Olhuveli is a modern resort with a mix of everything. It is an active place with varied facilities and evening entertainment, but it is also possible to enjoy a quiet holiday if you take one of the more distant water bungalows.
There are 2 sets of water bungalows off the island, and the more expensive the rooms the further away they are from the busy centre. 2 Presidential Suites sit proudly at the tip of the jetty at one end of the island. Alongside them are the five Honeymoon Water Villas. The remainder of the oval-shaped jetty is lined with 32 Jacuzzi Water Villas. The second water bungalow jetty extends from the middle of the island and holds the 21 Deluxe Water Villas.
The Honeymoon Villas are almost apartments, with a 'cloakroom' by the entrance and a separate sitting room. Their deck is very large and has not only a proper jacuzzi but also a steam and massage shower cubicle. The jacuzzis of the Jacuzzi Water Villas are bathtubs with nozzles but their position on the deck is excellent, especially for those on the west side. They look out to the nearby sandbank and away to distant islands. Inside, they boast marble floor tiles, blue and gold upholstery and swagged curtains, more than enough dark wood furniture and a stylish bathroom with twin beaten metal washbasins.
The Deluxe Water Villas are simpler but no less attractive for that, especially with their muslin draped four-poster beds. The deck has good privacy and is large enough for 2 cushioned loungers and chairs. The views are less good, though, with one side looking out to a man-made 'peninsula' and sandbank and the other side looking over to the other water bungalow jetty. That is, except for the rooms at the tip, which have unimpeded views out to sea.
The land rooms come in two categories: Luxury Beach Villas (8) and Deluxe Beach Villas (96). The Luxury Beach Villas are individual and private, with their own quiet area of beach. They have a large inside/outside bathroom that is very pleasant, even though the empty pergola at the end is redundant. The main drawback is their positioning near the main bar. The fun and music, usually placed outside, can go on till late into the night.
The Deluxe Beach Villas come in blocks of 4, two up and two down. 3 blocks (12 rooms) have an interconnecting door for families. They are the smallest rooms on the island but smartly decorated and well maintained. All of them are just a couple of steps away from the beach. For these rooms the nearer the centre of the island the better. One reason is that the island and the beach are less attractive towards the staff area end and the other reason is guests will be nearer all the activity centres. That is important in this case because most of these rooms are taken by the Italian clientele.
Around half the guests are Italian and the other half a mix of German, British and Japanese. The Italian guests come with Azemar and enjoy their own sort of holiday. Of the two swimming pools, they gather around the bigger one with a children's pool, daily aqua aerobics and a large beach. Here too is a gym, a poolroom, a karaoke lounge and the doctor's clinic.
The excursions, as usual, are particularly popular with the Italians and the nightly musical entertainment in the main bar is a regular gathering. A huge deck between the bar and the lagoon allows everyone to sit where they feel comfortable. Saturday night is Maldivian Night, which is as good a cultural night as there is on any resort. Compèred in Italian and English it covers many aspects of local traditional life interspersed with everyone dancing to the bodu beru drums.
The resort still has a new feel to it and while the landscape is still growing in, the facilities are all smart and impressive. The pool table and gym have their own rooms and so do table tennis and darts, which are next door to the floodlit tennis and badminton courts. The water sports centre is comprehensive and up-to-date. With the majority of guests on all-inclusive packages, however, they find it a bit disappointing that everything has a charge.
The lagoon is good for water sports, being large, quite shallow and sandy bottomed. At low tide it is only about knee-deep but there are large channels dug into it that are always good for swimming. Snorkelling happens either side of the main jetty for about 500 metres in total. The reef is not good but the fish life is fine. There is a weekly snorkelling safari to 3 excellent reefs.
The spa is large and Chinese in concept but the therapists are Indonesian, Thai and Indian. It also has 2 rooms for hair and beauty treatments.
Olhuveli is well priced for what it has to offer and it will surely get better in the coming years.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville