Review: Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa

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Introduction: Off The Beaten Track In Thailando
Using Miles For A Family Over Peak Dates
Review: Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok
Review: Bangkok Food Tours
Our Amazing Thailand Airbnb
Exploring Kanchanaburi
Review: Elephant’s World
Review: Hyatt Regency Hua Hin
Review: Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel
More Than Miles: Vacation Costs For A Family In Thailand
Review: Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa


As we wrapped up the Thailand portion of our trip, my husband and I had a bit of a debacle. We didn’t really need to be home until the 11th (and there wasn’t much in the way of award space home), but we didn’t have anywhere else we actively wanted to go, especially as wherever we went, we’d both be working, so more rural and exotic destinations were out.

We considered staying in Hong Kong for a few days, and just jumping on award space when it opened, but the weather was decidedly unpleasant, and we weren’t really dressed for it.

These are ridiculous “problems” to have, I’m well-aware — just providing some context for the decision making process here. 😉

We looked at a variety of options, and the best combination of weather and flight/hotel availability seemed to be the Maldives. Our friends Matthew and Heidi were at the Park Hyatt around the same time, and it would have been lovely to join them, but there wasn’t any points availability, and $2500-a-night hotel rooms will never be part of my life.

While the Park Hyatt is the fan favorite around here, there are dozens of other resorts in the Maldives, and many of them can be a great value as well. Given the short notice our options were a bit limited, and we ultimately decided on the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa. I’ve long been intrigued by this hotel as a more value-friendly option in the Maldives, so we decided to give it a try.

Booking the Sheraton Maldives

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is a Category 6 property for SPG, which means free nights are 20,000 – 25,000 points per night, depending on the season.

  • SPG offers the 5th night free on award stays, so you could book five nights for 80,000 points, potentially
  • Cash and Points rates, when available, are 10,000 Starpoints and $180 per night (you don’t get the 5th night free on C&P rates)
  • Suites and upgraded rooms are also available for additional points; I was quoted 27,500 points per night for an Island Cottage

So there are several options for redeeming points, but I opted to pay for my stay using the 4th night free benefit from the Citi Prestige. There weren’t any Deluxe Rooms available (which would be the base room at this property), and flights worked better if we were spending four nights rather than five. I also measure my SPG points in increments-of-stays-at-Al-Maha nowadays, so wasn’t about to spend over 100k Starpoints for an unplanned trip.

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Sheraton Maldives

And rates weren’t horrible. The base rooms were sold out, but the Island Cottage was available, and the resort was offering a promo for full board (meaning breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two people would be included). This rate was $468, which I would typically consider jaw-droppingly expensive, but given food costs in the Maldives, and that this would allow us to bundle things such that we’d have a full day of expenses refunded through the Citi Prestige® Card, it seemed like a better option than using points.

The good news is that paid rates here can be quite reasonable, so with a bit of advance planning you could spend much much less.

Getting to the Sheraton Maldives

One of the obstacles for many resorts in the Maldives is the arrival situation. To get to the Park Hyatt, for example, you have to take at least one plane and a boat, for which you’ll pay nearly $500 per person. The Sheraton is much closer to Male, so it’s a quick ~20 minute boat ride from the airport (which you still pay $136 per person for, because that’s apparently how things work in the Maldives).

The great thing about the proximity to the airport is that the Sheraton runs their transfer service 24/7, so you don’t have to overnight in Male. This is a huge plus in my book, though of course the tradeoff is that you don’t get that same sense of isolation.

Our flight from Hong Kong was a little delayed, so it was after 10PM when we arrived to Male. Being airport experts we were through immigration formalities and to the arrivals zone in just minutes.

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Male airport arrivals

The Sheraton has a small shared desk with the W, where an attendant was waiting to take us to the boat.

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Male airport arrivals

Unfortunately we had to wait for one other couple (who were most definitely not airport experts, and thus took almost an hour to get through the formalities), but soon enough we were on our way.

The boat docks are just outside the terminal, so it was a quick walk through the building and across the street.

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Male airport terminal

The whole setup was quite efficient, I thought, with covered walkways connecting the airport to the docks and bus terminal.

Or, to quote my husband, “Damn! This is how to win at Transportation Tycoon!

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Male airport boat docks

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Male airport boat docks

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Male airport boat docks

The Sheraton has their own boat, which was clean and well-maintained.

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Sheraton Male boat transfer

The staff was polite and professional, offering cold towels and bottled water as we sped across the water. The ride was a little choppy, but it seemed like no time before we had arrived at the resort.

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Sheraton Maldives boat dock

The Sheraton Maldives effectively has two lobbies — one near the main resort, and one at the boat dock where they process the check-in formalities.

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Sheraton Maldives welcome area

The space was welcoming, with several seating areas and a fun blend of furniture.

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Sheraton Maldives welcome area

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Sheraton Maldives welcome area

We were invited to sit while the paperwork was processed, and an iced tea was delivered along with more cold towels.

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Sheraton Maldives welcome beverages

The agent went over the full board entitlements, and provided us with a general overview of the resort and amenities.

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Sheraton Maldives full board options

He also recognized my SPG Platinum status, and provided details on the Sheraton Club:

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Sheraton Maldives Club details

We were also given a map of the resort, which was helpful. I’ve added annotations with locations of amenities and room types, as I think that could have been more clear:

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Sheraton Maldives resort map

At this point it was nearly midnight, so we were bustled off to our room in a golf cart. We obviously didn’t get to see much of the resort, but what we did was nicely illuminated.

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Sheraton Maldives trees at night

Sheraton Maldives Island Cottage

For SPG Platinums, it’s worth noting both the Island and Beach cottages are in the Platinum upgrade pool. You can use a Suite Night Award to confirm an overwater bungalow, but the cottages are the standard upgrade if availability permits.

We were assigned cottage 206, which was a free-standing building at the top of the first horseshoe:

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

The room opened to a short hallway, with a closet on the right, and an outdoor bathroom on the left.

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

The bed was a Sheraton Sweet Sleeper (one of my favorites), and had a great headboard.

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

In fact, I loved the decor of the room in general. The wooden ceiling and accents fit the styling of the resort, and I loved the textured stucco work. It was certainly kitschy, but felt appropriate, if that makes any sense.

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

A plate of chocolates had been left on the coffee table, which was a nice touch. (And bonus points for wrapping them — that always weirds me out a little otherwise).

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Sheraton Maldives welcome amenity

There was also a minibar at the entrance, with prices ranging from the reasonable to the comical:

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Sheraton Maldives minibar

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Sheraton Maldives minibar

The bathroom was completely outdoors, which I loved. The decor here was a bit more…of an era…but do you really care when you get to shower with geckos? I don’t.

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage bathroom

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage bathroom

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage bathroom

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage bathroom

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage bathroom

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage bathroom

My only complaint about the setup was that the shower didn’t have hot water. I like my showers nearly scalding, but even my husband conceded it was tepid at best. I think this was just a maintenance issue though, which I’ll get to.

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage bathroom

In the morning, we could see that our room was right on the beach, though set rather far back from the water.

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

The cottage had a private deck, with a pair of very comfy lounge chairs

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

There was also a spigot for washing sand off your feet, which I appreciated.

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Sheraton Maldives island cottage

One thing I didn’t love in the light of day was the angle of the other cottages. I know it’s not a huge deal, but being at the top of the horseshoe made me feel very exposed. I don’t think the average person would have any issues, but I’m particularly sensitive to spaces (I don’t like to sit in the front of an airline cabin if I can avoid it, or with my back to the room at a restaurant).

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Sheraton Maldives island cottages

But otherwise I loved the room. It wasn’t super-luxurious, but I really liked the fun island vibe, and being able to walk right out onto the beach was fun.

Sheraton Maldives Ocean Villa

Given that I was planning on spending quite a bit of time working from the room or at least the patio, and as the hot water was problematic, I ventured down to the lobby after breakfast to see if we could move.

I liked the layout of the room, so asked if there was just a different cottage they could move us to, but they were fully committed. They offered an overwater bungalow for no additional charge, but the rooms they had available weren’t that well-positioned either, so we eventually settled on an Ocean Pool Villa for an additional $75 per night, which I thought was reasonable, given those rooms are three times larger and typically sell for more than 3x the price of the room we were in.

Someone came by shortly thereafter to fetch us and our bags in a buggy, and we drove to the far side of the resort, where the row of Ocean Villas are located.

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Sheraton Maldives resort grounds

This might be silly, but I was really surprised by how lush and green the resort was. I think I was expecting more of a windswept beach feel, so the abundance of tropical greenery was really nice.

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Sheraton Maldives resort grounds

All of the Ocean Pool Villas are free-standing buildings, and at almost 2400 square feet they are massive. That’s literally more than twice the size of my apartment.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

We were assigned villa 409, which was about halfway down.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

The villa had a private yard, and after going through the gate we entered a gorgeous suite.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

This portion of the resort is newly-constructed, so everything felt fresh and smelled new.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

The room featured wrap-around windows, with a daybed along one side.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

There was also a massive desk along the back of the bed, which I thought was a great architectural choice.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

Along the side was a minibar and coffee setup (although the coffee maker was far more complicated than I’m interested in learning how to use on vacation).

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

The minibar offerings were identical to the other room, which made sense.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

Off the entryway was a massive closet, which led to the bathroom.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

And while the bathroom was sadly gecko-free, it was well laid-out, with floor to ceiling windows looking over the private garden.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

This shower got very hot, which was great, though I think the controls were designed by someone who had never actually used a shower.

The temperature knob was polished, round, and set very close to the wall, making it impossible to turn if your hands were wet, or soapy, or you know — in the shower. It looked nice though, so basically the epitome of form over function.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

There were also two sinks, which both had plenty of counter space and well-positioned mirrors, which is always nice.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

The tub was perfection, though it inspired a rant on how Sheraton desperately needs to update their toiletries.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

Outside, the situation was even more gorgeous. The villa featured a private plunge pool overlooking the ocean:

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

Along with a hammock and an abundance of seating alternatives:

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

There was also a rainforest-style shower (oddly gecko-free):

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

The downside to this villa is the lack of direct sea access — the currents are too strong on this side of the island — but the outdoor space was just stunning.

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Sheraton Maldives ocean pool villa

We also had some storms while we were there, so I’m not sure if this was the cause, but the waves on this side of the island were massive, and the wind was persistent. We even got rain several times (though never on the other side of the island, which was fun).

Overall, I’m not actually sure which room I liked more. The setup of the Island Cottage wasn’t ideal for me, but I liked the beach access, and the outdoor bathroom. The overall layout and location of the Ocean Villa was obviously much better, but it was cold on that side of the island, and the decor was a touch sterile.

But really, I don’t think you could go wrong either way.

Sheraton Maldives resort and restaurants

The main resort amenities were clustered around the lobby, which had the same thatched-roof motif as the cottages.

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Sheraton Maldives lobby

A small gift shop and all five restaurants were clustered around the pool, but the area never felt crowded, or even highly trafficked.

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Sheraton Maldives pool

We had breakfast one day at Feast which is the main/buffet restaurant. Breakfast was included in our rate, but SPG Platinums could also select the full buffet as their welcome amenity.

In fact, if you are an SPG Platinum, you could probably get by with an early breakfast in the Sheraton Club, then a late brunch/lunch in the restaurant, as the options were expansive. (The lighting didn’t do my photos any favors, and I promise everything looked better than it appears).

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

In addition to the buffet, eggs were also being prepared to order:

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Sheraton Maldives breakfast

It wasn’t an amazing buffet (I mean, I don’t even like buffets), but there was a good variety, and given that everything has to be imported, I felt the options were reasonably fresh.

The main lagoon/beach area is to the side of the cottages, and the Kakuni Hut beach bar is on that side as well. There were an assortment of picnic tables right on the sand, as well as bar seating.

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Sheraton Maldives beach bar

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Sheraton Maldives beach bar

The food was good, and I thought the prices were comparatively reasonable. And that goes for the resort in general.

Granted, I’m used to Southern California, but cocktails in the $12-$15 range are normalish if you go “out” and entrees in the $25-$35 bracket aren’t unheard of. So the sticker shock wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

The portions were also very large — we could have easily shared an entree at every meal and been just fine.

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Tasty lamb skewers

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A delicious, but ridiculous, portion of tuna for lunch

While we both spent time working, we also had plenty of time to swim and paddle board, or to just explore the resort. The seas were a bit too choppy for snorkeling, and my ears are too messed up right now for diving, so we didn’t take advantage of any excursions.

But the island was pretty, so that was just fine.

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Sheraton Maldives resort grounds

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Sheraton Maldives resort grounds

One thing we did notice was that all of the bungalows were free-standing. Many properties in the Maldives offer “duplex” bungalows, so that’s a plus for the Sheraton.

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Sheraton Maldives overwater bungalows

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Sheraton Maldives overwater bungalows

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Sheraton Maldives overwater bungalows

We ended up spending most of our “beach” time at the Anchorage Bar, for a few reasons.

One, the beach was quieter, as it was further from the cottages.

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Sheraton Maldives beach bar

Two, the music was better (by which I mean they played Taylor Swift and old-school Britney Spears, as opposed to the weird elevator-trance-muzak stuff we heard at the other places).

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Sheraton Maldives beach bar

Three, they had cabanas, and bar service, unlike the main beach (I will never understand hotels that don’t actively try to increase F&B sales).

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Sheraton Maldives beach bar

And finally, it was a great place to watch the fruit bats!

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Fruit bats!

Seriously, why did no one tell me the Maldives have diurnal bats? This was the coolest thing! I loved watching them glide between trees and then crash into the branches. So fun!

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Fruit bats!

And an honorable mention goes to the A+ planespotting opportunities from this side of the lagoon.

“Bright yellow tail. Is that Royal Brunei?”

“I don’t think they fly here. Maybe Condor in the retro livery?”

“It’s a 76…”

“Definitely Condor then.”

I realize that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is the stuff avgeek vacation dreams are made of.

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Sheraton Maldives lagoon

While we had a blast watching the departures from Male, the plane situation wasn’t actually a distraction, and if you were at the main beach or on the bungalow side you’d probably never notice them at all. You couldn’t really hear the larger jets, so the only noise came from the seaplanes, and their approach path was far from the main areas of the resort. We could hear them outside at the Sheraton Club, but not at all once we went inside.

With the overcast skies we didn’t have incredible sunsets, but they were still pretty:

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Sheraton Maldives sunset

And the resort was lovely at night, with just enough (but not too much) light.

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Sheraton Maldives resort grounds

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Sheraton Maldives resort grounds

Sheraton Club

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa has a club lounge, which is accessible to SPG Platinums, or those with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

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Sheraton Club directory

The Sheraton Club was at the far end of the resort, past all the Ocean Villas, so it was very private.

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Sheraton Club Maldives

The Club had the same design elements as our villa, with walls of windows, a wood-paneled ceiling, and bright accent pillows.

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Sheraton Club Maldives

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Sheraton Club Maldives

The Sheraton Club also featured a private pool, with an assortment of lounge chairs. This would be a great place to relax on a less-blustery trip!

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Sheraton Club Maldives

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Sheraton Club Maldives

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Sheraton Club Maldives

Unlike some club lounges that offer a full meal in the evening, this was definitely more of a “happy hour” spread. And it was a bit lackluster, to be honest.

There were two hot items; satay and something close to a conch fritter

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Sheraton Club Maldives happy hour

And then a few plates of cookies (which were gross).

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Sheraton Club Maldives happy hour

And then a few different options for small plates. These were interesting, but a little too interesting, if that makes any sense.

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Sheraton Club Maldives happy hour

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Sheraton Club Maldives happy hour

An assortment of soft drinks and beer were available throughout the day:

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Sheraton Club Maldives happy hour

With wine and hard liquor available during the evening reception:

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Sheraton Club Maldives happy hour

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Sheraton Club Maldives happy hour

Overall, I was a bit unimpressed with the evening setup at the Sheraton Club. The food options weren’t cohesive, and the preparation was lacking. I also felt the bar setup wasn’t well thought out — there weren’t any lemons or limes, for example, even when I asked, and the ice was in wooden bowl, and thus quickly became a melted mess.

Minor things, and totally fixable, so just observations.

For all the missed opportunities in the evening, however, the breakfasts in the Club were well done.

To start, the menus were nicely printed, and offered a range of cooked-to-order options.

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Sheraton Club Maldives breakfast

Then there were a few hot items at the buffet:

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Sheraton Club Maldives breakfast

And an assortment of continental items:

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Sheraton Club Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Club Maldives breakfast

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Sheraton Club Maldives breakfast

Thoughts on the Maldives

To be fair, the Maldives isn’t somewhere I’ve been dying to go, so my perspective here might be a bit different.

I enjoyed the trip, and the time in the sun was lovely, but I really missed even having the opportunity to interact with the local culture.

I’m not saying I need an “authentic cultural experience” every time I travel, but I do like to stumble in to coffee shops, or see what the locals are buying at the market (even if that market is a Carrefour). The Sheraton does actually offer boat service over to Male, which I would have been interested in, but the ocean was rough enough that risking a brush with seasickness didn’t sound particularly compelling.

The beaches were nice, and the water was warm, and given the relative abundance of air service, the Maldives are going to be a great destination for many.

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Sheraton Maldives lagoon beach

But the lack of opportunity to really engage meaningfully with anyone felt weird to me. The desire to keep the tourists separate from the “real” Maldives (and vice-versa) felt palpable to me, and I didn’t love that.

So I wouldn’t necessarily discourage others from visiting the region, particularly if this is one of your dream destinations, but I’d have to seriously contemplate a return visit, personally.

Sheraton Maldives bottom line

The Sheraton is a nice property, everything was well-maintained, and the service was great. It’s certainly not to the caliber of the Park Hyatt, or the Conrad, but the Sheraton is a solid (and potentially much less expensive) option, in my opinion.

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Sheraton Maldives bungalows

It’s also easy to get to, and the value for SPG Platinums is quite good. Being able to access the Club via the Amex benefit will also be a huge perk for many. The WiFi at the Sheraton was ridiculously fast, so if you need to get work done that’s a major positive.

So I think it’s worth considering if you’re interested in a trip to the Maldives. This wouldn’t be my pick if you’re looking for something luxurious and opulent, but for typical vacations I think the Sheraton is competitive, and we had a lovely stay.

What do you think? Have you been to the Maldives? Where did you stay?

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Comments

  1. I can’t really tell from the pictures of the first room, but outdoor bathroom…

    So, when it rains, you’re sitting on the can with water pouring over you?

    I’m all for beach vacations, but I think I prefer my bathrooms with AC and a roof.

  2. I stayed here during the last week of November and was very underwhelmed. As a lowly Gold member, I was given no room upgrade. I did use my (typically successful) soft touch in asking for one (and communicating with the hotel ahead of time just to let them know it was a special occasion…yeah, what trip to the Maldives isn’t?). They told me that I could try for an upgrade on Day 2 while telling me that they were sure I’d like my room. I got one of the standard rooms on the 2nd floor of the little standard room buildings. As it was the second floor, there wasn’t direct beach access — but more direct than an Ocean Villa I suppose. Still, not exactly the kind of privacy you’re hoping for on a romantic trip to the Maldives with a room below you and on either side.

    So on Day 2, I inquired about an upgrade. I was told I could upgrade to a beach cottage like the one you started in as a Platinum, but only for 1 night as they would be fully committed the next night. There was a chance I could upgrade to an over the water bungalow, but it would “probably” be an additional charge (that they couldn’t quote me) and they wouldn’t know until late in the evening. I thought this was odd as a resort in the Maldives can’t possibly have a ton of last-minute Platinum drop-ins who happen to unexpectedly find themselves at the airport in the Maldives looking to take a $136 speed boat trip to the Sheraton — but who am I? I took the upgrade to the island cottage.

    I then got online and found that there were at least 60 upgraded rooms (island cottages, beach cottages, over the water bungalows, and the villas like your second room) available for booking for that next night. Starwood’s website won’t let you try to book more than 15 rooms at a time — but I could go through with booking 15 rooms of each room type with no problem — which wasn’t hard to imagine as the resort felt absolutely empty.

    As the on-property management was unwilling to bend (or even talk directly to me, opting to communicate through the front desk instead), I tweeted SPGAssist. They reached out to management and amazingly enough, the hotel went from “totally committed” on the type of cottage I was in to being able to keep me there for the remainder of my stay (which, again, wasn’t surprising — I was in that low 200’s horseshoe and there was no one in more than half the cottages my entire stay there).

    I was glad that SPGAssist came in for the save, but disappointed that the on-property management wasn’t willing to do it on their own. With the place as empty as it was, I was surprised that they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to “wow” with good customer service. I wasn’t demanding a villa, just asking for a room with a tad more privacy with full knowledge that they had plenty sitting empty.

    Add to that the fact that the coral is at least 90% dead around the island and it’s just not worth going to the Maldives to go to the Sheraton IMO. Yeah, there were some sting rays swimming right along the beach. The paddle boarding and kayaking was free and we saw sharks and trigger fish and some cool stuff doing that. The shark feeding was pretty cool — but man, I certainly wouldn’t waste the money to go all the way to the Maldives to stay at the Sheraton. I was traveling all on points and miles obviously and it was an easy place to get to as biz class on CX was only 30k AA miles from Tokyo. But I wouldn’t pay the cost of a cash ticket if I were planning to stay at the Sheraton (nor the cash rate on the rooms there).

    One positive was the food in the lounge. Not that it was amazing, but as an Amex Business SPG holder, I did get lounge access and that did save us money on food. That said, I found the room service menu to be much more reasonable than expected. I got some sort of Maldivian Eggplant Curry that was $17 or $18 I think. There were plenty of entree options under $25 I thought. Of course, you could also spend like $28 on a cheeseburger — but if you ordered sensibly, there were options. I was pleasantly surprised with food costs….and we drank enough wine during happy hour not to need to order a drink elsewhere.

    Oh, one of those bats you loved glided into my head one night walking back down from the lounge. I’m not as enamored with them. Obviously, it didn’t bite me or anything — it probably freaked him out as much as it did me….but I didn’t love the bats. Of course, you get huge bats like that in other places — so I’m as accustomed to them as I’ll ever be.

    I think you more or less captured the place pretty well here though — it’s not a terrible place, but nothing I’d travel that far to return to. Honestly, I thought the main two advantages were:

    1) If you have kids, it’s an easy place to relax without worrying. They can’t wander too far or get into much trouble. Note: I’m not saying not to watch your kids, people.

    2) Nobody hassling you. I thought the beaches were no nicer than many Caribbean beaches, but that some would enjoy the absence of anyone trying to sell you a handmade necklace or pair of sunglasses. Those people don’t bother me, but some people probably appreciate a vacation without that.

    I’m an East-coaster. If this hotel were in Bermuda or Miami or Aruba, I’d probably go back if there was another Sheraton Free Weekends type promotion. If I were already in Dubai and had racked up some free Sheraton nights from a Free Weekends-type promotion, maybe I’d even consider this place again. But I wouldn’t fly from the US to the Maldives to stay at this joint again, that’s for sure. And don’t expect anything special out of them if you’re a lowly Gold member (based on both stays & nights, not just a CC I might add).

  3. Thanks Tiffany! This is the one I was waiting for. We have considered this one in the past due to convenience but Sheraton’s hit or miss experiences for me in the past had me hesitant. The property looks wonderful. I like how it appears they use some le creuset cookware to display the hot items and the portions for the food from the menu look massive compared to my experience at Conrad a couple years back. One question I had – I know you said you didn’t necessarily snorkel but were you able to tell if the water looked particularly clear or whether there was a nice “house reef” to potentially snorkel on calm days?

  4. SPG Gold, paid $300 to upgrade one night the base room to the overwater bungalow for one night. Would not expect it to ever be a free upgrade

  5. Thanks for another good review. One thing, was it really that bright outside in Male after 10PM, or is that a photo trick of some type?

  6. @ Neil S. — Hah, the toilet/sink/tub area all had a roof, and the toilet room even had a separate door. Fun mental image though!

  7. @ Nico — Wow, thanks for sharing your experiences! I would have been frustrated by the room shenanigans as well, so fortunately didn’t have to deal with that.

    Having nobody hassle you is a great point, and something my husband noticed. We’ve hated that about the Caribbean when we’ve been. Agree with your assessments — we didn’t even look at the room service menu, but I’m glad to hear you thought the food costs were “reasonable enough” as well.

  8. @ GoldenMile — The water was very clear, and the reef seemed better on the bungalow side of the property, but I don’t think it’s as amazing here as other islands. They did mention having another nearby island that you could go and snorkel on, so that might have been better in terms of variety of fish.

  9. @ Andy — Nope, I wouldn’t either. The cottages are the highest upgrades for Platinums unless they use a Suite Night Award, and neither are default upgrades for Golds.

  10. A Maldives resort review by a miles and points blogger that’s not the PH Maldives? INCONCEIVABLE!

    :p

    (Thanks for the review.)

  11. Bats! I love bats. We’ll be in Seychelles in March. I so very much hope that we’ll have the pleasure of having the company of bats. I’ll have to do some research.

    I have no interest in staying at any Sheraton anywhere; but, I did enjoy reading this wonderfully detailed review as well as Ben’s Finnair trip report.

  12. Tiffany, loved this trip report and other posts you’ve done in the past. They definitely add another dimension to the blog.

    Ben, well done for including posts by other authors!

  13. Thanks for the review! Your thoughts on the Maldives somewhat captured what I am worried about in planning a trip there…if I’m just going to sit on a beautiful beach for 5 days why not go to Cancun area, Hawaii, or the Caribbean? Admittedly the isolation wouldn’t be found at most hotels in those places but when coming from North America and the travel time is 6 hours vs. 24 hours, and the amount of miles, and points…it sounds amazing but I just don’t know if I’m willing to go through all of that. Although it does sound really cool to say you’re going to the Maldives 🙂

  14. Tiffany,

    Great report.

    You mentioned how quickly you got through customs, faster then the other people. I was curious how you were able to do it so quickly. I travel a bit, internationally, and in other countries getting through customs comes down to either having a fast track pass, or just toughing it out. I assume you had the fast track, or did you manage to get ahead of everybody off the plane?

    Keep the reports coming!

    Sam

  15. I’ve been to the Maldives before, and I must say that I would never take a hotel with a speed boat transfer from Male again. Waterplanes or other domestic flights are maybe expensive and time consuming, but then you certainly don’t have views on waste island and/or Male. I stayed at Velassaru and I didn’t feel as a tropical getaway to me as I’ve expected/wanted. I like the Seychelles way more !

  16. What kind of work is it that you do that on the one hand gives you the flexibility to do it absolutely anywhere (a good thing) but that also seemingly has you working all the time anywhere and everywhere you go (as that’s all you mention that you do)? I’m both intrigued / jealous and disturbed.

  17. Great, thorough review. Loved ALL the pictures and your opinion on each. Good to read your honest thoughts on this hotel. For the price, it seems like a steal, considering the food was included, plus the Prestige card covering the 4th night. Very cool. More reviews like this please, from your future trips

  18. @Jason

    Tiffany is with pointspros, Lucky’s award booking service.

    Click on the link on top that say award help

  19. Thank you for the review Tiffany.

    Looks like a nice airport Sheraton :-)))

    Not sure if I like the transfer cost, especially since it was a sheared ride.

  20. @ SKF — Hah, getting off the plane first, having fast track, no checked bags or items to declare, being able to read signs and change directions quickly, etc. Mainly practice!

  21. Tiffany,
    FYI, the link from the rest of the trip report to this review is giving a 404 error. And thanks for confirming that I am unlikely to ever want to go to the Maldives (despite the fruit! bats!).

  22. @Tiffany wonderful report, thanks.

    Are the minibar prices true or are they fake (i.e. exclude a bevvy of taxes, fees, surcharges etc.?)

    BTW there are plenty of destinations in Southeast Asia with same beach and sea quality that cost half as much (especially if you include transport “costs”)! This must be one of the world’s most overrated places.

  23. I stayed here in 2013 on a cash and points rate (under the old pre-devaluation rate).

    The best part of this property is using it for 1-2 nights to adjust to jet lag prior to moving on to your more expensive Maldives property. It is also quite close to Male, which as an independent traveller is worth exploring as it’s one of the only areas in the country where you can be on an even keel with other Maldivians.

    The beach at the resort is just okay for the area, and the snorkling from shore is non existent. The food is very reasonably priced for the maldives so if you wanted to turn a 4-5 day stay in the Maldives into a 6-8 day stay, it’s worth working this property in on your way into the country.

  24. Did you go snorkeling? How was it? We love the snorkeling at the Park Hyatt. So many huge fish, in a bunch of varieties, reef sharks, Dolphins, and turtles. So amazing!

  25. I have always been curious about the Maldives and read this review and the comments to the end! Wish the photos had show sparkling blue seas, but I’ve found that kind of dull overcast all over Asia…

    Thank you for an in depth and very well written trip report. I’ve rarely seen a better one!

  26. Hey thanks Tiffany! I am looking into a romantic getaway to the Maldives at some point in the future and I will certainly consider the Sheraton next time.

    Also i love that you post more food porn pics than Ben! I love it!

  27. Tiffany,

    A few quick questions, thanks for the detailed review it is very helpful. I already have a room booked Island cottage (w/breakfast) but was wondering if you think its better to pay as I go or get the half-board Full board or all inclusive package?

    We want to eat well, a lot of the tripadvisor feedback mentions crazy high prices on food (dinner for two with cheap wine at 350USD etc). On the other hand 97 for half board (basically dinner as breakfast was already free) also seems a bit high. Were non alcoholic drinks (water etc) included in your full board?

    I wrote the hotel and they sent me a nice synopsis of the options which I will share below.

    The kids pass seems a no brainer but the other ones get expensive quickly. Any expert advice is greatly appreciated!!!!
    ____________________Here is what the hotel said________________________________

    As a SPG member you can purchase SPG Kids Pass at US$18.48 per child, per day on arrival.

    Please find the below meal packages available for adults with the prices. Restaurant reservations can be made at the resort with our Guest Service Team.

    Half Board (HB): USD 97 per person per day; subject to 10% service charge, 12% GST

    Dinner Entitlements
    -¬‐ Feast Buffet themes nights
    -¬‐ Sand Coast
    -¬‐ Anchorage Bar

    Full Board (FB): USD 146 per person per day; subject to 10% service charge, 12% GST

    Lunch Entitlements
    -¬‐ Sand Coast
    -¬‐ Anchorage Bar
    -¬‐ Kakuni Hut

    Dinner Entitlements
    -¬‐ Feast Buffet themes nights
    -¬‐ Sand Coast
    -¬‐ Anchorage Bar

    Credit Applicable Venues (Half Board & Full Board)

    Baan Thai food only USD 81creditpp. (Reservation required)
    Sea Salt food only USD 81creditpp.(Reservation required)
    Destination dining USD 81creditpp.(Reservation required)

    Credit per person includes service charge and government availing taxes. The credit can only be used in one venue per evening and cannot be accumulated, combined or transferred.

    Package exclusions

    Mini Bar & In room dining

    All-inclusive at US$211++, per person per day; subject to 10% service charge, 12% GST

    Lunch Entitlements
    -¬‐ Sand Coast
    -¬‐ Anchorage Bar
    -¬‐ Kakuni Hut

    Dinner Entitlements
    -¬‐ Feast Buffet themes nights
    -¬‐ Sand Coast
    -¬‐ Anchorage Bar

    Credit Applicable Venues

    Baan Thai food only USD 81creditpp.(Reservation required)
    Sea Salt food only USD 81creditpp.(Reservation required)
    Destination dining USD 81creditpp.(Reservation required)

    Credit per person includes service charge and government availing taxes. The credit can only be used in one venue per evening and cannot be accumulated, combined or transferred. Beverage entitlements are served in all bars and restaurants from 11:00 to 00:00 hrs. On the arrival date all-inclusive entitlements starts at 14:00 hrs. And departure dates all-inclusive entitlement till 12:00 noon.

    • Soft drinks (Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Tonic & Soda Water & Packet Juices)
    • Coffee (Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, & regular Coffee)
    • Tea (Selections available in the resort)
    • Mineral water: Schweppes Still water
    • Tea (Selections available in the resort)
    • Draught beer (Carlsberg, Lion, San Miguel)
    • House wines by glass (White, Red, rose and Sparkling)
    • Scotch: Ballantine, Dewar’s 12 years
    • Gin: Beefeater
    • Vodka: Smirnoff, Finlandia and Stolichnaya
    • Aperitif: Martini Bianco, Martini Rosso and Campari
    • Bourbon: Canadian Club
    • Rum: Bacardi White, Captain Morgan Dark, Appleton and Cachaça
    • Tequila: Tequila Silver Jose Cuervo

    Package Exclusions

    Mini Bar & In room dining
    Any other meals, fresh juices or beverages and venues not mentioned above.

  28. Tiffany, based on the gcmap shown in your 2nd TR. Can you tell me what airline you flew from MLE to AUH? I’d assume this MLE-AUH segment included in the 180,000 AAdvantage miles you redeemed on first class return to New York

    Thanks

  29. @ B. Owen — Hmm, if breakfast is already included it doesn’t seem like that would be worth it. We generally aren’t going to eat three courses each at any meal, so $97 per person for dinner would have been more that we spent on food.

    The list of beverages is interesting; we paid for all our cocktails, but not for water.

  30. So we are here this week. It’s an ok resort but to be fair I’m really looking forwards to the ones were headed to next. The food costs here are a bit over expensive but I think Tiffany’s point to skip the half bord is correct. The buffet at feast is 86usd per person. That with 15usd a cocktail and 12 usd for a bottle of water quickly adds up.

    Te breakfast at feast buffet is pretty awesome actually. Also get the Kids food pass for 18usd a day every time we had lunch the kids bill was like 59 to 65 usd for two kids and about the same for dinner so the kids pass actually makes it tolerable (a bit). The Thai place baan Thai was great but two adults with 1 app and 1 main and 1 desert and like 4 drinks was about 250usd. To be honest the food was really good so that one wasn’t as painful.

    The adventure club is just so so, every time we have gone it’s only been our kids there maybe once another kid. The ladies are nice but it’s really hot to go use the outdoor equipment and most times when we come back the kids are sitting in the ball pit watching cartoons.

    Went diving 3 times so far at the dive Club is pretty well equipped and all the materials and compressor seem brand new. Not many people on the dives (3 max) so to be honest was a nice 1-1 feel to it with the five master. Max and Adam were great there by the way!

    Otherwise My SPG gold status was useless so far no welcome amenity or anything really. We even probably got the furthest beach cottage from the beach possible. Was invited to a manager reception tonight and will be sure to mention to the manager who we havnt seen at all this trip (and we pass through the lobby once per day at least).

    The lobby called us today an offered an upgrade for a fee to either a overwater bungalow (150 usd per night) or a Watervilla (350 usd per night) or the pool villa (250 per night) considering we paid only a little bit less for our beach cottage these prices were the same as we could have booked originally booked. I told them I would consider 150usd a night for the pool one but they didn’t go for it. I told him maybe ask your manager as 150 for an otherwise empty room is better then zero. Considering Tiffany said she got upgraded from the beach cottage to beach pool villa for 75 a night I thought it wasn’t unreasonable to ask. Maybe her platinum over my lowly gold made the difference.

    To me this resort could be in the carribean and you wouldn’t really notice the difference.

    The pool is Ok, the food is Ok and relative to Maldives prices it’s reasonable. I would guess that 60% of the resort is group package Chinese and I base this on the buffet dinner 90% Chinese guests and the breakfast with well more then half. I wonder what they paid as I don’t get the feeling those package deals were as expensive. I’m have no problems with the Chinese in general but I’ve noticed twice now where they left diapers and orange peels on the ground at the pool and just got up and left. Don’t get me wrong plenty of rednecks in the USA also so I can’t judge the group by a couple of loose ends. Non the less not a big deal but seems like the resort must be doing a lot of advertising in China.

    Otherwise the place seems rather empty the buggy drivers all day it’s like 70% full but if I look at the beach almost empty pool almost empty, maybe everyone is just enjoying their rooms but to me it doesn’t seem like they are going out to dinner or whatever.

    Either way will update after we leave on Saturday.

  31. Hi Tiffany. I saved this post as a reference for our trip here. Well, we’ve arrived. We too used our Citi Prestige. I received the $300 credit back from Citi last Feb with no charge for the initial rate yet. Being a SPG Platinum and getting 3x using my SPG card,,I’m tempted to use that,,but I think I’ll use my Prestige and play it safe. I too was upgraded to those rooms in a horseshoe, 213. Once seeing the room I immediately called our check in person and requested Ocean Pool Villa. After a few minutes she came to our room and brought us to our new room,,409,,same as yours ;o). Best part, was they waived the upgrade fee. The lounge is great with free beer all day. We have a light breakfast in the lounge @6:30a then catch the end of breakfast at the buffet by 11a then have HHour snacks/drinks @ the lounge 6-8p.

  32. Well you are most positive in your review. I travel close to 200 days a year. This resort would get a negative star from me. Here is my review:
    The most positive thing I can say about this resort; they have matched their service to cater for mass market tour groups and Budget Travelers. Sadly I paid $5500
    USD for family luxury holiday.
    The Negatives;
    – all kinds of surprises and exclusions which you only are told when you arrive. Here are some of them:
    – The all inclusive meals have been geared for people to either hate them and order from a la cart menu or have so many exclusions and exceptions to extract more revenue from guests. I.e. Hardly any fresh food in the buffets, no presence of Salads, fresh seafood. If you don’t want buffet, you get a small credit to order from menu but credit can be applied to some items, not for soft drinks etc. Kids can only order from Kids menu but if you want your kid not be restricted to fried food or pastas then you now have to pay – because kids won’t get the credit.
    – Kayaks and and canoes are restricted to 30min free of use, daily, 1 per room!!
    – The resort children services starts at 0900 and end at noon. If you want to go for activities like Scuba, they also start at 0900 and end afternoon. So, hotel the. Sells you childcare service
    Other issues:
    – hotel doesn’t have a reef lagoon. So any snorkelling trip will be outside in choppy waters. Charged at $120 USD per person
    – Hotel pool is very small. Narrow and closes at 5pm.
    – Fitness centre is a dark, moist, no view and nearly windowless room. It is more like a dungeon in middle of the resort
    – guest services staff auto response is “No” on almost any topic and appear indifferent if you are angry, happy or surprised
    – service staff are very kind and do their best to accommodate but they are under trained
    – 3 out of 5 restaurants on the resort are open air setup. They don’t have sufficient fans and cooling and no screens to keep out flies and insects. So imagine any buffet that sits there for 3-5hrs and warms in 28-32c temps and gets visited by the flies…. Yum yum.

    All and all this is not a Sheraton that one would expect based on brand and service. This is more like lucky star motel geared to soak every dollar from mass market tourist from developing markets.

  33. Who gave you the option of upgrading to the over water bungalow with suite upgrades? when I call, they tell me the cottage is the best upgrade you can get.

  34. Hi,
    I really enjoyed going over your detailed experience. We too are planning to go to the Maldives and our budget may limit us to go to the Sheraton

    I have 2 main concerns about this resort and I am hoping you or anyone who has been there can address it

    1. I am really wanting to go to the Maldives and Bora Bora mostly for the beach. It has to be clean, clear, pristine water as if you are in your tub. Must have powder white sand that will not require me to wear footwear when I walk around or swim. I am not looking to snorkel or scuba dive just lay out and swim all day. I would also like shallow water the slowly slopes down. Does the beach by the Sheraton have this? We plan to book a deluxe room.

    2. We are very healthy eaters. Im assuming they have fresh grilled seafood options. We might go for the breakfast buffet but not for dinner. If we do breakfast buffet and then dinner, we don’t drink alcohol, is a budget of $200 for 2 people per day doable?

  35. @ ren diaz — I thought the beach was lovely, but the water clarity is of course dependent upon the weather. When we were there it was quite stormy most days, which churned up the sand. I understand that some of the other atolls in the Maldives are better protected, and might have less of an issue with that.

    In terms of grilled seafood, the most prevalent was the tuna like I have pictured above. I think this was ~$40 on the lunch menu at the beach hut, and the dinner preparations in the other restaurants were a bit more.

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