Through ill luck of one sort and another Ranveli has fallen on hard times. A once thriving all-Italian club resort is now struggling to get back to its former occupancy and good looks.
The Italian holiday company went bankrupt, other financial issues made matters worse and a new Maldivian management took over a bad situation. Maintenance all around has suffered and sadly the beach, which was never extensive, has continued to erode.
The good news is another resort is now open to every nationality (amongst the biggest spread of nationalities of any resort) and at a very good price. New developments are steadily taking place and a positive local management should be able to re-establish its reputation.
The layout of the resort is very simple. Two rows of two-storey rooms run down the middle of the thin island. At one end is the service area; at the other is a tongue of sand. The straight interior path is prettily dressed with flowers, arches of bougainvillea and shrubs. One enters the rooms from here and glass sliding doors open out to the other side, which for a lucky few is the beach but for many is only space enough for a sun lounger before the water's edge or a supporting wall.
The main, indeed the only, beach is a bulge of sand on the south side, which runs into a tongue of sand drifting into the lagoon. It's all lovely and fine underfoot but only Italian guests really enjoy being all together on the beach every day. And this is no longer an Italian resort, although remnants do linger. The chefs still turn out Italian dishes and man a live pasta station twice a day.
The biggest reminder is the nineteenth-century style pier pavilion that stretches out over the water. Its large rooms and corridors are decorated with painted glass panels, pastel floral cutouts, arched fanlights and leaded chandeliers. Where once preprandial drinks, music and group dancing sessions filled out the building, extending after dinner to a nightly cabaret, the place now has the echo of an old seaside pavilion out of season. But this is Maldives and it might already have found a new life and purpose.
The rooms themselves are in very good order. Decorated in ivory and tans with simple, quality fixtures and fittings they look classy and feel good. The bathrooms have a large bath, a good shower and a marble basin top. There's also a side area for the wardrobe, dressing table, mirror and minibar.
Some people prefer upstairs rooms for their extra privacy and views, but most people don't and so there are probably too many rooms for the island's size.
This area of South Ari Atoll has many well loved dive sites, which is a big plus for potential divers, and for snorkellers the reef drop-off is as close as any resort in the country (the neighbours Vilamendhoo and Lily Beach have similar distances). The quality of the snorkelling is okay but coral regrowth has been slow, perhaps due to the vertical wall and the prevailing fast-moving current.
Ranveli then is a resort in the process of getting back to its best, of redefining itself for future success.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville