The Maldives is an independent country in the Indian Ocean made up of over 1,200 islands and 26 atolls. We have all seen the stunning pictures of the over the water bungalows sitting atop endless turquoise water stirring feelings of warmth and relaxation! Well, Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa does not disappoint! Read on to find out why we fell in love with this magical place.
Usually the words Maldives and value never end up in the same sentence. However, this new hotel (opened in September/2021) is a phenomenal value if you are a Bonvoy member and have some free night certificates or points. We decided to stay for 12 nights using our free night certificates and additional points (35K/night). The value of these nightly points are about (o.7 cents per point) which equals $245/night. Cash cost for the over water bungalows today is over $1,000 so you can see the crazy value?! Plus Platinum or Titanium Bonvoy members get free breakfast (we always choose this as our benefit as it surpasses anything else on offer.
Upon arrival at the Male airport our luggage was screened for banned substances. The big one is alcohol. If you are found with alcohol in your luggage (and they do screen it not once but twice) it will be confiscated. We have heard stories from others that the confiscation process is not a pleasant one.
At the exit we were greeted by a man with a Le Meridian sign. There was a sea of these signs in every shape and color. So it took us a while to find ours. We were asked to wait at a specific place in the crowded outside area as there were additional guests arriving. We waited for over 40 minutes. Finally I went to look for the representative who was apparently looking for us. We had not moved from the place he asked us to wait. Oh well, these things happen. We were then taken by bus to a waiting lounge which was air conditioned and had some drinks and food. There we waited for over an hour.
Finally we were taken to the seaplane. The round trip cost of this additional flight to the resort is $420 USD per person. It is unavoidable as there is no other way to get to Le Meridian, Maldives.
The flight was 45 minutes. Because we had to drop off some other passengers at a nearby resort. It was a long couple of days to get to Le Meridian, Maldives but boy was it worth it!
PRO TIP: Keep in mind that the seaplane has luggage weight limitations. 20 kg of luggage and 5 kg for carry on per person (although it is all really carry on). It is $5 USD for each additional kilogram (2.2 lbs).
Typically customer service is important but it doesn’t get top billing when reviewing a resort. At Le Meridien Maldives, in my opinion it needs to be first. The staff here is luxury resort top notch. They anticipated our every need and were always on hand to provide that next level of service. If we could give Michelin stars we would give them 3!
Beach Garden Pool Villa
For the first 2 nights we were upgraded to the Beach Garden Pool Villa on the beach with ocean views from our villa ( #123). Please note that only a few of these spots have a view of the ocean right from the room. Most of them have shrubbery in front and therefore do not offer the ocean view. We could see the sunrise from our bed (which was magnificent). There were sun loungers on the beach for us to use. The pool was in the back of the villa together with an outdoor shower. It was very luxurious but we did not use the pool. I can see it being a value for folks with small kids. However with the beach right in front of our place there was no point to use the small plunge pool in the back.
Sunrise Over the Water Bungalow
When we had checked-in, we requested to be transferred to a Sunrise Over the Water Bungalow as soon as one became available. So we were glad to be moved into one on day 3 of our stay. Why a sunrise over a sunset bungalow? First of all, with the sunrise bungalow we were placed at the end of the pier, making us very close to the house reef for snorkeling and better privacy. With the sunset ones we would have been placed closer to shore. Secondly, we had the sun until about 1 pm and then shade which was a relief. On the sunset side the sun doesn’t get to the bungalow until about 1 pm.
Sunset Over the Water Bungalow
Although we did not stay in one, it is important to note that not all sunset over the water bungalows are the same. Inside, they are a mirror image of the sunrise ones. However the last row (6) of the sunset bungalows have swimming pools on the deck which the sunrise do not.
The Lagoon Villa is another good option. It sits on the much calmer lagoon side of the island. There is excellent snorkeling here as well. And when the tide is in, the villa becomes an “over the water bungalow”.
2 Bedroom Bungalows and Villas
There are also 2 bedroom villas which are set on the lagoon side of the island. They do not have ocean views from the villa.
On the over the water bungalow pier, there are 2 on the end for sunrise and sunset. All of these bungalows have a pool on their decks and are the most desirable accommodations of the property due to their size, privacy and pools.
Dining and Water
The property has 6 different dining options from the opulent breakfast served at Turquoise to the fine dining dinner at Tabemasu. Frequent Miler did an excellent review of dining in their post.
What really impressed us is that Le Meridien Maldives do not have any plastic bottles of water on their property. They desalinate the ocean water and do an excellent job of purifying it. Rob and I drink a lot of water and usually purify our own, but of course are not set up for desalination. So we were so impressed to receive 6 – 1 litre glass bottles at our bungalow throughout the day. As soon as we would put out an empty glass bottle more would show up.
There are a number of snorkeling areas at this property. The house reef stretches from the end of the western jetty parallel to the beach across the island with a sandy beach area where we saw many sting rays and a few turtles. There is also some coral under and around the Spa area as well as in the Lagoon.
Le Meridien Maldives has done a really nice job of replanting coral in many areas of their sea “property”. There are some spots where the coral patches are quite vibrant. However, they are not immune to the coral devastation experienced all over the world due to climate change. There are a lot of dead/broken patches. We were happy to see that the resort is taking an active role in regrowing the coral, though.
Although the water may seem quite calm and shallow it is highly highly recommended to wear a life vest. We consider ourselves strong swimmers yet the current was very strong and it was not enjoyable to snorkel the reef without them. Each villa or bungalow has 2 in the closet.
Wifi is incredibly important for us especially in such remote locations as the Maldives where data may not be available. Le Meridien, Maldives did not disappoint. We had wifi throughout the island and it was strong enough for us to stream Netflix and YouTube.
I enjoyed my runs around the island and would stream NPR live. It worked great!
It was very difficult to say goodbye, so we extended our stay by another 4 days using 35K points per night (we were so lucky there was availability). But the time finally came for us to say adieu to paradise.
Our seaplane was delayed by an hour. I was a little concerned as now we only had 1.5 hours before our international flight was scheduled to take off. The staff assured us that there would not be a problem. The seaplane actually was 1.5 hours delayed.
After a 35 minute direct flight we landed. Rob informed the greeters that our flight was taking off in an hour and 5 minutes. We were whisked to a car that took us to the airport. Then we were taken by another gentleman through the maze of lines to get into the check in area. At this point I was quite nervous. Yet Rob was as cool as a cucumber until he saw that our flight no longer had a check in area. Our “fixer” started bargaining with someone behind the counter to let us check in. It took some convincing, phone calls, more phone calls and much sweating. However, thankfully we finally got our tickets and the luggage was taken away. We still had to go through a few more checks and customs. Drenched and disheveled we were the last people to board the plane.
Wrap UP - Le Meridien Maldives
We were very impressed with Le Meridien, Maldives. The fact that the resort is so fresh and new, is focused on the guests’ needs and is such a value made it one of our favorite resort stays to date.
Please note that most likely this property will be changed from a Category 5 to a higher category in soon. So, if you can, book now to get the amazing value that we enjoyed.
So many of you have asked what our favorite beach is overall. To date, in the Caribbean we favor Antigua. In Thailand we have fallen in love with Koh Tao. And in French Polynesia it was definitely the Intercontinental Bora Bora. For a poor man’s over the water bungalow the best in Oceania is in Abaiang, Kiribati.
Do you have a favorite beach? We would love to hear from you!