Shangri-la is a hotel brand that needs no introduction. Yet not everyone knows that the term “Shangri-la” is a fictional place described in the 1933 James Hilton novel “Lost Horizon”, as any place of complete bliss,delight and peace.
The book may have conceptualised it, but Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa in the Maldives makes it come to life. Because the days we spent there were truly of complete bliss, delight and peace (and more).
Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa Maldives is located in Gan (Addu Atoll), which is the southernmost island of the Maldives. In order to get here, we took a domestic flight from Male to Gan International Airport.
When we arrived at the airport, a staff from Shangri-la Villingili Resort immediately escorted us to Moonimaa Lounge, where we had lunch, and 2 hours of complimentary wi-fi. The staff did all the checking-in for us. We only came out when it was ready to board.
We then took Maldivian Air for the 1 hour and 30 minute flight.
ARRIVAL AT GAN AIRPORT
Our plane hadn’t even fully stopped when I saw the Shangri-la private transport waiting at the runway. We were welcomed in and were driven to Shangri-la Villingili Resorts’ own private lounge at Gan International Airport:
Light refreshments were served and we waited no more than 10 minutes for the speedboat transfer to the resort.
The private speedboat transfer took about another 10 minutes to get to the resort itself.
And let me tell you, with the domestic flight and speedboat transfers to get to there, it was all worth the transport!
At 12 hectares and running 3 kms long, the Shangri-la Villingili Resort & Spa is one of the biggest sprawling resorts in the Maldives.
So getting around the resort is by buggy, or bicycle (or leisurely walks). Each villa is given 2 bicycles, all in very good condition.
Speaking of buggys, we were welcomed warmly by staff and management as soon as the speedboat docked, and given fresh coconut drinks. We were then whisked away in a buggy by our personal villa host, Atif. He drove us to our room, a Deluxe Pool Villa (all rooms here are villa-types), and he did the check-in process in the room.
THE ROOM/ VILLA
We were checked in at a Deluxe Pool Villa. I will show an in-depth coverage of the room, but first this:
Every villa is appointed a personal villa host. Ours was a gentleman named Atif, and he was our first point of contact in terms of our itinerary, activities, and pretty much all general questions. We were given our own mobile phone so we could get in touch with Atif, reception, and all other key contacts wherever we were at the resort.
I’m definitely most impressed with their villa host service. Every time we had a scheduled activity or appointment, we would get a call or SMS from Atif to confirm and remind us of the time. And especially one evening, Atif personally visited us in our villa simply to say that he had the next day off, and passed on the business card of the villa host who would be taking his place. In turn, the very next day, the new villa host promptly paid us a visit and introduced himself to us.
Now this kind of impeccable service can only be matched by a room with superb attention to detail and comfort:
The villa has 2 separate areas. The lounge or living room (to the left) and the main bedroom and bath (right). Both must be accessed with the room key for security.
The bed, a california king-sized one, is the most comfortable one I’ve ever slept in. It’s a daring statement and it’s absolutely true. At night, I would try to sit in the bed and do some reading and light work but I’d always end up sleeping. It’s just that comfortable.
The room is also intuitive- air conditioning automatically switches off when you open the doors, and on again when you close it, lights in certain parts of the bathroom automatically light up when you enter. All I need is the covers to tuck me in when I lay on the bed 🙂
The massive bathroom offers both an indoor and an outdoor shower, and also a giant stand alone tub. It could easily fit 2 people without any knees bent!
This is easily my favourite spot in the room. The wooden door is the entrance to the villa itself.
Now there are some hotel rooms where you can cover just by photos alone. This Deluxe Pool Villa is not one of them. It has to be taken by video so you can see what the villa really is like.
So here you go, make sure you watch in HD as Zombie definitely covered every corner of the villa 🙂
CLEAN AND GREEN
It is worth noting that the Shangri-la maintains its commitment to eco-conservatism. It is very green and lush throughout the island. We took their Ecological Tour one afternoon and were amazed to see the abundance of wildlife.
They also follow a strict rule where by if they cut down a coconut tree, they have to plant 2 more in place of the 1 they took down.
There’s also a historical side to the resort. The island used to be occupied by British Armed forces during WWII, so there are some parts of the resort (such as the Spa), where they have an enclosure that preserves what it used to be (bunker, etc)
As part of their Social Corporate Responsibility, Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort also has a Chef’s Garden, a massive garden where they plant locally produced herbs and vegetables.
They also use this area to cultivate and discover what crops they can grow in the island’s type of soil. After that, they invite local farms and producers from the local island and teach them the new technologies they learned. Once the local producers and farmers are capable of producing this on their own land, Shangri-la, in turn, now buys the produce from them.
Talk about a smart way of providing business to the local economy. I’m very much impressed.
The Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort Maldives has the one and only golf course in the Maldives
The 9-hole golf course runs 7 hectares and is open 12 hours a day, from 7 am to 7pm.
The golf course also has the highest point in the island, a lookout , which is also one of the locations offered by Shangri-la’s “Dine by Design” concept, where you can have your meals at various parts of the island, accompanied by your own chef.
I have not tried to play golf here but I hear it’s good for both beginners and advanced.
CHI, THE SPA
Ah, we now come to my favourite zone. The spa.
Chi, The Spa (Shangri-la’s own spa brand), is located in a spa village of its own.
I was signed up for a Kandu Boli Ritual Treatment, a Chi, The Spa treatment that is exclusive to Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort Maldives
I’m a sucker for massage and spa treatments, and know a good massage when I get one. This Kadu Boli Ritual was more than good. It was excellently-good, and quite possibly the best massage treatment I’ve ever had. It just trumped the one I had from the Intercontinental in Fiji (which until that time, was my top massage experience of all). I now have a new top notcher.
Massage experiences are very subjective, and the Kandu Boli Ritual just fit the bill of my perfect massage. Warm coconut oil inside cowrie shells, which are then poured (from the shell) to your skin, and the shells are used to gently massage. It’s just too heavenly.
I think I may have cried a little when the therapist gently woke me up to say the massage is done. It was really good, and I would recommend this to add to your memorable experience when staying at the Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort Maldives.
BEACH & POOL
They have a curved infinite pool and a beach, which I must say isn’t the highlight of the resort. With the beach, it must be the weather when we were there but it’s not the piercing blue waters one normally associates with the Maldives. Yet given this, the Shangri-la has still managed to maintain the beach and pool in best conditions.
FOOD & DINING
Ah, the food. Now you didn’t expect me to write a brief description about the wonderful food that Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort Maldives had to offer, did you?
The wonderful and amazing F&B at the Shangri-la had impressed us so much that it deserved a solo web-time/space of its own
SCUBA DIVING/DOLPHIN CRUISE
Whether you’re a water baby or someone who is just happy to be in a resort, but not necessarily swim (strange, but I do know of folks like this!), there is always an activity for you at the Shangri-la Villingili Maldives.
We went scuba diving and saw a lot of turtles (and a tiger shark!). The dolphin cruise, which we did on a sunset, was purely magical.
I would recommend the Shangri-la Villingili Resort & Spa to: First & foremost, families both with young and bigger kids (they are one of the most family-friendly resorts I’ve been to), and couples.
True to the definition of Shangri-la in “Lost Horizon”, we found our place of bliss, peace and tranquility at Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa Maldives.
The weather wasn’t all sunny when we were there, it rained most of the time, yet we left the resort filled with sunshine-y memories and warmth, and with plans to return 🙂
Villingili Island, Addu Atoll, Republic of Maldives
CLICK HERE for the wonderful water activities of Scuba Diving & Dolphin Cruise at Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives
We stayed as guests of Shangri-la’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives. However this has not influenced my views about the resort. All opinions in this review are mine.