News & Reviews Indian Ocean Maldives Review: Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives

Four Seasons Landaa, Maldives
Room type: Sunrise Overwater Villa and Beach Villa
Duration: 16 > 20th December, 2021

Everything has a time and a place, I’m just not sure when and where Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s is.  That’s not to say it’s a resort with absolutely no good qualities, like it’s the Michael Gove of the Maldives.  Neither am I saying you should avoid it like the plague, although we’ve proven not very good at doing that.  Oh no, what I’m saying is: when you’re in the most competitive luxury resort market on earth and you don’t excel in a single area, you’re not too worried about the oceans rising and wiping out your resort, as you’ll be long gone by then.  Admittedly, that’s less likely here, due to the Four Seasons name, a hotel chain that has amazing properties such as Geneva, Paris, Moscow, along with ok properties in Athens, Cap Ferrat and dreadful properties in Sydney and take-your-pick in North America.  I’m not so sure Four Seasons Total Landscaping even is the worse Four Seasons.

I think what I’m trying to say is: it’s hard to know what you’re going to get with a Four Seasons – the only consistency is the WiFi login.  Landaa has gone for a smorgasbord of rustic meets nature meets chic.  The issue is not the style, it’s the financial constraints in the implementation that has ignored the most important element of all: luxury.

Why are these not diamonds?!

Facelift

In a reverse of Velaa, the airport arrival lounge gave some serious foreshadowing of our stay, with the unflattering lounge screaming like Chekhov’s gun, were his gun ten years past its best. It looked fine for the most part, but walk around the corner and it looked tired and in need of a facelift, just like me a year into parenthood.

The room was much better, even if all the facilities I saw on the way there started to confirm my confirmation bias.  Our room, an overwater villa, had been redesigned two years prior, as part of their major refurbishment on all the water villas.  It really showed; they’re elegant, spacious, with a quality and calming feel to them.  They’re not without fault though; the terribly positioned air conditioning that doesn’t keep you cool as you sleep; a lack of doors between the bedroom and living room that meant we had to be outside anytime our daughter slept; the annoying sound of buggies going past that made a thumping noise on the wood.  The biggest issue might be the lack of privacy from your deck, as you can easily see into the next five villas down.  I miss those social distancing days.

After the first night’s dreadful food and our more dreadful lack of sleep after falling victim to the air conditioning, I was starting to question my sanity, along with Velaa’s availability, only for it to then start to pick up.  We moved rooms during our stay to experience both water and beach.  The beach villas are yet to be refurbished, but they’re far more private, with the only issue being how close together they are, so you’re going to hear, but not see, your neighbours.  Perfect if they’re world-famous comedians trying out their new act, less ideal if they’re aspiring members of the Taliban.

The beach villas are soon to be refurbished and you might well want to wait until they are. Rumour has it the water will be wetter.

One thing Four Seasons does better than most is incorporating technology.  Their app is brilliant and here they use WhatsApp so you can message requests, which saves phoning people up and trying to explain something for 10 minutes.  I wish more hotels used it, but it felt like a sticky plaster to make up for the lack of a butler, which all their competition has.  It removed the consistency and, along with having a proper reception area, made it feel more like a hotel than a resort.  Even the way they handled the departure, with us hanging around reception for over an hour, whilst Velaa just left us in the room and collected us last minute.

The quality of the food depended on which restaurant you chose, the time of day, moon cycles and the chef’s mood.  Our room service meal was borderline inedible, then breakfast the next day wasn’t great either.  We moved to Cafe Landaa and things started to improve, to the point of having some delicious food at their Grill, only to order the same food two days later, receive something different that was nowhere near as good and make me think maybe I’d dreamt the whole thing.

What is it good for?

Is it better than Soneva Fushi?  Definitely, but it lacks some of the charm they offer.  Better than Soneva Jani?  It’s half the price.  I offer the comparison, as it does have a Soneva vibe, just perhaps more upmarket in places, notably Blu, their Miami vibe restaurant near their stupendously beautiful beach.  Yet it’s only that small area of the entire property that gives you a sense of luxury.  Elsewhere it’s clear that they desperately need to invest; their library looks like a movie where everyone suddenly fled due to a natural disaster.  The gym, young adult club, business area, marine center, all feel like they were built with funds from a whip-around at the staff charity ball.

So who is it for?  Not me, that’s for sure.  I think you have two groups: wellness fanatics or families (that don’t want to spoil their children too much).   There is a massive emphasis on yoga and Ayurveda, with two doctors on property to put together bespoke programmes, so if you love avocado on toast and using #soblessed on Instagram, that might appeal.  For families, if you like to socialise there’s a lot of group activities, although they looked like they belonged to a budget Mexican resort.  Those that want rustic, but not so much that your room leaks as it’s built from compost and those interested in nature, due to the turtle rehabilitation center, gardens, fish feeding sessions and mosquito feeding – that was just me being the target of them, as there’s so many of them around.

It may well be that these activities is enough for children to love Landaa, which keeps the adults happy, but we all know children are stupid and not to be trusted, so you’re better off listening to me.

I got my wife flowers. I’m a decent person, you can trust me.

The Good

  • Some of the food
  • Blu

The Bad

  • Some of the food
  • Needs more work done than an aspiring Hollywood actress
  • Lack of butler, giving an inconsistent experience

The Luxurious

  • The beach

Conclusion

The problem with average is that statistically, that means there’s a lot of it.  Everything at Four Seasons Landaa is what I’d unfairly call average, which really means a seven or eight out of ten and for the majority of people would make it their ten. If you’ve never been to another resort in the Maldives and you go nowhere near the front of the resort, then you would rightfully enjoy it.  I couldn’t imagine readers coming here and being upset, but no one being delighted either, it’s just so similarly priced to Cheval Blanc, Velaa, Nautilus and Joali, yet isn’t on the same level.

They did nothing wrong, but their competition do a lot more right.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 6th Jan '22

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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