Centara Hotels & Resorts is a small upscale hotel chain based in Thailand with around 60 properties all around Asia. The Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa is located in the Maldives on the island of Machchafushi, South Ari Atoll – roughly a 30 minute sea plane transfer from Male International Airport. Surrounded by crystal clear waters and an abundance of marine life on the house reef, the resort comprises of 112 spacious villas set over water or right on the beachfront.
One of the highlights that exceeds other resorts in the Maldives is their ultimate all-inclusive package, that all guests receive when booking the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa. This provides everything you can desire, including premium alcoholic drinks, all meals, non-motorised water-sports, 100USD credit per day for the spa, excursions, champagne breakfast and even scuba diving! Perfect for families, couples and those wanting a care free holiday. As a result, the resort was voted Maldives’ most family-friendly resort two years in succession.
Best Time To Visit The Maldives
If you’re looking for the best weather and minimum rain, December to April is the time to go. However, as a result it is substantially more expensive. Temperatures in the Maldives stay at a wonderfully warm 25-32°C year-round, day and night, so no need to worry about it being cold. The months between May and November are cheaper due to the higher probability of rain. Despite this, we travelled to the Maldives at the end of June and didn’t have one single rain day – in fact, it was very sunny for most of our stay!
In our opinion, low season is the time to come if you’re looking for a great deal and don’t mind chancing it with some tropical rain showers. You can visit for twice as long in low season with the same budget, so there should definitely be some sunny days!
To get to the Maldives itself is fairly straight forward. Many of the top carriers including Etihad, Emirates, Qatar, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines to name a few fly there. If you’re wanting to find cheaper carriers, AirAsia, Scoot, and many Chinese airlines fly to the Maldives too. If flights to the Maldives seem rather pricey, try out Colombo (Sri Lanka) and book a separate ticket for the short flight from there to the Maldives.
You’ll fly into Male International Airport, and from there all resorts are either accessed by a seaplane transfer or speedboat.
The Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa is located about 100km from Malé Velana International Airport, thus a seaplane takes roughly 30 minutes to get there without stopping at other resorts. To date, it’s still one of our most scenic plane journeys we’ve been on. You’ll pass many atolls, reefs and islands before landing just outside the resort, it really is a magical experience and totally worth the high price. You can also travel by speedboat which is a bit cheaper and takes just over 90 minutes, but won’t be as scenic.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the wonderful staff on the island. While you can already start sipping on some drinks, they’ll check you in and then explain the resort to you.
There are 112 villas on the island of which 62 are over water and the rest are on the beach. Three buffet- and a-la-carte restaurants are dotted around the island as well as an infinity pool, an exclusive club with another pool, two bars, a tennis court, a spa, the dive centre and more.
The island itself is obviously very pretty with turquoise waters, white sand, green palmtrees, amazing coral and marine life, but it might not have just as much natural beauty as other islands on the outer reefs of the atolls. This could be the only drawback if you’re after an island with endless stretches of sand. Therefor you’ve got an amazing reef right around the island without having to swim out too far.
Guests with an early arrival or a late departure time can choose to hang out in one of the bars, or alternatively use the chill lounge, an air-conditioned lounge with sofas, a tv, as well as changing rooms and a shower in case you’d like to go for a swim before check-in or after check-out. The villas are usually free to move into from 3pm and have to be vacated by 12pm.
The Ultimate All-Inclusive
This is the real deal at the Centara Grand. Most resorts in the Maldives make at least half their money with food, beverages, excursions and the spa. If you’re somebody who enjoys a nice three course meal with a few accompanying drinks, then you’ll quickly go through at least US$250 for a two person dinner in a nice resort. Not so at this resort, where every single guest will receive their ultimate all-inclusive package.
It’s called ultimate, because it exceeds the all-inclusive offers at other resorts. You will not only receive breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet together with a few selected drinks, but also a-la-carte dining, premium drinks, a bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival and a free daily refill of your minibar! In addition, you will be given a daily US$100 credit per person for the spa, you can go on an excursion like whale shark snorkelling or a sunset cruise, and you can participate in non motorised water-sports – all completely free of charge. Even diving is included if you are a certified open water diver, as an alternative to spa treatments.
Restaurants & Bars
All restaurants and bars are included in the ultimate all-inclusive package. You can enjoy buffet-style food at Reef restaurant at any time, or you can make a reservation for one of the a-la-carte options in advance. These can get booked up when the resort is full, so you might want to sort out your dinner reservations shortly after arrival.
Reef is the main restaurant where buffet-style food is served three times a day. There are a lot of Western and Asian dishes available and we were more than happy with the selection and quality of the food. It’s located next to the pool, overlooking the ocean and a few distant neighbouring islands. We specifically loved the designated donut stand in the morning!
Inside of the Reef restaurant, there is a special area used for omelettes and pancakes in the morning, but for lunch and dinner it’ll be converted into a Teppanyaki table. Teppanyaki show cooking is usually very expensive, but again – at Centara Grand it’s included in your room rate! We had a very nice dinner here for our last night, with sushi, soup, chicken, beef, fried rice and a tasty desert.
Azzuri Mare offers mainly Italian cuisine and seafood in a very nice overwater setting for lunch and dinner. We enjoyed an amazing sirloin steak here the night of our arrival, overlooking the ocean and an impressive thunderstorm passing by in the distance.
With Centara being based in Thailand, of course there’s a Thai restaurant on the island as well. Suan Bua serves delicious Thai cuisine for lunch and dinner, set next to a lovely little lotus pond.
Located adjacent to reception, Aqua serves drinks and light refreshments throughout the day. It can get quite busy around lunchtime with arriving and departing guests, but once you’ve sat down on one of those lounge chairs by the water, you can easily spend a few hours relaxing here. It’s also a great spot to view the sunset!
Coral Bar & Lounge
This is where most of the entertainment takes place. Coral Bar & Lounge sits right next to the resorts infinity pool, serving drinks and refreshments throughout the day (as well as ice cream during the afternoon). In the evening there’s fish feeding with lots of rays and sharks coming in to grab a bit of food, and they’ve got music, pool tables and other games here as well.
At all of the restaurants and bars, we found the service to be very impressive. Somebody was always there to ask whether they could to anything else for us, we never had to wait long for anything, and drinks were always refilled or replaced with a new one. Not once during our stay did the staff forget something or mix up an order.
Centara is a Thai brand and thus a lot of guests are from Asia, meaning there is a wide variety of great Asian cuisine available alongside the Western options.
The Club is an exclusive area of the resort reserved for guests of the highest room category, the Sunset Ocean Pool Villa. It offers a-la-carte breakfast, light lunches, five-course-dinners and premium drinks as well as a very nice pool. It’s all about being a bit more quiet, a bit more luxurious and a bit more relaxing here at The Club. With hardly anybody around, it really is a very nice setting to have a few drinks by the pool or to go for a nice meal. So besides the amazing pool villas over the water, this is a very nice incentive to book the resorts top villa!
If you are not staying in a Sunset Ocean Pool Villa, you can gain access to the club for a daily charge which will cost in addition to your ultimate all-inclusive package. However, you might as well invest this money into one of the sunset ocean pool villas though!
There are seven villa types at the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa, ranging from the Beach Suite to the Sunset Ocean Pool Villa, all unique and beautifully designed.
During our stay on the island, our accommodation was the “basic” Beach Suite. Nothing about this room is basic though, because after all it’s your very own two-storey beachfront villa with the bedroom upstairs and a nice living room and huge bathroom with an indoor- and an outdoor shower downstairs, complete with an expansive patio leading out towards the ocean.
So the Beach Suite is definitely a great option if you haven’t got a massive budget and it already entitles you to the full ultimate all-inclusive package. We did have a look at some of the other villa types though, and they certainly are worth the extra money!
Deluxe Water Villa
A great option if you’re wanting to step out onto your own private veranda and see the crystal clear water around you. With a spacious living area, beautifully furnished decor, and a bathtub with ocean views, it’s great for couples and small families.
Deluxe Family Water Villa
Similar to the deluxe water villa, however specifically designed for families. These water villas are larger to accommodate young children and bigger groups. Inside, there is also a children’s sleeping area with bunk beds and PlayStation video games, including secured access to the terrace for safety of the little ones.
Ocean Water Villa
The ocean water villa is perfect for idyllic hideaways, couples and those wanting pure relaxation. With your own terrace and netting to lounge on, with the sound of the waves below you, it’s a step up from the deluxe water villa.
Luxury Beachfront Pool Villa 1 Bedroom
If water villas aren’t you’re thing, consider the beachfront pool villa. Directly on the beach with your own private pool, you can indulge in barefoot luxury all day long. This villa is designed for 2 adults, and features an airy bathroom with a shower and indoor and outdoor bathtub.
Luxury Beachfront Pool Villa 2 Bedroom
A family that doesn’t want a water villa? No problem! Identical to the one bedroom, this two bedroom villa is perfect for families and larger groups.
Sunset Ocean Pool Villa
Last but certainly not least is the sunset ocean pool villa, which personally we believe is a class of its own. How does your own private infinity pool, overlooking the sunset sound? Decorated similar to the ocean water villa, however you’ll receive access to The Club when you book a sunset ocean pool villa, meaning you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner privately away from the crowds.
Even though you’ll be relaxing on an island no larger than 200×300 metres, chances are you won’t get bored. First of all, you’ll probably spend most of your time eating and drinking, but after breakfast or in the afternoon there is always something going on. Most of it is included in the price too, so you should definitely take advantage of that!
We went on a whale shark excursion for example, and it was a lucky day for us so we got to swim with one of these amazing creatures! You can also choose from a local island tour, a sunset cruise, or other boat trips.
Each guest enjoys a daily US$100 credit for the spa. This can either be redeemed for a variety of 30 minute treatments, or you can choose to pay extra for longer treatments. If you are a certified open water diver, you have the option of exchanging some of your spa credits for dives, which is amazing in our opinion. We have not yet heard of any other Maldives resort which includes diving!
Apart from excursions and spa treatments, there are plenty of other activities on the island to choose from. Grab a canoe and go for a ride around the island, or explore the amazing house reef with a snorkel. Have a go on the tennis court or go and play some pool on the pool table. You can even go for some windsurfing lessons or a banana boat ride!
The Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa offers you one of the best – if not the best – value in the Maldives if you love to indulge in food and drinks all day and spend some of your free time at the spa or on a boat. It might look a bit more pricey than resorts of similar standard at first, but once you see the value of the ultimate all-inclusive package, you’ll quickly realise it’s a great deal for the Maldives.
But there’s more to the Centara Grand. The amazing staff at the resort pushed our stay from great to exceptional. Friendly, attentive, funny, polite, and at the same time very professional. Over four days, every single detail just worked out perfectly fine without any mistakes or waiting times.
The villas are modern and if you’re after an even more memorable experience, splurging on a Sunset Ocean Pool Villa with complimentary access to The Club is well worth the extra money.
If you’re after good value for your money, don’t hesitate to book the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa with its ultimate all-inclusive!
Don’t just take our word for it though, check out their reviews on TripAdvisor
Have you been to the Maldives? Or are you planning a trip of a lifetime? Like the look of this ultra all-inclusive resort? Let us know!
Centara Grand Island Resort Maldives invited us to stay at their wonderful resort All opinions are, as always, our own.
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