Oblu Xperience Ailafushi Maldives offers all-inclusive family fun - Hotel Insider

Experience Maldivian luxury without breaking the bank at this four-star resort

Powered by automated translation

The Atmosphere Core group has made the Maldives experience more attainable with Oblu Xperience Ailafushi, a family-friendly resort that delivers an all-inclusive package that enables guests to budget their stay.

A short speedboat ride from Velana International Airport, this is an easygoing tropical destination for couples, groups or parents seeking convenience and plenty to occupy younger travellers.

The welcome

We are met by hotel representatives at the airport Atmosphere/Oblu kiosk and they swiftly take us and our luggage to a waiting boat transfer. Within 15 minutes, twin Yamaha engines have us edging the twinkling lights of a tentacle of overwater villas and arriving to applauding staff and bodu beru music at a jetty.

Having completed check-in formalities on the resort’s app beforehand, passports are briefly taken in exchange for a welcome drink and we are directed to the main restaurant to catch remaining dinner service before a buggy ride to our villas.

The neighbourhood

In the Maldivian dialect Dhivehi, "aila" means family and "fushi" means island. The four-star resort opened in June last year with four accommodation categories – 48 ocean-view rooms; 48 ocean-view family two-bedroom units with bunkbeds; 66 beach villas with garden, outdoor shower and direct beach access; and 106 overwater villas.

Unlike many resort islands, Ailafushi is manmade, but you would be hard-pressed to tell amid the generous vegetation and lapping waves – and it becomes apparent the resort fulfils the brief in its name.

The reception building also houses the resort’s main bar, X360, and a sizeable pool with plentiful loungers that extend onto a broad stretch of beach.

One direction takes you to the water villas, the other past beach villas to La Promenade – a boutique, cafe and shop selling snacks, souvenirs and supplies – and the Copper Pot food truck.

Netted bathing areas flank a channel that divides the island close to a water sports and Padi/SSI-certified dive centre that organises dolphin-spotting trips – the ocean’s cheerleaders were delightfully obliging on our jaunt – guided snorkelling, kayaking and stand-up paddle. A daily complimentary non-motorised water sports session is included in the Fushi Plan.

Beyond this are well-planned family accommodation blocks, one of the best kids' clubs you’re likely to find in the Maldives, and an overwater boardwalk to the gym and adult-orientated sister resort, Lobigili, beyond.

The room

Water villas are shaped like traditional Maldivian dhoni boats and grouped in pairs. Through the door we find a luggage storage area beside hanging space, a safe, coffee/tea-making area and branded his and hers flip-flops.

The bathroom is partially open to the sea either side of a good rain shower. Twin sinks with mirrors include useful packets containing a toothbrush and paste should you forget to pack them, as I did.

Being part al fresco, the bathroom isn’t served by the A/C, which serves the bedroom effectively and quietly.

Interior design is eclectic with a homely-meets-modern vibe of bright cushions, wood floor, mirrors and large artwork that will always struggle to compete with the direct view onto the sea, best enjoyed on a comfy day bed on the balcony deck.

Steps lead into the water if you fancy swimming near your temporary home, although beware of slippery bottom steps.

The service

Be prepared for lots of greetings as you explore the resort – and to wonder how it is that housekeeping know precisely when you’ve nipped out of your room.

While the water sports guys are laidback, the team in Element X are swift to answer queries and clear plates or help with drinks selection in this otherwise self-service buffet scenario.

Service is even more attentive while dining al fresco at Copper Pot and at the Ele|na garden spa where a keen Balinese massage works wonders. Treatments include natural facials, face and neck lifting, back, neck and shoulder massage, a scalp and hair booster – completed with a sustainable beverage from the self-peddled juice bike.

The scene

Sandy pathways observed by tiny lizards link each section of the resort. While some areas, such as the main bar and restaurant, can get lively – including the former with its nightly covers band – it is possible to find intimate nooks.

And if you have children in tow, Oblu Xperience Ailafushi has an inspirational children's clubs, including a shallow pool and karaoke room evidently designed by Beatles and Pink Floyd fans.

Older ones are catered for in a loft gaming area with a cinema room, air hockey, PlayStation and Xbox.

The food

Stealing the culinary headlines, Only Blu is the Maldives’s largest underwater restaurant and delivers a high-end gourmet experience that lifts it way above gimmick value.

Beautifully plated dishes of octopus, locally caught fish and succulent steak compete with a shifting canvas of marine life beyond the perspex walls.

Copper Pot is a food truck concept offering surf and turf options that can be enjoyed at sandy-floored seating nearby. As you might expect from this location, the seafood excels, but grilled meats also flourish with vibrant presentation that belies a simplistic kitchen setting.

Both (not included in the Fushi Plan) contrast Element X, which, as an all-day dining venue, seeks to satisfy all-comers. Live cooking stations produce authentic Indian and Maldivian cuisine alongside zones embracing Indonesian, Chinese and Korean dishes, plus Italian and Mexican favourites.

Expect to face tough choices between the likes of hariyaki murgh tikka, seafood coconut curry, tuna kulfi mas, seafood okonomiyaki and miso-glazed fish with sesame seeds, and a feisty masala egg bhurji for breakfast. Limited salad and dessert options are more than compensated for by extensive savoury choices, changed daily.

Lobigili also offers a variety of palate pleasers, notably at Ylang Ylang where global flavours are given an Italian edge in a relaxed setting. The food is exceptional, including a not-to-be-missed lotus-stem starter.

Highs and lows

Only Blu is a compelling, memorable setting and a dining highlight.

Meanwhile, a novelty rather than a low is leaving the chilled comfort of the bedroom to shower while trying to spot reef sharks below.

The gym’s midway location between Ailafushi and "love island" Lobigili demands a decent walk or a buggy ride to bikes and treadmills offering stunning views.

The insider tip

Request a non-Male-facing villa or room so you have that Maldives middle-of-nowhere vibe. Some options give glimpses of the capital or airport island Hulhule that diminish that sense of true desert island escape.

The verdict

With its all-inclusive Fushi Plan, affordable rates and occasional deals, Oblu Xperience Ailafushi – part of the Colours of the Oblu collection – is an entry-level Maldives resort great for families or anyone seeking a taste of the islands without breaking the bank, or simply wanting to keep a lid on expenditure.

The bottom line

Water villas at Oblu Xperience Ailafushi, all-inclusive with transfers, cost from $520, excluding $155 taxes and fees. Check-in from 2pm; check-out at noon; www.coloursofoblu.com/oblu-xperience-ailafushi

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects hotel standards during this time, services may change in the future

Updated: October 11, 2023, 5:15 AM