General travel and money-saving tips work for most situations. The Maldives, however, is a different ball game altogether. Think of it as the intermediate level.
Face it. You’re a carrot, like it or not. You WILL get chopped. It is only a matter of how much you get chopped, that is, if you decide to head to the Maldives.
Fret not! The exclusive playground of the ultra-luxurious, it need not be! Maldives paradise can be slightly more affordable, and of course within reach for the average folks. Kind of reminds you of my Average Joe air miles project huh? I like to do things like this. Experience stuff that we once thought were impossible. Knowledge is power!
Having said that, you do need to part with a substantial amount of your money. My job is to help you maximize the value out of it. Good news for you, since I’m in the middle of hacking together a trip for next year. Probably gonna do this in parts because surprisingly, there are plenty of information gaps and “ouch” moments you will experience if you simply dive into it without the slightest idea.
This can and will potentially save you literally thousands of dollars.
Obviously, I’m not going to suggest choosing an inferior property plus budget airlines and be done with it. Why bother writing?
At the very least, I’m going to dip my toes into the realms of the mega-wealthy and infuse a tiny bit of my insider hospitality knowledge to give you that extra bit of value in this post.
The Best Price You Can Find Online Is A Lie
Maldives is one of those vacation spots in the world that one can never miss if you’re aiming for the vacation of your life. The business owners and travel agents know it extremely well too.
That seemingly special offer from the official website? The now-or-never promo deal from your favorite travel agent? The no-middleman best price from online travel agents?
Big, fat, lies. Those are nowhere close to what you should even consider paying for that water villa or beachfront property.
Anatomy Of A Maldives Holiday
To understand it a little better, you first have to take a step back and learn about the anatomy of a Maldives vacation.
Maldives is a very special country made up of tiny islands. Just like how resource-less Singapore figured out how to survive, so did Maldives.
1. Air Tickets
First and foremost, air tickets is our cost #1. From Singapore to Maldives, we have direct flights from Singapore Air, Silk Air and Tiger Air.
Choosing a full-fledged vs budget carrier will have its implications. Besides the obvious differences in terms of pricing and flight timings, you will also have to consider the likelihood and possibility of flight delays. If it really happens, which airline would have a better chance of solving your problem? How much are you “losing” per hour of delay?
2. Return Transfers
Unfortunately, getting around Maldives on the cheap is next to impossible, considering that almost all properties are either a speedboat or seaplane ride away. Which brings us to cost #2 – return transfers. This can be extremely expensive depending on which resort you are staying at. A resort nearer to Male airport requires only a speedboat (and is sometimes free), whereas further properties need a seaplane.
Six Senses Laamu, for example, requires both a domestic commercial flight and a speed boat transfer. They charge US$545 per pax subjected to tax and service charge. This is potentially more expensive than a SIA ticket.
More importantly, a seaplane can fly only from sunrise to sunset. This will impact your choice of arrival and departure flight timings if you were to stay at a resort that requires a seaplane ride. There are instances of problems encountered during seaplane rides. You can check out TripAdvisor for more information.
3. How Many Meals A Day
In the Maldives, you’re stuck on an island. You will therefore need to eat from whatever the resort has to offer, which can be expensive. Cost #3 is inevitable.
You can choose from half-board (breakfast and dinner but no drinks), full-board (breakfast, lunch and dinner but no drinks) or all-inclusive (breakfast, lunch and dinner plus drinks). The availability of these options differ from one property to another.
Gili Lankanfushi, TripAdvisor’s Best Hotel 2015, charges US$154 per pax per night for half-board subjected to tax and service charge.
4. Sleep Tight
No doubt about it, the main bulk of the cost #4 will be reserved for accommodation – typically calculated at per night basis. Hopefully the room rates doesn’t cause you to break out in cold sweat!
Good to have – sea sports, excursions, spa, yoga classes, etc. Not necessarily important to me but you might want to enjoy these and not enjoy a bill-shock in the process.
Also, feel free to request for PDF menu and prices from the properties you’re going to stay in for an idea of how much things are going to cost.
Putting It All Together
Therefore, considering all of the above, when we are looking at a Maldives holiday we need to understand what exactly are we paying for and the value we’re getting out of it.
What does the price quoted include? Bed and breakfast only? How about taxes? Now that you are armed with your simple checklist, you can easily differentiate between a good price vs a bad one by knowing what to look out for.
In the next part(s), I will talk a bit about other aspects such as –
- Travel agents and Maldives
- The Best Rate Guarantee that isn’t
- The open secret of good deals
- Should you haggle? You mean I can haggle?!
- Getting defensive : travel insurance & credit card charge-back
Oh, did I forget to mention that USD is the currency of choice in the Maldives? 🙂