If you have been following me on Instagram, you saw Dan and I were vacationing on the other side of the world... in Dubai and the Maldives! After spending a few days in Dubai, Dan and I flew on a 4 hour flight to the Maldives. We had seen pictures on Google of the hotel and island lifestyle, but being there in person was surreal. The bluest, cleanest water with the happiest people residing on over 1,200 islands.
The way we paid for this trip was with points! If you want to learn about my "travel-points strategy", I've written it in a blog post: How I travel free with points in my twenties.
We decided to spend 11 days in the Maldives and split up our time at two resorts: The Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. Both resorts had a lot of similarities, but very different levels of services and island design. Everyday, I kept getting asked by many of you: Which resort is better? Do you recommend for your honeymoon? What's the Ritz Carlton like?! Should I stay there? Is it expensive? Why?
Let's start with...
Location: North of the airport - about a 45 minute boat ride or quick sea plane flight (boat ride is much easier)
Number of villas: 100 private villas
Number of restaurants: 5 restaurants on the island, and also 2 more restaurants a quick boat ride away to a sister island! Highly suggest checking out the sister island for dinner - we loved Arabesque
Water Sports? So many water sports to pick from! We went jet skiing to a sand dune, then went snorkeling in a lagoon. Also, we loved paddle boarding by the beach!
Spa? Incredible! The service was awesome! We had the B-STRONG massages and they put us in the same room to enjoy together. After the massage, we were treated to tea and cookies. Also, as a Marriott member with high status, we received a free face mask towards the end of our massage - I've never been to a Marriott with this benefit, but I loved it and wish more did this!
Butler? Oh, we had the BEST butler! Our butler's name was Abu, and he set up our daily itinerary with things to do, places to eat and gave the best suggestions. One of the nights, we were going to do the lobster dinner, and we didn't realize it was the same price as the private dinner. Abu worked with Dan to surprise me to a private dinner on the beach with our own private chef and waiter. If you have Abu as your butler, you are in EXCELLENT hands!
Island Design: The Ritz Carlton Maldives is located in the Fari Islands, all close islands and lagoons easy to get to. The Ritz Carlton is located on three islands combined by bridges and surrounded by a lagoon w/ a rock wall (so the water was not choppy).
The pool is located on the middle island, and the beach is located on the island opposite of the majority of the villas. When we stayed at the St. Regis, the pool and beach were located in the same area, so we were bored very fast. We loved that the pool and beach was separated because it gave us different experiences to do! Also, the pool and beach had their own restaurants, so it was nice having different places to eat!
To get around the island, you will be given a bike. It was fun to bike around and explore - we loved doing that when it was cloudy out!
The Villa: It was BEAUTIFUL! Bigger than our NYC apartment (ha, sadly true). It was designed like a Restoration Hardware DREAM villa. We loved the layout of the apartment. Our bed was position to have a view of the ocean, equipped with automated shades to open while laying in bed. Behind the bed area, was the bathroom and closet. We had our own little pool, hammock, but our favorite part of our villa was the outdoor shower. We only used it to shower! Sharing below a video tour of our villa:
The Service: The service was over-the-top. The team remembered our name and preferences, and was always happy to see us. It felt like family. The staff coordinated well with each other and we felt the entire experience was smooth - no hiccups or mistakes with handling our trip.
Favorite Restaurants? On the island, we had an Italian, Chinese, Japanese, continental and Maldivian food options! Every single meal was incredible and I highly suggest trying out each restaurant! At the sister island, there was Lebanese + Indian and other Asian options. Our favorite restaurants during our stay at the Ritz were Summer Pavilion (Chinese) and Arabesque!
Things to Do: Since the island was so big (3 combined islands), there was so much to do. We spent 5 nights here, and we could have stayed longer. We loved snorkeling off our villa, ordering drinks at the beach, jet-skiing to a sand bar and biking around the island.
Our favorite part of the trip: We loved the entire trip! To be honest, I wished we stayed the entire time at this resort. The service was better and we loved how much there was to do. We were never bored! We also loved the size of our villa and the outdoor shower. You spend a lot of time in the villa because you have your own private pool and access to the beach - we loved being able to lay in the hammock over the ocean, or watch fishes swim by (we saw string-rays right next to our villa)!
Up next we have...
Location: South of the airport - only to get to island is a 45 minute sea plane ride!
Number of villas: 77 private villas
Number of restaurants: 6 restaurants on the island! Not all of them were available for all meals.
Water Sports? Same kinds of snorkeling as the Ritz, except more fish for snorkeling because you are more south. We went snorkeling off a lagoon and saw a turtle, shark, clown fish and a bunch of other fishies. On the way to snorkeling, our boat passed a family of dolphins!
Spa? Incredible!! If you are on your honeymoon, you get 1 complimentary session in their salt-aromatherapy pool overlooking the ocean. We enjoyed the Iridium Signature massage and loved it! We were able to enjoy it as a couple's massage (same room) and loved the masseuse' we had!
Butler? We had a great butler, but she was not as energetic as our butler in the Ritz Carlton. She did a great job getting us into restaurants and activities, but it didn't feel the same level of service that we received at the Ritz Carlton. It felt more basic.
Island Design: The pool and beach were located in the same area, and we wish they were more separated so it felt as if it were two different activities. Also, the current was rough around our villa so we only went swimming + snorkeling once off the villa because it didn't always feel safe. We loved that the Ritz had a rock wall to break up the waves.
The Villa: This villa was spacious and large! We loved the outside area of the villa and the multiple hammocks we had! We loved the automated shades, lights and bathtub within the villa! We also liked that there was more areas to tan in the outside area of the villa. The resort opened in 2016, but you could hear many creeks. It made the villas + boardwalk felt dated/old. Check out a video tour of our villa below.
The Service: We thought the St. Regis had nice service, but it did not feel above and beyond. The people working on the island seemed tired and not very eager. There were a few times we would order breakfast and they would forget a couple items (one time we waited 45 minutes because they forgot our breakfast - but they provided us a complimentary breakfast for free in our villa the next day to apologize).
The Restaurants: We enjoyed sipping cocktails at The Whale Bar, and then switch different restaurants each night. Our favorite restaurant was the Orientale. We had the best Asian food we have ever had at this restaurant and went back twice! We loveeeed the shrimp tempura! We also loved Cargo (especially for the jungle vibe)!
Things to Do: This island had many of the same activities as the Ritz but we didn't enjoy them as much. Once we experienced the beach, we didn't feel a need to experience the pool because it was the same restaurant and view. We ended up tanning and relaxing at our villa most of the time (which we loved doing anyways)!
Our favorite part of the trip: Snorkeling + seeing dolphins swim up next to us was my favorite part of the trip! We saw many fishes we've never seen before, and we loved seeing dolphins swim up right next to the boat!
So...which was our favorite resort? The easiest way to answer this question is asking "Which resort would I go back to?". Easily, the Ritz Carlton. We loved every second of our experience, and we were so, so happy the entire trip. The service and island layout were incredible, and it made the trip much more memorable!