MALDIVES = PARADISE
Hi friends! I hope yous are doing well and keeping safe in these unprecedented times. I wrote this post a few months ago but with everything going on, I couldn’t figure out a “perfect” time to post this. If there is anything I have learned from COVID is that there will never be a perfect time. So, I am sharing this now with hopes that it will at least make you smile and hope you will add the Maldives to your bucket list.
Before we dive in, I want to give a special shout out to the ENTIRE Westin Maldives staff for making my first trip to the Maldives a memorable one. To Zai, Irish, Amir, Hussein, Hetti, Vendaya, and Ashfaaq: THANK YOU. Always in my heart.
The next country on my December/January travels was the Maldives. As I stated on my IG when I was traveling there, I had been looking forward to visiting the Maldives since I literally found out what/where it was. Yes, I was lowkey obsessed about making it happen for my 25th birthday. I flew from Bangkok to Singapore on January 1st during the night time and my flight from Singapore to the Maldives was not till the next morning at 10 am. Thankfully, I had access to a lot of lounges thanks to my Star Alliance Gold status and Priority Pass through my Chase Sapphire Reserve card so I decided not to get a hotel. I just moved from lounge to lounge and it was so interesting comparing the services that each lounge offered. On my trip, my favorite lounge was definitely the Singapore Airline Business lounge – it was stocked with almost everything you can think of, the seats were super comfortable (enough to lounge/sleep in), and the food was GOOD! They even had fresh coconuts available. Yeah, I was sold when I saw the fresh coconuts even though I am not a fan, LOL!
For my flight from Singapore to the Maldives, I used part of my points through my corporate credit card. For my return ticket from the Maldives to Bangkok, I used part of my United Airlines points. While I wish I remembered the exact points, I can guarantee that it was less than 50,000 points RT – I did not use my own “money” even though some people consider points to be money. The flight to Male was rather long, almost 5 hours but it smooth from what I could remember so I really cannot complain. Once I landed in Male, the main city the international airport is located, I was greeted by representatives from my hotel, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort.
Actually, let me go back. I chose The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort because it was one of the best hotels with a good redemption rate for my Marriott points. The other resorts were either too expensive (actual cash + points) or the amenities were just not the best during one of the peak seasons (December – February). So, after research and weeks of pondering, I decided to book an Island Villa for 5 days, 4 nights for 280,000 points. I’m not sure if you guys check rates but for an Island Villa facing the ocean in the Maldives, during the first week of January, that was an absolute steal and I HAD to book it. Marriott gives a 5th night free for those with status so my stay then became 6 days, 5 nights for 280,000. Yup, I was not going to pass that up. I could have booked an overwater villa but: 1) that was about 3-4x the number of points I used for the Island Villa, 2) I can’t swim yet so I would not have taken full advantage of the Overwater Villa, and 3)I’m sure I will go back to the Maldives again relatively soon with Le Boo (not here yet but speaking him into existence, LOL). As the date was getting closer, I also got upgraded to the Grand Island Villa – thanks to my Ambassador Elite status with Marriott – so it was all good as I got a plunge pool, my room was much bigger than the room I had previously booked, and I was facing the ocean.
Now back to my arrival. I landed in Male and I met up with the reps from the hotel. They took my bags and I was escorted to the domestic terminal to catch a domestic flight to get closer to the actual island. Let me explain. Once you land in Male, you might need to take another plane and/or seaplane plus a speedboat to get to your actual secluded island. Depending on where your hotel is located, you might only have one option – a seaplane. Or sometimes you might have to do both. For me, I had to take another domestic flight to Dharavandhoo then a speedboat from there to The Westin as it is located on its own island called Miriandhoo; this option was approximately $400. I could have booked a seaplane directly from Male to Miriandhoo but they have a strict luggage allowance and I was WAY over as I had been carrying souvenirs from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, AND Thailand.
The process to get on the domestic flight was fairly easy. I did not have to do much as the representative from Westin handled everything. All I had to do was show my passport to verify the ticket they had previously booked for me. The domestic flight was delayed as the airport was really busy – keep in mind this was on January 2nd, my actual birthday, so you can imagine the air traffic as folks wanted to return home/start their dream vacation.
Once our plane was ready for travel, the ride was really smooth and short. This is important because, from my experience, small planes and hot weather give the bumpiest rides. This time, however, it was different. It was so nice just to get an aerial view of all the other islands. I found out later that the Maldives is made up of about 2100 islands. 2100!!! Unfortunately, or fortunately, only 200 of these are inhabited so just imagine a bunch of islands, surrounded by the vast ocean, untouched. It was truly a sight to behold. God is really the greatest.
We landed at Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport and I met my Thakuru, my butler from the hotel. The Westin is rated as a 5-star hotel so everyone who goes there gets a personal butler. They are there to make your stay a memorable one – so they can do anything from booking a reservation for you at a restaurant or spa to scheduling any activities, requesting a special meal for you from the kitchen, etc. After meeting my Thakuru, I found out that my baggage did not arrive with me, meaning it was not on the plane I used to get to Dharavandhoo. I knew the bag was somewhere in Male, so I wasn’t too worried that it was stuck in Singapore, however, I was still worried because I didn’t have my bag, LOL. My Thakuru assured me that they were going to find it and deliver the bag to me that very night; so, we left to get on the speedboat to head to Miriandhoo. On the speedboat ride, which was lovely because I had the entire speedboat to myself, I was really freaking out because here I was: having traveled hours to get to my dream destination, on my birthday, with no bag. The trip could have really gone south but thank God for always coming through!
The ride from the Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport to The Westin was about 25 minutes. I was the only one on the speedboat so it was such a reflective time just enjoying the tranquility, the water, and just appreciating God’s magnificent creations. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a couple of managers and staff. I was given my initial welcome drink, got a tour of the entire island, and was escorted to my room. When I got to my room, I was extremely surprised to see a message written on my bed for my birthday. Later, I found out that my housekeeper put it together but what stuck out to me the most was the name he used. When I arrived at the Male International Airport, my Thakuru asked me if I had a preferred name and I told him, Sammie. I had no idea he was going to communicate that message to everyone else back at the island. This was the birthday message I saw when I arrived:
In addition to the birthday message on the bed, I received a second amenity drink and some snacks. The Westin is known as a wellness resort so everything from the rooms to gyms, to the food they provide, is designed with wellness in mind. I was expecting the green juice to be bitter but it was REALLY good; like REALLY REALLY good – definitely the best green juice I’ve had to date. After checking out the suite, walking around the island for a bit, I took a shower and tried to order room service. I must have been extremely tired because when I woke up the following day, I was still holding the room service menu in my hand.
The days that followed were pure bliss. I arrived on the 2nd of January and was scheduled to leave on the 7th. This was a part of my Southeast Asia trip where I did zero work; not for my regular job, and not for SK either; I just slept, went to the beach, ate, read in the library, ate, fell asleep in the library, fell asleep on the beach, and I tried to work out but that didn’t work out too well – LOL.
As a foodie, you guys know I love tasting and experimenting. When I tell you guys that the food at The Westin was incredible, believe me when I tell you. Granted, it wasn’t cheap, but I already knew that everything in the Maldives was expensive because they have to import every single item. With this in mind, I didn’t really mind paying an exorbitant amount because the food was goooood as hell, and the staff were genuinely nice. Thanks to my Ambassador Elite status, I got breakfast for free every single day and it was always a treat. In addition to the large buffet spread, the chefs would always walk around and ask if anyone wanted something specific. On one of the days I was craving waffles, so they made me fresh waffles. On another day I wanted pancakes, so they made me pancakes as well. During one of the nights, the theme for dinner was Maldivian cuisine and (around $125 total) it was so good. After Ghanaian food, my next favorite cuisine is Indian food so I really enjoyed Maldivian night as the food is relatively similar to Indian food – spicy and well-seasoned. Yes, shade. 🙂 I was truly living the life; little did I know that my weight was increasing steadily. NA ME F UP!!!!! LOL.
As part of the package, I received a complimentary photo shoot with two free prints. If I wanted to get any digital copies though, I had to pay. As a Kumasi babe, there was no way I was going to overpay for photos. I told the photographer straight up and we even laughed about it. So, while he took pictures with his professional camera, he also took a few shots on my phone as well. I was really impressed with the professional shots but I ended up editing the pictures again as I wanted a specific vibe. A couple of days before my departure, my housekeeper drew a bath for me and decorated it with flowers. I enjoyed that gesture because I tried to book a flower bath while in Bali and never got around to it.
The day off my departure, I decided to take a snorkeling class. I can’t remember the name of my instructor but she was extremely nice and patient. I can’t swim unfortunately so she had to give me a quick lesson on how to float properly, use the snorkeling gear, and actually snorkel. I was extremely scared but chale, I had just turned 25, I was several thousand miles away from my family and so I figured why not? After skydiving a couple of years ago in Arizona, I guess I was feeling quite BOLD, LOL. When I finally got the hang of it, I was so excited to see the bottom of the ocean that I opened my mouth and squealed while underwater. This was not a bright idea because I swallowed a lot of water and started to freak out. Rookie move. Concluding my trip to the Maldives with snorkeling was a really great idea and I’m so glad I did it. I wish I had done it earlier in my Southeast Asia tour, maybe in Thailand but regardless, I still had a fantastic time.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my solo trip to the Maldives. One of my goals now is to visit different islands in the Maldives as much as possible. Yes, it is a long flight, expensive, and remote – but if you plan the trip really well; perhaps visit during non-peak season, it can be affordable. As always, I have included a couple of pictures below.
- Airfare from Singapore to the Maldives: AMEX credit card points from work, Singapore Airlines
- If using cash, it will depend on where you are flying from but from PHL to MLE: from $1,600+ for economy
- Airfare from the Maldives to Singapore: Personal points from United Airlines, Singapore Airlines
- 25,000 miles + 50.00 USD
- Hotel: 280,000 Marriott points, starts at $1250/night for a basic Beach Villa facing the ocean
- Food: Free breakfast; total cost spent on food & drinks = $327.23
- RT Domestic Flight from Male to Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport: Around $400
- Snorkeling Class: $99
- Speedboat: Free from/to hotel
If you have any questions or need pointers for your trip to the Maldives, please email SincerelySamuella@gmail.com
Stay adventurous, dear friends, and always remember to stay golden.
Rich Auntie Sammie