Photo Credit: Sheraton Maldives
Over the last few years I’ve been seeing more and more articles about the Maldives popping up in my social feeds. It’s crystal clear turquoise waters and over the water bungalows are bucket list worthy, but it’s cost and distance had them at the end of my bucket list. When I found myself planning my 6 month trip through SE Asia and realized my 40th birthday was approaching I said “Oh yeah… let’s do this!”
The Maldives are Southwest of Sri Lanka and India. I flew from Bangkok which took 4 hours and 20 minutes. The main airport is Malé (MLE)
Researching hotels I learned that there are over 100 homestays and private islands to choose from. The Maldives is made up of over 1,100 islands, across 500 km, though not all are inhabited. There were so many resort options I became easily overwhelmed on which private island paradise to choose. My research led me to a few key requirements to narrow my decision.
- Not only did I want to stay in an over the water bungalow, I wanted that bungalow to have stairs with easy access to the sea. Not every bungalow is built with stairs so be sure to have a good look at the photos or email the hotel if there’s any doubt.
- I didn’t want to spend $950 on a flight to my island paradise on top of the daily hotel rate. I opted for a resort that was accessible by speedboat from Malé airport for $136 roundtrip.
- I wanted breakfast to be included but not dinner as I wanted to have flexibility to go to different restaurants on the island each night.
After days of research I found my best option was the Sheraton Full Moon Resort in the Maldives. The rate was very good at $778 per night and since I was a Marriott Rewards member I’d be earning points for my stay as well.
I ended up booking a Club Bungalow with private pool (cause you only turn 40 once) and I was not disappointed. Club privileges included a separate lounge and pool for checking in, hanging out, happy hour and a much more relaxed breakfast environment. (More details below.)
I easily found the Sheraton speed boat contact at the airport as they have their own permanent booth at Malé airport. I was warmly greeted and shown to my awaiting speedboat. The stay in the Maldives began with a true feeling of adventure as I rode for 20 minutes betweenMalé and the Sheraton Full Moon Resort taking in the skyline of Malé and watching Furanafushi island come into view.
I arrived at their jetty where a golf cart was ready to whisk me away to the Club Lounge to check in and get a tour of the island. The Club Lounge has its own pool and a buffett and mini bar members can help themselves to. It’s away from the main pool and restaurants non club members use and was much less crowded when I visited for breakfast and happy hour.
After check in I was shown to my over the water bungalow. I highly recommend villa 131 as it leads out to a sandy swimming area with lots of fish swimming about and even the occasional reef shark (small and harmless). I swam by other villas that lead out onto coral and had shallow waters so it looked like swimming by those villas would have been hard.
The bungalow itself was spacious and very modern/minimalist. I really loved the bathroom and of course the outdoor pool.
The Sheraton island had plenty of restaurant options. For breakfast we had two options; Feast or the Club Lounge. The Club Lounge had a smaller menu than Feast but was less crowded and more relaxed.
Feast breakfast buffet
For lunch I went to the beach side BBQ and poolside bar.
Pool and poolside restaurant
Dinner options were Baan Thai, Sand Coast and Sea Salt. I went to Sea Salt for my birthday dinner and ordered room service one other night. Sea Salt was great but very expensive for seafood. I assume Bann Thai and Sandcoast would be equally expensive with the same quality of food. Feast seems to be the more moderately priced option and can be included if you get the all inclusive option.
If sitting by the pool and snorkeling in front of your water bungalow are not enough action there are activities and tours like dolphin watching and swimming with turtles and stingrays. I opted for the turtles and stingray tour and was not disappointed though there were a lot of people so if you can afford a private tour opt for that. I saw a few sea turtles 4-5 and several stingray (they hangout by a tuna cannery for leftovers; smart!).
In summary the Sheraton Maldives is a great option for doing the Maldives water bungalows without having to get a seaplane transfer to your hotel. I’d recommend 4-5 days as there are a few activities you can do besides relaxing by the pool. The only con to keep in mind is proximity to Malé and the shipping ports. You can see ships and the skyline of Malé from the Southeast side of the island (side with the pool and beach BBQ restaurant). I wasn’t bother by this but can understand if you’re trying to truly get away from the world, the view on the west coast could be a deal breaker.
If you get a bungalow on the west coast of the island then you’ll be in the perfect spot for stellar sunrises and sunsets!