The Maldives is, without a doubt, my favourite place in the world. I won’t even pretend it isn’t. And on a recent trip, I got to spend 6 days and explore the very sexy W Maldives.
Located in the North Atoll, the 78-room resort is only accessible by seaplane, which can take between 25-45 minutes (depending if it makes other stops along the way).
– Has the hotel tried to gather any personal information (e.g. preferences) prior to my stay?
My stay was organised a couple of weeks before our arrival at the end of November 2016, and I had a flexible itinerary. I made no special requests as per normal.
We arrived to Male airport in the Maldives after a very long and eventful journey (a story for another blog post) and were met by the W Maldives representative at the arrivals area.
Our luggage was taken away from us and we were taken to the the outdoor pick up area, where the W Maldives private driver was waiting to take us to the lounge.
Some hotels have private lounges, which comes in very handy after your journey in – and the W Maldives lounge did not disappoint. It was quite ‘loud’ decor wise as you can see, and it gave us an opportunity to have a bite to eat, something to drink and freshen up before our seaplane journey to the hotel.
We also checked in at the lounge (which is very handy), left our credit card details and also reconfirmed our departure flights.
As you can see from the images, it was raining on that day – and I worried how that would impact our transfer. Luckily, we only had to wait 45 minutes, and it was lovely to have a place where we could protect ourselves from the rain.
We boarded our plane, alongside other hotel guests and other hotels’ ones, and our journey took 45 minutes, as we made 2 stops along the way (to other resorts).
– The entrance and outside
As we landed, the heavens literally opened, so I have to say we had quite an epic arrival to the hotel. As always, there is a welcome team (it isn’t as if you can turn up unannounced!) which was very efficient. We were handed a glass of champagne each and taken to a covered golf cart which was to take us to our room.
But on a sunny day, this is what you would expect!
– How quick and efficient was the hotel check-in?
The check in was very straightforward and I enjoyed doing it at the lounge. That way, no time would be wasted on arrival.
– Was I addressed by name once reservation has been located? (it is all about the small details, some others are outstanding with this, and I love it, like I do when I board an airplane)
Absolutely. But during our stay we were address to as Mrs. Ana and Mr. Simon which was a lovely touch. It happens a lot in the Maldives and it is nice.
– Did I get an upgrade from my confirmed pre-booked room type?
No. The hotel was at capacity and I had requested a beach villa (which is a room type I really like) and that is exactly what I got. Obviously, at a W Hotel (and I must have spent at least 1o0 nights at W Hotels before), things have their own names. In W talk, we had a Wonderful Beach Oasis.
– Luggage – how many people did I have to tip before the luggage made it safely to my room?
Our luggage was in the seaplane and made its own way to our room before we arrived. Half of it did – the other half was actually left at the airport, but made its way a couple of hours later, which wasn’t a problem.
– Wi-fi – was I told anything about it? Was there a charge?
Wifi was complimentary to all hotel guests and it was actually excellent.
Getting to the room
We took a golf buggy to the room, and accepted the offer of an island tour before getting there. The island is small and it was great to see where everything was (the restaurants, bars, spa, diving centre, etc).
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
The exterior look of the beach villas was quite different from other resorts I had visited in the past, and they had 2 floors, which was indeed special. And knowing it was a W Hotel, I knew I was in for something different!
Our 188 sqm villa was made up of the bedroom area with a separate seating area, decorated with red accents, which was a surprising colour. But it worked well! We also had an outdoor bathroom (see details below).
In the outside area, we had a private pool, a day bed, 4 sun loungers (2 to be used when at the pool, and 2 at the beach), and a great sitting area on the first floor, above our room.
– Welcome amenity
We had a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne (which has some brand partnerships with the W) and some nibbles.
– The bedroom
As you can see from above, the room was really quite large and everything was in good working condition.
As normal, the room is serviced twice a day, and I cannot fault a thing.
– The bed
The king size bed was very comfortable, as I would expect with any Starwood hotel.
– Closet/Wardrobe – proper hangers or those annoying ones where you need a PhD to get them out one by one? This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand them.
The wardrobes were located by the bathroom which meant that the room was kept uncluttered and all luggage out of sight too.
We asked for additional hangers which were brought promptly by housekeeping.
I thought the $79 washing and pressing service was interesting – the price was per bag, instead of per item. We did not use it.
– Bathrobes and slippers
Indeed, and they were very nice. We also had a beach bag which was handy and extra pool/beach towels which were changed daily.
– Coffee and Tea
There was a Nespresso machine in the room, which we did not use.
– Free bottled water
If you wanted Fiji water, it was charged extra, but we were given 4 bottles of water a day free of charge.
– Magazine selection – had some nice surprises and doesn’t happen often enough!
There were none – because you can’t get magazines in the Maldives. As always, I was prepared with 8 kgs of books and magazines, which of course I left behind for others to enjoy.
– Power sockets in useful places – we have more and more devices and we know where we want them! By the bed, by the working area.
We both had sockets on each side of the bed, so no problems here either.
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
We had an outdoor bathroom (with a separate indoor loo and extra sink indoors), which came with a fabulous walk in shower and a separate bath.
– Bath, shower and taps – I am looking for Duravits and Hansgrohes (or other fab brands) around the world. How fab was the shower? And a little pet peeve.. was I able to operate the shower without asking Mr. O for help?
Whilst we did not use the bath tub, we really liked the shower. Even though the bathroom was open air, there was protection from the rain (and boy, did we need it!)
– Towels – yes, please! How many and how soft and lovely?
Starwood hotels favour these teeny tiny towels (I do not honestly know why), but we asked our housekeeper for the large ones and he made sure we had fresh ones every day, twice a day. The large ones (which are normal sized ones for us) were excellent.
– Toiletries – own brand, super brand, baby ones or proper ones? I shall find out!
W Hotels continue its partnership with Bliss, which is a brand I really like. I was however surprised to see that we had the teeny tiny bottles in a 5 night scenario, where multiple showers a day take place.
Interestingly, on our second day, another hotel in the Maldives sent me a box of one of my favourite toiletries (I promise I didn’t ask, it really was a surprise), and our housekeeper noticed and asked me about them. I said something about the size and in 10 minutes he came back with 2 large sets of Bliss toiletries (which you normally get in suites, and I would expect it in any room in the Maldives). The good thing was that he didn’t have to replace them again – which made perfect sense.
Special points for the face wash, which came home with me (we had only used 1 quarter of the bottle).
– Amenity kit – I don’t want more sewing kits thank you very much, but I will need a shower cap.
The W amenity kits is one of the most complete ones and it was displayed on one of the walls, alongside quite a large selection of products to buy (like sunscreen etc). I thought that them being outside in the heat wasn’t ideal.
– Hairdryer – is it a human one, or just something stuck to a wall that only makes noise?
We had one, which was excellent and I used once. The other days, I let my hair dry naturally. Because. Maldives.
Pool & Beach
As stated before, our beach villa came with a private pool and direct beach access. It was very secluded from ‘the main beach’ and very private. My only comment would be that the decking needed a little bit of TLC.
Our beach stretch was lovely and spacious and our neighbours were quite quiet, so we never had any problems.
We were located not far from the main hotel pool and bar (maybe 50 steps) and only once did we hear more music than we wanted, in all honesty.
I tried the spa twice – I meant to go every day, but I fell ill for 2 days of the trip and I couldn’t. I really enjoyed my massage (priced at $150 ++ for 5o mins) and the post treatment views. Mr. O went more often as there was no reason for him not to. Lucky boy!
Now there is a heading you do not see often in my blog. Why? Because (touch wood), I rarely get ill on trips – but sadly the lucky trend did not continue on this visit to the Maldives. On the 3rd day, I woke up with a fever and I will always be thankful to the hotel’s in-house doctor, who I had the pleasure of meeting twice.
I was diagnosed with a ‘Maldivian flu’ and given antibiotics, but I was down for 2 days, which obviously isn’t ideal. But I knew I was in good care – and I really appreciated the hotel’s attention by sending me ‘fluids’ – be that ginger tea (which was incredible), fresh fruit and other bits and pieces as they of course realised I wasn’t turning up for meals.
I was able to enjoy days 1, 2, 5 and 6 – which I am grateful for. This of course justifies the lack of the usual cocktail photos, sadly. For one of us, at least.
Breakfast takes place at The Kitchen, which is also the only option for lunch, and is also open for dinner. The buffet was very good – with all the hot dishes made to order. I would like to highlight the fabulous bacon sandwiches, and the freshly cut fruit. I also for once enjoyed a green juice (no idea what was in it, but it was green and delicious).
Lunch also took place at the same venue, and we really liked the variety – from salads, to maldivian curries, vietnamese rolls, pizza, etc. Prices ranged between $20-40++ for main courses and cocktails around $20++.
++ means the price in USD, plus service charge of 10% and 12% of local tax – which really adds up, and I honestly wished hotels started including all the costs and be upfront about it.
We were on a full board package, which included breakfast and dinner at one of the 3 dining options. My main comment here is that not all are open every night, so do plan well. We didn’t and sadly only got to go to Fire once (which we really wanted to repeat).
For reference, a half board package costs $136 per person (net, which is a tad complex as it actually includes tax and service charge). Full board (which includes lunch), costs $197 per person per day. Note that this applies to food only.
To give you an idea, a visit to Fire (the fabulous barbeque restaurant), costs $180 ++ per person (which I found a tad extreme as I did not have much to eat). But it is, of course, one more reason to make sure you have the dining package. I found the half board to be better value as we did not spend $100 on food for lunch (on average).
The hotel’s signature restaurant is called Fish, and you have a limited (but actually excellent menu) if you are on the dining package, but can upgrade to any other option you have.
As always, we asked for a Maldivian curry to be prepared for us one night and we loved it.
One of the things I love about W Hotels is how they make things fun. And this hotel had really good perks. For example, we would come back from the spa, and find post its in our bathroom ‘inviting us for a free 2nd drink’ at bar x or y. And it didn’t happen every day – but the location moved.
In other days, we had a round of cocktails ready to be enjoyed while we showered. And everyone was talking about them at the bar.
If you notice the photo below, you may notice I am eating a Magnum. Well, we had one of many ‘Sweet Spots’ just by our room – and you could help yourself to soft drinks, ice cream, water and extra towels.
And extra points for one thing – really – whatever you do after reading this article, do one thing: download the W Hotels app. Hotel apps are becoming more and more useful – but this one features a monthly music selection by the various W hotels from around the world. Want spa music? Want lounge music? Want something sexier for the night ahead? Just choose your mood. I LOVED the app and we have been using it a lot. And I love that it changes too. A brilliant idea.
Ws and cocktails go hand in hand and we loved Sip, the sunset bar – and its lychee cocktails. Sadly, I did not get to indulge every day. But the sunsets were beautiful even with sparkling water.
Ws are always very connected to music and this property was no exception. An international DJ resides in the island 3 months at a time, and I felt it added to the experience. I just didn’t need to hear the pool party music while I napped (which happened once only), but I enjoyed it elsewhere, except for breakfast (I am not really a morning person).
The vibe of the hotel really is adults only, but not ‘crazy party’ at all. The sunsets were mellow and the clientele ranged from early 30s-to-late 50s.
There was also another bar, by the main pool, which was always lively after dinner (again, something I quite enjoy).
And last, but certainly not the least, the hotel offers complimentary 30 minute photo shoots to all guests with an option of getting one printed and fully framed photo for free. You will see that for the first time in the Maldives, we have some great photos of us two together. The digital photo packages start from USD 232 and include a USB with 75 edited photos
– How good and reliable was the wi-fi?
The wifi was excellent and worked very well.
– Did I feel genuinely welcomed by the hotel staff?
Yes. One of the reasons why we go back to the Maldives regularly – it is quite effortless, and very personal. We thought the service at this W was probably the best we ever experienced within this chain of hotels.
Wonderful beach oasis start from $1000/night, and as I stated before, excluding tax. What I found interesting, is that the hotel charges service charge on the room rate, which is something I have never seen before (and personally do not agree with).
A return seaplane trip costs $515 per person, but some packages include them, so make sure your look at the various options. Also, do not forget about the dining packages ($136 half board, $197 full board).
– Would I recommend it to my best friend?
Yes. The resort was perfect for couples, but also for friends – and that is a combination you don’t see very often. I really liked it.
– Would I stay again?
Have you visited this hotel? What were your thoughts?
Disclaimer: I was a guest of W Hotels during this stay, but hopefully you will see that this has not influenced my thoughts about the property. For more information about the hotel, visit its official website.