Hotel Review: A Sunset Overwater Villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
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Last year, I booked an epic trip to the Maldives, which was spurred by a fantastic redemption I was able to score at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. While I was able to pay just 26,000 Starpoints per night (it was actually 32,500 Starpoints per night, but I got the fifth night free because it was an award stay), I still wanted to check out another resort while I was in the Maldives — even though it was the Christmas high season and I was booking just four months in advance.
There are a bunch of points hotels in the Maldives (I stayed at the Conrad in 2013), but I chose the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa this time because property offers arguably the best redemption for any points hotel in the Maldives. It's a World of Hyatt Category 6 property, so you can redeem 25,000 points per night for a Park Villa room. Compared to the other redemption offers in the Maldives, which hover around the 90,000 mark for their respective programs, this is likely the most luxurious experience you'll get for the best price. And, since the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is currently offering 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months, you can transfer those points to Hyatt and book two free nights at this property — you'd easily be getting $1,800 in value.
Sadly, when I booked, there were no points rooms available (though as of this writing, there are point rooms available up until Christmas Eve), so I opted to pay cash for an overwater villa so I could do a side-by-side comparison of the offerings at both the St. Regis and the Park Hyatt.
I knew I wanted to stay at the property for four nights and it would be pretty pricey, so I used my Citi Prestige Card to get the fourth night free and earn 3x points on the hotel stay. Since I paid $1,560 per night for a Park Sunset Water Villa, I ended up getting credit for the fourth night, which amounted to a four-night stay for $4,680. Because I'm a Hyatt Globalist (at the time, a Diamond member), I earned 5 points per dollar plus a 30% bonus on my stay.
While I was at the resort, I met several TPG readers who stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa every year. They agreed that redeeming 25,000 points for a free night when cash rates start at more than $1,000 is totally worth it, even if you're not staying in an overwater villa (more on that later). Plus, when you're getting a value of more than four cents per point, it's a great option, even if getting to the resort itself can be expensive.
Most resorts in the Maldives require either a boat ride or seaplane to get to the property. However, with the Park Hyatt, you'll need to take both a commercial flight and a boat ride to get there. In this case, that's both a good and a bad thing, here's why:
- The Good: I really enjoy the fact that the flight to the island is at night. With seaplanes, you can't fly at night, so this Maldivian Airlines flight from Male (MLE) to Kooddoo (GKK) allowed us to travel when it was dark out. I was arriving from Singapore (SIN) at 11:00pm and was able to hop on the last commercial flight of the day to GKK, which took about an hour on a turboprop.
- The Bad: Once you land at Kooddoo, you're not there quite yet, as you'll still have to take a 30-minute boat ride. Thankfully, these can be operated in the middle of the night as well, however, my particular boat had an engine failure and we had to wait 30 minutes for another boat to get us — in the middle of the night. We laughed it off, but it made for one long day of travel.
Domestic Flight: The cabin is arranged in a 2-2 configuration, and there's no first or business class. On one side, Row 1 has four seats that face one another, which is an interesting setup (maybe that's where Qatar got its Qsuite idea?!). It's worth noting that Maldivian Airlines doesn't do seat assignments in advance so when you land at MLE and the Park Hyatt butler greets you, ask them to get you the bulkhead seat.
The plane ticket can be rather expensive — $520 per person, round-trip — but note that you don't have to pay for it until you check out of the property. Consider paying with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard to "wipe" the charges off your statement. The current sign-up bonuses on those cards can almost get you the round-trip transfer costs.
Once you land at Kooddoo, you'll once again be greeted by a Park Hyatt butler, who will take your bags on a golf cart and drive you to the awaiting boat. Pro tip: Order room service when you land at Kooddoo so you have something to eat right when you get to the resort. (They ended up comping ours since we had engine troubles on the high seas.)
I'd assume that at earlier hours, the boat ride has more than one party on it, but because it was so late, my travel companion and I were the only two passengers. It was a beautiful night, but we were exhausted. About 10 minutes into the boat ride, we stopped. As it turned out, the rudder broke and we were left sitting in the ocean for about 30 minutes until another boat came to rescue us. It wasn't a huge deal and the staff was extremely apologetic, but the boat portion of our journey ended up taking about an hour instead of 30 minutes.
I will note that the boat ride was a little tricky. The seas were rough that night and we had to jump to the other boat when we were stranded — but that just made it all part of the adventure. During my stay, I met a TPG reader who recently had back surgery and had to take a different route back to the airport because the seas were so rough. If you really hate boats, you may want to think twice about staying here because there's no way to get to the resort other than by boat from the regional airport.
Once we (finally) arrived at the property and were able to see it in daylight, it was beautiful. The resort features 50 villas — 36 on land and 14 over the ocean. There are four types of villas spread across the island: Park Villas, Park Pool Villas, Park Water Villas and Park Sunset Water Villas.
Because the Park Hyatt is smaller than the St. Regis (there are 77 rooms at that property), there's a much more personalized feel to it. There are plenty of opportunities to interact with other guests and even the general manager — you'll eventually feel like you know everyone, which is one of the things I really liked about staying here.
I took a tour of all room types to give you a sense of each category:
The basic Park Villa is what you'll get if you book an award stay, and it features a king-sized bed, private deck with table and chairs and an indoor and outdoor shower area with a terrazzo bath.
The huge bathroom in the Park Villas is nice, but the outdoor tub could be an issue if it's raining.
The normal Globalist upgrade (previously Diamond Suite Upgrade) is to a Park Pool Villa, which is similar to the Park Villa room but comes with its own personal plunge pool. I have to admit that there's something really alluring and sexy about the Park Pool Villas.
Once you go through the path right in front of the villa and the plunge pool, you'll be right on the beach. Having that immediate beach access is a huge perk, but keep in mind that it's not that private — other guests can definitely see in if they're walking by.
For both the remaining two types of rooms (the Park Water Villa and the Park Sunset Water Villa), you'll have to climb down a ladder to swim. The resort hasn't cleared the coral here (which is a good thing), but I went swimming only once in the five days since the beach was a nicer experience and you don't have to navigate sharp coral. Having immediate beach access in the Park Villas is nicer than the ladder in my opinion.
There are 14 overwater villas between the regular Park Water Villas and the Park Sunset Water Villas. The only difference between these and the regular Park Water Villa is that they're in a more ideal position to view the surreal Maldivian sunsets. The best villa, by the way, is number 51 (more on that later).
My Overwater Villa
While I do think the Park Villas on the island are nice, there's something enticing about staying in an overwater bungalow — especially when you're in the Maldives.
As I mentioned earlier, the best overwater villa is number 51 (a Park Sunset Water Villa) because it's located at the end and offers the most privacy. The catch: it's not bookable. Instead, if you pay for a Park Sunset Water Villa, which is what I did, you'll have the chance to be assigned to the room. The resort assigns it based on several factors: your World of Hyatt status, if you've been to the property before or, sometimes, if you're a really good customer and it happens to be available.
It's especially spectacular for sunsets because it's so private and very few people will ever walk — or should I say swim or boat — by you. If you ever go to the Park Hyatt Maldives, test your luck and try to get number 51 — it's the best by far.
The property opened in 2009, originally operated by the design hotel brand Alila, and in 2011, Hyatt took it over. Because it was originally built eight years ago, you can tell that the overwater villas are a bit older and not as fancy as what you would experience at the St. Regis Maldives or even the Conrad Maldives. Most of the overwater villas in the Maldives have either pools, hot tubs or see-through floors, and these do not.
That being said, they are beautiful.
The room itself was pretty spacious, but there wasn't really anything that made it over-the-top luxurious.
There was an open sitting area, which overlooked the deck and was nice. That area led into the bathroom.
The bathroom had an indoor tub, which I appreciated because it can rain a lot in the Maldives. I don't want to be stuck out in the bath when it's raining.
And the view was pretty nice.
Inside the bathroom were the standard offerings — a shower cap, dental kit, shaving kit, comb and bath salts.
Being in the overwater villa is an incredible experience, but honestly, it's a little impractical. You can't jump off the side of the deck into the water because it's too far down, too shallow and just too dangerous to jump into. We did lie out on the deck on the beds and it was beautiful. And overall, it's perfectly nice — we ate dinner under the stars with room service and it was a surreal experience.
But, the next time I go to the Maldives, I'll probably stay in a Park Pool Villa or just book my stay using points. When you're in the Maldives, there's blue water all around you so you don't need to necessarily be staying right over it. In fact, it's nicer to lie out on the beach virtually two feet from your villa than having to walk eight minutes to the beach from your overwater villa. Ideally, if you can try out the overwater for a night or two, do that, but I think staying four nights in an overwater villa was a little overindulgent.
I spoke to the General Manager, Mariano Silvestri, who told me a lot of people switch rooms just to try out the different types of accommodations. And after my stay in the overwater villa and a tour of the Park Pool Villa, I have to say that I'd recommend doing the same thing. If you're going to stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives, it's not an overwater villa or bust situation — the Pool Villas are pretty spectacular, too.
Food and Beverage
The Diamond (now Globalist) breakfast was amazing — and everything was complimentary.
From the fresh fruit to the fresh yogurt, everything was delicious.
And the made-to-order dishes were especially scrumptious.
When I was there, the green chili omelette was a fantastic way to start my morning.
At sunset every night, Diamond (now Globalist) members were offered a complimentary cocktail at sunset, which was a nice perk. The GM would usually come around during that time and talk to the most loyal Hyatt members, so that was fun.
There were only a few restaurants at the resort — just four if you don't include the private dining and room service options. I tried the Maldivian curry buffet one night on the beach, which was a great time.
And you can't go wrong with fresh fish.
Overall, things weren't that expensive at the Park Hyatt — definitely not as expensive as the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli. And generally speaking, the food was pretty tasty.
When you're staying at a resort in the Maldives, it's crucial that the property has enough activities to keep guests entertained. Because you're essentially trapped on an island, there are plenty of ways to get bored if there aren't enough things to keep you busy. I'll detail all of the activities I tried out at the Park Hyatt in a separate post, but overall, I was pleased with the offerings.
During my stay, I tried to test out a little bit of everything — from the water-based activities like scuba diving to taking a canoe out for a spin around the island.
I'll note that we had amazing weather for five out of the five days we were there. The best time to go to the Maldives is usually December through April, though December can sometimes be spotty. Before we got there, there had been about a week of rain (which was what happened to me the last time I was there). This time, Mother Nature was on my side and gave us nothing but sunshine and warm temperatures every day I was there.
If you're not looking to break the bank on additional activities when you get there, you can also take a back-of-house tour of the property. The pool at the property was amazing, and the spa was great.
Mariano Silvestri, the GM of the property, is a really nice guy whose passion is noticeable when you talk with him. I spoke with several TPG readers who've been going to the property for years and they all said they had a great relationship with him — they really have created a family feel here between the GM, staff and guests. If you get to know him and ask him to take you on a back-of-the-house tour, he'll personally take you around and show you how the resort functions.
He told me there are about 200 staff members for 100 guests at any time, so the service is very personal, and how the resort employs more than 50% Maldivians, which is awesome. During my time at the resort, the service was incredible across the board.
What I really loved about the resort was that it's super sustainable. There are no plastic bottles at all, and every day you get fresh, filtered water that's delivered in glass bottles. Even the coffee machines at the property are eco-friendly.
Eventually, the resort is also going to go carbon neutral, which is a really exciting move. I loved to see that the property is so focused on sustainability and that's evident from the guest's perspective.
I give the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa high remarks. During my stay, I felt really at home here. The GM is incredible and told me the resort just acquired the rights to a smaller island about 6 km away, where the Park Hyatt is planning to build a mega-penthouse, a three-bedroom suite with a maid's quarters just for real-life royalty. Also on the island will be a couple of other two-bedroom suites, so it'll kind of be like its own VIP island. I also recommended that they add a tennis court like the St. Regis has.
I'm not sure what the timeframe is for that, but I think the purchase shows that the Park Hyatt is moving in the right direction. There remains a strong interest in the property — mainly because redemptions represent a fantastic value — the room was perfectly fine and the service was above and beyond.
I recommend staying here, especially if you can do it with points. If you want to splurge on an overwater villa, it'll be a nice, luxurious getaway. If you're going to stay here, you'll get the best deal by redeeming 25,000 points for a free night. And if you can use one of your upgrades, you should do that as well. As far as the overwater villa, splurge if you want to for a couple of nights, but I don't think it's necessary to be over the water for your whole stay.
Have you ever stayed at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa? Tell us about your experience, below.