News & Reviews Indian Ocean Maldives Review: Kudadoo Private Island, Maldives

After enduring the cramped confines of a plane, breathing in recycled air and enduring culinary, decomposing turds, the arrival experience is critical.  Kudadoo Maldives Private Island offers you its lounge to escape the horrors of the airport, only to invite you into the hastily put-together sequel. It resembles an abandoned film set, with a see-through curtain separating it from their sister property, Hurawalhi’s lounge.  It lacked privacy, and the sole offering of a tuna sandwich by a bewildered waiter hardly redeemed it.  The lounge feels like a place you’d rather escape than relax in.

After an hour in their lounge, we flew to Hurawalhi, which felt like a low-end, industrial warehouse, before a boat took us on the less-than-10-minute journey to Kudadoo.  The dismal weather was truly reflective of the arrival experience.  We had to wait inside said warehouse for a good 15 minutes until the rain passed.  Kudadoo frequently boasts of “anything, anytime, anywhere”, so where’s my caviar on arrival?  I had my lawyer review this phrase and could see no restrictions just to food, so I’ll have a bar of gold, please.

With only 14 rooms, Kudadoo is one of the smallest luxury resorts in the Maldives.  A tiny speck in the ocean.  So small, in fact, that there were no mosquitos, as not even they have enough space.  This place is a dream for those who believe walking is an extreme sport.  The resort’s design, courtesy of a Japanese architect, emphasises airflow and simplicity; you might start to panic and think you’re in a ryokan.  There’s no Toto toilet, though, so I want to check the birth certificate of this so-called Japanese chap.  All of the villas are overwater and positioned so close to each other, offering an experience similar to living in a compact Tokyo apartment – now that’s genuine authenticity, people.  The proximity allowed me to listen to our neighbour’s TV and guess the killer from my bed.  It certainly saved remembering my Netflix password.  On our deck, I could hear the neighbour’s child – at least, I think it was and they weren’t doing adult things.

Apart from the water sports centre, Kudadoo’s facilities are squeezed into a solitary overwater structure.  The design isn’t exactly mesmerising, though I must admit, I was rather fond of their bar.  However, this setup leads to a bit of a cramped experience, funnelling guests into either this one space or back to their rooms.  The proximity to neighbouring islands adds to this sense of confinement.  Some islands are so close you find yourself constantly drawing the blinds for privacy.  Others are so bustling and developed, you’d think you’re peering out at New York.  I was half expecting rats to swim over onto our deck. Don’t tag yourself in any photos as the Daily Mail will be there snapping pics of you from the other island.

Despite being asked about our preferences three times in numerous emails, they still got much of it wrong.  But all was forgiven, as they did provide an abundance of food, including champagne and chocolates.  When prompted with the question “anything else,” we requested a birthday cake a week in advance.  They made it.  Heroes.

The rooms are spacious yet somehow basic, lacking a separate living area that offers a sense of grandeur. It’s the kinda place where you like it, but don’t love it – like your second or third child.  With that open-planned design, it removed the ability to be in the living room whilst the other slept, and areas seemed forgotten about, like having the luggage rack directly behind the bed, making it feel cramped.  At least I had a great sleep, as the bed was super comfortable and included a decent mattress topper, although maybe it was the free minibar that really helped me feel at ease.

The bathroom was remarkably spacious and quite beautiful – perhaps the largest I had ever seen, but it forced you into being in an outside sweat feast to use the shower, toilet and vanities – the areas you actually use the most.  The bathroom gets boiling as it’s partially outside and has no air conditioning.  Even if it did, the areas that do have air con are very loud, but they drown out the sound of the aggressive ocean, which wasn’t exactly relaxing, so that’s something.  You can open sliding doors at the front and back of the villa to let air in, but should you need to do that?  It still doesn’t solve the humidity issue.  I don’t get properties that give you all the space for a bathroom, by stealing it from elsewhere.

Even though you are extremely close to your neighbour, the wall divider makes them very private. It’s a clever design that allows natural light to filter through while preventing neighbours from peering in – trust me, I tried.  Just completely private – except those on the nearby islands, which are so close they would be stealing our WiFi if we didn’t need a password for it.  Outside each villa, there’s a lengthy, shallow pool, a swing, a dining area, loungers, and a glass-bottomed section for observing the marine life below.

Being so small, all the facilities are in a single, overwater, wooden structure that they call The Retreat.  Convenient, for sure.  It has a pool, gym, boutique, bar, cheese and wine areas, playroom and the one and only restaurant.  The only thing on the land itself is a beautiful, mosque and watersports.

The two best words in the English language:  all-inclusive. That’s what Kudadoo offers, and that’s what we were there to validate.  The last time we had all-inclusive spa treatments was from Burp at Ani Villas, where the therapist was practising new-age torture on us.  We hoped for better and Kudadoo delivered.  They also avoid nasty words like opening hours, so the world is your therapeutic oyster.  Kudadoo only has 2 treatment rooms, along with a manicure/pedicure, but it has decent facilities: a mixed-sex sauna, steam room and salt room. It’s not going to blow you away, as it’s such a small area, but at least they think it will, as their brochure had a statement claiming they are the best, which is always a sign of facts.

All inclusive, you say?  Want not, waste a lot.

Kudadoo has only one menu, but it’s incredibly extensive and includes one of the best breakfast dishes I’ve ever had.  That lychee breakfast/dessert should host the next Oscars, just so it can receive a standing ovation for three hours.  There’s also one of the most comprehensive breakfast menus I’ve ever seen – entire pages just for bread, cheese and meat.  But I’m a creature of habit, and upon taking one look at the Kudadoo menu and picking out some dishes that turned out to be God’s gift, I decided to eat them.  Over and over again.  All-inclusive wagyu is tough to beat, as is unlimited strawberry moose.

I was worried they were filming an episode of Kitchen Nightmares and Gordon Ramsay was in the kitchen, as it was so good.  But they really need to fix their mirrors here; they must be broken, as there is no way I was this fat before.

Kudadoo offers the ability to dine in an underwater restaurant, “5.8”, on Hurawalhi.  The setting is spectacular, but I bore easily, so a drink would have sufficed.  Whilst eating there, we discussed how grateful we were that it was all-inclusive, as the food simply wasn’t good enough.  Then found out it wasn’t actually included in the price.  Whoops.

I could never quite figure out if Kudadoo was good or lucky, as they rarely were around, but we never needed them – perhaps the hallmark of great service, as it was already done?  A pre-printed welcome card made it feel more likely a game of luck.  As with all Maldives resorts, you had a butler, but we rarely saw him.

Something is missing here, but it’s hard to describe.  The service is either great that they leave you alone on purpose or bad as they just forgot you’re there. No one ever asked if anything is good, and we never saw management.  However, that’s not all that surprising, as the GM is shared with their sister property and only comes on-premise every few days.  It felt a bit like this was an extension of their other property – like a resort that started selling luxury villas nearby.  It dampens that sense of luxury, particularly when they group activities together.  For instance, our wonderful dolphin cruise, which was on a Kudadoo boat, but we had to join up with others from the sister property.  It was free though.  Yes, even motorised sports are included, so you can grab a jet ski and treat it like your firstborn – never let it go.

The Good

  • Service

The Bad

  • A very small island with limited opportunities

The Luxurious

  • Excellent food
  • All-inclusive – what’s not to love?

Rating

Good

Conclusion

I’m struggling to be offended by this property.  However, I will attempt it again.  Nope, still nothing.  I like Kudadoo, but like so many reviews, I will end with: there is better out there.  I do, however, love all-inclusive far too much, so I feel Kudadoo has a place.  It also inspires me to set up the Kudadoo Games – everyone stays, tries to spend as much as possible and the winner gets accepted into Mensa.

Is this place for you?  If you like going somewhere and not worrying about extra costs, yes, but if you’re looking for the Maldives best, no.  If you’re lower maintenance than me and seek out Maldives Top 10 luxury resorts, then yes, it’s for you.

Kudadoo’s overall appeal lies in its simplicity and privacy.  It’s a retreat for those who seek a quiet, unassuming luxury.  However, it lacks the wow factor regarding facilities, dining options, and overall grandeur. It’s ideal for those seeking a serene getaway without the frills of larger, more extravagant (i.e. better) resorts.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 6th Jan '20

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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