Written on: 05/03/2010
My husband and I recently got married in January and decided that the "ultimate" destination to choose for our honeymoon would be the maldives. After, speaking with a few travel agents and trusting their opinions we chose to stay at Banyan Tree, Vabbinarfu. We booked in for 7 days (6 nights & 1 day) and paid upto $11,000 AUD for a deluxe ocean-view villa.
Unfortunately, we were only able to choose from two different local times to arrive in Male (the main city of the maldives) - one was some time between morning and mid-afternoon and the other was late at night. Coming from Australia, the most convenient was to arrive at the Maldives 11:30pm in the evening. As much as this is not the hotel's responsiblity, I felt this was a disadvantage in having minimal flight times to select from, also considering that we paid for "6" nights when it really was 5!
As we arrived on a late Sunday night, we were greeted by a very friendly host with a boat ready to take us to the Island. For a 5 star resort service I thought the boat was terrible. The engine was right at our ears as it was unbelievably noisy and the amount of pollution coming out of the engine was right at our noses and by the time we arrived to the Island we didn't actually care we were at "The Maldives" we just wanted a bed!
Arrival at the Island was a major relief, we had a beautiful young lady greet us at the wharf with a fellow colleague who helped us with our bags. We were then sat at front reception, given some tea and later taken to our rooms where the host gave a little tour. Now even though, my husband and I haven't travelled much the hotel room did not meet our expectations for a 5-star. I believe a 5 star top-end hotel room would be a lot more technological and suit the convenience of guests. The room was much smaller than depicted and older with a touch of indo-style furniture. There were insects crawling everywhere and a cupboard with a few glasses and an extremely cheap kettle that had rusted metal bits inside. There was no micro-wave, no television, not a decent stereo or a decent kitchenette for that matter considering this was a "deluxe" ocean villa. We didn't feel that this room was deluxe at all, in fact it was an ordinary 3 - 4 star hotel room that you'd pay about $80 - $100 AUD in Australia.
We were given a "complimentary" fruit and wine basket because it was our honeymoon and as my husband and I do not drink wine we had asked for it to be changed to a juice. However, after several requests it was not changed and ended up sitting on top of the buffet like a souvenir for the rest of that week.
On the third day of our honeymoon (Tuesday) we organised to have a three hour spa treatment late afternoon and this is where the DISASTER happened. The treatment consisted of, light tea served in the beginning, about 20 minutes in the steam room where we would be scrubbed and washed in different methods and ending in a 60 minute massage. After meeting our beauty therapists Ef and Cake, my husband and I felt comfortable and couldnt wait to be pampered. We were asked to remove all of our clothes and put our under garments in a separate under garment bag. Being a very exclusive spa, the only customers were my husband and I, in a separate spa room of our own with just our two therapists. As I removed all clothing and accessories, I put my rings in the undergarment bag because I wasn't given a box to put them in. After the 3 hour treatment finished, my husband and I were very pleased, relaxed and were looking forward to making another appointment. Walking out of the spa, within a matter of 10 minutes I realised Id left my rings in the under garment bag so I quickly went back and asked the girls to get them for me. When she went back to the room to get them, I was given a response that they could not be found. I was baffled to her answer as I was more than sure that I had put my rings in the under garment bag. I asked to have a look around the floor in the spa room etc to have a look my self but was refused because there were apparently other customers in there. The front desk girl then assured me she would get them as soon as the customers leave and return my rings to front reception. I couldnt understand why she couldnt just get them there and then when I asked for it (my engagement and wedding ring). Did they use the same garment bags for all customers? I wasn't sure and got no answers!
To cut a long story short, by the 7th day there were no results and I never got my rings back! We were furious and were incredibly disgusted with our stay! We demanded for police to come as another solution to get my rings back. However, we then saw that when the police arrived they decided to first have lunch altogether with management staff before "investigating" the situation.
Staying at Banyan Tree, my husband and I initially had the perception that we were holidaying in a "safe", "secure" and "pleasant" environment. My experience which can ONLY be imagined at Banyan Tree was one of the worse period of times I have ever experienced. Banyan Tree not only ruined our honeymoon that is supposed to be a memorable, sentimental period but they stole our most valuable possession of all symbolising our marriage. Their team obviously did not understand the importance of this and shouldnt have therefore claimed any pretentious sympathy. Relatively, they have influenced a sad beginning to our new life together that can never be amended due to a lack of selection in staffing and poor customer service response to serious issues.
After several requests for the best solution, staff management couldn't wait to have us off the Island! We were accused of "losing" them and were told we were responsible for our own personal items. Without embarassment, we were also given a bill of $2000 US including extra drinks and meals we'd eaten which we refused to pay for.
I emailed them several times when I arrived back home and my emails were refused by the area manager with simple answers such as, "I am sorry we cannot help you, we are not responsible for your loss, you no longer have to contact us please refer to our legal team".
Apart from my disgusting experience, this island is only small and literally takes 10 minutes to walk around. The restaurant and bar staff, I must say were very friendly, the food was fresh and fantastic however not fanatastic enough to make up for our misery. And although we did enjoy some of the foods we did get bored of the same breakfast buffet everyday! There are not many activities to do apart from fishing and snorkelling in a reef that wasnt very big in comparison to alot of other resorts in the Maldives.
Overall, after my rings were stolen and no resolution was given my experience consisted of distress, unhappiness and depression.There was a complete lack of "sympathy" by Banyan Tree and an inability to resolve this issue. As much as the Maldives is utterly beautiful we will never recommend Banyan Tree Vabbinarfu and strongly suggest other resorts to be stayed at which would definitely be more better value for money!
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