- Positioning flights to San Francisco, Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, and Some Dim Sum for the Day
- Cathay’s New San Francisco Lounge
- Cathay Pacific First Class, San Francisco – Hong Kong
- The Wing and Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Singapore
- A Grand Suite at the Grand Hyatt Singapore
- Eating in Singapore
- Dinner at Waku Ghin, Marina Bay Sands
- Singapore Airlines Business Class: Singapore – Male
- Transfer to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
- Park Hyatt Maldives – Part I
- Park Hyatt Maldives – Part II
- Park Hyatt Maldives – Part III
- Maldivian, Kaadehdhoo – Male
- Singapore Airlines Business Class, Male – Singapore
- Cathay Pacific Business Class, Singapore – Hong Kong
- Conrad Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Chicago
- American’s Chicago Flagship Lounge and the Final Journey Home
Here’s a view of one of the water villas, like the one we’d be staying in, as seen from the boat as we arrived at the resort:
Now let me start the chapter about the Park Hyatt Maldives with its conclusion: this is one of the absolute best places I have ever stayed, it is the single best use of points for a hotel redemption I have ever had (and that’s saying something after my Conrad Koh Samui trip in November).
The hotel is a category 6 redemption, meaning 22,000 points a night. That’s the same points requirement as the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. And that gets you a villa that goes in the range of ~$1000 a night.
The property has three room types:
- Park Villa
- Park Pool Villa
- Park Water Villa
I just checked a random set of dates and found rates of $870, $1070, and $1220 respectively.
Note the incremental prices of $200 and $350 for the higher category rooms. That seems to be stable. After booking my award I inquired of the hotel about confirming a paid upgrade in advance. All awards book into the Park Villa category, which is itself a suite. There’s no opportunity to use free suite nights from a Hyatt Visa signup or Diamond confirmed suite upgrades on paid rates, since the base room is already a suite. There are some reports of Diamonds booking a Park Villa being given a Park Pool Villa as an upgrade based on availability at check-in, though this is certainly not an entitlement of the Gold Passport program.
Some prefer the greater privacy of a pool villa, but to me the quintessential Maldives experience is the overwater room, and I wasn’t sure I’d come back to this hotel. I wanted the overwater villa, and I certainly didn’t want to fly all the way to the middle of the Indian ocean, managing to make it to the Maldives and then still have to take a domestic flight and a boat to get here, and wind up in the base level room.
Since I had a bunch of Hyatt gift certificates with expiration dates from the 2011 Capital One signup bonuses burning a hole in my pocket I was looking for a paid upgrade. When I asked about confirming this in advance, I got the following reply:
It is possible to upgrade to a next category subject to availability upon arrival. Should you wish to confirm a villa upgrade following are the upselling rates
Park Villa to Park Pool = US$ 200 +++ ( Subject to 10% Service Charge, 3.5%GST and US$ 8 per person as Government bed tax)
Park Villa to Park Water Villa = US$ 350 +++ ( Subject to 10% Service Charge, 3.5%GST and US$ 8 per person as Government bed tax)
Please note that prices are subject to change.
Now, I was still a bit torn especially since I’d likely get the Pool Villa as a free upgrade anyway. And I didn’t like the idea of ‘subject to availability upon arrival’. So I asked whether my impression of upgrades was correct, and also whether I could do the buy up in advance in order to confirm the room I wanted, and got the following reply along with the same pricing:
Refer your email I would like to confirm that Diamond members would be get a villa upgrade to a next category subject to availability at the time of check-in and It is possible to confirm a villa upgrade now by paying up sell rates as below
Pool Villa: USD 200 +++ per night ( Subject to 10% Service Charge, 3.5%GST and US$ 8 per person as Government bed tax)
Park Water Villa: USD 350 +++ per night ( Subject to 10% Service Charge, 3.5%GST and US$ 8 per person as Government bed tax)
I then confirmed that if I did the buyup they would be willing to add it to my folio instead of billing me for it in advance, so that I could pay with Hyatt Gift Checks. They confirmed this, and we locked down the Water Villa.
And in fact I was pleased with the privacy of those villas — they are angled so that folks in one villa cannot see onto the decks of other villas. The only time folks will see you sitting on your deck is if they are walking in towards the resort from a villa further out on the property, or if they are snorkeling around your villa. I specifically asked for the most private villa possible…
After booking but prior to the stay I noticed that the hotel disappeared from the list of eligible properties for using Hyatt Gift Checks. So I emailed the hotel to ask about this, I was worried having committed to the stay and the room buy up using these certificates. The hotel replied that,
[U]nfortunately upgrade fee is not payable through Hyatt Check Certificates hence the charges will be added to your folio and can be settled at check out.
However you may settle your Dinning Charges using Hyatt Certificates during the stay.
I replied that I had specifically set up the upgrade in our correspondence saying that I would be paying with gift checks, and that I still hoped they would permit me to do so. They said they would, but that I couldn’t then use it for other charges — evening “dinning” –
As a very special case we are happy to make an exception and will accept Hyatt certificate for the upgrade to Park Water Villa. However we are unable to accept Hyatt certificate for other incidential charges such as excursion, dinning or transfers.
I had costs on the brain now. The cost of the resort still scared me a little. Not only was I paying about $400 per night on top of the room rate, but all reports of spending on property were that everything was going to be very expensive. I actually didn’t find that to be the case once I got there, I’ll share the details of that shortly, but I was expecting dinner for 2 to be at least $300 per night without alcohol. So I started mulling over a Passport Escapes award — that provides daily breakfast plus 3 complimentary dinners on a 5 night stay (or 5 dinners on a 7 night stay) for additional points.
Everyone at the resort gets breakfast for free though. And Diamonds of course would get breakfast for free anyway. So I asked whether the resort might extend something else in lieu of breakfast, such as lunch, and was told this was not possible. I converted the award to a Passport Escapes stay, it seemed as though it would be a great value given the price of dinners. In the end I wish I hadn’t, food wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be and I didn’t get the value out of those incremental points that I had anticipated
It also turned out, in the end, that the hotel was willing to take Gift Checks for the room upgrade and for other on-property expenses. The hotel returned to the list of properties accepting the gift checks. I flagged this for the property which then clarified,
Please accept my apologies for the confusion over Hyatt Check Certificates.
Our Property accepts Hyatt Check Certificates for eligible charges such as F&B, Room upgrades and excursions. In eligible charges are boutique shop and transfers.
All good in any case, I had a room on points and an upgrade to a water villa I’d be paying with certificates. I was spending additional points for 3 dinners. And the remaining food and beverage I’d be paying with gift checks. No stress about the costs, and the confusion was sorted.
I was contacted a couple of weeks prior to my stay by the General Manager asking whether I had any special requests, and I made several.
- Soy milk for my wife, noting that I prefer cream or half and half with my coffee and she likes soy. I was happy to be flexible if this wasn’t possible, but my morning coffee is one of my favorite things to savor and linger over at a resort. And this can surprisingly be a source of confusion, so anything that can be done so that folks know these preferences in advance is really helpful.
- Extra waters in our villa. The standard allotment seemed to be two large bottles of sparkling and two of still each day, we drink a lot of water and this wasn’t likely to be enough.
- The most private villa possible, as requested earlier.
- Specific flights for our transfer to and from Male. It’s certainly possible for specific flights to sell out, I didn’t know when they’d be buying our tickets (presumably inside the hotel’s cancellation period). I didn’t want a flight which stopped at another airline first, and I didn’t want a longer than necessary layover. So I had a look at the Maldivian flight schedules and suggested that the most appropriate flights. Glad I did too because our flight <I.to the resort was completely full.
When we finally arrived at the resort we were informed that there was a one-hour change of time from Male, clocks are an hour ahead of Male and also of Kaadedhdhoo, the small island where our domestic flight landed.
We were introduced to our island ‘host’ who would assist with any needs throughout the stay. He met us on the dock and had a golf cart ready to take us to our room. We drove around the resort and onto the walkway that takes you out along the water villas. And we kept driving. All the way to the end. We had been assigned the outermost villa on the property, which was perfect, just perfect, definitely the one regarded as the very best and early in our stay when staff would ask us our villa number there would often be a nod of surprise or a smirk recognizing that this was the best room in the house.
Only 7 of the 14 water villas were occupied during the better part of our stay, there is a bowl with water out front of each occupied villa (perhaps to wash your feet before entering?) and that bowl is turned up on its side in front of unoccupied villas so it was always clear which ones had guests and which did not.
When we arrived in our room our host gave us a tour around. There was a half bottle of champagne and several snacks under a glass bowl waiting for us. The bowl was an absolute necessity, as any uncovered food would quickly attract ants.
I was disappointed to see that there weren’t any extra waters in the room as requested, I didn’t say anything at the time but subsequent housekeeping visits always brought additional waters and we usually had twice the normal allotment and without charge. The hotel uses large glass bottles which they sanitize on property and fill with water that they purify as well, in order to avoid the waste of bottled water.
In a similar vein, there are reusable bottles for shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel in the shower. The top on one of the bottles in our shower was broken. It was one example of lack of detail or need for updating in some of the rooms, the property is only about 3 years old but the villas are definitely showing wear from the elements. They’re beautiful and stylish, but there are holes or gaps in the walls and sliding doors out to the deck which makes bugs entering easier and makes it more difficult to keep the villa cool during the day. With the air conditioning on full blast, the room would get up to around 25 degrees Celsius during the day.
The villas do need some work, they’re lovely but showing substantial wear after only about 3 years. They’re one large bedroom and sitting area, a large bathroom, and a shower that has high walls but is otherwise ‘outside’.
Most days, after breakfast, I just spent on the deck of the villa, looking out over the vast ocean and looking down at the coral. A pair of dolphins came by our villa one day, less than 50 meters away from the room. I’m not much of a photographer but the scenery itself is so beautiful that the pictures come out well.
Do bring sunscreen though. The first day there I thought that, in the shade, I could sit outside without putting any on. I got significantly burned. Sunscreen is especially expensive in the hotel gift shop, I don’t remember the amount but somewhere in the US$20s I think for a small bottle of Banana Boat.
The Maldives is a very nice place. It’s a stunning setting. The hotel offers outstanding snorkeling (and, presumably diving though we did not dive). The fish swimming around the house reef are beautiful.
Part 2 of the hotel piece of this report will be in and around the resort, and part 3 will focus mostly on the food.