I’m beginning to write up the report of my most recent trip to the Maldives, and this is a basic preview and outline of the trip I’ll be sharing.
Regular readers know that I love the Maldives. It’s not for everyone and I hope to give you a sense both of why I like it so much and also reasons why not everyone will.
For me the distance is a feature, not a bug, I need to be that far away to really disconnect and the time zone difference helps too because I’m getting up in the morning when the business day ends on the US East Coast and I have the entire day ahead of me undisturbed.
I’ve now gone back to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives four consecutive years. I love it there, though many little things have changed and indeed at the end of the month they’ll have a new General Manager (their third since becoming a Hyatt).
In order to book the trip I used a combination of American and Alaska miles to fly Etihad and Emirates first class. I used Hyatt points for the villa in the Maldives, and paid to upgrade to an overwater villa. I detail the costs for the trip below.
If you don’t have an interest in the Maldives, it should be fairly easy to skip over these posts, though even if you think you know all about the Park Hyatt I’ll be sharing what’s changed since I’ve reported on it last as well as what may be to come.
You may have seen my writeups of Etihad first class before, I think it’s an outstanding overall product and I’ve found it really easy to redeem for and the Middle East a great place to transit enroute the India and surrounding areas. This time I flew their longest route, experienced their lie flat business class for the first time as well, and report on their new business class in Abu Dhabi.
And while you can find reports online of Emirates first class, I hadn’t ever done it onboard the A380 so my take may be a little bit different. Plus there’s no way I was going to fly that bird and not report on showering in the air.
Outbound: Etihad First Class and Business Class
I booked first class awards Los Angeles – Abu Dhabi on Etihad.
In Los Angeles I was able to visit the Star Alliance first and business class lounges (Etihad uses the Star lounges until they have their own).
I overnighted in Abu Dhabi at the Premier Inn attached to the airport (I used Orbitz Rewards dollars for the ~ US$100 room — I like using those sorts of credits at non-chain hotels because booking through Orbitz means I give up elite stay credit).
In the morning we visited the new Etihad business class lounge, where we were invited to use the roped-off first class lounge based on our arriving boarding passes. Then we flew Etihad business class (which is now lie flat for this flight) to Male.
This was 90,000 miles and $7 in taxes per person.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives
I used points for a room and paid cash to upgrade to a water villa for 5 nights.
Here’s what it cost:
- I booked this as a category 6 hotel, before its recent increase to category 7. Normally that would have meant 25,000 Hyatt points per night, but with the current promotion for Hyatt Visa cardholders I got 20% of those points back. So 20,000 Gold Passport points per night, which is the lowest price it’s ever been.
- The hotel is quite good about upgrading Diamonds from the base villa to pool villa, subject to availability. Since it was my fourth visit to the property they let me know that they’d go ahead and confirm that in advance.
- I paid for an upgrade from pool villa to water villa for $155++ per night. (The hotel now separates out the villas farthest out on the pier and calls them ‘Sunset Water Villas’ — and charges $245++ per night more to confirm into them — so I got in under the wire with my reservation as I was assigned to one of these.)
Return: Emirates First Class
I used 100,000 Alaska Airlines miles plus $42.50 in taxes and a $12.50 partner booking fee per person in order to secure Emirates first class flights:
- Male – Colombo (overnight)
- Colombo – Dubai – Dallas
We spent about 23 hours in Colombo and took the opportunity to sample a good bit of local food.
We stayed at the Colombo Hilton where I paid a US$116 cash rate for the hotel. I was given my very first complimentary upgrade to a suite ever at a Hilton property (Here’s why I have HHonors Diamond status) and club lounge access.
We had the usual contract lounge access at the Male airport, of course, and Emirates has their own lounge in Colombo.
In Dubai I finally got to experience the A380 A Concourse and the entire level of the terminal which makes up their first class lounge. The best way to describe that is the 1980s film Night of the Comet: a comet crashes into earth and evaporates pretty much all life except for a few teenagers, while leaving all structures standings. There couldn’t have been more than half a dozen people spread across twenty-someodd gates for much of the time I was in the ‘lounge’.
Look! There’s a person in the lounge!
This was my first time flying Emirates first class onboard the Airbus A380, so my very first time taking a shower on the plane. And it was awesome.
So join me on this trip, I’ll take you along on my week-long trip to the Maldives.
Total points used: 190,000 airline miles per person + 100,000 hotel points.