Review of SONEVA JANI, the Maldives’ most stunning resort

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel or flight review.

Last February, I enjoyed a FABULOUS holiday in the incredibly beautiful Maldives. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (May 24, 2017): Review of Soneva Jani, the Maldives’ most stunning resort.

Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on Medhufaru island, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll. The Maldives’ most exclusive hotel, and my absolutely favorite hotel in the world, is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. Currently, Soneva Jani features 24 water villas and one beach villa, although additional beach villas are planned at a later stage. Each one of the 24 water villas is superbly designed and has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze.

Soneva Jani features in my top 10 lists of the most insanely beautiful resorts in the Maldives, the most fabulous overwater villas in the Maldives, the best new luxury hotels of 2016, the most astonishing beach retreats in Asia, and my favorite hotels in the world.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip and slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • My review of other luxury resorts in the Maldives
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • After collecting your luggage at Malé International Airport, you are greeted by one of the members of the Soneva staff and whisked away to the dedicated Soneva lounge near the seaplane terminal, where you can wait for the connecting seaplane transfer to the resort. At the lounge – which features Soneva’s signature eco-chic design and even has a small spa room on site – guests are offered a refreshing drink and some snacks, while a Soneva host takes care of the check-in process (so that you will arrive hassle-free at the resort).
  • Getting to the resort is half the fun since the 40 minute seaplane transfer to Soneva Jani is a breathtaking sightseeing trip in itself. The seaplane flies quite low over the Indian Ocean, offering an amazing view of tiny, sugar-white island rings sparkling atop turquoise colored lagoons and the brilliant sapphire blue ocean. Flying on board a seaplane in the Maldives and admiring the picture-perfect archipelago from a bird’s eye perspective is one of the ultimate experiences that the destination has to offer. The seaplane transfers are very well-organized, since Soneva has a privileged relationship with Trans Maldivian Airways, the seaplane operator; this means that waiting time at the Soneva lounge on your day of arrival or departure seldom exceeds two hours.
  • After a 40 minute flight, the seaplane lands at Soneva Jani International Airport, which must be one of the most amazing airports in the world: a small wooden, floating deck just off the island’s shores. From there, it’s a 2 minute speedboat ride to the arrival jetty of the magnificent resort. During the speedboat trip to the resort, your shoes will be removed and slipped into a linen bag until your departure. This is in line with Soneva Jani’s ‘no news, no shoes’ policy, which encourages a casual atmosphere among all the guests.
  • From the moment you touch down (barefoot) on Soneva Jani’s shores, your personal butler – called a Mr. or Ms. “Friday” – will be on hand with a smile and assist you throughout your stay. These Fridays are obviously handpicked for their extreme likeability and their level of discrete, intuitive service – you only have to think it, and your wish has materialised!
  • One of the many highlights of the resort is its location within a 5.6 km (3,5 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. The lagoon is so huge that more than 7,000 Olympic swimming pools can fit inside it. It’s impossible to find words to describe the intensely mesmerizing blue of the lagoon’s waters. This fifty shades of blue strike the entire Maldivian archipelago and are present in the shallows of every atoll’s islands, but nowhere are they as blue and clear as at Soneva Jani. In fact, these are the most vibrant shades of blue and most stunning lagoon that I have ever seen in all my years of traveling across the globe.
  • A unique feature of Soneva Jani – which sets it apart from all other resorts across the Maldives – is that its lagoon has access to no less than five islets (four of them deserted). The main island Medhufaru is one of the largest in the Maldives, and fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed with lush tropical greenery. It was home to a farm for 10 years before Soneva Jani was conceptualized, and the extensive gardens on the isle still supply the fruits, vegetables, herbs and mushrooms to the resort’s kitchens, as well as to Soneva Jani’s sister resort, Soneva Fushi. Here, guests can wander through the Labyrinth, a meditative maze created out of ficus hedge that follows an ancient circular pattern. Regarding the other four islands in the lagoon, a beach club with a tented restaurant serving seafood lunches is set up on so called Zuhairs Island, while the other three remain entirely undeveloped, so there is always somewhere a place to play castaway.
  • In this massive space with the islands and the lagoon, there are only 24 over water villas and one beach villa (with additional beach villas planned at a later stage). It’s one of the lowest density resorts in the world, by far. The scale of each villas is extraordinary, with both one bedroom (catering to couples and families with young children) and multi-bedroom villas (catering to larger travel parties) available. The overwater villas are located along a 1,7 km (1 mi) long jetty that is connected to Medhufaru island and curves over the blue water like a snake. At more than 410 square meters (4413 square feet), the one bedroom villas are the largest entry-level villas in the Indian Ocean. Every water villa has a private pool (which is large enough to swim laps) and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring curved slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below.
  • During my holiday, I stayed in the resort’s lowest category villa – a one bedroom water retreat – which was bigger than the presidential suites of most 5-star hotels. Spread across two floors, the villa came with its own 13 m (43 feet) long private pool on the terrace, surrounded by ample areas for sunbathing, taking in ocean vistas and perfect for watching the sunrise (the villas on the other side of the jetty have a view of the sunset). In addition to a spacious master bedroom and a kids’ sleeping area, there was a small glass-encased kitchenette, study room, walk-in wardrobe, and living area with sunken seats perfect for lounging. The sleeping-area for children was conveniently located within the main bedroom (so parents can be assured their children are never too far from them in an overwater environment). The magnificent open-air bathroom – located adjacent to the master bedroom – featured a secluded, wooden surround with sufficient space to swim in and out of. Three different glass-bottomed areas in the villa guaranteed that the underwater world was never too far away. Upstairs, there was a seating lounge and a dining sala with roof deck.
  • All villas feature a retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so you can lie in bed and stargaze. After an evening in the on-property overwater observatory (cf below), you can try to identify Orion, the Southern Cross, the Bear and more stellar constellations from your bed as you drift to sleep, with just the relaxing sound of the lapping waters outdoors. And there is no reason to worry about rain, since sensors detect an on-coming shower and automatically close the roof.
  • Like all other Soneva properties, the spacious villas feature beautifully designed interiors by Eva Shivdasani, one of Soneva’s co-founders and wife of Soneva CEO Sonu Shivdasani. The eco-chic design complements the stunning Maldivian surroundings and represents barefoot luxury at its best. The soft-coloured interiors are flooded with light, with a few deep purple stains adding a nice contrast. With sandblasted pine decking and Shingle Red River Gum tiles adorning the outside of the fairytale-esque villas, the insides are made from subtly weathered woods and natural materials in a colour palette of white, pastel greens and mauves. The overall effect is ethereal, light and airy to encourage the ultimate state of relaxation.
  • The resort features the Maldives’ first overwater silent cinema – so-called Cinema Paradiso  –  at the southern tip of the main island Medhufaru. Here, you can relax on comfortable loungers under the stars and snack on fresh popcorn, while you are provided with Bluetooth headphones, leaving the surrounding nesting turtles and wildlife at peace. Twice weekly, there is a movie selection for both children and adults, with a focus on classic and insipirational movies. Private screenings and dining experiences can be arranged at extra charge.
  • Soneva Jani’s guests can gaze into the night sky at the twinkling jewel-like stars at the first overwater observatory in the Maldives. This popular experience has awed and amazed guests of all ages at Soneva Jani’s sister resorts, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Kiri, and the resort designers have made the observatory at Soneva Jani even better. A sophisticated telescope rises up through the floor of the observatory deck, offering enchanted views of the starry sky. The deck is surrounded by four dining tables, at which you can dine if you wish. The tables are equipped with screens linked  to the view from the telescope, allowing you to dine with the stars.
  • The resort features the largest overwater structure in the Maldives, the so-called ‘Gathering’, which appears like something out of a fairytale. At three storeys tall and located halfway the jetty, the Gathering is the heart of the resort. It houses the various dining outlets (more on that below), as well as the spa, a gym, library, a boutique shop, the chocolate & ice cream parlour, wine cellar and kids club. The Gathering features a soaring open-sided atrium, with a maze of stairs and walkways connecting all the floors, facilities, inside and outside. There are 104,000 pieces of Red River Gum Shingles from Laos on the Gathering’s roof. Also, there’s a large slide that delivers guests directly from the Gathering’s second floor to the ocean. A Soleni Dive Centre and Marine Biology Champa are located next to The Gathering. From what I heard, the spa may eventually move to another overwater location and a much larger, stand alone kids club is planned as well.
  • Soneva Jani is one of the largest resort’s in the Maldives, and getting around does require some time (although buggy service is available 24 hours a day). All guests are also provided with bicycles or tricycles to help navigate the fun, snaking jetty that connects to the main island, home to Cinema Paradiso, tennis courts, deserted beaches, the Gardens and Labyrinth, and various walking and cycle paths. In addition, a small speed boat shuttles guests between the four untouched islands in the lagoon.
  • Rooms make money, while food and beverage make reputations, and Soneva Jani does not fail to impress here as the menus are as extravagant as the resort itself. Everything is of the highest quality and presented with total care and attention, from the freshest tuna and thin pizzas, to delicate Indian curries, slow roasted lamb, and delicious salads. There are five dining outlets in total, offering various destinations cuisines and private dining experiences, where the resort’s chefs trick your taste buds and mind with elaborate disguises. The main restaurant, called So Fresh, is located within the Gathering, and offers a sumptuous breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner. So Fresh has a myriad of nooks, boardwalks, decks and other spaces to choose from for dining, so every meal can be set in a totally fresh environment if you wish. But Soneva Jani also features an exquisite tasting room (So Imaginative), a mystery dining venue (So Engaging), an intimate restaurant at the Observatory (with only four tables equipped with screens linked to the view from the telescope), a tented restaurant serving seafood lunches at Zuhairs island, and the restaurant at Cinema Paradiso.
  • Soneva has gained a worldwide reputation for its wine collection and Sommeliers, and at Soneva Jani, the wine is housed in a six-meter (20 feet) high glass tower and the list contains around 50% organic and biodynamic wine.
  • The resort has its own chocolate & ice cream parlour, which is open from noon till late night and complimentary to all guest. You can choose of over sixty constantly changing flavours of homemade ice creams and sorbets at the ice cream room. You can also indulge in every child’s dream of never-ending chocolate by sampling cardamom chocolate truffles, passionfruit pralines, and a continually changing profusion of confections.
  • In constructing the resort, Soneva Jani’s management kept its environmental impact as low as possible. The pools use seawater with UV filtration and the villas have been built over the sandy floors of the lagoon, with no damage to any part of the reef.  Furthermore, solar PV is e a significant source of power generation at the resort, all waste-water is collected and treated on-site, and water is also produced on-site, including drinking water. Soneva’s Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre ensures that waste is recycled, while the extensive vegetable garden gives local produce for the restaurants based on organic principles.
  • The resort is managed by Soneva, my absolute favorite hotel brand in the world. The acronym SLOW LIFE (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences) explains the Soneva philosophy: it aims to create unforgettable, innovating, and enlightening experiences that illuminate their guest’s lives whilst treading lightly on the earth. The ethos and values it is run by are what sets Soneva on different footing as compared to other high-end hotel brands. In addition, there’s also a lot of love and romance in the story of Soneva, which was founded in 1995 by Sonu Shivdasani, an Indian-British hotelier, and his wife Eva Malmstrom, a Swedish fashion model. I have previously reviewed the fabulous Soneva property in Thailand, Soneva Kiri, and its sister property in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Never in my life have I stayed at a resort that is quite as beautiful and mesmerizing as Soneva Jani. It is without any doubt the best resort in the Maldives, re-writing the rules of Indian Ocean perfection. Phenomenally beautiful and thrillingly visionary, Soneva Jani raises the bar for luxury travel, not only in the Maldives, but around the globe. Soneva Jani will sweep you off your feet and leave you speechless, but there are a few things worthwhile noting to ensure you have the perfect stay:

  • While incredibly beautiful, the lagoon is not teeming with fish (yet) although the fishes are bound to come back now that the overwater construction of the resort is finished. The good news is that the resort is surrounded by 12 km (7,5 mi) of stunning reef which circles the lagoon and can be reached by boat (unless you are a very good swimmer). It includes corals of all species, and a great deal of fish as well as huge old coral colonies creating a nice shallow 3D reefscape. Here, you may also be lucky enough to encounter beautiful sea turtles and manta rays, which are native to this area of the Maldives. There are also many dive sites with rich marine life around the resort, sure to tempt all marine enthusiasts.
  • With a price tag to match the experience, Soneva Jani is one of the world’s most expensive resorts though it’s difficult to argue that it doesn’t offer value for money. It’s the ultimate in exclusive holidays and the most divine hotel in the world.
  • Be warned: all your other trips, whether to the Maldives or beyond, will pale in comparison to the memory of a Soneva Jani vacation. One wonders what comes next after a Soneva Jani holiday?

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Pool: not applicable
  • Resort grounds (beach): 10/10
  • Rooms (villas): 10/10
  • Food: 10/10
  • Breakfast: 10/10
  • Spa: 10/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 10/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS  &  SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Soneva Jani (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at Soneva Jani at the time of booking.
  • If you can afford it, opt for a villa with a water slide. They feature the same layout as the other villas, but there is something about water slides into the perfectly sparkling turquoise lagoon that brings out the inner child in every guest.
  • The round trip seaplane transfers from Male airport to Soneva Jani are on additional charges (800 USD per person, 12 year and above). The seaplanes only operate during daylight, so make sure you arrive in Male before 3 pm in order, so you can move to the resort on the day of your arrival in the Maldives.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

MY REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE MALDIVES

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best weather in the Maldives is between January and April, which also means high season (with low availability and very expensive room rates). The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking in June. It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, eat, work out or scuba dive. Especially November and December, which are often labelled as dry season months, have been very unsettled in recent years.

WEATHER MAP MALDIVES


HOW TO GET THERE

Getting to the Soneva Jani requires a 40-minute seaplane transfer from Male International Airport (MLE). Check the Wikipedia page of Male International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer flights to Male International Airport:

  • From/via Asia: Bangkok Airways (via Bangkok), Tigerair (via Singapore), Singapore Airlines (via Singapore), Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), Air India (via Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram), China Eastern Airlines (via Colombo, Kunmnig), Cina Southern Airlines (via Guanghzou), Hainan Airlines (via Bejing), Korean Air (via Colombo and Seoul), Shanghai Airlines (via Shanghai), Srilankan Airlines (via Colombo), Maldivian (Chennai, Chongqing, Colombo, Dhaka, Thiruvanathapuram), Mega Maldives (via Bejing, Hong Kong, Shanghai).
  • From/via Middle East: Emirates (via Dubai), Flybudai (via Dubai), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi), Oman Air (via Muscat), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul).
  • From/via Europe: Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), British Airways (via London), Thompson Airways (via London), Monarch Airlines (via London), Condor (via Frankfurt), Edelweiss Air (via Zurich), Meridiana (via Rome or Milan), Neos (via Rome or Milan), Transaero Airlines (via Moscow), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt), Air France (via Paris).

SEAPLANE TRANSFER TO SONEVA JANI

SEAPLANE TRANSFER TO SONEVA JANI

SONEVA JANI: AERIAL VIEW

SONEVA JANI: AERIAL VIEW

ARRIVAL PAVILION

ARRIVAL PAVILION

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

OVERWATER JETTY AND VILLAS

LAGOON

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: EXTERIOR

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ENTRANCE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ENTRANCE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: LIVING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: POOL & TERRACE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: MASTER BEDROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: RETRACTABLE ROOF

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: RESTROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: RESTROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: BATHROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: BATHROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: BATHROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: BATHROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: BATHROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: BATHROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: WALK-IN DRESSING ROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: WALK-IN DRESSING ROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: KIDS’ SLEEPING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: KIDS’ SLEEPING AREA

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: KITCHENETTE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: KITCHENETTE

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: STUDY ROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: STUDY ROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: STUDY ROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: STUDY ROOM

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: ROOFTOP (VIEW)

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: SUNSET

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: SUNSET

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: SUNSET

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT: SUNSET

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

ONE BEDROOM WATER RETREAT AT NIGHT

THE GATHERING: EXTERIOR

THE GATHERING: EXTERIOR

THE GATHERING: EXTERIOR

THE GATHERING: EXTERIOR

THE GATHERING: EXTERIOR

THE GATHERING: EXTERIOR

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: SO FRESH RESTAURANT

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: BAR

THE GATHERING: CHOCOLATE & ICE CREAM ROOM

THE GATHERING: CHOCOLATE & ICE CREAM ROOM

THE GATHERING: CHOCOLATE & ICE CREAM ROOM

THE GATHERING: SLIDE

THE GATHERING: SLIDE

THE GATHERING: SLIDE

THE GATHERING: SLIDE

THE GATHERING: SLIDE

THE GATHERING: SLIDE

THE GATHERING: LIBRARY & GAME ROOM

THE GATHERING: GYM

THE GATHERING AT NIGHT

THE GATHERING AT NIGHT

THE GATHERING AT NIGHT

THE GATHERING AT NIGHT

THE GATHERING AT NIGHT

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: CINEMA PARADISO

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: SOUTH BEACH

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: SOUTH BEACH

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: SOUTH BEACH

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: SOUTH BEACH

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: SOUTH BEACH

MEDHUFARU ISLAND: SOUTH BEACH

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

ZUHAIRS ISLAND

DIVING INITIATION

DIVING INITIATION

DIVING INITIATION

DIVING INITIATION

DIVING INITIATION

DIVING INITIATION

WATERSPORT CENTER

WATERSPORT CENTER

WATERSPORT CENTER: FUN TUBE

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Top 10: my favorite luxury hotels & resorts in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (May 22, 2017): My favorite luxury hotels & resorts in the world.

The question I am asked the most is the simplest: “what is your favorite hotel in the world”. It’s somewhat difficult to answer that question, since I prefer to rank hotels in different categories according to the experience they offer, whether it be a city break, a romantic getaway, a wilderness experience or a beach holiday. Nevertheless, there are a few luxury hotels that left such an overwhelming impression on me, that  I rank them amongst my most memorable travel experiences ever. So, here you go: this is my top 10 list of the world’s most beautiful and amazing luxury hotels (and I highly recommend to put them on your bucket list).

There is more information (with reviews and Youtube clips) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below.

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10. ROSEWOOD LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

Rosewood London, currently the finest five-star hotel in London, is situated in one of the UK capital’s most historic thoroughfares, High Holborn. Blending English heritage with contemporary sophistication, the palatial building that houses the hotel has been sensitively renovated to create an ultra-luxurious hotel with the ambience of a stylish London residence. Guests arrive through an archway that opens into a grand Edwardian courtyard, in a little oasis of tranquillity unique among London luxury hotels. It is the perfect start to a memorable stay in a timeless heritage hotel, set just steps from Covent Garden. Rosewood London offers its guests true urban sanctuaries, with 262 rooms and 44 suites that are among the largest in London.


9. SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, OMAN

Six Senses Zighy Bay is an ultra-luxurious “hidden gem”, located on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, only a scenic two-hour car journey (but a world apart) from Dubai. The setting of this beautiful indigenous village-style resort with its private marina is spectacular, with dramatic mountains on one side, and a 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) sandy beach on the other. The resort gives the feeling of exotic remoteness, yet offers every comfort, easy accessibility and barefoot luxury beyond imagination. The accommodations are inspired by traditional Omani houses and feature high indigenous-style ceilings, colorfully cushioned living area and cloudlike bed made with unbleached cotton sheets topped with your choice of ergonomic pillows. All villas have a private pool, where guests can refresh within the privacy of high cobblestone walls.

SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY, OMAN


8. MANDARIN ORIENTAL BODRUM, TURKEY

With an idyllic location in Bodrum’s secluded Paradise Bay, two private beaches, a range of fabulous gourmet restaurants, a world-class spa and a choice of stylish rooms, suites and villas, this unique 6-star resort will seduce even the most discerning traveler and invite you to lie back, relax and savour the moment. The first beach resort of the Mandarin Oriental hotel group is so phenomenal that it makes the nicest 5 star resorts look like a cheap motel. It’s my preferred luxury hotel in the area because of its beautiful minimalist esthetics and gorgeous beach. If you are in need of a luxurious beach break around the Mediterranean basin, then stop looking as this is as exclusive a getaway as you can imagine!


7. PARK HYATT SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Seated majestically on one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, Park Hyatt Sydney perfectly personifies contemporary harbourside luxury with its coveted location between the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Reminiscent of an exclusive harbourside residence, Park Hyatt Sydney offers intimate surrounds with architecture, art and design that reflect the Australian landscape. Highlights include 155 spacious guestrooms and suites with contemporary interiors and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to private balconies, some with stunning views of the Opera House. There’s a lot to love about Sydney’s most luxurious hotel, but the jewel in this hotel’s crown is the outdoor rooftop heated swimming pool, with spa, private sun-deck, cabanas, and magnificent views of the Sydney skyline.


6. FOUR SEASONS RESORT THE NAM HAI, VIETNAM

Embellishing heritage with Four Seasons flair, Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is a harmonious ode to coast, culture and community in Vietnam’s UNESCO-strewn centre. Along a seemingly infinite stretch of sand – hailed by Forbes as one of the best beaches in the world – a strand of sophisticated, visually striking villas lines the dramatic beachfront. Inspired by 2,500 years of history, The Nam Hai’s architecture and interior design present a dramatic play on wind and water inspired by ancient feng shui philosophy and the grandeur of the Tu Duc royal tombs of Hue. All of the 100 private retreats are elegantly finished with Vietnamese lacquer and diaphanous silk, reflecting the soul of Vietnam’s cultural heartland and illuminating the spirit of all who visit. Once a fishing village – with a historic temple preserved on site – the Resort presents an authentic connection to the region through inspiring on-site activities, from a cooking academy and earth-attuned spa to exhilarating water sports and cultural excursions.

  • Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, resort credit, early check-in and late check-out).
  • Review: coming soon (summer 2017)

FOUR SEASONS RESORT THE NAM HAI, VIETNAM


5. ROYAL MALEWANE, SOUTH AFRICA

Royal Malewane is a luxury safari lodge with only 7 one- to six-bedroom villas, located in Thornybush private game reserve on the western border of the Kruger National Park. The lodge, which has Bill Gates, Bono and Elton John among its repeat guests, exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age while offering every modern comfort and convenience. Here, the classic safari experience is unsurpassed with unrivaled Big Five game viewing and the country’s most qualified guiding team, who will provide detailed insights into the complex and fascinating ecosystems of the South African bushveld. Guests can also indulge in sensual treatments at the tranquil waters of Royal Malewane’s Bush Spa and enjoy nightly feasts under the African stars.


4. AMAN TOKYO, JAPAN

Occupying the top six floors of the recently-built Otemachi Tower, Aman Tokyo is an urban sanctuary high above the atmospheric whirl of tradition and modernity that epitomises Tokyo. The hotel draws its design inspiration from traditional Japanese residential structures, with classic Japanese materials such as timber, Washi paper and stone blended to great effect with modern technology and luxurious fabrics. The hotel is managed by Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, and has 84 rooms and suites, all with unique layouts, magnificent city views and every contemporary convenience. Each room has a large furo, a deep soaking tub intrinsic to the Japanese ritual of bathing. There is also a continuous reference to nature, from the hotel’s inner garden in the phenomenal lobby, to the fabrics and art incorporated into the design.


3. SONEVA KIRI, THAILAND

Remote yet accessible by a 90 minute flight from Bangkok on the resort’s private plane, phenomenal Soneva Kiri sits on Thailand’s 4th largest but least populated island, Koh Kood, in the Gulf of Siam. One of the most exclusive resorts in the world, Soneva Kiri offers an unrivalled combination of luxury, environmentally friendly design and unforgettable, authentic Thai experiences. The 36 resort villas (including 11 private residences) are amongst the largest in the world. Located on the idyllic beach or sunny slopes in the rainforest, all have stunning infinity pools, impossibly chic furnishings, personal electric buggies, and impeccable service courtesy of private butlers. Highlights include the open air cinema Paradiso, Benz’ mangrove restaurant, the chocolate & ice cream parlour, the children’s den and the spectacular Treetop dining pod.

Contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at the time of booking at Soneva Kiri.

  • Hotel website: Soneva Kiri
  • Other accolades: Soneva Kiri also features in my top 10 lists of the most insanely beautiful luxury hotels in Thailand, the world’s most amazing beach resorts, the world’s most outrageous hotel experiences,  the world’s most remote luxury hotels, the best private plunge pools in the world, the world’s most beautiful hotel beaches, the world’s best luxury hotels, the world’s best family resorts, and luxury hotels with private airports.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. villa upgrade, breakfast, early check-in , late check-out, welcome Champagne with Thai tapas on arrival, and a 30 minute spa treatment for two).
  • Review: read here my review of Soneva Kiri.

2. NORTH ISLAND, SEYCHELLES

North Island has a reputation as world’s most exclusive hideaway. The insanely beautiful island has only 11 opulent hand-crafted villas overlooking the pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters of the Ile Du Nord eco-reserve. Raised off the ground to catch the cooling Indian Ocean breezes, all villas open up onto your private garden and the beach. Plunge pools and outdoor showers provide the finishing touches to your private sanctuary. The island’s lounge and dining areas, scenically located health spa and gym, library and dive centre, and a rim-flow swimming pool are all built into a granitic outcrop. Keep an eye out for Brutus, the island’s 160-year-old tortoise. The resort was the decor for honeymoon of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.


1. SONEVA JANI, MALDIVES

Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on Medhufaru island, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll. The Maldives’ most exclusive hotel, and my absolutely favorite hotel in the world, is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. Currently, Soneva Jani features 24 water villas and one beach villa, although additional beach villas are planned at a later stage. Each one of the 24 water villas is superbly designed and has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze.

Contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at Soneva Jani at the time of booking.


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Ten tips to get a flight upgrade without paying for it

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (May 19, 2017): Travel Tip: how to get a flight upgrade WITHOUT paying for it?

I previously explained how you can book the cheapest plane ticket and save (lots of) moneys. But while it’s exciting to find an excellent deal, the flight itself can still be miserable when you are facing a longhaul flight odyssey in a leg-cramping seat in Economy Class. And unfortunately, most passengers will never fly in anything but cattle class, as Business Class and First Class tickets can be shockingly unaffordable.

So one of the questions I often get is whether there are ways to score a premium seat in the plane without having to pay for the upgrade. While there are some straight-forward strategies, it will often require a mix of skill, emotional intelligence and a considerable amount of luck if you don’t want to spend a penny at all. But the reward is that flying Business or First Class is a highly enjoyable experience, as you can read in my trip reports.

I hereby present you the 10 best travel tricks to get and/or book an airline upgrade without breaking your wallet! You can share your own tips or upgrade experiences in the comments section.

CATHAY PACIFIC BUSINES CLASS

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1. Keep an eye out for Business Class discount deals

Most of us will completely ignore any Business Class fare as it seems out of reach anyway. However, that’s a wrong assumption. Business tends to slow down during the school holidays and airlines cannot fill their Business Class seats, hence selling them at impressively discounted prices, that – in some cases – match the price of the tickets for the seats in the crammed back of the plane. For example, British Airways had a sale last month in which transatlantic Business Class seats for summer 2017 were offered at the same price as Economy Class tickets. So subscribe to the newsletter of your favorite airlines and don’t ignore the Business Class sales.


2. Keep an eye out for 2-for-1 Business Class sales

If you are traveling with family or a companion, keep an eye out for 2-for-1 Business Class sales that are occasionally launched by some airlines for a limited time only: you buy one (full-fare) Business Class ticket, and your companion will get a Business Class seat for free. This will cut the cost of flying Business Class, well, in two, often coming close to flying Economy with 2, especially in the more expensive school holidays. Qatar Airways is one of the airlines that regularly announces 2-for-1 Business Class sales.


3. Use your miles to book an upgrade

That’s a classic method of course. You subscribe to the frequent flyer program of an airline, and start collecting miles by flying, staying at hotels, or spending money with the airlines’ credit card. You can then redeem your well-earned miles for free Business/First Class flights or upgrades (in addition to hotel stays, car rentals or shopping). However, you have to fly a lot and/or spend a lot of money with your credit card, in order to collect enough miles for a complimentary premium seat. If you would like to optimize your mileage earning & spending strategy, I advise you to subscribe to the newsletter of some excellent bloggers. Currently, American Airlines’ AAdvantage is (still) widely considered to be the best loyalty program. You can read here some of my inside tips to boost your mileage account.


4. Be loyal to an airline

Loyal customers – who are members of and have status with an airline’s frequent flyer program – will normally be given priority when an airline needs to upgrade a passenger (for example, because of overbooking in Economy Class). In addition, some airlines will reward the loyalty of their most regular travelers with free upgrade vouchers, such as American Airlines (4 upgrades a year), British Airways (2 upgrades a year), and Lufthansa (2 upgrades a year).


5. Ask for an upgrade at check-in

It’s seems too good to be true, but politely asking for an upgrade at check-in desk sometimes does the trick. With online check-in becoming more and more popular, there are fewer people asking the question “if you are upgrading passengers on this flight, I would like to be considered”, hence increasing your chance to score a premium seat on the plane. It will help if you are polite, not overly demanding, dressed neatly, and when you have a good reason (e.g. being pregnant, exceptionally tall, or celebrating a honeymoon). If a free upgrade is not available, the check-in staff might also propose you a heavily reduced rate for an upgrade to the next available class.


6. Complain about a troubling experience

Air travel can be a frustrating experience from time to time, especially when confronted with a delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight, or when your luggage is delayed or lost. The flight itself can also be an unpleasant ordeal when things do not go as planned (e.g. failure of the entertainment system, a defect seat, etc …). When confronted with an inconvenience that is clearly the responsibility of an airline, then complaining in a polite matter – either at the airport, onboard or afterwards through the airlines’ customer service – may be your chance to get out of coach. In April 2015, I encountered a 24 hour flight delay with Cathay Pacific, and after filing an online complaint on Cathay’s website, I was given 2 upgrade vouchers to be used on a future flight.


7. Travel alone

It should not come as a surprise that it is much easier for an airline to upgrade a single passenger as compared to a couple or family. So, while it’s tough to leave friends and family behind when traveling around the globe, you may find yourself upgraded to the airline’s premium cabin.


8. Work for an airline or befriend someone who does

One of the key perks of airline employees are buddy passes. These are standby tickets that can be used by the employees, their family and friends in order to travel at a very reduced rate. The terms and conditions are different for each airline, but most airlines will make Business or First Class seats available to these passengers if the cabin is not full at time of departure. However, if the flight is oversold, buddy pass riders are usually last on the priority list for a seat. In addition, it doesn’t hurt befriending check-in agents, gate agents or the airlines’ management as you would be surprised about their powers when it comes to reassigning seats.


9. Take the bump when your flight is oversold

Most airlines oversell flights to maximize their profit, since they know some passengers will always cancel or miss their flights for a variety of reasons. If your flight happens to be overbooked, then tell the gate agent that you are happy to switch flights. You will solve the agent’s problem and there’s a chance that your generosity will be rewarded with an upgrade on the next available flight.


10. Bid against other passengers for a better seat

Well, this may cost you some money, but we mention it nonetheless, since it has proven succesful for many so far. Plusgrade and Optiontown collaborate with some of the world’s best airlines to offer their passengers the opportunity to upgrade their travel experience, if upgraded inventory is available before time of departure. This is how it works: After you have booked your flight on the airlines’ website, you will be invited to make a bid to upgrade to a higher class, from your booking confirmation page and confirmation e-mail. All you have to do is to enter a bid price to upgrade each leg of your flight, along with your credit card information.  Between 72 and 24 hours prior to departure, the airline will notify you via mail if your request for an upgrade has been approved or not. If your upgrade offer has been accepted, your credit card will be billed with the amount you offered, and you will receive your upgraded boarding pass. If your upgrade offer hasn’t been accepted, you pay nothing and keep your original ticket.


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Review: Transfer from Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa to Male airport

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel or flight review.

Last February, I enjoyed a FABULOUS holiday in the incredibly beautiful Maldives. You can read my trip reports here (with a climax next week, when I publish my long-awaited review of the PHENOMENAL Soneva Jani resort):


Today (May 10, 2017): Review of the transfer from Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa to Male airport.

Last week, I published my trip report of the famous Park Hyatt Hadahaa resort, which you can read here. The resort is very popular, not only because of its natural beauty and stunning lagoon, but also because you can score a free stay here by redeeming World of Hyatt points. However, it’s important to keep in mind that getting to the resort from Male is not included in the room rate and does require some efforts, as you have to take a 60-minute domestic flight to Kooddoo Airport followed by a 30-minute speedboat ride (and that excludes waiting time at the airport, which may vary from a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 4 hours). I hereby share with you a few key points regarding the transfer between the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives resort and Male International Aiport.

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  • Round trip transfers between Male airport and the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives are arranged by the resort on your behalf. They are currently charged at $520 USD per adult, $430 USD per child and $160 USD per infant and include the plane ticket (from Male to Kooddoo) and speedboat transfer (from Kooddoo to the resort).
  • The flight between Male and Kooddoo is always on a small Bombardier Dash turboprop aircraft operated by Maldivian, the country’s national carrier. Maldivian has a small fleet of less than 10 Dash turboprop aircraft, as well as a couple of narrow-body Airbus airplanes. Although I am not a fan of turboprop planes and suffer from a fear of flying, the flight itself was not too bad. I was happy though that the weather was clear and sunny, since I believe it may be a different story during the Maldives’ rainy season which runs from May to October (when thunderstorms are frequent events).
  • The flight between Male and Kooddoo leaves from (or arrives at) Male’s domestic terminal, which is adjacent to the international airport (just a 5 minute stroll away).
  • Maldivian only operates a few flights between Male and Kooddoo each day. This means that your journey to/from the resort will most likely include waiting time at Male airport (where most guests connect on international flights). The waiting time may vary from a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 4 hours, and this is something you may experience as a very tiring event, especially when you arrive in the Maldives after a long-haul flight. The good news though is that you can wait in the domestic airport’s lounge.
  • The direct flight from Male to Kooddoo Domestic Airport is approximately 1 hour, but sometimes the total journey time can take up to 2 hours due to a stop over in Kadhdhoo Domestic Airport (to drop off or pick up guests that stay in that atoll). There’s nothing you can do about it, as the resort books the flights for you and they are operated by a third party (but it doesn’t hurt requesting a direct flight).
  • Kooddoo island – home of the domestic airport that the Park Hyatt uses to shuttle its guests – is a far cry from the typical paradise islands that the Maldives are associated with. In fact, it’s more of a transport hub, with a busy harbour, a small airport and dorm-style apartment homes. The Park Hyatt staff uses golf cards to shuttle guests between the airport and the dock of the resort’s speed boat, a short trip that takes less than 5 minutes.
  • The speedboat transfer between Kooddoo and Park Hyatt takes around 30 minutes, although it can be 10 minutes longer in case of rough seas or bad weather. The speedboat itself is quite comfortable for the short ride, and the hotel staff hands out cold tea and snacks to arriving guests, which is a nice gesture.
  • When you return from the resort to Male, you will leave the resort around 80 minutes prior to the scheduled takeoff time. Waiting time at the airport will be around 30 minutes (and keep in mind that there are no shops or eateries at the airport, which is just a concrete building with one check-in counter and one waiting room).
  • I advise not to book a morning flight out of Male on the day of your departure. If not, you may end up like me and have to wake up at 5 am in the morning to catch the only morning flight from Kooddoo to Male.
  • In summary, the transfer to/from the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa resort (including waiting time) may take a large chunk of your holiday time on the day of your arrival and departure, making the resort not ideal for a short trip.

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER FROM PARK HYATT TO KOODDOO

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER FROM PARK HYATT TO KOODDOO

TRANSFER FROM KOODDOO HARBOUR TO AIRPORT

KOODDOO DOMESTIC AIRPORT

KOODDOO DOMESTIC AIRPORT

KOODDOO DOMESTIC AIRPORT

MALDIVIAN BOMBARDIER DASH 8 Q300

MALDIVIAN BOMBARDIER DASH 8 Q300

MALDIVIAN BOMBARDIER DASH 8 Q300

MALDIVIAN BOMBARDIER DASH 8 Q300

MALDIVIAN BOMBARDIER DASH 8 Q300

MALDIVIAN BOMBARDIER DASH 8 Q300

TAKE OFF

CABIN (INFLIGHT)

VIEWS

ARRIVAL AT MALE AIRPORT


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Top 10: best First Class amenity kits

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (May 16, 2017): Top 10 most luxurious First Class amenity kits.

Complimentary First Class amenity kits are a surprisingly big business for airlines. The luxury offerings are constantly being revamped to incorporate new high-profile fashion designers in order to give frequent fliers something to look forward to, and most importantly, a reason to stay loyal. First Class kits are usually packed with pamper products from top beauty brands — including Aesop, Aromatherapy, Bulgari, and Ferragamo — to keep passengers feeling hydrated and rejuvenated while in the sky. Some major airlines now also offer their premium passengers designer in-flight sleeper suits and slippers to ensure the ultimate comfort during overnight long-haul flights. I teamed up with Business Insider to rank the 10 best kits in First Class travel.

There is more information (with flight reviews) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite First Class amenity kit in the comments section, or take my poll below.

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10. DELTA AIR LINES

The refreshed Delta One kits have been created in collaboration with two premium brands — luggage specialist TUMI and American cosmetics brand Kiehl’s — and are offered on Transoceanic international flights, as well as on routes between JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco international airports. Passengers travelling outbound from the US receive a navy hard-sided amenity kit, while customers heading to the US can expect a soft-sided black kit. The packs contain Kiehl’s lip balm and a grapefruit-scented deluxe hand and body lotion with aloe vera and oatmeal. Delta Comfort+ customers travelling on international flights also receive a Rest and Refresh pack with eye shades, ear plugs, and a dental kit containing Colgate toothpaste.

DELTA AIR LINES


9. AMERICAN AIRLINES

First Class customers on American Airlines flights are treated to travel essentials from leading skincare and lifestyle brands Clark’s Botanicals and Cole Haan. The airline unveiled a new range of Cole Haan-designed amenity packs in January 2017 for its transcontinental flights, which also include pyjamas.

  • Official website: American Airlines
  • Trip report: read here and here my review of American Airlines’ First Class cabin onboard its flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

AMERICAN AIRLINES


8. BRITISH AIRWAYS

British brand Liberty London has collaborated with British Airways on an exclusive range of amenity kits for customers flying First Class with the airline. They were first introduced on selected flights between London and Los Angeles in January 2017, and will be rolled out across the rest of the first class network by the end of spring 2017. The stylish washbags have a contemporary look, using prints from Liberty London’s textiles archive. The women’s version features the eye-catching ‘Christelle’ oriental inspired floral print, and comes with a convenient wristlet. The men’s washbag is made of a black embossed textured exterior, with ‘Felix Raison’ paisley motif printed lining. The kits contain a range of well-being products provided by Aromatherapy Associates.

  • Official website: British Airways
  • Trip report: read here and here my review of British Airways’ First Class cabin onboard its B787-9 Dreamliner and Airbus A380 planes respectively.

BRITISH AIRWAYS


7. QANTAS

Qantas, the airline that will launch the world’s first non-stop flights between Australia and London next year, offers its First Class guests Martin Grant-designed sleepwear in addition to amenity kits. Grant, Qantas’ creative director of fashion, designed the elegant unisex navy and black trim first pyjamas with 100% cotton, a tailored neckline, and a tapered silhouette, along with matching slippers. Stylish male and female First Class amenity kits come in the same navy hues and contain a range of bespoke ASPAR by Aurora spa products, Martin Grant-designed travel socks, dental kit, ear plugs, and deodorant. A Martin Grant-designed eye mask that cups the eyes for maximum light blockage is also included.

  • Official website: Qantas
  • Trip report: read here my review of Qantas’ First Class cabin onboard its Airbus A380 plane.

QANTAS


6. AIR FRANCE

Air France’s La Première customers have been enjoying brand new comfort kits since February 2017. The French Carita brand is supplying each kit with a moisturising face cream, a supreme wrinkle solution for the eyes, a luxury hand cream, lip balm, face pack, as well as an exclusive offer for a hair treatment and styling session. The amenity kit is available in two colours, and also comes with travel essentials, such as ear plugs, a comb, and a pen. In addition to the luxury products included in the La Première comfort kit, Carita make-up removers and moisturising treatments are availabale to all La Première passengers at any time during their flight.

AIR FRANCE


5. ETIHAD AIRWAYS

Fashion designer Christian Lacroix and Hungarian skincare brand Omorovicza have teamed up with Etihad Airways on new luxury amenity kits for its First Class cabins, widely recognised as some of the world’s most extravagant. Both the male and female embossed bags come in two rich colours, plum for ladies and grey for men.‎ A second phase will see new kits in burgundy for ladies and black for men. The ladies’ bag is designed to be used as a chic clutch, while the men’s can be used buttoned down as a washbag or, when opened flat, as storage for tablet devices. The bags contain four anti-ageing and rejuvenating products from Omorovicza’s ‘Gold’ collection. In-flight items include a perfecting lip balm, a facial moisturiser with cooling gel-cream, a nourishing hand treatment, and a refreshing cleansing wipe.

  • Official website: Etihad Airways
  • Trip report: read here my review of Etihad Airways’ First Class cabin onboard its Airbus A380 plane.

ETIHAD AIRWAYS


4. CATHAY PACIFIC

The Cathay Pacific First Class amenity kit is loaded with products from Australian brand Aesop. The specially designed case comes in a grey zip-top case for men, while the ladies’ version is a camel zipped case. Inside, first class guests can expect the likes of hand cream, lip cream, face cream, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, earplugs, a hairbrush, a monitor-cleaning cloth, and cotton pads. Aesop items on offer include a hydrating facial cream, rosehip seed lip cream, and rind concentrate hand & body balm.

CATHAY PACIFIC


3. QATAR AIRWAYS

Qatar Airways’ award-winning First Class amenity kits were created by luxury luggage designer BRIC’s and bespoke bag designer Nappa Dori. The bags contain a selection of skincare products from Italy’s Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio. First Class guests now also get to enjoy a new sleeper suit, developed with UK luxury lifestyle brand The White Company. The men’s suit is designed in a charcoal grey marl, and the women’s in a contemporary mid-grey. Both are made of 100% cotton, and come with matching luxury cotton slippers, with a faux fur interior sole for extra warmth and comfort.

  • Official website: Qatar Airways
  • Trip report: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ First Class cabin onboard its Airbus A380 plane.

QATAR AIRWAYS


2. SINGAPORE AIRLINES

The second best kit in the skies is on Sinapore Airlines. Italian luxury goods company Ferragamo supplies products for both the male and female First Class amenity kits. The men’s grey toiletry kit features a 30ml Eau de Toilette from the Acqua Essenziale BLU range, while the ladies’ toiletry bag includes a 30ml Eau de Parfum sample from the Signorina Eleganza edition. Both bags contain a lip balm, after shave balm, and cleansing towel.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES


1. EMIRATES

There was truly no expense spared in the creation of Emirates’ new First Class amenity kits. The airline offers the world’s first moisturising lounge wear designed for passengers travelling in its first class cabins on overnight long-haul flights. The suits use a patented technology designed to keep skin hydrated during the flight, and also lock in the moisture for up to 10 washes, so they can be re-used by other passengers. Packaged in a stylish felt pouch, the suits come with matching slippers and eye mask. The new amenity kits, offered to both First and Business Class passengers on long-haul flights, feature Bulgari’s woody floral fragrance – Eau Parfumée au thé noir — and contain skincare essentials to keep customers feeling pampered throughout the flight. The First Class kit bags are made from real leather, and come in eight designs in charcoal grey for men and pale grey for women.

  • Official website: Emirates
  • Trip report: read here my review of Emirates’ First Class cabin onboard its Airbus A380 plane.

EMIRATES


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Ten easy tips to score a free hotel room upgrade

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (May 12, 2017): Tips for getting a hotel room upgrade without paying for it.

I previously published my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel (and save money). Today, I explain how to score a premium room at a luxury hotel without having to pay for the upgrade. Although there are a few guaranteed ways to get a room upgrade, it most often requires a mix of skill, emotional intelligence and a considerable amount of luck.

Here are the 10 best travel tricks to get a hotel room upgrade. And keep in mind that I can always arrange for you a confirmed upgrade at the time of booking at the world’s most luxurious hotel brand, Soneva.

SONEVA KIRI - VILLA ROOM

PHENOMENAL SUITE AT SONEVA KIRI, THAILAND


1. Stay during the low season

Being smart about the date you purchase a hotel room can entitle you to an upgrade, without doing any extra work. Book a room during the off-peak season when rooms are likely to be available. Leisure hotels are often fully booked during school holidays or over weekends (especially when there’s a big event or concert in town). On the contrary, hotels that cater to business clients have more availability during the weekend, increasing your chance for an upgrade.


2. Arrive late in the afternoon

Arrive late in the afternoon — between 3pm and 5pm is ideal — when reception has a better idea of what rooms are likely to stay empty overnight (and the next days). As a result, you may just be bumped up to a more superior room.


3. Join a hotel loyalty program

Most hotel chains offer benefits for loyal customers. Joining a hotel’s loyalty program may entitle you to a room upgrade, depending on the status you have attained. I have previously explained the pros and cons of the most popular hotel loyalty programs:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest by Starwood hotels, which includes St Regis, W, and The Luxury Collection hotels.
  • World of Hyatt by the Hyatt group, which includes Park Hyatt and Andaz hotels.
  • Hilton HHonors by the Hilton group, which includes the Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels.
  • Marriott Rewards by the Marriott group, which includes The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels (Bulgari hotels are excluded from the program).
  • Sirius by the Jumeirah hotel group.
  • President’s Club by the Fairmont hotel group.
  • IHG Rewards Club by the IHG group, which includes Intercontinental hotels.
  • GHA Discovery wich includes – among others – Kempinski, Alila, Viceroy and Anantara hotels & resorts.
  • Leaders Club by the Leading Hotels of the world.

4. Advocate your special occasion

Drop a special occasion such as an engagement or a birthday into the conversation. But don’t just blurt it out of nowhere and be honest about it; casually talk about it mid-chat. This way hotel teams will feel you are a genuine customer and be more inclined to go above and beyond to make sure you have a special stay.


5. Be a frequent visitor

Sometimes it’s simply a case of who you know. The more times you stay at a hotel, the more familiar you will become to hotel receptionists. Your details are often stored in the system too — so they can tell when you last visited. To make sure you are acknowledged as a frequent stayer, be friendly and get to know one or two receptionists or better yet the hotel manager, so you are recognized on your return.


6. Review your stay

Leaving a happy guest review on the likes of Trip Advisor, is one of the best ways to ensure you become known to a hotel team and it also spreads positive feedback to other potential guests. You scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours, when you return.


7. Use your manners

Manners accompanied with a smile can go a long way to make someone feel happy to help. Greet hotel team members as soon as you arrive and use your discrete charm to stand out from other guests. Hotel receptionists deal with travellers on a day-to-day basis so being that one person who made their day, with a compliment or witty line, could earn you some brownie points.


8. Try out the new kids on the block

Because so many travelers are brand loyal (cf tip no. 3), it can negatively affect recently opened hotels trying to lure new and repeat guests. When guests book at new properties that want to grow a dedicated fan base, those hotels may be more willing to offer upgrades to get people talking about their property and to get some repeat business in the future.


9. Book through Virtuoso

A Virtuoso travel advisor will not only help you to create unique journeys and explorations in every corner of the globe, but, more importantly, Virtuoso bookings come with special amenities and extra perks, such as complimentary upgrades. This is particularly true for the world’s most exclusive hotel brands, such as Aman, Soneva, St Regis, Park Hyatt, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental, Six Senses, and Four Seasons resorts. All hotels were you can enjoy the Virtuoso extra perks are listed on their website. My preferred Virtuoso travel agency is Classic Travel, because they offer an excellent online booking tool.


10. Use your credit card to get a complimentary room upgrade

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a hotel-branded credit card will probably have some sort of built-in upgrade benefit. But other credit cards do the trick as well. Visa Signature card membership gives you access to the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection, a network of 800+ high-end hotels around the world. Whenever you stay at these hotels and book thru Visa Signature you will get an automatic room upgrade at check-in (when available). Same is true for the more expensive American Express credit cards.


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Hotel review: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel or flight review.

Last February, I enjoyed a FABULOUS holiday in the incredibly beautiful Maldives. You can read my trip reports here (with a climax in two weeks, when I publish my long-awaited Soneva Jani review):


Today (May 10, 2017): Review of  the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Resort.

Situated on a private island 55 km (35 mi) north of the Equator in one of the world’s deepest atolls, Park Hyatt is a strikingly modern design resort. Featuring only 50 villas, the minimalist style interiors of the accommodation are designed with the utmost comfort and luxury in mind, whether nestled within the island’s tropical foliage, only steps from the ocean, or elevated above the water. All villas feature floor-to-ceiling windows, and every comfort you would expect, with some villas having the added luxury of a plunge pool. The resort is framed by one of the archipelago’s most unspoilt house reefs, providing easy access for exploration of the underwater marvels of the Indian Ocean.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury resorts in the Maldives, the world’s most remote luxury hotels, the world’s best hotel award redemptions, the most fabulous overwater in the Maldives, and the best resorts in the Maldives for snorkeling.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip and slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • My review of other luxury resorts in the Maldives
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa enjoys one of the most remote locations in the Maldives. The resort is set on its own private island 400 km (250 mi) south of Malé and 55 km (35 mi) north of the Equator in the North Huvadhoo (Gaafu Alifu) Atoll, one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world. There’s literally no civilization in sight when you walk around the island, except for a few uninhabited islands at the horizon. It’s the perfect place to get away from it all and to disconnect from daily life, far away from the more busy atolls around Male International Airport.
  • Getting to the resort from Male does require some efforts, as you have to take a 60-minute domestic flight to Kaadhedhoo Airport followed by a 30-minute speedboat ride (and that excludes waiting time at the airport, which may vary from a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 4 hours). The resort takes care of the booking of your domestic plane tickets, so there’s nothing you have nothing to worry about regarding the transfer, and you can wait in a lounge when connecting from your international flight to the domestic flight, or vice versa. The flight itself is on a small Bombardier Dash turboprop aircraft operated by Maldivian, the country’s national carrier, and the journey is a feast for the eyes as it offers bird’s-eye view of the Maldavian archipelago.
  • Hadahaa is one of the smaller islands in the Maldives (you wan walk around the island in less than 15 minutes). But is also ranks without any doubt among the most beautiful and visually stunning islands in the archipelago. The island has an almost perfect circular shape, and the lush tropical scenery at its center is completely encircled by a breathtaking stretch of blinding white, powdered-sugary soft sand and a ridiculously clear lagoon. In fact, if a great beach is what you’re after in the Maldives, stop looking as the island boasts one of the most fabulous and picture perfect beaches in the country (although the beach surrounding Soneva Fushi is still my favorite). This is a private-island castaway experience that even Tom Hanks wouldn’t want to leave.
  • The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa boasts one of the best house reefs in the Maldives, offering its guests some of the most eye-bogglingly beautiful snorkeling in the Indian Ocean archipelago. Just steps from the beach lies a mesmerizing and vast coral reef with diverse marine life, more abundant and varied than anywhere else in the Maldives. Snorkeling in the waters off the island’s shore can bring you face to face with everything from surgeon fish, tuna, and parrot fish, to eagle rays, turtles and even hammerhead sharks.
  • The resorts features a modern and minimalist design that fits well with the Park Hyatt brand. The layout and decor were created by SCDA Architects, an award-winning and Singapore-based multi-disciplinary architectural company. The island is dotted with sleek and contemporary communal areas and villas, boasting clean lines and muted hues. The form of the main arrival space is inspired by a Maldivian Dhoni boat, traditionally used for inter-atoll navigation. The boat has a distinctive ribbed timber hull that was turned upside down to create a sheltered reception area. Traditional craftsmen were used to create the Dhoni hull, ensuring that it was authentic in its use of timber sizes and details.
  • The barefoot luxury resort features only 50 villa accommodations: 36 are located on land (nestled in the lush tropical greenery with direct beach access) and 14 over the ocean (all enjoying direct access to the coral-filled waters below and breathtaking panoramic sunset views). During my holiday, I stayed in a Park Pool Villa, located on the island’s sunrise side. The villa had a spacious bedroom (with a king bed, an armchair and a writing desk) at its center and featured floor-to-ceiling windows with doors that lead out to a private deck fitted with a small plunge pool (not all beach villas have this feature though). The villa’s highlight was the bathroom, which had an outdoor, enclosed terrace with rain shower and terrazzo bathtub. The design of the villa was kept clean and simple, with the focus being the framing of views while maintaining privacy.
  • The resort has two gorgeous pool areas, which is great thing since most villas don’t come with a private pool. The hotel’s main freshwater swimming pool is quite large and is located at the resort’s center, along the main restaurant, offering some glimpses of the turquoise sea through the tropical foliage. From this pool area, you can directly access the beach club, where you find some sun loungers set in the shade of some palm trees on a wide stretch of sugar white beach on the island’s western tip. The hotel also features a tranquility pool, which is located within the shaded garden pavilions of The Vidhun Spa.
  • Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is home to two excellent restaurants, including the resort’s signature restaurant, The Island Grill. The latter serves regionally inspired dishes and features an open kitchen’s  where guests can watch the chefs at work, with tables and swing chairs set on a blanket of fine white sand. The resort’s other restaurant, the Dining room, is located along the main pool and serves all day dining, including the breakfast, which is composed of lovely buffet spread complemented by an à la carte menu.
  • There’s a weekly cocktail party on the beach each Saturday, giving guests the chance to enjoy complimentary canapés, mingle with the management, and dance with the locals.
  • The lush green gardens of the island’s center harbors the serene Vidhun Spa village, featuring an infinity pool and five private couples treatment villas, each with beautifully thatched roofs. I had a massage, which was terrific, so I highly recommend booking a spa treatment here. Each treatment begins with a mineral salt foot scrub. After your treatment, you are invited to unwind in the villa’s private shaded garden where you will be served refreshing herbal teas and sorbets.
  • The level of service is on a par with the very best in the country. And the good news is that it is one of the least expensive ultraluxe hotels in the Maldives, often offering good deals (less than $600 USD per night) probably because it’s more difficult to get there and since the competition in the Maldives is stiff with new mind-blowing resorts opening each year.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa ranks among the finest luxury hotels in the Maldives. The highlights are the natural lush beauty of the island and the superb snorkeling. Yet, the hotel does have some cons that you need to beware of before booking a stay here:

  • As explained above, getting to the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadadaa resort requires an often lengthy and tiring trip, something you may not be looking forward to after your long-haul flight arrives in the Maldives. Besides the 60 minute domestic flight and the 30 min speedboat trip, you also have to take into account waiting time – varying from one to maximum five hours – at Male airport, both at the start and the end of your journey. All in all, it means that the transfer to the Park Hyatt resort (including waiting time) may take a large chunk of your holiday time on the day of your arrival and departure, making the resort not ideal for a short trip. I suggest you stay at least 5 nights to make the most of the long journey getting there. The good news is that once there, you will completely relax in otherworldly tropical scenery.
  • While the villas are great, they aren’t among the largest accommodations in the Maldives. I feel that the villas would benefit from the addition of a separate entrance or hallway, as you now enter the villa directly in the bedroom, which is somewhat weird. Nevertheless, although there are larger, more luxurious and more flashy all pools villas on other Maldivian island, I feel that the floor space planning and execution is still quite generous given the small size of the Hadahaa island.
  • Food is expensive, however the pricing is not different from other five-star hotels in the Maldives and this is solely due to the inevitable fact that almost every item used in the resort’s kitchens is imported into the Maldives. More problematic though is that the resort only has two restaurants, so the food offerings can become boring during a longer stay. Some more variety could be introduced in the menus to take the dining experience for long-stayers to another level.
  • From a design perspective, the overwater villas look beautiful. However, the outdoor terraces of most overwater villas lack privacy, as anyone walking on the jetty has a direct view on the overwater balcony. In addition, the view of some overwater villas is partly blocked by the villa in front of them (so this isn’t the uninterrupted sea view you may have been looking forward to).
  • The airconditing in our beach villa did not work properly, and consequently, it was quiet hot in the room, both during the day and at night (when it was difficult to sleep). From my understanding (and by reading trip advisor reviews), this is a common and recurrent problem with some of the villas at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, although that could be easily fixed.
  • Last but not least, my travel partner and myself became both quite sick on our very first night at the resort. It was a bad gastroenteritis, which only lasted one day, so nothing to worry about but inconvenient nonetheless. I do want to mention it, although I realize that it may put off some of you to visit the resort. In all honesty, the chances are great that this wasn’t the fault of the Park Hyatt, since we had just arrived at the island after completing a stay at another resort – Jumeirah Dhavanfushi – where the food presentation and quality was troublesome (although I cannot 100% rule out the role of Park Hyatt food department on our one day illness). Having said that, I was warmly touched by the genuine care of the hotel staff during our sick off day, and also impressed by the management, including the very professional GM, who took this issue very seriously and did all he could to speed up our recovery.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Pool: 10/10
  • Resort grounds (beach): 10/10
  • Rooms (villas): 8/10
  • Food: 7/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,8/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS  &  SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadadaa (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily breakfast, $100 USD spa credit, early check-in and late check-out).
  • Save money: make use of Hyatt’s best rate guarantee to discount the cheapest room rate by an additional 20%.
  • Elite members of Hyatt’s loyalty program, World of Hyatt, are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – complimentary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out  (when available), and free breakfast. Click here to read my review of the World of Hyatt program (with pros & cons).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

MY REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE MALDIVES

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best weather in the Maldives is between January and April, which also means high season (with low availability and very expensive room rates). The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking in June. It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, eat, work out or scuba dive. Especially November and December, which are often labelled as dry season months, have been very unsettled in recent years.

WEATHER MAP MALDIVES


HOW TO GET THERE

Getting to Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa requires a 60-minute domestic flight from Male International Airport (MLE) to Kaadhedhoo Airport followed by a 30-minute speedboat ride. Check the Wikipedia page of Male International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer flights to Male International Airport:

  • From/via Asia: Bangkok Airways (via Bangkok), Tigerair (via Singapore), Singapore Airlines (via Singapore), Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), Air India (via Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram), China Eastern Airlines (via Colombo, Kunmnig), Cina Southern Airlines (via Guanghzou), Hainan Airlines (via Bejing), Korean Air (via Colombo and Seoul), Shanghai Airlines (via Shanghai), Srilankan Airlines (via Colombo), Maldivian (Chennai, Chongqing, Colombo, Dhaka, Thiruvanathapuram), Mega Maldives (via Bejing, Hong Kong, Shanghai).
  • From/via Middle East: Emirates (via Dubai), Flybudai (via Dubai), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi), Oman Air (via Muscat), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul).
  • From/via Europe: Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), British Airways (via London), Thompson Airways (via London), Monarch Airlines (via London), Condor (via Frankfurt), Edelweiss Air (via Zurich), Meridiana (via Rome or Milan), Neos (via Rome or Milan), Transaero Airlines (via Moscow), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt), Air France (via Paris).

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO THE RESORT

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO THE RESORT

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO THE RESORT

ARRIVAL JETTY & PAVILION

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WELCOME DRINK UPON ARRIVAL

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WALKING PATH TO THE BEACH VILLAS

WALKING PATH TO THE BEACH VILLAS

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