Vilamendhoo Resort – Paradise Found

As I mentioned at the start of our Dubai post, deciding on a destination for this trip was a painstakingly long effort, one that we didn’t finalize until early April. Once we decided on the Maldives, narrowing down our resort selection took a while too, with Jen spending a decent amount of time talking to various vendors. Our goals we simple, we wanted and over water bungalow at a resort that offered an all-inclusive package and the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. That’s not too much to ask for, right ;-)?

Being focused on the first two requirements, we narrowed our choices down to Kuredu and Conrad, but the Conrad didn’t offer all-inclusive packages. One down. Contacting Kuredu, she was informed that they didn’t have whale shark excursions, recommending instead that we look at one of their sister resorts, Vilamendhoo, as they were closer to the area whale sharks frequent. In talking to them, we learned that in addition to offering an all-inclusive plan, they offered excursions throughout the week that would give us the chance to see and swim with whale sharks, among other sea life. After a little research on our own, with fairly glowing reviews, we booked! This post will cover the resort arrival, facilities, activities, and rooms we stayed in. You may want to keep their site map open in another window as a reference, it definitely helps put things in context:

Here’s a shot I took of the map, too:


Getting to Vilamendhoo from Malé, as with many of the resorts in Maldives, means taking a short floatplane ride, in our case around 30 minutes. We were pretty excited about this, it was the first time any of us had flown in one. One caveat going in, your checked and carry-on luggage is limited to lighter weights than a typical plane ride, with the one checked bag each person is allowed being limited to 44lbs and the carry-on no more than 11lbs. Anything over that incurred a fee before you could get your ticket for the float plane. We knew this ahead of time, and with my suitcase and carry on both exceeding those, were prepared when they told us we’d be assessed a $40(USD) fee based on that overage. That’s a one-time fee that covered both directions, as well. We paid that and then were shuttled over to Vilamendhoo’s private lounge near the float plane terminal. We had around a half an hour before boarding, so we relaxed, grabbed some free sodas and got mentally prepared for what was to come.

Once the plane was ready, we headed out to the docks and hopped on the plane. There were two other couples on our flight, so the plane was pretty empty, not that it seats a huge number of people. The ride over was pretty smooth, and gave us some amazing views of the area, as you’ll see in the video linked below. After you land, the plane pulls up to a small floating dock just off the island. We all exited the plane and boarded the boat that was waiting to take us and out luggage (that the resort was fully handling for us) to paradise. We were obviously incredibly excited at this point. Frankly, I don’t know that I’ve ever looked forward to a destination this much before, so I had really high expectations going in. On the ride over, one of the Vilamendhoo staff members welcomed us gave us the rundown on how the check in process would work once we docked.

As soon as the boat hit the dock, we all disembarked and were led to the main guest services building, where they sat us all in different sections of the room. We were then greeted by the guest services staff, given what can only be described as an amazingly delicious fruity drink, and walked through the check-in process.

It was relatively painless, and after a few minutes we were headed out as another staff member led us to the jacuzzi water villa we’d be staying in the first half of our stay. Having booked so late, the over-the-water rooms were only available the first four nights, having already been fully booked during the last four nights of our stay. This meant that we’d have to change rooms, but we’ll get to that later. For now, on to the room! I put together a video showing our journey from Malé to Vilamendhoo, which ends with a walk-through of jacuzzi water villa 318, our home the first four nights. I know it’s a bit long, but I wanted to be sure and capture as much of the experience as possible. That floatplane ride was amazing, something I’ll never forget.

As you saw in the walk-through at the end of the video, it’s a good-sized room situated over the beautiful blue water of the resort. The mini-bar includes a number of sodas, water, wine and beer that are included with the All Inclusive Plus package we were on. Just take your drink, note it on the little sheet above the fridge, and the item gets refilled the next time housekeeping comes. The snacks above the mini-bar are not included, however. The couch was converted into a 3rd bed for Bayley to sleep in, and I’d say we had plenty of room for all of us, including storage space.

The real star of these rooms is obviously the balcony. Sitting over the beautiful lagoon waters, you can lay in one of the two loungers, sit in one of the chairs, or head down the stairs right into the warm waters of Vilamendhoo’s lagoon. We loved every minute of our time in this room, as it’s one of the coolest places we’ve ever stayed, right on par with our night in the Kirkenes Snowhotel in Norway last year. I’ll add that in addition to my walk-through, be sure to check out Vilamendhoo’s video tour of this room type, it was spot on. You don’t always see a company accurately represent a room in a walk-through, but this one hits the mark. In addition to the videos, here’s a 360 shot of the room and the view from the balcony. Once you’re done looking around, move on to page 2, where we look at the Jacuzzi Beach Villa we spent the second half of our stay in!

Another Trip to Florida, Part 1

Even with our daughter away at college, the past couple of months have been incredibly busy. My wife and I are starting a new business, and the prep work (combined with my existing job) has kept me otherwise occupied. We’re actually down in Florida for the final training on it as I type, but I’ll hold off on posting any info on just what it is that we’re doing until after the week is over and we return home.

This trip requires us to be in Fort Lauderdale for 6 days of training that started on Monday. We decided to leave early Saturday morning and stop in St Pete for a day to see our daughter. With everything else going on, we didn’t get around to booking a hotel until a couple of days before we left, and thanks to Hotwire’s Hot Rates, ended up getting a pretty good deal on the Holiday Inn Harbourside in Indian Rocks Beach. For those afraid of booking a hotel you can’t see until you pay (Hotwire Hot Deals, Priceline, etc), there’s a good site you can use to narrow down the possibilities – (no, I’m not affiliated in any way). Through the local information in the Hotwire forum, I was able to determine what hotel it was before we bought the deal.

Upon checking in, they upgraded us to a suite at no additional cost, which was a bit of a surprise considering I’ve never had that happen when using a Hotwire or Priceline fare. When we saw where the room was, I admit I was concerned. We were in 143, which was a first floor suite near the outdoor bar. We were on the waterfront side, so not right next to the music, but close enough. Fortunately it wasn’t an issue. The band shuts down by 10pm, so even on a Saturday night it was never a bother. It also gave us (well, me) a great spot to watch the sunrise the next morning:

St Pete Sunrise


Anyway, on Saturday night, we took her and a couple of her friends out to dinner, and let her pick the place. She absolutely loves a good Japanese steakhouse, and chose Tsunami in St Petersburg. We’d made reservations for the hibachi side, so when we got there were seated pretty quick. The meal was very good, definitely one of the better Japanese steakhouses we’ve been to, and we had a great chef. Can’t say the same for the group at the table next to us, as they had all kinds of issues (improperly cooked chicken, people not getting what they ordered, etc). We were glad we got the chef we did, as he got everything right from the start, and all items were cooked to perfection. I always get filet mignon at places like this, and was very happy with the quality of the meat. We’d definitely stop again.

Sunday was spent mostly at a local beach on Treasure Island. The weather was great, water was warm, and the beach wasn’t busy at all. We hung out in the water most of the time, until a whole lot of small fish started swimming past us trying to escape the ever-growing flock of birds trying to eat them. At that point it was almost time for us to go, so we hopped out and watched the birds dive-bombing the fish for a bit, then packed up our stuff and headed back to our daughter’s dorm. The plan at that point was to pick up her best friend (who she’s been in school with since 3rd grade) and grab some dinner before my wife and I headed across the state for our week of training.

For dinner, we’d decided on Tijuana Flats, which is sort of a guilty pleasure for us due to the cookie dough flautas. The food’s pretty good for a chain, too, but it’s really the desserts that make the place. Her friend had never been there before, and fell in love with the desserts, too. Probably a bad idea to take him there when we did, as he had a flag football game not long after, and frankly I can’t even imagine the sugar crash that must have hit him during that game. Sorry 😉

After dinner, we dropped the kids back at school, said our goodbyes, and headed out. I always hate leaving her, but she’s been busting her butt so far this semester, and shown that she was ready for the challenge and to live on her own. I couldn’t be more proud :).

As we get further along in the week, I’ll post more on the places we’ve eaten here, along with the hotel we’re in. After we get home, I’ll cover what exactly we were doing down here, as it directly pertains to the theme of my blog, and represents a new and exciting chapter in our lives.

More to come!


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