St.Regis Maldives = Fantastic Resort

100   Recommended

Sunset Over Water Villa
October 9, 2018 by
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Sunset Over Water Villa

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Sunset Over Water Villa

I recently had a 10-night stay at the St.Regis Maldives resort.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the resort, although I had an unfortunate mishap which sidelined me for a few days and caused us to miss out on several activities which was very disappointing.  We’ll need to plan to return next year to make up for it.  Since there has been quite a bit of interest and activity in this thread recently, I thought I would write a longer and more detailed review than normal, which hopefully FTers will find informative and useful.  

 

Seaplane Transfer

We landed in MLE airport and were met by a lady with a St.Regis sign after baggage claim to walk us to the check-in counter of Trans Maldivian Airways.  The hotel SUV brought us from the international terminal to the domestic sea plane terminal where we entered the St.Regis lounge.  

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We checked-in our room from there and we were informed that our Over Water Villa reservation had been upgraded to a Sunset Over Water Villa for our entire stay which was great news.  We were led to believe that this property normally does not upgrade guests but clearly from our experience it is not impossible.  We barely had time to eat a small snack in the lounge that it was already time to go: normally the next flight to Vommuli was a couple hours later but we were told that as Platinum guests they would upgrade us to the VIP aircraft and that we would leave with very little wait.  Most seaplanes on the fleet can sit 15 passengers (5 rows of 3) but they have a one seaplane on the fleet which sits 8 passengers (4 rows of 2) with air conditioning.  We were the only guests on the flight and it was very comfortable, especially if I compare with the cramped regular seaplane we had at the end of our stay.  

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The seaplanes normally land near the hotel but our pilot aborted the landing at the last minute because of rough weather and we circled around the resort to attempt a second landing, that time further out to sea.  The view of the resort from above is great and we were already starting to appreciate the hotel even before setting foot on the island.  

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After landing in the sea relatively far from the hotel, the seaplane made its way to a tiny alternative pier in the middle of the ocean and the St.Regis Red Snapper speed boat came to meet us there.  The ride from the pier to the resort was exciting to say the least but we finally made it safely to land and were met by hotel staff.  

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Our butler drove us in the hotel buggy straight to our room. In the picture below that we took the next day, you can see that standard arrivals are at the hotel dock and no boat transfer is necessary.   

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Room

The SOWVs are identical to the regular OWVs except for where they are located on the resort.  The room is built to a high standard and is quite high tech with several controls from the hotel iPad: blinds, curtains, AC, ordering room service, changing TV channels and rotating the TV between the living room and the bedroom, etc.  There is also another small TV on the wall in front of the large bathtub in the bathroom. You can access the bathroom either via the closet / make-up area which is behind the bed, or via the bedroom itself.  The toilet is separated from the shower by a wall and both closed off by a glass door. Given the layout of the room, you get natural light everywhere, even in the area behind the bed because the wall above the bed is not closed off: there are decorative bubbles separating the closet from the bedroom as you can see on the pictures.  There are large patio doors in front of the living room, bedroom, and bathroom which provides ocean views from wherever you are in the room. In addition there is a small side door in the bathroom which is leading to the patio deck for people who do not want to bother opening the patio doors.  Near the entrance is a working desk along with a mini-bar, fridge, and wine cellar to keep bottles at the perfect temperature.  The bed was incredibly comfortable and the AC was working very well to keep the room cool.  There were life vests in the room which were very handy to go in the ocean for swimming. Some days the current was quite strong which would make snorkeling difficult; swimming was fine but I might have been less courageous without a life vest.  Our butler also brought us snorkeling equipment for our entire stay. 

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Honestly it’s hard to find major faults to this room but since no hotel is perfect I would make a few comments.  First off, for a hotel of this caliber I would have expected the room to have 1.5 bath rather than only one, and I am not sure if it’s the case as well for Garden Villas and Beach Villas.  Second, the hotel only opened 2 years ago and I am worried about how long the hotel will stay in great shape.  Many mornings once we opened the blinds, there would be water immediately falling off on the floor inside the bedroom and living room.  As you can see, the floor tiles are already starting to lift up due to moisture.  

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Also the AC was leaking a bit, and since the AC unit is located straight above the bed, there would be a drop of water falling on the bed perhaps every few minutes. Fortunately it was right in the middle of the bed so if both people sleep on their side of the bed, you would not notice it.  But during the day you can notice.  It’s only a few drops of water so not a flood by any means and not enough to make the bed noticeably wet, but I could see some guests who might be disturbed especially if other rooms have a more regular water dripping issue than our room. Also given the strong winds at times during the night, you could hear a non-stop whistling noise in the bedroom because the patio doors are not 100% air tight I guess.  I lived in Bermuda for 10 years in the past so I am quite used to this and it did not disturb me the least, but once again perhaps some guests would expect something more quiet.  The small door in the bathroom going to the outdoor patio was also sometimes banging due to wind because it was a bit loose even when closed and locked.  Therefore we closed the door between the bedroom and the bathroom during the night to mute the noise.  

The weather out in the sea can be quite rough at times. During one night, it was so windy that I would compare it to a category 4 earthquake in the sense that you can definitely feel the villa shaking, but not enough to make objects fall over.  The next morning we were told that some trees got uprooted during the night.  

The outdoor patio is a wonderful area to enjoy a sunny afternoon, either in the pool, the lounge chairs, or the net above the ocean. The walls on each side of the patio ensure complete privacy – you simply cannot see your immediate neighbors.  

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Given that the SOWVs are facing west, as per the name you get great sunsets.  Our villa was about in the middle of the string of SOWVs on the left side of the bridge so the sunset was squarely in front of us.  

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The weather is the Maldives is not at its best in October so we had a sunset only about half of the days, and found that the main advantage of the SOWV was actually not the sunset views, but rather afternoon sun and privacy.  Starting late morning until dawn the pool was exposed to the sun so it was warm at all times.  Also, looking out from the room all you have is the ocean, which is not the case for the inner-facing standard OWVs where you can see some neighbors.  

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I would also note that the first few SOWVs also do not have complete privacy because you have a view of the Whale Bar. 

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On the picture below taken from the Whale Bar, we can see the patio of the first 3-5 SOWVs.  It’s not very close so it’s not like if you have other guests in your face, but I would rather have the SOWV that we had instead. 

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The house reef is not the strong point of this hotel and snorkeling is not as good as other resorts.  That said, the spot in front of our SOWV was one of the best on the resort for snorkeling according to our butler.  We could see several kinds of fish, sometimes in large groups of 50+, some turtles, and baby sharks.  

I did not see the Garden Villas and several people mentioned in this thread that they are quite nice.  Personally if going to the Maldives I would rather have an OWV and given that the more private SOWVs are selling for only a modest premium over the regular OWVs (relatively speaking) I think it’s worth the extra.  The other alternative is to book a Beach Villa. Those seem nice as well but similar to the regular OWVs you do not have complete privacy, not only because some of them are looking at OWVs, but also because guests can walk on the beach around the island, right in front of the villas and the pools.  

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That makes the GVs more private that the BVs in my opinion. Of course individual preferences can vary, but my takeaway is that the SOWV was the best room type for us.   

The other concern in terms of wear and tear of the resort is the patio and ladder going into the ocean.  One day the waves were very strong during high tide so some waves were reaching the top of the steps and the entire ramp going to the ocean. We heard a loud crack coming from our neighbor; we noticed that the ladder and wood platform at the bottom of the steps was ripped out and it floated away under our villa.  

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Hotel staff told us that they have been through 2-3 different designs already for the stairs and platform to the ocean, but that regular maintenance and fixing is required because it is difficult to build something which can withstand the elements.  

Slip and Fall Accident

The other issue is that the deck is very slippery down there and it’s pretty much wet 90% of the time either due to high tide, waves, or both.  This leads me to my next topic which is my accident on that deck.  I already knew the deck was slippery because we had been at the resort for a few days already, but I was not careful enough and I slipped and fell on the deck.  My heel got stuck between the wood deck and the metal tube of the ladder; I ended up with a not so insignificant cut as a result.  

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The hotel doctor came to our villa promptly to clean my wound and the hotel arranged a speed boat transfer to an island about 10-15 minutes away to a health clinic, and the hotel also arranged for the van (ambulance) to bring me from the pier of that island to the clinic.  The doctor there stitched me up and give me a tetanus shot along with anti-biotics for the next few days to prevent an infection.  I returned to the clinic the next day again by speed boat for a check-up and all looked good, so for subsequent days the hotel doctor came to meet me in the villa daily for a dressing of my wound and to change the bandage. 

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Needless to stay, it was deeply disappointing to get injured in such a great resort and we missed out on several activities and dinners, for example we could not go to Decanter which is only scheduled a couple of nights per week because I could no longer drink wine due to medication.  We also missed out on the private beach dinner; I heard from my Starwood Ambassador that it is fantastic at this resort. Actually beach dinner ended up being cancelled due to high winds anyway (and both times our dolphin tour was cancelled due to weather as well).  The flip side of my misfortune is that if I was going to be stuck in bed somewhere, might as well be in a nice resort such as this one.  While we missed out on lots of outdoor activities in the second half of our trip, if I try to find positives I would say that at least we could have a few rides in the speed boat and see the nearby island and local Maldivian life, rather than only seeing a hotel resort.  

Service

The service overall in the hotel was great and particularly impressive in light of my accident.  It was very clear that the hotel does not want guests to leave with a health problem so they went above and beyond to ensure I was recovering well and minimize the risk of complications.  The service in the restaurant for breakfast was also top notch, with the chef preparing several dishes to my wife’s desires, even items that were not on the menu.  Housekeeping was excellent and they replenished all amenities every day – nothing was forgotten or left out.  They always cleaned our room at the time requested, usually as we stepped out to go to breakfast.  After my injury the hotel offered to have our breakfast delivered to our room since I could not walk, which was a nice gesture.  

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They did not have crutches in the resort but they ordered them from Malé and got them delivered to the resort on the next seaplane flight.  The hotel grounds are very well kept and every day you can see a lot of staff busy taking care of the property.  There are about 300 staff on the island compared to only 200-250 guests when hotel is running at maximum occupancy, and significantly less in some periods like October where it was about 70% full. 

Dining

In terms of dining, as mentioned above unfortunately we missed out on restaurants and we ordered room service most evenings.  Some items were very expensive as mentioned by some folks in this thread, but actually some dishes were less costly than I was led to believe.  Fried rice, pizza, and rice biryani for $30-40 is not outrageous for a resort such as this one as far as I am concerned.  Also I found prices from the mini-bar not as bad as I expected, for example beer for $13 and a wine bottle for $95 which normally sells for $35 on Vivino.  

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I have enjoyed many great hotel breakfasts in the past, but I think for the hotels I visited before, St.Regis Maldives tops them all. Many hotels have several excellent features for their breakfast, but I had not seen a breakfast before which scored on all points which I value:

- Combination of a la carte and buffet, rather than one or the other

- Several luxury options on the menu, including local dishes such as Maldivian Eggs Benedict (crab tempura and slice of tuna), Lobster, Crab, and Caviar Omelette, several fresh salads prepared in the kitchen rather than the buffet, etc.  

- Unlimited Prosecco and Mimosa available.  Flavored lattes and cappuccinos

- Several specialty healthy mixed juices

- Fresh fruits such as mangoes, passion fruits, rambutan, longan, etc. – not only standard hotel fruits.  The mangoes were very sweet and juicy – absolutely delicious 

- Noodle soup station

- Different options for various tastes: local, Indian, Japanese, Western

If there is another hotel in the chains that I am familiar with (Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt, Fairmont) which has an even better breakfast than St.Regis Maldives, I have not been there yet.

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To finish off regarding dining, the butler brought afternoon tea to our room every day unless we had the do not disturb light turned on.  Afternoon tea consists of fresh fruits, sweets, and a couple of beverages (ice tea, coconut water, etc.)

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Miscellaneous

Some miscellaneous observations and comments: 

We intended to go to Blue Hole at the Irridium Spa but I could not go in the water due to my injury.  The spa has a very nice setting above the water.  

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The fitness gym is somewhat small but has modern equipment.  Gym.jpg

The Socialite room is a nice place to visit during bad weather.  There are several games available such as billiards, air hockey, darts, etc.  1_Socialite1.jpg1_Socialite2.jpg1_Socialite3.jpg

Wifi was excellent for such an isolated resort: 6-10 Mbps download and upload.  

There are bicycles available at each villa to get around the resort.

I expected guests to be mostly from the Middle East and Europe.  I was surprised that it was mostly Asian, possibly in part due to a holiday in China during our dates.  

There was hardly anybody using the main hotel pool. I guess most guests use their private pool or go in the ocean.  The chairs are on the beach facing away from the pool which also does not contribute to making the pool an attractive place to go.  Pool1.jpgPool2.jpg

Overall

In conclusion St.Regis Maldives lived up to its reputation as far as I am concerned.  However note that it was our first trip to the Maldives so I do not have many points of reference to comment on whether the hotel is better than others in the Maldives.  But bottom line is we loved our stay and we will return.  

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