Maximizing Miles in the Maldives: Cathay First, Eating in Singapore, and a Park Hyatt Water Villa – Transfer to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives

  1. Introduction
  2. Positioning flights to San Francisco, Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, and Some Dim Sum for the Day
  3. Cathay’s New San Francisco Lounge
  4. Cathay Pacific First Class, San Francisco – Hong Kong
  5. The Wing and Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Singapore
  6. A Grand Suite at the Grand Hyatt Singapore
  7. Eating in Singapore
  8. Dinner at Waku Ghin, Marina Bay Sands
  9. Singapore Airlines Business Class: Singapore – Male
  10. Transfer to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
  11. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part I
  12. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part II
  13. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part III
  14. Maldivian, Kaadehdhoo – Male
  15. Singapore Airlines Business Class, Male – Singapore
  16. Cathay Pacific Business Class, Singapore – Hong Kong
  17. Conrad Hong Kong
  18. Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Chicago
  19. American’s Chicago Flagship Lounge and the Final Journey Home

Once we cleared customs — including having our luggage x-rayed on the way through, as was done with everyone else — we were met by a Park Hyatt representative.

We had both an hour long domestic flight and an hour long boat ride to look forward to.

The transfer is currently charged at about US$500 per person roundtrip, which isn’t much more than the cost to purchase the roundtrip flights between Male and the island but you receive lounge access on arrival in Male and meet-and-greet service at each step and the roundtrip boat ride. I imagine the resort must buy tickets at a discount from the airline.

My sense the person who met us wasn’t a Park Hyatt employee, but someone who worked at the airport likely for several hotels meeting arriving passengers and assisting them with their domestic connections.

Plenty of hotels have designated desks at the airport in the arrivals area, the Park Hyatt doesn’t, but this gentleman assisted with one of the bags and walked us out of the international terminal and over to the restaurant that sits on the way to the domestic terminal while he went back inside to retrieve another couple that, it seems, were on the same flight from Singapore (in coach).

Once he had the four of us, he walked us over to domestic check-in for the domestic airline, Maldivian.

For the check-in process, our guide asked for our passports and stood in line for check-in. The agents were helping a group of Australian surfers, once they were through our luggage was taken and boarding passes issued. The only strange part of the process is that each and every passenger has to individually get up on the scale to be weighed.

According to their FAQ,

Q – Why do I get weighed at Check-in?
Ans – All passengers are weighed at check-in for safety requirements of our Dash-8 and Dornier-228 aircrafts.

Umm….

My guess and I haven’t posed the question is anyone is that they’re trying to maximize cargo onboard, and so they want to know exactly what their weight limits will be. What’s odd is that they do a fairly quick turn and I never did see cargo loading or unloading.

Once we had our boarding passes we were shown to the lounge which was directly behind us. It’s labeled “VIP lounge” and is certainly a nice space for servicing a domestic commuter operator. This doesn’t come with the tickets per se so I imagine it’s something that the individual resorts pay for their guests to have access to.

We had about an hour and forty five minutes in total for our international to domestic connection, which gave us about 40 minutes in the lounge prior to boarding.

There’s comfortable seating, although they pack in the furniture and there isn’t a lot of room to walk around. There’s a restroom, and a modest buffet that will do the trick if you’re hungry but there wasn’t anything I was anxious to have just for the sake of trying.

Internet in the lounge requires a username and password. That gets uniquely generated for you by the lounge desk attendant, using a handheld printer device, I had to struggle to read the printing on the paper they handed me. Internet access is valid for two hours maximum with that password.

Our flight would be headed to Kaadedhdhoo. Several of the flights headed there first make a stop in Kadhdhoo, and I’ve heard stories of folks waiting four or more hours for their flight only to find themselves making a (brief) stop at another island before finally heading to Kaadedhdhoo where they’d pick up the Park Hyatt’s boat.

You don’t make your own flight arrangements, rather you let the hotel know your Male arrival and departure. They purchase your domestic tickets. Presumably this isn’t done until close to your stay, in case you cancel, and it’s certainly possible that a given flight may sell out.

I didn’t want the logical, non-stop connection to sell out before my ticket was booked so I checked the schedules on the Maldivian website and communicated with the hotel in advance about what I assumed would be my travel arrangements, which they confirmed. Otherwise I’d have likely just been told what I was doing when I made it to Male, that could have been something other than the best possible flight arrangement, and I might never have been the wiser.

Given how long the whole process of getting to the resort takes, I certainly wanted to avoid any unnecessary delays. (And the flight we were on was completely sold out.)

When it was time to board they let us know in the lounge, we walked straight out and to the right, the lounge isn’t just right by the ticket counter but also by the domestic gate. Quickly through security we walked out onto the tarmac and to the plane.

One interesting thing about the aircraft was that there was a curtain after the first few rows, as though the plane was outfitted for both business class and coach, though the seats were exactly the same. What’s even more strange is that after takeoff the curtains were drawn, and pulled back again shortly before landing. It didn’t appear as though any special services were provided.

During the flight there were a few passes made by the flight attendants — with pre-poured small paper cups filled with a choice of two juices (both sweet, not great for thirst, and not very full) and with candies, I chose toffee.

The flight was about 50 or 55 minutes, fairly uneventful. It was a pretty standard flight for the aircraft, which is to say it’s tight width and pitch, the cabin temperature was quite warm (which several people commented on to the flight attendant who said nothing could be done) and I was happy for the beautiful view on approach and then to be off the plane.

We landed, down a flight of stairs, and walked into a building that was baggage claim — they brought bags over on carts, there’s no belt, they just bring the bags in and drop them off.

There was a representative from Park Hyatt there to meet us, he guided us outside and suggested we have a seat on the park benches outside the terminal. He and a colleague grabbed our bags, and a golf cart came to pick us up and also the other couple that were headed to the same resort that had arrived in Male on our flight from Singapore.

It was a short ride over to the boat dock, where there was a waiting Park Hyatt boat.

We had a seat, they gave us life jackets, boarded our luggage and put it in the front seats. We sat in the back, the other couple sat in the middle row of seats, and we were on our way.

The staff handed out cold towels. What I really wanted, though, they didn’t have. Water. The Park Hyatt purifies its own water and re-uses glass bottles. I imagine they didn’t want to have glass bottles on the boat. They don’t use bottled water. But perhaps for just this one use…. After the Maldivian flight, and with n hour-long boat ride, a drink would be nice.

Now, I’d prefer more of a yacht than a speedboat, a climate controlled cabin and the ability to walk around instead of sitting for the hour after sitting through the previous two flights. I could imagine a glass of champagne, something to nibble on.

But the speedboat did the trick, it’s mostly open ocean with some resorts off in the distance, you can often make out overwater bungalows. And then there’s a dramatic approach to the resort….

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. That’s where you leave it? =) All wrapped up in the suspense of the flight and transfer and I geta picture with nothing more! All good reviews come with time.

    I have enjoyed this series thus far!

  2. IIRC, weighing of passengers is the safest method for proper weight and balance on commuter aircraft.

  3. That’s my local airport (Kadedhdhoo)!

    The lounge at at Male’ Domestic looks like it’s been extended since I was last there. Like you say, it’s mostly used by the resorts, but is avaliable with paid for access and it’s fairly cheap.

    There are two planes that fly that route, and it’s only the smaller of the two planes that you get weighed for.

    There has been plans (for over a year now) to introduce a first class section on the plane, with priority given to Jumeirah guests. I was lucky enough to get an upgrade during one of the trial run flights, and it included a cold lunch, lots of (soft) drinks, tea and coffee. Nothing spectacular but it is an hour long flight with two attendants.

  4. Can you pronounce those places? Kaadedhdhoo. Kadhdhoo.

    how do you pronounce the dhd sequence?

  5. When we stayed out there a couple of years ago the staff mentioned that as the Atoll got more developed and more resorts opened up then the sea plane services would start flying there. I wonder if this was mumbo-jumbo or if at some point it will possible to go directly to the island by sea-plane

  6. @LIH PREM

    Kaadedhdhoo is Car-Dead-doo, not sure about Kadhdhoo, but imagine it’s something like card-doo. (Dhoo translates as island)

    @Phil,
    I haven’t heard that, but I know that in Gaaf Alif atoll a new airport will be opening at some point this year, which will massively reduce the speedboat transfer times for Park, Robinson and the other resorts in GA (Rather than flying to Kaadedhdhoo, which is in Gaaf Dhaal atoll)

  7. Laura – that is good to know – having an airport closer to the resort will certainly be nice!

  8. Thanks for the info. I hadn’t realized it was THAT time-consuming getting there. With a maximum on 1 week vacation, I now know I will not be going to Maldives in the foreseeable future.

  9. @Z as I said, next time I’ll fly one-stop through Abu Dhabi to Male, and there are other resorts that are accessible directly via Male without additional flight.

  10. I made this journey last month. The agent that met us at MLE and walked us over to the domestic terminal was a Park Hyatt employee. He rotated between working at MLE and at the resort.

    We were provided water on our boat ride (both ways) in plastic bottles. There was a cooler full and my wife and I were the only guests on the boat.

    Enjoy your stay. Hopefully the construction is finished.

  11. Was really enjoying this series and would love to make this trip someday, but no updates in two weeks! What happened?

  12. This is the trip the wife and I are planning to take next year. It would be great to see the breakdown of costs (both miles / out of pocket). While I don’t have all the elite status, It would be nice to figure out what I need to plan for as far as cash.

  13. @Gary – From SFO, what is the most efficient way to get to MLE? I have AA or BA miles to use. I’m thinking SFO-LHR(LGW)-MLE on BA miles, but the surcharges are so high, not the best way to use BA miles. Would SFO-HKG-CMB on AA miles, then separate ticket from CMB-MLE, make more sense?

  14. It is a safety requirement for each passenger + luggage to be weighed for these types of aircraft to ensure that the plane does not take-off above its maximum allowable weight(Pilots must do a calculation before take-off). Generally on larger aircrafts, standardised approximate weights per passengers are used for this calculation, however for smaller aircraft, everything must be weighed.

  15. I have a question. I plan to take SQ flight which arrives MLE at 2200 hr on Thursday. Do you think Park Hyatt will arrange transfer at that late hour?
    Assuming PH do night transfer, (i’ve check maldivian airline website, they have last flight from Male to Kooddoo is at 2345 hr Thursday… arrives at Kooddoo at 0130 hr. Friday.), do u think PH allows so early check in (in middle of the night…. maybe 0300am) . My hotel booking is Friday to Monday. I’m Diamond member. Thanks for your advise.

  16. @Lee they would likely allow it — weather-depending. I would say you might make it work January-March but it could be rougher waters at other times of year. Email the hotel and ask. They’re very flexible on checkin/checkout times. And the hotel is +1h in time from Kooddoo. Add a 30 minute boat transfer and you probably arrive at the resort around 315am. Still might be pushing it to ask not to pay for the previous night. Again, I’d ask..

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