Being invited to a conference in the Maldives was to me like winning the jackpot. Yes I want to come speak at your event in paradise but don’t expect me to fly home straight after. I requested my flight out of Maldives 2 weeks later as I wanted to make the most of this trip and stay as long as I could. When people asked me how long I would stay I answered as long as I get free accommodation! ;)
Staying in luxury hotels for free
The mystery of a budget traveler ending up in the most luxurious resorts around the world is one of the most asked questions I get from people on social media. In my blog about luxury hotels in Bali. I already explained a little how that works. So if you did not read that post yet and are curious about it, click on the link. There are more articles in where I explain how I am able to travel for almost 6 years around the world now. Don't miss any of them anymore by signing up for my newsletter with great travel tips for unique locations, best places to go in popular destinations, amazing resorts, tips about social media, giveaways and more.
Working together with luxury resorts in Maldives is not as easy as working with hotels in other countries and to seal a deal takes a lot more work. I for example worked with the most amazing hotels in Singapore, Bali, Thailand and stayed in incredible palaces in India all arranged by myself. I never really worked with a PR agency before. It takes a lot of time and effort getting these collaborations deals, but at least then I am in direct contact with the hotels and they know exactly what they can expect for me and what I expect in return. My stay at Kurumba Maldives, one of those islands to visit near Male, was my first collaboration deal through a PR agency.
Getting to Kurumba Maldives
At first I was obviously happy to get a deal through an agency but it didn’t start very well. The communication between the agency and the PR people of Kurumba was pretty messy and I was already falsely accused from being chaotic before I even arrived. The marketing people from the hotel and the PR Agency were emailing each other expressing their concerns about me getting to the resort the day of check-in while I already arranged everything myself through the hotels reservation department. These people knew exactly about my drop-off and pick-up time at the airport island. I am sorry I have been traveling the world for almost 6 years don’t worry about me getting to a resort that is just 10 minutes away. That is right Kurumba Maldives is one of the resorts near Male International Airport. With a little luck you can be in your room 30 minutes after you landed, the location is a big plus. To Kurumba Maldives Resorts by speedboat is only 10 minutes from the airport.
My overall feeling of Kurumba Maldives
Obviously it already started pretty weird, as I was constantly CC’ed in the email conversation of someone in the office in the UK and the badly informed marketing people of Kurumba. At some point I got an email asking where I was and when I would finally be able to inform them about what time I was coming to the island. Are you kidding me? I thought, while sipping on my ginger tea after a really good massage at the excellent Kurumba Wellness center. Exactly I was on the island already, I checked-in, had a delicious lunch and enjoyed an excellent 1-hour signature massage. If you still don’t even know that I am in the resort you apparently don’t really care I am here either.
Unfortunately this feeling dragged along and was not getting any better when I met the Moroccan girl of Kurumba Marketing who according to her own words did not like to give hotel orientation tours. Some hotel tours are a waste of time but some can be really nice, entertaining, informative and helpful. This one was definitely of the first category, especially as she had no clue what she was talking about and replying very arrogant to my questions. Is Kurumba an adult-only hotel I asked? What? Adult only? I am sorry but I work in the hotel industry for many years now and I have never heard of an adult-only hotels. Wow girl you need to learn a lot!
When the next day there was another confusion about two fresh juices that suddenly were charged to my bill and I received another email discussing my professionalism I lost my patience. I have worked with more than a 100 hotels & resorts around Asia and Europe but I had never experienced a resort that was so doing their best to make me leave with a bad feeling. I felt treated like I had no reason to say anything since I was just on a free holiday anyway. Unfortunately I did not feel respected as a blogger, and no my life is not just a holiday.
Some media dinners are such treats and totally add up to the experience. During my last three weeks in Maldives I had a bunch of them and one even more fun than the other. Of course there was a bit of tension when the Kurumba marketing team and I were meeting for a hosted dinner in one of their 7 restaurants but positive criticism should lead to better service levels in my opinion. The Moroccan lady didn’t show up to host the media dinner but sent a colleague, which apparently was not really in the mood either. To make sure there was not an awkward silent moment I kept on asking questions. It was 8 to 1 as after an 45 minutes I was asked the only question of the evening: ‘Where are you going next?’. When I randomly asked which other bloggers had been at Kurumba lately I got the most awkward reply ever: ‘I don’t tell you!’. I was starstruck and could not believe the answer. I replied that it was easy to find out myself on social media, but that did not impress the girl either: ‘yeah go ahead’, she said! Oh yeah the Italian food was nice.
It was a crazy coincidence but the World Traveler Writers’ Conference hosted by Maldives TV, which initially brought me to Maldives, was all about how storytelling can help luxury travel destinations in their marketing. I am not a agency trying to sell your resort writing about which room categories you have and what activities you offer. I am here to tell about my experience at your resort. How much fun I had doing the activities, how peaceful it was swinging in the hammock on my balcony or which fish I saw snorkeling and how yummy the food was. Unfortunately when I think back about my stay at Kurumba none of those things come up in my mind. The resort does offer a complete wall of activities but I did not do any of them. It was already pretty weird to me that I was told to bring back the snorkel equipment before 7.00pm and if I would not do so I would be fined with $20. Of course hotels need to have rules regarding free snorkel equipment but I also wanted to shoot photos for sunset and be in time for dinner. When checking in you need to leave a copy of your credit card as a deposit so why this rule of $20 fine? Anyway I realized just in time, so I grabbed my snorkel set and ran to the other side of the resort to return it just in time. Happy holidays!
Pros and cons Kurumba Maldives
Although my overall feeling was not the best there are definitely a lot of positive things to mention about Kurumba as well.
- Super friendly restaurant staff
These people are all so lovely that they make you smile constantly. However I think they should tell you what is included in your all inclusive package and what not when you place an order. You don’t want any surprises at the end of your meal.
- Choice of 7 restaurants
For an island this small I was astonished how many restaurants you were able to choose from.
- Kurumba resort is close to Male Airport
The location of Kurumba Resort near Male International Airport is perfect. Within a couple minutes you are on the island.
- Quiet beaches
Kurumba Maldives is pretty digested in terms of villas, but there is hardly anyone at the beach.
- 5 star buffet restaurant
The food selection at the buffet restaurant was very exclusive, with loads of different types of cheese, nuts, fruits, berries and a wide variation of healthy vegan and vegetarian options. I loved the buffet!
- Big gym
Traveling and fitness (click on the link to see how I stay fit) is important to me and besides eating healthy a well-equipped gym is a big plus. Kurumba’s gym has everything you need.
- Excellent WiFi
If you are relying on good internet during your stay there is no need to be worried when staying at Kurumba. You dont need to log in when changing location on the island or anything like that, you are constantly connected. The excellent WiFi was a big plus and although the location close to Male and the international airport probably makes it easier for Kurumba, there are a lot of resorts that have to catch up when it comes down to WiFi. Thumbs up Kurumba Maldives!
- Free use of snorkeling gear and tennis court
Tennis equipment is also provided by the resort as well as snorkeling gear. Be aware to hand it in in time or get a $20 fine if you are late.
- Amazing Wellness
Excellent wellness facilities with a great signature massage treatment that has some elements of a hot stone massage. It was only a couple months ago during my fake honeymoon in Bali that I had my first hot stone massage ever at the Bulgari Resort, one of the best massages ever. This one came really close and was definitely one of the better massages I got this year. The wellness staff were the most friendly ever (Balinese). Great treatment, definitely recommended!
Cons of Kurumba Maldives
The location is not only a positive thing it is also a little disadvantage. The airport is pretty close and therefore you can hear planes landing and taking off. Male is only 15 minutes away as well and can be seen in the distance. Therefore the island did not give me that castaway feeling. How I got to the Maldives? I flew from Amsterdam to Male International Airport with Qatar Airways business class. Read how that was and how I got a free ticket into Qatar!
- Only 1,5L drinking water per room per day
In such a tropical climate it is important to stay hydrated, but with only 1.5L drinking water provided per room per day you definitely have to to buy extra.
Stay at Kurumba Maldives
If you are looking for an easy access island and don’t want to pay too much for airport transfers, Kurumba is a great choice. The hotels only charges $75 per person for a round trip according to their website for shared transfers. Within less than an hour you can have a cocktail on a deserted beach. My room was nice but apart from the great outdoor bathroom pretty standard. There was no direct beach access from the spacious patio and therefore no ocean view. Rates for Kurumba are pretty affordable compared to other resorts and you save on high transfer costs plus the WiFi is excellent and therefore I think if you are looking for islands to visit near Male Kurumba Maldives is a really good option. Interested in booking Kurumba? There are already bungalows available from $350 per night that is only $175 per person per night. Not cheap but definitely affordable for a 5 statr luxury resort in the Maldives.
There are a lot more blogs coming about luxury resorts in the Maldives, but these ones are already out:
- Kuramathi Island Beach Villas
- Shangri La Villingili
- Prestige Vadoo overwater bungalows
- Lux Resorts South Ari | best wifi in Maldives:
This is the way from a standard room to the beach image you have a beach villa!
Deserted beaches at Kurumba.
Massage on the beach.
Orchid botanic garden.