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The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort just opened late last year, and because of a phenomenal award redemption, I was able to stay there within two months of its opening. The pros: breathtaking views, a phenomenal breakfast spread and activities to keep you busy for days. The cons: some service kinks that need to be worked out and getting there can be expensive and nauseating.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
My plan for an epic trip to the Maldives all started when we posted about an incredible deal at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort — just 32,500 Starpoints per night for an overwater villa. And shockingly, availability was wide open, so I chose to stay for five nights over Christmas. (In my experience, baby blue Christmas is far superior to a white Christmas!)
After booking my stay at the St. Regis Maldives, I went on to plan the rest of my trip — including stays at the Park Hyatt Maldives and Nihiwatu, as well as flights on Singapore Suites and Korean first class. I set out to make this Maldives journey the trip of a lifetime, and it lived up to my expectations.
When hotels first open, they sometimes miscategorize their rooms, which is what happened in this case. At the time, overwater villas were pricing out at just 32,500 Starpoints per night so I got a whopping $.07 per point in value — a no-brainer. Sadly, they’re now 90,000 Starpoints per night, dramatically reducing the value proposition, though I can see SPG discounting resort stays like it has in the past with this luxury resort discounted award night promotion, when the W Maldives went from 90,000 Starpoints a night to 58,500. Still not cheap, but considering room rates are $1,500+ most of the year, let’s hope SPG brings that promotion back.
These overwater villas have a base rate of just around $2,011 per night, so I (and any TPG reader who was able to take advantage of the deal) was able to get some great value out of those Starpoints. Plus, when you add in the fact that Starwood Preferred Guest offers members the fifth night for free on award redemptions, I paid 26,000 Starpoints per night for the five-night stay.
If you’re looking to get more Starpoints in your account to take advantage of deals like this in the future, consider applying for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is a 45-minute seaplane flight from Male (MLE) that the resort charges $645 (!) per person for the round-trip costs. When you pay at check-out, use your Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card points to “wipe” those charges off your statement.
Once you land at Male, you’ll be greeted by St. Regis butlers who whisk you off to a waiting, air-conditioned car with eucalyptus cold towels and Wi-Fi — all while they get your bags and have them sent to the seaplane terminal (a 5-minute ride from the main terminal at MLE).
We traveled on December 23 from the Park Hyatt, which is a boat ride and commercial flight from Male. There was no way for us to go directly between the Park Hyatt and the St. Regis — we had to pay both transport costs, and they don’t confirm the actual times until a day prior to departure. But luckily, we experienced good transfer times and didn’t lose much time waiting at the seaplane terminal.
Most major hotels have nice seaplane lounges, but the St. Regis had just opened a couple of days prior, and you could tell the staff was still getting used to it. There was no food spread, but they were able to go into a back room and get muffins, waters, juices and coffees for waiting guests. The lounge is nice, but nothing spectacular, though that may have changed since we were there.
Our seaplane ride required a quick stop at a resort about six minutes away from the St. Regis, so we dropped passengers off before departing for a final flight to the St. Regis — about 50 minutes in total. The seaplanes can get hot and loud (and a little bouncy), so if you get easily sea or airsick, I’d recommend taking anti-nausea pills (or Xanax if you hate flying). But overall, I was mesmerized by the views and brought my own Bose QC35 headphones to drown out the loud noises.
We arrived at the resort to an impressive lineup of staff waiting with cold towels and fresh coconuts. Your butler greets you and then whisks you off to your room — in our case, an overwater villa.
Check-in went smooth, and on your way to the villa, you get a brief tour of the island. In all, the property includes six places to eat, a sports facility, tennis courts and more. The St. Regis Maldives has 77 rooms and feels much larger than the Park Hyatt, which has 50 villas.
There are several categories of overwater villas at the St. Regis Maldives: the base overwater villa faces the beach, the better villas face the ocean, which I was assigned, and the top sunset villas are angled out to the sunset. The master of all villas is the John Jacob Astor Suite, which goes for around $21,000 per night and features three bedrooms, a jacuzzi and even custom Bentley golf carts (talk about a status symbol)!
Originally, I was assigned to a normal, sea-facing overwater villa, which was gorgeous — way nicer than both Park Hyatt and the Conrad. But, that wasn’t so surprising, given that the resort is brand new.
Here are some things I loved about the villa:
Nothing kicks a stay off quite like a welcome drink. At the St. Regis Maldives, it was a bottle of Prosecco.
The views were incredible. Each of the overwater villas has its own deck, which is both spacious and offers breathtaking views of the water in front of it. Although you’re surrounded by other villas, there’s plenty of privacy.
Each of the overwater villa decks has its own plunge pool as well. The pool was super luxurious and offered plenty of privacy. Is there anything better than being in your own, private plunge pool while overlooking the Indian Ocean?
The nets that you see hanging off the deck aren’t there just for decoration. The relaxation nets were phenomenal — and gave way for some great pictures.
I love when hotels pay attention to the small things, and one of the things I adore most is having a good coffee machine in the room. Yes, you can order coffee from room service, but it usually takes a long time and by the time it gets to you, it’s cold. So when hotels put nice coffee machines in the rooms, I take note — and take advantage.
The mini bar was expansive. There was a pretty large selection of liquors — Grey Goose, Bombay, Jack Daniel’s and others.
As someone who’s 6’7″, I love stepping into a hotel shower without having to worry about the shower head hitting me in the head. So, I’ve come up with the TPG Shower Test. And while some hotels fail, others are great — and the St. Regis Maldives passes with flying colors.
The bathroom itself was pretty spacious, too, with a double vanity and modern light fixtures.
How can you beat a bathtub with views like this?
Another positive about the room itself: There was tons of storage space. I mean, the closet was huge. If you’re staying at the property for a while, it’s easy to store all of your belongings.
It’s customary for St. Regis properties around the world to have butler service, and I am a fan. When you check-in, you can have the butler come to your room and unpack your bags for you (and repack when you’re about to leave). It’s not a necessity, but it’s definitely a perk, and it makes the stay feel extra personal.
One more thing I liked about the room: the electronics. I love when a room is well connected, and this villa was entirely connected through an iPad. The TV and lights were controlled from the screen, which made the room super user-friendly — and modern. You can definitely tell this is a new property.
As an SPG Platinum elite member, I’m entitled to a welcome gift when I check in to a property — whether that’s bonus Starpoints, a local amenity or breakfast. For my amenity at the St. Regis Maldives, I chose the breakfast — and I’m so glad I did.
The property has one of the nicest breakfast spreads of any St. Regis I’ve ever been to, which is impressive considering how remote the island is and how expensive it must be to stock it daily.
SPG Platinum members are only entitled to continental breakfast, but we were allowed to order anything, including specialty egg dishes.
The breakfast was comped daily, which gave me a value of $67.76 per person, per day. So, for my travel mate and I, we ended up saving $678 for the cost of breakfast over the five days at the property.
Breakfast options are attractive and delicious.
The villa itself was near-perfect, but there were some service issues. For example, we left the villa one morning to use the gym for several hours and left the “Service Room” light on so it would be cleaned. Yet when we arrived back three hours later, it was still untouched. Apparently our butler forgot to tell housekeeping, and even though the sign was lit to clean, they only clean when told by the butler, which seems off to me.
I also wanted to go scuba diving but we were told that all tours were full for the first day, which was disappointing. If you fly halfway around the world to the Maldives, you want to be able to go diving. I passed on my feedback to the butler who didn’t resolve it, so I finally went to the general manager and, miraculously, we were able to dive when we wanted.
The same goes for restaurant reservations. Upon arriving, we were told Orientale was completely booked for days, and our butler recommended the Whale Bar as an alternative, which is great for sunset drinks but isn’t the best option for dinner. We went and it was completely empty. Once again, the GM made things happen for us, so all was fine.
There were a couple of other minor service issues, and the GM offered to move us to a sunset villa for our last two nights, which I accepted so I could see the difference.
The room had a larger living room and deck, and the views were even more spectacular.
We ended up spending one of the sunsets engaging in Maldivian fishing and the other at the Whale Bar, which has the best sunset views at the resort.
What really separates the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli from other resorts I’ve stayed at are the activities. When you get to a new destination, there’s always the question, “Now what?” And when you’re on an island, that can be even more difficult to answer. Thankfully, the St. Regis Maldives offers a range of pursuits.
Some of my favorites included the gym, which featured bootcamp classes, and the tennis courts. There was also the zero-gravity yoga, which I had to try.
You’ll also get the best view of the island and the resort from the water. Rent a jet ski and view the property from afar — you won’t regret it.
Maldivian fishing, a truly local experience, was surprisingly fun. We even got to eat our fresh catch — and it was pretty good.
I’ll be sharing some of my other experiences at the property in future posts, including a spotlight on the spa with a hydrotherapy pool.
I had very high expectations going into my stay at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. Because it’s such a new property, there was a lot of hype. And because I was able to score a phenomenal redemption at the property, I was thrilled to be one of the first to stay there.
My camera crew also stayed at the property in a beach villa with a pool, and they had great things to say about the property as well.
Although there were some flaws in the service, they were probably kinks that still need to be worked out because the property is so new. Everything that came up was quickly resolved, and I ended up thoroughly enjoying my stay at the property. And even though there are beautiful beaches all around the world — and much closer than the Maldives — there’s something special and restorative about it. And after a crazy 2016 travel schedule, it was just what I needed to recharge my batteries.