Vilamendhoo has a few key things going for it. It has unmatched access to snorkeling and house reef diving, all the rooms are near the water's edge, the food is good and the overall price is very reasonable.
The east-west lay of the island, with channels to the north and south, means you get bulges of sand on the tips but it is difficult to keep beach along the sides. And as it is no longer acceptable for the bulges of sand to shift from one season to the other, there are now a considerable number of land walls and lagoon walls, variously visible and disjointed. The upside is there has been no pumping of sand from the lagoon (there isn't anywhere to pump it from) and so the beaches are of a lovely quality.
The 10 Deluxe Rooms are located at the two tips, and so enjoy the best of the beaches. Around the rest of the island run the 131 Superior Rooms. Location is the only real difference between the two categories (tea and coffee, hair dryer, a bathtub but no stand-alone shower). There are also 13 Standard Rooms in the interior.
The public buildings are tight and angular. They are somewhat dark without open sides and only the sunset bar has sand on the floor - all the other places being tiled. It's a bit of a giveaway that guests are mostly seen on deck chairs outside the bars and TV lounge.
Germans make up something over half the guests here, with British around a third and the remainder being mostly French and Italians. It is noticeable that there is a full spread of ages, from retirees to children (of whom there are more in the high season). Around three quarters of the guests are on all-inclusive but that has not meant a reduction in the quality of the cuisine. On the contrary, the food on Vilamendhoo has improved dramatically and is now excellent for this level of resort. This always goes a long way to keeping people happy.
For Maldives, another key to keeping guests happy is good diving and accessible snorkelling and for that Vilamendhoo scores very highly. This resort has probably the shortest distance between the rooms and the reef of any in the country. And with 10 cuts through to the drop-off it is wonderfully accessible. (One should also be mindful that the cuts through are a compromise with the reef and the beach).
Apart from day and night house reef diving, the quality of sites in this area is still superb. This is the most renowned area for diving in Ari Atoll. Although the dive school is well set up for new courses, the sites in general are for advanced divers, with many Werner Lau devotees coming back year after year. In the high season the visibility is excellent and the pelagic fish-life top class around the channel thilas. The current, though, is sometimes strong to very strong. In the off season the current is weaker and visibility less good but then the dives head out to the south and west of the atoll to see the mantas and whale sharks.
The ownership dispute that held back Vilamendhoo and Eriyadu is now long settled, so the two resorts should be back running perfectly again. Vilamendhoo always remained popular and so retained a high occupancy. For price, food, snorkelling and diving one can easily see why.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville