Four Seasons Landaa, Maldives
Room type: Sunrise Overwater Villa and Beach Villa
Duration: 16 > 20th December, 2021
Everything has a time and a place, I’m just not sure when and where Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s is. That’s not to say it’s a resort with absolutely no good qualities, like it’s the Michael Gove of the Maldives. Neither am I saying you should avoid it like the plague, although we’ve proven not very good at doing that. Oh no, what I’m saying is: when you’re in the most competitive luxury resort market on earth and you don’t excel in a single area, you’re not too worried about the oceans rising and wiping out your resort, as you’ll be long gone by then. Admittedly, that’s less likely here, due to the Four Seasons name, a hotel chain that has amazing properties such as Geneva, Paris, Moscow, along with ok properties in Athens, Cap Ferrat and dreadful properties in Sydney and take-your-pick in North America. I’m not so sure Four Seasons Total Landscaping even is the worse Four Seasons.
I think what I’m trying to say is: it’s hard to know what you’re going to get with a Four Seasons – the only consistency is the WiFi login. Landaa has gone for a smorgasbord of rustic meets nature meets chic. The issue is not the style, it’s the financial constraints in the implementation that has ignored the most important element of all: luxury.
In a reverse of Velaa, the airport arrival lounge gave some serious foreshadowing of our stay, with the unflattering lounge screaming like Chekhov’s gun, were his gun ten years past its best. It looked fine for the most part, but walk around the corner and it looked tired and in need of a facelift, just like me a year into parenthood.
The room was much better, even if all the facilities I saw on the way there started to confirm my confirmation bias. Our room, an overwater villa, had been redesigned two years prior, as part of their major refurbishment on all the water villas. It really showed; they’re elegant, spacious, with a quality and calming feel to them. They’re not without fault though; the terribly positioned air conditioning that doesn’t keep you cool as you sleep; a lack of doors between the bedroom and living room that meant we had to be outside anytime our daughter slept; the annoying sound of buggies going past that made a thumping noise on the wood. The biggest issue might be the lack of privacy from your deck, as you can easily see into the next five villas down. I miss those social distancing days.
After the first night’s dreadful food and our more dreadful lack of sleep after falling victim to the air conditioning, I was starting to question my sanity, along with Velaa’s availability, only for it to then start to pick up. We moved rooms during our stay to experience both water and beach. The beach villas are yet to be refurbished, but they’re far more private, with the only issue being how close together they are, so you’re going to hear, but not see, your neighbours. Perfect if they’re world-famous comedians trying out their new act, less ideal if they’re aspiring members of the Taliban.
One thing Four Seasons does better than most is incorporating technology. Their app is brilliant and here they use WhatsApp so you can message requests, which saves phoning people up and trying to explain something for 10 minutes. I wish more hotels used it, but it felt like a sticky plaster to make up for the lack of a butler, which all their competition has. It removed the consistency and, along with having a proper reception area, made it feel more like a hotel than a resort. Even the way they handled the departure, with us hanging around reception for over an hour, whilst Velaa just left us in the room and collected us last minute.
The quality of the food depended on which restaurant you chose, the time of day, moon cycles and the chef’s mood. Our room service meal was borderline inedible, then breakfast the next day wasn’t great either. We moved to Cafe Landaa and things started to improve, to the point of having some delicious food at their Grill, only to order the same food two days later, receive something different that was nowhere near as good and make me think maybe I’d dreamt the whole thing.
What is it good for?
Is it better than Soneva Fushi? Definitely, but it lacks some of the charm they offer. Better than Soneva Jani? It’s half the price. I offer the comparison, as it does have a Soneva vibe, just perhaps more upmarket in places, notably Blu, their Miami vibe restaurant near their stupendously beautiful beach. Yet it’s only that small area of the entire property that gives you a sense of luxury. Elsewhere it’s clear that they desperately need to invest; their library looks like a movie where everyone suddenly fled due to a natural disaster. The gym, young adult club, business area, marine center, all feel like they were built with funds from a whip-around at the staff charity ball.
So who is it for? Not me, that’s for sure. I think you have two groups: wellness fanatics or families (that don’t want to spoil their children too much). There is a massive emphasis on yoga and Ayurveda, with two doctors on property to put together bespoke programmes, so if you love avocado on toast and using #soblessed on Instagram, that might appeal. For families, if you like to socialise there’s a lot of group activities, although they looked like they belonged to a budget Mexican resort. Those that want rustic, but not so much that your room leaks as it’s built from compost and those interested in nature, due to the turtle rehabilitation center, gardens, fish feeding sessions and mosquito feeding – that was just me being the target of them, as there’s so many of them around.
It may well be that these activities is enough for children to love Landaa, which keeps the adults happy, but we all know children are stupid and not to be trusted, so you’re better off listening to me.
- Some of the food
- Some of the food
- Needs more work done than an aspiring Hollywood actress
- Lack of butler, giving an inconsistent experience
- The beach
The problem with average is that statistically, that means there’s a lot of it. Everything at Four Seasons Landaa is what I’d unfairly call average, which really means a seven or eight out of ten and for the majority of people would make it their ten. If you’ve never been to another resort in the Maldives and you go nowhere near the front of the resort, then you would rightfully enjoy it. I couldn’t imagine readers coming here and being upset, but no one being delighted either, it’s just so similarly priced to Cheval Blanc, Velaa, Nautilus and Joali, yet isn’t on the same level.
They did nothing wrong, but their competition do a lot more right.
I love your reviews! Did you daughter get a. Four Seasons stuffed animal?
They did! Yet Velaa beat them even in this area, as there’s was much more cuddly
Irrelevant how good or bad you find a property, I always enjoy the insight and your writing style even more.
I guess FS is the perfect for their main target group (US customers) who are brand loyal and used to FS hotels in Northern America which we all know aren’t the best. So they’ll be happy when they set foot on this island, not knowing there’s better for the same amount of money. Yet their feedback will make management think they’re doing a good job. Let’s hope your honest feedback will be heard. After all, as you mentioned yourself, you are a guy who can be trusted!
Any plans to review Gili Lankanfushi in the near future?
That’s unlikely. I’m not a big fan of rustic properties; it used to be part of Soneva; it’s a boat ride away from the mainland and we seem to fly over it regularly, so noise must get annoying; it’s in the Maldives, where there’s so many other properties that appeal.
Is Cheval Blanc still the best in Maldives??
Thanks so much for this review. I had just booked FS because it’s a brand I trust but just switched my booking to cheval blanc on your recommendation. They were the same price so I’m thinking it’s a no brained. It’s so refreshing to read your reviews as I find most people are not as critical and therefore it’s hard to differentiate 5 star resorts even though we all know there is a large range of quality within this category. Keep doing great work!