Park Hyatt Maldives Upgrades — My Head Hurts

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

As I wrote about last week, I’m soon headed to the Park Hyatt Maldives.


While I didn’t love my one trip to the Maldives, I figured I’d finally check it out, and the value I got was tough to beat. The Park Hyatt Maldives recently switched from a Category 6 to Category 7 property, meaning the cost went from 25,000 to 30,000 points per night.

Not only was I able to lock the stay in at the 25,000 point per night rate, but I can stack that with the 20% off award redemption promotion which Hyatt Gold Passport is presently offering, which lowers my cost to 20,000 points per night.

It’s happening, and I’m meeting some friends there, and I’m sure I’ll have fun.

But goodness gracious, actually figuring out your stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives damn near requires a degree. As is the norm with Maldives resorts, not only do you have to get to Male Airport first, but then you have to take a domestic flight and speedboat, which isn’t cheap:

Round trip transfers between Ibrahim Nasir international airport and resort will be arranged by us and will be charged at USD 510 per person inclusive of taxes (domestic flight and speedboat transfer).Domestic flights are arranged via Maldivian Airlines and waiting times may vary from min 1 hour to max 4 hours. The shortest flight from Male International Airport to Kooddoo Domestic Airport is approximately 1 hour and the longest flight approximately 1 hour 45 min due to “stop over” in Kadhdhoo Domestic Airport. A short speedboat journey of approximately 30-40 minutes will follow as the final stretch of your journey to our island.

All domestic flights are scheduled around arriving and departing international flights.  At this stage we are unable to confirm exact flight details as our domestic airline operator confirm their schedule one day prior to arrival.

All guests waiting for a domestic flight will be escorted to the Airport Lounge where light refreshments are available. Our airport representative will overlook all arrangements and ensure that you have a smooth transfer on the next available flight.

Of course I knew all of this going in, and in a way I suppose just how secluded it is adds to the charm in a way (or something like that).

But the part that I’m struggling with is the room situation. The Park Hyatt Maldives has four categories of rooms:


Park Villas

These are the standard rooms that you’re confirmed into when making an award reservation. They’re private villas on land, and don’t have a plunge pool. But they still seem to be huge.


Park Pool Villas

These are the upgraded villas which still aren’t overwater, though they do have private plunge pools. Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members receive an upgrade to this based on availability on the day of check-in.

Otherwise you can pay a supplement of $250.10 ($205 plus 22% tax/service charge) per night to confirm an upgrade to a Park Pool Villa.


Park Water Villas

This is the “base” overwater villa. When most people picture going to the Maldives it’s likely for an overwater bungalow, so I’m guessing this is what most people want to stay in.

If you’re confirmed in a Park Villa, you can pay a supplement of $494.10 ($405 plus 22% tax/service charge) per night to confirm an upgrade to a Park Water Villa.


Park Water Sunset Villas

It’s my understanding that the villas themselves are the same as the Park Water Villas, but as you’d expect they have the very best views.

If you’re confirmed in a Park Villa, you can pay a supplement of $744.20 ($610 plus 22% tax/service charge) per night to confirm an upgrade to a Park Water Sunset Villa.


Which would you choose?

I think one of the toughest “traits” to have in this hobby is being a perfectionist or being someone that’s constantly thinking of things in terms of marginal value.

On one hand if you just have a suite that’s not overwater and doesn’t have a plunge pool, is it really worth going to the Maldives?

The price to upgrade to a Pool Water Villa isn’t horrible, but at the same time as a Diamond member I might get upgraded to that anyway. So do you pay ~$250 per night to upgrade to something you might get anyway?

As far as the overwater villa goes, while that’s nice, is it ~$500 per night nicer? After all, I’ll be sleeping for eight hours a night, and presumably will be working, eating, and working out for several hours a day. If this were a honeymoon or something it would totally be worth it, but how many hours a day will I really be enjoying the fact that the room is overwater?

Maybe two hours a day, in which case I can think of many better ways to spend $250 per hour. 😉

And ain’t no way I’m paying ~$750 per night to upgrade.

So I’d be curious to hear what you guys would do. I’m sure many people are planning stays here and in a similar situation as me, so maybe talking about it out loud will help other people decide as well. I’m thinking of maybe trying to upgrade to a Park Water Villa for a couple nights of my stay and then chancing it with an upgrade to a Park Pool Villa for the rest of the stay.

If you have an upcoming stay, did you upgrade? If you’ve stayed at the Park Hyatt Maldives, which option did you go with?

  1. @lucky –

    We have been looking at this Hyatt as well….one of my “bucket list” places for my wife and I.

    Can you not use Gold Passport Points to Upgrade? If you can, then I would certainly opt for the Park Water Villas.

    Also, the speedboat ride; is that included as a courtesy transport from the hotel property, since no one could get there otherwise?

  2. Ben I really think you should go for the basic overwater villa. I just feel after going to the Maldives which is so iconic for these villas you might regret it afterwards. You never know the room choice could change your opinion of the Maldives.

  3. Me and the lady were just there in November. Had to “slum” it in the standard Park Villa since ~$500/night for the overwater villa x5 nights was not worth since it was a just a nice vacation (not honeymoon). I would definitely not consider upgrading to the Park Villa with pool using cash since each villa has it’s direct access to the beach. There is little reason to enjoy the pool when the beach is steps away and feels completely isolated even with 90% occupancy.

    Since you’re going by yourself, I’d stay in a standard villa, hope for an upgrade to the pool villa as a diamond and save your cash.

  4. Dear Lucky,

    I would always go for a beach villa which is not on the water. You definately do not need a plunge pool. I can never understand why people want a swimming pool when they can hit the beautiful ocean in the Maldives.

  5. I’ve been to the hotel twice .Stayed in water sunset villa on my first stay and second stay a mix of pool villa and water sunset villa. I like pool villa the most. I believe is more functional and you have the beach. I had a great beach not all pool villas have good beaches some has rocks or no beach. water villla is a whole another experience and a must to do, if u only go to pool villa you will regret the rest of your life on not trying and experience the other one so u have to go to both. the difference on sunset vs no sunset water villa is you can see a clean sunset without another water villa on the way. For first time visitors I will recommend to upgrade to pool villa half o your stay and water villa another half. I would not stay in regular villa except you hate pools and u happy with just the beach.

  6. if you’re going during high season, you may not get the chance to be upgraded since I imagine many go to the Maldives to book the over water villas. If you want one, confirm ahead of time. We opted not to book one of these when we went to the Maldives, because they just weren’t as private as pool villas.

  7. I don’t see the point of paying for any upgrade. Private plunge pools are utterly useless. And what is the joy of having an overwater villa? One is already surrounded by water just from being on an island.

    Stick with the standard villa. Save the bucks for a trip in Transaero’s Imperial Class (hint, hint).

  8. We stayed three nights in a beach villa and two nights in overwinter villa that was about in the middle of them. This was a perfect combo and in 2013 they let us upgrade with points and cash. In addition to being over water with a ladder access to water, the large lounges were terrific places to sun and even better to see stars and bioluminescent fish at night.

  9. My husband and I have been to PHM twice and the upgrade price has risen considerably. Back in the day (last year) Diamond members can get the Sunset room (RM 51) for free and there was only 3 room types. The upgrade to Water Villa was also cheaper ($350 vs $500 now). Last time we went, we just paid for two nights upgrade to Water Villa and another three nights at the base room. Since we are return customers, they are kind enough to upgrade us to Water Villa through out our stay.

    @John DELTA, you can’t use Hyatt points to pay for the upgrade but they do accept Hyatt gift certificate (but not gift card). So it may make sense to purchase these gift certificates when there is 20% off.

  10. This is exactly why I’m skipping the Park Hyatt and going to another property in the Maldives. The cost plus the points doesn’t pencil out for me.

  11. Stayed for 1 night at overwater, 2 nights at beach villa. Enjoyed the combo. Paid an arm to get there, but in the grand scheme of things, was def worth it.

  12. Yikes. Never understood the blogger hype about the Maldives (and I don’t include you in that statement). Looks lovely, and I’m sure its heavenly. But seems like there are many other places just as wonderful for less money and less hassle getting there. All those points, and then you still have to supplement with hundreds of dollars a night to get the iconic over water bungalow? No thanks. For that much money, I’d go to one of the Aman resorts. Or save it for something else. Really seems odd for you to be doing this, given your oft stated non-interest in beaches.

  13. We stayed in a pool villa (upgraded from standard villa on arrival) and it was great. The pool was nice to jump into after walking back from the beach (although there’s a pot of water to wash your feet in) but certainly not worth paying the extra $$ to guarantee. The winner for both me and my GF of the standard villas over the overwater villas was the outdoor shower.

  14. My wife and I paid for one night of over water villa in the Maldives (not at the park Hyatt) to see what all the fuss was about.

    Nice to try it out for one night, definitely would not pay for the entire stay.

  15. We just got back from the Park Hyatt Maldives. The over water villas are very nice but plan to be in the room a lot since it takes a little longer to walk back to the main building (the walk feels that much longer in the hot sun).

    I loved it though as I thoroughly enjoyed the sunsets and snorkeling right from my villa.

    I suggest try it for two nights to try it and then stay at a park villa the rest of your stay.

    Pool villas aren’t really worth it to me as I don’t see the point of the little dipping pool.

  16. A shame they made everything more expensive; I hope the hotel service and experience has improved proportionally.

    When I went last year, there was no “water sunset villa,” and from the description it seems that these may just be the water villas at the end of the dock. Crazy they think this is worth 250/night more than the nearer water villas; the only one that could even conceivably be worth a premium would be the very last, as it is the only one where another villa doesn’t protrude into your view / can see onto your deck. All water villas have a fine view of the sunset FWIW.

    Though the water villas were a ~360 USD upgrade when I went, even at 500 I think they might be worth it. It has nothing at all to do with being over the water per se but instead with the proximity to the reef for snorkeling, which is probably the biggest thing the resort has going for it.

    Will be interested to hear how you find the service; we found it very “island”- somewhat lax and unpolished, but all the staff very friendly, making it almost endearing at times.

    This resort on the whole was amazing, but there is little to no value to be had. Even using points you are paying what it’s worth; not the typical value arbitrage we are usually trying to get out of our points and miles but certainly an experience to be had.

  17. I stayed in the Water Sunset Villas and they win hands down: That’s what you want your Maldives experience to be: they are perfect. The island villas are only second choice, avoid them if you can.

  18. I always love having a private plunge pool whenever I’m in the tropics with the concomitant heat and humidity (which I despise). Therefore, I’d probably pay the $250 to upgrade to the Park Pool Villas. But I can understand that most wouldn’t bother.

    FWIW, I also require good air con–and the report on almost every Maldives resort property is that overwater villas/bungalows do not have very efficient or effective air con (due to the salt conditions, the very warm temperatures, and the much warmer Indian Ocean). If you like or want great air con, you definitely want to stay in the Park Villa or Park Pool Villas. (The same isn’t as true in Bora Bora, coincidentally, since the Pacific isn’t usually as warm as the Indian Ocean…though it is still a factor to consider depending on where you might stay.)

  19. Juan is spot on: the standard villas are perfect. I’m here now and I was offered an upgrade to a pool villa after the second night and we declined it. The pool villa offered didn’t have a great beach, but the standard villa did. I’d just ask for #20-31 because they all have a great beach.

    Also, my wife and I agree that not only are the overwater villas not worth it, but we would decline the upgrade to those too. The beach is so amazing and the outdoor showers are all that we’ve used so far. Everyone can access the reef by either swimming from the beach or walking to the end of the jetties.

    I guess the best combo would be a pool villa with an awesome beach too. I don’t see how we’d use a pool that much unless we had just gotten too much sun one day and still wanted to be outside as most of the pools are shaded.

    Bottom line: any paid upgrade is a waste of money in our opinion.

  20. I booked two free nights using the Hyatt credit card. Then booked 4 extra nights using points at 25k each. We decided to pay the water villa upgrade for just 4 nights, my wife and I think we will be snorkling much, they do seem to have a great house reef by the water villas. The other 2 nights we will stay at the park villa. 4 night upgrade and the transfers will cost 3020… so much for a free stay!

  21. Never been to the Maldives, but have been to Moorea and Bora bora – combined over-the-water and beach villa stays.

    After the novelty wore off, I got bored staying at OTW after 2 nights. If I were to go again on the same type of vacation, I don’t think I’d stay more than 2 nights OTW.

  22. I would go for the Park Water Villa and hope for a further complimentary upgrade to a Sunset Villa. I doubt we will ever return, because a “free” stay here ain’t nowhere near free. We used the Capital One checks from our 100,000 point sign up bonuses about 5 years ago to pay for the upgrades, food, and spa treatments. We had to come out of pocket for the transfers (which are fairly unpleasant to begin with) since the money goes to a third party. Anyway, the whole place is over-priced. Surely there is somewhere in the Caribbean that is just as nice without the 24-travel each way…

    That said, if I could blink and be there, I would go back in a heart beat, as it is a beautiful place. Enjoy your stay! I know you will. You should definitely go snorkeling or diving. Yes, it is very expensive to dive there, but it is amazing.

  23. Split my rewards stay at the Conrad Rangali; it was worth it for first in Maldives. Now that I’ve been there once would definitely take the standard villas. They are nice, you have the beach so no need for pool, and you have the beach so no need for overwater. First time? Then you need to splurge a little.

    Part of the adventure is the journey, the speedboats for over 30 minutes are awesome experience. Seaplanes, the same thing. Plus, the price of appx $500 is charged to your room portfolio so you get points. Plus, everything is charged US Dollars so no foreign transaction fees.

    I just went in Nov 2014 and I’m ready to go back.

    Oh, and the Holiday Inn Kandooma is an awesome place and good use of points. Upgrades only $20 bucks and the speedboat transfer is only $250 USD.

  24. Thanks for the post. So funny, yet true about agonizing over the details of room types and related value.

    My thought process sounds eerily similar to yours (is that a good or bad thing?). We are going for 6 nights and paid for 2 nights to guarantee the overwater villa, hoping we will get upgraded to pool villa due to diamond status for the other nights. Helps that we are going in summer (low season). Not ideal time, but that’s when we have vacation time.

  25. just checked this:
    some random Chinese Tour Group rate…
    So it’s ~$2500 including round trip from China – Maldives, air ticket/speed boat to/from hotel, 4 nights at the hotel…
    One would just buy the breakfast…Still probably 1/3 of the price.

  26. We enjoyed the pool villa (upgraded on arrival) more than the over the water. It gets a little hot in the overwater villa.

  27. Unless you have become super outdoorsy since I last saw you, skip the upgrade. If you can luck into the pool villa upgrade, it was nice, but it’s only worth it if you use the pool. Otherwise, it’s exactly the same as the base villa. Totally skip the overwater villas unless you plan to make good use of them – and truthfully I didn’t think they were quite as nice/spacious as the beach villas.

  28. I’m sorry, but you simply cannot go to MLE and not stay in an over-water bungalow. That’s like going to Paris and not staying at the PHP, er, I mean, that’s like flying EK F and not taking a shower.

    And it seems clear to me that those people who ragged on getting a plunge pool when “you’re on an island surrounded by an ocean” have never stayed in an over-water bungalow with a plunge pool.

    When we went there, we stayed in just such a room and we were surprised how glorious it was to have your own plunge pool overlooking the stunning Indian ocean. There’s just something about being able to watch the sunset IN water, OVER the water. Also, we could hop between snorkling, the plunge pool, and snacking in our room seamlessly. Wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

    That being said–

    If it’s were my *second* time to MLE, and I spent the first time in in OWB with a plunge pool, and I was HGP DIA, I’d probably just stick with a pool villa with the hopes I’d get the bump to the pool villa.

    In fact, that’s just what we’re going to do, except we’re going to be doing Conrad MLE + HH DIA. If we get the bump, great. If not, also fine.

  29. Given that you’re not going in ultra high season with high risk of sellout, I’d wait until you get on property to see if you get the upgrade and if not see what kind of price they offer you to confirm an upgrade to an OWV–it may well be cheaper than the advance confirmed price (it is at Conrad MLE, FWIW).

  30. Ouch,

    Went on points 21 months ago as a Diamond and the base rate to upgrade to over water bungalows was $400 a night which we did for three nights. We ended up getting the third one from the end. Seems like they have split the overwater bungalows into two categories now so they could charge more. When I went they didn’t delineate for sunset rooms. Be sure to take advantage of your free happy hour drink since liquor can’t be imported into the Maldives.

  31. We were upgraded part of the time to a pool villa which was nice but its not a huge deal as the main pool was always pretty empty. I think the OWB is worth the upgrade for a few nights. You can see plenty of reef fish and jump into water for a quick snorkeling trip.

  32. Have not been to the PH but have been to the Conrad (locked the rates before Hilton carnage). I am starting in my fledgling slow produced blog (in portuguese) to talk about my experience on Feb 13. When devaluation was announced I tried to convince my wife to go back to the Maldives, but we agreed to let it be.

    Anyway, here it goes my personal perspective of our experience:

    1) The standard rooms are already amazing, really, and if you are planning to do a lot of activities – scuba diving, massages, etc – they will be already amazing

    2) even though standard rooms are amazing, stay for at least one night or two on a overwater one. Nevertheless, do not plan to do plenty of things while you are there so that you can enjoy it.

    3) You will end up spending a lot of money even in reward stays. We got flights and hotels on miles and points and the final bill was very expensive

    4) This is the Maldives, not Bali, you will not have a lot of “cultural connection”. The Maldives are a destination to enjoy the property, the beaches and the house reef

    5) Scuba Dive, Scuba Dive Scuba Dive, or at least snorkel. The Marine life is unbelievable, and you will have change your perspective after getting in touch with such a rich marine life

  33. I’ve done Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and it was fun. But we’ve picked just the basic room this last two trips to Conrad and Hyatt in the Maldives.

    Easier pool, restaurant and beach access day and night; wonderful land based accommodations. Savings in the thousands. And quite frankly, I like the fact that the bungalows are roomy and private.

    The Hyatt is a wonderful property, but it’s really very small. A circuit of the island takes a few minutes. I enjoyed spending time at the pool, at the Boat house, on the jetties, and around the beach. Somehow, returning to the villa without the lengthy pier walk just feels right. My $0.02.

  34. Just a week ago I read an article about the Maldives. Apparently they experiencing a dip in the number of visitors, especially from significant lower numbers from Russia and China. This has resulted in a decrease of hotel prices of 25-30%, so the message from the expert was: Now is the time to book a Maldives vacation.

    So, Im surprised they went up in points required. But maybe this hotel dont see the same dip?

    Id probably upgrade to a Park Pool Villa and hope for a complementary upgrade to the Park Water Villa from your card status. Either way, you will not suffer too much 😉

  35. Interesting that they seem to have recently adjusted the rates for the Pool and Water villas. I was quoted $210++ and $365++ respectively earlier this year. The former went down while the latter seems to have gone up. FWIW we elected to go with the Water Villa upgrade, but skip the additional $350 for the “sunset” villas.

  36. We stayed one night in the regular villa. We had diamond and before emailed a few times about getting upgraded to the water villa the answer was always no. When we got there we asked again and the last three nights we were upgraded for free to the water villa. So it was nice. I loved going out at 6 am and snorkeling around our villa while my wife was sleeping. Just was cool.

  37. We’re heading to the PH Maldives the beginning of September for seven nights. Is this time of the year still considered low season? Would you chance waiting for a cheaper upgrade upon arrival or just confirming ahead of time? We were thinking an upgrade to the over water bungalows for half of the time since it’s our honeymoon. Would you guys recommend starting out with the bungalows and then moving to a standard villa or vice versa?

  38. Stayed there last year in a standard suite. They tried to sell upgrades, seems to be their “trick” and I didn’t receive an upgrade. The standard suite was great (one very large room, like a junior suite). The overwater villas looked very used, compared to the standard villa.

    During a tropical storm, a land villa is better. Believe me!

    There are good land villas and some not so good plunge pool villas. It depends on which side of the island the villa is. The beach is moving during the year.

  39. Jimmy on March 12, 2015 at 7:24 pm: “I’m here now and I was offered an upgrade to a pool villa after the second night and we declined it. The pool villa offered didn’t have a great beach, but the standard villa did.”

    Bingo. At resort-type properties, upgrades sometimes make little sense. We may be so focused on “upgrades” that we might often spend extra money when there is absolutely no need to.

    I did once decline a suite upgrade at Conrad Bali as a Hilton Honors Diamond, after it was offered to me but with a caution: I would have no ocean view from the suite. To make the point, I was shown a map of the resort. Convinced, I opted to keep the room that I had been originally assigned, and I would do it again because, with a great ocean view and a patio, the standard room turned out to be an infinitely better choice than the suite upgrade would’ve been.

    An a upgrade may not always be an upgrade!

  40. We’ve been here and other places in the Maldives.

    Upgrade to a pool villa and request room 37, you get privacy (you can see your neighbour but it’s really not a problem), you can see & hear the sea and you get the plunge pool.

    OWV are just not worth it here, they lack a plunge pool which is a killer as far as we are concerned.

    The Sunset OWV is just a rip off, A few hundred dollars more for a sunset few, a sunset that lasts a few minutes and a sunset you can see from elsewhere anyway.

    We paid for the pool villa upgrade (and also had a couple of nights we paid full price) as we wanted it guaranteed and it was well worth it. We did spend most of our time out on the deck though, we knew that’s what we wanted. If you plan on sitting around the main pool whilst relaxing then it’s obviously not worth it.

  41. Nobody’s mentioned it, but my absolute favorite feature of the park and pool villas are the outdoor showers and bathtubs, which were a highlight of my stay. You’ll be snorkeling a lot, which means you’ll always be salty; the outdoor shower is amazing and a lifesaver.

  42. Every time I have been to the Maldives (back end of April), I have always split my stay between a overwater and a beach villa (pool not required). Hotels usually say that most Europeans prefer the beach – and in all honesty, I do. And at most hotels at top occupancy you won’t see more than 2-3 people. Curious to hear what you think about the PHM. When do you go?

  43. If you confirm a paid upgrade in advance of your stay, do you have to pay the upgrade costs in advance or will it just be added to your bill at the end of your stay? Thanks!!

  44. We are going here in March (2016) and have booked using a combination of Hyatt CC free nights (2) and C+P (4 nights). We also confirmed an OWB upgrade ($400+/nt) in advance for 3 nights. My husband is a Hyatt Diamond member. We received a ‘pro-forma invoice’ from the hotel for the transfers, C+P fees and OWB upgrade totaling over $3K and the invoice T+C’s says payment for the invoice must be received 30 days prior to arrival date. Is this normal to have to pay for the entire stay in advance? I thought we only needed to pre-pay for the domestic transfers? Thanks for your help!

  45. Hey Ben –

    Question for you. We are trying to figure out if the all inclusive is worth it. They are quoting $330 per person per night for all-inclusive (a hefty $660 per night for 2 of us). I imagine the food and drinks are very expensive but HOW expensive actually? Assuming we eat like normal people and want to drink to our hearts content (bottle of wine at dinner, few cocktails throughout the day and cocktails after dinner) — do you think we’ll be spending >$660 / night on food and drink? Any advice on this would be great!

  46. Is it possible to check if they have the pool villa upgrade before I book? I tried calling Hyatt and he said there was no cash upgrade available. I hadn’t booked with my points yet because I didn’t want to book unless I could get the water villa.

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