The trigger behind
2018 is definitely a turn out year in relation to our holiday plans, due to the aqusition of Starwood by Marriott and the merger between the member rewards programs:
Although our points have been significantly devaluated, the biggest perk is that it allows us to enjoy relatively reduced points redemptions on luxury hotels until early 2019, due to the category 7 cap for all top tier hotels.
My personal point of view and way of fulfilment
I know some of us in this forum have invested their top energies and money to achieve life time platinum premier status, but I really thought that's the wrong direction to move towards to, as I personally believe that a life time experience using this rewards program is much more important\significant than a life time status in this rewards program.
So here I am, sitting in the terrace of my villa (much better than sitting in any hotel's lounge), at the 'W Maldives' and writing these lines after redeeming 240,000 points for 5 free nights (an average of 48,000 points per night)!
This hotel will jump up to category 8 at the beginning of 2019 so I was keen to grab this opportunity with both hands and make another dream come true, while in any other circumstance I'd probably have not done it.
Redeeming points is the most cost effective way in the Maldives, as everyrhing is included (apart of the seaplane ticket, naturally).
If you book with cash, than you'll be paying on top of the room rate taxes & fees and a resort destination fee - all to raise your total charge significantly by hundreds or even thousands of dollars (depending on the length of your stay).
W Maldives - Getting there
Fly to 'Male', the capital of the Maldives (airport code: MLE):
You'll be greeted by the hotel's staff, located at desk 28 outside the arrivals hall, who'll take you to the hotel's lounge at the seaplane terminal.
After doing the check-in in the lounge, which provides basic refreshments, the hotel gets you on a 20 minutes seaplane flight twards the west - to 'Fesdhoo' island, which is the hotel's own island.
The cost of a seaplane ticket is $475 per person (kids up to 3 years old fly for free).
You can also choose to take a speedboat, but the journey will last 1.5 hours and will also cost more than three times the cost of the seaplane ticket, so it doesn't make sense if you arrive during day time.
The seaplane can fly up to 4pm, so if you land in Male during night time, than you should spend the night in one of Male's hotels (and take the seaplane next morning) or pay for the speedboat (a speedboat can sale anytime).
Planing ahead your arrival into Male is extremely important.
Photo above: seaplane terminal at the airport
Photo above: seaplane arrival at the hotel
Upon reaching the resort you'll be personally introduced & greeted with a drink by the various managers, and then taken for an introduction tour on a golf buggy, after which you'll be taken to your room where all your luggage will already be waiting for you, along with these amenities:
Photo above: arrival amenities in the room
Why did I choose the W over all the others?
The 'Sheraton' is the simplest of all (not as luxurious as the others and will even stay in category 7), the 'Westin' has just been opened recently and I thought it should get some "mileage" and reviews first, and the 'JW Marriott' is due to open only in January 2019... So I doubted between the W and the St. Regis:
After reading online reviews I, first, found out that the W is one of the top 3 resorts in the Maldives for snorkeling and that its corals and under sea life are spectacular.
Secondly, I found out that the sea plane transfer's price is much more expensive when going to the St. Regis due to the doubled distance it has to fly (fuel is very expensive in the Maldives).
And thirdly, I read that the St. Regis is very modern and doesn't provide the real Maldivian accommodation style & atmosphere (but don't get me wrong - the St. Regis is a phenomenal resort!).
All rooms are uniquely designed, providing its guests with a Maldivian styled stay:
The cheapest is the 'Wonderful Beach Oasis', which is a 2 floor beach house consisting of, among all the others, a garden terrace with a plunge pool, a round relaxation sofa, a direct access to your own piece of beach and a second floor with a large relaxation sofa-swing facing the ocean.
Photo above: me smoking a cigar on the 2nd floor
The more expensive is the 'Fabulous Overwater Oasis' which is simply the sought after over-water room consisting of, among all the others, a plunge pool, a large round relaxation sofa and a direct access to your own piece of ocean.
Photo above: overwater terrace
The most expensive are the 'WOW Ocean Escape' and the 'Extreme WOW Ocean Haven' suites. They provide large & spacious living area and plunge pool, thus creating a unique memory to stay with you for a lifetime! The latter even has a piano inside!!
I actually started my stay in the beach house and then moved to an over water one, as part of my platinum premier upgrade (due to high occupancy in the hotel an upgrade wasn't available at the beginning of my stay, but that actually worked fine for me as I could experience both types).
The beach house is a bit more spacious and also bigger than the over water one due to its 2nd floor.
I personally think choosing between the two depends on your personal preference and wether you're travelling with young children:
As we're with our under 2 years old daughter, my wife thinks the beach house is more suitable due to the almost private beach (so our daughter can play on the sand and we can always enjoy the privacy because guests seldomly walk on the beach area of the houses).
Photo above: beach side
Food & beverages
These are VERY expensive as you're on a remote private island and everything is highly priced (all charges are with US Dollars), so make sure you calcuale these incidentals in advance in your overall budget, as no other options for dining are available!
I chose breakfast as my arrival gift (valid only for platinum\platinum premier), so saved on this one.
The 'Fire' restaurant provides grilled dinner dishes, the 'Fish' restaurant provides... (well, I'm sure you already guessed yourself) for lunch and dinner.
These two restaurants are the most expensive ones.
The 'Kitchen' restaurant provides breakfast, lunch and dinner and its prices are cheaper (still relatively expensive, as a burger & fries, for example, costs $46). This restaurant also provides nice outdoor tables at which you can deep your feet in water while seating.
Photo above: Outdoor area of 'Kitchen' restaurant
If you really want to save your money, you can order at the 'Wet Bar' which is the bar by the resort's main pool - The prices over there are slightly cheaper.
* Taxes & fees (12% government sales tax and 10% service charge) are always added on top (!!!).
* Gold members get a 15% discount and platinum\platinum premier members get a 20% discount (not applicable when ordering room service).
* Children up to 2 years old eat free when ordering from the kids menu, as long as an adult orders along.
Lots of things to do - just enquire with the hotel.
Again, all activities are hilghly priced so be ready to pay top dollars (taxes & fees mentioned above are always added on top).
We don't do snorkeling, particularly not when travelling with our young daughter, but still wanted to see the under water beauty, so we took an hour of sale in a boat with a glass floor. This costs $85 per adult (free of charge to our under 2 years old daughter), exclusive of the above taxes & fees.
Upgrades for elite members
Although platinum premier members are eligible for an enhanced upgrade, the hotel refuses to upgrade them to one of its top suites. I was personally told by the GM that they prefer to keep these suites for internal upgrades (a guest requesting to upgrade on site). I don't know if this is according to Marriott's policy or not, but the suite has been empty for so many days that it really doesn't make sense... They could upgrade someone and instantly sell his original booked room in a second thus making more money! Go figure...
The W Maldives is a spectecular luxurious resort which provides an unforgettable holiday! Everything we asked for was fulfilled immediately and we only had to ask once - that's very extraordinary!!
Most of its guests are Asian due to its location, so if you're traveling from another continent combine this destination with another Asian one (we, for instance, are moving forward to visit Singapore).
Photo above: View of Fesdhoo island upon arrival by the sea plane