How to not go broke eating at the St Regis Maldives

Mention the Maldives and images of pristine turquoise blue waters come to mind. Overwater bungalows with direct jump-in access to the water and romantic sunsets are commonplace in this island paradise.

While it’s on almost everyone’s wish list, getting there can be a challenge. Flights are often ridiculously expensive and once you DO get to the islands, a barrage of expensive hotels with overpriced meals await. Never mind the flight distance involved, those expensive factors are enough to turn some people off and have them looking for cheaper destinations.

a palm tree on a beach

Lonely Palm Tree

Getting to paradise and back doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We booked a ridiculous, normally unattainable luxury vacation valued at almost $46,000 for a grand total of $1,818… for two people!

Considering that’s usually the price of a regular coach class ticket to the Maldives, that’s one heck of a steal.

In the series of posts to follow, we’re going to walk you through all the experiences that we enjoyed on this trip. While most people would consider this once-in-a-lifetime, with just a little legwork and dedication you can have a luxury getaway to make Instagram followers drool with envy.

Our $46,000 vacation to the Maldives for only $1,818

The Maldives can be a trip of a lifetime, but the nightmare sometimes comes to a lot of travelers when you see the prices of the food items on the menus at the restaurants. A basic meal can start at $30 for a sandwich and then you add the mandatory tax and tip on top and it can get pricey, fast.

As we started to do the math we were wondering what we could do to save money. Luckily, we’ve got some money savings tips so you don’t break the bank just trying to stay fed!


The breakfast at the hotel is luxurious, opulent, and hugely varied. As a platinum or better member you get free breakfast as your amenity. All you can eat really does mean all you can eat, so get your fill.

a trays of pastries on a table

We wrote a post detailing all the breakfast options before, so we won’t rehash that here, but I would recommend giving it a read to see the options that abound.

Money Saving Tip

Chances are you’re going to be jetlagged and you’ll won’t be able to sleep as much as you think you’ll be able to. We were up every morning at 615 no matter if we wanted to or not.

Breakfast is every day from 0700-1030 and as long as you place your order before 1030 you won’t be charged for anything.

a plate of food on a table

With that said, we sat down every morning at 0659 sharp and ordered immediately. It was such a gorgeous place to have breakfast that we found ourselves sitting there reading books and working on the blog. Sometime around 0900 we ordered another latte and enjoyed the calm ocean breeze.

At 1025 the waiter would come by and ask if you’d like anything else from the kitchen since it was about to close. We took that as our opportunity to order a second helping of amazing food. Make another trip to the buffet and you can sit at the restaurant all the way until noon.

a plate of food on a table


There are a few restaurants on the island, but one of the best ones was Crust. They serve wood fired pizzas that are not only the most affordable lunch on the island, they come with the best view and taste amazing.

a man working at a bar on a beach

Options raise a simple margherita to options like Maldivian lobster and prawns. At a 12 inch pizza they’re plenty to share between two people, especially if you order it around 230 right before they close at 3pm. Remember, you just had a second breakfast at 1030 for free so you shouldn’t be TOO hungry.

a blue menu with white text

Crust Restaurant Menu

The most expensive option on the menu is $29 so you won’t go broke on these pizzas.

a pizza on a wooden board


By now you’ve filled up on a double free breakfast, an inexpensive and tasty pizza, so how much dinner do you really need?

There are three restaurants on the island that offer nightly options. Orientale (offering Indian, Chinese, and Japanese fare), Alba (offering Italian) and Decanter (offering unique experiences with wine pairings) You can also go to Crate, a special experience that comes in at $250 per person and is way beyond overpriced.

a sign on a wall

Since we’re talking here about ways to save money, let’s focus on Orientale and Alba.

a restaurant with tables and chairs

By this point we were stuffed and full from all the other food so we shared a meal at the restaurant. The options were endless and honestly, the portion sizes were pretty good. One night we got the Saag Paneer (to share) and the other a completely forgettable dinner from Alba. Both meals didn’t pass $40 for the both of us. Water, is of course, free.


For an island that charges you’re a fortune for food, the options for free snacks were easy if you just know where to look.

First, don’t forget that you can bring your own snacks to the island. We didn’t know what to expect so we packed a little bit of everything from beef jerky to nuts, protein bars, and cookies. Turns out that we only touched that stash once the entire trip.

a pile of food packets

The St Regis lounge in the airport also offers some drinks in the mini fridges. You can pack a few of them in your bags and take them with you to the island (stow them in your fridge when you get to your room and you’ve saved dozens of $$).

a shelf with shelves and lights

Whale Bar, the hotels main bar, offers free snacks for the asking. When you sit down, even if it’s just to share a pot of tea ($7) and watch the yacht float by, you can get unlimited free snacks. For our stay they included feta cheese, olives, peanuts, and potato chips. When the waiter comes by if you simply ask for more, he’ll refill your plate, free of charge!

a boat on the water

Remember that gorgeous welcome basket of fruit in the room? Your butler will bring you more of whatever fruit you want at any time of day. That means free apples, dragon fruit, oranges, pears, and bananas, all for the asking, UNLIMITED.

a bowl of fruit on a table

Feeling parched? A quick call to your butler and he’ll fetch you two cold coconuts, pre drilled and with a compostable straw. Every day there is a staff of people with the sole purpose of climbing the hundreds of trees on the island to look for coconuts.

a man holding two coconuts

If you’re lucky enough to be at the hotel on a Tuesday, there is a manager and guest reception from 5-6 pm. You can treat yourself to a mixed drink, champagne, wine, and lite bites. Again, if it’s free, its me!

a group of people standing around a counter

If you’re looking for a little more protein, don’t forget the milk that comes in your room for the coffee. A simple call to your butler and he will bring more milk for you, also for free!

St Regis Maldives Suite Coffee Station

Coffee, Tea, Water, and Milk are all free

Celebrating a special occasion? We let them know it was my birthday and they delivered a cake to the room. It was pretty big so it lasted us three nights! So much for dessert at the restaurants!

a table with plates and utensils on it

Between the bar snacks, the fruit, the coconuts, the free water and milk, manager’s reception, complete breakfast and snacks from the lounge, you won’t go hungry and you won’t go broke!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. thanks for the great info to save $$$

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    • Of course. It’s totally possible to not go broke eating here! Only if you want to

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  2. So you guys sat at the restaurant for over 3 hours?

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    • How very European of us, right? Most american meals last 22 minutes and you leave. When you’re having good conversation and you’re literally stuck on an island, its not bad.

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  3. Eating breakfast for over 4 hours is either the smartest or the dumbest tip I’ve ever heard,and I just cannot decide which.

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    • Why not both? Trust me when I tell you, you’re going to be jet lagged. You can also leave the restaurant and come back if you wanted to go lie out and get some sun or something… but what else are you doing at 8am on a tropical island other than reading a book or eating?!

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  4. Yeah, I’m with some of the other comments. If I’m so concerned about saving money that I’m spending four to five hours at the hotel restaurant for one meal, then I don’t think the St Regis Maldives would be for me. Or I’d just budget enough for the trip so it’s not a concern; after all, I’d be saving so much using miles and points for the flights and lodging 🙂

    And I can think of a lot of other things I would rather do at 8 am on an isolated tropical island. Pool, snorkeling, massage, sex, etc., etc., etc.

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    • Thanks Bubba 🙂 I’m not sure I’d go back again, but I am glad that I did go. And we did plenty of other things on the trip too!

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  5. If you can’t afford the food then you shouldn’t go. Don’t pretend to be someone your aren’t

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    • I can afford the food, but I choose not to waste my money on it. There are better things to spend money on! But, so glad you can spend it on food.

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  6. Awesome post. SUPER helpful for keeping costs down on this expensive trip. Thanks for writing it.

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  7. Where you able to enjoy the view with the constant stress of how to hack your way to free snacks?

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    • It was an amazing view! So amazing. Can’t wait to go back

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  8. This is the type of post that will turn the St Regis Maldives off points stayers.

    I think people can work that stuff for themselves. You give us (value travelers using miles/points) a bad name shouting to the world “if it’s free it’s me” what??

    It smacks of “gimme gimme gimme” and taking advantage as much as possible.

    Is it possible for you to put yourselves in the owner’s shoes? I obviously don’t feel bad for the super rich company (it’s privately owned like many resorts there, just managed by Marriott) trust me!

    I just know if I was them, I’d 100% want to keep people like you away, as it will make me broke, if my hotel fills up with people like you. So I’d make steps to limit points bookings if this is the crowd that arrives and brags about it. Which… believe me, to use of your ridiculous Presidents pet phrases… they can (and will) shut down award availability or limit such.

    You ain’t doing yourself or others a service.

    Ps I’ve been “doing” the Maldives on points for 12 years now 2 or 3 times a year. And I’ve seen it all.

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    • The author of this article is the perfect epitome of a free-loader and cheapskate. Shameful behavior…please, do not be proud of yourself writing this trashy piece up!

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      • Awww – thanks! Hate comments mean we’re moving up in the world. I appreciate you coming to read our post. #IKnowYouReallyLoveMe

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        • No, I really don’t…

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          • Cool. I’ll remember to comment on your blog posts too :). Thanks for visiting!

    • I disagree Andy. Even for a three day stay on points, our bill was around $1,900. We had plenty of money spent on Scuba, food, plane transfers, etc. While Snorkeling, we met someone who spends $5,500 a night and barely left the room. The bill for the week’s stay was over $40,000. The hotel is doing JUST fine, and trust me, they’re not going bankrupt by giving another juice at breakfast or another snack tray of almonds. While at the hotel, we had plenty of conversations with guests who were in the same boat as us. It allows them (the hotel) to bring guests to their property and still make plenty of money off of them when they arrive.

      While I understand what you’re saying, they’re not turning off points stayers. Plenty of garden villa rooms to give away and then they charge $1,000 a night for an upgrade to an overwater villa. That $1,000 is more than enough to offset another waffle.

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      • Yikes, the hating here is crazy. And, this was pre-covid. Double yikes what’d you’d get now if newly posted. I thought your tips were clever and many of them we’ve used on our travels over the years. I don’t think it’s wrong at all to prioritize how you spend money. Thank you again for the tips, and having a strong disposition. I’d take these criticisms way too seriously.

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        • Thanks David. We’re heading to the Seychelles over the winter so I’m curious to see if we get the same experience there too. Appreciate the comment 🙂

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  9. People like you will eventually ruin it for everyone: abusing airport lounges, hotel status benefits, special services etc. Whatever is free or complimentary now, soon it will be offered for a charge – because of people like you…The author of this article is the perfect epitome of a sad free-loader and cheapskate. Shameful behavior!

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    • I’m the author of this article – and how about you check your privilege at the door. It’s a $3200 hotel a night. Something tells me that a free breakfast is not going to make this hotel go under. Thanks for reading!

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  10. Here’s a tip for your next trip: bring a fishing rod and catch your own fish and cook it over a open fire at the beach.
    Seriously though, it’s guest behavior like this that led to the Sheraton Maldives closing their lounge.

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    • No open fires allowed on the beach, but they will cook the fish that you catch, I forgot to post about that! It’s an offer that the hotel extends to you. Thanks for the reminder!!! 🙂 🙂

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  11. Shameful behavior. Was Florida fully booked?

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    • What was shameful?

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      • Everyone needs to take a step back and CTFD. For a $3000/night property, tactics like this are hardly going to bankrupt a property and are well within the rules. Articles like this are one option, that frankly only a small percentage of the population would most likely adhere to but for them this is very helpful information. Each of us has a different thing that is more important on the scale of time versus money. I happen to not want to give thousands of extra dollars away on my travel. I travel 200,000 miles a year and spend 125 nights away from home. I like to stay at nice places and sometimes will splurge but I am also the type of person who will stay at a luxury property but park on the street after 6PM for free to avoid a $50 parking charge. Y’all are off base with some of these comments. They are helpful and if they aren’t for you DONT FOLLOW them. It’s your right.

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        • Honestly, this is a great post. Not because it tells you how to save money but where you can save money. He’s not telling you to do breakfast twice but you have that option.

          Conrad Maldives charges 12USD++ for water in their restaurants while St Regis gives it complimentary. These little things do matter.

          Someone who likes alcohol to drink and relax, Tuesday GM meeting where free flowing alcohol is present, it’s an option for that person to go and unwind for 1 hour not paying extravaganza prices.

          Nobody’s going to eat Pizza everyday for lunch but nobody is going to splurge everyday either. He’s given you the option to eat at the cheapest restaurant in the resort.

          Unlimited free snacks while you order a drink at Whale Bar is a welcome advice. What if someone didn’t knew about it.

          Look, all the above points enhances your experience and in no way it means that you’re trying to steal anything from the Hotel. These are the rules laid down by the hotel and they very well know how to price everything and what can be given complimentary. Instead of showing that only those people must visit Maldives who can afford is a stupid mindset. Every person here as a right to holiday the way they want. All these rules are made by St Regis Maldives, not by the author. There’s no stealing. Relax, learn and move on!

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  12. thank you so much for these tips! Ignore all of those negative comments, you guys rock!

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  13. Hi Jon, I just came upon your review from 2019. I’m in the process of planning a trip to the St Regis for early 2022. Unlike many of the comments, I believe your post is more than helpful. I too can afford a week at this property but why find yourself spending $500 +/- per day just for food. That’s not even factoring in any adult beverages. Your tips about the snacks, fruit, etc are excellent. I’m Titanium Elite, so luckily the breakfast is included. If you do get this message, how long was your stay? I’m planning a week but I’m concerned I might get island fever.

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    • Hey Robert – thanks!

      We stayed for I believe 4 days (the 5th free day didn’t set into our plans) and the island fever depends on you. Do you like doing NOTHING and just relaxing? Then yes, by all means 🙂 It’s gonna be great LOL. There aren’t excursions off the island other than kayaks, scuba, etc, so make sure that you’re looking to shut off and you’ll be good to go.

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  14. Not sure why people are so upset. This is a great article on the other options and where to save money if you so please. I feel like people are upset they feel like others are gaming the system and that’s not fair to them because THEY wouldn’t do it so it’s wrong.

    Too many egos involved and people need to get their heads out of their asses.

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  15. So sorry people are hating on your post. My fiancee and I are planning our honeymoon and we are spending a combined $3k on the hotel plus points. However, budgeting for meals has been a nightmare because there just aren’t a ton of options. Do we stay at a hotel with all-inclusive for peace of mind, or do we really maximize the fact that it is our honeymoon and pray we just don’t spend more than we can afford to survive.

    I think your method is certainly doable and I am grateful for the tips. We’re thinking about staying at the brand new Ritz Carlton in Maldives. We just hope we $1,000 budget for food is enough. Crazy to think without your tips it might not be, haha.

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    • Well, there will always be haters, and ya know what? that’s ok! Maybe their financial situation is a bit different that yours or mine, I choose not to waste money 🙂

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  16. Your post is hilarious and useful! Glad to know I’m not the only one stowing away snacks/drinks from airline lounges like a squirrel. Looking forward to visiting the new Ritz Carlton Maldives so I’ll see how the freebies stack up there!

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  17. I travel both on the cheap and I splurge and I’ve always done both. On cruises, I book activities with locals before the cruise to save money. I eat free snacks and take free drinks whenever I can. At hotels I usually stay in a club room so I can eat 2 meals a day for ‘free’. I totally embrace all your tips. I can easily afford to spend the money on food, but prefer to prioritize my spending differently…every 30 saved on food is 30 spent on something I don’t need but want. On my upcoming trip to the ST Regis and Hyatt, using points, for 12 nights, and a one night upgrade, it will cost me $1750 at the St Regis, $0 at the Hyatt, business class flight $3900, transfers to the islands $1200…so my ‘free stay’ on points will cost, before food or activities, $6850. So yep, every penny I save on food gives me money for either the big $250 pp dinner, or a boating excursion or whatever. Everything’s a trade-off for me…I could spend the money outright, but why do that if I don’t have to? I only once ever made 6 figures in a year income, so all my savings have benefitted by the short cuts I’ve taken…I would never apologize for my frugality. It is the reason I’ve been able to travel all over the world, and travel often.

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    • As a Titanium Marriott member, I truly appreciate your post. How elitist must one be to get annoyed by someone looking to give options to travelers to save. Its fair to say that anyone traveling to and staying at the St. Regis can afford food! However, that doesn’t mean you should blow $1000 day on food because the hotel menu says that you should.

      Not only do we plan to pack snacks in our bags, we will also bring other beverages in bottles that will say “alkaline” water.

      I truly appreciated the fruit suggestion, as well as the pizza info. However, we will probably go on our culinary journey at breakfast daily, as it is our most important meal of the day!

      Lastly, if anyone that has so many issues with people giving tips on not spending hundreds on each meal, please send me any extra cash that you have so I can be as sophisticated as you.

      Please and thank you!

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      • Thanks Jay 😉 Appreciate the support!

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  18. Hi, thanks for the helpful post which gives us the confidence to book here. I was worried about getting rinsed for everything, however knowing you can balance big dinner spends with a lighter fruit / pizza lunch or the occasional free drinks event, tea coffee in the room etc means I can spend more in the spa. Thanks for the entertaining read.

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  19. Did the property offer you mail plans? Half Board, Full Board or all inclusive?

    When on vacation, esp places like Maldives, I tend to go all inclusive, so that I can eat/drink whenever and not have to worry if its free or gonna cost $$$.

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    • They sure did, but it was SO overpriced it didn’t make sense, especially since Breakfast was included for being elite.

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