This luxurious Maldives resort has an on-site doctor and free COVID-19 tests
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We’ll be here to help you prepare, whether you’re traveling next month or next year.
When Jed Tsai booked his trip to the Maldives last November, he never could have predicted that the coronavirus would bring travel nearly to a halt – or force him to completely redo his itinerary.
“Since Americans can’t transit through Singapore now,” Tsai told TPG over e-mail, “we had to rebook our flights.” And his parents, who were originally planning to come along, decided not to move forward with the trip “since [their flights] were canceled and they are older … [and] didn’t feel safe traveling.”
Still, Tsai and his family, who are based in Issaquah, Washington outside Seattle, proceeded with their trip to the Maldives last month.
“We decided to stick with [our trip] because I did the research and was confident I could get us there and back without getting [COVID-19],” Tsai said, saying he spent months preparing. Though Tsai and his family discussed canceling or moving their Maldives vacation, he didn’t see any points availability for the next year — and they had their sanity to keep in mind.
“My kids were getting tired of us,” Tsai said, “and my wife was going [stir-crazy],” he explained. “Personally, [I] just really missed being on a flying tin can.”
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Preparing for the trip
The Republic of Maldives — a stunning island nation in the Indian Ocean comprising 26 natural atolls and over 1,000 white-sand islands — is currently accepting international tourists, though the requirements for entry have shifted dramatically since it reopened its border in mid-July.
Currently, international visitors must have a confirmed reservation with an approved tourist establishment; they must complete an online health declaration form 24 hours before departure; and, as of Sept. 10, visitors must have a certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure, among other measures.
When Tsai and his family traveled to the Maldives in late August, however, coronavirus tests were not required. Still, Tsai said they quarantined and took PCR nasal swab tests a week before departure “to be responsible.” And that wasn’t the last test Tsai and his family would take to enjoy a luxurious stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
Tsai says his wife was anxious about the trip, but they kept a close eye on how the coronavirus situation was being handled in the Maldives, how busy the airports were and what the hotels, airports and airlines were doing to mitigate the risk of spread.
Upon arrival in the Maldives, Tsai’s family was greeted by staff from the property, who collected their bags. The boat to the resort was hardly socially distant, he observed, and some travelers removed their masks for the ride. Tsai recalls seeing another family with kids, a young college-aged couple and newlyweds.
At the property, the Tsais received a socially distant hello and welcome drinks, before being escorted to their villa by a personal concierge. Their luggage was taken to be sanitized and an on-site doctor arrived at their room within 30 minutes. “[He] did a temperature check and then gave us the option to do a free finger-prick [coronavirus] test, which we accepted,” Tsai explained.
The results were returned in just a few minutes — negative, again — and Tsai and his family were cleared to enjoy the resort.
In addition to the mandatory doctor’s visit, Tsai said the resort was taking a number of precautions to protect guests and staff members from COVID-19, which made them feel “much better about going.” He cited the rigid mask requirements for staff members, frequency of testing, resort capacity (around 50%), social distancing at restaurants and other measures. They even received a kit with mask, gloves and sanitizer.
All this, Tsai added, made them feel comfortable enough to book appointments at the spa.
“We weren’t going to do any treatments,” Tsai said, “but [we] felt a lot safer after being there.”
You’d think, perhaps, that the intense focus on cleanliness and safety might take all the fun out of a Maldivian getaway. But Tsai says it was quite the opposite. Rather than interfere with their experience, Tsai said the resort’s precautions made their getaway “more fun.”
“We were glad that the hotel was taking such precautions and felt much better about taking the trip. Frankly, Qatar Airways was taking great precautions, too, with face masks and shields required upon boarding.”
The worst part of the trip, Tsai says, was stateside, when they were transiting from Los Angeles International (LAX). “There were just a ton of people waiting to get picked up,” he said of the Alaska terminal. And “even though Alaska was blocking seats and requiring masks,” he said people “slow-sipping” in first class was an issue.
“They were just sort of abusing it,” he said. “I was happier to be flying in economy but felt less safe … than on international flights.” That, he says, was the “weak link” of the entire experience, which involved multiple connections and coronavirus tests.
For travelers willing to “align [their] expectations” and “do the due diligence” research, Tsai says he’d recommend this trip to others. Of course, that’s a lot of additional preparation for a far-flung beach getaway.
“Our process of traveling started months before,” Tsai said, describing how he and his wife practiced mask-wearing with their children, stockpiled sanitary wipes and devised contingency plans in case they experienced any irregular operations or contracted COVID-19. They got international insurance coverage and figured out where they’d go if they fell ill.
So, should you take a trip to the Maldives right now? Travelers should absolutely talk to a doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking any travel, whether you’re eyeing an opulent overwater villa or you want to stay closer to home.
But during a global pandemic, it’s clear that such unexpected amenities as an on-site doctor and complimentary COVID-19 test might be the next big thing in luxury.
Featured photo courtesy of Hilton Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees