Monday, December 21, 2015

Club Med Kani: All Inclusive Gem in the Maldives

Maldives! When we hear or think of this name, we visualize an island paradise with turquoise waters, silver sands, over water lagoon suites and swaying palms. And definitely lots of umbrella drinks. But, most of us Indians categorize Maldives as a dream holiday and keep it explicitly as a honeymoon destination. Well, the place certainly deserves a ‘dream destination’ status and it offers all the romantic ingredients for a honeymoon. May be, we do that because most of the hotels we know of in Maldives are uber luxury or premium places that cost a substantial amount. To be honest with you all, even I had that precise idea before I arrived in Maldives.

A classical Maldives photo - gem in the Indian Ocean

This was my first trip to Maldives. I was invited by Club Med, a French hospitality group that has premium and luxury properties all over the world. Club Med focuses on two kinds of holidays: beach and ski. In fact, all their properties are located either on islands/coasts or in snow laden mountains.

Spectacular Maldives Sunset

I don’t know how many of you have heard of the brand name ‘Club Med’ before! I certainly had not and when I checked with my friends in India, they didn’t seem to know of this brand too. The only people who seemed to know and rave about this brand were my friends from France. And Club Med is a brand that stands for all inclusive holidays. In fact, that is their strongest selling point. And if you know me and my style of travel, you will know that ‘All Inclusive Holidays’ and me are like poles apart. Hence, with confused expectations, I arrived at Maldives for the first time in my life. And oh boy! What I saw and experienced over the next 4 days blew every inch of my mind.

The famous overwater suites of Maldives at Club Med Kani

Blown Away by Club Med Kani

Right from the price point, location and to the overall experience, I cannot do anything but rave about this place. And I am not saying this because Club Med bore the costs of my trip, but because, they are a hidden gem and one that the Indian holidaymakers should wake up to!

Pristine and Heavenly Location
Let’s talk about the location. I stayed at an island called Club Med Kani. It is a small (very walkable) and narrow island surrounded by turquoise waters all around. To one side it has coral reefs and to the other side, it has a lagoon. The water is gorgeously warm and filled with rich marine life. I saw baby sharks, sea cucumbers and sting rays like 5 to 10 feet away from the beach. I was not on any scuba diving or snorkelling trip. In fact, I was just relaxing in the waters near by my beach villa. And this place is just 25 minutes away by speed boat from the Male airport, which means that in 3 hours, I found myself transported from the traffic and chaos of Bangalore to a paradise land in the Indian Ocean.

Lagoon Suites at Club Med Kani, Maldives

Club Med felt like Family

This is something that I normally associate with home stays and not with premium and luxury hospitality groups. I am referring to ‘Personal Connections’. Right from the time I arrived at the island, I felt like someone was always there to take care of me. Never once did I feel like I was lost or I didn’t know what to do. The Club Med team gave me island walkthroughs, they talked me through the features of the rooms, they helped me with directions, made me participate in all fun activities like pool parties, foam parties, beach volleyball, evening culture shows, after dinner parties, daily water sport activities and much more. The people of Club Med were totally clued in and I liked it a lot, especially their smiling faces and high energy personality. When I was bound home after 4 days of staying in Club Med, I not only missed the place, but also missed the people. Such was my personal connection with the people here. I had a blast with them.

Room with a view - Overwater suites - Club Med Finolu, Maldives

The All Inclusive Concept

Now, this is an alien concept for me and one that I stay away from as it curbs my independent travel style. However, after experiencing it first hand at Club Med Kani, I feel that it is not bad. In fact, it is perfect for holidayers on a short vacation and who would like everything well laid out so that they can simply relax and enjoy their holiday. And, in an expensive destination such as Maldives, this all inclusive concept gives you a precise and accurate idea of your expenses. Once I returned from my Maldives trip, I actually did a comparison with other hotel groups and found out that the all inclusive package at Club Med Kani gave me a significant cost advantage.

Private swimming pools at Club Med Finolu Beach Villas, Maldives

In this all inclusive package, everything except airport pick up and drop, spa sessions, scuba diving, scenic plane rides, personal shopping and tips are covered. It includes your stay, all meals and at all kinds of times, a never ending supply of alcohol, water activities like sailing, kayaking, snorkelling and glass boat rides, access to the swimming pool and the pool and foam parties that it comes with, evening culture shows, after dinner parties with full on DJ action, all kinds of games like skittles, beach volleyball, table tennis and even access to the gym, in-house doctors and nurses and so much more.

In simple words, this transparent model helps you visualize your holiday action together with your bill in a very lucid manner.

Pool party at Kani, Maldives

Beach Villas and Over Water Lagoon Suites

Club Med has 2 properties in Maldives. One of them is Club Med Kani, their premium property and the other one is Club Med Finolu, their luxury property. Both these properties are located 5 minutes away by speed boat. While I stayed at a beach villa in Club Med Kani, I got to see all the accommodation options on both Kani and Finolu.

Gorgeous room at Club Med Finolu, Maldives

Both these properties offer accommodation in terms of beach villas and over water lagoon suites. While Club Med Kani is more of a party island with lots of action, Club Med Finolu offers more exclusivity, privacy and luxury. Kani is ideal for all kinds of travelers, especially families with kids. Finolu offers a perfect romantic holiday setting. Kani is definitely cheaper than Finolu and if you want to be around people, get drunk and dance at midnight parties, Kani is the place for you.

Value for Money
When it comes to a luxury destination like Maldives, it is always prudent to get a good idea of the budget. Coz, if you don’t plan it out well, you will be at the receiving end of a huge credit card bill when you reach home. Which is why I like the financial clarity and transparency offered by ClubMed while planning holiday packages at either Kani or Finolu islands. With such clarity, you precisely know what you will get for the price you pay.

Super fun atmosphere at the sunset bar, Club Med Kani, Maldives

I stayed for 3 nights and 4 days at Club Med Kani in Maldives. In the last week of November and the first week of December (when I went to Maldives), the price for such an all inclusive holiday package was USD 850 or about 66,000 Indian Rupees per person. Right now, as it is the Christmas and New Year season, I am sure the prices would be substantially higher and in all probability, they might be sold out as they are such an awesome property. I think the price will come back to the USD 850 per person range around the mid of February. And if you look at their website today, you will see a early bird summer offer for USD 509 per person for the same 3 nights and 4 days Maldivian holiday experience. This according to me is total value for money. Having experienced their facilities first hand and having seen the heavenly location, I know what I mean when I say that. And I hope you do too!

Dynamic scenes from the Indian Ocean - Club Med Kani Island, Maldives

I want to return to Club Med Kani for my next Maldivian Holiday

I recommend Club Med Kani with many thumbs up. Whether you are going with your family, with your kids or on your honeymoon, this place offers the secret sauce of luxury, heavenly location, great family like service and total value for money. Which is why, I call them an all inclusive gem in the Maldives!

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