Preserving Paradise At The Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort – Review

By Nicole Smallwood

3 weeks ago

When it comes to the Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, there isn't a bad seat in the house


When it comes to nurturing the precious ecosystem of this sunsoaked archipelago, the Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort has set its focus on preserving paradise one step at a time. Located in close proximity to the Baa Atoll’s UNESCO biosphere reserve, sustainability is non-negotiable, and the resort is dedicated to minimising its carbon footprint and preserving the beauty of nature. Nicole Smallwood checks in to check it out.

Read the C&TH Guide to Responsible Tourism

Hotel Review: Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort

As the seaplane gracefully descends towards the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean, the scene is set for a beautiful adventure. Whisked to Maamunagau island via a short speedboat transfer, all guests are met with a wonderful Maldivian welcome. Dressed in traditional clothing and accompanied by the sound of the Boduberu (a large Maldivian drum), the wide smiles of the greeting committee immediately welcomes you home. The genuine warmth of this experience – coupled with the fact that you really are in paradise – is simply euphoric.

The greeting party includes a designated Island curator (or butler) assigned to help you make the most of your stay. Hopping onto their golf buggy for a swift but informative tour of the island, any questions you may have are answered before being dropped right at your door.

The magical moment of entering your room for the first time certainly does not disappoint: not only are you greeted by a spectacular view of the blue technicolour ocean but also an array of treats, gifts and local delicacies (some completely personalised) – all of which add to the overall excitement of stepping into some kind of heaven on earth.

A knock on the door reveals the resort’s sommelier delivering yet another treat: a bottle of champagne, complete with a lesson in how to sabrage. Ever eco-conscious, a string is attached to the cork to allow easy retrieval from the ocean. After so much immediate excitement, it’s time to take a breath and appreciate what is in front of my very eyes.

A bedroom at the Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort

The Rooms

We were lucky enough to experience two categories of rooms during our stay. Firstly, the sunset overwater villa, a studio style room spacious and well designed with chic modern boho décor. These villas house a separate shower and WC along with a free standing bath tub for those seeking a more relaxed bathing experience. From the enormous and ridiculously comfortable super king bed (accompanied by an extensive pillow menu), gaze out onto your own picture perfect private pool. With direct access into the sea from the terrace, the shimmering ocean lies just beyond; the next stop from here is Africa.

A living area that overlooks the sea

For the remainder of our stay, we were treated to the two bedroom overwater residency, which was simply spectacular. Located at the end of the jetty, it was a real step up in terms of luxury, space (both inside and out) and privacy; a real ‘pinch me’ moment. These two bedroom villas open onto an extensive outdoor decking area, featuring a beautiful curved infinity pool and numerous seating and lounging options to make yourself comfortable while soaking up the sun. A winding timber staircase provides direct access to the ocean and, with both bedrooms benefiting from 180 degree sea views, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

The beauty of this ‘romantic as can be’ location is unrivalled, with its bounty of vibrant tropical fish, schools of Eagle Rays and – if you are as lucky as us – a pair of octopi mesmerically changing colour at will. It truly is a sensory overload.

The Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort also has sunrise beach villas with neon white rolling sands, sunrise and sunset over-water villas, and sunrise and sunset lagoon villas split over two levels with a private pool on one side and beach to the other – the best of both worlds. If more space is required, a range of two- and three-bedroom villas are available.

A pool at the Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort

Things To Do

The sense of relaxation which Maamunagau Island provides is almost indescribable. However, if you are looking for a little something more than lying by the beach or pool watching the world go by, fear not.

First, check out the wellness centre, where guests can take part in organised classes including yoga, circuits, boxing, Pilates, TRX and even running club. Or simply make use of the fully equipped gym, open 24 hours a day. All are easily accessible by hopping on your personalised bike (provided on arrival), for a two minute door-to-door journey.

Every guest is provided with courtesy fins, a mask and a snorkel and, having initially taken advantage of snorkelling in the lagoon, we (myself a snorkel novice, and my husband a pro) embarked on a guided expedition exploring the house reef.

The Maldives is one of nature’s miracles. With its enviable climate, the marine life is spectacular – so colourful it was almost hard to comprehend. Our experienced guide took us to the ‘drop off’, where the reef gives way to the greater depth of the Indian Ocean and where the less Nemo-like creatures hang out. A greeting party of five blacktip reef sharks arrived almost immediately and, despite the fact that they are firmly vegetarian and more scared of us than us of them (apparently), I did find myself edging closer to the protection of my guide before hot footing it back to the shallows.

The dolphins put on quite a display during the sunset cruise. We were lucky enough to be joined by a pod of Spinner dolphins: new mothers and their calves jumping through the bow waves, performing just for us. Not to be outdone, the turtles also made themselves known during the turtle safari. Wildlife sightings are always such a privilege, so to see both of these amazing creatures in their natural habitat – along with the sharks, of course – was something special.

A manta ray underwater

While everything we experienced of the natural world was remarkable, sustainability and ecology are at the heart of much of what is done here at the Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, and nowhere is this more evident than the Manta Ray experience, which we were truly blown away by. Forming a partnership with the Manta Trust is just one of the many environmental initiatives the resort has entered into. Formed in 2019, the partnership aims to learn more about these gentle giants: their movements, migration and how to protect them and their natural habitat.

The Manta Ray Experience celebrates the ocean and its eternal beauty. The Manta Trust team and Marine Biologists based at the resort provide fun and educational experiences for kids and adults alike. Not only can you swim and interact with these magnificent, gentle creatures, you can even name one. If you are lucky enough to come into contact with a previously unknown manta ray, you may be given the honour of naming it, after which the Trust will provide updates on their future behaviour and whereabouts. Sadly, we didn’t meet any unknown Mantas during the trip, but simply coming face to face with these inquisitive and effortlessly beautiful creatures was reward enough.

If you are still looking for more to do in the water, there are numerous activities available. All non-motorised water sports are complementary at the Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, and you can try your hand at everything from paddle boarding to pedalos. For those seeking something a little more adrenaline-fuelled, then jet skiing, scuba diving or X jet blading ensure your every watery whim is catered for.

Away from the water, you can indulge yourself in Maldivian cookery courses, or a visit to the spa. The four overwater huts which form the spa are all beautifully presented, with the soothing elegance of white decor setting the mood. The perfect silence, the view stretching out across the miles of clear ocean and the skill of the therapists combine to deliver a spectacular treatment. I highly recommend the full body massage.

This paradise island also offers Kids club – Planet Trekkers – with games, arts and crafts and mini expeditions along with its own private pool featuring water slides. While the kids are entertained, grown ups can escape to the adults-only area: The Retreat, with its library, infinity pool overlooking the lagoon, dining area and bar.

Eat & Drink

Tantalise your taste buds at one of the seven distinctive restaurants and bars, with each venue offering a unique culinary experience.

Dining on the beach

Café Umi, the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, is where you will start your day with an extensive part buffet, part a la carte offering, with almost any breakfast option you could imagine. Sit on the terrace or outside with the sand between your toes as you indulge. Later in the day, Umi serves Japanese sushi rolls, California maki rolls and Peruvian ceviche, alongside international favourites.

At the Fish Market, select your own seafood which is then infused with Maldivian flavours and prepared with local ingredients. The Lighthouse, however, is the most spectacular spot; climb to the top for a full 360 degree view before enjoying the sublime, Mediterranean-inspired menu.

For the perfect pizza, check out The Collective, great for a more laid back dinner option. And don’t forget about the Sunset Bar for the tastiest fruity cocktails. If you are travelling without kids, you can always stop off at The Retreat for a spot of lunch, followed later by the ultimate sundowners.

It should be noted that the Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort is the first and only ‘all club’ Intercontinental resort, which means you can enjoy complimentary benefits ranging from a la carte breakfast, multi-tiered afternoon tea and tantalising evening aperitif at no additional cost.

While everything about the resort is spectacular, you don’t travel there to look in but to look out and to enjoy the true wonder that is the Maldives. These visions will live with you for a lifetime.

Striving To Make A Difference

The Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort utilises solar power provided by circa 1,500 solar panels located on the roof of the administration building, which provides 15 percent of the resort’s total energy usage and saves 900 tons of CO2 every year. Plus, the resort now utilises the unique ‘classic crystal water purification system’ and on-island bottling plant, which provides 100 percent of the drinking water and saves the disposal of over 100,000 plastic bottles every year.

BOOK IT

The Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort is located in the Raa Atoll – 35 minutes by seaplane from the Male International Airport, where you can fly direct from the UK.

Rates start from $991 USD in an Overwater Sunrise Pool villa including breakfast for two. For Residences, rates start from $4680 USD per night with a variety of inclusions. maldives.intercontinental.com

Nicole was already travelling in the Maldives when this review was conducted.