Last August, I was on my way from Marrakesh to Bangkok and decided to use BMI miles for a business class award ticket. Using their award chart it was actually cheaper to have the final destination in Maldives, and to have an extended stopover in Bangkok on my way there.
I had been to Maldives before and stayed at the Hilton hotel that has been since converted to the Conrad brand. I didn’t like the treatment that I received there as a Hilton HHonors Diamond member and left after three nights, although my award was for six.
There was lot of chatter on the various frequent traveler message boards about this property that was being converted from Alila brand to the Park Hyatt one. Some guests were complaining that it wasn’t the Alila that they had booked, and the ones that had booked it as the Park Hyatt one weren’t all satisfied either.
As I had been to many of the Park Hyatt hotels (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Johannesburg, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, Seoul – some of these are no longer under Park Hyatt brand) all over the world, I was quite frankly very interested to have a look at, how the Park Hyatt brand would work in a non-urban environment.
You can use cash, points, or stay certificates to stay here. I used points, but wished that I had remembered to check the stay certificates as well. They are terrific value when used here. You can read the piece I wrote about getting a good deal at the Park Hyatt Maldives.
After booking the hotel, I was contacted several times by the hotel to confirm my arrival details. Couple of days before my arrival, I had a change in my schedule that had me arriving and departing a day later than originally planned. It was not a problem for the hotel to adjust both my arrival and departure dates.
For sure, the resort can book your overnight accommodation in Male, but in my case this was not needed. I had been to Male before and can take care of a simple hotel reservation and transfer by myself.
If you haven’t been to the city of Male before, I would suggest spending a a night in the city before or after your Park Hyatt stay. It is a small vibrant city and there is definitely enough to see and do for a day.
TRANSFER EXPERIENCE TO THE RESORT
I stayed at the Mookai hotel in the male proper. It is very close to the pier where all the jetties to the airport island leave every ten to twenty minutes or so. The transfer itself costs maybe a buck in the local currency, and at the same time is quite a scenic journey.
At the airport, I just followed the directions to the domestic check in terminal. I had used the Maldivian Air Taxi before that leaves from the other side of the airport. These “real” airplanes just have a different check in area close to the international terminal.
The check in was very efficient. To my surprise they didn’t want to weight just the bags but the passengers as well.
After the check in, I was given an invitation to use the Maldivian lounge. The lounge was outside of security on the domestic terminal. You could get a free wireless code from the ladies working the desk.
Lounge was basic but did what it was supposed to do. They had soft drinks, tea, coffee and some snacks available. Here I met a guy who was a representative of the resort. He just confirmed who I was. The lounge was first rather crowded. After a flight or two it was rather empty.
The flight was announced and it was time to move to the tarmac and further to the aircraft itself. The security check was very cursory.
Not sure but there appeared to be a “first” class on the flights south. On my way back there was none. Maldivian offers two kinds of fares. The lowest ones are only sold for local people who travel between islands. It was quite surprising to see that those on the local fares were offered nothing during the flight. Others flying to resorts were offered some beverages.
The KDM airport is small as one can expect. After landing the luggage came out in no time. There were four/five other guests transferring to the hotel. I was bit thirsty and walked to a café next to the airport building and picked up a coke.
The small harbor, where boats are is few hundred meters from the airport building. The boat from the resort was waiting. We were advised to put on the life vest upon entering. Soon we were on our way. We were then offered water bottles. The sea was calm and the ride to the resort uneventful.
The resort itself consists of 14 over water villas, 20 pool villas, and 16 garden villas. Handful of the pool villas also have an unobstructed ocean view. For privacy the villas with the garden view are better, as everybody walking around the island on the beach can see the villas that don’t have the vegetation protecting their privacy. The employees all live in the middle of the island on their own quarters.
The resort has two restaurants and one bar. Moroccan themed Battuta’s restaurant is open for the dinner (they are now changing the concept of this restaurant). I probably should have read about the Maldivian history but apparently it was a Moroccan who found the islands in the first place and introduced the Islam there. By the main poo,l they have the all-day dining restaurant Relish/Horizon and the Bell’s bar.
You can find the island using Google Maps. If you choose the satellite view you can get an idea what it was before anything was built there. If you use Bing Maps on the other hand, you can see what the island looks from the air (partially) today. You can also interlace it with the resort map to see what pool villas have the ocean view and which ones do not.
Upon arriving the General Manager was there to meet all the incoming guests. Here I met my island host for the first time as well. She took me to my pre-assigned villa on a buggy and showed the villa around. There was a handwritten welcome note signed by the GM, some biscuits/sweets, a fruit tray, and a properly chilled bottle of Laurent-Perrier champagne waiting.
The villa itself was very spacious and had an outside shower area. Loved the Blaise Mautin amenities that you can find at some Park Hyatt hotels. I am not sure I f the brand of the shampoo and the shower gel were the same brand as they were in jars.
The biggest drawback of this villa I had, that others may prefer, was the ”being in the jungle” feeling, or some might call it privacy. There was lots of vegetation in front of the villa and the beach itself. I am not even sure of there was a way to get through the bushes to the beach.
The following day, I had a look at couple of other villa; a pool villa and an over water villa. Decided, that I would prefer to move to an over water villa; instead of continue staying at the garden one. I was moved there promptly.
The breakfast menu is extensive consisting of western and Asian dishes. I typically went to the breakfast after 10:30AM, so it was more like a brunch for me. Every morning they would bring three different bakery items with the tea I ordered. Then, I would just pick two to three items from the menu.
The breakfast is served at the main restaurant by the pool. You can decide to sit either inside or outside. I always chose the outside option. It was a wonderful way to start the day.
Oh well. This was bit of a disappointment. It was rather small and not equipped with the latest equipment. Probably most of the visitors don’t bother using it anyway.
Every day during my stay there was bottle of still and sparkling water brought to my villa. These were not foreign ones but bottled at the resort. Fruits were refreshed daily and some evenings they brought some delicacies.
The resort has wireless internet on the villas but not everywhere on the public space. Sometimes I was able to get a wireless signal at breakfast or at the nearby bar but not most of the time. There were not any issues when it came to the speed itself inside the villas. I was able to do the usual browsing and couple of Skype calls without issues.
To my surprise they didn’t have BBC or CNN on the television. They did, however, have Russia Today and Deutsche Welle. I was told that they were looking at the issue and trying to get the lineup changed.
DINNER WITH THE GM
One day I had a letter waiting inviting me for a dinner and drinks with the GM. Over the years I have attended quite a few events at hotels where the management have meet and greet type of cocktail party with some of the hotel guests.
I have learned to go to these events always maybe half an hour late. Little did I know that I was actually the only guest invited. So, I made the GM to wait me for twenty minutes.
We had a cocktail at the Bell’s bar before going to dinner at the Moroccan themed restaurant. Over the dinner we discussed wide range of issues from how the hotel is run in the Maldives to Park Hyatt in Dubai where he was starting up the hotel.
It came obvious that the GM is very hands-on person at this property, that is probably required in a place like remote island somewhere in the Maldives.
TRANSFER FROM THE RESORT
For logistics reasons the property probably tries to schedule the guests to leave on the same flights. I didn’t like the early flight that they have scheduled for me. It wasn’t a problem for the property to switch it for a later one. I was going to the Sheraton resort close to the airport, but didn’t want to go there too early in the morning. I left on an afternoon flight.
The boat took me to the KDM airport. The check in was breeze and I then had an access to the Maldivian departure lounge that was reserved for resort guests. I was the only on there. The flight that I was on was serving mainly locals on their way to Male.
I had absolutely fantastic three nights at this property. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed few days longer, but I was going to spend some time and burn SPG free resort nights at the Sheraton Full Moon resort.
The over water villa I had was really stunning. The best part of the day was to lie on the sofa on the deck while the sun was going down on the horizon. It was very relaxing.