Staying at the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives

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I stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives for a short stay of 3 nights before transferring to a resort at another atoll.

Unwelcoming Welcome

Disappointing introductory email

Before arriving at the resort, I received an email telling me all the things I could not do and lots of red and bold type in an introductory email, so I did write back asking if there were any things `I could actually do in the resort as it was one of the most unwelcoming welcome emails I’ve ever received. I did receive a reply: “ Please allow me to explain that the below mail is a generic mail sent for new reservations so that the guests will have a better understanding of the resort policies and other relevant details and better prepare for their upcoming stay with us.”

Lack of maintenance across the resort

This really didn’t start off well, and despite this, I was prepared to give the benefit of the doubt. On arrival at the airport, where we were supposed to be met by a HI representative, we somehow missed this person, so I went in search of our representative. I found the kiosk, and there was a man who was very busy on his phone, which looked like he was updating his status or texting; he eventually looked up and pointed at a man in the distance with a big trolly full of bags. I apologized for disturbing him and went to get our bags and meet the representative, who then sorted out bags for the speedboat ride to the resort.

I had paid for an upgrade to an overwater bungalow, which was quite pleasant, but after a very short time, I began to see the lack of general maintenance across the resort. If you look at the pics of the bath you can see the rust around the top of the bath as one instance. The view is wonderful, but so is the prevailing wind that whistles through the doors, especially at night, as the seals are completely ineffective. I did spend the first night trying to minimize this, as my wife is a very light sleeper. Across the resort, there is a distinct lack of maintenance, as if there is no love for this resort, and it could be so much better with a planned maintenance program rather than sweeping up leaves every day.

Diamond Elite Breakfast

Cost of buffet service

A Diamond elite breakfast was included, and we were told that we could include the buffet service, but this became quite a problem as when we tried to do this at reception, we were told we had to upgrade to half board, which would cost $120++ each so the cost to have a buffet service every night was almost $300 dollars which made no sense so just opted to use the other restaurant onsite which basically served most of the buffet food as individual dishes.

There was an “A LA Carte” restaurant we looked at, but the charge was $220++, so nearly $550 for both of us. Having spent time in the Maldives and several 5* resorts, this was an obscene amount of money by any standards and was in no way justified as the th4 food quality was poor from my experience.

Poor food quality

I’ve posted a few pics of breakfast servings and had I had to pay for breakfast, I would have refused as it was really low quality, but you can judge for yourselves.

Guest Experience Manager

No follow-up after the discussion

I did speak to the guest experience manager, who was very pragmatic and polite about all these points, and we discussed them at length, but I felt that it was mere lip service. I would have expected a follow-up at the very least if this was passed along to the management, as I would want to know as a GM that if things were not right, at the very least, you could address some of the points raised or communicate this back to a guest.

Diving Experience

One of the main reasons I chose to have a few days here is because of the dive areas, and Kandooma Thila is an amazing dive site. This is one thing the resort got right, but it’s an independent company that runs the dive center, so the resort should not take credit for its wonderful service.
On arrival, I had booked an afternoon dive, which I think the dive school was not convinced I would actually turn up, but it’s one of the main reasons for going to the Maldives. The dives were amazing, and their bookings were considerably down on previous years, but it meant I got just a couple of other divers once or twice, but mainly with Shakeeb, the dive master, who became my dive buddy for the three days I was there. Getting in 3 dives a day was bliss, and he made it so very personable and learned so much more because of this. I cannot recommend both the dive center and the team there enough, as it was a 10 out of 10. They are the reason that made my stay brilliant.


Nothing the resort did made me want to go back ever, which is a shame as this will have a massive impact on the dive center as diving in the Maldives is one of the best places in the world to dive.

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