June 17, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Having spent most of my life in New Zealand, I’ve experienced many resorts islands in the South Pacific and French Polynesia. Bora Bora, Rarotonga, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu – you name it, if it has a lagoon and a palm tree or two, I’ve been there. The charm of these properties lies in their natural beauty, laid-back island style and ability to showcase an authentic aspect of their location. Being one of the earlier properties built in the now resort-dense Maldives, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu reflects this same ethos, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy unspoilt Maldivian surroundings in a relaxed way. You might say it’s the perfect antidote to hectic city living.
It’s a resort that cares about and is very much connected with nature, and given the picturesque island the resort inhabits, I can understand why protecting the region’s natural beauty is of much importance to Coco Palm. Their eco-friendly ways are evident from the moment you arrive – there are no buggies here shuttling pampered guests to and fro, instead you’ll be navigating this compact island just how nature intended – on foot (hey, it burns a few extra calories too). You won’t find bottled water or individually packaged toiletries here – instead, glass bottles of water are refilled daily and handmade ceramic bottles house the bathroom essentials. It’s nice to see this respect for mother nature in an ecosystem as fragile as the Maldives.
I explored the resort’s top room category, the Sunset Lagoon Villa (of which there are just two), but there are many room types available to suit all budgets across the beach and water villa categories. I’ve seen some fantastic rates available on beach villas during low season – a great option for first time Maldives travellers or those wanting to stretch their travel dollar further whilst taking in the resort playground of the rich and famous.
A plus of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is that you’re not paying for the extensive infrastructure of some of the modern Maldivian properties – it’s all about nature here. If you want exercise, there’s plenty of opportunity – exploring nearby islands, snorkelling or kiteboarding. You won’t find many TVs, but there’s plenty to watch under the sea to keep you entertained (and a porthole at the bottom of our plunge pool gave us a direct view!). It’s a make-your-own-fun type of place, and there are plenty of ways to do so.
Take a video tour…
Budget in some expenditure for watersports and excursions and special activities – there are plenty of options. Why not start your day with a champagne breakfast served on the deck of your villa, or perhaps early morning dolphin watching? We thoroughly enjoyed both! Continue your day in paradise with a snorkelling excursion, lunch on a sandbank, a picnic on a private island (you can even overnight in total seclusion if you wish)…the options are numerous. Work out those muscles with some watersports then unwind with an afternoon at the gorgeous spa…let’s just say you won’t be bored at Coco Palm (unless a whole lot of doing nothing is exactly what you’re aiming for – there ain’t nothing wrong with that).
Thai food is the speciality here, and I wholeheartedly recommend you explore all of the dishes on offer. I consider myself somewhat of a Thai food connoisseur, and I was very impressed with Coco Palm’s offerings. Their Pad Thai was an absolute knockout, and they certainly know how to craft a scrumptious curry. Like a lot of resorts, the sweet side of things isn’t really a strength here, but there’s plenty on offer at the daily buffet breakfast that should keep most guests’ sweet tooth sated.
Speaking of the breakfast, I particularly enjoyed the Maldivian curries on offer as I’m a bit of a savoury fiend. That being said, the pastries were absolutely spot on – their coconut croissants and Nutella donuts aren’t a bad way to start a day in paradise. Delving further into the sweeter side of things, I don’t think I’ve tasted a more exquisite waffle than the freshly cooked, crisp on the outside, soft and squishy on the inside version that we enjoyed at Coco Palm.
Most packages at Coco Palm come with half board or are fully inclusive – but should you choose to stay room only, the food is very affordable, a welcome respite in an ocean of exorbitantly priced Maldivian dining options. When your only options are on the island you’re staying on, it’s nice to not be held to ransom by ridiculously high prices. I was impressed to see a glass of prosecco listed at just $9 USD (plus 22% tax) which is darn good for these parts. Dining at Coco Palm will set you back less than a regular meal in Dubai thankfully.
Conch Bar is the place to head to for a beverage or two, with gorgeous postcard-style island views – you can even dine and imbibe right on the beach if you wish (or play some table tennis if you’re game). I thoroughly enjoyed their house Prosecco and Chardonnay selections, and their Mojito simply can’t be beaten – it’s really the best I’ve had in a long, long time. The wine selection on the island offers just the right amount of choice, and I was impressed with the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay and fab Australian Viognier we enjoyed. Their Espresso Martini also is seriously impressive, and I was happy to see they didn’t bother with any of that three-espresso-bean-garnish nonsense.
Our Sunset Lagoon Villa was immensely spacious, clocking in at 186sqm. A large lounge, desk area, separate bedroom and bathroom equipped with a double vanity and jacuzzi will ensure you have all the creature comforts one needs when escaping to a far-flung island (the shower was delightfully soft also). Add to that a very large deck with dining area, loungers and a generous plunge pool and let’s just say you won’t have to try too hard to unwind. These villas also offer a lovely vista, looking across to Embudhoo, the private island on which you can lunch or stay that I mentioned earlier. The only drawback for me was the bed, it’s extremely hard and sadly was not compatible at all with my troublesome back (and the pillows too big). If you love a super firm bed however, you’re in luck. These Sunset Lagoon Villas (we stayed in 101) are also a top pick for those who want ultimate privacy.
The wifi connectivity is of a great standard – we managed to stream live America’s Cup racing in our villa with no issues. But that’s where the modcons stop here, you’ll have to open your curtains and turn on your lights the old school way. As with the majority of hotel’s in-room speakers the connector is the outdated iPhone 4 version, but take an AUX cable and you can plug into the stereo – problem solved. A Nespresso machine ensures you’ll always have decent coffee at the ready and there’s a small selection of spirits and wine in the mini bar.
Whilst the overwater villa is the typical way to enjoy the Maldives, there are plenty of land-side options at Coco Palm that offer fantastic value for those wanting to get the most bang for their buck.
What probably leaves the biggest impression, however, is the staff – the team really feels like a family at Coco Palm. Even the island’s new GM, Irish import Brendan, already feels like part of the furniture at Coco Palm. Many of the staff have been with Coco Palm or the Coco Resorts group for their entire careers, or the entire lifespan of the properties. It’s a happy, welcoming team that goes a long way to creating a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere at Coco Palm.
Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is a fantastic choice for holiday makers who want a resort that feels like the way the Maldives used to be, when it was more about nature, beaches and ocean wildlife than state of the art fitness centres. Take a good book, put your feet up, and let the Maldives entertain you.