas or shade structures on property so we would recommend keeping that in mind as you explore the property throughout your stay. We did end up going back to the room in the afternoons after getting a bit too much sun. We recommended to the management that they should absolutely purchase or build shade structures through this renovation as many guests were disappointed to not find shade at the main pool area.
With the hotel constantly adding new amenities and activities to the property, such as the brand new glass-edge pool, we are so excited to see the renovation complete.
There is one area that we do hope the hotel decides to change their practices and that’s around ray and shark feeding. Guests are invited to a nightly feeding activity, where the hotel feeds the marine life on the beach and on the pier. While this used to be a common practice in the Maldives, marine biologists have long since condemned this activity and most hotels have gotten rid of this activity since it’s purely for the guest enjoyment, rather than maintaining a stable and thriving marine environment. We urge guests on property to not attend such feedings as we hope that one day the hotel will do away with this practice as it is harmful to our very precious environment. For more information on why this practice should be avoided, check out this article.
Paradise Island Resort is mid-renovation to not only modernize, but uplevel its entire property. The areas that are updated are spectacular and if the pool area style and new rooms are indicative of what the rest of the property will look like, the style score will be a 5, no question.
We loved the sleek, comfortable furnishings on half of the pool deck and the brand new infinity edge, glass-front pool overlooking the lagoon. The style feels very clean and modern, yet gives you a distinct beach-chic vibe. There are bits and pieces of “new” scattered throughout the common areas and we look forward to experiencing the property when it’s complete.
Here’s an example of the old style:
Here’s an example of the new style:
Overall, Paradise Island is a solid choice for guests looking for a quick stopover from Malé and it truly has an incredible amount of potential. If you are looking to book this property, we would recommend booking the newly renovated Deluxe Beach Villas to experience the best of the property as it stands today.
The excellent service training, amazing new cocktail program and brand new common areas are the highlight of this resort and we look forward to experiencing it in all its glory upon its renovation.
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Villa Hotels on a media stay. Please know the opinions expressed are all our own and may not reflect the hotel’s own views.