Journaling The Journey

Cheap Maldives – 10 Fabulous Days

Maldives Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Cheap

Cheap Maldives – these words are typically not found in the same sentence.  However, we were able to spend 10 days at an over the water bungalow and beach suite resort in the Maldives for  $75/night.  How?  Well read on and find out!

As always this is a totally independent and candid review.  We did not receive any compensation or discount from the property.

Getting Here

cheap Maldives, best beaches

We splurged and flew first class Qatar to Doha (on points of course – American Airline miles that we bought for a song).  And at first we stayed at the Radisson Blu Resort for 14 days.  We returned to Male to restock supplies and were whisked away by boat (45 minutes) to the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives.

The cost for the boat is $150 USD per person return.  Some resorts in the Maldives take you by boat (cheaper) and others take you by seaplane which of course is much more expensive and ranges between $750 – $1,000 USD per couple return.

We have stayed at 4 different resorts/islands here and 2 were by seaplane and 2 were by boat.  The quality of the beaches were the same regardless of how far we went.

Cheap Maldives – How did we do that?

We have been very lucky to have stayed in $2,000/night luxury over the water bungalows for $100/night or less using points and getting there on miles in business or first (for cheaper than economy). Yes, Rob does a very good job with this travel hacking game.

As we had already spent 14 days at the luxurious Radisson, we decided to try one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) resort on the islands to see and feel the difference.  And to see how a cheap Maldives compares to a luxurious one.  The Holiday Inn Resort was a great option for that and fulfilled our cheap Maldives search.  We had free night stays expiring with the IHG group (Holiday Inn is part of that).

In addition, we had purchased points with the IHG group at 0.5 cents per point.  We used this Premier IHG credit card (it gives you a night free per year).  Furthermore, when you book 4 nights using that card at an IHG property, your 4th night is free as well as a bunch of other benefits.

So how did we stay here in an over the water bungalow for $75/night?  We booked two, four block stays at 25K points per night at 0.5 cents per night with the 4th and 8th night being free and 2 free anniversary nights.

If you get confused with any of this don’t hesitate to reach out and Rob can help you plan this out.  He is so passionate about getting the best “deal” in this points and miles world!

Accommodations – Cheap Maldives

Over the water bungalows Holiday Inn Resort cheap Maldives best beaches
Over the water bungalows Holiday Inn Resort

Overall the resort is one of the oldest on the islands.  However it is well taken care of.  The employees stick around – the turnover rate of staff is below 2% which is unheard of in the hospitality industry!  Everyone is very friendly and helpful.

There are 3 types of accommodations:

  1. The cheapest are the small one story cabins called Guest Suites.  The absolute cheapest are found in the garden and do not have a sea view.  There are some that face the lagoon but I doubt you can see the sea from inside them.  They have a small seating area with loungers and a hammock.
  2. The second are the 2 story Guest Suites where the first floor is actually on sand.  It has couches and loungers and an outdoor shower all facing the ocean.  The second floor is where the living quarters are.  These are located on the windy side (not desirable) or on the calmer lagoon side.    There is also  a 2 bedroom version of this type of self contained building.

PRO TIP: Try to stay in Room #1 – it has the best view of the sunset and unobstructed view of the sea.  We loved it.

3. The most expensive option are the over the water bungalows facing either the sunset or the sunrise side.  Sunset is more expensive.  We enjoyed room #74 on the sunrise side as I like to get up early to call my parents and watch the sun come up.

4. There is also a 2 bedroom family over the water bungalow which is on the sunrise side.

Inside the over the water bungalow Holiday inn Maldives
Inside the Over the Water Bungalow Holiday Inn Kandooma Resort Maldives

Restaurants and Cafes

The Kitchen and Sunset Bar Maldives Resort cheap
The Kitchen (on the left) and the Sunset Bar (on the right)

The hotel has a main buffet restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Our breakfast was included in our points stay due to our high status with the chain.  And there were many vegan options for me.

Actually out of all the fancy resorts that we have stayed in on these islands, surprisingly this was my favorite breakfast after Le Meridien.

The second restaurant is only open for dinner and is called The Kitchen.  The restaurant is beachside and food is served family style.

There are also a few cafe’s on the beach that serve wood fire pizzas, sandwiches, desserts and other such pool side and beach fare.

Gym and Yoga

The gym at this resort is quite large (for the Maldives) and has many pieces of cardio equipment as well as free weights.

Yoga is offered twice a day for a fee and for free a few times a week.

Snorkelling and Diving

Maldives cheap resort ferry dock

Both snorkeling and diving is offered through the resort for a fee.  In addition, a few times a week, free snorkeling is available.  The boat takes guests out for an hour of snorkeling in the morning and returns before the buffet breakfast ends. Quite convenient.

Kayaks, paddle boards and other non motorized craft equipment is available for free.  However one is very limited in where you can go.  Just outside our window we could see a beautiful sand bank about 500 meters away.  Nevertheless, we were not allowed to paddle there.

Guraidhoo Island

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives Cheap Over the water Bungalows

Guraidhoo Island is an inhabited (public) island next door to the Holiday Inn Kandooma Resort.  At low tide it is close enough to wade over.  However, guests are not allowed to go over there.  Public Ferries do go to that island.  We were told that one can pre-arrange to be picked up from Guraidhoo Island if you have a reservation at the Kandooma Resort.  The cost would be approximately $40 return per person.

Wrap Up – Cheap Maldives

Cheap Maldives cheap resorts best beaches in the maldives
Rob swimming in the Holiday Inn Kandooma

Although cheap Maldives are words not easily found together, we were able to stay in over the water bungalows with some of the best beaches for $75/night using our travel hacking tricks.  The actual price for our nights would have been around $600/night.

Yes, these islands have a lot of very expensive resorts.  There are actually 168 luxury islands here already.

However one doesn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to enjoy these stunning crystal clear shimmering waters.  The Holiday Inn Kandooma Resort Maldives offers a cheap Maldives alternative.  We quite enjoyed the snorkeling, beaches and food at this private island resort.

Have you been?  Are you planning a honeymoon or vacation and want to see if you can do a cheap Maldives version?  Ping us, we would love to help!

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