With my recent trip to India and Sri Lanka came a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the Maldives. With that, a chance to stay in an overwater villa and this Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review.
Bucket List to Bucket Tick
Staying in an overwater villa in the Maldives has long been on my bucket list. For years I have admired pictures of teal blue water, tiny white-sand islands, and luxury huts on stilts. And for years, the hope of one day seeing it all for myself was just a daydream. It was something I never truly imagined crossing off my list. For one, the Maldives and its 1,200+ islands are located in the middle of nowhere. This collection of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean are situated some 1,000 kilometres south of the Asian continent. And two, staying there, at least in an overwater villa, is not cheap.
Getting to the Maldives become achievable as an add on to my India and Sri Lanka trip. With an epic Mini-RTW Aeroplan trip booked, hurdle #1 was cleared. But what of the high prices that come with the overwater villa’s? That’s where this Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review comes in and why I think it offers some of the best value in the Maldives.
Getting to the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort
This Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review kicked off long before setting foot on Kooddoo island. Upon clearing customs at the Male airport we were met by a Mercure representative who helped us navigate the two-minute walk between the international and domestic terminals. Although a great service, it’s not necessary but definitely welcomed.
Despite paying a hefty $360 USD per person and trying hard to confirm our domestic flight times beforehand, that just isn’t the M.O. of Maldivian Airlines. With that, we received our surprise flight time leaving us with a few hours to kill. Thankfully the Mercure Maldives has you covered with access to the Moonima lounge. Although not much to write home about, (although I did with my full lounge review here!) it was another welcomed treat and a nice surprise in my Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review.
- Heading to the Maldives? Check out these low hotel prices!
One of the biggest things I was looking forward to with my visit to the Maldives was a domestic flight. With the Mercure Maldives being located on a large island with an airport, I was worried my flight experience would not be as good as if we were flying in a floatplane to a private island. Not at all. In the end, I got amazing views of the teal blue waters, wispy islands, and the resorts that dot them.
Another concern on this Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review and its location was missing out on that secluded feel. Again, not an issue. Once we were in our overwater bungalow I literally said “What airport?“
On top of that, the Mercure Maldives resort benefits from its airport sharing location. We were picked up in a golf cart and driven to the resort check-in counter in under three minutes. Other resorts require a boat transfer, some taking several hours. This, on top of any flight required, can make a long day even longer and eats into your island time. Not here.
After check-in, our golf cart ride continued over the walkway and to our overwater villa. I was already giddy from the flight to the island. This was next level.
Stepping inside, the first impression of the room was how much bigger it is in person than it appears on the company‘s website, especially the bathroom. ?
On top of the surprising space, the decor was much nicer than expected. Again, the official website does not do this property justice as the rooms come across very “hotel chainy.“ This, of course, is expected given it is indeed part of a large hotel chain – Accor. In-person, however, the mix of modern features and island charm is much subtler. The view from the deck probably deterred any concerns with the furnishings though…
Other highlights of the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review in the room include a large soaker tub, an outdoor AND indoor shower, and a small glass floor. The latter turned out to be a favourite feature and not a quirky gimmick as I thought it would be. Directly below is a chunk of coral with light shining on it to attract attention…and attention it received. So many colourful fish and so clearly visible right at our feet!
We hummed and hawed hard over a lot of things when searching for a Maldives resort. A private plunge pool wasn’t one of them. Like the room, the pool was much bigger than expected – like double in size. I was shocked by how much time we actually spent in it so I highly recommend you don’t skimp on this feature. We had neighbours without a pool and can only imagine the regret they felt while watching us laugh and enjoy ours.
Food and Drink
Along with the overwater pool villa, another must-have on our Maldives resort checklist was to have the option of all-inclusive. I had read that drinks in the Maldives are not cheap. I also worried that à la cart food would be pricey given you are on an island and thus, at the resorts mercy. Upon check-in, we inquired about what actually was included with the all-inclusive package. Beyond the price of $163 USD per person per day, information ahead of time was limited. The attendant that checked us in gave us a good rundown:
- All buffet meals at ALITA restaurant included
- One à la carte meal at VISTAS restaurant included
- Drinks at the pool bar (limited selection…more on that later)
- In-room beer and soft drinks from the mini-bar (replaced once a day)
Given that it was early in the afternoon by the time we arrived, the attendant suggested we forego the all-inclusive option for the first day then decide. This was a pleasant surprise as most resorts are all-or-none when it comes to all-inclusive.
On the first night, we opted to order off the menu instead of the $60 USD buffet option. Erin had a $30 USD pasta dish that was bland and incredibly basic. I butter chicken that wasn’t much better. I get that the resort is on an island and costs are associated with that but I expected more, especially given the price we paid to stay there.
Room service didn’t fare much better. Four drinks for an afternoon in our private pool cost $50 USD. An order of Pad Thai, which was actually the best item sampled from the menu, cost close to $30 USD.
So was all-inclusive worth it?
On the flipside, all-inclusive didn’t fare much better. The buffets have a good selection of Asian and Western dishes and are highlighted by a noodle bar. The breakfast offering is by far the best however it is included in your stay regardless so deciding on the all-inclusive option comes down to lunch, dinner, and how much you are going to drink.
What was and wasn’t included from the bar varied depending on who was bartending. Rules seemed to vary on what we could and could not order or the quantity. This was annoying when we would grab drinks to take back to our room.
VISTAS, the à la carte restaurant, was not what we were expecting either. Meals were limited and the food wasn’t any better than what’s at the buffet restaurant. There were options to upsell you from the all-inclusive menu that sounded good but seemed a bit much given the price paid to go all-inclusive.
I chose to go with the Nasi Goreng as the staff was largely Indonesian. It was just OK. The highlights of VISTAS were the olives and the pool table upstairs which is saying something. I would certainly skip this restaurant in the future and I’m glad it was at least covered by the all-inclusive fee because we would’ve tried it regardless. It is the only other option at the resort.
Beyond enjoying your private pool, there are several activities to keep you busy at the Mercure Maldives resort. Walking the boardwalk to the overwater villas was an odd highlight for me. Each morning walk to breakfast was like walking through an aquarium. I was blown away by the sea-life visible from the surface.
To help you get a closer view, the resort provides free snorkel gear. The ability to step out of your front door and see so many colourful fish, sharks and coral was by far the highlight for me and a part of my daily routine.
Also included for free are kayaks and standup paddleboards.
Those looking for more water activities, snorkelling options and diving excursions are offered from the dive shop. Free dive lessons are given daily in the main pool to entice guests in. We opted for a turtle excursion at $60 USD per person but, due to high winds, it got cancelled. No worries. The snorkelling off my front steps was more than enough to keep me happy.
The Mercure Maldives resort also has a nice gym which I had good intentions of using but never did. Based on the brand new condition of the equipment, I’m sure I’m not the only one with these good intentions.
There is also an on-site spa that again, I had intentions of checking out for this Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review, but did not. Good luck dragging me out of this pool:
Beach or Overwater Villa?
I should also note in this Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review that there are beach villas available. They are the exact same layout as the overwater ones and can be booked with a private pool as well. There is an option to split your stay between the beach and ocean villa and it’s something I seriously looked at to keep the cost down.
After visiting, I’m glad we stuck with the overwater villa. The beach, although nice, is nothing special and not like I imagine you would find on the smaller island resorts. Although the beach villas are more private, they are set back in the jungle slightly meaning more bugs. On top of that, the beach villas look out at the overwater villas which I can only imagine entices a bit of FOMO.
So Where’s the Value?
My biggest takeaway on this Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review is the value it offers. Perhaps because the resort is new or perhaps because it is located on an island with a large airport, the prices for an overwater villa is less than others. I thought the airport sharing location would be a deterrent, and for many it probably is, but I found the opposite. Getting to and from the resort is super convenient and the airport was not noticeable once in your overwater villa.
Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort Review Conclusion
Despite the shortcomings with the food and service in this Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort review, I am more than happy with my stay and hope to return someday. I would stick to the B&B option, skipping lunch in favour of a late/large included breakfast and go for the buffet dinners. I would avoid the VISTA restaurant and definitely stay in the overwater pool villa again.
That all said, if you are looking for an overwater villa with a pool that is easy to get to and at a rate that is less than what you will find at other Maldives resorts, Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort is a great choice!
- Heading to the Maldives? Check out these low hotel prices!