Hotel Review: The Residence, Maldives

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The Residence Falhumaafushi is situated in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll in the south of the Maldives. A 45-minute domestic flight from Male and a boat ride will get you to the expansive island, connected via the longest bridge in the Maldives to its sister property, The Residence Dhigurah. We’d never traveled this far south in the Maldives and were excited to check out this beautiful property for Christmas. We’re going to break down each category, focused mainly on the Falhumaafushi property, but stay tuned to learn more about Dhigurah and how to pick the best property for your needs.

Location: 4.5/5

The Maldives is made up of 26 Atolls, or groupings of islands. The Resience Falhumaafushi and The Residence Dhigurah are positioned on the outer edge of the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, north of Gan and south of Male. The only way to get to the hotel is via a domestic flight transfer and boat ride. While many hotels in the Maldives work with Seaplane transfer companies, the majority of hotels in this atoll are reached by private or domestic flights only.

Both Residence hotels have beautiful blue water and views from shore, but it’s worth noting that the best beach at the hotel is located on “castaway island” between the two properties, accessible by buggy and bicycle.

Lobby & Check in experience: 3.5/5

When we look at Lobby and Check In in the Maldives, we take a slightly different approach. We look at the arrival experience as a whole. Due to the interesting nature of arriving to the hotel, arrival actually starts long before you step foot onto the property.

Upon arriving on an international flight, or if you transferring hotels and must travel back through Male, you’ll find the hotel representatives at the arrivals booth outside international arrivals. Hotels have their own booths where they facilitate moving guests to and from the property. We located The Residence booth quickly and were walked to the domestic terminal by the staff member.

Many 5-star hotels offer private lounges while guests wait for their transfers, which can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 4+ hours. The Residence does not have a private lounge, and rather, they utilize a large lounge along with a number of other properties. The lounge is nothing to write home about, but does offer food, coffee, water and soft drinks as well as a private restroom. We spent several hours in the lounge before our departure due to some flight delays, but finally a staff member from the resort picked us up from the lounge and took us to the departures area to await our flight.

Upon arriving at the Kooddoo airport, we picked up our luggage and then met a different Residence staff member waiting amongst the other hotel pickups. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the airport is only about 250 feet from the boat dock on the other side. We all had to pile into a big bus, wait for the staff to load up the luggage in a different car and then be driven about 35 seconds to the boat dock. From there, it was a bit of a disorganized mess trying to figure out which boat to get on and if we had to grab our luggage or not. We ended up getting on a boat, but we weren’t sure if it was going to the Falhumaafushi property of the Dhigurah property. Turns out, we were all going to the Falhumaafushi and the guests from the other hotel were brought over on golf carts. We were provided watermelon juice on the boat, but they did not have water, cold towels to beat the heat or information regarding the check-in process.

Once we got to land, the process was much smoother. We were brought to the lobby after arriving at the dock and handed bellinis and a nice seat with a view. From there, we met our butler, Francis, and were headed to our Pool Water Villa!

Rooms: 4.5/5

At The Residence, there are two different locations that you may end up in when booking the Pool Water Villas. We were in a Water Pool Villa facing into the Atoll, with beautiful views of the thousands of shades of blue.

The villas at The Residence Falhumaafushi are stunning and larger than most accommodations in the Maldives. At Just over 1,650 square feet with the pool and balcony, the Water Pool Villas provide so much space or guests to enjoy. We were blown away by the spacious living room, large bedroom and beautiful bathroom, complete with a bathtub overlooking the atoll. There is a large balcony with a private pool that extends across the entire suite, providing a spectacular view from every room. Our favorite feature of the suite was the architecture. There are so many stunning corners, wood accents and symmetrical angles.

The main air conditioning unit lives in the bedroom, and while the living room is not air conditioned, you can leave the door open between the bedroom and living room to cool it down (this worked great for us). The living room has a small bar area that contains a Nespresso, complimentary water and tea.

The bedroom has two closets with comfortable robes and slippers as well as a delicious king bed with a perfect view. There is TV in the bedroom, but we never turned it on!

The bathroom has an indoor and outdoor shower, free standing tub and double vanity. The bathroom is my favorite room in the Suite due to its size, beautiful woodwork and light furnishings.

The pool on the balcony is a great feature to cool off and seemed to be the perfect temperature. We did feel the furnishings on the balcony were a bit sparse, as we would have loved to have a meal on our patio, however, there isn’t a table and chairs outside. We would have liked to see a little breakfast set outside to enjoy our morning coffee.

Overall, the suites are stunning. The rooms all feature similar amenities and layouts, so you cannot go wrong either way. We would book a Water Pool Villa here again due to the privacy and size of the suite. We do hope they add in some additional furnishings to round out the space.

Service: 4/5

The service at The Residence was overall wonderful. Staff members were so sweet, genuinely wanted to get to know you and were willing to help you with anything you needed. By day 2, the breakfast staff knew exactly who we were and where we liked to sit at the buffet (in the sand!).

Our butler, Francis, seemed to appear every time we even thought about him and was always around to help. The butlers are there to assist with reservations, activities and bring you any items you need. We connected with Francis on WhatsApp, because we preferred to text him, rather than rely on the in-room phone. We highly recommend this method of communication. Note that the hotel doesn’t immediately offer WhatsApp as an option, but we asked Francis if it was ok and he was very happy to oblige.

Many of the staff members on property are from the surrounding areas and have never worked anywhere else! They were so knowledgable about the area, sea life and the hotel. Since many of the staff members have never received formal training outside the hotel, some guests remarked that the service was a bit slow or a bit casual for a five star hotel. We did find this to be true, as drink service was typically very slow.

Dining: 4/5

We were on a Half Board package at The Residence, which includes Breakfast and Dinner (along with soft drinks and water). One thing to keep in mind if you book a dining package at any hotel is that you should check to make sure the package includes what you need. Often, meal locations will be restricted on packages like Half Board or Full Board and will be limited to one or two restaurants. At The Residence, all meals were restricted to the main buffet restaurant. There are 6 restaurants across the Falhumaafushi and Dhigurah properties. While we were fine with this, it would have been nice to try some of the other restaurants and if you do stay for more than a few nights, it can get very repetitive.

Breakfast was by far our favorite meal of the day and we were in love with the Maldivian style breakfast offerings. They did serve everything from western, Indian, Maldivian, Korean and Chinese cuisines.

We had the chance to attend the Christmas party, hosted at the larger Dhigurah property, which featured a huge spread of delicious food and the largest selection of desserts I’ve ever seen.

Each week, the hotel hosts a Management Cocktail Party on the Castaway island, open to guests at both properties. It’s a fun chance to enjoy complimentary cocktails with other guests on a beautiful beach. One thing we can say is that the cocktails throughout our stay were exceptional!

Overall, the food was good and they did have different themes each night. There were a variety of options for both vegetarians and meat-eaters with a tremendous range of dishes each day. Our favorite “themes” were the Indian/Maldivian cuisine. The buffet had a number of chefs cooking up made-to-order dishes in the traditional method. We wish we had been able to try the other restaurants, as we did find the food to be a bit repetitive.

Facilities: 5/5

Between the two properties, there is quite literally double of everything you need for the perfect vacation in the Maldives. The Spa by Clarins was a real treat to experience, with the overwater spa suites and relaxing massage offerings. Their prices at the spa were very reasonable and I wish I could have gotten another treatment!

The fitness centers on both sides of the islands were more than sufficient for a good workout. Bikes are also allocated to all guests, which is the best way to get around the island. It is a blast to explore the nooks and crannies of the two islands by bike.

If biking is not your thing, there are buggy stops along the two islands that will take you wherever you wish to go.

Snorkeling gear is complimentary for the duration of your stay and we highly recommend exploring the beautiful reef along the overwater bungalows.

The hotel hosts a number of events throughout the week, such as themed dinners and movie nights on the beach. We did make it to the movie night on our last night, and the setup was very cool.

The property also offers a number of paid excursions and we were able to take part in the Sunset Dolphin cruise – it was incredible! While of course the wild dolphins are not guaranteed, we saw dolphins before even leaving the dock! Throughout the two hours, we saw hundreds of dolphins around our boat and it was such a treat! On the return ride, you receive a complimentary glass of sparkling wine to enjoy with the sunset. It was such a cool experience and we highly recommend this excursion.

Style: 4/5

The style of the rooms and the public spaces on property was a Maldivian-chic vibe that we love. The furnishings all felt very thoughtful and custom for the property. The furniture also matched throughout the property, which is super important in terms of consistency.

We did feel the decor in the restaurant could have used some elevation in style. The placemats each night were a bit tacky. They were plastic and usually had a photo or cartoon on them, depending on the theme. They also had strung decorations for each theme around the restaurant and they also were a bit tacky.

Overall, we felt like the style could have been slightly elevated to match the incredible richness of the Maldivian furnishings around property. It seems the restaurant decor was a bit of an afterthought.

Overall: 4.2

Overall, we loved our experience at The Residence Falhumaafushi. The suites are such an incredible size and the private pool really elevates the experience. We loved the option to bike around the two islands, over the spectacular bridge that connects them. While there were slight adjustments the property could make to elevate the experience to be 5 stars, we would not hesitate to come back if we were in the Atoll again.

Considerations for each property: Falhumaafushi versus Dhigurah

If you are considering either of The Residence properties, here’s what we recommend:
At Dhigurah:

  • Book a Beach Villa for the optimal experience. There is not a great beachfront at the Dhigurah property that is publicly accessible and the only way to guarantee a great beach is to book a Beach Villa. If a beach is important to you, take this into account

At Falhumaafushi:

  • Book a Water Pool Villa for the optimal experience. The Water Pool Villas are incredibly unique with their expansive size and unique experience being over water. There are a number of publicly accessible beaches around property to explore, and therefore we feel the Water Pool Villa is a worthy upgrade.

You cannot go wrong with either properties, but we prefer the Falhumaafushi for a few reasons. The hotel is much smaller than Dhigurah, so it feels more intimate and boutique-y. There seem to be more adults on the Falhumaafushi side and Dhigurah caters a bit more to families. The two hotels have virtually the same facilities, so I would recommend selecting your property based on the room type you’re able to get in your budget.

Disclaimer: We were hosted by The Residence Maldives. The opinions expressed do not represent the hotel’s opinions.

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