Review: Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives – Why It’s My Favorite Resort, and 5 Reasons You May Not Even Like It

Here I review the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives — my total relaxation place where I’ve gone each of the past four years.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction, overview, and costs
  2. Star Alliance first class and business class lounges, LAX
  3. Etihad First Class, Los Angles – Abu Dhabi.. the 3rd Longest Flight in the World!
  4. Premier Inn, Abu Dhabi International Airport
  5. Etihad’s new business class lounge, Abu Dhabi
  6. Etihad Business Class, Abu Dhabi – Male
  7. Male Domestic Lounge and Maldivian, Male – Kooddoo, plus boat transfer to the Park Hyatt

This was my fourth visit in four years to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives. I simply do not go back to the same place like this but it’s the place where I truly relax – and relax quickly.

I’m constantly plugged in. I am always online. I work wherever I go, both my day job and everything miles and points related.

So when I travel for pleasure I first of all want to be in a time zone where the daytime doesn’t line up with the US East Coast. I get up in the morning early, at the end of the business day, and answer emails and catch up quickly on the previous business day. Then I have the whole day ahead of me to enjoy without having to respond to folks.

In order to really disconnect though I need to wash the world away, something i can do when I first have to take a fourteen hour flight and then a four hour connection… a domestic flight… and a boat ride. I’m so far away, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, where I don’t know anyone and where there are very few people (not only are there just 50 villas and the resort comprises the entire island, but many people tend to stay in their villas during the day).

It’s absolutely beautiful. I could watch the fish in the water endlessly. I’ve always enjoyed the staff and found them very accommodating. The food is good. What more could I want?

Hence my previous reviews:

4 Villa Types

The property has four room types among its 50 rooms.

  • Park Villa. This is the base room, what you’re booked into on an award. The rooms themselves are identical across the property, it’s really about location and whether or not there’s a pool. You get a big bedroom, a large bathroom, and an enclosed outdoor area with shower.

  • Pool Villa. This is the same as a base villa, but with a private pool. Some people think, given the resort’s 2 lovely pools and the amazing ocean, they’d never want a pool. I think, for when you want to relax in private, that sitting by the pool is quite enjoyable.

  • Water Villa. The base villa has a small deck instead of an enclosed outdoor area. There is no pool. The room is on stilts over the water.

  • Sunset Water Villa. These are exactly the same as water villas, but they’re the villas farthest out on the pier with greatest privacy (as fewer people walk by).

There’s been talk for years of building a special larger water villa at the end of the pier but it’s a project that hasn’t yet come to fruition.

The room type you want is going to be a personal choice. I had a base villa at the end of my stay last year, as a place to freshen up post-checkout. The room itself is fine. It’s the perfect base to sleep, while enjoying the resort and the island.

A pool villa, to me, is perfect for someone who prefers to spend time secluded in their villa while enjoying the outdoors.

I’ve managed to upgrade to a water villa on each of my stays. I love the walk along the pier, especially late at night and in the early mornings.

And I love sitting out on my deck, looking out at the ocean. And going straight from my deck down into the ocean.

My Water Villa

There’s a large bedroom, and a comfortable day bed couch. There are two nightstands, shelving, and a television. In four visits I’ve never turned on the television.

The bedroom has dual sinks and a tub, as well as ample closet space. The toilet room is separate as is the shower room, which has a skylight.

At check-in there were several treats waiting for us.


    (Click to enlarge)

The hotel purifies and bottles its own water. It’s part of their commitment to sustainability in a remote location, where trash comes at an especially high cost (they refill toileteries in the same permanent container each day rather than using Park Hyatt standard plastic bottles as well).

They’ll bring you as much water as you’d like, both sparkling and still, and they know my preference for quite a bit of water (they’ll have 6 to 8 bottles in my room at a given time) and all still.

Water is complimentary in the room, and charged in the restaurant (where it used to be a flat fee per person, now it’s charged by the bottle and whether you come out ahead or behind compared to the old pricing depends on how much water you drink there).

Diamond Benefits

When the property first opened as a Hyatt (it converted from Alila Villas), everyone received complimentary breakfast. Supposedly you got 3 items off the menu plus starters, but I never saw anyone charged who ordered more.

Under the last General Manager (who coincidentally had opened the property with Alila), they stopped giving complimentary breakfast on award stays. However Diamond members continued to receive this, as it is a Gold Passport benefit.

That General Manager also formalized the benefit of upgrading Diamonds to a pool villa from a base villa, if available at check-in.


    (Click to enlarge)

Everyone at the resort receives free internet, which I find to be perfectly functional most of the time although slow occasionally.

Diamonds receive a complimentary cocktail and canapes between 6pm and 8pm each evening. One of the highlights of my day, each day, is to walk out to the beach… enjoy the cocktail of my choice while sitting and watching the sun go down behind the villas.

Diamonds also receive a 20% discount on cocktails and wine from 7pm to midnight.

Resort Dining

The resort has two restaurants — the main dining room, where breakfast and lunch are served, and the dinner-only Island Grill.


    Dining room at night


    Dining room at breakfast


    Entrance to the Island Grill


    Island Grill


    View through the bushes out to the water at the Island Grill


    View through the bushes out to the water at the Island Grill

They also offer room service, of course. And they can accommodate special meals most anywhere on the resort. For instance, two years ago I had a private dinner on the jetty. And last year we had a private dinner set up for a friend’s birthday. That turns out to be not much of a premium compared to a meal in the restaurant, or at least wasn’t on those past stays.

Breakfast is a real highlight. You receive a tower of three starters (fruit, pastries, and a local tuna dish) and order what you wish off the menu. They serve illy coffee and it’s the perfect way to start off a morning, along with fresh squeezed juice. Service can be a bit slow, but I like a long leisurely breakfast.

I much enjoy Island Grill as well, though I think I also like that I generally stay on property 5-6 nights at a time. Over the course of 10-14 days I’d be bored of the food choices.

Some sleep in, eat breakfast late, and skip lunch. I like an early start to my day, and found that my wife and I would each order one item from room service at lunch (that bill came to a bit under $60 each day).

Island Grill is nice in the evenings, I recommend reservations especially when the resort is crowded if you have a preference for a seat looking out through the bushes at the ocean.

Activities

My favorite activity is just to relax, sitting on my deck. You can go straight into the water and snorkle.

The diving here is supposed to be fantastic (I prefer to snorkle, I have a certain claustrophobia with diving).

The resort’s two main pools are beside the main restaurant and bar at the front of the resort, and tucked away beside the spa.

The spa is fantastic, some of the best treatments I’ve had ever, although much more expensive than it was two and three years ago (similar pricing perhaps to what you’ll see at nicer resorts in the Caribbean, whereas just two years ago I was paying only ~ $60 per spa hour with a 3-day package).

You can do fishing excursions (catch fish, and they’ll cook it up for you) or a remote private island picnic. The more remote the excursion, the more expensive, and while I’ve thought I’d want to take a boat to the equator that’s beyond my budget.

There’s a yoga room, they do have classes, and there are board games out at the bar by the beach.

But this isn’t a high octane environment by any stretch.

Arrival and Departure

You arrive by boat and have a grand view of the resort if during the day, or at night you’ll simply see its lights off in the distance.

The resort’s “time zone” is an hour ahead of Male and the local island you arrive at when you get off your domestic flight. So it can often be quite late when you finally ‘make it’.

Check-in formalities are often handled at the Dhoni, provided the waters aren’t too rough and they’re able to bring you into the resort via the main jetty. We came in late at night this time and were taken directly to our villa instead.

Check-out you take care of by dropping by the resort’s office which is behind the main dining room, and is one of the few air conditioned spots on the island (besides your villa and the spa).

You’ll usually be taken back out of the resort via the Dhoni, though, as well on the way to the boat which will bring you back to the airport.

Since you gain an hour on the way back to the airport you’ll arrive for your domestic flight before you depart the resort.

5 Reasons You May Not Like the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives

This is really my favorite place to go in the world. But it will not be for everyone. Here are 5 things to consider before choosing this resort.

  1. Distance to the Maldives. You can get a beach vacation much closer to home. The most efficient way to get there is generally going to be via the Middle East, which is a substantial flight on its own. I usually fly Eithad via Abu Dhabi with an airport overnight enroute (I like that break) but you can get there more quickly through other gateways. There are limited flights to the Maldives, and you’re limited by schedule.

  2. Distance to the Resort Once You Arrive in the Maldives. Even if you want to go to the Maldives, this resort is among the more difficult to get to. Many properties can be reached by boat from the airport in Male, or via a short seaplane flight. The Park Hyatt Maldives requires waiting for a scheduled domestic flight (about an hour, although some flights make a stop along the way and so are an hour and a half) and then you take a speed boat from the island where you arrive to the resort. To me, the resort’s seclusion is part of its appeal (and pulling up to the resort after all that feels even more like paradise), but it does take a lot to get there.

  3. Cost. In many ways the resort is less expensive than you might expect, but it’s certainly not cheap. You can travel equally far to Bali and find accommodation, activities, and meals much less expensive. You’re in the middle of the Indian Ocean, truly remote. Most things have to be brought in. Taxes on alcohol in this Islamic country are high. And it’s a top shelf resort. That combines for high prices. I will share copies of resort menus in an upcoming post.

  4. Air conditioning in the villas. This is one of the biggest things I wish they’d fix – and I think they have to start from scratch, with better systems, rather than implementing tweaks. The overwater villas especially get hot as the sun beats down on the glass walls, and this is doubly so during the rainy season with high winds. It seems like the villas used to cool down to 66 or 68 degrees overnight, and then would heat up to as much as 78 during the day. On my past two visits it hasn’t seemed to get below about 72.

  5. Just Too Low Key for Some People. Especially if you don’t want to dive or even snorkle, the activities you’re going to have are going to be especially low key. There is no nightlife. There are few people. That’s great for relaxing, but not everyone wants to relax that way. People that call Bora Bora ‘boring boring’ aren’t likely to enjoy a resort where there’s little chance to get off the island.

That said, it’s hard to imagine a better value aspirational use of points (you’ll regularly get better than 3 cents per Hyatt point even now that Hyatt has moved this resort up to category 7). Fortunately I booked it this year while it was still category 6 — and during Hyatt’s 20% redemption rebate offer.

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. #4 certainly rules out a return by me, at least until this is fixed. I cannot sleep in a hot room.

  2. 6. There are other Maldivian resorts that have water villas with private pools that can be had for the same price as the PH once you account for the water villa upgrade fees.

  3. Was actually thinking of a trip here, but this is a deal breaker:
    ” It seems like the villas used to cool down to 66 or 68 degrees overnight, and then would heat up to as much as 78 during the day. On my past two visits it hasn’t seemed to get below about 72.”

    Thanks for the heads up!

  4. Gary you need to give a different resort a try if only for comparisons sake. I just got back from hadahaa and had my worst Hyatt stay ever. First, u are right. Its an uncomfortable schlepp to the island. In addition we weren’t notified in advance, as promised, of what time our flight was leaving ( from male) so had to have our transit hotel CALL them at 2am to find out so that we didn’t miss the 9am flt. Which we had no idea about up to then. We were then left at the kodohoo airport where the mosquitos had a good feast on us while we waited for the boat. We also had issues with the a/c even in a standard villa. Upon check out, our villa was scrutinized with us still in it, to make sure we didnt steal or break anything. For the grand finale, they neglected to alott for the time difference and left us at the remote airport an hour too soon – no water, no people, no wifi. An empty room. Another miserable 2.5 hours twiddling our thumbs. I have previously stayed the Conrad rangali and MUCH preferred that experience to this, if not only for the relative ease of getting there ( in a delightful sea plane that lands right at the property. ). Its also bigger with more to do, and much more lively. To each his own, but that was my take in the place. I won’t be going back, nor will I recommend anyone else go there. PS we were compensated for all these issues, which was a nice gesture but for all the $$, time and effort spent to get there I would have preferred a better holiday experience from a 5 star resort

  5. Sounds horrible. I can’t stay at places where can’t get room temps down to 69 degrees. Also too far. Waste of time. I suggest you look up how to override their temp controls. May be able to get temps lower

  6. I always love reading about this property. I’m going back in January ( was there and the Conrad Rangali in 2014).

    Any update on Platinum benefits (are there any)?

  7. @Mike it’s not about override, it’s about the hot sun on the glass windows and the design of the system.

    @beachfan Platinums get bonus points-earning on spend. 😉

  8. Gary,
    ”It seems like the villas used to cool down to 66 or 68 degrees overnight, and then would heat up to as much as 78 during the day. On my past two visits it hasn’t seemed to get below about 72.”

    “@Gene I always found it perfectly cool at night”

    Trying to make sense of this… are you saying that 72 at night is perfectly cool for you, or that it got down below 72 at night?

  9. @Josh i found it perfectly cool at night at 72. The only reason i would push it as low as possible on earlier visits would be so that it would start cool the next day and not heat up too badly come early afternoon.

  10. Gary, just completed my second trip to the Park Hyatt and I completely understand why you keep coming back.

    Incidentally my brother in-law and sister who joined me, did a great video of our trip here is the link.

  11. Lack of AC is a dealbreaker for me. I need at least 66 degrees at night and 72 during the day.

  12. Folks who see the AC issue I report as a deal breaker might consider a base villa or a pool villa and just not an overwater villa.

  13. Gary, What time of the year is the best for Maldives? I am thinking sending the kids to the grandparents for the week and have our anniversary trip to maldives but that’s in the summer. Isn’t that the monsoon season over there?

  14. While gorgeous and a Hyatt, think this is probably silly for most Americans and makes for a better destination for Europeans. French Polynesia seems to be better for Americans since it’s closer. Also as you mentioned being the only thing on the island is not for everyone. It’s funny because you hear boring boring as you mentioned but even BB has other things to do. Great review though!

  15. @Juno I think December – February is absolute best. I went in early May last year, which is marginal, definite rains and rough seas.

  16. The more you post about this resort, the less I desire to go there. There have been some very good specials for other resorts in the Maldives. Shangri-La and Taj have both had specials for over water bures for about $600 a night which is a much better rate than spending at least $350 for the upgrade and 30,000 Hyatt points per night. There are places in the Caribbean that are very disconnected and very exclusive, but you cannot fly First class to travel to those places. Or use points for the accommodations. I keep reading about Chinese tourists who are obnoxious, and who are the largest group of tourists to the Maldives. The up thread link to Islamic extremists is very concerning. Overall, I think my chances of traveling to the Maldives is getting closer to zero, every year.

  17. Worth it for a few nights in August? We are planning a trip to India and would love to visit the Maldives and Sri Lanka as well. I am a Hyatt Diamond and this seems like a great use of my points. Can’t decide on 2-3 nights. We are a bit cheap, so I worry that more than that and I would get annoyed at paying so much for food. 🙂

  18. Wow, you guys and the AC … Take off the other 20 blankets you’re using and be happy with anything in the 70’s. Geez…

  19. thanks for the warning about the AC. I need it cold to sleep or just be comfortable. Scratching this place off my list.

  20. I don’t understand the concerns with the AC. Maybe they’ve had heatstroke in their youth and are exceptionally sensitive? It’s a tropical country. If 78, or even 72 is unacceptable… wow.

    Overall, I still don’t think this resort is one I’ll shoot for. The remoteness isn’t my preference. Quiet is OK, but resorts get boring real quickly for me, so I like to have somewhere to escape to that’s got people around. The one exception is if I were with a really fun group of friends where we can create our own entertainment. But getting just one or two to the Maldives is difficult enough. A whole posse is a stretch.

  21. Hi Gary. Thanks for the comprehensive review. I will not be visiting, as I cannot STAND hot rooms. If they ever fix the AC issue, it looks like it would be a fantastic experience to try!

  22. Hey Gary! I feel like such an old person right now but I can’t figure out how to contact you (Twitter, Facebook?) so I’ll ask my question here.

    When I was in the Navy, in 2009 my ship stopped for a few days in Seychelles and that was my first ever experience of an island paradise. I badly want to bring my wife over there, and was wondering if you’ve ever found yourself in that part of the world, and how you could get there with points. Thanks!

  23. How regularly are Hyatt Diamonds upgraded to the overwater villas? Considering booking, but that’s an important consideration for me.

  24. Except for the reef damage, everything here is better in so many ways. It really sets the bar for any comparison destinations.

  25. Insect fogging twice daily at the resort is something they don’t tell you about. It’s not subtle, either- clouds of insecticide fog roll past the windows in your villa and are pretty thick. Made one of my children feel nauseous and throat closed up. Clouds of insecticide then rolled into the small private pool attached to our villa.

    Beautiful resort, nice house reef,and attentive staff but dealing with thick clouds of insecticide twice daily was not fun.

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