Have you seen those pictures of over the water bungalows hanging on top of the most ultra blue water, jumping dolphins and colorful fish “dancing” in the background? Well, we just spent 2 magnificent weeks at the Radisson Blu Resort Maldives which is exactly that and so much more!
Read on to find out how we did this on a budget. The Maldives on a budget is not something that you hear often! In addition, we will share what we loved about this resort and perhaps anything that we didn’t?
As always, we did not receive a discount or any compensation from this property. We provide an honest independent review based on our experience there.
All international flights arrive at MAL airport. From there, the hotel coordinates your 45 minute seaplane flight soon after your arrival at the main airport. The cost of the seaplane is $495 per person return.
Fortunately the domestic airport (which hosts the seaplanes) has been rebuilt and the lounge for the Radisson Blu Resort Maldives is quite lovely.
Layout of the Property
As the sea plane was landing we caught the stunning layout of the Radisson Blu Resort Maldives property. There are 128 distinct accommodations with the majority of them being over the water bungalows.
All of the accommodations on this island have private pools and access to water. The important decisions to make are:
- Do I want to be on the beach or over the water?
- Do I want to have a great sunrise or sunset?
- How much space do I need? 1 large open concept or 2 bedroom (beach only) or 3 bedroom (beach or water) or the Presidential Water Villa?
Over the Water Bungalows
As I mentioned previously, the majority of the accommodations at this property are over the water bungalows. Each one has a private infinity pool overlooking the turquoise water. Of course, there is also access to the crystal clear water from the deck via a staircase and a ladder.
In addition, the huge deck has a large net over the water to lie on. Honestly, this was one of our favorite aspects of the deck space. We would use it to sunbathe in the day and to watch the stars at night.
The villas are arranged in “heart” like formations. There is a smaller “heart” on the southern end of the island, which we found to be quieter and more private. Then there are 3 “hearts” connected to one another located on the northern end of the island.
One side offers a sunrise view and the other, slightly more expensive one, offers the sunset one. Although each option has it’s benefits, we prefer the sunrise one. Why? Well, the sunrise deck gets the stunning views early in the mornings but then later in the day has more shade.
Most people travelling to the Maldives from the west do end up waking up earlier as well. And there are plenty of places on the island to enjoy the sunset.
However, if you are a sunset fanatic and love a lot of sun on the deck throughout the day, go for the sunset side.
Standard Over the Water Villa: The standard sunrise and sunset over the water villas are 220 sq meters (2368 sq ft) in size. This includes the huge deck.
3 Bedroom Over the Water Villa: The next size of these over the water villas is the 3 bedroom one! It is 350 sq meters (3767 sq ft).
Presidential Overwater Suite: This is the biggest property on the whole island. One of the guests recanted stories of how a Russian Oligarch was staying here with 7 young women. Tales of late night parties and early morning calls for many bottles of vodka and champagne. Although I could not verify her stories – it sure was fun to listen to!
This property is big enough to house an alleged oligarch and his 7 mistresses and is 790 sq meters (8503 sq ft).
PRO TIP: The entry level property at the Radisson Blu Resort Maldives is actually the sunrise over the water bungalow! The trick is to ask for one closer to the middle of the “heart”. You see, the first 5 or so and the last 3-5 do not have the privacy from the beach.
And if you enjoy your skinny dips in your private infinity pool – then best ask to be closer to the middle.
Beachfront Villas and Suites
If you love white sandy beaches and prefer to be on land, then the Beachfront Villas and Suites are more your speed. They all have private pools in the front of the property and come in a variety of sizes:
- The Beachfront Villa is 215 sq meters (2314 sq ft).
- A 2 Bedroom Beachfront Villa is 355 sq meters (3821 sq ft). This one has a second floor and a balcony overlooking the water.
- A 2 Bedroom Beachfront Suite is 370 sq meters (4000 sq ft). This one has a dining room.
- A 3 Bedroom Family Beachfront Villa is 355 sq meters (3821 sq ft). This one has a second floor and a balcony overlooking the water.
- A 3 Bedroom Beachfront Suite is 410 sq meters (4413 sq ft). This one has a dining room.
If you are coming to this property with a child or children, then the beach properties are highly recommended by the hotel. You may be able to sign a release and stay with a child at the over the water bungalows. However the management does not recommend this, due to the obvious inherent dangers of doing so.
Getting fresh ingredients in the Maldives is not an easy task. A boat brings in supplies on a regular basis. However, if you are like me and enjoy really fresh vegetables then, these are hard to come by in these parts.
We stayed at Le Meridien Resort & Spa Maldives last year. This resort grows a lot of their own veggies, creating a really fresh vegan spread on a daily basis. However, the Radison Blu Resort Maldives rely on the intermittent deliveries, which does not guarantee fresh produce.
The chefs here are some of the nicest most caring people and they do their best to create the best cuisine that they can. However, they are limited by the ingredients which they have on hand.
This resort has the following restaurants:
Raha: International buffet fair for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alifaan: Mediterranean dinners nightly (reservation is required).
Kabuki: Japanese food for dinner – 2 days a week (reservation is required).
The Lab: Food and wine pairings for dinner – 2 days a week (reservation is required).
There are also 2 bars which offer cocktails and food.
This resort sure has a lot of amenities for their guests. Actually a lot more than we had a chance to utilize during our 2 weeks here.
What is a non-negotiable for us is a fast and strong wifi. We are happy to report that each villa/suite/bungalow has a dedicated router and the signal is strong for a remote island. During the most busy times the upload and download speeds were 8 Mbps. This was enough to stream Netflix and to do our work.
The wifi is available around the majority of the property. Yes, there are a couple of dead spots on the beach, but they are manageable.
Snorkeling and Water Activities
Snorkeling equipment is provided free of charge. And the snorkeling here is amazing! The fish are colorful, plentiful and huge! In addition, the reef is accessible from most of the over the water bungalows. The coral is surprisingly vibrant and abundant.
There is a dive shop on site that provides different options for dives. In addition, there are different excursions ranging from fishing ones to swims with manta rays.
Kayaks and paddle-boards are offered to guests free of charge. While other water craft can be rented.
Library, Meeting Room and Games Room
On our last day here, we found the Library. A spacious air-conditioned room filled with books, a printer and ice tea.
There is another room with a ping pong table and other games for folks to play to pass the time. Honestly, we had so much to do in the water and on the sand that we never did go into that area. Although whenever we walked past there were people enjoying themselves there.
In addition, the resort has a space dedicated to meetings – if you decide to bring work to the island.
SPA and Yoga
The spa is located in 6 over the water bungalows. Each one is set up for couple’s treatments. Although we did not partake in these services, we heard from many of the guests that they truly enjoyed the massages offered at this spa.
Part of the Spa area is an over the water gazebo designated as a yoga area. There are daily yoga sessions available for change and some that are complimentary. In addition, one can use the gazebo for yoga outside of those hours.
This resort has a small room for a gym with weights, a treadmill and a few other pieces of equipment. Although small, the gym has a fabulous view of the water.
In addition, there is also a multi use court which is mostly used as a tennis court.
The majority of people who come to the Maldives are couples. However, it is becoming fashionable to come here for babymoons and at times with a child. There is a Kids Club with games and activities (lead by employees) to entertain the kids.
Radisson Blu Resort Maldives on a Budget?
Yes, budget and the Maldives are rarely seen in the same paragraph let alone sentence. So how did we do this? Well, a number of years ago there was a credit card called Club Carlson.
Remember, Robs preaching about how to have a good credit score yet still have quite a few credit cards to bank the sign up bonuses? That is exactly what we did.
We signed up for 3 of these cards which offered a sign up bonus and annual points. We knew that the Radisson Blu was coming to the Maldives and we waited. Waited for a number of years for the property to be open and then for it to offer rooms on points.
Rob has called it the purple unicorn for many years. And when the nights became available on points he pounced quickly. The over the water bungalow that we stayed in wrtr averaging around $1,000 USD per night. For 14 nights this would have cost us approximately $14,000 USD!
Yet, adding up how much we paid for the credit cards annually, the price ended up being $105/night! Wow, right?!
Now, this particular credit card is not available anymore. However, others are. So it is important to know what is available and strategize how to plan that next special vacation or getaway.
There is a lot to love about this property. First of all, the entry level accommodation at this resort is an over the water bungalow. Second, all of the accommodations have a private pool. Third, even the entry level over the water bungalow is very large, starting at 220 sq meters.
On the con side, as we mentioned already the food here is good but it isn’t great.
The staff at the Radison Blu Resort Maldives is top notch. They go out of their way to make your day extra special – and that is something that we really appreciated.