Prior to heading to the Maldives I always wondered what was the fuss about a bunch of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Maybe it is because I am a mountain kind of person, and I have had much fun around the islands in Indonesia and Malaysia. Yes, the staff at the resort did mention I am heading from one paradise (Indonesia) to another (Maldives). The latter is definitely more luxurious though, and without all the tricks taught by the people at FlyerTalk, I might not have been able to fly here so quickly. As I mentioned in the introduction to my trip report, my flights were the result of a routing made possible by the rules of redeeming miles. Thus it costs me maybe a few extra dollars in taxes. Initially I wanted this trip more for the flights and hoped to find a cheap resort to stay in. But it turns out the cheapest resorts are still a few hundred dollars in expenses, enough for a 5-star hotel in many major cities. So with a bunch of Hyatt points that I had accumulated, I booked 2 nights in a Park Villa, not knowing that it will be a bit too short.
Because the Park Hyatt Maldives are located in the Southern part of the Maldives, this meant I needed a domestic flight between Male (MLE) and Kooddoo (GKK) Airport. It was worth it though since I had a very nice view during the short 50 minute flight, and definitely get a window seat on any domestic flight in the Maldives. Then from Kooddoo, it was a 30 minute ride to the resort which occupies a small island that took me all of 30 minutes to walk one round. The domestic flight and ferry transfer had to be arranged by the hotel and thus upon reserving my villa, I forwarded my itinerary and mentioned I would stay the first night in the Traders Hotel Male. They proceeded to book me on the 8am flight to Koodoo which meant I needed to leave Traders Hotel at around 6:30am which was certainly early. They did mention it to me a just one and a half day before check-in date.
It was cloudy the day I arrived with bits of sunshine at scattered times, thus it gave for a bumpy ferry ride. However I knew it was going to be a great stay since I spotted dolphins in the wild during my ferry ride to the hotel. The ferry even stopped for me to observe these nautical beauties leaping in and out of the waters. I guess I got really lucky since that meant I need not bother with the dolphin cruise anymore! Upon reaching the resort, I was personally greeted by the GM himself and his entourage. As I am travelling alone and I was the only one arriving on the resort at that time and take into account that I am not one used to being in the limelight, it was all a bit awkward. My host for the stay, a pleasant lady named Shirin, greeted me and drove me on the buggy towards the villa to complete my check-in process. The whole arrival experience was flawless, even though if it was a bit awkward. I was assigned Villa 22, whose view of the beach was blocked by the vegetation, but I knew it was nearly full since I knew there were no more Park Pool or Water Villas available anymore having checked the website. Since I was on a short stay and it was an award night, I was happy too with the Villa I was assigned. I will elaborate on why I thought this was a pretty good villa even with the blocked view.
The Park Villa was spacious and even in the cloudy day, it felt still warm with the air-condition on. This was due to the large glass window. There is a large King bed in the centre of the room, and a long console at the end functions as a desk and a TV stand. There was an armchair with a table at the end of the console and a chaise lounge by the window. The second half of the room behind the bed was occupied by the bathroom which is beautiful as it allow lots of natural light in. Upon entering the bathroom, there was the enclosed indoor shower on the left and an enclosed toilet on the right. There seemed to be a line of symmetry across the bathroom in the next section as there was a sink and closest on each side meant for couples. A glass door in the middle leads to a private outdoor shower and bathtub, which was great to have in a tropical resort.
A small deck lies outside the villa furnished with 2 chairs and a small side table, and a small path leads to the beach. There was 2 recliners on the beach in front of each villa with an umbrella, though the umbrella was broken. I did not need to use the umbrella for my stay though I did find the beach to be great in this section of the island. There was a wide expanse of sand to just lounge by the beach and also a wide section to swim in before one reaches the coral reef which is not suitable for swimming. Thus for guests that desire privacy and a nice beach, this section of the island is the choice to go for. It is notably quieter being at the end of the amenities, and thus it will take time to either walk or guests can always call for the buggy service.
The island time is also one hour ahead of Male time and it seemed a bit unnecessary for me but as the resort’s facilities utilizes the island time, I had to made some changes on the watch. I was still in time for breakfast on the first day as I was guided to the Dining Room by Shirin before 11am. All guests, whether they have premium Hyatt status or not, receive breakfast included in their rate at this resort. Apparently the restaurant is pretty flexible on breakfast hours and many guests usually have it between 9:30 and 11:30 am. I guess it was brunch time for me and I ordered some waffles. In addition the the main course, guests also get a tiered tray consisting of fruits in the top tier, Maldivian crepes with tuna filling on the middle, and assorted pastries on the lowest tier. Guests can also customize or request for multiple portions of the food from the menu as long as the kitchen allows, though they were pretty flexible on this too. I ordered a glass of apple and carrot juice that was freshly made as well for my drinks. The one main course I recommend would be the Maldivian Tuna Curry as it was somewhat local and the taste was wonderful though it can be a bit spicy. The only irritation dining in the morning by the patio is the flies that would sometime hover around your food.
After brunch, I explored the island and just started to snap the beauty of the resort and to digest the food a bit. The heat and humidity made it easy to feel lethargic so I returned to the villa to just lie down by the chaise lounge. Once inside I notice there was a jug of ice tea in the room, a bottle of ‘champagne’ or sparkling wine in a bucket of ice, if one wants to be exact, and there was chocolates, mixed nuts and some snacks on a glass-enclosed plate. There was more than enough food to last me through the night if I really wanted to. There was also several bottles of water in the room and guests can always request for more. One bottle was sparkling and another was still water, both placed in the fridge while a third bottle of still water is placed outside in the room. Every room is also supplied with an iPad and the hotel also has an iPad app that one can download in anticipation of what to expect in terms of dining menu and activities when they arrive.
When I had substantially cooled down and got comfortable, I headed to the beach as the afternoon sun was shrouded in clouds and headed for a swim in the beach. Comparing the currents here and the one around the dusk jetty where I arrived, the waves here are much stronger which is why the reefs on this side is not recommended to snorkel in. It felt really good to just escape here and relax by the beach, with the feeling that you are all alone since there was probably one person that walked past the whole time I was out at the beach. Other times it feels like you are on your own private island from this section of the island. The privacy at this resort provides the ultimate as far as a relaxing vacation goes. And when you return to the villa, there is a stone basin refreshed with clean water every day to wash off the sand from your feet. The attention to detail makes for a comfortable stay!
For Hyatt Diamond members, there was a cocktail and canape service between 6 to 8 pm served in the Bar beside the swimming pool, though I was informed of this benefit on the telephone as the host forgot to inform me while checking in. It was nice of her to remind me just when I returned to the villa after brunch though. The canapes was fantastic and they do change the canapes for the 2 days I was there. There was also a list of drinks one can choose from the bar menu, including champagne. I had a nice mocktail on the first day and champagne on the second day.
Both nights I headed to the Island Grill for dinner as I had a fantastic Wagyu Tenderloin steak that was grilled to perfection. They will also serve steak sauce on the sides if you ask nicely, and don’t forget to request for dips used with the bread as they forgot to serve it to me on the second day. But I was seriously too full after the canapes and snacks I had in the Villa. The second day I had a Sirloin which I enjoyed more than the Tenderloin and I was surprised at the food quality in the resort since I half expected average food here, considering there is no other dining choice besides the Island Grill and the Dining Room.
As I did not have much time to take up diving lessons, I was satisfied with snorkelling and snorkelling equipments can be rented at no cost, though life vests have to be rented for a nominal fee. There were guests asking if they could use the one supplied in the Villa and while there was no rejection, they did mention those are to be used for emergency purposes only. Since I have snorkelled before, and I preferred the mobility without a life vest, I did not rent one. The house reef around the dusk jetty was just amazing and offers enough diversity without the need to head out for a dive. In fact on the 2 days I did snorkel, I managed to spot sea anemones, angelfish, shoals of fishes, eels, and even a giant sea turtle. It was my first time snorkelling side by side a giant sea turtle and that experience is unforgettable!
On the last day of my stay, the sky cleared and I woke up early to catch the sunrise as there was little to do in the night. The hotel did prepare a telescope placed by the poolside at night for guests to gaze at the stars and there was the Dhoni which was beautifully lit at night should one want to lounge with books about the Maldives. There was also some DVD for rent from guest services but their DVD collection needs some improvement as they were all old titles that does not interest me. The only movie I was interested in was ‘The Ghost Writer’. Even my stay at Kimamaya in Niseko had a much better selection of movies. However the natural beauty of the island was amazing and it marked a beautiful end to my stay. I am not sure if it was the blue skies and the azure waters that made me miss this place or if it was the privacy and freedom of enjoying the ocean that made me yearn to return.
During my stay, I found I enjoyed the resort immensely and hope to be back. Whether it was lounging by the beach, the sundeck on the poolside or just sitting down and reading a book inside the overturned Dhoni lobby lounge, it was a wonderful resort to be in. The hotel also takes very good care of its guests from the amenities on the first day, to the complimentary breakfast and a generally pleasant service from the staff. My host Shirin was so wonderful that she actually passed me some local currency when I mentioned I would like some for mementos of my visit to the Maldives. Everytime I encountered the staff, they would smile and greet me and the service was generally very personal. This made the whole stay experience a memorable one! The next time I stay here it would have to be longer, and maybe try out the Over-water Villas!