Wednesday, June 26, 2024
HomeLuxury TravelReview: seaplane transfer to Cheval Blanc Randheli Maldives

Review: seaplane transfer to Cheval Blanc Randheli Maldives


Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a phenomenal holiday in the Maldives, where I stayed at the archipelago’s four most exclusive ultra-luxury resorts. You can read my reviews here:


Today: Review of the seaplane transfer to Cheval Blanc Randheli Maldives

Surrounded by pristine turquoise waters, Cheval Blanc Randheli is one of the Maldives’ most exclusive resorts. Located a 40 min seaplane flight north of Malé, the resort is set on a cluster of 5 islands, with 46 whitewashed villas taking palm-roofed cabana living to a new level. Designed by world-famous Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy, Cheval Blanc Randheli’s breathtaking design oozes sophistication, luxury and and style. Highlights include Guerlain-designed treatments on the Cheval Blanc Spa island and fine dining at Le 1947, which rivals international gastronomic restaurants. When it opened in 2013, Cheval Blanc Randheli was Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy’s second hotel venture after establishing the renowned Cheval Blanc Courchevel in France. I’ll publish my review of Cheval Blanc Randheli next week.

There are three ways to get by seaplane to Cheval Blanc Randheli:

  • Option one is a private seaplane transfers (with a 8 , 10 or 15 seater), which is charged at USD 15,040 + 10% service charge + 16% GST per seaplane return. The private seaplane transfer is the most luxurious and comfortable way to travel. There will be little waiting time as it is a direct transfer from Velana International Airport to the resort without any additional stops.
  • Option two is a transfer on the shared Cheval Blanc seaplane (8-seater), which is charged at USD 1,910 per adult + 10% service charge + 16% GST (roundtrip). The Cheval Blanc Seaplane flies directly from Velana International Airport to the resort without any additional stops. The seaplane has a limited capacity of 8 seats only, ensuring that the 45 minute journey is comfortable and relaxing. The resort guarantees a minimal waiting time which will not exceed 2 hours.
  • Option three is a transfer on a shared regular seaplane (15-seater), which is charged at USD 1,085 per adult + 10% service charge + 16% GST (roundtrip). The shared regular seaplane flies from Velana International Airport to the resort with 1 or 2 stops in other resorts along the way. With a capacity of 15 seats, the waiting time at the airport may last up to 3 hours, however, the resort does its best to minimize the waiting time as much as possible.

Seaplane transfers are arranged by the resort according to the arrival and departure details of the guests. The seaplane journey is available during daylight hours only.

  • Arrival: Seaplane transfer can be arranged for international flights that arrive in Velana International Airport between 6 am and 3:30 pm . Guests arriving on an international flight landing after 3:30 pm will have to stay back in the capital city of Male’ or a nearby resort and catch the next day’s transfers.
  • Departure: Seaplane transfer can be arranged for international flights that depart from Velana International Airport from 9 am onwards.
  • Luggage: Each guest can carry 20kg of checked in luggage and 5kg hand luggage.
  • There is only one Cheval Blanc Seaplane. The availability of this seaplane is based on several factors, i.e. preventive maintenance, first come, first serve basis, last minute private charter by a third party or any other unforeseen circumstance. If the Cheval Blanc Seaplane is unavailable for your arrival and/or departure, another equivalent VIP seaplane will be arranged without any effect on the price. If no VIP seaplane is available, the resort will book a regular shared seaplane transfer (15-seater) and apply the lower regular seaplane transfer price.

This is a review of my shared seaplane transfer to the resort onboard’s Cheval Blanc Randheli’s private seaplane. FYI, I had booked the regular shared seaplane transfer, but was ‘upgraded’ to the private seaplane on both the inbound and outbound flight. In this review:

  1. Airport & seaplane terminal
  2. Cheval Blanc airport lounge
  3. Cheval Blanc seaplane
  4. Seaplane flight

Below is my YouTube movie documenting my seaplane transfer to the ultraluxe resort.


1. AIRPORT & SEAPLANE TERMINAL

Upon arrival at Velana International Airport, also known as Malé International Airport, and after passing immigration, guests are met by a Cheval Blanc host, who takes care of the luggage and provides assistance with the check-in at the Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) counters so secure the seaplane boarding passes. There are two seaplane operators in the Maldives: Manta Air is the newest airline while Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) is the oldest air carrier in the country (and also the largest seaplane operator in the world). Some resorts work with TMA (such as Cheval Blanc Randheli Maldives) while others have contracts with Manta Air.

Once checked in for the seaplane transfer, the Cheval Blanc staff transfers guests by SUV to the seaplane terminal, which is located on the other side of the airport’s perimeter. The drive to the seaplane terminal takes only 5 minutes. The seaplane terminal – the largest of its kind in the world – is designed to accommodate more than 100 seaplanes and operate 300 daily flights on average – rising to 600 during peak season – with the capacity to serve more than 6,000 tourists a day. The modern 4-story terminal includes new facilities, and 42 lounges of which all except two have been leased to resorts. The terminal’s sleek design reflects the turquoise and blue shades of the famed Maldivian lagoons.

CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC SUV
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC SUV
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
MALE SEAPLANE TERMINAL

2. CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE

At the seaplane terminal, Cheval Blanc Randheli operates its own airport lounge, which must be one of the most beautiful and luxurious airport lounges I’ve ever seen in the Maldives. A variety of high-end fragrances is on display at the lounge’s entrance, including fragrances from Dior and Guerlain (both brands belong to LVMH’s portfolio). The lounge’s main area features several sitting areas, some of them separated by curtains to provide an extra level of privacy. Other facilities include a play room for children, privacy rooms (for celebrities & VIP guests), an outdoor terrace (with views of the seaplane docks) as well as showers to refresh a little. Drinks, snacks and WiFi are provided on a complimentary basis. The lounge’s interior reflects the design of the main resort, featuring a distinctly French interpretation of tropical living with Cheval Blanc Randheli’s signature yellow and grey colors.

CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: ENTRANCE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: PLAY ROOM FOR KIDS

CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: PRIVATE ROOM
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: SHOWER ROOM
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: MENU
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: TERRACE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: TERRACE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE: TERRACE (VIEW)

3. CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE

From the lounge, it’s a short stroll to the seaplane docks. As mentioned above, there are two seaplane choices available: either the Cheval Blanc private seaplane or the TMA seaplane. The Cheval Blanc seaplane is private and more comfortable (seating 8 passengers in a VIP layout), while the TMA seaplane carries more passengers (15 in total) and may stop en-route at other destinations before arriving at Velaa Private Island. For my flight to the resort, Cheval Blanc used its private seaplane, which is fitted in a leather design, with two pairs of seats facing one another and four regular forward facing seats.

CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE: INTERIOR
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE: INTERIOR
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE: INTERIOR
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE: INTERIOR

4. FLIGHT

The flight from Male to Cheval Blanc Randheli takes 40 minutes, although it may be 10 minutes longer in case a stop-over needs to made at another resort to drop-off other passengers. There’s no service onboard, and there’s not much to do, except for enjoying the phenomenal views as you fly over several atolls. For most people, thé iconic image of the Maldives is that of a deep blue ocean interspersed by tiny palm islands surrounded by ridiculously clear lagoons and sugar white beaches. The only way to see that breathtaking view of 50 shades of blue is from the air, and although you will catch a few glimpses of the islands from your plane upon landing or departure at Male airport, the best vantage point for the breathtaking panoramas is offered by the seaplanes that take guests to their resorts. Flying on board a seaplane in Maldives and admiring the picture-perfect archipelago from a bird’s eye perspective is one of the ultimate experiences that the destination has to offer.

CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
VIEWS
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
VIEWS
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE
VIEWS

To be continued next week with my full review of Cheval Blanc Randheli …

CHEVAL BLANC AIRPORT LOUNGE
CHEVAL BLANC SEAPLANE: ARRIVAL AT RESORT

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