Is the Maldives really worth it? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must’ve seen many brochures splashed all over, talking about this ‘paradise’ on earth. The absurdity of that hyperbole aside, I was always curious about how good the Maldives really could be. In the miles and points community, we’ve seen the Maldives as being a destination that’s almost some sort of a badge of honor. After over 8 years of dabbling in miles and points, I decided I should check it out and find out the answer myself whether the Maldives is really worth it. Here’s what I found.
Is the Maldives really worth it?
Clearly when we ask the question whether something is worth it, we’re looking for return on our spend. Spend can be in the form of time or money. You expect a certain value once you spend a sum of time or money. Given those metrics, how does the Maldives stack up? Let’s get the cons out of the way before we head over to the pros.
The not so good stuff
It’s really far
I can totally get it when people avoid the Maldives for this reason. Since we were already positioned in India, it was just a 2 hour direct flight from Mumbai to Male, followed by a 45 minute seaplane ride.
However, a number of guests that I met at the hotel were from the US. While they loved the island and the hotel, they were bemoaning the fact that it would take them more than a day just to get back home.
It’s really expensive
When people say that it’s really expensive, they’re not just talking about room rates. We were staying at the Conrad Maldives Rangali island. Even before we checked into our hotel, we’d already paid $1,200. $600 per person for a round trip seaplane ride of 45 minutes. Since our daughter is less than 2 years old, her ride was free. If you’re a family of four, then you could well shell out $2,400 even before you check into the hotel.
Other added costs
The farther you go, the more secluded and beautiful the islands are. On the flip side, it also means higher costs for the hotel to transport and serve everything to their guests. Most hotels pass on those costs to their guests in the form of some sort of ancillary fees.
For example, we called in-villa dining to get food delivered to our room on the very first night. The bill had a ‘tray charge’ of $18. In short, there was an $18 delivery fee just for delivering the food to your room. Also, most entrees started with a price of $35 or more. In short, a simple meal for a family of four ordered to the room could well cost you close to at least $158!
I’m vegetarian, so most of the entrees I ended up eating were in the $35-$40 range. The hotel had many restaurants, all priced in the same range. If you were to order seafood or other meats, your entree prices would only be more expensive.
We also visited the Ithaa undersea restaurant. While it’s stunning, the restaurant charges a fee of $120 to visit during the 11 AM – Noon hour for a glass of champagne and some canapés. If you’re looking to have a four course meal, then you could well end up shelling out over $200 per person. However, you do have the option of booking the champagne and canapés hour experience using 25,000 Hilton Honors points.
The good stuff
Peace and Quiet
This is one part that I really appreciated during my vacation. We were on Rangali island and the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island was the only property on the island. Since it wasn’t busy season, the hotel was barely at 30% capacity. This made life really easy for us as we got an easy upgrade to a Grand Water Villa. It also meant that the public areas of the hotel were barely crowded. The breakfast was a breeze, the pool area was relaxed and the beach area was perfect for taking pictures of the sunrise and sunset.
I was blown away by the quality of service at the hotel and in general around the island. Be it airport staff, immigration officers, gate agents or the staff at our hotel, people were extremely warm and courteous.
Moreover, the staff the Conrad Maldives Rangali island was quite chatty and made an effort to know their guests. They were also on the lookout for any requests or needs as we were traveling with our infant daughter. In short, one could feel that employees were empowered to go above and beyond in order to help guests have a comfortable stay.
Amazing sunrise/sunset views
Over the last half a decade, I’ve traveled to many beach destinations. Be it Koh Samui, Cartagena, Goa or Bali, I’ve always loved spending time on the beach, taking pictures of the colors at sunrise or sunset. After my trip to the Maldives, I can safely say that many of the views simply took my breath away.
Crystal clear water and active marine life
I can imagine why the Maldives is a dream destination for people who love exploring the oceans. Its crystal clear waters and soft sand are a perfect blend for those who want to explore marine life.
The luxury factor
The Maldives is probably one of the most over-Instagrammed (if that’s a word) destinations. However, after spending a week there, I can imagine why many people hype it up so much. While I wouldn’t hype it to the point by using words like paradise, I’d definitely say it’s an experience worth checking out once.
In my opinion, if you plan to travel that far, then it makes sense to book an overwater Villa.
Time to Unwind
This was probably the number one thing for me. The Maldives is almost 12 hours ahead of the Pacific time zone. What that means is that you can spend the day without having to think about work or any other related stuff. Some of the highlights of the trip for me were the walks by the beach, the pictures at sunrise and sunset or simply enjoying the cool breeze on the boardwalk while walking to or from our water villa.
Having grown up in Mumbai and then having worked in the Bay Area, I’ve been attuned to the hustle and bustle of living and working in a big city. That’s precisely why I felt extremely relaxed during my time in the Maldives. There was simply so much to appreciate around me, without having to think about deadlines, projects or meetings.
The Pundit’s Mantra
A Maldives trip can really break the bank. There are tiny costs that add up. There are seaplane rides upwards of $600 per person. However, would I still recommend it? I’d say yes, especially if you’re booking with miles and points. We booked our stay with free night certificates from the Hilton Aspire card, so we didn’t pay anything out of pocket for our stay. Moreover, Diamond status with the card meant free breakfast for us every day, in addition to a complimentary cocktail and snack hour each evening.
Would I go there again? Probably yes, but only if I’m using some sort of hotel points to cover my lodging costs. If that’s not the case, then paying upwards of $1,500 per night for a water villa in addition to several ancillary fees (which all add up) simply doesn’t suit my travel goals.
Have you been to the Maldives? Would you go there again? Tell us in the comments section.