Return to the Maldives: Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives

Trip Report Index:

  1. Introducing and Strategy
  2. New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, Etihad First Class
  3. Park Hyatt Dubai
  4. Touring the Burj al Arab
  5. Tea at the Burj al Arab
  6. Abu Dhabi – Male, Etihad Business Class
  7. Male – Kaadedhdhoo, Maldivian and Transfer to the Park Hyatt
  8. Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives
  9. Kooddoo-Male-Abu Dhabi, Maldivian and Etihad Business Class
  10. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
  11. Abu Dhabi – Dusseldorf – London, Etihad First Class and British Airways Club Europe
  12. London Heathrow – San Francisco, British Airways New First Class

I stayed at this hotel in 2012 and wrote a three part series on the property (here, here, and here).

It’s the only resort I’ve been to that while I was leaving I was talking about wanting to return, and where I made plans to do so not long after making it back home. I rarely stay at the same resort outside the United States twice, since there are so many places in the world to go and even once there so many different properties to experience (and report on!). But this is one I wanted to go back to, and the experience was – on the whole – even better in 2013 than it was in 2012. I’m already talking about going back in 2014!

But since I’ve already covered the hotel, and the overall look of the place is mostly the same, I won’t be writing a three part series this time. I’ll try to keep everything much more brief and focus on what was special, what was different, and what I might improve instead.

On arrival of our boat from the airport we were met by the hotel’s General Manager Pierre Lang and by the Food and Beverage director. The GM was the same that was on property on our previous visit and he’s always been quite active, we could see him most days on-property inspecting the hotel and ensuring the maintenance and tasks were being performed, as well as talking with guests. This time he let us know that he wouldn’t be around during our stay, since he was heading to Bangkok the next day to do some shopping. But he introduced us to the F&B director, Jean-Pierre Joncas, the next most senior person at the hotel (who was new, only at the hotel a few weeks).

I asked Mr. Lang what was changed since we had been to the property, and he explained the completed capital projects — the “Dhoni” had been under renovation the year before but had been completed and turned into a reception area. That’s where we were met and welcomed. It also served as a place that some guests would come and read and relax during the day.

Lighting at the resort and been redone. The restaurant “Battuta” had been renovated and was now the Island Grille, which I’ll discuss in some detail later in the review.

We also learned that the dedicated butler concept had been replaced by a concierge team. Last year there was one point of contact for arranging anything you needed on the island. There was still supposedly one person primarily responsible for you, but we only saw the person assigned to us (Shaheen) at dinner on our first night and as we departed the island. We didn’t have any worse service as a result, in fact I found overall the service had improved year-over-year. Everyone at the resort was friendly and engaging. I’ve seen some people write, though, that they really enjoy connecting with that one person and that’s no longer the standard.

From the Dhoni reception we were taken to our villa, and it really was almost identical but with some fixes Holes in the door and gaps in the wall have been repaired, all villas have had the counter space redone. But otherwise everything is nearly identical, even the broken top to the bath gel was the same as last time (which was endearing).

Internet in the villas worked well — most of the stay. Last year internet was glitch, I found myself unplugging and restarting the router in the villa about once a day. This time it simply kept working — after the first morning, at least. When I woke up after the first night I found that while internet worked for most sites, a few seemed blocked. Including my blog! I was very frustrated, quite concerned, but figured out that I could post to the blog if I logged into my work VPN and then used a terminal server connection to boot up the blog on a server in Arlington, Virginia and type into that. It would have been a very frustrating time, keeping up with my blog, but by the time I returned from breakfast that first morning everything was working just fine.

Air conditioning in the villas isn’t that good. It was a concern when I stayed on property last year, something I had understood they were planning to work on, but the a/c just doesn’t keep the villa especially cold. It helps if you keep the blackout doors shut during the day so that the sun doesn’t heat up the room quite as much. But with the air running all day long it gets down to about 70 degrees by morning, but the temperature gradually increases during the day to the high 70s with little to be done.

One new thing this year is that each room has an iPad. That lists all of the information about the resort and about the villa — activities, room service menu, maps, etc. It’s a nice way to navigate the property.

Once we got settled it was after 8pm, and the end of a long day that began with a car pickup at 6am in Dubai, so while tired we decided to walk over to the main restaurant for some dinner. The menu has changed a bit, with many of my favorite items on offer for lunch only (like Nasi Goreng, a seafood pad thai that’s also on the room service menu but no longer baked inside of an omelette) and in general seemed a bit pricier. Appetizers are nearly as expensive as entrees and far less food. I think one can expect to spend about $175 per person per day on food here without taking extreme measures, although a bit of savings could be had without loss of anything interesting by splitting a main course as an appetizer and then ordering separate mains (which would be lower price and more food).

We went back to our room and were a bit disappointed not to find treats there. We had been given a welcome bottle, a prosecco. But each evening on our stay last year there were complimentary sweets delivered in the evening. Nothing like that was delivered to us this time until our 5th day on property.

Waking up the next morning, it was a pleasure to saunter over from the end of the walkway from the overwater villas back to the center of the resort for breakfast in the all-day dining restaurant.

Last year the understanding was that you could pick any three items from the menu, plus coffee or tea and juices (at least that’s what I had been told). I think I probably exceeded that one time last year but there was never a hint of a bill. This time I was simply told you could order whatever you wished, as much as you wanted, from the breakfast menu.

You can see pages of the breakfast menu here:

In addition to the items you can order they bring you a three-tiered tower with fruit, breads, and a local tuna with roshi bread (“Mushuni Roshi”).

The pastries were delicious, I especially liked ordering the Maldivian tuna curry and the noodle soup with prawns and egg. I never got bored of the selection, which surprised me somewhat since I was trying three things a day and the menu isn’t all that extensive.

Coffee at the hotel is excellent, and I’m very picky about my coffee. They also learned my preference for real cream quickly. And last year I had let them know that my wife has a preference for soy milk for her coffee. They had promised that they would have some, but didn’t until the third day of our stay (I imagine they didn’t look at the note again until the day of our arrival). This time, without my even asking, they proactively ensured they had some — and not just at the main restaurant, but in their dinner only restaurant as well.

Dinner the second night we tried the Island Grille. I was a bit concerned about the transition of the restaurant from the previous concept, Battuta, which I liked quite a lot — the restaurant had been an informal affair featuring Maldivian curries that were spicey and flavorful. The name Island Grille conjured, for me, the idea of a bit of a homogenized product, something that could just as easily exist in the Caribbean. In fact, it wasn’t that at all — the redo of the restaurant with an open kitchen and interesting lighting is gorgeous, and the menu (while a bit pricier than Battuta was) is interesting and delicious — various meats, sauces, from the grill and appetizers that they suggest ordering several and mixing and matching.

The food and beverage manager Mr. Joncas was very visible in the evenings and came by our table that evening. We asked whether they had plans for dinners besides at the two hotel restaurants (and room service). They do a beach seafood buffet as well. Specifically, though, last year during our stay they had an all you can eat sushi night out on ‘Drift’ (the bar area midway out on the overwater villa walkway) with all you could drink champagne. It was fresh fish with your own sushi chef, and really quite good (and a great value at $75 per person, considering the amount of sushi and Piper Heidsieck champagne I consumed). We were hopeful that was a regular thing.

He said it wasn’t — but knew that they were getting their big food delivery the next day. Later on in the evening he came back by the table, having spoken to the chef, and he’d learned about the fish that was coming in with their delivery and thought we might set up a private dinner out on the jetty at the end of the resort… they’d do a five course dinner, including a few courses of sushi. I thought the idea sounded spectacular! (I was curious — though did not ask — the price. It turned out to be less than $200 per person, an expensive meal of course but not considering the amount of food, the fresh fish, a wagyu beef course, and that we had our own dedicated waiter for the evening). That wound up as our plan for the next evening and it was an absolutely special experience. They even brought out the resort’s telescope for us to use. The food was excellent and really creative, as well – our sashimi was presented inside a dome of ice. A really memorable night.

The hotel will be happy to create customized experiences, dining anywhere you wish on the island, of course at a premium.

Most things here on the island are expensive. The priciest things tend to be excursions, anything that involves boats and fuel. But not everything takes money. Just lounging at the gorgeous pool, or on the deck of an overwater villa, comes at no extra charge.

And the spa — offering some of the best treatments I’ve had, anywhere — Is surprisingly reasonable. They were offering a three day package of treatments, two hours apiece, that averaged out to $61 per person per hour. That’s reasonably by resort standards in Thailand (the Westin Siray Bay outside of Phuket was over $70). And relative to everything else on property, a downright value. And I don’t remember the last time I found myself fading in and out of a restful state during a massage, something I did at least once all three days that I visited the spa.

The hotel bottles its own filtered water (both sparkling and still) and defaults to bringing a couple bottles of each every day, though we had requested and they quickly learned to provide a good deal more water to us. This learning happened quickly, and was handled consistently each day (with water also refreshed along with the second servicing of the room in the evening). Water is complimentary in your room, and at breakfast, though if I recall correctly they will charge $4.50 per person for water in the restaurants.

Probably my favorite moment of each day was sunset. The only diamond benefit here — since all rooms are villas there’s really no upgrade possible (although some people report lucking into a one-category upgrade when the resort isn’t full) and both breakfast and internet is free for everyone already — is a “sundowner.” Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members receive an evening cocktail and canapés served in the bar or on the beach around sunset each evening, to be taken between 6pm and 8pm. This is something that isn’t consistently mentioned, but everyone at the bar seems to know about the ‘sundowner’. On my first day I had to ask about it there, but from then on they knew that was something to provide to us.

Each evening we would wander over to the beach, sit down for a drink and a snack, and watch the sun set — over the water, with the water villas in the background. It was absolutely peaceful and gorgeous. Then around 7:45pm we would head over to dinner.

I stayed six nights on this trip, after spending 5 nights last year. I haven’t stayed anywhere for more than 5 nights since July 2007. I simply get bored and am ready to move on usually. But I would have been unhappy if I had stayed only 5 nights. I thought my 6th made it perfect, not as rushed. Because while the property was operating at 100% capacity during our stay (compared to just 50% last year), it never felt busy. We’d see a few people at breakfast, more at dinner, and that’s about it. A few people would be scattered around the island during the day. But mostly, and with only 50 rooms for the entire island, it remains a secluded and peaceful hideaway — with good food, great service, and fantastic facilities and gorgeous views. In other words, for me, perfection.

Last year when I was leaving the resort I began thinking about coming back, and I planned a return trip right away. Now, having stayed there two years in a row, I’m already contemplating a trip back in 2014. I have a nice hefty Gold Passport point balance and can’t think of a better way to use them, though I’ll again redeem for a standard villa and willingly pay to confirm an upgrade to water villa in advance.

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 Milepoint.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. Nice post

    How much did you pay for the upgrade to a OTW villa? And how far out did you do this?

    Is it illegal to bring a bottle of booze with you from your connecting city?

    Did you do any diving or deep sea fishing? If so, at what cost?

    Thanks

  2. @harvson 3 – snorkling, diving, fishing, spa, yoga room (and instructor), swimming, laying out on the beach…

  3. I would be distressed if I ordered fried rice (nasi goreng) and got fried noodles (mee goreng) instead.

  4. I thought I had read somewhere that some of the Over Water Villas were in the process of, or already have been, refurbished.

    Did you see any evidence of that, and if so, do you know which villas have been?

    I currently have #51 on request for my trip in May, but would consider trying one of the others if they have been newly redone.

    Thanks!

  5. I am not cheap, bu these food and bev prices are absurd…$42 for local reef fish grilled? That is daft. I get that transporting beef etc is expensive, but the fish sourced locally? Puhleeze. While this all looks great, I could never justify $600/day for food for a family of four even if the room was paid for in points. Too many other awesome places in thw world to go to tha cos far less money…

  6. Gary I’d love to see itemized costs for your 6 days in points and dollars. I enjoy aspirational award but shy away from those where I feel like I have no other options and am being gouged.

  7. Costs were ~m$175pp per day for food… ~$490pp roundtrip for domestic flgiht and boat transfer… $61/hr x 2 hr/day x 3 days x 2 people for spa… upgrade from base villa to overwater (discussed in the original post and last year’s trip report in great detail).

    This is NOT for everyone and I don’t mean to suggest it is! The Maldives is a remote destination. I’ve discussed this in earlier posts. It’s expensive to be here. Whether or not that’s worth it, relative to other options like Thailand or Bali, is entirely up to you!

    I found it gorgeous, service and food quite good, spa excellent. I loved the vibe of the place and was happy there. So I dug being there. But very much YMMV!

  8. Could you give some tips about … tipping in the resort? Never know how to handle this so when I will go to the resort I want to be ‘prepared’.

    See what I am doing here, using ‘when’ instead of ‘if’, use ‘make it happen’ statements :).

  9. The rooms look overly dark and boring – like 1970s contemporary – does it look that bad in person? I need some natural light,especially at the beach!

  10. @aaexplat, this is after all “Mr fancy pants” travelling. Be sure to click on his affiliate link and the trip is paid for by the readers.

  11. We were there during Chinese Lunar Year and the main restaurant was packed with Chinese tourists with kids running around which felt like a loud Chinese restaurant (and I’m Chinese!). But after few days, it felt much better when they started leaving. So if you are planning for next year, avoid visiting during Chinese Lunar Year.

    We also did the 3 days spa package and felt it was a fantastic value. Do avoid the guided house reef snorkeling. Not worth it since we can do it our own (the guide didn’t really guide us) and the price has gone up.

  12. @Nic open up the blackout shades and the room lights up. I kept them mostly closed to keep the heat from accumulating.

  13. Wow, no wonder MP calls you “Mr. Fancy Pants” ! 😀
    My unofficial total for 6 days is @ $10K, 132K points, and 460K miles. Assuming the only drinks you had were the one a day that was free at Sunset. Not even including the costs of stays in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

    No need for you to explain or rationalize though. You work hard at multiple jobs, greatly benefit all of us through your blog, and have earned tons of miles and points. You, Sir, are totally entitled to go wherever your heart desires !

    The best part of all that spending is that when it’s over, you can’t wait to do it all over again.

  14. A tremendous review. I must find a way to that property, though I am thinking of saving it for my honeymoon. If I ever get that far! 😉

  15. I love Park Hyatts as much as anyone, but stay in an OWB with a private pool and you may never want to stay in one that has no pool.

    It doesn’t sound like it will make that much of a difference, but having the plunge pool on an OWB really is quite nice.

    You can find specials for an OWB with a pool at luxury hotels like the Constance Halaveli for about $500/night, which is less than the “cost” of 22K HGP+$350.

    Plus a different Maldivian hotel will create fresh blog content 😀

  16. I second Dan’s comment.

    Last year, I stayed at the Constance Halaveli for 6 nights for about $500 per night, and from the looks of it in your TR, the Constance looks *far* nicer than the Hyatt.

    Add that to the fact that (i) the OWB have private plunge pools, (ii) can be cheaper than the Hyatt, and (iii) is closer to MLE, makes it a much better choice, IMO.

  17. @Dan and AJK, where did you guys find the $500/night at Constance Halaveli? I check and everything starts from $1,200 per night range.

  18. @AC – 1) don’t go in the high season (which is about November-April-ish); 2) check out agoda.com; and 3) speak with UK-based travel agents specializing in MLE.

  19. Been to both Constance Halaveli and Park Hyatt in addition to some other resorts in the Maldives. Rooms are very nice at Halaveli, but it is not my favorite island. I personally much prefer Park Hyatt for its far superior reef and natural beauty, both of which are more important to me in a trip to the Maldives than the actual villas themselves. I also prefer smaller islands that offer a more isolated and serene atmosphere than larger resorts, but this is just a personal thing.

  20. Really, Gary? I get @ $2400 in villa upgrade fees and taxes. $2100, {plus $50}, for meals for two, based on your per diem estimate. Spa package brings it over $5K.

    Then there is a transfer cost of nearly $1K per couple. So I guess you can keep it around $6K, assuming no tips, no excursions, and no drinks other than the free Sunset one. Most people on an “aspirational” trip won’t want to limit themselves to that. Not to mention Mathew who is thinking “honeymoon”.

    Add in a few drinks a day per person, which probably you didn’t do, but most of us on a vacation would, and wine with dinner, and now it’s halfway between your figure and mine. Still with no tips, no excursions, and no trips to the gift shop for forgotten items. My experience is that that the unexpected “extra” charges always exceed expectation. But I’m sure you are better at budgetary restraint than I am. 😀

    The overriding point is that you can afford it there, which I cannot, and I am happy for you. You have found your “happy place”, and you deserve to enjoy it !

  21. $1k per day for that experience is totally reasonable……just dial back the number of days if necessary to fit the budget………..if it wasn’t aspirational then everyone would be there in their Holiday Inn gear………and that would be a bad thing……

  22. I know exactly how you feel Gary. We stayed there during the Lunar New Year a few months back. Your report brought back great memories, and we cant wait to go back!

  23. We stayed at Park Hyatt Maldives too in December and it was the most unforgettable trip ever! I love the fact that this hotel is a green hotel, from the start to finish! And I love the fact they do their own water and serve the water in glass bottles, which can recycle forever. The room was gorgeous. I love nature, and when I’m on vacation, I am the type that likes to be in a quiet environment with less traffic, in a room that I can relax in. This island is by far the best. It’s just so hard to put words into the experience.

  24. I forgot to mention – thank you for your report on this resort. It brings back lots of memories. =)

    Oh one thing I forgot to mention, the only disappointment was that some people that stayed in the resort is that people don’t know how to respect the nature. I saw some guests stepping on the coral reefs close to the villa. I think it’d be good if the resort could leave a note or mention to them not to step on them. If they do step on them or damage the coral, they’ll be fined.

  25. Sorry but nothing less than US$~1000 per night at the Constance if you want an OWB even in off season. UK pounds maybe ?

  26. ^^What Stephan said^^

    You can get a breakfast rate at Constance in the offseason via Agoda for $9xx ….plus taxes/fees/etc and you’re at $1100 per night. Please provide a relevant and reliable source for that $500/nt rate. I don’t see that happenin’

    Unless you were referring to HALF of an OWB? 😉

  27. How did you find the Maldives compared to Bora Bora? Your honeymoon trip report on Bora Bora looked great and from a scenery and snorkeling standpoint looks better than the Maldives. I was wondering why you are planning on going to the Maldives for a third time but haven’t been back to Bora Bora (or if you have I missed that trip report). Thanks for your thoughts.

  28. @Greg – Bora Bora was beautiful. But with the exception of one meal (Villa Mahana) food was generally poor. Service was poor. And I just didn’t connect with the place in the same way. Bora Bora isn’t really easier for me to get to from the US East Caost, fly to Los Angeles and then to Papeete and then to Bora Bora. And sinec it’s a boat ride from Vaitape, you aren’t actually that remote (which can be good or bad).

  29. I was fortunate enough to stay at the Park Hyatt in Mov 2012 and it was a fantastic experience. The photos here really capture the essence of the place. It’s perfect for just zen-ing out and doing nothing, while surrounded by beauty.

    I’d love to go back – truly a wonderful spot. Get here before the rest of the world finds out…

  30. Couple responses to the posts, my full trip report is here http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g2104649-d1473123-r153463959-Park_Hyatt_Maldives_Hadahaa-North_Huvadhu_Gaafa_Alifu_Atoll.html

    Tips- There is a service charge on all bills and this is distributed among the non-management staff. So your choice if you feel you need to tip above this.

    4/5 night stay= $2K bill for me and my wife. This was with paying for only one meal a day, dinner, and having a late free breakfeast. It did include at least 2-4 drinks and the transfer costs.

    We had a different experince with Shaheen, we was always showing up once waiters requested our villa#. He was always trying to upsale us stuff.

    For anyone who stays at the Hyatt you must try the bar chips, the best bar chips I have ever had in my life. Not saying the food was terrible but the best thing I ate when I was there was the bar chips!

  31. we arrive on 5 Oct 2013 for 9 nts. Our cost of going from B & B to full AI (any drink, any food except champagne over $500 a bottle)was only £120 in total for the two of us on top of the B & B price – offer of a lifetime. (the cost of lunch maybe). Cant wait

  32. hi Gary,
    i’ve been looking fwd to my trip and will be departing in 3 days.
    was pretty shocked today when i checked out the updated spa prices as i was really keen on the 3-day package u mentioned.
    the price has increased from 700 per couple to 1370!
    yikes!! i hope the prices of the rest of the stuff (like food) aren’t as horrendously hiked up since your post.

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