Maldives resort reviews

Chaaya Island Dhonveli

Overall Rating
from 2 ratings
Rating criteria
Bar experience
House reef
Look and feel

Our Review

This resort has found a safe, new home with the Chaaya group. It has undergone enormous structural changes, similar to, but to a much lesser extent than, One and Only Reethi Rah.

And in the same way it will take a matter of years before the vegetation grows luxuriantly, the beach is made fine and the lagoon returns to crystal clarity.

It just so happens that this island has one of the best surf breaks in the country and is close by to one or two others. Run since its inception by Tony, an Australian married to a Maldivian, Atoll Adventures looks after an eclectic gathering of surfers, old and young, from around the world. The loose but bonded group hangs out at the corner of the island with the surf point. They have their own bar, their own timetable and rituals and are generally only glimpsed at mealtimes and in the bar. The surfing season is during the southwest monsoon, which is otherwise known as the low season.
It is planned that everyone will be on all-inclusive packages. Guests from the UK are set to be largest proportion of visitors, with sizeable minority of Italians doing their own thing. Their animation programmes will be soft rather than the full-on club style of previous years. Nonetheless this is a resort that would suit family fun and activities.
The animation team is the classic profile of bronzed, fit and enthusiastic young men and women whose job it is to tell people what's on, to run the events and to encourage participation. There is one wide and long beach on the island and that is ideal for getting together for aqua gym, fun and games, sunbathing and all the other ways of generally enjoying each other’s company.
The bad news is that the beach is far from the Maldivian ideal of sand as soft and fine as icing sugar. This is a man-made beach that is still gritty with coral pieces underfoot. In the water, it must be said, the sand is frequently ideal.
In the middle of the thin island is a large sunset bar, a sizeable peanut-shaped swimming pool with a huge wooden deck and hard court badminton and tennis courts. These are fine facilities to grace any 5-star but time is needed to bed them into vegetation - from coconut palms to potted flowers - for shade and beauty.
Being close to Male and the international airport and moving upmarket - its next-door neighbour is the Four Seasons - it is thought that a variety of room options is the way to go. There are 5 land room types and the water bungalows offer a few more.
The core of the room design is the same throughout: a thatched roof and light interior with dappled, white plastered walls, a good bathroom, a day bed, TV, hair dryer and safe. The differences are in location, size and details. 
The cheapest rooms are the Sunset Villas, which are in two-storey blocks and look out to the sunset but over a rocky or walled shoreline. The other rooms (bar the surfers’ Garden Villas) are on the other side of the island around the big beach, facing east or north.
Some Sunrise Cottages face north away from the sun and towards the water bungalows. Their floor is of stone effect tiles and they only have a single basin but these are nonetheless fine rooms. Other Sunrise Cottages face east like the Sunrise Villas and top end Vista Suites.
The Sunrise Villas have wooden floors and unusual carved wooden doors and furniture, giving them a somewhat Spanish feel. These are delightfully light and comfortable. The Vista Suites are a tour de force of 7 interconnecting circles on 2 floors. These are large and unquestionably beautiful rooms, with large, whimsical indoor/outdoor bathrooms.
The Water Bungalows are likely to have their own separate reception, restaurant and other facilities, like a premium resort within a resort. The rooms themselves though are somewhat disappointing with the extensive use of hardboard and their narrow lounge, although the deck space is generous.
Diving plays a small part in the resort life at present but there are many excellent sites in the neighbourhood and it will surely become more significant in the future. There is no snorkelling from the island but trips are taken to nearby reefs.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville

Reader Reviews

Reviewed January 13, 2012 - 01:08 Surf enthusiasts have been flocking to Chaaya Dhonveli for many years and it is not surprising that there are many repeat visitors to the resort.  Famed for its close...

Advice Forum Posts

January 27, 2012 - 18:53 - Neil Merrett
December 17, 2011 - 19:26 - Neil Merrett
1 Replies
November 16, 2011 - 17:45 - Neil Merrett
November 12, 2011 - 17:16 - Neil Merrett
October 27, 2011 - 16:32 - Volunteer Maldives
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Inhouse reviews by guidebook author Adrian Neville