As I sit in my overwater bungalow overlooking the ocean through the glass floor whilst people drool over my photos, as I once did over every single post from the Maldives, my thoughts go to the 1000 words the pictures don’t say. So here they are..
What you don’t see, and may want to consider before you travel to the beautiful Maldives.
Even from Europe, it took us 24 hours from Valencia to our resort. The flights were great; we flew Emirates which provided vegan options and plenty of entertainment. We arrived in Malé international airport and were reminded of the Muslim culture as we went through customs. You can’t bring in alcohol and if you are staying in Malé, the dress is much more conservative. You will need to find a bikini specific beach if sunbathing is important to you. Hence, everyone heads to the resort islands, by boat or plane. From our experience and with speaking with other regular Maldives visitors, we learned that the seaplane is the way to go, as the closer islands are not as wonderful. Though, not sure if you can go wrong with the landscape here, it is the selling feature.
The Sea Plane
We were brought to check into the seaplane then driven to the terminal where they fly out of. When you are booking make sure to find out the cost of the return flight (or boat) as it is almost always not included in your booking. Our return flight was approximately $500 USD per person return which you typically pay to the resort upon arrival. This could be a big hit to your bank account if you didn’t know about it. Also, keep in mind the seaplanes only fly during the daylight and they determine when you go back to the airport, so keep this in mind when booking your arrival/departure times into Malé.
They accept USD and Euro currencies in bill form only. Most prices are in USD and this is the commonly used currency around the Maldives.
After perusing the numerous resorts through Expedia, we literally spent days and days going over where to stay, what was the best value for what we wanted and figuring out if we were prepared to drop thousands of dollars to book this vaca. We decided, obviously, for our 30th Birthdays it was worth it. We chose the Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa, the island was beautiful as was our bungalow, but a couple things left us thinking we could’ve done better.
My comparison of the Maldives resort to the resort in Mexico we enjoyed last year for our Birthdays. Don’t get me wrong, we are comparing amazing with more amazing here!
Knowing us, and that last year we were at The Finest Playa Mujeres in Mexico a 5 star all-inclusive resort, which is also voted the best all –inclusive in the world. We figured it would be tough to one up, but the Maldives surely stood a chance. Especially, since we booked an all-inclusive 4.5 star.
All-inclusive was important for us. We didn’t want to mess around with money and we truly couldn’t afford to go over budget. Plus we heard they gouge you if you don’t go all-inclusive. Keep this in mind when booking!
Sadly, when we arrived, they informed us we had “regular” all inclusive, not “premium." This meant no bubbly, no margaritas, no tequila, basically nothing over and above a gin and tonic or a screw driver was included. And, the tequila we could buy was Jose Cuervo for $12USD a Margarita, I mean is this Vegas?! You know me, give me a mezcal margarita, a glass of bubbly or red wine and I’m a happy camper. To find out that the things we actually enjoy drinking weren’t included, I was discouraged. To upgrade to premium it was $90USD per day and you had to buy 4 days minimum. We kept going back to our phenomenal experience at the Finest Playa Mujeres, where it was all included! Bubbly + Mezcal. MMMMMM!
A Five Star Experience
We have traveled a lot together, and I know it’s important to us when we are dropping big money to go big or go home. We didn’t want to do the Maldives half way. So, choosing the 4.5 star we expected an equally grand experience. The landscape is 5 stars, the service, and upselling that was happening at every turn was distracting. It left a bad taste in our mouth. Not to mention, we had to walk them through when we wanted to celebrate our birthdays when to bring a birthday cake out and then walk the cake back to our room as they weren’t allowed to bring it there for us. I mean, going back to the Finest, they had cake and a bottle of champagne on ice for our arrival. We want to celebrate all week, all month of course! Everything we wanted seemed to be extra. I mean it was $5.25 USD if you wanted to have an espresso in the morning. At the Finest, they had a Nespresso machine in the room!!
We spoke to another couple who felt this way as well, and they were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and had been to better islands/resorts in the Maldives previously. They said it felt anything they wanted was extra. I believe that when you are staying at a resort of this caliber, you can expect to have the little niceties you have at home at a bare minimum (espresso, chocolate, cava, you catch my drift).
I am part mermaid, I swear and I LOVE swimming in the ocean, it is one of my favorite things. The weather was perfect and the water was warm! So that was wonderful. The tide on our island was out during the day, so not much swimming was had when the water is up to your knees for miles. We went on a snorkeling trip which was included and wonderful to see the fish and swim. We heard there are other islands that have deeper water, so if that is important to you, look into this further. Some islands have pools too.
As I work online, wifi was non-negotiable. Unfortunately, the wifi was so bad that we had to connect and reconnect every time we went onto our phones. We had to use the username and password to get connected each time which was incredibly annoying. I mean it is 2018! Further to that, the wifi wouldn’t work on my computer, again WHAT?! We were only allowed to connect one device at a time. When we researched that they had free wifi throughout the resort, I expected it to be just that. Not, a 4 hour receipt that only worked in my room and at the bar. (If it was working.)
We are vegans, which we know is difficult in some places, but we are living in Spain which I think may be famous for the most anti-vegan cuisine, and we do just fine there. The resort had a salad bar and plenty of Indian curries that were vegan and vegetarian, so we were pleased with the options. What we didn’t like was the “snack.” Each day the buffet hours were 7:30-9: 30 am, 12:30-2: 30 pm and 7:30-9:30 pm for dinner. They provided “snack” from 10-11 am and 4-5 pm which I thought would be ok being someone who is always eating. However, the “snack” was white bread featuring tuna, cheese or tomato, pancakes, waffles, or cake. I am someone who values vegetables, so cake doesn’t count as food. Again, at the Finest (we said this a lot on the trip as you can imagine), they had something to eat all the time and vegetables, guacamole, salsa no less. We didn’t quote starve until dinner, I was smuggling nuts from lunch to make it through the day as we aren’t allowed to drink or eat outside of the designated areas.
The Overwater bungalow
This was the best thing about the resort and I highly recommend staying in one. It was our own little sanctuary, with a private deck to suntan on and relax in the evening. It would have been nice to be able to drink in the room (without being charged extra) or eat in the room (without being charged extra,) but we made the most of it. The beds were comfy, and being able to watch the fish swim through the glass floor was very cool.
Overall, we had a wonderful time, of course, we were in the Maldives!!! Very grateful to have made the trip. Would we come back? Not to this resort, but to the Maldives if we were in the area (under 7-hour flight.) I think the next birthday trip will be back to a Finest Resort, so if anyone at the Finest wants to reach out, I would love to connect!
If you have any questions about my experience in the Maldives feel free to reach out, I would love to connect.