Above: The Holiday Inn Malé’s rootop pool and bar.
Resort-bound travelers can finally look forward to a comfortable layover in the Maldivian capital.
By Sari Wijaya
Holidays in the Maldives revolve around secluded resorts, powdery beaches, and azure lagoons. But getting to these far-flung retreats often requires a stopover in Male, the crowded island capital, where guests in transit have had to make do with underwhelming business hotels as they await a seaplane transfer to their atoll of choice. For them, the Holiday Inn Malé could not have opened sooner. One of the first properties launched under the InterContinental Hotels Group’s billion-dollar revamp of its Holiday Inn chain, the 117-room hotel—Male’s first international-class billet—is fresh and modern, from its pared-back design to its team of young staff. With 117 rooms, it’s positively boutique by Holiday Inn standards, though you’re not likely to have any trouble finding the building: at 15 stories, it’s the island’s tallest.
The hotel occupies a waterside perch on the north coast, 15 minutes from the airport on neighboring Hulhule Island. Getting there is a seamless process. From the moment you touch down, staff are on hand to help with bags and guide you to a private speedboat. By the time chilled towels and juices have been handed out, you’re back on dry land, where a brief car ride sees you the rest of the way to the hotel.
ROOMS TO BOOK
Reserve an ocean-view suite if you can; regular rooms are relatively small, though they’re still well equipped and tastefully furnished. Amenities include obligatory flat-screen TVs and broadband Internet access, alongside powerful showers and a host of other comforts.
Aside from fresh juices and light meals served around the clock at the lobby café, a dependable selection of European and Asian dishes is available in Lime, the bright all-day restaurant. The buffet breakfast is worth ordering for the pain au chocolat and other pastries.
If you find yourself with time to spare between flights, the hotel’s efficient concierges can arrange excursions to the nearby fish market or leafy Sultan Park, as well as snorkeling and diving trips.
The hotel’s rooftop bar, Azur, opens on to a long infinity pool lined with daybeds. It’s a great spot for drinks, though you’ll have to content yourself with mocktails, given the island-wide restrictions on alcohol.
Ameer Ahmed Magu, Male; 960/330-0888;
Originally appeared in the February/March 2010 print issue of DestinAsian magazine ( “Holiday Inn Malé”)