Fit For A Royal?
On rather a whirlwind Maldivian tour of our own, we followed HRH Prince William and Kate’s own visit to this luxurious location to see if the Cheval Blanc resort and its fitness facilities really did live up to Royal approval.
A relatively new resort on the beautiful Noonu Atoll just 40 minutes seaplane flight from the capital island of Malé, it was created by the accomplished Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy – the vision behind many of the One & Only, Aman and Mandarin hotels around the world. Combine this with LVMH Management, and this place certainly had the potential to amaze most visitors…..maybe even the future King of England?!
Having arrived just before sundown, I was guided to my beachfront villa just a short walk from the main building. Bizarrely, a little Dhandhifulhu Dhooni – a local white bird but just as informative – told me that Villa 15 happened to be the very same the Royal couple graced during their stay. So not wanting to let the side down and show too much British emotion, I offered a simple smile and an approving nod.
After a good night sleep and a deliciously healthy breakfast delivered by Moosa, my friendly Butler, the daily workout was calling.
Always having the need to explore the length and breadth of my surroundings, I first walked the relatively short distance (approximately 1km) to the end of the connecting islands, stopping every-so-often in awe of nature and of course to carry out some dynamic stretching before my light jog back to the gym.
Not exactly the furthest I had run but still enough to encourage the pores to open in the morning heat, the heart to increase a little and the rest of the body to start firing on all cylinders in readiness.
Whilst I was not expecting a large space, the gym was actually far smaller than anticipated, so it all started off slightly disappointingly.
Being a new resort there was never going to be an issue with the standard of equipment and decor, but as the Spa has been allocated its very own island, I was expecting far more consideration for their workout-driven guests.
Cardio Equipment: Comprising of some Technogym Personal Treadmills (two), two Personal Recumbent bikes, one upright bike and two Varios; there was certainly enough for the room size, but sadly missing the all-important Concept II rower.
Resistance Equipment: The four main units chosen do work the large muscle groups, leg extension, hamstring curl, lateral pull down and a seated bench press, so at least those preferring this style of movement can do so happily and safely. There was also a Kinesis Personal unit on offer for various other exercises. However, with only a few floor mats, two benches and a small selection of free-weights etc. squeezed into the remaining space, most will probably get extremely bored if they are lucky enough to be booked in for more than a seven-day stay.
As mentioned, they do offer a few floor mats, but also two Technogym Flexibility units for the anterior and posterior chains. Good units to have if there is ample space but easily replicated with bands, straps and floor exercises if not. So would they have been better to offer alternatives considering their size and how often they will be used? I think so!
With a view like this from the treadmill, I shouldn’t really complain really, but so much thought was taken to create this beautiful resort, that it’s frustrating to come across yet another gym space underperforming.
There were only a handful of Palm trees on the islands prior to construction, so they transported and planted all the vegetation to create this tropical paradise. They did it well, and with a few more years of natural development, all signs of human intervention will be well hidden. So with this much consideration to detail, they have let themselves down somewhat with an average workout facility, sadly.
With just a little more imagination for the interior and exterior space, together with the appreciation of new techniques, equipment and expectations, this could be turned around pretty easily. The shaded decking and sand area in front of the gym are just crying out to be used for some great alternative exercises – ropes, tyres, pull-up bars, rings….the list goes on. Not everyone will use these but it shows some foresight and a little outside the box thinking to connect their active guests with the natural surroundings.
The room was always clean and tidy with the usual towels and water, but there wasn’t always a Personal Trainer on hand from what I could see. I did meet with one cool guy, whose name eludes me, who was there on occasion, but it seemed to me that the focus was on DIY exercise rather than offering the skills and knowledge of this gentleman. Saying that they do offer individual Personal Training sessions for $140 or $170 for a couple but it wasn’t really on display for those to see.
As for any additional post-workout refreshments, well, they certainly weren’t on offer. A simple gym menu for green juices or protein shakes straight from the kitchen to the gym would have been a nice alternative.
So, after the post-workout stretch, I had the three water options – the large main resort pool, my private pool (pictured) or the incredibly clear and warm Indian Ocean. Choices, choices! Of course, nature won this time and every time…but only in daylight hours! The private option was saved for the evening and any pre-bed dip!
Adjustments & Improvements:
- When designing the building, just a slight increase would have made a huge difference to the workout space.
- Offer an outside area with items already attached and set in position. It’s crying out for some fun beach exercise routines!
- Increase the rollers, bands, medicine balls, Kettlebells, etc. One can’t have enough of these.
- Improve the list of large equipment considering the space available.
- As the resort isn’t the largest, offer a more obvious Juice Bar menu with protein shakes and rehydration drinks from the room service kitchen. Something is better than nothing!
Offer a good music system for the room. Again, it doesn’t have to be too loud but something to create a more motivational atmosphere.
The Important Six:
- Equipment Selection 5/10
- Layout 5/10
- Cleanliness 10/10
- Staff 6/10
- Towels/Drinks 5/10
- Inspiring Environment 6/10
Tennis: Two courts are offered to guests but located glamorously on the neighbouring island of Maakurandhoo a few minutes away by boat. A pretty spectacular way to head for a game but obviously it needs a little more planning in your day than just rocking up to a court…but so worth it!
Yoga & Pilates: These sessions are available for all abilities and can be carried out in the gym, at the spa, in your villa or on the beach as the sun goes down! What more could you want? Heaven! Prices start at $115 for an hour.
Maakurandhoo Fitness Bootcamp: Unfortunately, my short stay didn’t allow me to give this cool idea a go, but this offers a 45-minute ‘action-packed circuit’ in a ‘jungle setting’…so the jury is still out on this, but I must admit it does sound great fun!
Watersports: All the usual sports are on offer and the conditions are simply perfect.
A new resort will always take some time to develop, that I understand, but all facilities should be on point or close enough from the opening day. It does offer an incredibly high standard in all other areas, so I have no doubt the fitness facilities will improve over time. However, but it should be there by now after almost a year and the clientele they’re attracting.
So, Randheli is a beautiful resort as expected but with a disappointing fitness facility, therefore not fit for a King in my opinion. However, with the potential to turn it around quite easily and quickly, let’s hope they make adjustments soon before the next Royal visit.
GFG Overall Rating: 5/10