We spent two weeks at Club Med Kani, Maldives from Dec. 15th to the 30th 2001. Kani is a new Club Med resort, but it is not actually a new hotel. They purchased a German resort and added a pool and other Club Med-isms to it. The new club opened up in mid-November. It is a 3 trident club (Out of 4 tridents).
Our vacation didn’t start off very well. The boats from the airport to the club were very old and uncomfortable, especially considering it’s an hour transfer time. There is shade for most seats, however. Our engine cut out about 5 minutes out of the dock. All of a sudden we hear “Il est en feu! Il est en feu!” (It’s on fire! It’s on fire!”) and smoke started pouring out of it. Not exactly a relaxing beginning… The other boat towed us backward away from some rocks. No one told us what was going on or what they were going to do about it. After about half an hour they fixed the engine, and we were back on our way to the club. We were particularly bitter when we saw all the other resorts picking up their guests in modern speedboats.From the US, getting to the Maldives can be a bit tricky. The only American family we met had a grueling 30 plus hour trip to get to Male from Chicago. They had to arrange their own transport. Club Med would not even let them on the transfer boat without paying $40/head each way. Water taxis were available, but despite what they had been told by Club Med, were expensive. They were also reticent to take an hour long boat ride with a service they knew nothing about.
Once we arrived at the Club, we were met, as usual, by all the GO’s, given a drink and taken to our room very quickly. As soon as we saw the island, we breathed a sigh of relief, as the property was so spectacular.
Contrary to what we were expecting, the beach is not bare-feet-friendly. It is mostly composed of ground up coral and as such it is quite difficult to walk on. Bring your Tevas (sports sandals)! Not all of the Maldives beaches are like this, however. (see the Excursions section). On the plus side however, all that coral provides a home for lots of sea life. There is a constant show of baby sharks right off the restaurant deck. We also saw eels, rays, and many different kinds of fish – all without getting our feet wet!
There is also bats all over the island – no, don’t worry, they’re not man-eating beasts of the night. These are fruit bats, that you often see during the day flying from tree to tree. Scared the heck out of us the first time we saw one, though!
There hasn’t (yet?) been much of an effort made to add nice decorations to the club. Most of the signs, walkways etc had a fairly generic look, and certainly not the exotic look we felt at Columubus Isle.
The only negative point the pool gets is that one day we were sitting there and a huge prawn leaf came crashing down from a palm next to us. Luckily there was no one there, but it could have really hurt someone. Better maintenance of the trees would have taken care of that.
Almost perfect, day after day. In two weeks, we experienced a few rain storms, but they were short and generally at night. It was very hot – 35 degrees C plus (95 degrees Fahrenheit) every day. The heat was made a lot more bearable by the shade available everywhere, and almost anywhere you are on the resort, a quick dip in the ocean is only a 1 minute walk. The only time the heat became really unbearable is in the restaurants (where there really aren’t enough fans) and in the disco, which is the same temperature as your average sauna.
All of the rooms have water that is solar-heated. This is fine if you take showers in the evening, but if you’re an early-bird you might not get water that’s very hot. Of course, it made us feel a heck of a lot less guilty about the long showers we took!
The water is not drinkable, as it’s not completely desalinated. However, there is free spring water available (in glasses) from the bar/restaurant, and you can buy bottles to bring back to your room from the bar.
They do not pre-announce what sites they are visiting, but decide on the spot according to currents etc. The currents can be strong, and the locations can be fairly close to the Atoll itself. Two out of the three sites we saw were deep, and so if you didn’t do surface dives, this really limited what you could see.
Overall we did not find the snorkeling as good as we did in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, or Florida.
We went sailing a few times. The boats were fine, in very good condition. They were missing a few boats however, as their rudders had been broken on the coral. There was a lot of wind while we were there due to a cyclone in Sri Lanka. June and July are apparently normally the windy time of year. You have to be careful about the tides as there is a lot of coral you can ground on. (They have the times listed on a board at the sailing shack).
We didn’t do any, but thought we should include in the report that they have very, very few (3) of the larger sails. There also did not appear to be a system to reserve one of these boards and this was an extremely popular activity. As beginners, one of the reasons we didn’t do it it because of all the coral in the water. The other reason is that we were lazy and did we mention the pool was awesome…
When it’s not windy, the kayaking is good. The paddles are all plastic and thus fairly light. There are some small islands that you can paddle out to, although we heard that one of them was covered in garbage.
Bocce Ball (Petanque):
The ground under the banyan tree was a little uneven in spots but otherwise the equipment was good. However, be warned that Americans won’t do well up against all the Europeans in the tournaments, since this is a daily activity for them.
They had available fresh papaya, mango, pineapple and watermelon juice every morning, but unfortunately the consistently made it more like soup then juice. In the morning, the cereal or fruit was often crawling with fruit flies. The food was never ever hot – even when we arrived shortly after the opening of the restaurant. The passion fruit was very sour, bananas often tasteless (the fat ones. When they had the thin ones, they were delicious!).We really resented the way the Chef de Restaurant treated his staff. He treated everyone like dirt, even yelling at the GM’s when they couldn’t get his precious little beer machine to work. The restaurant was quite warm, especially in the food service area. There were four fans, and one day not a single one was turned on. You can imagine what it was like for the two guys who were standing next to the oven, baking pizzas. When we asked the Chef de Restaurant about it, he pretended not to understand, even though we asked in both English and French! A friend of ours also went and asked and finally later at dinner when he asked for the second time the man finally agreed to turn the fans on!
In fact, both restaurants were poorly ventilated. That, combined with the temperatures and humidity made for many sticky meals.
They really need a new pastry chef. The desserts were almost always a disappointment when compared to the other clubs. The muffins more closely resembled hardballs. And the breads really did not live up to other clubs. (The one day they had chocolate bread we actually didn’t finish even a slice – it just wasn’t good). The dishes were very badly labeled (often they weren’t at all). This was bad news to any vegetarians, or anyone with a special diet. (Although the staff was very helpful and friendly).
The saving grace at the restaurant was the Chinese chef. He was a trainer at the Club, so we’re not sure if he will continue to be there. However, his dishes were excellent, and always had the longest lineups. Wendy is vegetarian, and one day when she went to check out the Asian selections, they all had meat. He actually told her to come back in 5 minutes, and served her the fried rice before he added the meat to it!
The staff (GE’s) in the village were by far the kindest and happiest GE’s we’ve ever seen. In the evening restaurant, they were truly exceptional. They are mostly from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and we had many interesting conversations with them. They almost made up for the Chef de Restaurant.
There was the usual sun dances, fashion shows (basically pushing boutique-wear), pool games, etc. They didn’t have that much equipment for the pool games, and often they attracted more kids than adults.
This is mostly a French club with a lot of Australian and Asian guests as well. In the two weeks we were there there was only one American family. The first week we were there there were a lot of honeymooning couples. They were replaced by children during the second week. Pool games in the afternoon often turned into the "Mini Club". The kids weren’t badly behaved, it’s just that there were too many of them for a club with no organized activities for them.
"The Blue Lagoon" Shopping Excursion:
On this excursion we took a speed boat to the next island over. The GO walked us through the village, local school, house etc., then we went shopping in a strip of tourist souvenir boutiques. It was interesting and cheap, but hardly a true Maldivian experience.
Rhiveli Seaplane Excursion:This was a full day excursion. We took a seaplane (very cool) on a too-short trip to an Atoll on the other side of the Maldives. Beautiful scenery from the seaplane, and a surprisingly smooth ride.
Activities during the day included: Snorkeling (right off the beach – great fish but we didn’t make it out to the deep water, since only the GO knew the path through the coral, and she didn’t come back for us slowpokes!). Picnic on an island (we were supposed to walk from the main island to this island where the picnic was across a sandspit, with "water up to our knees", more like half our body – fine, except that we were worried about soaking our stuff). And of course, more shopping.The most spectacular parts of the day were the seaplane itself, and the island where we ate lunch. There was beautiful sand everywhere, palm trees, truly paradise. Otherwise, the rest was an unorganized mess. The speedboat rides between islands were uncomfortable, the GO was incompetent, we wasted a lot of time waiting for the other GM’s to meet up with us (we’re Canadian. We’re punctual), etc. It was an expensive excursion as well, and I think overall the day would have been better spent around the pool.
Please check here for the rest of the pictures. Sorry about the poor quality, they were taken with the ZR10 digital camcorder.
CONCLUSION We trust that Club Med is going to take care of the problems that we’ve written about, and that’s why we recommend this resort. The island is beautiful. The rooms are great. There are so many spots to be completely alone on this beautiful island. However, there are too many rough edges to give it an unrestricted thumbs up. The Club had only been opened 6 weeks when we were there, so hopefully by now they’ve ironed out some of the wrinkles we’ve mentioned above. We see they’ve already replaced the Chef du Village, which is a good thing. The water bungalows offer superb accommodation, if you can get them, and definitely worth the extra $. The Club has fantastic potential, and the basics are all there for a great resort. We don’t regret having gone, not even for a moment. The trip from France, however, is a lot easier then traveling from the US.