I recently enjoyed a wonderful holiday in the Maldives. During my trip, I did not stay at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani – my favorite resorts in the Maldives (I am going back though in 2024) – but I tried out some new, ultra-luxurious and fabulous resorts. Read my trip reports here:
- Review: Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner Business Class from Brussels to Doha
- Review: Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Business Class from Doha to the Maldives
- Review: British Airways Boeing 777 Business Class (new suite) from London to Male
- Review: Joali Being
- Review: InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort (today)
- Review: Alila Kothaifaru Maldives
- Review: Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island
- Review: Edelweiss Air Airbus A340 Business Class from Male to Zurich
Today: Review of InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort
An exclusive private island resort, situated on the southernmost tip of the remote Raa Atoll, next to UNESCO biosphere reserve Baa Atoll, InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort enjoys one of the most secluded and magnificent locations in the Maldives. The property’s 81 spacious villas and residences – either located on the beach, around the lagoon or overwater – are combined with extensive wellness & leisure facilities, bespoke experiences and six restaurants & bars. A highlight of the resort is its world-class service, including being the first resort worldwide to offer Club InterContinental benefits to all guests (e.g. daily afternoon tea, evening aperitif and and all-day refreshments by the pool or beach). The ultra-luxe property is surrounded by a myriad of marine life and home to a unique and spectacular manta ray sanctuary, making it the best hotel in the Maldives to snorkel with manta rays year round (which truly sets it apart among luxury resorts in the Maldives).
InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury resorts & hotels in the Maldives, the best family-friendly resorts in the Maldives, and the best InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in the world.
Have you ever stayed at InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Opened in September 2019, InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort is set on the southern edge of the largely untouched Raa Atoll, just north of the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The property is reached via a 35-minute scenic seaplane transfer from Male. After landing at Velana International Airport (Male), the resort’s airport representatives meet guests once all immigration formalities have been completed to escort them to check-in for the seaplane transfer to Maamunagau Island. Next, guests are taken by private transfer to Male’s new seaplane terminal (a 5 min car ride), which houses a dedicacted InterContinental lounge where guests can comfortably rest and relax till the departure of their scheduled seaplane flight. Seaplane flights only operate during daylight, so for international flights arriving after 3.30 pm, a 20-minute domestic flight by wheeled plane, followed by a short speedboat ride will be arranged.
- InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort is set within Maamunagau, the Maldives’ largest natural lagoon. Maamunagau is a known juvenile manta ray aggregation spot, where young manta rays spend their days in a sheltered area until they are large enough to travel. Between December and April, manta rays are easily spotted in the lagoon as they migrate between the atolls during the northeast monsoon months. Just south of the resort sits Baa Atoll, which is home to Hanifaru Bay, one of the very few places in the world where whale sharks congregate to mate, and where visitors can snorkel amongst feeding congregations of whale sharks and large groups of manta rays between May and September. It makes the InterContinental Resort the best spot in the Maldives for snorkeling with manta rays all year round.
- Created with both couples and families in mind, the intuitive design of InterContinental Maldives was created by Singapore-based architects Eco-ID, aiming to be inspiring, refined and made for stylish barefoot living. Throughout the resort architecture, pared-down, localized elements are the essence, hereby putting the focus on the majestic outdoors, enhancing the unrivalled beauty, mesmerizing light and tropical landscape of the atoll. Within the resort’s open-air pavilions (such as the reception area and the restaurants), off-form and subtly textured concrete finishes are paired with timber log columns. Extensive use of modern Nako louvres complement the sleek aesthetics while allowing natural light and ventilation control. Interiors of the public places feature soft colour palettes with beige fabrics and light wood, subtly interrupted by some playful touches of bright red and yellow. Overall, the resort’s design is defined by honesty and authenticity rather than opulence and glitter.
- InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort features a smart layout in which the resort is divided into three distinct areas, each one coming with its own facilities and unique type of accommodations. First, there is the magnificent island itself, which is home to the main pool area, several restaurants (including the Lighthouse), a wellness center, and 30 beach villas, all of them surrounded by expansive private gardens that lead to the beach. At the center of the resort is the lagoon area, which is home to the lobby pavilion, boat house, adults only area, and 26 two-storey lagoon villas, the first of their kind in the Maldives, combining overwater views with direct beach and lagoon access (3 islets were reclaimed to create this unique site condition). Boardwalks then lead from the lagoon area to resort’s third area, the overwater area, which is home to the resort’s 25 overwater villas.
- Among the resort’s 81 villas are six enormous residences. Featuring 2 or 3 bedrooms with kitchen, dining and spacious in and outdoor living space, these residences are the perfect choice to host a big family or group. During my stay, I was upgraded to one of these villas, the three-bedroom lagoon residence, a heaven of luxury at the end of the lagoon area. The villa offered a large dining and living room , a private cabana with a large infinity pool and an outdoor deck area overlooking the turquoise lagoon. The master bedroom was located in its own private pavilion separated from the main villa with a king sized bed overlooking the ocean and an en-suite bathroom featuring an over sized bathtub and outdoor rainshower. In addition, there were two guest bedrooms on the first floor of the main villa featuring one king bed and two twin beds; both came with en suite bathrooms and ocean views. The bathrooms were stocked with luxury amenities by Byredo.
- InterContinental Maldives’ beach, overwater and lagoon villas all come with a private pool. Yet, as if that is not enough, there are also two distinct communal pool areas, both of them overlooking the turquoise lagoon. Located on the main island, directly on the beach, the main pool is open to all guest (including children) and enjoys views of the sunset. Surrounded by dozens of sun loungers and two restaurants (more on that below), the free-form pool features different sections with variable depths, a separate kids pool and a swim-up bar. Located in the lagoon area of the hotel is The Retreat, an adults only enclave which is home to a beautiful infinity pool. The Retreat is an ideal venue to spend a morning lazing by the pool with a curated cocktail to cool down followed by a selection of sweet and savoury finger food paired with an exquisite selection of tea, and to end the day with sundowners or evening digestives of premium wines and cheese.
- Together with Soneva Fushi, Anantara Kihavah, and Park Hyatt Maldives, InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort ranks among the most beautiful and pristine natural islands in the Maldives, rising up out of the ocean’s sapphire blue like a mirage. Truly a tropical paradise, the idyllic island is completely surrounded by the whitest of powdery sands, lapped by crystal-clear turquoise waters, and framed by coconut palms swaying in the breeze. Set within its own natural lagoon on the southernmost tip of the Raa Atoll, the ocean stretches out as far as the eye can see, with hardly another island in view, and there’s even a magnificent sandbank with lighthouse which makes for perfect Instagram shots. The island of Maamunagau is quite small: it takes less than 30 minutes to walk around it. Bicycles are provided to explore the canopied paths, which wind across the island between the hundreds of palm trees. Complimentary buggy service (24/7) is provided as well.
- InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort offers six distinct restaurants and bars, offering a variety of delicious cuisine in thoughtfully curated ambiances.
- The Lighthouse is the resort’s signature restaurant and it delivers a memorable dining experience with 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean. The venue serves vibrant dishes crafted from the finest seasonal ingredients and seafood. For a more intimate setting, opt for a private table on the terrace or a candle-lit table on the beach.
- Fish Market is a unique sea-to-table interactive kitchen concept blending the Maldivian seafood with aromatic flavours from South East Asia. Designed as a hub of connectivity, the overwater restaurant is a favourite for sunset dining.
- Located along the main pool is Café Umi, a Japanese-inspired restaurant providing elevated comfort and classic favourites, inspired by natural, organic and sustainable cuisine.
- Also located along the main pool is The Collective, a more casual affair serving delicious fresh juices, pastries and healthy wraps, and wood-fired pizza. The Collective also features an indoor “Gelato Bar” with boutique.
- Next to the Fish Market is a boat house. The upper deck’s Sunset Bar provides a stylish and romantic ambience with the best sunset moments on the island. Here, signature cocktails and expert recommendations of the resort’s Champagne Sommelier go hand in hand with delectable canapes with the curated music amplifying the intimate ambience. On the lower deck is a wine bar which is perfect for private events.
- The Retreat, the adults-only enclave with a private bar and its own infinity pool at the water’s edge, also has its own restaurant (open for lunch only).
- The resort’s signature AVI Spa is located on the island’s southern tip, near the Lighthouse. The intimate wellness center features six overwater treatment villas along with steam rooms, ice fountains, an outdoor vitality massage pool, a yoga pavilion and a gym. A leading Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, who is specialised in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, uses the pillars of Chinese wellness to restore harmony and balance to guests through various treatments. These include anti-ageing facial acupuncture, cupping therapy, remedial tui-na massage, body therapies, dietary plans and herbal medicine. In addition to the onsite TCM, InterContinental Maldives can tailor menus to any dietary need, enabling guests to enjoy a flexible and balanced wellness retreat experience without compromising their overall experience. All treatments begin with a mineral rich detoxifying grapefruit and lavender foot cleanse, yogic breathing and a meridian tapping ritual to slow the mind and prepare for the treatment.
- Impreccable and mindblowing service – without being overbearing – is what sets InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort apart. Each villa is allocated a dedicated ‘Island Curator’ (butler), who commits to creating ever-lasting memories and thoughtful details. The property is also the first and only all-Club InterContinental resort, providing guests with access to exclusive benefits and personalised service throughout their stay. Club InterContinental’s daily complimentary benefits include:
- Daily breakfast at Café Umi, which offers a terrific breakfast buffet in addition to an extensive à la carte selection
- Afternoon tea (served from 3 to 5 pm) with three tiers of tantalising savouries as well as rare loose-leaf varietals selected by the in-house tea sommelier
- Evening aperitif offering a deluxe selection of premium wine and cheese. For families, a non-alcoholic beverage selection is also available.
- All-day refreshments by the pool or beach
- Committed to preserving the ocean for future generations and guests, InterContinental Maldives has launched two key conservation initiatives. The first is a dedicated manta ray sanctuary in partnership with the Manta Trust. The partnership, which is in support of the Maldivian Manta Ray Project, will nurture a safe habitat for the manta rays within the resort’s lagoon as well as providing guests with invaluable information and an opportunity to swim alongside these graceful creatures and snorkel over underwater coral gardens. InterContinental Maldives is also focused on minimising its environmental impact with a commitment to reducing waste from both plastic and glass, and composting bio waste. The resort has also entered into an agreement with Parley Maldives, which works to reduce reliance on single-use plastics, intercept sources of plastic waste, and prevent it from entering the oceans or being disposed of in destructive ways. Parley takes the resort’s plastics and recycles them to make usable products.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- IMHO, the resort’s “biggest problem” is that it bears the InterContinental name. While the InterContinental brand is a solid luxury brand with higher-end travelers among its clientele, it is not a brand that one associates with an ultra-luxury property, which is absolutely the case for InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort. The hotel ranks among the very best resorts in the Maldives I’ve ever stayed at, and far exceeds the expectations one would have when considering a stay at an InterContinental Resort. The setting (with the manta ray sanctuary nearby), the beauty of the island itself, the excellent dining & wellness facilities, and especially the top-notch service are truly mindblowing. I believe that in the near future, the IHG Group will have to come up with a new brand name to group (and re-brand) its top properties, such as InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort.
- InterContinental Maldives features a unique, contemporary and colorful design, which is rather unusual for the Maldives, where most resorts are characterized by either a traditional tropical style (with tatched roof pavilions) or a minimalist & modernist architecture. Also, some of the resort’s bars & restaurants are housed in purposely built structures, such as a reproduction Maldivian dhoni boat and lighthouse, which might feel a bit odd and Disney-like to some guests (although I absolutely loved it). Also, where most resorts in the Maldives make an attempt to camouflage their staff quarters (by hiding them in the islands’ lust interiors), the InterContinental’s staff quarters are located on the island’s shore and are visible from the welcome pavilion & lobby – although the staff quarters are completely surrounded by lush vegetation (so it’s not really bothersome).
- Location: 10/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 10/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 10/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like InterContinental Maldives (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: IHG has a loyalty program which I reviewed here and which allows you to collect points and exchange them for free stays at IHG properties, such as the InterContinental Maldives.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best weather in the Maldives is between January and April, which also means high season (with low availability and very expensive room rates). The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking in June. It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, eat, work out or scuba dive. Especially November and December, which are often labelled as dry season months, have been very unsettled in recent years.
HOW TO GET THERE
Getting to the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort requires a 35-minute seaplane transfer from Male International Airport (MLE). Check the Wikipedia page of Male International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer flights to Male International Airport.
Here’s a selection of photos of InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort. To view more hotel photos (including breakfast, luch and dinner), click here.