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"Hi, my name is Julie Craven-Benneddeb. I am a Purser Flight Attendant for American Airlines based out of Miami. I am told I am one of the most traveled members of our staff and try and get on a vacation of some sort at least once a month or every 2 months! I love sharing my stories and adventures and helping others plan their vacations!"
Read my Kandima ~ Maldives latest trip report below!
I'm also the Admin for the AA Travel for Non-Rev Adventurers Facebook Group for American Airline employees where you can see posts and recommendations from not only me but also fellow AA employees (click the link to join if you have not already done so!). I also actively post on 5 other closed AA employee FB Groups. If you do not work for American Airlines you can also read along and catch up with me on my personal Facebook group here. Also read my last travel blog to Bali & Hong Kong here!
The Maldives has always been a dream destination of mine but always figured it was for couples only and very expensive when there. How wrong I was! We routed through Hong Kong on a great deal to the Game Changing Island resort of Kandima. You can read all about our experience below! At the bottom of this page are some travel trips and how I used my concessions to get there
So the first thing I want to do is dispell some of these myths and beliefs some of my fellow American Airlines crew have about the Maldives!
Whilst the Maldives is a traditionally a Muslim country, Yes of course you can wear bikinis and yes of course you can drink alcohol at the island resorts! Take a look at our photo's and videos for evidence of this! Tourism is extremely important to Maldivian's and all of the 100+ island resorts are extremely laid back and with no different rules than any other tropical island you might visit in the Caribbean. The locals and staff on the islands are super warm and friendly and we had an absolute ball as you will see below! Of course if you decide to visit the local's islands on an excursion or venture onto the capital city island of Male, you should be considerate and respectful to their culture and religion by covering up shoulders and wearing longer dresses or slacks around town.
We chose to visit the island resort of Kandima which came highly recommended and there is a simply amazing deal for American Airlines employees bookable as we did on the link below. Kandima only opened last year and has rapidly become know as a 'Game Changing' resort in this wonderful multi island nation.
Why? Well traditionally the Maldives has been known for being quiet and best suited to romantic couples. Kandima is certainly perfect for that, however it has 266 beachfront and over water villa rooms, 10 restaurants and bars, 2 simply huge swimming pools, a spa, dive and watersports centre and simply so much to do you will never get bored. Being that is over a mile long guests can choose to hideaway and enjoy privacy both on the beach or in their villa, or socialise with other guests and families and have a rockin Kool time as Yarid and I did. It's perfect for everyone!
From Florida, Yarid and I routed in via Hong Kong where we stopped off for a couple of nights of fun, then flew onwards non stop to capital city Male's International Airport (MLE). The view from the plane was simply amazing as suddenly hundreds of tiny islands come into view before landing on the amazing reclaimed island and runway. As we arrived in the evening, we opted to overnight in a cheap and small hotel closeby so we could wake up refreshed and ready for our onwards 40 minute domestic flight with Maldivian to the Dhaalu Atol (DDD). Click on the map below!
Wow what a cool and funny airport this is, seemingly in the middle of nowhere! We were met by the Kandima staff and then whisked by speed boat 20 minutes to the island. We had arrived! It may sound like a bit of a slog to get there but boy is it worth it. Such fun and excitement, and when we finally arrived at the jetty on Kandima our mouths dropped. We had reached Paradise!
I hope by now you are already thinking 'wow' I'm going there!... and I don't blame you! This place is unbelievable. We couldn't wait to dive into the crystal clear ocean, cocktail in hand before being taken by golf buggy to the room. We got an upgrade (which is not uncommon on this deal if the hotel has the space, but not guaranteed of course) to an overwater villa and fell in love with it the moment we walked through the door.
Ok on the subject of food and drink and what meal plan to choose at Kandima. We booked with Staff Travel Voyage who have by far the best deal for airline employees (link below) and opted for the special rate with breakfast as we are not huge eaters at lunchtime and you also get a special 20% discount from all food and beverages (inlcuding alcohol) during your stay, so really it's a case of how much you generally eat or drink.
There are also pre bookable supplements available with Staff Travel Voyage if you want to select Half Board (HB) and have dinner included, or Full Board (FB) and have lunch and dinner also included, or finally All Inclusive, with all food and drink (including alcohol) included. This way you know for sure up front what budget you need. If you take a meal plan options dining is taken at either of 2 of the 10 restaurants and bars on the island and are on a buffet basis (which again is very very extensive with wonderful selections of lovely food!).
The chefs at the buffet made a couple of special dishes for us which were delicious. All their food is very fresh and well made there is a lot of wonderful dishes to choose from. If you are not on All Inclusive, Happy hour is daily from 5-7pm and their yummy cocktails are only $5 each during this time ($10 regular price) they also have sangria by the pitcher for $14 all day every day which kicks a punch
After dinner there is a DJ they change up frequently and they are always playing great music for all. So if you are tired of relaxing you can party it up into the wee hours with all the other guests. They have different themed nights at the Sea dragon Forbidden Bar, we went to a couple of them and had a blast. We had dinner at Smoke one evening and really enjoyed our meal. We had the duck liver appetizer and the filet mignon main course cooked to perfection, our friends had the prawns and wow they looked delicious! Next time I go back I will try them, they were the size of lobster!
Kandima has a range of wonderful rooms to choose from. Staff Travel Voyage guests get space available upgrades ~ at the hotels discretion on check-in. These are not guaranteed and as with our concessionary flights, they should not be demanded or it ruins it for others later! On this occasion we were very fortunate and were upgraded to an Aqua Villa (over the water) which was truly fab, but to be honest we took a look around the other room categories on the island and all were lovely. If you fancy being based on the beach then sky or beach studios are perfectly adequate and there are also detached beach villas with either private hot tub or small pool! You can opt to choose to pay the lowest price and take pot luck or pay a slightly higher price if you want to guarantee a particular room type. Families are probably more suited to the beach rooms so the kids can be playing in the sand whist the parents relax, and romantics will simply love the Aqua villas or private beachfront villas. You won't be disappointed whichever room you stay in!
At Kandima the choice is yours! EVERYTHING or NOTHING! which makes it the perfect choice in the Maldives for simply everyone. With an idllyic beach stretching a mile you can easily find somewhere to chill out and relax and feel you have the island to yourself, or you can hang out closer to the 2 simply huge swimming pools where there is a bit more action, and cool tunes playing!
A true myriad of activies includes Scuba Diving, Jet Ski, Kite Surfing, Water-skiing, Aqua Cycling, Wakeboarding, Kayaks, Snorkelling, Paddle-Boarding, Photo Studio – Guest Photo Sessions and Classes, Cooking and Cocktail-making Classes, Massage Classes, Salsa Lessons, Bike Hire, Volleyball & Water-Volleyball, Pound Fit, Aerial Yoga, Pilates, Yoga, Boxfit, Fitness Classes.
Kandima is a place where (almost) anything is possible! Not only is the island (desti)nation a place to be kool, vibrant and ‘just play,’ it’s also the perfect paradise location to rest, reset and evolve! Join the exclusive retreat with Nick Knowles and Luke Bache as they guide you through a seven-day programme of yoga, meditation and relaxation. Nestled in the tropical surroundings you will find al fresco treatment areas seamlessly woven into the natural setting. Relax in the on-site steam room, have a full-body massage whilst listening to the waves lapping the shore or spruce up your hands and feet in our nail bar. You’re in for a treat! Guests can spoil themselves with a visit to the Spa, which has 10 treatment rooms. Services include body scrubs, yoga classes, manicure, pedicure & many more. The spa is outfitted with a sauna, a spa tub, and a steam room. Visitors under 15 years of age are not permitted in the spa though just fyi.
Aquaholics are in for some serious fun! Make the most of it and pop along to the Diving School & Marine Biology Centre activities, or head to the Watersports Centre and get wild and wet! 20% Diascount for airline employees!
Kids will feel totally at home with so much to do the parents will probably forget they are even there! The Kids Club is FREE and there is a baby sitting service available for a very nominal cost.
"It’s hard to put into words the beauty of this place, but I will try. I will begin by mentioning that the hospitality by the Kandima staff from the moment we landed in Male, was short of extraordinary. The speed boat from Dhaalu to the resort was modern, new, clean and very fast. When we arrived at the dock, my eyes couldn't believe the beauty I was witnessing. The front desk lobby was so inviting, relaxing and chic. We didn't have to carry our suitcases at all, they were waiting for us in the room, which made travel to the resort that much easier. From the lobby the staff took us to our gorgeous Aqua Villa on a golf cart which was super convenient!
All the doors of the rooms at Kandima open with a water proof silicone bracelet; I found it so modern, easy and convenient, as opposed to regular room keys. The villa was unbelievable, spacious, unreal views of the ocean, modern, beautifully decorated and equipped with state of the art appliances, such as coffee maker, fans, television and blow dryers. Free WiFi thought the entire Resort including in the room made staying in touch with friends and family possible. The villa king size bed was incredibly comfortable, facing directly toward the ocean. I will never forget my stay in Kandima, it was a dream come true and will forever be #MyKindOfPlace. I am certain it will be yours as well"
As an AA Flight Attendant I used my A7A positive space tickets to fly MIA-LAX LAX-HKG. I chose this route as the A7 passes got us closest to MLE. When I go back to the Maldives I will probably zed on Qatar from MIA-DOH-MLE which is a lot quicker, or zed MIA-IST-MLE on Turkish airlines. For those on the west coast I still think HKG is a better option. Zed on Cathay Pacific was easy they have a non rev counter in HKG airport in zone A. I paid $170 return HKG-MLE-HKG they have 4 direct flights a week Wed Thurs Sat & Sun. There is also Air Asia positive space with a stop in KUL for around $300-$400.
I arrived in Male at 9pm and chose to spend the night there as I wanted to get to Kandima in the early part of the day. There are many hotels in Male, most offer free transportation to/from the airport and free breakfast. We stayed at the H78 Maldives hotel its around $70-$85 a night it was well worth it, this hotel is on the same island as the airport Hulhumale so no ferry was needed and its a lot easier to get to. Kandima arranged with the hotel H78 our pickup time and we were meet at MLE airport the morning of our domestic flight by a Kandima rep who took us to our domestic flight and checked in for us. The flight from MLE to DDD (Dhaalu Atoll) is around 30-40 mins and a Kandima representative was there to meet us and take us on our speed boat to Kandima which was about 15-20 mins.
Join my AA Travel for Non Rev Travelers if you need more help with flight routes and tips etc!
Airline and Travel Industry Staff Globally