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The Maldives is my happy place. And yes, I know I shouldn’t say things like this in public but it is true nonetheless. If you ask me for my ideal version of a holiday it will include a nice resort, a beach, ocean, wine, good food, and diving. I grew up with parents who would always spend money on cool things to do and good food to eat but a hotel didn’t feature high on their list to splurge for, at least when they traveled with me (surely it was different on their honeymoon in Venice). A hotel had to be central and clean and that was about it.
Thus when the time came and we went to a Kellerman’s-like resort at a lake in Austria I was in heaven. There were watersports, a kids club and a trice weekly dessert buffet which poor me once missed due to a surfing accident that resulted in a concussion. I loved this place and I think it was here where my love affair with nice resorts and hotels started.
Then I become a real traveler (whatever this may mean) and had to pay for my own travels so nice resorts and hotels were not only frowned upon but also out of my budget range for a while. Most of these days I still stay in cute Airbnbs, single rooms at a hostel (won’t be trying a dorm again in a hurry!) or simple hotels. But lucky for me, once in a while I get to team up with a nice resort and to be honest, I love these days.
I have been lucky enough to visit the Maldives twice over the last couple of years. To me, they are not only a diver’s true but also a resort lover’s dream come true thus make for an ideal holiday destination for me. Yes, it is an expensive destination even if you are traveling on a budget as this will always be a Maldives budget and I get that my idea of an ideal holiday is not for everyone. I know that get to do really cool shit during most of my work trips so my expectations for holidays is different and to be even more honest both of my Maldives trips have been sponsored so I didn’t need to worry too much about money.
But if you too are looking into holidays which evolve around eat, sleep, beach, dive & repeat the Maldives might just be the place for you.
Getting to your Maldives Resort
The Maldives has four international airports, the main one in Malé but since it is an island nation with 1200 islands it also has eight domestic airports. To be honest, I didn’t realize what a big country the Maldives is on my first trip and it cost me quite a bit. While I was able to snatch an inexpensive flight from Germany to Malé I was all of a sudden presented with a $500 ticket to Kooddoo in order to visit the Park Hyatt Hadahaa. Regional airlines like Maldivian have steep prices unlike Ryan Air and something you need to take into consideration when choosing your Maldives resort.
When booking a hotel in the Maldives you have the option of choosing through the usual booking sites or go straight to the hotel. Either way, know that your transport to the hotel will not be included in the room price and depending on how far the resort is from Malé this can add quite a bit on top.
Many hotels can be reached with a seaplane as most big resorts tend to have their own island. Flights depart from a special section at the Velana International Airport in Malé and you will get to wait in the resort’s own lounge before departure where you can load up on snacks and drinks and watch other seaplanes take off. I think taking a seaplane is so much fun and definitely part of the whole Maldives experience.
The nice thing is that your resort will organize everything for you once you book your room and liaise with the seaplane once they have your international arrival and departure times or information about your next resort – island & resort hopping is definitely the thing to do in the Maldives. All you have to do is sit back and relax and follow the nice people at the airport when they tell you it is time to board your plane.
But again, same as with the domestic flights, a seaplane flight will come with a price tag – mind you, I’d say it is worth it because they are truly part of the experience and you can always make up for it by eating all the snacks in the lounge before take-off.
Some Maldives luxury resort can also be reached by private speed boat from Malé which makes it the cheapest option if you are heading to a resort island. A lot of the local islands can be reached by ferry as well but to be honest, I haven’t done much of budget travel in the Maldives so this will need be a post for another day.
Which Maldives Accommodation
is for you?
There are currently over 130 resorts in the Maldives and the number is growing. Needless to say, you will be spoilt for choice which doesn’t just depend on your budget – not all 5-stars are created equal in the Maldives.
A big thing for me is eco-friendliness something which includes the activities. If a resort offers shark or ray feeding you will not see me there but I also check for basic things: do they offer plastic water bottles and plastic straws, what does the vegetarian menu look like and do they still change my towels even if I hang them up? Mind you, you will only learn most of these things once you have arrived but I always give (constructive) feedback afterward.
Then there is the choice of room or villa (let’s be real, most Maldives rooms are not a mere room and would proudly be called an apartment in cities like New York). Next to Bora Bora, Maldives is the destination for an overwater villa – one that comes with a private deck, preferably a little plunge pool, and allows you to basically roll from your bed into the shallow warm ocean. I completely get the appeal but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Overwater villas are usually the most expensive room type especially if they come with a pool.
- They are typically furthest away from the main areas of the hotel – great if you want solitude, not so great if you want easy access to the rest of the facilities.
- If you are traveling with small kids overwater villas are not ideal. In fact, some hotels won’t let you book one if you are traveling with children.
- While I get the appeal of getting into the water straight from your room, the snorkeling is usually not that great – after all, the reef had to give way to these bungalows being built. Ecologically that is also a consideration for some.
- Overwater villas are normally not as private as you think they are. Unless you choose a super spacious resort like Soneva Jani, chances are your neighbors will hear you on your deck and definitely see you if you go for a skinny dip.
A word about all-inclusive in the Maldives…
Most resorts in the Maldives come with an all-inclusive option. Honestly, if you would have told me before that I would ever be a fan of all-inclusive I would have called you not-so-nice names. However, in the Maldives all-inclusive is the way to go because this way you can truly save a buck or two especially if you are into food. Most hotels have more than one restaurant so you won’t be stuck at a luke-warm buffet with hundreds of other hotel guests and neither will you have to foot an extensive soft drinks bill at the end.
Usually, you will have options for full- or half-board as well as various packages for soft drinks, house wines and beers or premium alcoholic drinks. Personally, I like half-board with a house wine option as I tend to have a late breakfast and an early dinner but it really depends on how much you like to eat and drink on your holiday.
There are also all-inclusive packages for activities and even spa services these days. Make sure you be honest with yourself as to what you want to do on your holiday – there is no point paying for unlimited watersports if you secretly prefer lounging on the beach or a spa package if you just need to get a pedicure. Choose your Maldives package according to what you will actually do and use and rather splurge on single items extra if need be.
Especially right now you can find some good Maldives hotel deals for summer and personally, I love booking.com. However, bear in mind that often certain taxes are not included in their prices so make sure to read the fine print before booking.
So which Maldives accommodation is right for you?
Whether you are looking for an active holiday, travel with kids, looking for complete solitude or yes, the ultimate romantic getaway – here are the best resorts in the Maldives according to me…
For: Eco Warriors // Jane of the Jungle // Foodies
How to get to Soneva Fushi: Seaplane
I could not love Soneva Fushi more if I tried. This resort comes with a serious price tag but I dare say – it is worth it. It is lush and jungly, you have your own Mr. or Mrs. Friday to cater to your every whim, and if you book all-inclusive you will eat like a king: sushi for breakfast, a chocolate & ice cream room, and themed dinners and cocktail hours await.
While Soneva Fushi offers barefoot luxury to the max, its main appeal is its eco-friendliness thanks to its own eco-center in the middle of the island. The resort is not only completely plastic free but recycles a majority of any waste, making it the perfect choice for a luxury holiday with a good conscience.
There are no overwater bungalows or communal pool here but each villa has its own plunge pool, direct beach access, and bicycles to get around. It doesn’t get any more private than this so if you are looking for a Maldives beach resort with a castaway jungle feel – this is it!
For: Mermaids // Solomoon // Foodies
How to get to Soneva Jani: Seaplane from Malé or speedboat from Soneva Fushi
You may have seen Soneva Jani on an Instagram picture or two because this resort has coined the idea of the overwater bungalow with a slide. Mind you, bungalow is not quite the right term as they are more a house than a mere bungalow. Most of the resort is built on wooden jetties giving it a cool Waterworld look (minus the creepy dystopia feeling of course). You can ride your bike to the adjacent beach but chances are, your private deck, pool, and that slide will provide everything you may want for a day by the ocean.
At the main restaurant, you can enjoy your breakfast (with unlimited fresh juices of course) in an overwater net while looking out for baby sharks and nobody will blink an eye if you help yourself to some ice cream for breakfast either. In the evening Cinema Paradiso offers the Maldives version of Netflix and chill. You can even have your dinner while enjoying a movie on the big screen.
Another highlight is the bedrooms where you can open the roof with a click of a button to enjoy the stars above – glamping at its finest.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa
For: Understated design lovers // Solomoon // Foodies
How to get to Park Hyatt Hadahaa: Take Maldivian Airlines to Koodoo domestic airport; then half an hour speedboat ride to the resort.
The Park Hyatt Hadahaa is dramatically different from most other Maldives resort. It is understated, modern and very un-beachy – in a good way that is. Like most Park Hyatts the interior is elegant and while super luxurious nothing is flashy about it. In your room, you will find recyclable Nespresso pods, Le Labo products in the bathroom, and a private pool with lots of privacy.
The food is amazing and one of the things I really love about their all-inclusive options is the fact that you are not stuck with a buffet but have an a la carte menu to put a three-course meal together according to your liking.
Scuba divers can enjoy a special treat at their dive center because not only is the service truly 5-star worthy but so are the dive sites. Considering how far south in the Maldives you are here (Hadahaa even has its own time zone) you will get some strong currents and all the glorious fish action that comes with that.
For: Families // Energizer Bunnies // Small Wallets
How to get to Dhigali: Seaplane
Dhigali is one of the least expensive resorts I have come across in the Maldives, making it a great choice if you are on a budget (a Maldives budget that is). The hotel is great for families and people who like to stay active on their holidays and there is much on offer, which is great if you don’t want to resort hop but rather stay put for a week or so.
There is a kids club and playground, an extensive watersports center where you can use most of the equipment free of charge, a gym, and a running trail which leads you all around the island. If you are lazy they offer a buggy shuttle which you can check via their very own app.
While it is definitely on the bigger side, there is enough space so even single travelers will rarely feel bothered or crowded (unless during dinner time at the buffet) and their Haali bar for sunset is absolutely stunning. While it isn’t a romantic spot for two, the views are spectacular and it is the perfect place for an old-school Pina Colada.
For: Romance // Foodies // Wellness
How to get to Kandolhu: Seaplane
Kandolhu was the most surprising Maldives accommodation for me. It is hard to put in words but there seems to be something in the air that makes this hotel so special. The design of the rooms wasn’t my favorite in the Maldives yet I never slept better anywhere else. Also, Kandolhu is super small (you can surround the entire island in a few minutes) and intimate but you still have all the space you could want.
For me, the best part was the food though. For such a small resort they have a sheer endless array of dining options – a Mexican tacos & ceviche bar, fine dining restaurant, Maldivian grill, Japenese counter, ramen or tacos for breakfast. The food was exceptional at every single one and if you book an all-inclusive you can try them all.
In addition, they are looking into an all-inclusive spa package, something I would be very keen to come back for. Purely for research of course!
For: Romance // Solomooon // Mermaids
How to get to Maafushivaru: Seaplane
Maafushivaru was my very first Maldives resort which I visited for Travelettes in 2017. My room had direct beach access, an outdoor shower and shoes were definitely optional all over the resort thanks to sand floors.
The best part about Maafushivaru is their very own island Lonubo. You can either visit this island during the day or book it to spend the night her – a great option if you want to celebrate a solomoon or a honeymoon.
Solo travelers be warned though – while I love the concept in general, I found it quite unnerving to spend the night on an island all by myself. While the main resort is only minutes away I felt a bit lost, something I would enjoy more when traveling with a friend or partner. Mind you, come morning you will get a breakfast delivery via boat and can enjoy a private beach and sunrise all by yourself.
Have you been? Which one was your favorite hotel in the Maldives?
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