A few weeks ago, I made a quick hop over to one of the most aspirational destinations in the world – The Maldives, where I spent three nights at the legendary Park Hyatt Maldives. After reading the dozens of “raves” and enthusiastic reviews from other bloggers, I’ll admit that my expectations were set extremely high – this was going to be the trip of my lifetime, I thought. While I am happy that I had a chance to set foot in the Maldives and experience some of the islands, I can’t say I’ll be returning anytime soon. Why? It’s expensive. Very expensive. And remote. Very remote. Have I become a travel snob, or am I simply too much of a bargainsta to let myself “go” and indulge?
You won’t find a standard review of the room and resort grounds in this post – there are plenty of those reviews on other blogs and on TripAdvisor. Instead, I’ll present a few facts to help with your planning if this is a destination you’re aspiring to visit. I know many other readers and honeymooners have the Maldives high on their list, so I hope this post can serve as a helpful guide if you’re considering visiting the Maldives in the future (more specifically, the Park Hyatt Maldives).
Free Nights Are Possible (*see below)
Unless you feel like shelling out $750-$1100 per night, you can take a deep breath knowing that free nights are possible. Most people choose to use their two free night certificates from the Hyatt Credit card, but another option is to redeem 25,000 Hyatt points per night. Hyatt points can be acquired via 1:1 transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards programs using one of my favorite credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. However, free night certificates and points redemptions will only book you into a standard Park Villa. If you want to upgrade to Pool Villa, you’ll need to shell out an additional $200 a night. Be prepared to pay an extra $350 a night to upgrade to Park Water Villa. There are a total of 51 Villas at the resort; just a tip, the higher the number, the more privacy you’ll have (especially if you are thinking about booking a Park Water Villa, you’ll want #51).
It’s Really, Really Remote
…almost too remote for my liking. Do understand that you’ll have to pay another $470 per head for the round-trip transfer from Male (MLE) to the resort. After landing in Male (MLE), which is a small airport to begin with, you’ll have to take yet another flight on a propeller plane to Koodhoo, operated by Maldivian Airlines, that is either direct or makes one additional ground stop. Once you land at Koodhoo, you’ll meet with an Park Hyatt Maldives representative that will take you on a golf cart to the boat dock, where you’ll have to take a 45-minute speed boat to the resort. All in all, it took us several hours (5 to be exact) to “transfer” from MLE to the Park Hyatt Resort. It was night time by the time we checked in, and I was pooped, but hey – I got to wake up to this the next morning:
Surprise, Surprise – It’s Couples Galore
Who would have guessed? If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your significant other, than this is the place for you if you enjoy spending days upon days of uninterrupted romantic time together. I would not recommend this place if you’re traveling with family (sorry Dad), a non-romantic friend(s), or if you’re looking for a wild getaway. I believe all of the villas come equipped with a king-sized bed and all-around floor-to-ceiling windows. This place is also very quiet – I could almost hear the stars twinkling at night. I traveled with a non-romantic friend, and we survived the “couples’ retreat” just fine by spending time at the beach, snorkeling, and relaxing by the pool. After dinner hours (9 pm), the resort is pretty much a ghost town, so I found myself sound asleep before 10 pm (hey, at least I was able to wake up for 6 am yoga the next morning)!
It’s Fun to Wake Up and Go Snorkeling
We opted to upgrade to the Park Water Villa to get the “ultimate Maldivian experience”. My favorite part about this decision was that it gave me the chance to roll out of bed to snorkel with colorful fish. Literally. Don’t think I’ll have a chance to do that again!
Consider a Diving or Snorkeling Excursion
On the topic of snorkeling, The Maldives is a great place to take an off-shore diving or snorkeling excursion. There is a PADI dive shop on premises of the Park Hyatt Maldives, and a two-tank dive excursion will cost you about $389 including all taxes and fees. If you’re not certified, you can choose to snorkel for ~$50. Do know that the current in the Maldives is very strong; you can always take the sun on the top deck of the boat if you need a break from snorkeling.
Food is Insanely Expensive – Here’s How to Keep the Cost Lower
With a location so remote, how can one possibly expect food to be inexpensive? I didn’t. I did my homework and knew what I was getting into. I knew that breakfast was included for all guests (and it’s very plentiful), and I knew that a hamburger cost around $40 by reading other reviews. Speaking of breakfast, you can pretty much order whatever and how ever much food you want from the menu. What’s even better is that breakfast ends pretty late (I believe 11 am), so with proper planning, you can essentially have a late breakfast, skip lunch, and “splurge” on dinner. If you’re really feeling like a
high-roller romantic, you can even request a private dining, complete with stargazing for $395-$495 per couple (tips and taxes additional). There’s also beach BBQ dining events held several times per week, which feature an all-you-can-eat buffet on the beach for approximately $95 a person. I think the dining on the beach option is worth it for at least one of the nights.
Service is Outstanding
The service here is impeccable. As Hyatt Diamond guests, we were personally greeted by the GM and all of the staff members on the resort grounds. We were also assigned a “host” the duration of our stay who was excellent and always was available when needed for requests. The personalized service we received at the Park Hyatt Maldives was top-of-the-line, just as one would expect from a Park Hyatt brand.
It’s Nice, But…
I’ve been to better places. Yup, I said it. When I say “better”, I take all things into account – price, food, location, accessibility, etc. In my honest opinion, if you’re looking for a similar experience at a fraction of the price, consider southeast Asia. While I have yet to visit Bali, my parents have and absolutely fell in love with it – it was romantic, inexpensive, and one of the best vacations they’ve taken together. Another alternative I can personally recommend is the island of Palawan in the Philippines (Google it and you’ll see how beautiful it is). I spent several days at an AMAZING remote beach resort back in 2011. We ate lavishly every evening under the stars for under $20 a person, wine included, and we had a daily evening massage on the beach for less than the price of a cocktail in a NYC lounge. Those are the kinds of places I like to travel to. I like to relax knowing that I don’t have huge credit card bill waiting for me when I return.
It’s Too Fancy Pants For Me
Maybe it’s just me, but as I said before in my previous post about Park Hyatt Tokyo, I prefer using my points for flights, not hotel nights. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I also *really* enjoy traveling on a budget. Yes, The Maldives is an A-List destination, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t take much to satisfy a true beach bum.
3 Nights is Enough
This post is no way intended to be a negative review of the the resort or the beautiful islands that make up The Maldives. I just know that so many people are dying to get there thinking it’s the greatest place on earth, without taking several important factors into consideration including how expensive and remote it is. While I genuinely did enjoy the beauty of the Maldivian sun, sand, and water, I look forward to traveling to more budget-friendly places in the future.
If you have also visited The Maldives recently, feel free to leave some tips and feedback about your trip in the comments that you think might be helpful to other readers. I’d love to hear your input!