Review: Returning To The Park Hyatt Maldives

Introduction: New Years In The Maldives, Summer In New Zealand
Review: Etihad Airways Lounge New York JFK
Review: Etihad First Class A380 New York To Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Airways Arrivals Lounge Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Business Class A340 Abu Dhabi To Male
Review: Returning To The Park Hyatt Maldives
This Is What A $570 Per Person New Year’s Eve Hotel Gala Is Like
Review: Etihad First Class A380 Abu Dhabi To Sydney
Review: Park Hyatt Sydney
Review: Qantas Business Class 737 Sydney To Auckland
Review: Hilton Auckland
Review: Air New Zealand Lounge Auckland
Review: Hilton Queenstown
Review: American First Class 777-300ER Sydney To Los Angeles


I had visited the Park Hyatt Maldives last April, and had an amazing stay. I reviewed every aspect of the experience, including the transfer from Male Airport (which requires taking a further flight on Maldivian, followed by a boat ride), the three types of rooms I stayed in, the resort activities, etc. So I won’t be reviewing all of that again this time.

If you do want to read about those things, see the following installments from my first stay:

On top of that, Ford shared his thoughts on vacationing in the Maldives in a previous post, as it was his first time.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-4

So in this post I figured I’d just share my big picture thoughts, and if my impressions of the Maldives changed with my second visit.

As a reminder, I booked the Park Hyatt Maldives using 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night, when the paid rate would have otherwise been over $2,000 per night including tax, given that we were staying over New Year’s Eve.

Park-Hyatt-Rate

That’s insanely expensive, and an incredible use of points. I’d note that there was a mandatory New Year’s Eve gala, which cost $510 per person. In a follow-up post I’ll be sharing my experience with that.

Gala-Dinner

With that in mind, let’s get into this stay:

Getting to the Park Hyatt Maldives is still a pain

Perhaps the biggest downside to visiting a private island resort in the Maldives (other than the cost) is how much of a pain it is to get there. I was dreading the transport.

I guess what was different this time around is that I was mentally prepared for the grueling transfer. First you have to take a flight to Male, then you have to take a flight to Kooddoo (often with a stop) on Maldivian, and then from there it’s a further boat ride. So it’s a long journey.

Maldivian

On the plus side, this time around we landed in Male in the early afternoon, and were able to continue straight to the Park Hyatt, with only about a two hour wait at the airport. We made it to the resort in time for a later dinner.

During my first visit I had to overnight in Male, which was a big mistake.

So all-in-all, the process of getting to the resort was much smoother than last time, and I’d highly recommend making the transfer same day. Spending a night in Abu Dhabi is ideal, since you’re not tired after the long flight from the US.

Five nights was the perfect amount of time to spend in the Maldives

I thought five nights was the perfect amount of time to spend at the Park Hyatt. Ford agreed, which is rare, since we generally have different paces at which we get bored at new destinations.

If the Park Hyatt weren’t such a long journey away I’d say four days is ideal, but you can’t underestimate the grueling journey to get to the resort. You’ll want to factor in an extra day to recover.

Depending on the type of traveler you are, four or six days could be good too. I’d say anything less would be too short, though some might want to stay longer. We met some people who were staying for two weeks, which seems crazy to me, but everyone travels at different paces. I know my relatives in Germany love their 2-3 weeks to one destination.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-1

Is the Park Hyatt Maldives really that special?

Before I visited the Maldives, I never really got why people would travel so far to sit on an island with very little to do. But now I get it. It’s not how I’d want to spend every vacation, and it’s not for everyone.

But it’s very, very special.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-3

What makes it so special? It’s the fact that you’re literally on the most gorgeous imaginable private island. It’s almost like a childhood dream. You can walk around the entire island on the beach in about 20 minutes at 7AM as the sun rises, and you won’t see a single other human being. It’s surreal, and you almost feel like you have the place to yourself.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-Beach

The natural beauty is just indescribable. I love this place, even as someone who doesn’t really like laying on the beach. Instead I enjoy spending my days just enjoying the views of the crystal clear water, walking around the beach in the mornings and evenings, and getting some work done during the day.

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Did we pay to upgrade our rooms?

Before my first stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives I shared the different options for upgrading rooms.

Points redemptions book you into a Park Villa, which is a spacious and beautiful land villa.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-Park-Pool-Villa-06

As a Diamond member you’re eligible for an upgrade to a Park Pool Villa, which is the same as the Park Villa, except it has a plunge pool. That’s based on availability, so I wouldn’t count on it, given how many Diamonds this hotel gets, and also given how many people pay for premium rooms here.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-Park-Pool-Villa-11

Then you can pay extra to upgrade to a Park Water Villa, which is an overwater bungalow.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-2

I know when most people envision the Maldives they picture an overwater bungalow, but I think there’s a lot of merit to the Park Villa and Park Pool Villa as well. They’re relaxing and private, and have a different vibe than the overwater villas.

For this stay we got upgraded to a Park Pool Villa, and then we paid extra to upgrade to a Park Water Villa for the last two nights. For me, that’s the perfect way to split time. Keep in mind the upgrades to the Park Water Villas are pricey — they’re $560++ per night.

The villas on land are extremely private and have direct beach access, so they’re lovely.

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Then of course the overwater bungalows are incredible as well, though there are a few downsides. They tend to get pretty hot during the day, they’re a longer walk from the rest of the resort, and they don’t have direct beach access (though they do have direct ocean access, though as far as I’m concerned the ocean is the sharks’ house).

Park-Water-Villa-Park-Hyatt-Maldives-13

Did anything change since my previous stay?

Very little has changed, which is a good thing. The general manager at the property is still Mariano, and he’s a class act and beyond incredible. He’s engaging, friendly, and has been working at Hyatts around the world (Shanghai, Dubai, etc.) his entire career, so he very much buys into the Hyatt “mentality.”

The staff here are great in general. Most of the employees are Maldivian, though there are also some staff from other areas, especially Southeast Asia. The staff are professional and friendly for the most part, though not quite to the level you’d get in Bali, for example.

The only thing which changed slightly was the breakfast. When I visited last April I explained how at breakfast they bring out a tiered tray with the same things every day, and then you can also order several things off the menu.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-Breakfast-11

Now they’ve replaced that tiered tray with a small buffet, and then you can still order things off the menu.

Park-Hyatt-Maldives-Breakfast

I don’t think it was intended as a negative change, but rather that the previous system was wasteful, since not everyone would eat everything on that initial plate.

Most importantly, they still have the tuna curry on the menu, which is possibly my favorite dish ever.

Breakfast-Park-Hyatt-Maldives

Would I return to the Park Hyatt Maldives?

The Park Hyatt Maldives grew on me even more this stay, though that may have been because I was traveling with Ford. Going to the Maldives is a different type of trip altogether. It’s not like going to Bali, where you can sit on the beach one day and explore the local area the next day.

Instead it’s all relaxation. But the beauty of the Maldives is also unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else. To be on the most beautiful imaginable island with at most 100 other people is a dream.

Would I return to the Maldives every single year? Nope, as there are a lot more places I want to see. But I could definitely see myself returning every few years, as it’s a very special spot. The value of redeeming points here is also tough to beat.

So I give this place two thumbs up and highly recommend it, though make sure you come in with the right expectations — getting there will be a pain, stuff at the resort won’t be cheap, and there’s not a lot to do.

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About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Dear Ben, why stay twice at the Park Hyatt Maldives, when there are so many other (and much better) luxury hotels around that are not that hard to get to ? When you return to the Maldives (and you should as it’s the best beach destination on earth), consider a stay at one of the following, tremendously impressive resorts:
    – Gili Lankanfushi
    – Soneva Fushi (I can even get you an upgrade there)
    – Maalifishi by COMO
    – Anantara Kihavah Villas
    – One&Only Reethi Rah
    You should also have a look at Soneva Jani, which opens in October and will become the Maldives’ most exclusive property in no time (I was able to visit the site a few month ago). There’s also a St Regis property opening in autumn.

  2. I love the Maldives and have been there 5-6 times already and going back this September (well, I live 4 hours away by plane so that make a difference. Next time it would be good to read about the new St Regis!

  3. I think Cheval Blanc beats out every property that’s listed by Jan above.

    Have sent many clients there. Most have been to one or more other Maldive properties but simply cannot compare to Cheval Blanc, which in its own category. (at the moment).

    Four Seasons will be opening a private island that can accommodate up to 22 guests traveling together.

  4. So counting the cost of transfer ($500 per person), and your upgrade to water villa ($560 per night for five nights), and the gala dinner, we are still looking at about …. $4000 or more for just 5 nights? Add in the cost of hyatt points (conservatively $1000 worth of points, but likely much more than that).

    Was it really a good deal to fly across the world to relax for a few days for $4000 of cold hard cash, plus whatever points value it was? For a one time experience, sure, but a repeat experience? The same money can be used for a newer experience, assuming one doesn’t have infinite money. More importantly, a random search over new years eve 2016 for 5 nights got paid rates in the same $5000 range at various maldives overwater bungalows (I’m sure consolidator sites can bring the cost lower).

  5. Thanks for posting this. I’ll be visiting PH Maldives in January and starting to get really excited. How is the house reef? There has been a lot of bleaching worldwide and I’d be disappointed to to arrive with dead coral when not expecting it.

    Last NYE I stayed at the Conrad on points. I was very torn on my experiences (will never go over NYE again, the diving wasn’t very good, and the Conrad is a little too club med feeling). I thought I wouldn’t be going back to the Maldives (because of the hassle of getting there) but the AA devaluation happened and it changed my plans. I was eligible for the Hyatt signup bonus and things just fell together. After 5 nights at the Conrad I was read yo head home. Don’t think I could have done longer (unless money was no issue).

  6. Ben, my husband and I just made our second February/March trip to PHM….2 year span between our visits. Like you, we wouldn’t go every year, but every 2-3 years, it’s a fabulous, totally relaxing one week getaway. Unlike some posting here, I get the allure. While there are more luxurious, more flashy, and more pampering resorts in the Maldives, it’s the laid-back, unpretentious vibe and the remote location of the resort that make it so appealing. As a Diamond, it’s a great value on points or points and cash with $200 upgrade to Park Pool. In a few years, we’ll go back a third time….

  7. Ben,

    Just wanted to say how much I appreciate these reviews. Especially this one, where you have been somewhere, visit again, give some highlights and changes.

    I tend to go to alot of the same places over the years and sprinkle in new ones too so it’s good to see a review like this.

    Not sure i’d ever make the trek out to the Maldives though…

  8. Hi Ben,

    How did you get consecutive award nights? A lot of time they don’t have award nights.

    Best

  9. My wife and I just got back from a Maldives and Bali trip for our anniversary. You summed up why this place is so special. We were told the resort was at around 70% capacity, but the only time we ever saw more than 10 people was at breakfast and dinner. We truly felt we were on our own private island most of the time.

    We upgraded to the water villa 2 nights and are glad we did it for the experience, but if we went back I think we’d stay the entire time in a pool villa. You can’t beat having the beautiful beach and your own pool within 50 feet of each other. This place really is special.

  10. Ben,
    Let’s say I had about 600,000 Chase points, 250,000 SPG and 190,000 Membership rewards points.
    What would you recommend as the best way to get there using these points.
    Thanks

  11. Have been to Maldives 3 times over the past 10 years. Its all about Cocoa Island by COMO! Maalfushi by COMO is pretty fantastic as well. The days go by super fast by the time you gym, eat, snorkel, swim and read!

  12. @Andrew – We just returned from 8 days at PH Maldives in May. There has been some bleaching of the reef, but it was still pretty spectacular. We were there during a particularly rough stretch of weather, so we pretty much stuck to snorkeling in the more sheltered area between the main beach area and the Overwater Bungalows. I was impressed with how clear the water was even with the rough seas. I think you’ll be VERY happy with the quality of the house reef.

    We split our time between a Park Pool Villa (villa 21) and a Park Water Villa (villa 43). I will validate the comments about the Park Water Villa being hotter. The humidity seemed much more intense as well. They did bring us a fan, and it made a small difference, but the Water Villas do stay considerably warmer than the land based villas. We plan on returning to PH Maldives at some point in the future, and will opt to spend the entire time in a Park Pool Villa. Having your own plunge pool is pretty fantastic, and the outdoor shower area is unrivalled.

    One other comment for anyone overnighting in Male. Due to international flight times, we spent our last evening in Hulhumale (connected to the airport island) at the Hotel Ocean Grand. It’s a great little hotel (emphasis on little) for anyone needing an overnight before or after their transfers to/from their resort destination. The facilities were clean, modern and perfectly adequate, and the staff was fantastic. Pricing was reasonable as well. It was definitely a far better experience than Ben’s overnight at the AI 🙂 It is a short cab ride away (a couple of bucks) from the ferry terminal which can get you over to Male in 15 minutes for another couple of bucks if you have time to kill and want to explore the city at all.

  13. “though as far as I’m concerned the ocean is the sharks’ house”. Very funny–I think I see one of them at the bottom of the picture of the white sand beach.

  14. I said it last time you posted about the PH Maldives, and I’ll say it again…

    I have a really hard time paying over $1k for a TRANSFER to the hotel. Yikes. For me, that’s enough to choose another “type” of beach resorts without that type of charge, Maldives or not.

  15. I’ve been to the Maldives maybe 8 times now (lost count), and especially travelling with young kids, I’d like them to be able to see marine life without having to snorkel, or not have to go very far (think 5 meters) to snorkel. There are some resorts where you hardly see any fish. So far Angsana Ihuru/Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru have been fantastic in this aspect.

    The aerial images of PHM look pretty impressive with corals just under the water villas (as opposed to just sand); I would love to hear if anyone have any comments on their reef and marine life around the jetties?

  16. My wife and I are 64 and will be celebrating our 40 years of marriage and I would love to do something that would blow here away. We can go anywhere, but she is scared to go to Europe. We always travel first class and like to stay in nice places. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated Thank you Edward Nasser

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