Review: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Review: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

NAME: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
LOCATION: Maldives
DATE: April 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: There's a lot to love about the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, from its close proximity to Male (meaning no flights are required), to the huge number of dining outlets, to the great service. What an amazing use of points in the Maldives!
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EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy breakfast, upgrades, & more

Want to take advantage of Hilton Impresario benefits at no extra cost (when paying for your stay with cash), including a room upgrade, free breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He doesn’t charge booking fees, and may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

Our primary destination in the Maldives was the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, where we spent five nights. This is arguably the most luxurious points points hotel in the Maldives, and I was curious to check it out and see if it lived up to the hype. While the hotel has some quirks, I’m happy to report that it did, and I’d absolutely recommend staying here!

Waldorf Astoria Maldives basics

Before we get into a detailed review of the property, let me share a few basics about the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, which opened in 2019:

  • The property has 122 villas, so it’s a bit larger than some of the other uber-luxury properties in the Maldives (for example, Cheval Blanc has just 46 villas)
  • The property is just a 45 minute speedboat ride from Male Airport, meaning you can arrive or depart any hour of the day or night; this is a huge advantage over properties that require a seaplane, though it also means the resort isn’t quite as secluded
  • The Waldorf Astoria Maldives is probably most known for its variety of food & beverage outlets, as the resort has 10 of them, which is more or less unheard of

Booking Waldorf Astoria Maldives

Whether you’re looking to redeem Hilton Honors points or book a cash stay, there are a couple of ways to maximize value at the Waldorf Astoria, so let’s go over those details.

Redeeming Hilton Honors points

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives belongs to Hilton Honors, so you can redeem points here. I locked in my stay many months ago, at the rate of 120,000 Hilton Honors points per night. With elite members getting a fifth night free on award redemptions, that meant we were paying an average of just 96,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

I value Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of paying $480 per night here. That’s incredible when you consider that paid rates for our dates started at $2,500+ per night, after factoring in the room rate and 23.2% taxes and service charges (you don’t pay taxes and services charges when redeeming points).

Cash rates at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives

A few things to note if redeeming points at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives:

Booking a cash rate with Hilton Impresario

In general luxury hotel rates are through the roof nowadays, given the pent up demand for travel due to the pandemic. Base rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives currently range anywhere from $1,600 to $3,000 per night, depending on the time of year.

If you’re booking a cash rate at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, I’d highly recommend booking through a travel advisor associated with the Hilton Impresario program:

  • This offers incremental perks that include a $150 food & beverage credit, a room upgrade subject to availability, and double Hilton Honors points; breakfast is usually also a perk of the program, but all rates at this hotel include breakfast
  • These Hilton Impresario rates can be combined with some offers available directly through the property, like the “Live Unforgettable” promotion, which offers savings of 25-30%, half board (breakfast and dinner), and complimentary transfers on stays of four or more nights
  • These rates are eligible to earn Hilton Honors points (and the rates even offer double points), and can also be combined with any of Hilton Honors’ global promotions

So when you combine Hilton Impresario, the promotions being offered directly by the hotel, and the ability to earn points, the value looks a bit better than the initial rate you may see online.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Hilton Honors Diamond benefits

For those wondering about elite recognition at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, here’s what’s offered to Hilton Honors Diamond members:

  • A complimentary happy hour at Peacock Alley daily from 4-5PM
  • 50% savings on cocktails at Peacock Alley from 10-11:30PM
  • Complimentary late check-out and early-check-in, subject to availability
  • A welcome amenity
  • An additional 30 minutes added to select 60 minute spa treatments

In reality I’d say the happy hour is the only significant elite perk at this property:

  • All guests have breakfast included, which would otherwise be a Hilton Honors Diamond benefit
  • The Waldorf Astoria Maldives doesn’t upgrade Diamond members for free (I’m curious how a certain OMAAT reader feels about that)
  • The 30 minute addition to a 60 minute spa treatment sounds nice in theory, though the spa pricing is a bit odd; for example, a 60 minute massage costs $220, while a 90 minute massage costs $240, so the incremental cost in cash is very low
  • In reality all hotels in the Maldives are great about granting all guests early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability

If you’re a drinker, the value of the happy hour can add up. Cocktails at the hotel will typically cost you $30 each (after the 23.2% tax and service charge), so for a couple that’s $60 per round of drinks.

Keep in mind that you can receive Hilton Honors Diamond status just for having the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (review), and the card is a great value.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives speedboat transfer

While getting to many resorts in the Maldives requires taking a seaplane, that’s not the case at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives. The resort is only around 25 kilometers from Male’s Velena International Airport (MLE), and you can get there via a 45-minute speedboat ride.

This was my first time staying at a resort within boating distance of Male, and I really loved this:

  • The yacht transfer is actually enjoyable and pleasant, as it’s like cruising around the Maldives; flying within the Maldives, on the other hand, can be much less pleasant
  • While seaplanes can only fly during the day, the yacht transfer is available 24/7, so it works regardless of the time of day you arrive or depart
  • The yacht is promised within 30-60 minutes of your arrival time at the airport, since the service is operated continuously based on demand; this requires a lot less waiting time than most flights

For what it’s worth, the roundtrip yacht transfer costs $730 per adult, plus a 23.2% tax and service charge, so that’s $899 per adult. Yes, obviously this is a ton, but this is just how much stuff in the Maldives costs, and it’s comparable to standard seaplane transfer costs.

The yacht used for transfers is legitimately nice, and has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. There are even two bedrooms, but there’s not really a need for that for such a short journey.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives yacht for airport transfers
Waldorf Astoria Maldives yacht
Waldorf Astoria Maldives yacht
Waldorf Astoria Maldives yacht
Waldorf Astoria Maldives yacht

Equally impressive is that they serve free-flowing drinks, including Veuve Clicquot champagne, as well as some snacks. Given the price of alcohol in the Maldives, at least they make it a nice experience.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives yacht champagne

I’ve always been fascinated by Male, so it was cool to go by it in a boat.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives transfer views
Waldorf Astoria Maldives transfer views

We also lucked out arriving in the evening, as this basically turned into a sunset cruise.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives transfer views

On our journey to the hotel, we had the yacht all to ourselves, while on the return journey we shared the yacht with one other family.

The arrivals experience at the Waldorf Astoria was seamless. We were greeted by several staff, including the resort manager, Marco, as well as our personal concierge, Tiffany, who would be looking after us for the duration of our stay. We were offered a cold towel and welcome drink, and were immediately whisked to our villa in a golf cart.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives arrivals dock
Waldorf Astoria Maldives reception

Waldorf Astoria Maldives property layout

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives is on a very long collection of islands. If you walk or bike from one end of the resort to the other, it’s around 3.5 kilometers. Below is a map that gives you a sense of the property layout. Since the resort isn’t just one circular(ish) island, at most points of the resort you’re looking “in” at the resort’s lagoon.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives property map

For some context:

  • At each end of the resort is a jetty with dozens of overwater villas, and between them are the resort’s islands; the island at the bottom right of the above map is the private island, which can accommodate up to 24 guests
  • You have plenty of accommodations not on the jetties, which is also where the standard rooms here are (this includes the rooms that you get if redeeming points at the standard rate)

There are paths connecting the entire property, and they’re easy to walk or bike down, or you can always call a golf cart to pick you up. I will say that paths get quite a bit of traffic and are fairly narrow, so it’s not a terribly relaxing biking experience, as you’re largely just getting out of the way of golf carts.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives path

There are bridges connecting the little islands, which are always beautiful to bike down, given the views.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives bridge connecting islands
Waldorf Astoria Maldives overwater villas
Waldorf Astoria Maldives lagoon
Waldorf Astoria Maldives beautiful water

Even if you’re not staying at a far end of the resort, it can be enjoyable to bike up and down the jetty.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives overwater villas

It’s especially fun to go down the far end of the one jetty, where you have a great view of the private island, as well as the two Stella Maris villas, which can only be accessed by boat.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Stella Maris villas
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Stella Maris villas

The views across the property are simply stunning all hours of the day, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives bridge at sunset
Waldorf Astoria Maldives sunset view

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa with pool

We stayed in villa 309, which is a king reef villa, the standard accommodation at the hotel. These rooms are located on one of the small islands between the main parts of the resorts, connected by bridges.

This isn’t technically an overwater villa, in the sense that the room is on land. However, the terrace is overwater, and for all practical purposes you feel like you’re in an overwater villa. You just don’t have to go on a jetty. Personally I wouldn’t pay the upgrade surcharge for a “true” overwater villa, and if anything I liked the central location of this villa, as it offered easy access to everything.

There were two bikes parked outside of our villa. The entire villa space was enclosed with a wall around it, and the only way to access even the outdoor area was through a double door.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa exterior
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa exterior

The villa had an incredible outdoor space, but let’s start with the inside of the villa.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa entryway

While the villa is marketed as being over 3,000 square feet, that also includes outdoor space, while I’d say the indoor space is maybe one-third that size. Inside the entrance to the villa was the bedroom area, which had a king size bed, two chairs looking out over the terrace, a TV, and a hybrid desk and vanity setup (not ideal for working, but better than nothing).

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa bedroom
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa bedroom
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa desk
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa sitting area

Along the wall closest to the entrance was the well stocked minibar. Everything except coffee and tea was available for purchase.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa minibar
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa minibar
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa minibar
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa minibar

Waiting on the side table between the two chairs was a welcome amenity, consisting of a fruit plate, chocolates, and Louis Roederer Brut (which is generous when you consider the cost of alcohol in the Maldives).

Waldorf Astoria Maldives welcome amenity

Well over half of the indoor villa space was dedicated to closets and the bathroom. Past the bedroom were two sets of closets on each side. There was a quirk whereby the lights inside the closets would only stay on for a couple of seconds when opening the doors, and would then turn off. I’m not sure if there was just a glitch in our room, or if the closets are for some reason programmed this way, but it didn’t make much sense to me.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa layout
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa closets

The bathroom included a huge walk-in shower, a bidet toilet, double sinks, and a soaking tub.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa shower & toilet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa toilet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa bathtub

All toiletries were from Aesop (which I love), and were in easy-to-use reusable containers.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa Aesop toiletries

I let the hotel know in advance the name of the second guest, so I was pleased that there were two “his” containers with toiletries. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often that doesn’t happen, and it’s definitely noticed and appreciated.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives his & his amenities

On the garden side of the villa was a large outdoor shower, which could be accessed by walking through the main shower.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor shower

The highlight of the villa was the outdoor space. In addition to there being a sizable private pool, I particularly appreciated the variety of furniture options plus the covered spaces, which made the outdoor space a great place to hang out.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor area
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor area

The furniture was truly endless, from two lounge chairs at the end of the pool, to two swinging daybeds, to a dining table that can seat four, to another dining table with two seats, to a sitting area with two seats, to two loungers down on the dock by the ocean, to two “nets” you can relax in.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor area
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor sitting area
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor sitting area
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor swing
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor table
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor sitting area
Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor nets

There were also stairs leading directly into the ocean.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives king reef villa outdoor ladder

For those wondering if the distance of the resort from Male is noticeable or problematic, I didn’t find it to be an issue at all. Below is a picture with Male in the distance from our deck, to give you a sense of the distance. Since I had never stayed so close to Male before, I kind of enjoyed having a view of something, and there were no issues in terms of boat traffic, noise, etc.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives view of Male

All things considered I thought our room was awesome. This is simply an incredible Hilton Honors redemption. A few notes and thoughts, though:

  • The entry level rooms here lack a proper separate seating area, though the more premium accommodations (with “grand” in the name) do have these; you can typically pay to upgrade, and I could see the value in that if you’re traveling with kids and want a bit more privacy, but we found it unnecessary
  • I absolutely loved the outdoor space of this villa, and thought it was exceptionally well done
  • This might sound silly (and admittedly is very subjective), but there was something about the villa’s design that made me feel more like I was in Bali than the Maldives

Waldorf Astoria Maldives amenities & facilities

More than in other destinations, the Maldives is a place where guests often spend a disproportionate amount of time in their rooms. After all, villas are often overwater, and are huge, with private pools. Nonetheless the Waldorf Astoria Maldives has a lot to offer when you’re not in your room as well. So let’s talk about some of the property’s facilities.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives pools & beach

The Waldorf Astoria has two shared pools, which I almost never saw anyone using. There was a shared family pool, which was massive, and had a cool design with an infinity-edge.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives family pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives family pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives family pool

Next to that was a pool exclusively for adults, which had a different but equally cool design.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives adult pool

The resort also has one main large beach area. Many resorts in the Maldives don’t have a “proper” beach, so it’s cool that the Waldorf Astoria offers this. The water was calm and sand was powdery, and there was plenty of seating with service from the nearby restaurant.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives beach
Waldorf Astoria Maldives beach
Waldorf Astoria Maldives beach

This is also where the water sports were located, and there were lots to choose from. You can find the water sports menu here — as you can see, kayaks, paddle boats, and stand-up paddle boarding, are complimentary, while most other options are chargeable.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives water sports
Waldorf Astoria Maldives water sports

Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives has a spa, and you can find the spa treatment menu here. We had a signature massage here one day, which was “upgraded” from a 60 minute massage to a 90 minute massage on account of my Hilton Honors Diamond status.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa exterior

The spa facilities are great. Upon arriving we were greeted by the staff, offered welcome drinks, and asked to choose our preferred oil for the treatment.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa reception
Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa reception seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa welcome drinks

The massages took place in overwater villas, which even partly had glass floors, so that you could look into the ocean during your treatment.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa treatment room
Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa treatment room
Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa treatment room

The overwater villas also have great outdoor spaces, and large bathrooms with showers.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa treatment room
Waldorf Astoria Maldives spa treatment room

Our treatments were exceptionally good, and it was nice to have an indoor activity one afternoon when it was otherwise very hot.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives has a 24/7 gym, located next to the spa area.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym

The gym has a good selection of equipment, though it did tend to get pretty busy (and the resort was only roughly half full when we were there). There were two trainers on staff, and they were friendly, and constantly disinfecting machines, and offering to help guests.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym
Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym
Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym
Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym
Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym

Also, I very much appreciate that the Waldorf Astoria Maldives sells protein shakes. There are so many hotels with amazing gyms, but then actually finding a protein shake isn’t easy. This is something I wish more hotels would offer.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives gym protein shakes

Waldorf Astoria Maldives tennis & paddle tennis courts

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives has both a tennis court and a paddle tennis court. Ford and I played a few times, and it was a fun activity (though I’d recommend doing it very early in the morning or late in the afternoon). There’s even a tennis coach on hand should you want to take lessons.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives tennis court
Waldorf Astoria Maldives paddle tennis court

Waldorf Astoria Maldives restaurants & bars

The thing that Waldorf Astoria Maldives is most known for is its food & beverage outlets, as the hotel has 10 of them. That’s an incredible number of dining options, though admittedly they’re not all restaurants — some are just bars, and most restaurants are only open certain days of the week, so it’s not like you have 10 dinner options on a particular evening.

Let me briefly summarize the dining options, and then below I’ll cover each outlet in more detail (you can also find all the restaurant menus at this link):

  • Tasting Table is the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, and it’s where breakfast is served
  • Nava is the resort’s pool side restaurant, and it’s a popular place for lunch
  • Peacock Alley is the resort’s lobby bar with live music, and it’s also where the Hilton Honors Diamond happy hour takes place
  • Amber is the resort’s sunset bar, which is supposed to offer the best sunset views at the resort
  • Terra is the resort’s tree house fine dining restaurant, with only seven tables
  • Yasmeen is the resort’s Middle Eastern restaurant, open for dinner
  • Glow is the resort’s garden-to-table restaurant, and it’s open for dinner
  • The Ledge by Dave Pynt is a barbecue-style restaurant, and it’s open for dinner
  • Li Long is the resort’s Chinese restaurant, and it’s open for dinner
  • The Rock is a wine cellar restaurant, and it’s open for dinner exclusively upon request
  • There’s a Zuma currently under construction, but it’s not yet open

A few further things to note:

  • 23.2% is added to the cost of all meals (that includes a 10% service charge), and on top of that there’s an option to tip, which I find kind of awkward; for what it’s worth, the other two resorts we stayed at in the Maldives had a 10% service charge, but then didn’t give guests the opportunity to tip further
  • You can make reservations for restaurants while on-property with your personal concierge; you can also make them prior to your arrival (except at Terra and The Rock), but unless you’re staying at a time when the resort is 100% full, that really shouldn’t be necessary
  • Seating at all restaurants seems to be first come first served, in the sense that tables generally aren’t allocated in advance; as a result, if you want a table with a great view, I’d recommend arriving around opening time
  • For those wondering about pricing, the Maldives is expensive; you can expect that a dinner for two people without alcohol will run you at least $250-350
  • While I love the variety of dining options, the designs of some restaurants feel kitschy due to how heavily themed they are, and they almost make the property feel less high-end than it actually is, in my opinion

With that out of the way, let’s get into more details on the dining outlets, and I’m putting these roughly in the order of the time of day where we visited them (so breakfast first, then lunch, and then dinner).

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Tasting Table

Breakfast is served daily from 6:30AM until 10:30AM at Tasting Table, and it was a feast. The restaurant itself has high ceilings and sliding doors, so you can enjoy a breeze no matter where you sit.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Tasting Table seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Tasting Table seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Tasting Table outdoor seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Tasting Table outdoor seating

Guests have access to an unbelievable buffet, and on top of that there’s a menu one can order off of to supplement the buffet. This truly might just be my favorite buffet I’ve ever seen, in particular thanks to the number of amazing dishes from the Maldives, the Middle East, India, etc. I’ll let the buffet pictures speak mostly for themselves, but the buffet really had everything you could imagine, and then some.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast buffet

There’s even free flowing Taittinger, should you want a glass of champagne or a mimosa.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast champagne

The servers in the restaurant were attentive, and were happy to take any coffee or freshly squeezed juice orders. The cappuccinos here were a 10/10, and I’m a tough coffee critic.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast cappuccino

The iced lattes were top notch as well.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast iced latte

While we mostly just stuck to the buffet, we also tried the avocado toast and Maldivian omelet, both of which we enjoyed.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast avocado toast
Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast omelet

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Nava

Nava is the Waldorf Astoria’s beachside restaurant, which is most popular for lunch. The restaurant has everything from salads, to sandwiches, to pizzas, and you can find the menu here.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Nava seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Nava restaurant

We shared a honey roasted pumpkin salad plus a (beef) pepperoni pizza.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Nava lunch
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Nava lunch

I’d also note that they serve pitchers of drinks. These sounded too good to be true, since cocktails were ~$22, while these pitchers were ~$60, and it was claimed they had the equivalent of five drinks in there. They’re definitely weak, and afterwards we wondered if they even had any alcohol in them.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Nava lunch drinks

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Peacock Alley

Peacock Alley is a bar that you’ll find at most Waldorf Astoria in the world. At the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, Peacock Alley is located near reception. It’s a huge bar area, with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Peacock Alley
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Peacock Alley indoor seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Peacock Alley bar
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Peacock Alley outdoor seating

From 4-5PM daily there’s a happy hour for Hilton Honors Diamond members, with a selection of cocktails, wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, and tea, and you can find the menu here. The drinks are served with mixed nuts.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Peacock Alley happy hour

The staff here were lovely, and generous with trying to provide refills. I also loved how there was live music, which is a reason to attend this if nothing else. There seemed to pretty consistently be around five or six couples here (perhaps also the number of points rooms the hotel opens up?).

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Amber

Amber is the resort’s sunset bar, and you can find the menu here. It’s a small bar area that’s on a dock, and there’s a selection of cocktails. We came here one evening for drinks, but that was probably silly, because we didn’t stay until the sunset.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Amber seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Amber seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Amber snacks
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Amber drinks

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra

Terra is probably the Waldorf Astoria’s most famous restaurant, so I figured we had to check it out. You’ve probably seen pictures of this, as the restaurant consists of seven individual tree houses, and each has a table. This is a unique concept you won’t find in many places, so kudos to the hotel for that.

As you arrive you go up a set of stairs, and then there’s a circular walkway that you can use to access the individual tree houses.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra

Note that two of the tree houses are a bit higher up than the others, and therefore have better views. Since seating is on a first come first served basis, I’d recommend getting here earlier so you can get one of those. They have views that look out over the ocean and you can see Male in the distance, while from the other tree houses you’ll mostly just see trees.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra table
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra view

Terra has a set tasting menu, and you can find the menu here. The meal started with an amuse bouche trio, which came artfully presented.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

We were also offered a selection of bread.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

The next course was burrata, with confit tomato, burrata espuma, edible earth soil, tomato emulsion, and balsamic vinegar.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

The next course was Norwegian poached salmon with creamy cauliflower velouté, Japanese cucumber sunomono, and parsley oil.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

Next up was Maldivian lobster with miso butter, burnt leek, glazed edamame, lobster bisque foam, ponzu gel, and beluga caviar.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

Next up was a basil and bergamot sorbet.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

There were two choices for the main course. I ordered the dover sole with charred asparagus, green pea mousseline, chanterelle mushroom, tarragon cream, citron beurre blanc, and beluga caviar.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

Ford had the miyazaki wagyu beef tenderloin as his main, with truffle mashed potato, cipollini caramelized onion, king eryngii mushroom, seasonal truffle, and polenta chips.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

The main dessert course consisted of chocolate and cassis, with 64% dark chocolate, cheese mousse, hazelnut cake, and cassis ice cream.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

Lastly, at the conclusion of the meal there were some petit fours.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Terra dinner

This was a really special experience, and of course that largely comes down to the setting. At $345 per person, it’s also probably the most expensive dining experience on property.

The food and overall experience were very good. The food was tasty, I loved the plates, and the service was well intentioned.

At the same time, I have to say that Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc Maldives was in a completely different league in terms of the food and service, and it’s even a bit cheaper. Eat at Terra knowing that you’ll get a good meal, but don’t expect it to be life-changing or an experience you’d expect at a Michelin-starred restaurant. You’re definitely paying largely for the view.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Yasmeen

Yasmeen is the Waldorf Astoria’s Middle Eastern restaurant. It’s set in a courtyard, while still having views of the ocean and beach. I think this restaurant is the prime example of the hotel maybe taking themes a bit too far to the point of feeling kitschy. Nonetheless I loved the food at this restaurant, and I’d highly recommend a visit.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen entrance
Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen seating
Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen seating

As we arrived at the restaurant we were offered some Arabic coffee.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen Arabic coffee

You can find the menu here, and as you can see, there’s a set menu, or you can order as you please off the standard menu. We decided to do the set menu.

The meal started with sfiha (meat, cheese, and zaatar), as well as some olives.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen dinner

Next up was the cold mezze, which included tabbouleh, fattoush, hummus, baba ghannouj, and labneh.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen dinner

Next up was the hot mezze, with ras asfour, chicken liver with pomegranate molasses, spicy potatoes, and a mouajanat mix with kibbeh, rkakat, sambousik, and soujouk.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen dinner

The main course included a mixed grill, which had chicken, beef, lamb, and veggies.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen dinner

Finally for dessert was a cheesecake with dry apricot puree.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen dinner

The meal was incredibly tasty (and huge), and we were treated to some gorgeous sunset views as well.

Waldorf Astoria Yasmeen dinner view

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow

Glow is the Waldorf Astoria’s farm-to-table restaurant, and it’s shockingly good. Many of the ingredients are grown on the island. and you can find the menu here. The restaurant is on the beach near Amber (the sunset bar), and there’s both indoor and outdoor seating.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow garden
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow outdoor seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow outdoor seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow indoor seating

At the start of our meal we were offered some detox juice and bread.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow dinner
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow dinner

As starters, we ordered the energizing salad and Vietnamese chicken rice paper roll.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow dinner
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow dinner

Then as mains we ordered the kimchi fried rice and free range chicken lemongrass curry.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow dinner
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow dinner

Then for dessert we split the organic flourless chocolate cake with avocado mousse and berries.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Glow dinner

This was a really great meal that exceeded our expectations, and I definitely recommend dining here if you’re staying at the resort.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Ledge by Dave Pynt

The Ledge by Dave Pynt is open for lunch and dinner, and is located poolside. This is intended to be an Australian barbecue restaurant, and it’s based on the Michelin-starred “Burnt Ends” restaurant in Singapore. The restaurant is on the small side, and has an open kitchen, and both indoor and outdoor seating.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Ledge indoor seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Ledge outdoor seating

You can find the menu here. To start we had the eggplant with miso. Yum.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Ledge dinner

For our mains we had the chicken peri peri and reef fish.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Ledge dinner

For dessert we had the date tarte tatin with vanilla bean ice cream.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Ledge dinner

This was once again an enjoyable meal, with excellent food and service. We still slightly preferred Glow and Yasmeen, though.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Li Long

Li Long is the Waldorf Astoria’s Chinese restaurant, and you can find the menu here. The restaurant was located right across the path from our villa, so that was convenient. The restaurant has a heavily themed interior space, and then a nice outdoor space overlooking the water.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Li Long inside seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Li Long outdoor seating

While there’s a set menu, you can also just order items individually, and that’s what we decided to do. To start, I had the hot and sour soup, while Ford had the chicken dumpling soup.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Li Long dinner

For mains, we had the Sichuan style kung po chicken with cashews and the Sichuan chili green beans.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Li Long dinner
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Li Long dinner

To be honest, this was the only disappointing meal we had on property. The food wasn’t bad, it was just completely unremarkable. So I wouldn’t recommend dining here, personally.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Rock

The Rock is only open upon request, and has a meat-based menu centered around wine, which you can find here. We didn’t eat here, but I did snap a few pictures. It’s a cool concept, though at the same time I’m not sure most people are coming to the Maldives to eat beef inside a wine cave.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Rock
Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Rock
Waldorf Astoria Maldives The Rock seating

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Zuma

As if the Waldorf Astoria doesn’t have enough food & beverage outlets, the resort will soon be opening a Zuma, which will be the brand’s first restaurant in the Maldives. I imagine it’s still at least a few months from opening. The structure as such is done, but it seems like there’s still a lot of interior work that has to be completed. The restaurant is located on one of the piers with overwater villas.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Zuma

Waldorf Astoria Maldives service

On balance I found service at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives to be excellent, better than I was expecting.

For one, our personal concierge, Tiffany, was awesome. She was always quick to respond, and would take care of any request within minutes. She also proactively provided lots of great tips. For example, she recommended we move around some of our reservations based on the nights that certain restaurants are closed, and she even recommended we arrive at Terra a bit early so we could choose one of the two highest tree houses. It’s great that the hotel assigns staff to rooms in this way.

Even beyond that, service was very good. Virtually all employees were friendly and polished. A few notes, though, both positive and negative:

  • Whenever you pass an employee at the hotel, they move their hand over their heart; if nothing else, I was impressed by the consistency with which this was done, because sometimes on a bike ride you’d pass dozens of employees, and every single one would do it
  • Simply put, service isn’t going to be as personalized here as at Cheval Blanc Maldives, for example, given that the property has 122 villas (nearly three times as many as at Cheval Blanc); paid rates at the two properties are somewhat comparable, so I do think that’s noteworthy
  • The resort manager, Marco, was hands on and constantly around; he was genuinely interested in feedback, and could be seen checking on guests at breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • People will likely have mixed feelings about this, but of the three resorts we stayed at in the Maldives, this was the only resort where employees are still wearing masks; I’ve gotta say, I feel really bad for gardeners working all alone outside in 100 degree heat with a mask on

In general service at the Waldorf Astoria was great, so kudos to the hotel for that.

Bottom line

Waldorf Astoria Maldives is an excellent resort, and an even better use of Hilton Honors points (if you can find award availability).

There’s a lot to love about the resort, like its proximity to Male (which makes it easy to get to), its seemingly endless food & beverage outlets, and the great service. At the same time, this is definitely one of the bigger resorts I’ve stayed at in the Maldives, so it’s not going to feel quite as personalized as some other resorts. I guess that goes both ways, because it also means you likely won’t get bored here.

If you can redeem Hilton Honors points here, I can’t recommend a stay enough. Keep in mind your stay will still be far from “free,” between the transfer costs and the food & beverage costs.

If paying cash, I’m a bit more conflicted. Admittedly luxury hotel rates are through the roof in so many places at the moment, so it’s kind of hard to judge the value of hotels based on absolute pricing. What I do know is that the Waldorf Astoria is only priced marginally lower than some of the Maldives’ best regarded resorts (Cheval Blanc and Velaa), and you can definitely get a more personalized experience elsewhere.

Still, on balance I loved this hotel, and would return in a heartbeat and wholeheartedly recommend it.

If you’ve stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, what was your experience like?

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  1. BZ Guest

    Late to comments, but just a note: The "hand over heart" gesture is a Muslim greeting, "a respectful way to greet someone you've just met who isn't accustomed to your touch". It's extremely unlikely that the gesture itself is enforced by the property - and if somehow it actually were, you'd wonder why Hilton management would attempt to enforce such a thing at one WA but not others.

  2. Anthony Diamond

    What is the most social Maldives resort? Is it the W? I get the appeal of overwater villas, villas with pools, but I also enjoy a lively communal pool in a resort location. The fact that the main pools were basically empty at both this resort and the Cheval Blanc are negatives, in my view.

    In terms of value/cost, is Maldives worth it, etc - I think these prices, in points and dollars, are start...

    What is the most social Maldives resort? Is it the W? I get the appeal of overwater villas, villas with pools, but I also enjoy a lively communal pool in a resort location. The fact that the main pools were basically empty at both this resort and the Cheval Blanc are negatives, in my view.

    In terms of value/cost, is Maldives worth it, etc - I think these prices, in points and dollars, are start to get to the point where you have to compare the value to other destinations. Spending $300-$400 a night on hotel food seems suboptimal when you can maybe stay in another area with Michelin star restaurants and really remember the meals.

    I guess find me a luxury hotel on a beach with beautiful scenery, with a lively social scene, and access to quality off hotel dining and attractions - Maldives may not be it, so what is it?

  3. Mrreilly007 Guest

    Very nice report here. Funny that nobody on this board ever mentions Kudadoo Resort when mentioning the best luxury resorts and best overall value in the Maldives. I have been to most of the luxury resorts and even if staying on points, I end up paying more for the F&B than paying for my stay at Kudadoo where EVERYTHING is included. Top shelf wines, cocktails, excursions and yes.....even the spa is included. I highly recommend...

    Very nice report here. Funny that nobody on this board ever mentions Kudadoo Resort when mentioning the best luxury resorts and best overall value in the Maldives. I have been to most of the luxury resorts and even if staying on points, I end up paying more for the F&B than paying for my stay at Kudadoo where EVERYTHING is included. Top shelf wines, cocktails, excursions and yes.....even the spa is included. I highly recommend it and I visit five start luxury resorts for a living.

    1. Jean Paul Huchon Guest

      You’ve been posting similar comments on Kudadoo under a similar name on the blog The Good The Bad The Luxurious. Pretty poor marketing from Kudadoo, really makes me want to avoid it.

    2. Ricardo Ramirez Guest

      At 11k USD a night, I hardly think you would dave money here, vs staying at the WA with points.

  4. Golfingboy Guest

    You raise an interesting point about whether it makes sense to pay the cash rate to stay at the WA or use that money to stay at a nicer property like Cheval Blanc. I couldn't help imagine what if I paid $2K per night then maybe around $1K per day in expenses. $15K total across five nights.

    If this stay was paid with the Hilton Aspire card during one of Hilton's quarterly 3x points...

    You raise an interesting point about whether it makes sense to pay the cash rate to stay at the WA or use that money to stay at a nicer property like Cheval Blanc. I couldn't help imagine what if I paid $2K per night then maybe around $1K per day in expenses. $15K total across five nights.

    If this stay was paid with the Hilton Aspire card during one of Hilton's quarterly 3x points promotion. That would equate to 54 points per $1. That stay alone will earn a whopping 810,000 Hilton points. Not that Hilton lifetime Diamond is anything to write home, but I believe this year every single point we earn counts towards to base points/lifetime status.

    This may be more than enough to tip the scales for me to book a stay at the WA over other properties if I was going to pay the prevailing cash rate during a 3x promotion. Obviously the story will be different if its one of those lousy 2,500 points per stay promotion.

    1. DCS Diamond

      Cahn't make this stuff up!

      Not that Hilton lifetime Diamond is anything to write home...

      @Golfingboy - Are you a LF HH Diamond, and if so, for how long? The question is relevant because you sound clueless in not being aware that a huge benefit of the LF HH Diamond status that is worth writing home about is that it puts one at the top of the "waitlist" for Hilton's new and exciting Global Automated...

      Cahn't make this stuff up!

      Not that Hilton lifetime Diamond is anything to write home...

      @Golfingboy - Are you a LF HH Diamond, and if so, for how long? The question is relevant because you sound clueless in not being aware that a huge benefit of the LF HH Diamond status that is worth writing home about is that it puts one at the top of the "waitlist" for Hilton's new and exciting Global Automated Upgrades (GAU), including to suites.

      Haven't heard of Hilton Honors GAU? Well, they work like airline cabin upgrade waitlists, are prioritized in the order LF Diamond > Diamond > Gold, and begin clearing 3 days before day of stay. Just like airline cabin upgrades, when you clear the waitlist you get notified by email, complete with bells and confetti. See how a notification email looks like at this link:

      https://bit.ly/3O5mj4J

      That notification was for a suite upgrade. See now why the LF HH Diamond status is worth writing home about? Either that or... stick to golfing...

      G'day!

  5. Tom Guest

    Great review as always. I love that the transfer from Male is nearly $900pp, but on the water sports menu there is a 3.5 hour excursion to Male for $75! My budget brain wants to know if I could take my bags with and do that excursion on the last day!

  6. ugoren New Member

    I find it humiliations that employees are required to make some gesture whenever seeing a guest. A lot like soldiers saluting to an officer to acknowledge their inferiority.

    If they do it 100% consistently then surely management monitors this and failure to perform the gesture has consequences.

  7. Endre Guest

    Ben wrote: “ with 4% dark chocolate” — it’s 64% chocolate ;)

  8. Ethan Guest

    I feel like Chinese food in Maldives is mostly used to soothe Chinese visitors’ stomach, so unless hotels really go for it, or you’re a Chinese looking for some hometown flavor, it’s generally a pass.

  9. Kelcy Guest

    The photos are amazing. The breakfast bar went on forever. I'd be interested in seeing the part of Maldives we don't see as often. The part of the Maldives before you take the seaplane (or yacht in your case). What does the Maldives look like, besides the resorts and over water bungalows?

    1. The Joe Guest

      The Capital island of Male is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It certainly appears that way as you land. There's an airport on whats basically a seperate island, and a bridge connecting it to the main city. Google maps and street view will probably give you a good idea of what it looks like. If you're traveling to a resort in the Maldives, chances are you'll see the city as...

      The Capital island of Male is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It certainly appears that way as you land. There's an airport on whats basically a seperate island, and a bridge connecting it to the main city. Google maps and street view will probably give you a good idea of what it looks like. If you're traveling to a resort in the Maldives, chances are you'll see the city as you fly/boat in and out, but the transfer process will pretty much isolate you from it.

    2. ArnoldB Guest

      Malé was reported to be a haven of islamic fundamentalists a few years ago, wouldn't surprise me if it still was. A friend of mine was there twice for a half a day until their flights, and pretty much confirmed that as well as thought it just generally dirty and not nice to be in, in a very stark contrast to all the tourist islands.

  10. Sara Guest

    I would like to know how was the weather there? I'll be there in a week so wondering if the rain stopped you from biking or any other activities?
    Did you try requesting for an upgrade or simply they just said there's no upgrade?

  11. Daniel from Finland Guest

    I would have two questions about the Maldivian private island hotels in general and I'd be happy if anyone could provide answers.

    Firstly, as you are more or less imprisoned on your island, what about drinking water? I easily drink 3 to 4 liters a day in a hot climate. Would I need to rely on the small and probably exorbitanlty expensive Aqua Panna bottles in the minibar, or does the hotel provide unlimited bottled...

    I would have two questions about the Maldivian private island hotels in general and I'd be happy if anyone could provide answers.

    Firstly, as you are more or less imprisoned on your island, what about drinking water? I easily drink 3 to 4 liters a day in a hot climate. Would I need to rely on the small and probably exorbitanlty expensive Aqua Panna bottles in the minibar, or does the hotel provide unlimited bottled water included in the 2000+ USD room rate?

    Secondly, where do staff live on these islands? Are they ferried to wokr every day, or are there staff quarters on each hotel island?

    The hotel as such looks gorgeous but I find it hard to justify the prices, especially in the restaurant.

    1. tuotuo Member

      1,If you ask your housekeeper or butler nicely the water will not be a problem but can't say they will give you unlimited bottled water.And the tap water is NOT a option.
      2,Every resort(island)has a section hiddened in trees or bushes that's where emplyees live.It's not big nor luxurious but has eveything you need.I even saw a small soccer field in this kind of campus at one resort(but can't remember the name).

    2. Stan P Guest

      I have been twice and at better resorts, the water is basically unlimited . They will start with 4-5 bottles a day and go up to as many as you need . They clean the room twice a day and seems they would always stock 4-5 full bottles , but if you are nice to them , not only they would leave 6-7 full bottles , but also you would get smaller size more classy...

      I have been twice and at better resorts, the water is basically unlimited . They will start with 4-5 bottles a day and go up to as many as you need . They clean the room twice a day and seems they would always stock 4-5 full bottles , but if you are nice to them , not only they would leave 6-7 full bottles , but also you would get smaller size more classy bottles as extra courtesy. Big resorts desalinate their own water and providing it as not an issue.

      2. Usually staff housing is hidden in the shrubs or in the big resorts , they have their staff island.

    3. MJS Guest

      Look at the all-inclusives. We stayed at 5 star Lily Beach and it was phenomenal. Just an amazing experience. Had as much water as we wanted every day.

  12. Boise New Member

    Thanks so much for a great review. I'm very excited that my partner and I grabbed 5 standard points nights for this coming January. With the diamond benefits of the aspire card and the earning rate back, I don't see a better value in the Maldives nor in the hotel points world for luxury properties for someone without status other than opening a card. When the tired Grand Wailea is often solidly booked at $2000...

    Thanks so much for a great review. I'm very excited that my partner and I grabbed 5 standard points nights for this coming January. With the diamond benefits of the aspire card and the earning rate back, I don't see a better value in the Maldives nor in the hotel points world for luxury properties for someone without status other than opening a card. When the tired Grand Wailea is often solidly booked at $2000 a night and 120,000 points a night the value proposition goes up even more in my mind.

    1. Mina Guest

      Hey! When did you book the 5 nights? How did you find standard room availability?

  13. Mike Guest

    Glad to see you found this resort to be amazing, honestly after your Cheval Blanc review I'd thought you say it paled in comparison. Surprised they "downgraded" in my view from Salvatore products to Aesop. Also guessing you got a bottle of champagne because it was your birthday since we got a bottle of white wine which we never drank. Shocked to see zuma is still under construction...it was well underway when we were there...

    Glad to see you found this resort to be amazing, honestly after your Cheval Blanc review I'd thought you say it paled in comparison. Surprised they "downgraded" in my view from Salvatore products to Aesop. Also guessing you got a bottle of champagne because it was your birthday since we got a bottle of white wine which we never drank. Shocked to see zuma is still under construction...it was well underway when we were there in September. I swear, during the 8 days we were there, I never saw the free flow champagne at breakfast...

  14. MJS Guest

    We were in Maldives late last year, and the price per meal was the biggest reason we went with the nicest all-inclusive we could find. I know this is a points site, so you nearly always redeem points at chain hotels, but Lily Beach was an absolutely spectacular experience if any of your readers are sticker shocked by the food costs. It's also on an atoll that has turtle, manta ray, and whale shark excursions.

  15. Alonzo Diamond

    Great review once again. At 23% tax and $60 for a round of drinks, where does pricing go from the present day? Sheesh, maybe 30%+ tax and $90 for a round of drinks. One has to wonder. Especially seeing how their award pricing has went up dramatically. Yikes.

  16. ArnoldB Guest

    I do hope in one of your next trip reports you visit some more exotic/out there/unusual places again. Dubai, Maldives, Greece, Italy, France, Hawaii, Mexico all seem a bit like "US travel influencer 101". Not that those can't be beautiful and/or interesting places, but definitely mainstream of the mainstream on travel blogs I'd say.

    For example of the more exotic places, I really enjoyed your Oman trip report because it was just something else....

    I do hope in one of your next trip reports you visit some more exotic/out there/unusual places again. Dubai, Maldives, Greece, Italy, France, Hawaii, Mexico all seem a bit like "US travel influencer 101". Not that those can't be beautiful and/or interesting places, but definitely mainstream of the mainstream on travel blogs I'd say.

    For example of the more exotic places, I really enjoyed your Oman trip report because it was just something else. I also really enjoyed your Romania trip report quite a while back. Also your safari trip report some time ago. Basically less explored countries, for example in Africa, Asia or Central/South America. From my memory those sort of trip reports also offer good comedic value to the readers (Angola with TAAG ;)).

  17. Icarus Guest

    For your next trip, you should fly Ryanair and stay at a CenterParc, a campsite or an all inclusive in Benidorm

    1. ArnoldB Guest

      You joke but that could actually be both interesting and hilarious. Sort of in a "1st half of the vacation = as luxurios as it gets, 2nd half of the vacation = as cheap/value-for-money as it gets"

    2. beachmouse New Member

      It’s too bad Accor doesn’t let you redeem points for ibis budget or hotel F1 stays because that could be an interesting points trip there. Maybe a red ibis in a town holding a youth team handball tournament would get close to that.

      Speaking of Accor, if all the other major hotel programs are moving toward fixed redemption rates, Accor is starting to look better because they let you throw your points at any...

      It’s too bad Accor doesn’t let you redeem points for ibis budget or hotel F1 stays because that could be an interesting points trip there. Maybe a red ibis in a town holding a youth team handball tournament would get close to that.

      Speaking of Accor, if all the other major hotel programs are moving toward fixed redemption rates, Accor is starting to look better because they let you throw your points at any room you’re paying a qualified rate for instead of limiting award stays to a small percentage of total rooms.

  18. ECR Member

    Interested to hear you rank the Waldorf against the Park Hyatt and St Regis as theyre all aspirational points properties you've reviewed (albeit over many years). Do you think they're all in similar level of quality or is Waldorf a tier above?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ ECR -- It had been over five years since I last visited the Maldives, so it can be hard to compare properties when that much time has lapsed. Let me take a stab at answering your question, though.

      The Park Hyatt is a really special resort for the island it's on -- the island is gorgeous, and I love how you can walk around the perimeter of the island on a single beach, more...

      @ ECR -- It had been over five years since I last visited the Maldives, so it can be hard to compare properties when that much time has lapsed. Let me take a stab at answering your question, though.

      The Park Hyatt is a really special resort for the island it's on -- the island is gorgeous, and I love how you can walk around the perimeter of the island on a single beach, more or less. It's probably one of the most secluded points resorts in the Maldives.

      That being said, at this point the property as such simply isn't competitive, in terms of the rooms and villas, the lack of dining outlet choices, etc.

      The problem is that the standard or resorts in the Maldives keeps being raised, and it can be tough for the older properties (like the Park Hyatt) to keep up.

      As far as the St. Regis goes, I think I need to return to that property, because I didn't visit for very long. I remember really enjoying the property, and I definitely think it's a step up over the Park Hyatt, and closer to being in the same league as the Waldorf Astoria. I'd love to hear from any OMAAT readers who more recently visited both.

    2. Chuck Guest

      It just so happens that we visited both in April. We found the service at both to be exceptional, with the staff at St. Regis having a slight edge in a hard-to-quantify "approachable" category. We found more food choices and slightly lower food costs at St. Regis, despite its having fewer restaurants. But the Waldorf breakfast blows everything else way. Snorkeling at St. Regis was much better than at WA, and the natural island of...

      It just so happens that we visited both in April. We found the service at both to be exceptional, with the staff at St. Regis having a slight edge in a hard-to-quantify "approachable" category. We found more food choices and slightly lower food costs at St. Regis, despite its having fewer restaurants. But the Waldorf breakfast blows everything else way. Snorkeling at St. Regis was much better than at WA, and the natural island of Vommuli (versus man-made Ithaafushi) gives the St. Regis a lower temperature, more mature, more "jungle" feel than the WA. Each is an excellent property (especially if you can score your stays on points), and each has a different feel. It's not possible, in my opinion, to rate one empirically higher than the other. Your personal value system, in consideration of things like snorkeling, will come into play in ranking.

    3. Ian Guest

      Hi Lucky! I recently stayed at both and also ran into you + Ford at the St. Regis 5 years ago!

      As far as base villas go, I vastly preferred the Waldorf! For me, the private pools are the most important feature of a Maldivian stay and the private pool at the Waldorf was enormous, and warm as it's exposed to the sun. (I found the temperature at the Overwater Villas the Waldorf to...

      Hi Lucky! I recently stayed at both and also ran into you + Ford at the St. Regis 5 years ago!

      As far as base villas go, I vastly preferred the Waldorf! For me, the private pools are the most important feature of a Maldivian stay and the private pool at the Waldorf was enormous, and warm as it's exposed to the sun. (I found the temperature at the Overwater Villas the Waldorf to be much higher than at the base Reef Villas). At the St. Regis, the base overwater villa's pool is completely shaded and 100% unusable.

      More recently, I stayed in the John Jacob Astor Estate 3 Bedroom Villa at the St. Regis. Even that pool, which is much more exposed, was quite cold.

      The other main differentiator between the two are the islands themselves and their foliage. The St. Regis is beautifully and densely landscaped. It feels like a tropical jungle and truly transports you to a different world. The Waldorf on the other hand, could be anywhere and is vastly less captivating.

      Other than these two factors, I mildly preferred the food at the Waldorf and found the public facilities and service (both excellent) to be largely comparable.

      If I could return to either, it would be the Waldorf for the private pool and room, but the St Regis had much more "soul". All of that said, the stay at the John Jacob Astor Estate at the St. Regis Maldives is the best of my life.

    4. Andrew_M New Member

      Ha, was just thinking that you could probably comment on this and then there you are in the replies.

    5. The Joe Guest

      I've to to Conrad and PH in 2016, WA in 2020, and St Regis and Park Hyatt in 2021. While you'll be happy enough if you do decide to go (if your points are all in Marriott Currency), I wouldn't bother with the St. Regis if you have a choice in resorts. W.A has it topped in almost every aspect, in terms of luxury. Conrad I enjoyed as well, as it had a lot of...

      I've to to Conrad and PH in 2016, WA in 2020, and St Regis and Park Hyatt in 2021. While you'll be happy enough if you do decide to go (if your points are all in Marriott Currency), I wouldn't bother with the St. Regis if you have a choice in resorts. W.A has it topped in almost every aspect, in terms of luxury. Conrad I enjoyed as well, as it had a lot of variety in terms of food selection and activities. Plus, you can watch Mantas feed from the jetty at night.

      Meanwhile the Park Hyatt is calm, intimate, and truly captures what it means to be in the Maldives. In 2016 we loved it, and with Nik now at the helm, in 2021 we were blown away. Obviously the hard product doesn't compare to W.A/St. Regis, and throwing in an extra long transfer doesn't help its cause, but it has a charm and magic to it that the other resorts can't match. I rank it above the others for that reason.

  19. John Guest

    Waldorf's I've been at that (I'm pretty sure) didn't have a Peacock Alley: Grand Wailea, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills. Pedregal has one, but it's like an agave tasting or something.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ John -- You're totally right, updated post to say "most" rather than "every." Thanks!

    2. MissVacation Guest

      I had been to the Maldives once stayed at the Conrad while to Bora Bora, French Polynesia 4 times. One big reason I preferred Bora Bora over the Maldives is the ability to island/resort hop without paying the ridiculous sea plane or boat transfer each time. I stayed at the Le Bora Bora, Four Seasons, St. Regis, Intercontinental Thalasso and Conrad Bora Bora in one trip, it was awesome. I know Maldives is expensive but...

      I had been to the Maldives once stayed at the Conrad while to Bora Bora, French Polynesia 4 times. One big reason I preferred Bora Bora over the Maldives is the ability to island/resort hop without paying the ridiculous sea plane or boat transfer each time. I stayed at the Le Bora Bora, Four Seasons, St. Regis, Intercontinental Thalasso and Conrad Bora Bora in one trip, it was awesome. I know Maldives is expensive but $800+ per person for such a short shared boat ride is robbery, you can charter a yacht at that price for a couple! Staying at one resort for more than 4 nights would be boring for me especially you are stuck at one island.

  20. efjx Guest

    your review of the Waldorf pretty much sums up my experience at the Conrad Rangali Maldives. obviously the price points are different, but the overall experience sounds the same, with the Waldorf seeming to be just a little bit better. The big difference is that it's much much easier to book 5 to 7 nights on points for standard rooms than the Waldorf.

  21. Charlene Guest

    We were here last year on points for 5 nights. They did upgrade us for 3 of those nights to the “grand” over water villa - not sure if it was because we are lifetime Diamond or it was Covid so was definitely a nice treat. Not sure if they closed the sushi restaurant as you didn’t mention it - but it was awesome
    With great sushi and sake pairings. I agree with your...

    We were here last year on points for 5 nights. They did upgrade us for 3 of those nights to the “grand” over water villa - not sure if it was because we are lifetime Diamond or it was Covid so was definitely a nice treat. Not sure if they closed the sushi restaurant as you didn’t mention it - but it was awesome
    With great sushi and sake pairings. I agree with your comments - it was a spectacular stay but even on points, expensive. Our dinner at Terre was $1100 for starters! Definitely a must stay and we enjoyed every minute.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Charlene -- Happy to hear you had a great stay! Yep, the sushi restaurant is closed, and is being replaced by Zuma.

  22. peetyrd Guest

    Finishing up a stay here now. It’s been hit and miss. We just got a fairly cheap bottle of red as our diamond amenity welcome gift. Paid to upgrade the first half of our stay to a beach villa, and we were told we had to move at 10AM the day of our move to a reef villa. Felt a bit shafted with that, considering it wasn’t a free upgrade, and at minimum I feel...

    Finishing up a stay here now. It’s been hit and miss. We just got a fairly cheap bottle of red as our diamond amenity welcome gift. Paid to upgrade the first half of our stay to a beach villa, and we were told we had to move at 10AM the day of our move to a reef villa. Felt a bit shafted with that, considering it wasn’t a free upgrade, and at minimum I feel we should have atleast had it until noon, which is the hotel’s published check out time.

    Our personal host is okay. We loved Terra, but no heads up to get there early or anything like that. We’ve always gotten to know our host at the resorts we’ve stayed at, they’ve seem engaged and genuinely want to get to know you etc…. But our host just seemed a bit aloof. The individual also wasn’t a local.

    On the service side. It’s been hit and miss. We’ve interacted with some really genuine staff members. But I’d say it’s 50/50. We had several occasions with 20+ minute waits for a buggy. We’d be gone atleast 2 hours for both breakfast and dinner and about half the time, housekeeping would be just starting to make the room up as we were just getting back.

    These are just all the negatives. It’s been a good stay overall though. But at the same time, we weren’t exactly blown away.

    1. Leo Guest

      Tip is at check in you could tell the butler that you prefer champagne over reds, and they would just switch that for you. I stayed last year, and while there is a couple of wervices hiccups (hard to not have over a week stay in an island), overall it was a great stay on points and certs.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ peetyrd -- Sorry to hear about your mixed service experience. This is probably an area where having a good personal concierge helps. We'd message Tiffany personally when we wanted a buggy, and she always picked us up personally. We'd also let her know when we wanted housekeeping, and she was always prompt in arranging that.

      And yeah, a 10AM check-out is strange, especially if you paid to upgrade.

  23. Kendy Guest

    We had Tiffany, too, and she was great!
    Our entire experience was amazing. Only negative I can think of was Terra, which was a great experience nevertheless, but seemed gimmicky. Would go back and bring my entire family if I could. Careful when swimming in the ocean though… I did mess up a few times when snorkeling and accidentally climbed up other guests’ overwater villas (because they all just looked so similar).

  24. Luis Guest

    Property looks amazing as expected. In fact, all luxury properties in the Maldives look amazing. But still, there's not much appeal of the Maldives to me. It's such a hassle to get there, everything is so expensive including the transfers, only to be stuck on an island so that you can eat hotel food and relax by a pool? Sure that sounds nice for a few days but can't imagine I would find it worthwhile....

    Property looks amazing as expected. In fact, all luxury properties in the Maldives look amazing. But still, there's not much appeal of the Maldives to me. It's such a hassle to get there, everything is so expensive including the transfers, only to be stuck on an island so that you can eat hotel food and relax by a pool? Sure that sounds nice for a few days but can't imagine I would find it worthwhile. I would much prefer to go to places like Thailand where you get amazing resorts at a fraction of the cost, great beaches, plus amazing local restaurants and experience the local culture as well. To each their own I guess.

    1. ArnoldB Guest

      Yeah same here. What kind of points redemption is this where I have to pay a few thousand $$$ anyways just for transfers and even just basic dinners without alcohol. And am I going to think back 20 years later "Remember when we were in the Maldives? And were lying around the beach? And then lying on our pool deck? And then lying on the beach again?" Where is the adventure? That's why I also MUCH prefer something like the Seychelles or Costa Rica.

    2. Leo Guest

      That is why individuals are different and have different preferences. I love all the beach destinations, been to Thailand, bali, palawan, bora bora and many more top beach destinations. But the maldives is always special to me. Maybe you guys should try it once before just say what the point ;)

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Luis -- I totally hear you, and I think those points are all fair. For what it's worth, prior to this trip I last visited the Maldives over five years ago, and after having visited again, I think I'm good for at least another five years.

      I think it's a magical place in terms of the views, but I also think there's a high diminishing marginal enjoyment, for many of the points you mention.

    4. Luis Diamond

      @Ben - Don't get me wrong. I would love to spend a few days at this hotel or any other resort in the Maldives but given the effort and money it takes to get there, it's pretty low on my list. I'm sure for many, it's a bucket list item to say they've been there and done that.

  25. ArnoldB Guest

    I just don't get it.

    -Zero chance of upgrades
    -What good is the vicinity to Male, if it ruins the view / sense of isolation and on top of that you still have to pay $899 for the short boat ride?
    -$300 per night for dinner without alcohol
    -as per usual on the Maldives, not a lot of real activities
    -not too much vegetation on this resort from the looks of...

    I just don't get it.

    -Zero chance of upgrades
    -What good is the vicinity to Male, if it ruins the view / sense of isolation and on top of that you still have to pay $899 for the short boat ride?
    -$300 per night for dinner without alcohol
    -as per usual on the Maldives, not a lot of real activities
    -not too much vegetation on this resort from the looks of it

    Just goes against the entire reason I am collecting points/miles. What is the point of collecting points for years, just so you then have to pay ridiculously inflated prices for transfers, food and drinks with no other (external) option. I mean I understand that high end luxury properties usually don't sell cocktails for $5, but there is still a difference between $15-20 drinks and maybe $30-40 mains and $150 for a transfer vs the insanity that this is.

    1. Leo Guest

      I have been there for a week and is a big fan. You nay think what the point of paying 5k for food and drink and xfer when you already spends so much on points. But I thought about it as I paid 5k and points + certs to get a $20K stay. I have been all over, and the WA is by far the best resort I have stayed at without having to pay $1K+ per night.

  26. DCS Diamond

    Wonderful and thorough review, which includes some aspects of the resort that I did not get to see or experience, and I will be sure to check out when I return there in about 7 months.

    What made my stay there unique is that it was during the resort's inaugural year and, as luck would have it, my 5-night award stay included the property's 2020 New Year's eve festivities, which consisted of a huge "Chicago"...

    Wonderful and thorough review, which includes some aspects of the resort that I did not get to see or experience, and I will be sure to check out when I return there in about 7 months.

    What made my stay there unique is that it was during the resort's inaugural year and, as luck would have it, my 5-night award stay included the property's 2020 New Year's eve festivities, which consisted of a huge "Chicago" (the musical)-themed bash with food, booze and stage performances galore, right on the beach!

    The Waldorf Astoria Maldives doesn’t upgrade Diamond members for free (I’m curious how a certain OMAAT reader feels about that)

    A certain OMAAT reader feels that anyone who would make a big fuss about not getting an upgrade when occupying a villa that is, for all practical purposes, a suite misses what the game is about and needs to have their head examined. Please check out my accommodations and some scenes from my year-end 2019 award stay at the link below (3-page PDF), and let me know if it would make any sense at all to fuss about not being upgraded. The thought never enter my head...Upgraded to what?

    https://bit.ly/3MXpv0Y

    Cahn't wait to get back there!

  27. Alec Guest

    We stayed in the same villa a year ago for 6 nights on points too. Not sure if you and Ford are big snorkelers, but our favorite aspect of the WA was being able to snorkel of off the edge of the reef villa which had a huge reef drop off just 20 feet away from villa. We saw turtles and reef sharks just off the edge of our villa which was a mind blowing...

    We stayed in the same villa a year ago for 6 nights on points too. Not sure if you and Ford are big snorkelers, but our favorite aspect of the WA was being able to snorkel of off the edge of the reef villa which had a huge reef drop off just 20 feet away from villa. We saw turtles and reef sharks just off the edge of our villa which was a mind blowing experience. Interested in your thoughts of snorkeling across the different resorts if you two did end up doing any snorkeling.

    Otherwise agree with most of your thoughts covered in this review. We enjoyed Li Long since they had the Peking Duck which was as good as I've had in China. Also, would highly recommend the Steak Stando from The Ledge. It was so simple but so good that I had to grab it for lunch a few times.

    Interestingly enough there was Sushi restaurant that was our least favorite where Zuma is being constructed so looks like they received similar feedback leading to the replacement. The location and views were amazing in that location with the windows open leading to a nice breeze over the water.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Alec -- Happy to hear you had a great experience, that Li Long was better for you. Maybe if we loved duck we would have had a different experience.

  28. Jim Baround Guest

    Ridiculous to say the cost of the boat transfers are appropriate, considering they're more expensive than flight transfers that are longer than the boat ride!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jim Baround -- I'm not sure I said the costs are "appropriate," but rather I said "this is just how much stuff in the Maldives costs." To follow-up on that:
      -- Trans Maldivian flights within the Maldives are pretty consistently full, so the cost of the flight is being split 15 ways; in the case of the yacht, you could be the only person on it, as was the case in one direction...

      @ Jim Baround -- I'm not sure I said the costs are "appropriate," but rather I said "this is just how much stuff in the Maldives costs." To follow-up on that:
      -- Trans Maldivian flights within the Maldives are pretty consistently full, so the cost of the flight is being split 15 ways; in the case of the yacht, you could be the only person on it, as was the case in one direction for us
      -- Flight transfers are further, but not generally longer, as both take somewhere around 45 minutes; fuel burn per mile covered is lower on a plane than a boat
      -- The Waldorf Astoria's yacht transfer pricing is comparable to the prices from other resorts in the area, like the Ritz-Carlton (except the Ritz's boat isn't as nice, and the Ritz doesn't have free-flowing champagne onboard)

  29. ECR Member

    I noticed several times that you referenced staying at three resorts in the Maldives, but in the introduction post only referenced Chenal and the Waldorf. Is there another Review on the way?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ ECR -- There is indeed! We only planned our third hotel stay after arriving, but let me go ahead and update the intro post to reflect the third hotel.

  30. DJ Guest

    My favorite hotel in the world.

  31. Jesper Guest

    We have stayed at the WA, in January 2021. And it was definitely a step up from the St Regis where we went in January 2019. But it was surpassed by the Ritz-Carlton where we went in January this year. The outdoor space at the WA reef villas is amazing, but on the sum of things, the RC comes out ahead all in all.

    So unless the third resort you mention is the RC, you will need another trip to the Maldives soon.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jesper -- Good to hear you had such a positive experience. I must say, I'm a bit surprised, since I haven't heard great feedback about the hotel so far. I've heard many say the property is really windy, the boat transfer isn't as good as at the Waldorf, and that in general there are some missed opportunities. And then there's the issue of it being a Ritz-Carlton, and breakfast therefore not being included. Guess I'll have to add the hotel back to my list.

    2. Jesper Guest

      Windy is a factor of mother nature's whims while you are there. It is not like any of the resorts are particularly more or less sheltered by anything.

      Yes, the transfer is one of the weak points about the Ritz. But it is two times 45 minutes of a stay, still better than the concept of the sea plane transfer. After having been to both sea plane and boat transfer resorts, the ease of the...

      Windy is a factor of mother nature's whims while you are there. It is not like any of the resorts are particularly more or less sheltered by anything.

      Yes, the transfer is one of the weak points about the Ritz. But it is two times 45 minutes of a stay, still better than the concept of the sea plane transfer. After having been to both sea plane and boat transfer resorts, the ease of the boat transfer definitely wins out.

      But service and F&B I would rate higher at the Ritz. True many people are put off by the breakfast being at a charge, but in the bigger picture of how much you are actually going to spend on your "free" stay at resorts like the WA or the Ritz, it is not going to majorly rock the budget.

    3. Ian Guest

      I just spent a while at the Ritz as well (in addition to the St. Regis and the Waldorf). The Ritz and Waldorf are extremely similar as they both lack a soul, as the islands' foliage feel immature and the whole experience feels more like Miami than the Maldives.

      That said, they are both exceptional resorts. I definitely preferred the Waldorf to the Ritz as the private pools are vastly warmer and nicer. The...

      I just spent a while at the Ritz as well (in addition to the St. Regis and the Waldorf). The Ritz and Waldorf are extremely similar as they both lack a soul, as the islands' foliage feel immature and the whole experience feels more like Miami than the Maldives.

      That said, they are both exceptional resorts. I definitely preferred the Waldorf to the Ritz as the private pools are vastly warmer and nicer. The villas themselves are also much more comfortable. The rest of the resorts are by and large comparable. More thoughts are below.

      The public pool at the Ritz is incredible and the dining is extremely affordable. All water is included and the minibar in the room is extremely well stocked and 100% free. The food itself is better and more diverse at the Waldorf.

      The transfers to the Ritz are pretty bad - people were throwing up much of the trip. It was rather scary and uncomfortable as well. The Waldorf was actually really fun and smooth as we drank champagne and watched dolphins jump all around us.

      Nonetheless, I absolutely loved the Ritz and Waldorf (and the St. Regis) but I definitely prefer the Waldorf to the Ritz.

  32. RetiredATLATC Gold

    "...while a 90 minute massage costs $24090..."

    I'd stick with the 60 minute massage. The price for the 90 minute seems crazy

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ RetiredATLATC -- Whoops, fixed, thanks!

    2. Marko Guest

      Ben - which was the 3rd resort you stayed at in Maldives? Will there be a review?

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Marko -- There will indeed, stay tuned! :-)

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Tom Guest

Great review as always. I love that the transfer from Male is nearly $900pp, but on the water sports menu there is a 3.5 hour excursion to Male for $75! My budget brain wants to know if I could take my bags with and do that excursion on the last day!

6
Jean Paul Huchon Guest

You’ve been posting similar comments on Kudadoo under a similar name on the blog The Good The Bad The Luxurious. Pretty poor marketing from Kudadoo, really makes me want to avoid it.

3
Ian Guest

Hi Lucky! I recently stayed at both and also ran into you + Ford at the St. Regis 5 years ago! As far as base villas go, I vastly preferred the Waldorf! For me, the private pools are the most important feature of a Maldivian stay and the private pool at the Waldorf was enormous, and warm as it's exposed to the sun. (I found the temperature at the Overwater Villas the Waldorf to be much higher than at the base Reef Villas). At the St. Regis, the base overwater villa's pool is completely shaded and 100% unusable. More recently, I stayed in the John Jacob Astor Estate 3 Bedroom Villa at the St. Regis. Even that pool, which is much more exposed, was quite cold. The other main differentiator between the two are the islands themselves and their foliage. The St. Regis is beautifully and densely landscaped. It feels like a tropical jungle and truly transports you to a different world. The Waldorf on the other hand, could be anywhere and is vastly less captivating. Other than these two factors, I mildly preferred the food at the Waldorf and found the public facilities and service (both excellent) to be largely comparable. If I could return to either, it would be the Waldorf for the private pool and room, but the St Regis had much more "soul". All of that said, the stay at the John Jacob Astor Estate at the St. Regis Maldives is the best of my life.

3
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