Maldives Luxury Vacation: Introduction and Planning

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. A Maldives vacation can be had on the cheap, but it’s definitely not the easiest to achieve.

Lonely Palm Tree

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.

Maldives Island Resort

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.

Yacht Time #YachtLife

Here’s some of the topics that we’re going to cover:

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.

Planning for the Trip of a Lifetime

From the west coast you’ve got a few options to arrive and they all tend to involve long overwater routes. Connection options involve London, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. If you head to either Abu Dhabi on Etihad or Dubai on Emirates, you can hop a quick four hour flight to the Male airport.

Opt for the London leg and you might get lucky seasonally to get a flight on British Airways.

There are other options as well, and one of the best ways to find out how to get there is the Male Airport Wikipedia Page.

Here you can see all the airlines that fly you to Male and how to connect. If you’re not using Wikipedia as part of your main search, you’re missing out.

Richard Branson Virgin Seattle

Richard Branson Virgin Seattle

London Stop

We wanted to have a couple extra days of fun along the way, so we decided to head to London first and take in a showing of Hamilton. The best way from Seattle to London is on Virgin Atlantic’s direct flight. They fly their 787 Dreamliner on the route, and it just so happened to be our luck that of the only day that had availability was the day that we wanted flights!

Delta is a partner with Virgin Atlantic, so we managed to redeem our Skymiles and only $5.60 each ticket for a one way ticket to London.

Seattle to London, Upper Class, 85,000 Delta Skymiles each. Total 170,000 miles and $11.20

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

London Hotel, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

For us, there’s only one hotel in London that is worth our time. The St Pancras Renaissance checks all the boxes. It’s located within a 15 minute tube ride of most places we want to be in London and the architecture can’t be beat.

The hotel usually charges upwards of 250GBP for a base room and 700 GBP or more for a suite. We were lucky enough to use our Marriott suite upgrades to secure that room upgrade and 45,000 Marriott points to not have to pay a dime.

London overnight hotel, 45,000 Marriott points and $0

Etihad Apartments connected

Etihad Apartments connected

London to Abu Dhabi to Male

Etihad offers one of the sexiest, sleekest, and most elusive products in the market today. The Etihad Apartment is their first class product, and it includes a butler, private chef with food on demand, sofa, shower, lounge, and more… all of that is on the airplane, not to mention all of the cool stuff on the ground!

While Etihad offers flights with their apartment direct from New York’s JFK to Abu Dhabi, finding award space can be a nightmare. Luckily, getting seats on their LHR-AUH flight is much easier. We were able to get two seats from London to Abu Dhabi with a free connection over to Male for only 62,500 American Airlines miles plus taxes and fees.

Booking through the United States call center is impossible, as the agents have no idea how to find space. Calling the Australia call center on the other hand magically results in flights becoming available.

Using American AAdvantage miles for their partner Etihad is without a doubt the best use of miles.

London to Abu Dhabi to Male, First Class Apartment, 62,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles each. Total 125,000 miles and $589.96

St Regis Maldives From

Male Hotel

There are no shortage of points opportunities for hotels. IHG has the Holiday Inn Resort, Hilton has the Conrad, Hyatt has the Park Hyatt. Marriott has the W, Westin, Sheraton, and most importantly, the St Regis.

The St Regis hotel is one of the most exclusive resorts in the country. There are only 50 or so rooms and the cost for a base garden room is well over $2,500 a night. Want an overwater villa? Tack on an extra $1,000 a night for that pleasure.

St Regis Maldives Prices – OUCH

Just after the Marriott/SPG merger, rooms were bookable at the resort for 60,000 for the base room and 80,000 for an overwater villa. Taking advantage of that small loophole we booked a three night stay for 240,000 Marriott points. While now the points are well over 100k a night, my suggestion is to book the garden room for 60k and then ask them over email about the cost to upgrade. Depending on the time of year, you could easily upgrade for a couple nights for not a lot of money.

Paradise achieved for $0. Literally… free.

St Regis Maldives, 80,000 Marriott points a night. Total 240,000 points and $0.00.

Emirates Privacy Screens

Emirates Privacy Screens

Male to Dubai to Los Angeles

Once you leave paradise, how can you continue that level of luxury on your way home? There’s no other way to go than Emirates First Class.

Emirates is on the top of my blogger and reader lists for its unparalled luxury, quality food and drink options, and scarcity of mileage flights.

Alaska Airlines is still, without a doubt, the best way to use miles to fly on Emirates. A couple of years ago it used to be a lot cheaper to fly but now that they’ve increased their mileage redemption values I find that there are more seats available to redeem.

Alaska Airlines makes redeeming miles super easy on their website. We could search with no problem from MLE-DXB-LAX-SEA and booking online was a breeze.

Male to Dubai to Los Angeles to Seattle, 150,000 Alaska Airlines miles each. Total 300,000 miles and $36.40

So, what’s our total?

Delta Skymiles = 170,000 miles

Alaska Airlines = 300,000 miles

American Airlines = 125,000 miles

Marriott Points = 285,000 points

Total Cost = $618 plus $1200 for Seaplane Transfers = $1818 and 880,000 miles/points

Ben Relax Bluffworks Maldives

Stay tuned for all the reviews of the hotels, planes, and more in the next series of posts.

Have you been to the Maldives? Where did you stay and how did you get there? Did you score a good deal like this?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the installments in this series. Since we are headed to the St. Regis at the beginning of April, part 11 would be especially helpful if there are suggestions beyond bringing our own cup o noodles. Otherwise, I imagine we may be spending $1818 or more just for meals, even with free breakfast. Best regards!

    Post a Reply
    • oh cool because it’s certainly possible to earn those mileage amounts….

      Especially with Alaska… the only way you can earn that much is by flying a ton of alaska/partner flights that credit to Alaska. Don’t link me the 40K credit card offer… that barely gets you the 300K you need (even if both you and your partner get the bus+personal, that’s still only 50% of the amount of miles you need, so you’re looking to spend 150K to earn 150K more Alaska miles).

      Post a Reply
      • 1) We don’t have a link to the credit card offer, so don’t worry we won’t. 2) As any seasoned reader knows, we fly Alaska a lot, and re-qualifying for Gold 75k earns at a minimum 250k a year 3) There are plenty of other ways to earn Alaska miles… we earn about 30k for bag guarantees, dining program, shopping programs, rental cars, and tons more… so yea, it’s totally possible to earn those amounts! I’m glad we both agree, and that I could provide more clarity.

        Post a Reply
    • It is not quite fair. They just accounted for the hotels and flights. Nonetheless, points DO have value! 880k points?!?

      Post a Reply
      • And very happy to have spent them.

        Post a Reply
        • The numbers are somewhat disingenuous because it does not mention the costs to acquire those miles and points.

          But $46k / 880,000 points is still a great redemption rate at $0.05 per point/mile! But all for only 4 days…. There might be better ways to make that much last much longer.

          Post a Reply
          • I disagree, sir… the cost to attain miles and points is completely irrelevant. Do you look at the cost to acquire cash? Haha but in all seriousness, at least we spent more than 4 days, the trip itself was a bunch o stops along the way 🙂 And more!

  2. You went to the Maldives for 3 days??

    Post a Reply
  3. Amazing! Hopefully next time I go there it will be a luxury edition hehe

    Post a Reply


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