Back in 2017 when we visited the Maldives for the first time, we thought it was going to be a once in a lifetime trip. Turns out, if you plan accordingly, you can visit again (and hopefully again after that!).
Five years later, while celebrating our anniversary, we visited Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa. Below is my review of this Maldivian paradise resort!
Getting to Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
Getting to Malé
Like our first trip to the Maldives in 2017, this trip was just as long. It involved multiple flights, multiple modes of transport, and many hours of total travel (including a 14 and a half hour flight). However, unlike 2017, this time we knew what was waiting for us.
Our overall journey started at Tampa International Airport from where we flew just an hour to Miami International Airport to start. From Miami, we flew business class to Dubai. From Dubai we had a 4hr flight to Malé, Maldives. It was a pleasure to see that Velana International Airport is expanding and undergoing a major transformation to help accommodate the influx of tourists that now frequent the island paradise. A new sea plane terminal recently opened; a new runway is built and will be used soon; and lastly a new passenger terminal is being built.
The new sea plane terminal, new runway and new passenger terminal images (all rights reserved for image owners):
Getting to Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
Getting through customs was a breeze and only took about 20 minutes. Once we walked out, an Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa representative greeted us, took our bags and walked us to a bus waiting to take us to the sea plane terminal and lounge area.
After using a refresh hot towel, we were able to finally relax a bit on some decent lounge chairs, get a drink, connect to public Wi-Fi, etc. There was a small area to get food, but we were more excited about the next leg of our journey which was the sea plane transfer.
I had never been on a sea plane before and although it was loud (don’t worry, you can ask for ear plugs which I recommend!) and hot, it was quite the awesome experience. I think I prefer the sea plane over the multiple regional flights we had to take to get to Amari Havodda in 2017 although I did enjoy the boat transfers that time.
So, if you were counting, that is four flights to get to our resort and the same to get back. The sea plane transfer was $1,300 USD for two people, and we paid it on site at the resort when we arrived. It seems the farther you go from Male, the more expensive the transfers get. The entire trip took was around 28hrs (guesstimating on layovers since we had originally planned for two and half days in Dubai), but we’re finally at the resort! Let’s dig into the real details of this island paradise, shall we?
Checking In at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
We arrived at our resort at around 9AM local time. Members of the staff welcomed us with hot towels. They greeted us with a musical drum showcase. From there we met Areef, our resort liaison. Areef then took us around the island loop road and showed us all of the main points of interest of the island and we finished up at the reception hall. The whole check-in process took around 15 minutes and simply consisted of us confirming our details and paying for the sea plane transfer, since the main reservation was already pre-paid a few days prior to our arrival. We arrived a little early and our Water Villa was not quite ready, so Areef took us to Aqua, the main restaurant, for breakfast. All communication is done via WhatsApp.
Our reservation was for ten nights and as a result we were given free Dolphin Cruise and Fishing excursions. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great on the days that we went out, so we didn’t see any dolphins and only two people on our boat caught fish (not us sadly).
The Water Villa at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
We had reserved the Water Villa for this trip. Emerald Maldives does not designate Water Villas by sunrise or sunset, but generally speaking the Water Villas without Pools face north (and are odd numbered) and the Water Villas with Pools south (and are even numbered). There are two Superior Water Villas with Pools towards the end of the jetty that somewhat face west (but mostly face north or south too) which could lend to some view of the sunset. The only Villa that has a beautiful view of amazing sunsets is the Presidential Water Villa which is at the very end of the jetty facing almost directly west.
Each villa comes equipped with an appropriate number (and size) of bicycles to be used for traveling around the island (in our case two but others had 4 or 5 including children’s sizes). Admittedly though, riding a bike along the jetty can sometimes be an anxiety inducing event when you have to navigate the narrow path while other bicycle riders or staff buggies/golf carts are going the other way. Luckily, if biking is not your thing, you can simply ask the staff (or call reception by dialing 0) to request buggy service which is free. The bikes ride pretty well, although I did suffer a rear tire explosion on mine about halfway into our trip. The staff replaced it and I kept using it the rest of the trip.
The rooms themselves are well appointed, very clean, with comfortable beds and pillows and contain amenities like bathrobes, slippers, flip flops/slides, a safe for your belongings, etc. The floors in the bathroom are a beautiful tile and the shower consists of beautiful rainbow-like tile which shimmers in a multitude of colors. The tub is very large and can fit two normal sized people relatively easily. The rooms also came equipped with large orange life jackets should you want to use them off the deck. Additionally, each room during our stay came with a small COVID prevention kit (a blue Emerald large mask, pink Emerald medium mask and some hand sanitizer).
The swimming and snorkeling off the deck of our water villa was a bit of a challenge due to lack of water shoes and the number of corals. Unfortunately, we did not get to enjoy the water outside of our villa that much and spent most of our time in the lagoon by the pool or in the pool itself. For those who are well prepared, the snorkeling is likely to be quite good at the house reefs need the water villas.
Our villa attendant Jambe did a great job every day, providing us with informational paper sheets that provided us with the weather outlook for the next couple of days, activities at the resort and overall information on the happenings at the resort. He also did an amazing job on the flower bed arrangements for our anniversary and my wife’s birthday, including the tub. Thank you, Jambe!
Our most favorite buggy driver was Nappe. What an awesome man and representative of the Maldives. He always made time to chat with us and made recommendations for the best snorkeling on the island, etc. What’s more is that he made Victoria an AMAZING bouquet of flowers for her birthday from the local flowers on the island (it is a shame we could not take it with us). Thank you, Nappe!
The Pool & Beach Area at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
The pool area at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa was amazing and considerably better than the one at Amari Havodda due to the clearer water (Amari water was murky). It was great that the water didn’t have an overpowering smell of chlorine. We were timely enough to always get one of the covered cabana’s which had a large mattress and a bit more privacy by way of space on all sides. The views of the lagoon from said cabanas or from the infinity pool were exactly what you would imagine in the Maldives.
Not far from the pool was a hammock from which you could also enjoy the beautiful area. To the left of the pool area was the Beach Club Grill where you could have lunch or dinner (reservations required for lunch before 3PM and for dinner). To the right of the pool area was the Sunset Cafe which has a bar inside as well as some activities like billiards, etc.
The beach itself was a bit more disappointing than we anticipated. We remembered Amari Havodda’s beach being much nicer (and even the beaches in our home state of Florida). Unfortunately, most parts had a lot of small shells and corals so walking on it was sometimes a challenge. Most of the lagoon and immediate water also had a lot of corals. I highly recommend water shoes as it would make the area much more enjoyable. Pro-Tip: there is one area between two house reefs right of the lagoon that had virtually no shells or corals. We did not spend a lot of time at other beach areas of the island (Sunrise Cafe area).
The manmade house reefs did have a decent number of fish hanging around so snorkeling was pretty enjoyable. However, the waves were quite strong a few days due to the start of the monsoon season may impact snorkeling. Maldives monsoon season runs from May to November.
The Property & Amenities at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa is situated on a relatively small island, compared to others we researched. You could do a full loop of the beach in under an hour or so on the provided bicycles. The island is well maintained with staff ever present. There was construction going on near the jetty with the water villas, but it did not interfere with our stay.
The spa on the island is wonderful and has many benefits. It includes a jacuzzi as well as a sauna in addition to the typical spa treatments you would expect. We ended up having two couples Balinese massages and it was a wonderful experience. The staff, just like everywhere on the island, was very kind and customer service focused.
If you forgot something at home, there are boutiques on the island where you can purchase a variety of items. There are also shops for water sports, excursions and photo sessions, each with their respective prices. The water sports shop in front of Sunset Cafe does provide snorkeling equipment free of charge. All excursions meet at the dive center and then proceed to the arrival/departure jetty for transport.
For those who like sports, there is a sports complex on the island as well as a 24hr gym. I forget about exercise when vacationing, so I only exercised my eyes while I drove by it on my bicycle.
The only thing we were kind of surprised about is the pricing of the laundry service. Some of the items were priced extremely high, such as $8 USD for a single t-shirt. I would have much preferred self-service laundry facilities for a fraction of that price.
Dolphin Kids Club
For the parents with children aged 3 to 14, there is a dedicated area called the Dolphin Kids Club. The club has lots of books, drawing materials, and video game consoles. It also has an outdoor play area with water, climbing, etc. This can keep children occupied for hours while the parents visit the spa, etc.
The Club is staffed by multi-lingual staff who speak a few different languages such as English, Russian, etc.
The daily activities at the Dolphin Kids Club vary depending on the day. For example (but not limited too):
Mondays – Recycle Crafts, Stone Painting, Crab Hunting
Tuesdays – Twister, Pool Splash & Water Park Fun, Sandcastle Building
Wednesdays – Origami Flowers, Stone Bracelets, Movie & Popcorn in the evening
Thursdays – Mini Aquarium, Scavenger Hunt, Face Painting
Fridays – Seashell Art, Hair Braiding, Lip Sync Battle
Saturdays – Leaf Art, Cup Cake Baking, Kids Futsal
Sundays – Mini Pinata, Coconut Shell Painting, Kid’s Basketball
So, parents can rest easy knowing their kids are well occupied and not glued to electronics.
Dining at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
One of the best things about all-inclusive meal plans is that you can just enjoy all of it.
The main dining hall at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa is called Aqua. This restaurant is located not far from the beach and right next to the Sunrise Cafe. You also have the Sunset Cafe, La Asiatique restaurant (Asian), Amazonico restaurant (Latin American) and Beach Club Grill (Mediterranean). All options except for Aqua require reservations for lunch and/or dinner. The Beach Club Grill does accept walk-ins between lunch and dinner hours for quick bites. I even managed to have some Borscht at Beach Club Grill. I never thought I’d find Borscht in the Maldives (traditional Slavic beet soup).
The food at the Aqua follows a theme each day. The schedule is as follows:
Mondays – Maldivian
Tuesdays – South American
Wednesdays – Indian
Thursdays – Tropical Gala Dinner
Fridays – Mediterranean
Saturdays – Asian
Sundays – Italian
The Tropical Gala Dinner is the fanciest dinner at the resort. All guests look their best, the resort sets up live music and all the stops are pulled out. That is usually the night where you will see dedicate candlelight dinner tables setup closer to the beach. Note that during the Gala Dinner, all other restaurants are closed on the island.
We primarily ate at Aqua as we prefer buffet style eating when vacationing. It is important to note that each restaurant closes once per week for cleaning and upkeep. You need to plan accordingly when making your reservations by ensuring they are available when you intend to visit. Unfortunately, during our stay, Aqua closed 2 or 3 times and almost closed another time. I raised this concern with the resort management.
The staff at Aqua was amazing, especially Areej. Areej made a great effort in getting to know us. After a few days, he knew our favorite seating spot and our room so he could call us a buggy. For our anniversary and Victoria’s birthday, Areej setup special tables for us with white linen table clothes, flowers, etc. For Victoria’s birthday, he organized a cake with a candle and the staff to sing Happy Birthday. Thank you, Areej!
Deluxe All-Inclusive at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
The resort is inspired by a unique contemporary Deluxe All-Inclusive concept. It is ideal for both couples in search of intimacy and romance as well as families. Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa offers a full range of activities for both the more and less active travelers worldwide.
The resort is a point of reference for flavors and taste. It features the international cuisine of the Aqua Restaurant, the Beach Club Grill, La Asiatique and Amazonico. Natural ingredients are treated with a superior level of creativity in all restaurants, which offers guests a deluxe all-inclusive formula in all outlets.
Overall, our stay was enjoyable but we do wish that the beach and ocean were better as that would have made the trip amazing. Additionally, not having access to the main restaurant each night was also a bit of a challenge. The cost of this resort was higher than our stay at Amari Havodda (about $1,000 USD more in May 2022 vs August 2017 not including transfer), so the value was diminished as a result.
Hope you enjoyed my review of Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa. Have you stayed at Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa? What did you think? If you were to go again, would you do anything differently? Tell me in the comments below!