Overall - A once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed. We loved every second and would love to go back however as you will already know, it’s not cheap! Despite the cost, it’s worth every penny. If you are looking for paradise without the pretentiousness of other resorts then look here. If you want to be left alone for your holiday with no entertainment or people interaction then maybe look elsewhere. If you want a mixture of the both, RIU Palace may be an option. I’ll break it down into sections which may help you decide on whether RIU Atoll is for you.
The journey - A flight to Male. We were met by a RIU staff member when leaving the arrivals who ushered us to a terminal about 2 minutes walk away and checked in again. This was for a domestic flight which was around 30 minutes later. The flight took around 30 minutes. We collected our cases and were ushered onto a minibus and driven for about 5 minutes to the other side of the island where we were met by a boat. The boat took around 15 minutes and we were at RIU. Overall it seemed like a logistical nightmare but was expertly dealt with throughout with no worries for the guests.
Atmosphere - There was a big turnover of guests throughout. I would say the biggest proportion come from Russia. We met people from Italy, France, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Spain, Poland, Austria, Germany and the USA.
Weather - People are knocking stars off the hotel because of the weather. Believe it or not, the hotel don’t control the weather. The Maldives is a group of TROPICAL islands. If you want blistering sun all day, you need to go to a different country. The term tropical is interchangeable weather where it’ll be blistering sun and then 10 minutes later it’ll be ferocious rain. It will rain on your holiday, probably at some point every day. Each room is provided with an umbrella, says it all about the weather! One thing we did was take light kagools which was a God send. The temperature always remains the same though, day and night, at least 30 degrees.
Room - We booked an overwater bungalow and what a great choice that was. Our room (3000) was the first on the right and where the tide headed towards. We got all of the sea life (sharks, rays etc) passing under us, it was amazing to see. The steps into the sea are amazing and the sand underneath is soft and clean. There is a day bed on the balcony and two chairs with a coffee table. The room itself was large with 2 double beds pushed together, a sofa, fully stocked mini bar (beer, soft drinks which are all branded and water) and also spirits (Smirnoff, gin, whisky, captain Morgan’s). There was a kettle with sacheted coffee and tea. Hairdryer, his and hers sinks, large walk in shower, separate toilet, full length mirror, Tv, bath robes, life jackets, a safe. The cleaner does an excellent job and left a different towel art on the bed everyday. On my partners birthday he left a message of ‘Happy 30th Birthday’ made out of palm leaves on the bed.
Food - There are three restaurants. The main buffet restaurant is akin to other all inclusive resorts. The quality of the food is the best I’ve had from any buffet restaurant however at times can become a bit repetitive. That being said, there is a large selection on offer so you could choose to have Chinese one night, Indian the next but as a Brit, we just shove everything onto one plate! There was Chinese, Indian, Italian, fresh meats, fresh fish, entrees, desserts etc. My partner made a good point and said that if you went to a normal restaurant and ordered any of the dishes on offer at this buffet, you would be happy with the food. The quality of it is good. The Italian restaurant was ok, the mains were nice but again the starters and desserts come from a buffet. The chairs were pretty uncomfortable in there. The steak restaurant however was incredible. If that was in London, you would be paying over £100 for each steak. The quality of meat was exceptional. There are ‘leftovers’ available in the sports bar with a microwave should you get hungry later in the night. We had a birthday to celebrate whilst out there and they brought a lovely little chocolate cake out with a candle and sang!
The sea - The beaches are immaculate white sand. The sea is perfect light blue. Snorkelling was really good with small coral reefs dotted around and also the large house reef. We saw sharks, rays and a multitude of different colours and types of fish. We took snorkels with us however they do rent snorkels out if needed. Paddle boarding, kayaking, pedalos are all included in the all-inclusive package however if the winds strong they understandably don’t allow people to utilise them. There are also jet skis, scuba diving etc for an extra cost. The water is so clear, I saw a moving shadow around 100 metres away so decided to go out and investigate to find a 5ft sting Ray feeding.
Staff - The staff are fantastic and all work hard. They just want to please the guests and rarely will you have an empty glass with the servers topping you up at all times. In the restaurant there was Sam and Nippi who were great, as were the others. The bar staff are all friendly, at all bars, and seem to remember your drink orders when you turn up! I didn’t ever feel that tips were expected by the staff however we did give a couple of dollars to staff at points throughout the holiday. The staff are from all over with many from Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Mauritius and Indonesia.
Entertainment - The daytime entertainment staff are around all day and night. The daytime activities take place around the pool. Volleyball, aqua aerobics, bingo etc. If this isn’t your thing then they aren’t pushy but there are plenty of quiet spots on the island. There is a ‘sunset DJ’ most days on the beach playing chilled house music. There is a resident band who are all very talented, there is a variety of different nights from 80’s/90’s music right through to quite deep house music! House music with a saxophonist on the beach at night was amazing.
Bars - The pool bar is open 10am til 8pm. It has a swim up bar with stools and also can be used from under a cover. They serve alcohol, soft drinks, coffee etc. The entertainment bar is open from 6pm til midnight and depending on the entertainment, it’s table service or you go up to the bar. On the party nights they set up a second bar to allow quicker service. The sports bar is open 24/7. My only negative of the holiday was the sports bar, I feel it could be so much better. No matter what time of the day/night, the lights are really bright. They just need to dim the lights, play some music and have comfier seating, maybe even sofas in there.
Wildlife - I’ve mentioned the marine life however it’s worth mentioning the small number of land wildlife. There are bats which fly around in the daytime. Some are the size of a cat, they are huge. There are a lot of chameleons which blend into the surroundings or even the path! There are flightless little birds which are quite confident and will come up to you. In terms of insects, we never really saw any and certainly didn’t get any in our room!
Other stuff - There is a spa which we didn’t try. The gym looks well equipped. There is a kids club but we didn’t see it open. There is a small shop open 9am til 9pm which sells everything from clothes to suncream, souvenirs to British chocolate. It’s very pricey however. (£30 for suncream). There is a doctor on site.
Verdict - We loved every minute of it. It was worth every penny! Would we return? We definitely would although unlikely due to the cost! Who knows though!