Let’s talk about The Cheval Blanc Randheli Maldives. We have recently returned from this newly opened super-luxe hotel. By nature, I am not prone to harbouring grudges. However, this is not borne of some saintly forbearance on my part. Like any mercurial person it takes me all of 5 seconds to simmer down. Yet, for the past week there’s been a candle to my wick and it’s finally caught. So please excuse me if this review smacks of #firstworldproblems, but I like a good axe-grinding as much as the next woman.

The Maldives is well travelled terrain for many of my friends – but they all seemed to go to the same resort, The One and Only Maldives. Maybe it was vanity, but my fiancé and I thought to shirk this citadel of beefy neckless post-Communist charm in favour of somewhere equally good but with less self-congratulatory smugness round the pool.

The Cheval Blanc Randheli is the recently opened LVMH resort in the Maldives and the first in their hotel portfolio. The photos were full of elan and sophisticated promise.

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The Cheval Blanc Maldives – the Island

On my last visit to the Maldives we stayed at the Anantara resort; a charming natural Island with lush vegetation, tropical flowers the size of dinner plates and a lucent turquoise lagoon. Experience builds expectations. We were crossing the equator goddamit.

From Le Cheval Blanc Maldives, I expected fireworks. Being fanned with palm leaves by the pool. Rooms out of architectural digest. Bluer skies. Coral flamingos. A talking monkey here and there.

Not a flamingo in sight. In fact, no birds at all. The only animals at the Cheval Blanc are reptiles; lizards galore and the saurian emaciated clientele. Body-envy of a notorious salad-dodger aside, prior to arrival I couldn’t dream that the island would be anything besides a lush tropical paradise. However, there are things that carefully photoshoped images do not betray – and as you will see in my photos, the resort is peculiarly photogenic.

Almost the entirety of the resort is artificial. There are no flowers. The earth is barren but for the smallest driest saplings trying to take root in the imported strata of sand and cement. Without the shelter of vegetation, everywhere you go you’re accompanied by the pervasive igneous heat.

Practically all the Cheval Blanc’s communal areas are outdoors. I felt like a frankfurter in an Odean hot-dog machine. Apart from your air-conditioned villa, there is nowhere to hide from the swelter and sweat patches.

The design of the resort is minimalistic with the sort of fashionable sterility that simply doesn’t appeal to cluttered minds, lovers of knick-knacks and collectors of kitsch.

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The Rooms at Cheval Blanc Maldives

The villas looked, and to their credit were, stunning. Cathedralesque proportions, good amenities, subtle design choices.

The Cheval Blanc Maldives has three categories of room – beach, lagoon and garden villas. The garden villas are the priciest (£2,300 a night as opposed to £1,200), with the front part built over the lagoon and (supposedly) a lush private garden in the back.

We were promised an absolute smasher of a villa. Yet, we arrived to a villa like all the others. Furthermore, there wasn’t a garden in sight but a small dry plot with some shrubs and a hammock outback.

What’s worse, there was no sandy azure lagoon – the whole reason we went to the Maldives in the first place. Our villa overlooked a swatch of deep blue water with razor sharp coral, which quickly gave way to a 150 foot abyss. All at an extra £1100 a night.

Here lies the problem – location matters. You want to paddle in crystal water with soft creamy sand underfoot. Instead, my fiancé had to watch as his diminutive fiancée was buffeted by waves against Flintstone-sized underwater boulders – deeply unsexy. Yet, the Cheval Blanc only has six water villas where you can avoid such a fate and which are favourably positioned within the lagoon.

It took four days for us to be downgraded to a cheaper room in a better location. There was no attempt by the management to refund us the difference. No meaningful conciliatory gesture apart from a few petals in the bath-tub.

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The Cheval Blanc Randheli Service

Some of the staff we encountered were genuinely excellent (the lovely Emmanuelle Seigner lookalike maître d’ at the restaurant and the smiley housekeeping who left a towel-monkeys on our bed).

However, more generally the service was indifferent and achingly slow. Even drinks took a minimum of 40 minutes to arrive as we sat there, tongues hanging like Alsatians. Similarly, waiting for a buggy to drive you (the 20 minute walk) to the room, could take 15 minutes of panting in the heat.

The resort boasts Michelin style cuisine. The food was very expensive, working out between £200 and an eye watering £1000 per dinner. And if I’m honest, not that great (although granted, the Maldives generally isn’t the best for good cuisine).

Verdict – Avoid Avoid Avoid

The purpose of this review is really to give people a realistic picture of the resort. I’ve omitted details like construction cranes still working in the water, as these are temporary teething-problems.

 
I really am a believer in giving praise where praise is due and in the power of honest feedback. Had we read this review before booking we probably would have picked a different hotel.

Finally, I really wouldn’t want someone pinning their hopes and savings on the dream holiday only to be disappointed. The Maldives should be relaxing, beautiful, and soothing; but if there’s one place that won’t leave you a chiller-chinchilla it’s the Cheval Blanc Maldives.

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29 comments

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Oh no! That's so disappointing. I would definitely think twice before booking after reading this, when paying that amount per night you expect top service.

C x
Lux Life Blog

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Oh my, how disappointed and upset you must have been !!

I am so glad you took the time to write this review as there is nothing worse than turning up somewhere to find this level of dissatisfaction. We used to encounter that many a time when travelling around India … nothing seemed to be as it was advertised, although I guess that is part of the "charm" of India and the service was always quite enthusiastic.

Even if the service at this resort had been great and on the ball it would have made such a difference to your stay, at least on the positive side you did escape the awful rainy weather here back in the UK ….

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Firstly can I say you write so, so beautiful! I could read this post over and over it was such a joy to read.
As for the content – It is so eye opening. I had oogled over this hotel in a magazine.. granted I am 21, but I was day dreaming of visiting The Cheval Blanc one day and now I shall scrap that dream and think of another! It's such a shame your expectations weren't met and I hope you had a wonderful holiday despite the mishaps. X
myuniyears.com

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Speechless.. shoked after reading reading your review .
Thinks for taking time to write all the details

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I really like this post 🙂

I am a lifestyle blogger writing about NYC, my other trips and lifestyle inspiration. I just wrote a blog post about my bucket list, if you'd like to find out more, check out my blog 🙂

http://jovanamiljanovic.com

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I have been dreaming of Maldives for a couple of years now, but living in the wonderful U.S. of A. the trip to get there is beyond painful (from Texas), and the prices for plane tickets are another vacation of its own kind. I can't imagine how disappointed you must have felt when arriving and experiencing the lack of luxury for the $$$$.

I'm not sure if you have ever traveled to Mexico, but, honestly, for that kind of money you will get your body rubbed down the entire stay there. We have gone several times, granted, it's a much closer flight for us, but we have met couples from Europe every time we have gone and they seem to love it. Just an idea, if you like crystal waters and white sand beaches! 🙂

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Cheval Blanc Maldives Review – http://richieast.com/amazing-cheval-blanc-randheli-spa-maldives/

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What a view. I would love to see the sunset in this. Maldives is a paradise and that is an understatement.

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I can see why this place is on a lot of peoples bucket list!!!This may sound weird but where is Maldives anyway? Argentina? Spain?

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If you were disappointed by the Maldives, take comfort in the service at the resort. I particularly appreciated the pictures you posted. Truly, the Island is photogenic. I would go there for a vacation one day despite your low rating of the resort.

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The Cheval Blanc Randheli failed to charm you, but I know that you would still go to the Maldives if you have another opportunity. The Maldives are a great holiday destination. Next time, be sure to pick a resort or hotel that would be classy and not disappointing.

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I don’t know what to say about this review. At times, it’s not what you expect in such resorts.

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Many hotels advertise how a hotel is classic and customers are deceived. This brings a lot of confusing when one visits the hotels and finds out the opposite.

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I love your honest review.For people who been wanting to go here this post is a head’s up.

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Thanks for an honest review.I can feel your heat as I was reading about this well it is right to express your thoughts and opinion you know if it’s a bad resort when you see one right.I never really came across a blogger like you who doesn’t seem to be afraid to tell the truth.

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That’s very disappointing. I will definitely take note of this before I make plans with my boyfriend. Maldives, I agree, should make you feel connected to nature and closer to whoever you’re with.

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Wow very expensive and very dissapointing. I’ve never been travelling by that área but the caribean however my experience was alot nicer there. Thanks for the post, and hope you have a much betetr experience on your next trip.

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Maldives was really one of my ultimate dreams. I imagine perfection, luxury and beyond. Thanks for this honest review, now I would really think everything through before finalizing plans.

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wow this is lovely , I really like islands and I will totally have to visit one of those!

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The maldivas looks really nice , I will take my wife there , thanks for the article !

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Oh no, it has to be awful to feel disappointed on so many issues! I find it really sad that almost everything looked artificial. And I wouldn’t want to see any reptiles at all near me… Thank you for sharing, so anyone who considered this place could get a heads up.

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i Appreciate the review. this type of vacation is a few years away for me anyways but is something i want in the future. the pictures still look really good but thanks to reading your review, its not worth it. sounds barren, hot and not even good spots to swim or relax

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Maldives is one of my dream destinations and would love to put a tick on my bucket list. However after reading this review of yours I was thinking whether this one could still be included in my bucketlist. Since you mention that you don’t recomment the hotel that you’ve been, maybe I could try to the other hotels. LOL

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I feel sorry what you have experienced in Maldives. I was thinking whether is it just because of the hotel or the whole Maldives. Because I believe there are a lot of hotels that you can choose there, from high end to the cheapest one. But thanks for the honest review.

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Thank you for your honest review on the resort. It is really disappointing when things don’t much your expectations. BTW, I love your writing style.

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I appreciate the great looks and design of a hotel. But service comes first for me. If the service there was slow and INDIFFERENT, then I would give it a thumbs down.

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This is a great place to stay on a vacation. I’m currently looking for a place for me and my friends. I will definitely consider this. Thanks

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MALDIVES is truly a paradise. Thanks for sharing your experience, it’ll help me when I go for another vacay there in 2020!

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Maldives is one of my dream destinations. In fact, I’m planning to travel to the island 5 years from now, so this article gave me a lot of ideas. Thanks!

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