This Is What A $570 Per Person New Year’s Eve Hotel Gala Is Like

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


One of the conditions of booking the Park Hyatt Maldives over Christmas or New Year’s Eve is that you agree to pay for their mandatory gala dinner. It’s priced at $510 per person ($570 per person including the taxes and service charge).

Gala-Dinner

Mandatory New Year’s Eve galas are a pretty common practice at many hotels, sometimes even at hotels that aren’t as remote as the Park Hyatt. On one hand, ~$570 per person for an evening is obscene. On the other hand, for a place as remote as the Park Hyatt, I understand the idea behind it. They want to provide entertainment, etc., and that’s only practical if everyone is onboard with something like that.

On the other other hand, room rates over New Year’s Eve are significantly higher than they usually are, so you’d think that would be included in that.

Park-Hyatt-Rate

Regardless, we were redeeming points, which costs the same year round. So while of course I’m not thrilled at the prospect of paying $570 per person for an evening, in the grand scheme of things we were getting an amazing deal otherwise.

So, what was the celebration like? I have to say that I was very impressed, and it exceeded my expectations.

Each party had a private table around the pool, which the staff spent much of the afternoon setting up.

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This got a bit tricky, because it started raining about two hours before the gala was supposed to start, so they had to move everything inside. Then it stopped raining, so they moved everything back out. And then it looked like it would start raining again, but fortunately it didn’t. Regardless, the staff were working their tails off.

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About an hour before sunset, festivities started on the beach, as they had brought in some local performers to kick off the evening.

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They were awesome, and extremely engaging, as they got several guests to dance with them.

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Here’s a short video of their dancing:

As we watched, we were offered champagne, rose, and coconut juice.

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The performance continued until it was dark.

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After that everyone was seated at their tables. Earlier in the day our host came to us with a wine list, and asked what we’d like to drink with dinner. The bottle of sauvignon blanc we had selected was waiting by our table in an ice bucket.

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There was an incredible buffet in the thing that looks like an upside down boat, with everything you could possibly imagine. I sort of hate buffets that are this good, since I wanted to try everything, but realistically there’s only so much you can eat without feeling sick.

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I’ll let the pictures of the food speak for themselves…

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Given my sweet tooth, the dessert buffet was my favorite part.

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There was live music during dinner (more modern music, rather than the traditional Maldivian music), and New Year’s hats, glow sticks, etc., were handed out.

Upon the completion of dinner we had to sign the check (even though it was pre-paid).

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After that there was a DJ set up on the beach, which was sort of hilarious. Almost everyone went back to their rooms after dinner. However, they had set up this massive DJ booth with strobe lights and a big projector machine, while there were only a few people sitting on the beach watching. I’m sure they had envisioned a 100 person dance party, though that couldn’t have been further from the case.

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We were in bed by 11PM, as we’re early risers.

New Year’s Eve gala bottom line

The gala was outrageously expensive, though also well done for what it was. Keep in mind that everything in the Maldives is expensive, from food to alcohol to DJs. The entire staff worked their tails off on New Year’s Eve.

Would I pay $570 per person for the gala as such anywhere else? No way. But I also didn’t mind paying it in conjunction with having been able to redeem 25,000 Hyatt points per night to stay here over New Year’s Eve.

If you’ve attended a mandatory hotel New Year’s Eve gala, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. I have a far better idea for the Maldives. Last year, we booked a week on the Blue Force One 120 foot yacht Leo for €1900 a person. This included three meals a day, 17 dives (we saw sharks, whale shark and manta rays) and visits to many islands including two populated ones.

    I’ve seen them run specials for €1300 total for two people!

    I think this is a far better value than hotels on the Maldives, where you’re stuck in one place, you’re forced to eat at their expensive restaurants, and you have to pay $500 a night or more.

  2. and you think that is impressive? Surely you have not been at brunches at hotels in UAE or some of the big Asian cities, and I dont mean the free breakfast that you would get because of your diamond status. Buffet like this would cost $70 tops in one of the said hotels. A huge ripoff in my opinion.

  3. 1139 dollars and then you go to bed at 11PM on NY Eve? And you weren’t the only one who did that. Wow. So this is how rich people like to party.

  4. This is an interesting and useful post, in that I’m sure many of your readers want to know what this experience was like. Certainly the PH Maldives is one of the aspirational properties. On the other hand, this strikes me as an example of the “look how amazing my life is” theme of which there seem to be more posts of late, both from you and Ford. I feel the blog is veering into the elitism of the Points Guy and is losing its appeal to regular folks who want to know useful travel trips without the bling or the boyfriend showing-off.

  5. Ben, I am a “HUGE” fan of yours and of your blog. However I think a post six months after the fact is “dated.” If you can’t put out your reports in a couple of months after doing what you are doing then I think it is too late. I also looked at your “food porn” and it looked wonderful. However, that looked more like a $250 per person buffet IMHO. so their charge was highway robbery… They know you can’t go anywhere else, so given the captive guests… charge them an arm and a leg, which I think is not right given that the daily room rate already reflects a “higway robbery charge.” Any way keep doing what you are doing but my vote would be for a timely post or none at all… just saying.
    MP

  6. @ Mark — I’m not sure what the marginal benefit would have been to staying up any later? We got up around 5 every morning, and it’s not like this is Times Square or some major city where there’s a huge celebration at midnight.

  7. @ Nasakoto Iakata — I don’t at all think it’s “impressive” or that the price justified what was offered. I’m just saying it was a good time all around, and went beyond just a dinner.

  8. @ Joe — Appreciate the feedback and will take it into account, as it’s certainly not the intention. This post wasn’t at all meant to be “look how amazing my life is,” but rather “if you’re in the Maldives and have to pay the mandatory new year’s eve gala fee, this is what you’ll get.” But point taken.

  9. It seems to me that if most people were back in their rooms after dinner, the actual interest in this event was low. I suspect that, if the choice, most guests would have preferred NYE to be just like any other evening at the resort. I don’t think it can be spun as anything other than a money grab on the part of the hotel.

  10. Not impressed with the food. Ridiculous price. I would have not stayed there, simply because of this “gala”.

  11. Folks that tab is a just a bit more than TWO conversions on the CSP!

    #pumppumppump ~ it’s ALLLLLL about the conversions!

    FWIW the desserts looked yummy…

  12. I think you have to suspend disbelief sometimes on these types of trips and accept that having access to a location and venue like this means you are at the mercy of the provider in terms of what they think they can get away with charging. Even with that being the case that is a crazy amount of money – and pre-tax and tip at that!

    I don’t think you are being disingenuous in saying you didn’t mind sucking it up, but I would have a very bitter taste in my mouth signing that check.

  13. Hi Ben

    I am confused.The picture you have shown states the cost is for the round trip transfers not for the gala dinner. Following the link your provided the cost for the gala dinner is in fact more.

    “Ring in the New Year at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa with an international gastronomic journey featuring European classics, Asian delicacies, local favorites and other irresistible offerings. The exquisite international buffet is priced at US$ 590 per adult and US$ 295 per child (2 – 11 years old). Infant aged 2 years and below are complimentary.”

    Somewhat strangely i found a link on the site that said the transfers are;

    “Round trip transfers between international airport and resort will be arranged by us and will be charged at USD520 per adult, USD430 per child and USD160 per infant”

  14. @ John — Correct, that’s the price for 2016, not for last year. The price has gone up yet again, it looks like.

  15. I think since you posted the transfer charge of what you thought was $510 for the gala dinner how now gone up to $520 but it does include tax as you can see from the screen shot you provided and below

    Due to the location of the resort, please kindly send guest contact information and international flight details to reservations.parkhadahaa@hyatt.com. Round trip transfers between international airport and resort (domestic flight and speedboat) will be arranged by the hotel and will be charged at USD 520 per adult USD 430 per child (ages 2-11 years old), USD 160 for infants not requiring separate seat. Transfer charges are inclusive of taxes and are subject to change.

  16. A few years back, my ex and I traveled Asia for a month, over a period that covered NYE. Biggest logistical challenge? Finding a place without a gala dinner (hah!) or one that was reasonably priced. Some of the western brands were running $400/pp. Uh, hell no.

    We ended up staying at a posh resort on Kho Phi Phi, where the basic rooms were running $250/night, but the gala dinner, IIRC, was only $125/pp.

  17. Yeah NYE is usually a rip off no matter where you are staying 🙂 and islands are always expensive hell even fire island is crazy expensive to buy groceries on. You are right to point out that because the stay was paid on points it made it “doable” of less than optimal. My question is maybe off topic but as a gay couple if you had wanted to stay up and dance on the beach and make out at midnight could you have ? Would it have been comfortable and cool? Love your blog and don’t argue with Joe who just sounds like he woke up on the mean side of the bed.

  18. This is very helpful. Fortunately I booked 4 nights over xmas to new year time at PH Maldives and avoided xmas even and NYE not internationally. When I saw that there is a Gala for $500+ mandatory for those two nights, I feel I am lucky.

  19. This post confirms that I will give the Maldives a wide berth. What a tourist trap. It’s a ridiculously pedestrian buffet for that price.

    You don’t tell us if you spread the ugly American practice of bribing and tipped $200 for this.

  20. LOL. This is so out of touch. You could actually get a beach bungalow for ~$600 and that’s not per person….

  21. @Bridget if you look at the receipt, you see that gratuity is included…

    @GringoLoco what are you talking about?

  22. I agree with Bridget. The more I read on the Maldives, the less I want to go (mostly thanks to this blog, lol). I’ll take FP over the Maldives any day (less points & miles riff raff in FP :)) However, I found the post interesting and I think most of the naysayers are just jealous of you, Lucky!

  23. Ben, thanks. We went to the PH Maldives a few months ago for our honeymoon and loved it. Was looking at going back over NYE, but had concerns about this absurd mandatory gala fee. This looks not much different than the Saturday night show that they run weekly, and the buffet no nicer than their weekly grill buffet ($140pp).

    Though it looks nice enough, I think I’ll look to return at a time other than NYE — I could definitely find a better use of $1200.

    Thank you for the informative post.

  24. Not sure what all the brouhaha is about. The Maldives is an “aspirational” destination for very wealthy people who want to go somewhere “exotic” that most of their friends and acquaintances haven’t been to yet. It especially appeals to normally very busy people who want a place where there is nothing to do, thus forcing them to chill for a while. Hence the early bedtime on New Years for apparently nearly everyone there.

    The extremely remote location, and lack of competing services outside the resort, ensure that everything there will be very overpriced compared to the same quality in less remote locations. And of course Lucky is willing to pay for the “event’, since it provides something unique to add to the post, and in that sense is a business expense.

    That being totally what the Maldives luxury resorts are all about, I can’t imagine that anyone is surprised by this post. Other than a few trolls who are clearly jealous that some folks are both willing and able to pay for this sort of ‘experience’.

    All that being said, I find the post quite appropriate for this blog, since a small but no doubt significant number of readers here can easily afford this, and the post helps them decide whether or not this is somewhere they want to go. And even for those who do decide to go, at least they have been warned to avoid NYE. 😉

  25. Well Ben, tank you very much for that review… now.

    I like it to read it now, in opposition of other opinions posted in comments here.
    Because it is 6 months late, or in advance for the next NYE, I enjoy it more not being the time of NYE now.
    That’s great it is not in the schedule timeframe of life during the year.

    it would have been another NYE story in january or february. So boring to read at that time of the year 😉

    Nice to read it in june when no one thinks about NYE.

    Keep going and surprise us like this from time to time!
    Again I like it.

  26. I *might* pay $200 for the gala, but even then, I still feel it’s overpriced. It’s good to know what to expect both in terms of the stay (from your earlier reviews) and the meals.

    So yeah, I don’t think I’ll be going to the Maldives anytime soon (or perhaps, ever). Room rates and F&B are insanely expensive – strike 1. Traveling would be a tremendous hassle – strike 2. IMHO, the experience would have to be special or spectacular to justify the trip, but it seems like it’s “very good,” which isn’t enough (at least for me) – strike 3.

  27. Thanks for the post, but I always fail to see the fascination with bloggers over this country. As a gay man, I always remember first that it is a muslin country which prosecutes its citizens, so that is a big no-no.

    I don’t see the attraction in going someplace just because it is so secluded. I have been to many secluded places that are not so far away, nor overly priced.

  28. There is no way the meal is worth $500+ per person, more like $50 including the entertainment. Even with all-points reservation, there are so many better places to go to and spend time.

  29. @ Gus how many of us would be eager to read a post on travel to Cabo San Lucas?

    If this post just totally convinces you the Maldives are somewhere you don’t want to go, I’d say it accomplished it’s purpose. Even though for others the conclusion will be the opposite. 😉

  30. I’m glad you made this post lucky. My girlfriend has been trying to convince me that the Maldives have amazing New Years party’s but after showing her this, she’s changed her mind. $500+ dollars for a buffet is a huge waste of money so I’m glad I found this out now rather than getting there and wasting my money then. Thanks!!

  31. I love to travel during Xmas-new year time in order to save vacation days when I planned our first FP trip and saw those outrageous mandatory dinner fees, I changed my mind. Instead, we went to Hawaii first then headed down to Moorea and Bora Bora. So glad I did, we almost had the whole Bora Bora Thalasso to ourselves! The next year, we made a transit on Christmas Day in Tahiti, they only have mandatory Christmas Eve dinner not Christmas Day 🙂 then off to Cook Islands – Aitutaki! It was heavenly there, even less crowded than FP and affordable and good food! Its lagoon is second to Bora Bora’s although no hotel chain for free nights! Don’t limit yourself to go to where points and miles can get you only places, you are missing a lot of hidden paradise!

    This Xmas, I was planning to island hopping at Fiji but after seeing the peak hotel rates and they aren’t that nice hotels and beaches, for similar price we could stay in overwater bungalows, I turned back to FP. And to avoid those mandatory holiday dinner, we’ll be heading to Hamilton Island in Australia to sleep on the Great Barrier Reef first then to FP – Huahine, Tahaa, and Tikehau!

  32. Sorry I would feel robbed at that price. Lucky please do focus more on reasonable things as this is beyond for 99% of your blog readers who read you so they don’t have to spend more on a dinner than my first car.

  33. As a baseline, what is the best regular day buffet in Bangkok, what does one get, and what is the price?

    It looks like some of the food in the Maldives was imported.

  34. What it is…

    Solid report on the typical NYE resort food and booze orgy. For the hotel, its about striking a balance serving rich patrons – many who don’t care about the price. It generates a bonus (and feast) for the staff working on a holiday.

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