Does the thought of this spectacularly beautiful nation in the Indian Ocean conjure up (lots and lots of) dollar signs?
There’s a valid reason for this: Of the Maldives‘ nearly 1,200 islands, only 200 of them are inhabited, and most of these are private island resorts surrounded by their very own “house reef” with stunning marine life and sublime white sand beaches. So there’s that aspect.
Tag on the incredible expense each hotel endures in order to get food, beverages, and supplies delivered, as well as pay staff to live on-site — not to mention the added cost of you, yourself getting to these far-flung beauties — and it’s no wonder that the Maldives is not for the budget-minded. But we have seen them all: from the not-so-special all-inclusives where guests are assigned the same table for each meal of every day (er, no thanks), to pinch-me-now resorts like Gili Lankanfushi, with the biggest overwater villa in the world.
For those who realistically are seeking somewhere in the middle (like, most of us), we’ve put together a list of the highest quality Maldivian resorts for the best prices — many that are upscale and affordable (or at least that won’t have you applying for a second mortgage). So check ’em out and get here before the islands start disappearing to rising sea levels!
This is the lowest priced of the bunch! If the idea of a no-frills, casual stay in the Maldives with a touch of local vibes sounds cool to you, then South Ari Atoll's Ranveli Village is an ideal spot. All 56 rooms are clean, basic, and comfortable and have either beachfront backyards or balconies with views, stocked minibars, and vanity desks. Since rooms lack TVs and Wi-Fi, those not looking to truly unplug may find the analogue escapist style here hard to manage, though others will argue that the spa, huge beach, pool, water sports, three bars, and weekly activities suffice just fine -- especially at these rates. Ranveli Village is about 30 minutes from Malé by seaplane; this method of transportation is certainly not cheap, but many find that it is worth the expense -- especially for the once-in-a-lifetime seaplane adventure.
Another seriously affordable spot, KIHAAD stands out for its rich marine life, good food, beautiful beaches, and family-friendly amenities. Built in 2012, the resort feels upscale and new, and the 600-meter-long island is surrounded by a waist-deep lagoon and white-sand beaches; meanwhile, a dozen water bungalows and a spa are built over the lagoon on stilts. The lobby has billowy white curtains, tribal-inspired furniture, and a sandy floor (most guests prefer to go without shoes). Kihaad's biggest drawback is its location (a 30-minute flight from Male Airport, plus a boat transfer), but it's often half the price of similar, more accessible resorts. Not to mention the resort is recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve with some of the best diving in the Maldives.
Stretching just over a mile in length, Kuredu is one of the largest resort islands in the Maldives. Rooms have Nespresso machines, minibars, tea kettles, CD players, and free Wi-Fi. It's loaded with restaurants and bars (14 in total) and has plenty of space for large amenities like a soccer field, golf course, two spas, and three pools. Kuredu isn't as intimate as some smaller resorts, and it's a pricey, 45-minute flight from Malé. Still, affordable rooms and impressive food make Kuredu an outstanding overall value; travellers will be hard-pressed to find a better upscale resort -- especially one offering all-inclusive packages that include alcohol -- at these rates.
The gorgeous 184-room Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa is one of the few in the Maldives that can boast whale watching. Rooms (some that are Water Villas) are spacious and handsome, with decor that ranges from bright and playful to sober and chic. The resort has multiple pools, restaurants, sports fields, and a spa scattered throughout, and there are dedicated adults-only areas. With a reef on-site and all-inclusive options, it's a romantic, tranquil choice for families and couples. The island is also home to long stretches of white sand beach, and is a 25-minute seaplane journey from Malé. The flight passes over multiple uninhabited islands and resort islands along the way before landing on an ocean jetty where guests then deplane and board a small speedboat for a short ride to the resort. Discounted rates and packages are available for families with young children.
This upscale, 180-room resort is the oldest in the Maldives; it opened circa 1972 on a former coconut plantation surrounded by white-sand beaches. An easy (and cheap) jaunt from the airport -- just 10 minutes by boat -- Kurumba is not the most peaceful locale, nor does it have the most attractive views due to a protective man-made barrier. Despite these two shortfalls, the resort has a lot to offer, including eight restaurants, three bars, two swimming pools, and a modern spa. It appeals to families, thanks to the kids' club with babysitting services, and to couples, thanks to offerings such as wine tastings and sunset jazz. Nine renovated room types have basic contemporary decor, outdoor patios, and spacious open-air bathrooms with separate bathtubs and showers. The team works hard to keep things fresh -- case in point, the sleek Thile Restaurant, which opened in 2014, ranks among the Maldives' best. Several meal packages are on offer to keep dining costs in check.
The reliable, popular Meeru -- with beautiful beaches and freshwater pools -- is not only the third oldest resort in the Maldives, it is also the third largest, with 286 rooms and a loyal following of repeat guests (many Germans). It's attractive to all ages: Families have their own area of the island, and couples have theirs, hence two separate pools, two buffet restaurants, and two spas. Most guests are on an all-inclusive packages, so bars are lively -- especially the 24-hour one. During the day, there are plenty of activities on hand, including a diving center with courses in French, German, and English, a number of water sports, excursions, a driving range, and even a golf course. Rustic-luxe rooms have vaulted wood roofs, wood paneling, and king-size beds (many are romantic four-posters with mosquito netting); some are overwater, some on the beach, and some offer jetted tubs in open-air bathrooms. Service can feel inconsistent but rates are competitive. No seaplane is required to get here -- rather a more affordable hour-long boat ride with views.
This friendly, upper-range resort resides on a mile-long island in the remote Rasdhoo Atoll (don't miss the 300-year-old banyan tree or amazing sunsets on the unique sandbar); it is in fact one of the largest in the Maldives, with 290 units. Notable features include two separate dive centres, a spa, hidden beach areas, and standout snorkelling in the house reef (snorkel gear is free to use). The contemporary thatched-roof villas all have patios; some have hot tubs, outdoor rain showers, private pools, or overwater settings. Basic all-inclusive rates cover drinks and meals at one of the three main buffet restaurants, while Select rates also cover meals at the seven à la carte restaurants. Guests can arrive by seaplane, but most opt for the cheaper boat transfer, which admittedly can get bumpy during inclement weather.
With thoughtful and clean design elements, chic and modern decor, luxe amenities like L' Occitane bath products, and a lively collection of guests ranging from families to honeymooners, Velassaru Maldives is a luxury property with a fun, yet casual vibe. It's also got one of the most impressive infinity pools we've seen. The 129 rooms come with thoughtful features like polished coconut shell decor accents, personal wine fridges, plunge pools, outdoor showers, and private beach areas. There's also a large public beach with a teeming house reef, overwater spa, dive center, watersports center, and five restaurants and two bars -- and it's only 25 minutes via speedboat from Malé.
This 221-room resort in the secluded Noonu Atoll first opened in 2008 as a Hilton; nowadays, a Maldivian family runs what is probably the best local-owned resort in the country. It also has nightly rates that are some of the most competitive in the Maldives for this level of luxury, but it's important to note that food and beverage costs add up fast here. Most of the clean and contemporary villas (some with private pools) lie along the white-sand beaches and are separated by tropical vegetation; meanwhile overwater villas (for guests 12 and up) have private decks with ladders to the turquoise sea (again, some with private pools). The 52-acre island offers water sports and excursions for all ages, including a prime-positioned PADI dive center, and couples can relax in an adult-only pool, at candlelit restaurants, or in the biggest spa in the Maldives. Families should note that this is one of the few luxury resorts in the Maldives with a kids' club and babysitting. A seaplane is required to get here, but one will hardly complain about the added expense, especially when greeted by staff like a member of royalty.
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