Kurumba has a historic place in the amazing story of Maldives tourism.
It was the very first resort to be opened, in 1972. Back then guests were happy to make do with very simple small rooms, without air conditioning or fresh water, and a diet of fish, bananas and rice. Since then, like an evolution tree, the resorts have developed rapidly and branched off in different (but always upward) directions.
As the closest resort to the capital and the airport, Kurumba has always had, as it were, a licence to develop differently, as a mix of natural Maldives and a prestigious showcase of modern Maldives that could host visiting presidents and business executives. After a total remake in 2003/4, Kurumba today is a 5-star, compact, planned village that offers options in living, dining and playing for everyone from princes to sun-loving, (fairly wealthy) conventional tourists.
Like a new, planned village, there isn't a single path circling the island but a network of them connecting all the rooms and facilities together and shared by pedestrians and cars. Well, no, that's really strolling couples and humming club cars. The 7 room categories are in distinct locations and they cluster in shapes like horseshoes and candelabra around gardens. The village square (with piped music instead of a public address) is the paved area around the swimming pool, which is surrounded by the restaurants, bars and lounges that vaguely mark the time within each long, sun-drenched day.
The entire island is surrounded by a very good beach that narrows and bulges in different places as it moves throughout the year, unrestricted by groynes. This fine feature is, however, somewhat offset by the presence of a lagoon wall that encircles the resort. After a couple of days it slips from the mind, except where it is close to land.
It is an odd fact that the wall is closest to land just by the most expensive rooms. Here, too, the view is over to the continuing extension of the airport island. In any case, few people reading this are likely to be eyeing up the 4 Presidential Suites or the Royal Kurumba Residence, with their no expense spared interiors of gold taps and Persian carpets.
The lowest category rooms, the Superior Rooms (38) are larger than the next category up, the Deluxe Rooms (39), but are in blocks of four and look out to Male and the airport. They are, however, excellent rooms, as are all the rooms on the new Kurumba. As a rule all the rooms are large and attractively modern, with impressive bathrooms and fitted throughout with top quality furniture, furnishings and amenities.
The Deluxe Bungalows (74) are the same size as the superiors but are detached and have a few quality improvements. Importantly, they have some of the best beach and look out to the quiet, relatively empty horizons to the west and north. The other two categories, Private Villas (16) and Pool Villas (8) are on either side of the top rooms mentioned above - except that 4 of the pool villas are part of a 'close' of deluxe bungalows and 10 of the private villas are behind the others.
The options for accommodation are matched by the choices for dining. Apart from the all day coffee shop and the poolside pizzeria, there are 7 separate restaurants - the main one, a grill, an Arabic, an Italian, an Indian, a Chinese and a Japanese. There is no questioning the effort and success in making the specialist restaurants into convincing settings. It is all excellent theatre (down to the Arabic hookahs). As most guests are on bed and breakfast deals, they are encouraged to have a different country experience every couple of nights.
Indulgence is a good part of the story here, from the accommodation to the cuisine and the spa experience. The Per Aquum Spa is among the best in the country - beautifully designed and inclusive of everything one could want to feel utterly spoilt.
Indulging themselves on Kurumba are the usual mix of Japanese, British (25%), Germans (25%) and other Europeans, as well as a new mix of Russians (25%) and Chinese. With a new Kids’ Club, it is also particularly welcoming to families.
Diving in the region is good and well established but the house reef snorkelling will take a long time to get back to its best after the major reconstruction. The water sports centre is one of the top centres in the country, well run and comprehensively equipped. It’s what you can say about Kurumba as a whole.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville