10 incredible overwater bungalows you can book with points
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If you’ve been saving up your hard-earned hotel points over the last year and a half, you might be looking to splurge on something fancy. Well, it doesn’t get more aspirational than an overwater bungalow. These iconic rooms are commonly found throughout the Maldives, French Polynesia and Fiji, and feature a sizable room built (at least partially) on stilts over a crystal-clear lagoon.
While many require an international flight followed by a seaplane tranfer to a private island in a far-flung locale, these resorts aren’t strictly reserved for honeymooners with bottomless budgets. In fact, you can book many of these overwater villas using points and miles.
While these bungalows may require more points than your average hotel room, the price is well worth it for the unique experience. Here’s a look at 10 incredible overwater bungalows you can score with points on your next (private) island getaway.
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Hilton has several resorts with overwater bungalows you can book with points, but the rates can be pretty outrageous. For example, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa requires 80,000 points per night for a base King Garden guest room, but a King overwater villa requires 300,000 points or more. I’m going to leave out redemptions like these because they’re unattainable for most people.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
Points per night: 120,000
The Waldorf Astoria Maldives is one of the most expensive Hilton hotels you can book with points. An award night normally costs 150,000 points, though we’ve seen this drop to 120,000 on certain dates. The transfer fee is pretty steep at $800 per adult, including taxes. The fee for kids ages 6-11 is around $400.
A standard award gets you into a Reef villa, which is technically on land, but the outdoor deck and private pool are built over water.
IHG has three hotels offering overwater villas you can book with points. They range from 100,000-400,000 points per night, which is pretty steep. You can earn IHG points through credit card sign-up bonuses, but even the 150,000 points (after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening) from the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card isn’t enough to cover more than one night.
Before you transfer Ultimate Rewards to IHG, compare the redemption rates on the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each towards travel. So if you find rates at, say, the InterContinental Bora Bora under $1,500 per night, you might be better off redeeming your Ultimate Rewards through the Chase travel portal than transferring those points to IHG. That’s because a booking under $1,500 per night will cost you less than the 100,000 points you would have to transfer to IHG.
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
Points per night: 100,000
You can book an Emerald overwater villa at the InterContinental Bora Bora for 100,000 points per night. These rooms offer over 1,000 square feet of space and direct lagoon access. They can accommodate up to three adults or two adults and two children.
Getting to the resort requires a boat transfer, which costs $72 per person. This is reasonable compared to transfer fees at other high-end resorts in the area, which can cost well over $300 per person.
InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort
Points per night: 120,000
The InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau offers overwater pool villas for 120,000 IHG points per night. Oddly, the resort also tacks on a $6 daily amenity fee per person. But if you think that’s all the fees you’re going to pay, brace yourself for the seaplane transfer fee: a whopping $600 round-trip per adult and $300 per child.
Six Senses Laamu
Points per night: 400,000
The Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives recently became bookable with IHG points and it’s not cheap. Award nights will set you back 400,000 points per night. The fourth night reward from the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card can knock 100,000 points off this rate. That’s a great way to reduce your nightly rate, though earning 1.6 million IHG points is no easy feat.
Paid rates at the Six Senses Laamu range from $2,948-$4,505 per night. While redeeming your points through Ultimate Rewards might work out cheaper than transferring them to IHG, that’s still a lot of points.
Once you have the free nights taken care of, you’ll have to factor transfer fees into your trip cost. The Six Senses Laamu charges about $725 round-trip for a domestic flight and speedboat transfer to the hotel. This fee applies per person and includes taxes.
As the largest hotel chain in the world, it’s no surprise that Marriott has more hotels offering overwater villas than anyone else. There are currently six hotels where you can book an overwater villa with Marriott points. Not all of these properties offer them as part of a standard award, but the markup for an upgrade (using points) is fairly reasonable.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
Points per night: 30,000-40,000
The Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay is a Category 5 hotel, requiring just 30,000-40,000 Marriott points per night for a standard room. At that rate, you’ll get a Lagoon View room, which still offers amazing views.
If you truly want an overwater villa, you can book one for around 144,000-149,000 points per night. The exact rate will vary depending on the dates of your stay, so be sure to search for specific dates before you decide to transfer points to Marriott for this award.
Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa
Points per night: 30,000-40,000
When the Le Méridien Maldives opened up reservations earlier this year, a booking frenzy occurred. Every other points and miles geek out there took advantage of the opportunity to redeem as few as 30,000 points per night for an overwater villa. Factor in the fifth night free and the cost breaks down to just 24,000 points per night.
But don’t worry — you still have an opportunity to book this property before Marriott inevitably bumps it up a few categories. There are still days open in the fall and the rates are cheap around the end of September (coinciding with the end of monsoon season).
In fact, you can find Cash + Points rates as low as 13,500 points per night plus $140. That’s an incredible deal for an overwater villa in the Maldives.
Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort
Points per night: 50,000-70,000
The Westin Maldives is a Category 7 Marriott hotel, requiring 50,000-70,000 points per night for a beach villa with a private pool. That means if you time it right, you might be able to redeem one of your annual free night awards (worth up to 50,000 points) from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card at this resort.
But you’re not here for beach villas and the Westin has a reasonable option for you: overwater villas for as low as 68,000 points per night. These rates coincide with beach villas pricing at 50,000 points. In general, you can expect a 30% markup over the points required for a beach villa.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands
Points per night: 70,000-110,000
As a top-tier Category 8 Marriott hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Maldives will set you back about 70,000-110,000 points per night. The base Ocean Pool villas at this resort are pretty spectacular, featuring over 1,600 square feet of space and a private pool.
While the redemption rates are steep, it’s worth noting that this hotel normally goes for $1,500 per night.
Points per night: 70,000-110,000
As a Category 8 hotel, the W Maldives offers Fabulous overwater villas starting at 70,000 points per night. These rooms offer an outdoor deck with a plunge pool and daybed.
Like most Maldives resorts, you’ll need to pay a hefty price to get from the airport to the resort. A round-trip seaplane transfer costs $505 per adult and $235 per child (ages 3-11). This price does not include taxes and fees.
Radisson Blu Resort Maldives
Points per night: 70,000
It’s pretty rare for award nights to include a premium room, let alone breakfast, but that’s exactly what you get at the Radisson Blu Maldives. For 70,000 points per night, you’ll get an overwater villa with a private pool and free breakfast for two.
Featured photo of the Ritz-Carlton Maldives courtesy of Marriott.
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