My first encounter with a Belmond property was a fantastic experience on the whole.
This is a hotel brand which has always had a reputation for classic, 'old school' elegance. I was worried that this would be a euphemism for antiquated but aside from the old TVs and the pointless taps the overall feel of the property was rather charming.
Staff were truly excellent, very friendly and proactive. Again, there was a worry with this being a heritage property, that this would lead to an air of stuffiness but this couldn't be further from the truth.
The transfer process is slightly longer than reaching a resort by seaplane and as a result it deters a lot of people from coming here. For those looking for a truly remote and tranquil island, this is the perfect barrier to entry. It keeps out the noisy groups looking to ostentatiously display wealth with as little effort as possible.
Indeed it's the only resort I've been to where guests regularly greet each other and interact as if they were residents of a small village (which they effectively are).
A lot of Maldivian resorts are like fast food: convenient, nicely packaged, initially satisfying but ultimately devoid of substance.
The Park Hyatt is the antithesis to this.
My expectations were very high going into this and Silvan quite honestly smashed them.
If you remove the safari element for a second and look only at the hard product, Silvan is already in the very top tier of anything I've ever seen. In terms of the sheer personal space, the private pool, the outdoor terrace and the very high end decor, only places like Amanoi or the Waldorf Astoria Maldives come close.
Even if you don't have Priority Pass the value for money here is pretty phenomenal. 210ZAR (roughly $12) will get you not only a comfy seat away from the main terminal but also a massive selection of drinks as well as some delicious home made food.
This is a hotel that is moments away from the airport. It ticks all of the items in my basics checklist and also has a full size gym and excellent restaurant.
The room decor is a cut above most airport hotels globally, as is the service.
Unless you have a layover of over 20 hours I can't imagine why you'd consider anywhere else in Joburg.
It's safe to say that this stay absolutely blew away all of my expectations. Amilla is a resort that delivered not just on the things that I thought I wanted it fulfilled knew needs that I didn't even know I had.
The food was comfortably amongst the best we've ever encountered in the Maldives. The bed was also the biggest and the snorkelling the best I've ever encountered.
The variety of accommodation options is fantastic and the combination of beach, treetop, bubble and overwater could keep you entertained for weeks.
Overall, the experience with Qantas was mixed. The crew are very helpful and friendly. They have their wits about them and behave like competent, experienced adults. With some other airlines you get younger crews who may look better but you get the feeling that their ability to improvise, go the extra mile or even engage in decent conversation is somewhat limited.