Oblu Select Sangeli, Maldives review: Laid-back luxury in the Indian Ocean

The views are hard to fault over the ocean  (Oblu Select Sangeli)
The views are hard to fault over the ocean (Oblu Select Sangeli)

In a nutshell: The relaxed all-inclusive resort in the Indian Ocean offers a range of complimentary activities, excursions and spa treatments, providing an oasis for couples and fun for families.

The location

Located in the north of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Oblu Select Sangeli is a tropical island reached by a complimentary 50-minute speedboat journey from the international airport (British Airways offers direct flights from London). Situated on a house reef, there are ample opportunities to snorkel and spot sea life – the staff even pointed out the resident octopus outside our room.

The look

The resort has a luxe yet understated décor consisting of a neutral colour palette and wooden accents that draw your eyes to the surrounding sea and sky. A sandy walkway, lined with greenery and palm trees, guides you down to the main restaurant, beach villas and family lodgings, and bisects the main island. Turn the other way and the path seamlessly blends into a long arc of overwater villas and into the adults-only island, a small yet refined space. It’s an Instagrammer’s heaven, with a photo opportunity everywhere you turn, be that at the swings in the sea, the large infinity swimming pool, or one of the three bars at sunset.

The vibe

The staff could not have been more lovely to us and other guests. Every request was met with a smile and they loved talking about the resort and its special features. Catering for families and couples (the adults-only Banyan Island is connected to the main resort by a jetty lined with water villas), the vibe is relaxed and easygoing.

Things are simple at Banyan Island – home to the spa, two à la carte restaurants and a medium-sized pool – and, much to our relief, the bar doesn’t play music. It’s an oasis that serves as a great place to switch off and unwind.

The main pool is family-friendly (Oblu Select Sangeli)
The main pool is family-friendly (Oblu Select Sangeli)

Bed and bath

The resort’s 137 rooms and suites are made up of 39 beach villas, 14 beach villas with pool, seven two-bedroom beach pool suites, 26 water villas with pool, 45 water villas, and six honeymoon ocean villas.

While the honeymoon suite – which comes complete with a private butler – is the hotel’s showstopper, it’s a little gaudy and dated compared to the water villas, featuring a pink circle bed and a mirror on the ceiling. But the large crescent-shaped swimming pool does make it feel like a private oasis.

Thanks to the vaulted ceiling, large windows and glass sliding doors, the water villa is airy, light and exudes luxury. Rooms are neutral in colour – white-washed walls, wooden floor and crisp white bedding – with a few lively pops of colour in the pillows. Such palette and design choices let the surroundings take centre stage – a glass floor panel, for example, offers a unique viewpoint into the sea, which is particularly showstopping in the evening.

A wardrobe and luggage area leads off from the bedroom and connects to the bathroom, a large and fairly open-plan space where both the freestanding bath and rain shower offer sea views. The White Company products add to the luxe feel.

Step outside the sliding doors and you’re greeted with tranquillity in the form of an infinity swimming pool, a comfortable daybed and two sun loungers. With steps down into the sea, you can plunge in for snorkelling (using the complimentary snorkels) and you may even spot the resident octopus during your paddles. A perfect place for couples, each villa feels exclusive and private.

The two-bedroom family villas are bright and spacious (Oblu Select Sangeli)
The two-bedroom family villas are bright and spacious (Oblu Select Sangeli)

Food and drink

The main island is where you’ll find the Courtyard restaurant, which is a dark wooden pavilion where buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners are served. There was a decent offering for breakfast, including freshly made pancakes and a station for eggs. We sampled the $100 (£82.50) floating breakfast and were served a plate of salmon, cheese board and crackers, a selection of baked goods, including doughnuts and banana bread, and a fruit plate. Considering the price, it lacked substance and was underwhelming.

The lunch and dinner menus, however, were delicious and included freshly grilled meats and fish, a salad station, pasta and pizzas cooked in front of you, as well as noodles and Maldivian cuisine. Aside from live cooking options, you can expect a good selection of pre-made dishes, such as Indian curries and Garudhiya soup (a traditional Maldivian dish). We found that there wasn’t a great deal of variety between lunch and dinner though.

All-inclusive guests can dine once at both of the à la carte restaurants (Just Wok and Just Grill), situated on Banyan Island, which is a nice touch and adds a sense of occasion to dinner time. At Just Wok – a contemporary Pan Asian restaurant – standout dishes included the chicken and celery sui-mai, the stir-fried chicken with ginger, garlic and soya sauce, and wok-fried tenderloin black pepper sauce. And the Asian pear mule is a must. The menu at Just Grill was just as delicious – the tuna tatiki to start was fresh and flavoursome.

Situated at the northern tip of the island on the end of a small, lantern-lit jetty is the Rock Bar. Built on wooden stilts, this watering hole is the perfect spot for enjoying a spectacular sunset.

Dining at the Courtyard restaurant offers sea views (Oblu Select)
Dining at the Courtyard restaurant offers sea views (Oblu Select)

Public areas

The resort comprises a family-friendly main island, home to one of the two infinity pools, family suites, a kids club and the main restaurant, which is a vast and airy spot. Depending on where you’re sitting in the Courtyard restaurant, you’ll get lovely views of the broad pristine white sand beach. You’ll also find The Sangs bar, which overlooks the pool and is complete with swinging chairs and comfortable loungers. Soft beats can be heard throughout the day and come sunset, DJs and live music are on offer. It’s the perfect place for an Aperol spritz.

Just behind the bar, head to the dive centre for complimentary use of stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and pedalos, as well as the free excursions (one sunset fishing trip and the choice of either a guided snorkelling trip or moonlight cruise per four-night stay). On the complimentary house reef snorkelling trip, the guides were great at pointing out marine life, spotting everything from rays to clownfish. Next to the dive centre, you’ll find an expensive shop; we’d run out of sunscreen and had to pay $50 (£41) to stock up on a new bottle.

Cross the jetty and you’re transported to an adults-only oasis with a large quiet pool area, bar and two à la carte restaurants. During your four-day stay, you can enjoy a complimentary treatment at the spa. Nestled among trees, the spa is home to six double treatment rooms, a yoga pavilion, and a steam and sauna area, while tranquil treatment rooms are in thatched white huts. There is an excellent range of treatments on offer, such as hot stone massage, Balinese massage and natural anti-ageing facials. After your treatment, there’s a lovely private outdoor area with daybeds to soak up the chilled-out atmosphere.

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 137 in total, made up of 39 beach villas, 14 beach villas with pool, seven two-bedroom beach pool suites, 26 water villas with pool, 45 water villas, and six honeymoon ocean villas.

Freebies: Snorkelling equipment, non-motorised water sports equipment, one complimentary sunset fishing trip per stay, one excursion (guided snorkelling or moonlight cruise), and one spa treatment (minimum four-night stay).

Wifi: Free.

Extra charges: Motorised water sports and excursions, including sunset dolphin cruise, parasailing and jet skiing.

Minibar prices: Wines, beers, soft drinks and water are included within the all-inclusive plan and refilled daily.

Disability access: Not 100 per cent accessible (there are no wheelchair-accessible rooms), but the resort welcomes guests with disabilities and does assist with ramps, buggy rides, and anything else that is needed.

Pet policy: No pets allowed.

Bottom line

Best thing: Excellent range of complimentary extras, including dinners, activities and spa treatments. Rain or shine, it’s picturesque.

Worst thing: The floating breakfast is extortionate for what it was and the honeymoon suites are dated and gaudy.

Perfect for: Couples.

Not right for: Those seeking lots of nightlife.

Instagram from: The swings in the middle of the sea.

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