Resort Review: Kandima Maldives

It was 4:30 am when we set out to Kandima Maldives, a resort located just a 30 minute plane ride away from Velana International Airport. The flight was as pleasant as it could be and my colleague and I were greeted with a bright smile by the GRO at Dhaalu Domestic Airport. After taking the two minute bus ride to the speedboat, we were on our way to Kandima and we settled back to enjoy the view. And quite a view it was.Little uninhabited islands in the distance gleamed abundantly in emerald. I have travelled a lot within the Maldives but never been to Dhaalu Atoll so the sight was completely new to me. The islands almost appeared artificial, the trees, shrubs and bushes flourished and some larger islands looked like they had mountainous terrain. The deckhand was nice enough to tell me the name of a beautiful resort I kept staring at in the midst of all the marvelling. Flying Fish shot out of the ocean, disappearing into the froth the speedboat left in its wake and we reached our destination much sooner than i expected, owing to the many distractions Dhaalu Atoll had to offer.Kandima appeared calm and quiet as i made my way from the long jetty to the lobby, where enormous walls of plants embedded in them stood impressive and vibrant, the main theme being a dominant green enhanced by the pine wood windows that stood behind the guest relations assistants who checked us in.Mohamed Shafraz Hafiz, the Deputy Director of Digital Marketing & Social Media, greeted us and he introduced us to Jeremy Nordkamp, the Resort Manager and I noticed how casual and friendly their greetings were and how young all the Kandima staff appeared to be. They high fived each other and were on a first name basis with the guests who also high fived them in greeting. I stood amused, marvelling at how hospitality was embracing the millennial culture.

I made my way to “Flavour”, the main restaurant, with my famished stomach growling and had a healthy breakfast, my plate brimming over with crispy golden hash browns, plump sausages and delicious banana bread and marble cakes, which I drowned in pleasure while observing my surroundings. The white ceiling was high and attic shaped just like the lobby and lined with pine wood stiles. Children ran around with their parents in tow and plunged into the pool in front of our table, enjoying the bright sunshine.

Once I reached my room, I stood immobile and beaming in the middle of the beach villa, marvelling at the large windows with cascading white curtains and the comfortable looking bed that overlooked a glistening ocean outside. White panels covered the double ceiling, enhancing the effects of height and space as the gleaming white walls made the lustre of the pine wood contrast well against it.

After a short nap i made my way to “Flavour” and was directed to “Azure”, one of the many a’ la carte restaurants on the island, as the lunch buffet was closed by then. The ceiling of “Azure” was attic shaped, just like the lobby and the main restaurant, and was panelled with plum mahogany stiles and a hanging glass ornament dominated the bar. The furniture matched the colour of the stiles and I dived into the Margherita pizza on our table. It tasted delicious. So was the garlic bread that accompanied it. Rushdy, the server, regaled me with details about “Smoked”, the famous meat restaurant in the resort that imported meat from Australia and South Africa. Which evidently made my mouth water.In the evening, Shafraz invited us along to “The Beach Club”, which was located at the very edge of the curve of the hook shaped island in a buggy. Termed Kandima Express, the bus service came with smiling drivers who provided rides for guests. On the way, I noted that the theme of all the buildings were a mix of the contemporary and traditional; especially “Smoked” with its shingles and terra cotta deco and the steep buildings with glass windows. The atmosphere of the “The Beach Club” was charged with energy and music boomed from the speakers set near the DJ.The sun descended into the horizon and guests enjoyed their drinks, some dancing on the sand while others took a dip in the large pool adjoining the bar. Two “space pods”, UFO shaped seating built over the water, gave a futuristic vibe to the lively environment of the bar and we sat chatting with Shafraz about the innovative themes and designs of the resort.

“With Kandima, we want to set a new trend in the tourism industry. One that caters to millennials as much as the norm and operates as a four star despite the fact that it is five star quality. Our aim is to make it more affordable, laid back and for Kandima to be an interactive environment.” said Shafraz as he sipped his coffee.True to their vision, Kandima caters to all markets, maintaining a casual environment while keeping the quality of their service at the very peak, economising their resources as well as employing novel methods to keep the resort hip and happening.EsKape Spa, a comprehensive spa with steam rooms, heat pools and a nail bar are accentuated by their gym, complete with a hydro pool and a yoga pavilion, catering to wellness enthusiasts, while the restaurants “Smoked” and “Sea Dragon”, the Asian restaurant, provide guests with unique dining experiences. And unique they were. The food was delicious and the interior of the “Sea Dragon” was gorgeous, with a vast mosaic of a sea dragon dominating one wall while a similar mosaic dominated the main wall of the adjoining “Forbidden Bar”. The resort comes with a total of ten unique restaurants and bars which provide all the flavours and cuisines from around the globe.

The next day, I sat down for an interview with Jeremy at the Aroma Art Café, with its breath taking view of the mangrove with a fountain in the middle and the KULA art studio opposite the café. As we talked I couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiasm about KULA, their CSR initiative to promote local talent. The pride of Kandima, KULA is a programme that aims to expose local talent to international art enthusiasts and provide a platform for said artists to exhibit and sell their work at. 2017 saw a successful Art Festival conducted in collaboration with the Maldivian Art Community, (MAC) and Jeremy, Shafraz and the rest of the staff are very enthusiastic about expanding the project from art to fashion shows and holding unique events at the many stunning locations Kandima has to offer. Smoked has already hosted a fashion show and are gearing up to hold more events of the same in the future, as are other outlets.

With initiatives like KULA, Kandima is providing the Maldivian community with a stage to display their work to the global market and 2018 will see the resort host a singing competition within Dhaalu Atoll, inviting local talent and giving them the little push they need. The KULA Initiative will also support local schools and artists with equipment, grants and master classes. Kandima will give $1 per occupied room night to the KULA Fund and guests can also make their own donations. The KULA fund will also prosper and increase from the artists themselves. When a piece of art is sold, the artist will contribute a small percentage of the sale to the KULA fund to help it grow. The remainder goes personally to the artist, with no profit to Kandima. Another KULA Art festival will be held on Easter later this year.Kandima’s Den, and games room offer a lively setting where guests can relax, meet, mingle and play games. The resort also hosts Kandiland, currently the largest Kids Club in the country, which is run by a multilingual team of fully certified child carers while Burn, Kandima’s gym, offers a wide range of activities and fitness programs such as Pilates, aerial yoga, aqua cycling, boxing classes and PoundFit programs.

The most unique feature of them all, Kandima’s “Medical Klinic”, complete with state-of-the-art medical technology, such as ultrasound, X-ray equipment and a decompression chamber, is available to their guests 24/7. European GP’s, nurses and a Diving Safety Officer are on-hand, along with Kandima’s dentist who all live on-site.

Water sports activities include scuba diving, jet skiing, kite surfing, water-skiing, wake boarding, kayaking, snorkelling and paddle boarding. Kandima also comes with a photo studio where they provide a wide range of services including videography, drone video/photography as well as dress rental. Cooking and cocktail making classes are held for guests as well as salsa lessons. Bikes are available for hire as the resort is a rather lengthy island and “Aquaholics’, their Diving School & Marine Biology Centre are packed with a comprehensive list of fun activities for their guests.

Kandima Maldives is a resort based on the values of Pulse Hotels & Resorts, their umbrella brand, and is operated as a lifestyle resort that promotes wellness and the concept of a party island that caters to all markets with their unique approach to hospitality. A holiday destination with music, delicious cuisine and hospitality at its finest, Kandima Maldives is setting a new trend of millennial tourism while preserving traditional auras and promoting a culture that is all about entertainment and relaxation.