Ramon is the creator of Travelling Companion. He focuses on flight review, hotel reviews, and helping stretch your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
The beauty of The Maldives exceeded my expectations, this hotel was thoughtful in recognizing our Honeymoon and Christina's Marriott Platinum Status, and this was the best hotel room I have ever stayed in. Despite this I would never return to this resort since it had exorbitant fees, tasteless and extremely overpriced food that left us very ill during our Honeymoon stay.
Pros- Beautiful Beaches, Private Plunge Pool, World-Class Snorkeling, Secluded Resort, Attentive Service, Amazing Elite Recognition, Honeymoon Recognition, Spectacular Room Design, Relaxing Massages, and On-site Doctor
Cons- Overbearing Butler Service, Exorbitant Fees, Extremely Overpriced Food, Tasteless Food, and Food-borne Illness
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The Maldives itself is a secluded archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean with only about 600,000 people in 2020 and the journey to The Maldives from the United States takes more than a day. The seclusion is a selling point for visitors to the island nation which particularly attracts visitors looking for a luxurious tourist experience. The seclusion, beauty of the islands, and luxury is what attracted us to this island destination for our Honeymoon.
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli is located on a secluded private island of Vommuli in the Dhaalu Atoll, an island surrounded by a coral reef, in The Maldives archipelago. While The Maldives is secluded already this atoll is located about an hour seaplane ride from The Maldives capital Male and is by far the most secluded place I have ever visited. This seclusion really overwhelmed me when we first landed. I realized that we were almost as far as we could be from Washington D.C., in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and an hour seaplane ride from any city. For someone who is used to walking a few blocks to get to a pharmacy this really overwhelmed me.
St. Regis Arrival Experience and Airport Lounge
Upon arrival in Male we were greeted by a very friendly hotel representative who quickly took our bags and walked us over to the Trans Maldivian counter to check us in for our seaplane ride to the resort. Because of the seclusion of the resort, the only options for guests to access the atoll is via seaplane or the resort's private yacht. I was impressed by the service from the hotel which took care of everything including our check-in and baggage. The hotel representative told us that we were the last guests to arrive that day and that our seaplane flight would last about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Once our check-in was complete we were whisked away in the St. Regis' SUV to its private airport lounge.
On our way to the lounge we saw a lot of airport development and dredging. The Maldives is extremely low-lying and many of the islands are sinking in part due to climate change. Male is small and already densely populated. A lot of the expansion of the capital is fueled by dredging additional land. The hotel representative told us that The Maldives main industry is tourism followed by fishing and that the tourism started taking off about 18 years prior to our trip in 2019. The SUV was impressive with cold towels, bottled water, and even Wi-Fi. On the ride over we were played a video greeting on an IPAD from our Butler Ahmed, who goes by Tom at the resort.
After our video greeting the hotel representative told us that the hotel's marketing staff was based in Dubai and that it was the only resort at the time in The Maldvies that primarily catered to Americans. One thing that was impressive about the St. Regis Vommuli is that the service began from the first moment you interacted with staff. The staff asked us how we would like to be addressed and then took a picture of us in front of the St. Regis sign which I believe was used to help staff memorize our faces and our names. I was shocked that the vast majority of the staff at the resort addressed us by name. This was all a part of the five-star luxury feeling and extended to the airport lounge.
The lounge was well designed and private. It had air conditioning, a view of the water, and even a shower. In the bathroom there were amenities including a comb and toothpaste. We completed check-in at the lounge and were informed that because of Christina's Marriott Platinum Status and our Honeymoon we were upgraded from the base level Garden Villa to a Beach Villa (312). I was blown away by their recognition of Honeymoon and the elite recognition since at the time this Villa typically cost $1,600 per night and we were staying for five nights on points. We stayed at the resort in May which is rainy season and the staff member told us the resort was only at 50% occupancy. I am sure this made it easier to give us an upgrade. Honestly this was nice for us on our honeymoon since we wanted a relaxing environment. While we waited to be taken to our seaplane we were offered a variety of complimentary drinks and snacks. We both ordered ice tea which was quite refreshing. Everything about our welcome from the St. Regis felt luxurious.
Trans Maldivan Airways Seaplane Ride
When it was time for our seaplane flight there wasn't a driver available so the St. Regis staff called a bus to take us to the sea plane terminal. The seaplane waiting area was hot and crowded. After a short wait it was a time for our seaplane flight. The St. Regis representative stayed with us until he saw that we safely boarded our sea plane. Our seaplane flight was on Trans Maldivan Airways which at the time was the largest operator of seaplanes in the world. I had never taken a seaplane before and I was super excited. As we were planning our three-week long Honeymoon the inclusion of a seaplane ride made our packing more difficult, because there was a weight limit per passenger was 30 kg (~66 pounds). Our seaplane had 15 seats and was full. They loaded luggage into the back of the plane and took weight measurements on an IPAD.
We taxied for about five minutes then had a surprisingly smooth take off. As we departed Male I was shocked by how densely populated the city was and there seemed no room left to develop.
As we got further away from Male the views were breathtaking. The water was aqua blue and there were atolls surrounded by coral reefs dotting the country. I had seen many pictures of The Maldives before and beauty exceeded my expectations.
The seaplane at first was hot but when we got into the air it cooled down. There was a pilot and co-pilot who wore only sandals on their feet while flying. The plane was loud during takeoff and landing but quieter during flight. The in-flight magazine featured all of the Maldives resorts. The first stop was 40 minutes into the flight at a jetty. We dropped off some passengers who were then picked up by a boat. Landing on water is a weird feeling and much harder than takeoff. Then we took off again before making a second stop. On the second stop we picked up additional passengers who I assumed were headed back to Male. Finally, on the third stop it was time for us to land at The St. Regis Maldives. Unlike some other resorts the St. Regis had its own seaplane jetty allowing us to stop directly at the resort. As the resort came into focus I felt the awe of being in The Maldives and it felt surreal.
Upon arrival we were greeted by multiple staff members including our butler Tom who waved hi from the seaplane pier. We were also provided complimentary cocktails in a coconut.
Our beach villa #312 was located three villas from the resort's main restaurant Alba which we found really convenient and allowed us to walk around the resort. Most guests took the buggies or bikes to get around but Christina and I saw no need and instead enjoyed walking around the atoll.
I was quite impressed by the style of the villa it had everything you could ask for in a hotel room. The villa had an amazing design and was the nicest hotel room I had ever stayed in. There was a beautiful high ceiling a large king bed at the center of the villa. Behind the bed was a desk which included all of the information for our stay.
In front of the bed was an ottoman for changing shoes and a large table in front of the ottoman. Near the entrance was a comfortable day bed also included in the villa.
On the right of the bed was a mini-bar which included expensive items for purchase including snacks, juices, wine, and champagne along with complimentary bottles of water. There were also USB plugs on both sides of the bed which allowed for easy charging of our electronics. Charging for electronics is something that is usually shortchanged in hotel rooms so I appreciated the wide availability here.
There was a TV on the wall which was very clear and extended out of the wall for easy viewing when turned on. The TV and all of the lights in the room were controlled by an impressive electronic display built into an IPAD. One of the nice features was that the blackout and sheer curtains opened with a button. There were options to have just one curtain or all of the curtains open. When they were all open it provided a great ocean view. The IPAD also controlled the lights in the room and had several pre-set controls for every single light in the villa. The entertainment options were also extensive including live TV and Netflix. It also had the ability for you to connect your own device to stream music or movies and the sound quality was amazing. We used the sounds system to stream our music on several occasions.
Behind the bed was a pair of sliding doors which opened to an amazing bathroom. I thought the sliding doors were another great design choice. On the right and left were closets with tons of space hangers, drawers, and places to store luggage.
Next to the closets were two vanities which had large mirrors and even zoom in makeup mirrors. These spaces were clearly set up for couples so each person could have a side of the bathroom and I was again very impressed by the design.
Below the vanities were a ton of amenities including nail clippers, toothbrush with toothpaste, shavers, hairdryer, lotion, and sunscreen. The hotel thought of everything in terms of amenities and I appreciated that they did not try to nickel and dime you on amenities such as sunscreen. It was also impressive how everything was branded St. Regis Maldives which must be very expensive. The room even included flip flops though they were too small for me and uncomfortable. As we explored the room I kept discovering new amenities included a charging cable with multiple prongs to charge different devices, and even bug spray, a first for me in a hotel room. I felt I could have brought no bathroom amenities and been fine. In the middle of the bathroom was a very nice sunken bathtub on the right was a glass TV so you could watch from the tub.
While the villa had an indoor shower. One of my favorite features of the villa was the outdoor shower right off of the bathroom. The shower had two spouts which allowed us to shower at the same time. It was the coolest experience to be able to shower outside in complete privacy. This was due to good planning which included high walls in the back of the villa and spraying to control the bugs.
Another great feature of the villa and the resort was that the Wi-Fi was so good that we streamed Netflix as if we were home. We were able to get a signal at the Whale Bar which was overwater. I was surprised that the Wi-Fi was so good at a remote resort. It was very humid so Christina and I drank a lot of bottles of water and I appreciated that the staff constantly refreshed these and even added more bottles when they saw how many we drank. Generally, the housekeeping staff was very friendly and refreshed the room twice a day. On the pool deck was another set of chairs where you could sit and eat and a large chair for lounging which I loved! It was maybe the coolest lounging chair ever with a ton of comfy pillows and I was so impressed by the comfort that I want to buy it for our house.
The pool itself was a 4 feet deep plunge pool. This was my first time having a room with a plunge pool and it was amazing. There is nothing like having your own private plunge pool with a view of the ocean it was so peaceful and we used it ever day that we were not sick. The pool was kept at a great temperature and really clean. The water in the pool tasted very lightly chlorinated and more like fresh water. The biggest issue I had with the pool was the lack of privacy. On a regular basis as we were in the pool we saw families walking up to it on the beach. Some of the beach villas have more covering by mangroves to make them secluded but this also blocks the ocean view so definitely a trade-off.
Another thoughtful touch was the jug full of fresh water to the beach which the resort kept to clear off your sandals and legs of beach sand. The beach itself was beautiful and full of white sand along with two beach chairs for relaxing and a beach umbrella. Because of the rainy season the umbrellas were closed for a portion of our stay to make sure they did not blow away.
While we would have loved to try the overwater villa for a night, I thought the beach villas were the best type of room because not only do you get a plunge pool but you get direct beach access. We met a Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador elite member who was upgraded to a Sunset Overwater Villa but actually said she would have preferred a beach villa and we saw several couples with overwater villas come to play on our beach.
The best amenity of having the direct beach access was the ability to snorkel out of our front door each day and we loved it! The snorkeling equipment was complimentary and our butler dropped it off before we even got to the resort. The St. Regis Vomulli also offered snorkeling classes but we were perfectly fine without taking the snorkeling classes. The resort's house reef was very cool as it allowed us to snorkel and see an array of sea life steps from our villa. One of the very sad things about our time snorkeling in The Maldives was seeing so many bleached reefs and the impact of pollution and climate change.
The resort also offered kayaking but we were told that the ocean was too rough during our stay for kayaking which I assumed was due to it being rainy season. Because we travelled to The Maldives during rainy season we didn't know what to expect, however, it didn't really put much of a damper on our stay. It certainly rained, sometimes very hard with strong winds, but it only lasted a few hours and was usually followed by strong sunshine. During these times it was nice to read from the comfort of our villa.
Next to Alba restaurant was an infinity pool. The resort also had Alba Beach, with beach chairs and umbrellas. However, we rarely used these since we had a private infinity plunge pool and direct beach access from our villa. During our stay we rarely saw anyone else at the pool or Alba Beach.
Also, next to Alba restaurant was a library with books which could be borrowed and a desktop computer. We never used this space, but I was impressed by the selection of books. I could see it being a good place to hang out for someone who wants to be comfortable somewhere outside the villa.
The resort also had a Boutique which sold a variety of items including hats, sunscreen, beach bags, and books. On the third floor was the Observatory Tower which had good views of the atoll.
The vast majority of the indoors activities at the resort were housed at Vommuli House and Socialite. Vommuli House was the bigger building and had additional books which could be borrowed along with a Children's Club, and a gym. There was also a tennis court behind the building with a resident tennis pro who we met while exploring the building. When we walked around the building was nearly empty and we never used any of these amenities during our stay.
One space we did use was Socialite. This space had a table tennis on the ground floor in a covered area. Upstairs inside the AC had air hockey, pool, and video games. It was a fun space and really nice on rainy days.
During our stay we took advantage of an offer for a discounted Maldvian massage ($125 each) which had to be used within 48 hours or arrival. The spa is located overwater next to the arrival jetty and has six separate massage rooms and a blue hole therapy pool.
This type pool is supposed be restorative. We were not impressed by the blue hole therapy pool which had nice views but was basically a shared salt water pool.
However, our couples massage was great. We started out with a scented cold towel and cold drinks in the waiting area both of which were refreshing. There were also holes to see the wildlife below which would have been a nice touch inside the massage rooms.
The massage room bathrooms were very nice with all the amenities you could want including a shower. What we appreciated was how they were tailored for couples with the ability for us to change together and wait together unlike the separate rooms in the JW Marriott Singapore Spa. The massage itself was great and unique. It started off with the masseuses singing in the Maldvian language and ended with them pouring hot coconut oil on our heads. I would recommend this massage to other couples.
One unique experience of staying at a St. Regis, among the Marriott brands, is the butler service. This was the first time I stayed at a St. Regis and the first time I experienced butler service at any hotel. As we arrived at the resort we were greeted by our butler Tom who took us to our room in a golf cart. He said that at the time he was the butler for four rooms. The butler service was a very strange for me and made even weirder by the fact that we were at a secluded resort. We were required to rely on the butler for everything including dinner reservations, spa appointments, and the butler seemed to always be present which I didn’t like. For example, he showed up at breakfast every morning. Prior to our arrival Tom had already made dinner reservations for us at Oriéntale twice, Cargo, and Alba for a buffet dinner. I really like having more control over making reservations and appointments so was annoyed that we had to go through the butler and that he made reservations in advance without consulting us.
One thing I did appreciate about the service was they ability to get two free items pressed a day along with a free shoe shine. We also used the laundry serviced during our stay and they did an excellent job at a decent price, for a luxury hotel, and pressed the clothes for free. Christina also liked the coffee /tea service which we took advantage of twice. The butlers also offered to bring us around in a golf cart which I thought was silly given how small the island was.
One interesting thing I learned from our butler was because of the 24/7 nature of the job the staff lives on the island in staff residences without their family and in high season can sometimes go as much as 3 months without a break. During our time in The Maldives it was Ramadan and The Maldives is a majority Muslim county. During our stay our butler was fasting for Ramadan though we didn't notice any difference in service. Tom told us that the resort hired five new butlers which will provide staff more time off and our butler Tom took his vacation a day before our departure and very nicely transitioned us to another butler who handled our check-out. Another interesting thing about the resort was that the staff wore different shirt colors depending on their roles. For example, the head of the Butler Service and Rooms wore Blue shirts while butlers wore white shirts with cool beach hats it was clear that there was a ranking in place.
Unlike the JW Singapore South Beach, which did not even acknowledge that it was our honeymoon the St Regis really did a great job acknowledging us. The biggest acknowledgement was the upgrade which we may have nonetheless received due to Christina's Marriott Platinum status. However, I am sure our upgrade was made more likely because of our honeymoon and we really appreciated. Upon arrival we also had several Marriott Platinum welcome amenities in our room including the candy/snack display with amazing chocolates and a fruit plate.
We also had a bottle of champagne which was exclusive to the St. Regis Maldives and was fantastic!
Also, during our stay our butler sent over a honeymoon cake which was a very nice touch and set up a rose petal bath. I thought the rose petal bath was another strange part of the butler service and made me uncomfortable. Finally, the resort threw in a complimentary blue hole therapy treatment which we used.
We passed on the unpacking service but took the butlers up on the packing service when it was time to leave because I was sick. Christina loved the packing service. Two butlers took about 45 minutes to pack and wrapped all of our items individually before putting them into our suitcases. I was not that impressed with the packing service and would probably skip it next time since I found it too invasive. The butler also checked us out in the room and allowed us to wait in the villa until the seaplane arrival. Christina really liked our butler and loved the butler service. While I thought our butler did a good job I did not like the idea of the butler service. Despite the elite recognition the butler service would make me think twice about staying at a St. Regis resort.
The main restaurant at the resort which was Alba open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guests mostly ate only breakfast and dinner because of the ridiculous prices at the resort. We never tried lunch at Alba and only had one dinner. We ate here on the first night at the Soqu buffet which cost $175 per person and was a complete waste of money.
It was supposed to be a buffet of Italian food but all of the food was completely tasteless and some of the worse Italian food I have ever had. The setting on the beach with a roasting pig was nice but generally the food was really bad and the best thing I had was the ice cream.
Breakfast at Alba was better and gave options to order off of the menu in addition to the buffet which was complimentary because of Christina's Platinum Status. I tried several of the Buffett options including Dim Sum and Indian food and was left unimpressed especially compared to Singapore. Ordering off the of menu was better and included a wider selection. In particular I thought they did a better job with the seafood which makes sense in an island nation.
The only other restaurant open for lunch was Crust which was located under the huts at the beach to the right of Alba. This restaurant offered the most reasonable pricing and decent tasting pizzas though later the pizza got us sick.
Cargo offered a pre-fix menu at a price of $250 for two people. When we first looked at the menu we thought it was a choice between mains and appetizers etc. but it turned out we were served all of the items on the menu. This was absurd, wasteful, and wayyy too much food. Despite being one of only two tables the service was really slow and multiple times I refilled my own water glass. The food here was okay though I did like the lamb. Once again, the meal got us both sick.
The one good meal we had was at Orientale. This made some sense since we were in Asia and it is their Asian Fusion restaurant. I liked that we started off by washing our hands and offering cold towels at dinner. Then they offered lemon grass water which was nice and refreshing. The food at this restaurant was a la carte and decent.
This bar was located on a jetty off of Alba Beach. The bar prices were very high with the cheapest cocktail $20 and most $25+. We came here to eat dinner one night and most of the snacks were small and unimpressive. This was a spectacular setting with amazing sunset views. They had the same comfy chairs we had in the room at the end of the pier and it was very relaxing. I think this was my favorite restaurant and bar in the whole resort not because of the food or drink but instead because of the view and relaxing atmosphere.
The bar was also the location of the champagne sabering. This is St. Regis tradition and done at St. Regis locations around the world. During this event the staff at Whale Bar explained to us the history and sabering and the technique and it was a really cool display. I would recommend doing this if you stay here.
The St. Regis offered In-Room Dining which we took full advantage of during our stay since we did not really like most of the food in the restaurants and were ill during a substantial portion of our stay. The in-room dining was available through the IPAD and contained pictures and absurd food prices. One example, of the ridiculous pricing was a $15 toast during breakfast which is even more ridiculous since we could get it free at the breakfast buffet.
We ordered pizza from the app which tasted decent but ended up making me sick again. Another area where they could improve is the drink selection which was very limited on the in-room dining and the one thing we ordered was very watered down.
One weird part of the experience is that the service calls to confirm each order but I guess they want to make sure you are not making an order by mistake. The selection mostly deferred from the restaurants with the exceptions of the pizzas. The one good thing was that items which overlapped between the restaurant and in-room dining had the same price though the resort added the local tax (12%) and gratuity (10%).
The worse part about our entire stay was the constant food-borne illness.
This illness started on the second day of our stay and I know it was from the resort since we only ate at the resort. We received medicine from the resort doctor who was very friendly and skilled but I got sick again after eating more of the food. It seemed every time we felt better we ate something and felt sicker. The illness was so bad on our next to last day the doctor prescribed antibiotics. I got sicker than Christina and spent the majority of the last two days in bed. I appreciate that the resort has an on-site doctor, however, I didn’t like that the resort did not take responsibility. No one apologized to us for getting us sick nor did they comp any of our meals once they realized they were getting us sick.
We were also shocked by the pricing for water at the restaurants which was $14 a bottle. I considered this pricing absurd and sometimes we brought our own free bottles from the villa to the restaurant to not pay the ridiculous prices . Another annoying thing about dining at the resort is that the IPAD in the room listed all of the restaurants but it did not list the times for the restaurants and did not include the menus despite the fact that all of the drink menus are on IPADs. Even if the restaurants opening times changed, which they did one time during our stay, then the resort could update the times on the IPAD.
Another problem with the resort dining was that the portion sizes were ridiculously sized which meant that we were constantly unable to finish the meal at dinner and left food on the table. The restaurants could easily reduce the portion sizes and lower the prices. This seemed like a real waste and the prices seemed to be a way for the resort to make a major profit margin. This pricing also extended to the alcohol. For example, a bottle of Vevue Cliquot cost $150 dollars for a bottle that would normally cost around $50 in the United States. Another problem with the drinks was that there were few options for blended drinks that would normally be widely available at tropical resorts. The only thing that did impress me about the dining was that we were always addressed by name at every meal. It seemed that the staff studied our pictures and really remembered us. When you are paying five star dining prices you would expect better food and food handling. However, this resort failed on both accounts.
Our beach villa at the St. Regis Maldives Volummi was by far the best room I ever stayed in. We got to stay in this villa thanks to the resort's fantastic elite and honeymoon recognition. The resort also had world-class snorkeling out our front door. However, this was not enough to make up for the negatives. The resort had exorbitant fees especially for the seaplane and the dining was by far the worst part of the resort. Not only was it absurdly priced but the food at best tasted above average and at worse was horrible. Even worse we got food-borne illness and every time we ate a meal it made us sicker. When you are stuck on the island you realize that food is key part of the secluded resort experience since you have no alternatives. The dining experience was so horrible that I could never envision returning.