For a small, quiet resort close to Male that is reasonably priced, Thulagiri is a good choice.
During the high season there is a huge bulge of fine beach on the northwest side, where the first numbered rooms are. It narrows somewhat during the low season as the sand moves around the roughly circular island to the eastern side. The last 15 rooms or so have a permanent low coral wall in front, with two small steps down to the water's edge.
Again typically for these islands the lagoon is ideal: gently sloping from the beach it is sandy bottomed, always deep enough for swimming and neither too near nor too far from the reef edge. There are coral patches towards the drop-off that will satisfy children and beginner snorkellers, though the house reef itself is variable, with parts that are bare of corals and other areas that are good.
The 55 beach rooms are sited fairly close together around three quarters of the circle, with the bar, restaurant and reception building, the water sports centre and the dive school taking up the rest of the perimeter. 17 water bungalows lie in an arc leading off from the reception and face south.
More or less half the beach rooms are connected in blocks of 3 and the rest are individual. Built in an irregular pattern with some in front and some behind, there may be preferences but there is always a view of the beach and sea and it is only a matter of a few steps. This irregularity and the lack of defined concrete pathways through the shady interior gives the place less of a resort and more of a village feel, which certainly adds to its charm.
Inside the thatched rooms it is spacious, clean and simple. Decorated in tones of green to light yellow with screwpine woven panels and thick bamboo furniture they are not high design but they are just fine for their setting. The bathroom is neatly tiled and has a good size shower with a powerful spray.
The interior of the water bungalows is more compact, with space taken up by the large bamboo armchairs and four-poster bed. French windows run around three sides of the room giving loads of light (though they can, of course, be curtained off). A wide veranda runs around two sides providing fine views and good privacy. Facing either south or west, guests are assured of plenty of private sunbathing.
It must be that guests do spend a lot of time lingering in and around their rooms, because despite there being a lot of rooms for the island's size it doesn't feel full or busy at all. The usual excursions are there but they are not too much in demand, and although the water sports centre is large and well-stocked it is mostly quiet. The dive school is a 5-star PADI instructor centre, but it is not one of the busiest around.
The mix of Germans, Swiss, Dutch and varied others seem to enjoy Thulagiri for its peace and quiet, a sort of village homely feel. Like the pet budgerigars that happily chirp and multiply, everyone seems to love it here.
Great food always helps, of course, and Thulagiri has long had a reputation for top class buffets. The resort is co-owned by the biggest supplier of fresh food to the resorts so you just have to add in good chefs and you are assured of fine dining.
Attached to the restaurant is the main bar (there is also a well-positioned sunset bar). Low comfy chairs on the sandy floor under a high thatched roof give the place an informal setting to suit the style of the resort. Every evening there is some soft entertainment and then it's off to bed early - except perhaps for the live band night.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville