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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Staying at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives

Carissa Rawson's image
Carissa Rawson
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Carissa Rawson

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Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business ...
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In January of this year, I spent a fabulous 7 nights at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. While I haven’t quite wrapped up my full review (stay tuned … there’s a lot to say), there are some things that really stand out to me about this property, as well as things I wish I had known before arriving. Let’s hash them out.

1. It’s Expensive. Really Expensive.

The Maldives is one of those bucket-list destinations for award travelers. With white sand beaches, the world’s hottest sun, and ultra-exclusive resorts, it doesn’t get much better for beachside vacations. Those redeeming their points can also score insane value for them because Maldives resorts tend to be exorbitantly expensive.

Nowhere is this more true than the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaaushi, where the cheapest you’ll likely ever find a room is $1,876 per night (excluding service charges and tax).

WA Maldives award room
Image Credit: Hilton

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I arrived and found everything at the hotel was expensive. But I’ve been to the Maldives before, and have even stayed at the comparably priced Conrad Maldives, where award rooms also feature an overwater villa.

That didn’t prepare me for the absolutely astonishing cost of being a guest at this resort. The transfers are $1,200, cocktails are about $30 each, and a cheeseburger will cost you $52. That doesn’t include french fries (those will cost you another $20).

In keeping with the “oh my God, why?” theming, the hotel will also nickel-and-dime you. Bath bombs are placed lovingly next to your soaking tub, along with a neat little placard stating their cost. The same can be said for goggles and sunscreen in your closet, which take up valuable storage space but aren’t complimentary.

WA Maldives sunscreen
Those goggles cost $60. Image Credit: Carissa Rawson

So, while you may have scored your room for free, and hopefully, you’ve flown to the Maldives using your points and miles, too, as a guest, you really need to be prepared to spend some money. You can also choose to bring snacks, but importing alcohol into the Maldives is prohibited.

Hot Tip:

You can save $200 on your expenses by using your Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to pay for everything. Plus, earn 17x Hilton points on your stay — which can be enough to earn you another free night!

The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

2. Elite Status Benefits Don’t Get You Much

While the practice is more common among isolated resorts, your Hilton Honors elite status benefits aren’t going to be much help when you arrive. Those with Gold and Diamond status are usually entitled to a variety of benefits, including late checkout, complimentary breakfast, and room upgrades.

Well, here it’s different. Everyone at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives gets free breakfast — curiously, this includes Champagne, but excludes soda (a Diet Coke will run you $8). Free breakfast is great, and you should eat your fill, but it’s indicative of the kind of … egalitarian … treatment elite members can expect here.

This continues with room upgrades — the Waldorf Astoria Maldives is 1 of the 5 locations in the entire Hilton portfolio that is excluded from complimentary upgrades.

I managed to swing one, not through any magic of my own, but because another larger group wanted to stay next to each other. This landed me in a King Grand Overwater Villa With Pool, which was, frankly, incredible.

Finally, late checkout is another one of those benefits you’d hope for as an elite member, but whether or not you’ll get it depends entirely on occupancy. Even without elite status, if the room is vacant they’ll let you keep it. If not, you’ll need to be out of there on time.

3. The Rooms You Can Book on Points Aren’t Good for Snorkeling

All of the rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives are nice. Every single one is huge, has a ladder into the water, and includes its own pool. Even without an upgrade, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better.

However, the King Reef Villas — the ones that can be booked with points — don’t have easy access to the resort’s reefs. Our room faced inward to the lagoon, which meant our view included distant villas and a great amount of sand. While nice and calm for swimming, it wasn’t great for snorkeling.

Waldorf Maldives deck
Help, someone save me from this basic award room. Image Credit: Carissa Rawson

To snorkel, we had to catch a ride (because the property is huge) to the designated snorkeling beach. There isn’t a ton of reef at the property overall since it’s a new build, but as we discovered when we were upgraded to the Grand Villa, there’s a ton of reef accessible exclusively to these rooms.

4. It’s Actually Nicer Than You’d Think

There’s no denying that the Waldorf Astoria Maldives is a stunning property. The rooms are incredible, the service is great, and everything about it absolutely smacks of luxury.

But most major chain hotels have a cap on the splendidness of what they offer. That sort of boutique caretaking is reserved for smaller, non-chain hotels, where personalized service abounds. Not so at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives.

Like the best of luxury resorts, you can make anything come true at this property. Yes, it’ll cost you your first-born child, but the point is that it can happen.

Case in point: My significant other had planned a lovely beach dinner for my birthday on the night of our arrival. It was raining, so rather than scrapping the event, they moved the dinner to our villa, complete with a sound system, decorations, 9 courses of food, and our own private staff.

WA Maldives private dinner
This truly was an unforgettable evening. Image Credit: Carissa Rawson

Now, ask your local Hampton Inn to make that happen for you, and let me know how it goes.

5. Be Prepared To Sweat

Reviews of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives will tell you that the resort is gigantic. Like, huge huge. There are 10 restaurants and 122 villas, all of which can sleep at least 4 people.

That means you’ll need to be ready for a journey whenever you’d like to go somewhere. Much of the time a buggy can come and pick you up. You can also opt to ride the bicycles available for each room.

However, no one mentions that there is very little shade throughout the resort. So if you’re visiting and it’s hot (kidding, it’s always hot), you’re going to sweat.

And if you’re pale, you’re going to burn. It’ll take you roughly 45 minutes to walk from one end of the resort to the other, and about 10 minutes of that includes shade. Be prepared.

Bottom Line:

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives is undoubtedly the best Hilton property in the world right now. However, online reviews can only tell you so much, which is why I found myself wishing someone had let me know about these things beforehand.

Final Thoughts

I already have an alert on MaxMyPoint set to let me know when award availability appears at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives again. It’s an extremely popular property, so the going is slow. That being said, there are a few things I wish someone had told me before I arrived. However, now I’m officially a veteran and ready to rumble — sunscreen, fistfuls of cash, and all.

The information regarding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Carissa Rawson's image

About Carissa Rawson

Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business Insider, Forbes, and more.

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