Oblu Select Sangeli offers affordable family fun in the Maldives - Hotel Insider

This five-star all-inclusive resort is great for romantic getaways too

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Oblu Select Sangeli is a five-star Maldives resort ideal for romantic getaways as much as it is for family-friendly holidays.

Part of the Atmosphere Core group, the natural islands are a pleasant 50-minute speedboat ride from the airport, while the resort’s all-inclusive package allows hassle-free, affordable beach holiday experiences without cutting corners.

The welcome

A beating bodu beru drum soundtracks our arrival at a pier crowded with smiling key staff members. Palm leaf necklaces are placed around necks before we are directed to seating where welcome drinks are dispensed and resort team leaders introduced.

Check-in can be done en route via the Oblu app, but hotel staff can help guests through the process before buggies whisk us off to the villas.

The neighbourhood

On the north-western tip of Male Atoll, Sangeli occupies two islands linked by a wooden walkway lined with overwater villas.

Accommodation options on main Sangeli Island comprises 53 beach villas, 14 with pools, and seven two-bedroom beach pool suites.

Of 71 water villas, 26 feature a plunge pool, while smaller One Banyan Island hosts six Honeymoon Select Ocean Villas, the Elena Spa, and an adults-only pool, bar and two dining outlets.

The room

Our villa is cosy at night and filled with light by day, as large windows frame the sea and Sangeli Island beyond. Switch off the AC and that view is accompanied by the sounds of lapping waves beneath the room.

Mostly muted colours, dotted with lively soft furnishings, allow nature’s art display to headline.

A vaulted ceiling increases the sense of space above wooden floors and there's a sumptuous fly-netted king-size bed and sofa bed, all fashioned from chunky wood.

There is a desk and stall beside a flatscreen TV and cabinet, a stocked fridge, and tea and coffee-making facilities. Another chair, coffee table and rug face a glass floor panel for watching fish. Fish-themed decor fills in if the wildlife is shy.

Outside, a sundeck has two loungers, a sofa and table, plus a good-size plunge pool with steps down to the sea.

Back inside, a luggage area with wardrobe, safe, lifejackets and robes leads off the bedroom.

The large bathroom features stylish circular twin sinks on a grey marble counter laden with lip butter, anti-bug moisturiser and sunscreen.

A bath and separate shower, both beside a sea-facing window, and toilet feature by White Company toiletries in sustainable leave-behind dispensers.

The service

Miles of smiles are evident around the resort. Multinational staff are primed with directions to the fitness centre or to get you seated and fed. They include many Maldivian natives happy to detail their homeland and ensure you maximise your visit.

Housekeeping is discreet, intuitively knowing when the villa is vacant and even spotting which side of the bed I favour when placing slippers at turndown.

From the greeting quayside to farewell waving on departure, there’s genuine warmth from those who keep Oblu Select Sangeli running smoothly.

The scene

The Courtyard’s elegant dark wood dining pavilions are open on all sides for 180-degree sea views and abundant with natural light, allowing the full impact of the landscape to accompany meals. An impressive circular table with a red wine drop centerpiece is a snapshot favourite.

A sandy pathway finds tiny stilted sunset watering hole The Rock bar, graced with beanbags for sundown relaxation. This area is close to beach villas and a vibrant kids' club.

Head the other direction and The Sangs Bar – the setting for sunrise yoga, live Maldivian bands and movie nights – has swings and plentiful seating overlooking a family-friendly pool and sandy beach just beyond.

The dive centre and another zone dispensing kayaks are either side of the arrivals pier, from where guests take boats for game fishing and complimentary guided snorkelling.

Water-ski, wakeboard and flyboard sessions are also available. Guests can even get involved in coral plantig as part of in-house marine biologist-led reef restoration initiatives.

A wooden walkway lined with overwater villas connects to One Banyan Island and Honeymoon Villas with distinctive decor, larger pools and greater privacy.

Waterfront swings hang across from a tranquil spa, set among trees and a venue for one of the best Balinese massages this tired body has encountered. Other treatments include intense bamboo massages.

Beyond is the adult-only pool and bar flanked by JustWok and Just Grill restaurants, with seating inside and on the sand.

The food

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in The Courtyard where the kitchen hall provides extensive and varying options.

Winning dishes include creamy-with-a kick Maldivian curry, corned beef hash, Mexican breakfast favourite chilaquiles, and desserts such as indulgent banana chocolate travel cake and Sri Lankan watalappan.

There’s a kids' corner for smaller appetites, as well as live cooking and preparation stations, including a salad zone.

JustWok is top-drawer pan-Asian with excellent vegetarian dumplings and crab soup, and addiction-level beef tenderloin with cha han rice, the outlet’s signature side with crispy spinach. Desserts maintain the finesse, with JustWok’s homemade pandan and black sesame ice cream an original, refreshing closer.

A la carte outlet Just Grill tenders an eclectic meat and fish menu of which lobster bisque, and lamb chops with mushroom generously fulfil the fine dining brief. The berry semifreddo is rich yet refreshing.

Highs and lows

The high is a jostle between the villa bath with a view and the decking plunge pool, both of which beautifully showcase the setting.

The sometimes sticky walk to the water villas could be seen as a hassle by some. Buggies are available, but strolling the decking accompanied by sounds of the sea while trying to spot reef sharks is something to savour.

The only negative … that arrival drum sounds a sombre note if it’s your last day and the start of others beginning their Sangeli stay.

The insider tip

Checking in via the resort app during the Wi-Fi-enabled boat transfer saves time that can be spent reaching your villa sooner. Villas have a view of the open sea or the resort, so request your desired option.

The verdict

Oblu Select Sangeli is an established resort on natural islands that ooze the Maldives’ legendary geographical charm, imbued with approachable luxury to deliver a memorable stay for first timers or Maldives returnees.

Within easy reach of Velana International Airport, where guests are met by Oblu staff, the all-inclusive Serenity Plan helps manage expenditure. Extras such as scuba diving or spa treatments can be added.

The bottom line

Oblu Select Sangeli water villas with pool cost from $1,460, including taxes and fees, based on two adults staying all-inclusive with airport transfers on November 16. Check-in from 3pm; check-out at noon; coloursofoblu.com/oblu-select-sangeli

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

Updated: January 05, 2024, 6:16 PM