Very, very impressed A review of Fihalhohi Tourist Resort
Just got back from Fiha Lhohi (not sure if that's the authentic spelling or not). Fantastic two weeks with First Choice. After two months of investigation online (thank you TripAdvisor) opted for FL as it seemed no one had a bad word to say about it. A travel agent quoted a price which we then managed to reduce by a significant amount by booking on the First Choice website. Flight was excellent - I'm 6'3" and the leg room was fine, even for 11 hours. Meal was acceptable and although you have to pay for drinks (apart from tea and coffee), they're not extortionate. All round service from First Choice was very good indeed. Thanks to the rep Zita for making us feel valued.
As for the island - well, the three most important things in the Maldives are the sun, the sand and the snorkelling. All three were fantastic on FL. The house reef was magnificent - very easy to swim to the reef edge from the beach (except at low tide) and although it was quite windy during our stay, the water was very clear and the current is not strong. The fish are amazing - haven't been to any other islands in the Maldives to compare, but have snorkelled in Australia (west and east coasts), Galapagos and the Caribbean, and for sheer numbers and diversity the Maldives wins hands down. Also saw turtles, rays, Moray eels and small sharks up close.
The room was excellent (stayed in the newer Comfort rooms) with air con, big double bed and little terrace which was very useful for drying snokelling gear etc. Food was pretty repetitive but for a 3* resort was fine and on occasion really very good. They have, not surprisingly, a lot of fish dishes and the most effective days tended to be when they did local dishes (as opposed to the themed nights - 'Orient Express', 'When in Rome' etc).
The biggest surprise was the price of drinks. Expected it to be extortionate, but a large glass of draft beer (less than a pint, but more than half) was only $3.50 or about £2. A bottle of Australian wine was between $10 and $15 and cocktails were between $5 and $8. Naturally these things have a habit of adding up, but for a Muslim country in the middle the ocean, I though the prices were excellent value.
As for day trips - heartily recommend the snorkel safari, which consists of a boat trip to three separate reefs out in the sea. Coral was more developed than on the house reef and the range of sea life greater.
Don't really recommend the sunset fishing as it generally consists of holding a line in the water for three hours and if you're lucky you might catch a rather pathetic fish. The sunset is no different than when viewed from the comfort of the Blue Lagoon bar on the island itself.
Final word on the staff. Really, really friendly. Excellent service, nearly always with a smile and very happy to have a chat about life in the Maldives. There's no surliness, or expectations of tipping. Incidentally - on tipping; there is a 10% service charge on everything not included in the half or full board package. This means that if you tip, you are in effect paying twice for the service. I don't know whether tips are pooled by the staff (I suspect they are, as they have tip boxes on the bars), but if they are, then you're not really rewarding individual service, just providing another round of income for the island. Tip the room boy and the bag carriers, but personally I feel tipping the bar staff is excessive when they already levy a charge automatically.
All in all, 10 out of 10. Oh and the weather was great too!