Monday Morning Consultant – Maldives Edition — Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa review

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Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa Review : Here are a couple questions for you …

  • Who doesn’t like a free night at a hotel?
  • Who doesn’t like a night at an expensive hotel?
  • Who doesn’t like a night at an expensive hotel in an idyllic paradise with a beachside bungalow to die for.

No one, right?!

This was the premise behind hotel hopping for weeks on end, moving and repacking bags every night in order to maxi. The goal was to use the “free nights” at extremely high end accommodations, using 6 nights at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa would definitely classify as an optimal use of those nights. Here is the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa Review :

For most people within the Americas, going to the Maldives will be a pipe dream at best, even for honeymoons, as it is prohibitively expensive to get there. Getting there from Toronto will range from about 1700 to 3000 CDN with 21 days advance notice.

Then the hotel in a decent hotel or resort over there will range from 400 and upwards … we heard of suites at the W Retreat and Spa – Maldives starting from 850$ a night.

You get the idea … the Maldives isn’t really for your budget, all inclusive type of traveller and definitely was out of my price range, if it wasn’t for the SPG Free Nights promo.

Getting into Male is pretty easy from Colombo – a simple one hour commute from the island. Once you grab your luggage, you’re always met by a resort representative as you have to book your speedboat ride from the airport (which is on it’s own island and separate from the main island) to the resort. The ride itself on a sunny day, is pretty spectacular.

SPG Platinum Check In Experience
You’re greeted with a welcome drink at the landing dock and then you’re taken to your room. As SPG Plats, we were automatically upgraded to a Water Bungalow – no request needed. I don’t really need to explain more after the pictures

Unlike other hotels, where SPG Plats are given amenity packs, gifts, fruit etc, at the Sheraton Maldives, you won’t find this coming.

  • Plats get free Internet also (typical – but your mileage sometime varies on this one)
  • No Free Breakfast or Dinner for Plats.

Personally, I don’t mind the lack of swag , if everything else is excellent and the customer services is excellent. There is also no free breakfast or drinks for SPG Plats. You do however get unlimited amazing sunsets from the water.

As for the room – I cannot say that this was the W Bali in terms of room, but to be honest – it shouldn’t be. It is clean and spartan in many ways, as island rooms tend to be. One aspect of the bungalow that should be improved, is the bathroom. It gets hot in the daytime, because it’s entirely closed off from any cool air from the rest of the room and really doesn’t get cooler even with the bathroom windows opened. There is nothing that can really be done, unless the bungalow/bathroom is redesigned and/or a larger A/C unit is placed to thoroughly cool the entire bungalow.

We also had an issue with the bungalow temperature. In our original bungalow, the A/C was not working optimally, hence the room was quite hot. We had two visits by maintenance engineers to resolve the issue, and nothing worked. However, the staff switched us to another water bungalow and all was resolved. This is an important point to note : Issues will always arise, how the staff resolves it, makes all the difference.

From your room, you walk down the steps directly into the ocean and start snorkeling. Chances are that you will have the ocean all to yourself from the room. Seriously!

As for drinking and food – here are a couple notes on those

– The buffets won’t please everyone. There is enough variety for everyone, but for a high end visitor, I can understand a couple complaints. Personally, I was happy with the morning and lunch buffets, but I also didn’t spend two weeks at the resort. If I did, I think the buffets would have gotten “old” for me
– The restaurants are great at night, in particular – Maldivian night at Sea Salt was fantastic. Do make a special date to go there and enjoy the excellent seafood – including some superb spicy tuna steaks!

The drinking here is expensive relative to anywhere else in the world, except Scandinavia. My advice – get over it! See tips below – if you want super cheap drinks – go to Thailand/Vietnam.

5+1 tips to enhance your Sheraton Maldives stay even further
The resort has you as a captive audience and by definition, can charge whatever they like for food and alcohol. Everything (except fish) must also be imported into the Maldives. Combine these two factors and your pocketbook will be in for a bit of a shock.

  1. Do a 3 hour “day tour” from the resort to main island (Male). This will run about 60$ per person. You can accomplish two things on the “day tour”
    • You can see the highlights of the main island
    • You can go to the grocery and stock up on snacks and soda. (Diet Coke/Pepsi is next to impossible to find in the groceries)
  2. Shopping for snacks will save you a lot of money, especially if you get the munchies a lot.
  3. Do not attempt to bring alcohol into the Maldives in a regular bottle. If you buy duty free, they will seize the alcohol, if it is in a regular vodka/liquor bottle. However, if you choose to bring alcohol in soda bottles or smaller bottles, there is a very high probability that you will not lose the alcohol. (Note : I am not condoning alcohol smuggling into an Islamic Republic)
  4. Do not expect to get wasted on the resort, unless you have a lot of money. Drinks are expensive – with good reason. Alcohol is illegal in the Maldives – but of course, through some “quirk”, the private resort islands are not considered under general law.
    • Prices to expect :
    • Expect 7-10$ beer
    • 10$+ for a vodka/tonic
    • 75$+ for regular $12 bottle of Californian wine.
  5. If you can afford one of the water bungalows, then spend the money and upgrade – you will remember it forever.
  6. Don’t expect to party hard as there is no significant nightlife to be found on the resort. This is a resort to relax and recharge. Enjoy the snorkelling and scuba diving … water this perfect is difficult to imagine anywhere else in the world.

If you have any issues – do seek out the staff, as they are extremely accessible, even the GM Ursula Schoefl. She runs a tight ship here and is focused on great customer service and ensuring that every guest has the best experience there – SPG Plat or not. She is extremely active on the review forums like TripAdvisor so you know that your feedback will be “actioned”, but do engage the staff if anything isn’t perfect for you. BTW Ursula is Austrian, not German 😛

Overall :

This was a lifetime experience – not just for a jaded traveller for me, but for anyone. The resort is spectacular, the water is breathtaking and the food/service are stellar. From a service perspective, as Platinum SPG guest, we definitely got royal treatment. Other members on frequent flyer forums complained about the service, but personally I felt that the staff bent over backwards to ensure that as a SPG Platinum guest – I had THE BEST POSSIBLE experience. While I had issues with the air-conditioning at the hotel, what makes the difference between hotels, is the resolution and they performed phenomenally.
This was one hotel where I didn’t expect reliable internet service, and I was extremely surprised that they had VERY reliable and consistent wired internet coverage in my room, and there is free WiFi in the main lobby.
So overall, yet another “home run” for the the “SPG Free Nights” promotion … and the Maldives is really a paradise – if only everyone could get there to see it. When I come back, I’m only staying here – points, promo or not 😀

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at [email protected]