Where once Reethi Beach was a fine island but an ordinary resort, today it is a superb all-round resort, outstanding value for money and still a great island.
A really good man at the top turned the feel of the place around. The staff of men and women, Maldivian and European, convey a sense of happiness and willingness that enthuses the guests.
The look too has been renovated to great effect. A modern comfortable chic, echoing the style of its neighbour Soneva Fushi, gives a tingle of privilege. Tasteful wooden furniture backs a vitalising colour scheme taken from the flower of a native tree: yellow on the bow turning to orange with a deep red when on the floor.
The natural look and feel blend perfectly with the nature of the island. This is one of the resort islands most blessed by nature and, as reflected in the Green Award granted by Kuoni, Reethi Beach is committed to keeping it as undisturbed as possible.
Not only have the 4,000 plus trees been protected and never sprayed but also the beach still remains without a single groyne or wall. Furthermore, there hasn't been any pumping of sand onto the beach, so the quality remains perfect and the reef hasn't suffered from run-off.
There is an excellent beach all the way down the west side, where the Reethi Villas are, and an even wider bulge of fine sand at the southern end, where the Deluxe Villas are. At the other end is a smaller bulge behind the semicircle of water bungalows. This is an uncommon bonus for water bungalow guests, particularly as there are plenty of thatched umbrellas and a hut bar open all day.
On the other hand it is fortunate the beach is nearby as only the rooms at the ends of the semicircle catch the sun, the others face north. The balconies are a bit small and there are no steps down to the water (they are on the walkway) but the view is splendid – spotless and serene.
Inside, the water bungalows are more spacious than most and nicely put together. On the parquet style floor stands a large double bed and a long sofa that could double as another bed. There is a CD player as well as satellite television, a kettle for tea and coffee, a safe, minibar and hair dryer.
The island rooms are, in my opinion, slightly better as they are equally well furnished, they all have clear views to the sea and are just a few steps from a fine beach and good snorkelling. Aside from the larger beach, the Deluxe Villas have extra space plus a bathtub inside and a swing joli outside.
Reethi Beach is what you might call quietly active. The general air is tranquil and unhurried but there are far more options for action here than on most resorts. Two tennis courts abut the indoor sports complex that has two squash courts, two badminton courts and a gym. Staff members give inexpensive lessons and are available to play against you. The complex opens out to a small swimming pool with loungers and umbrellas. In a room off the main bar you can continue with table tennis and table football and round by the beach bar you can join in the daily beach volleyball game.
The water sports centre, with its prominent position on the beach, is active and very well stocked. This is one of the few places you can try out kitesurfing, for example. Sailing or windsurfing trips can have one of several nearby sandbanks and desert islands as a destination. The resort looks after 4 desert islands that are also used for one-couple-only Robinson Crusoe picnics.
Not that you would need an excuse but if all the activity put a strain on your body, you could repair to the Coconut Spa. Nothing much to look at maybe but all reports are that the Balinese therapists are superb and the prices, as everywhere here, are very reasonable.
The cuisine in all the outlets is remarkably good, which is especially unusual as up to 50% of the guests here are on all-inclusive deals. The main restaurant offers such variety that the lunch buffet is different every day for a fortnight. It also gives such quality that, for example, the parmesan cheese is an original block from Parmesan, freshly grated. Having said all that, it is the specialist restaurants that show the real flair and enjoyment of the chefs. Argentina Night at the grill and any night at the overwater Moodhu Restaurant are holiday highlights.
Another highlight for many will be the diving. Around a third of the Brits, Germans, Swiss and Austrians who come here go diving and that's as high as anywhere. With only a few inactive resorts in the atoll the many sites are still fresh and relatively unvisited. The dive team, under the experienced Angelo, run a great centre organising up to four dives a day, including the house reef diving. Many of the sites (including the house reef) are illustrated in their terrific souvenir logbook.
All in all Reethi Beach is now one of the very best resorts in the middle bracket.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville