Pam’s Maldives Vacation on Points

Pam

We’ve written a bit about going to the Maldives on points/miles because so many people are interested in that. Alex went last Spring to the Maldives and can’t stop talking about it. I had a trip booked for December 2021. Unfortunately, one after another of our flights was canceled, and I finally just decided to postpone it rather than try to rebook at the last minute.  Here is my report about another way to use points/miles for a Maldives trip.

 

Lodging

I didn’t use points/miles for lodging. I have used Travelzoo a couple of times for trips (which helped me meet the minimum spend on a card). For instance, last Spring, we used a Travel Zoo voucher for our amazing stay at Taasa Lodge on our African Safari. One day I was glancing at their offers and found an enticing one. One week and 2 meals a day for two people for $1,600 to the Maldives! This seemed like a great deal. Of course, this didn’t include the seaplane to the island from Male. It never does. We could have used the speedboat way of getting there for the free one-way, but I heard it was horrible and opted out, deciding to pay more for the quick mode of transportation.

 

Screenshot of resort voucher details

My TravelZoo package

Flights to the Maldives

I was making this trip with my London-based daughter, Lindsey. The timing was perfect because she had just finished a Master’s thesis! I had already planned to meet her in London and visit for a few days (and spoil my grandchildren). This meant we could travel together. Before going to London, Alex and I went to Paris. Paris, London, and the Maldives – not a bad trip, right? Oh, how I love this game of points and miles!

I found flights on Air Canada via Etihad Airlines for us. I used American Express Membership Rewards to transfer into Air Canada. These points were earned through the following cards:

 

Here is our business class flight. Be warned that flying out of London has high surcharges, so we paid $975 additional in taxes and fees. However, I would pay over and over again almost $500/per person for a business-class seat!

Screenshot flight to Male

London to Male on Etihad

Note that we had an 18-hour layover in Abu Dhabi. We opted to stay at the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi using points/miles to get some rest. We also had to take a Covid test to leave the airport, which we did before the trip. It had to be within 30 days ( a little strange but whatever?)  We were only asked for it once on the trip, at the Grand Mosque. Because we wanted to see a little of Abu Dhabi, we booked this trip.

 

Getting to a Maldives Resort

People primarily book a seaplane to their resort. Our resort, the Reethi Faru, handled this for us. Once we landed, we went through an easy customs station and looked for a guy holding a resort sign. He wasn’t there. We went to the information desk, and they said we could go to the Trans-Maldivian Airport desk and check-in. They were easy to find. They found our reservation and took us on a bus to another terminal (actually much nicer than the Male Airport).

Once there, we were instructed to go to the second floor and wait for our plane. Some screens show when planes are leaving. This is where it got interesting. We were told we were going at 9:15, then it went to 9:45 and 10:30, and we finally left at 11:30. The desk in the lounge was probably sick of us going up for updates! They take you to another room where you are seated with people going to your resort and possibly another resort. We waited for about 30 minutes, and then they took us to the seaplane that seated about 15 people.

 

Red and White Seaplane

Our ride to and from our Maldives resort.

 

I was concerned about how I would feel on the seaplane, but it was an easy and enjoyable experience. It was $500 each for the roundtrip seaplane transfer. No matter how you book it, that is on top of your expenses. You can take a speedboat, but we heard bad weather can cancel them and that it would have been 2 hours. It was funny to see your pilot and co-pilot in shorts and sandals, though. We traveled about 40 minutes and landed at Reethi Faru, where we were greeted by the staff with a cool washcloth and welcome drink.

 

Man sitting in airplane seat without shoes

You know you are going to the Maldives when your copilot is dressed like this!

 

Our Resort

The minute we landed, I was in awe – completely gorgeous, clear water, white sands, and lush green vegetation. It was like dying and going to heaven a little. It is the thing that dreams are made of!

 

White sand, turquoise water and a swing

In Heaven!

 

White sand, turquoise water and a palm tree

White sand beaches and turquoise water…what more could you ask for?!

 

We got a quick orientation and went to our overwater bungalow. It was large and had an outdoor bathroom that was to die for! We used the outdoor shower every day vs. the enclosed one.

 

Woman standing in front of overhead bungalows.

Outside our overwater villa

 

I would say that Reethi Faru was a great place to stay for these reasons:

  • Moderately priced even at the full cost
  • The staff was very attentive and friendly
  • Wonderful spa!
  • If you like Indian food, you will be in heaven. For me, there weren’t as many “normal” American choices as I’d have liked to see. I am not a foodie compared to many as far as ethnic choices, so I eat fish, pizza, and hamburgers a lot on my trips (I know, horrible, right?). They did have those choices, but I was tired of the food by the end of the week. Breakfast and dinner at their buffet were included with our package or a $12 and $20 credit each at the restaurants.
  • Great water sports activities

 

Cons of Reethi Faru:

  • The pool area has some missing tiles (first-world problems, right)
  • You pay about a 24% surcharge for taxes and service charges for everything
  • Compared to Alex’s trip, they were pretty busy – about 75% capacity
  • Scattered rain, but we went at the end of the rainy season – it only ruined one afternoon, though.

 

Pool and deck with palm trees

Poolside

Flight Home

I really wanted to try Qatar Q-Suites, so I booked that for my flight home while my daughter went home on Etihad. I had earned 80K Citi Premier ThankYou points on a previous promo that let you transfer them to American Airlines. That is how I booked my flight home for a total of 70K points. (These have been harder to find at this price lately). You could also book this flight on any card that transfers to Qatar or British Airways, as they both earn Avios. Here are some cards that this could work with:

 

Here is my itinerary. I couldn’t get the Male-Doha part in business class, but I did upgrade to Premium Economy for $125. It was a recliner seat in the bulkhead which was super nice for my 4-hour flight to Doha.

 

Qatar Flights from Male to Denver itinerary

Qatar Airways flight home

 

One of the great perks of this flight was getting access in Doha to the Al Mourjan Business Lounge. This is one of the largest lounges that I’ve been to, and gorgeous! Want a shower, recliner for sleep, eat in a restaurant and order a multitude of food or go to an amazing buffet? They have it all!

 

Large staircase near water feature

This lounge is pure luxury and grandeur!

The Doha airport is a journey in itself. It feels a little like going to Vegas with over-the-top stores (including Harrod’s), bright lights, and many eating facilities. If it hadn’t been midnight, I would have enjoyed exploring more!

 

It is a beautiful airport!

 

Bottom Line

Sometimes we solely use points and miles for trips. Sometimes we mix it up with a great purchase (with a credit card, of course) from an online company like TravelZoo. It all works! Although I used another way to use points/miles for a Maldives trip, it worked for me. The Maldives is bookable completely with points/miles like Alex did it too. One thing is for sure, it is a dream destination, and although the flights are long, it is one that I am happy I decided to do!

 

View from airplane of islands in ocean

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