Having reopened to tourists in July, the Maldives is attempting to lure travellers back to its shores by offering socially distanced stays coupled with cut-price room rates.
Across the archipelago, 223 hotels have reopened, meaning there are now more than 24,000 options available for travellers to book. As coronavirus restrictions ease, people are slowly venturing back to the sun-drenched hot spot with more than 17,000 tourists visiting in the past four months. However, just as the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed travel around the world, demand for tropical holidays in the Maldives remains lower than normal.
To try to change that, many hotels are reassessing their rates in a bid to offer better value for money, which means it could be a good time to start thinking about an Indian Ocean getaway.
Long a favourite destination for honeymooners, luxury travellers and celebrities, the Maldives doesn’t have quite the same reputation when it comes to affordability, but that could be set to change as the pandemic pushes down prices. And with private guesthouses on inhabited islands set to reopen on Thursday, October 15, the plethora of lower-priced accommodation on offer only looks set to increase.
Enhanced safety measures have been put in place across the country, including compulsory negative Covid-19 PCR tests for all travellers and new hygiene procedures at resorts. These precautions seem to be working. According to the country’s Ministry of Tourism, there has been no community transmission of the virus on the islands to date, with only one tourist admitted to a medical facility since the country reopened its borders.
From a romantic getaway in one of the country’s most secluded atolls to a family-friendly stay in a bustling marina, here are five island resorts in the Maldives where you can now check-in for less than Dh1,000 per night.
Some people think of the Maldives as a place for lazy days spent lounging in the sunshine, where relaxation is key. And while that can easily be any Maldivian holiday, if you’re after something a bit more uptempo then Kandima Maldives is worth checking out.
This stylish resort on the remote Dhaalu Atoll offers almost every activity you can think of – from aerial yoga and beach volleyball to a children’s splash pad, a football pitch and one of the longest swimming pools in the country. The surrounding waters are home to amazing marine life and are easily discovered on a snorkelling trip from the purpose-built platform on the edge of the Kandima lagoon.
Unwinding is also on the menu here, as the sprawling spa offers a variety of treatments, a private plunge pool and steam room. Elsewhere, the Kula art initiative showcases local artists and allows guests to get creative under their watchful eye at a studio. The island also has an in-house hospital, which is rather reassuring during a pandemic. When it comes to dining, there are eight outlets to choose from and a choice of packages, from bed and breakfast to platinum all-inclusive, so you can decide how much of your trip you want to pre-pay before your visit.
Rooms start from $250 (Dh918) per night, on a half-board basis in a sky studio. Domestic airline transfers cost $350 per person; kandima.com
SAii Lagoon Maldives
The closest resort on this list to Male International Airport is SAii Lagoon, reachable via a short 15-minute boat ride and a great choice for a weekend getaway. Part of Crossroads Maldives – the country’s first multi-island, leisure destination – guests have access to Crossroads Marina where there is a huge array of watersports, sailing and diving activities on offer.
Rooms and suites at SAii have a boho vibe; the most affordable option is the Sky Room. Each of these spacious suites sleeps two adults and one child and comes with an indoor chill-out corner and a private balcony with endless ocean views. When it comes to dining, guests can choose Miss Olive Oyl, Mr Tomyam or head to the Cafe del Mar beach club. The nearby marina is also home to many restaurants including a Hard Rock Cafe and Ministry of Crab, the extremely popular Sri Lankan export. There’s also a shopping avenue that has everything from authentic Maldivian craft stores to beach boutiques, and even a minimart for last-minute essentials.
Head to the Discovery Centre to learn all about the conservation activities happening in the region or book a slot on a semi-submarine trip or a local island adventure to see first-hand what is being done to preserve the unique biodiversity on the islands.
Rooms start from $170 (Dh624) per night in a sky room on a bed and breakfast basis. Speedboat transfers cost from $148; saiiresorts.com
Sun Siyam Vilu Reef
The five-star Sun Siyam Vilu Reef reopened this month and is offering 40 per cent off stays of four nights or longer, which pushes prices down to under Dh1,000 per night.
Located in the South Nilandhe Atoll, this resort is home to some of the best coral reef in the country and everyone checking in gets free snorkelling gear to make the most of the idyllic location. The best value rooms are the resort’s beach villas, located just a few steps away from the lagoon. Each sleeps up to four people with a king-size bed and an alcove day-bed. There’s also an outdoor rain shower and private terrace complete with sun loungers and space for al fresco dining.
Across the resort are five different restaurants including a signature seafood dining spot and Indian speciality cooking. After sunset, you can enjoy live music, Boduberu drum performances or head to the outdoor cinema to take in a film under the stars – popcorn and drinks included. The spa has a range of treatments available, as well as a hydrotherapy room. And if you want to pick up the pace, book an island-hopping day trip or head down to the watersports centre. Guests booking the opening offer, which runs until the end of October, will also get 25 per cent off any spa treatments booked in advance, an upgrade to the next suite category if available and one complimentary floating breakfast per booking.
Beach villas start from $245 (Dh899) per night, under 12s stay and eat for free. Transfers are via a 35-minute seaplane, for which there is an additional charge; sunsiyam.com
Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort
Part of the Accor hotel group, the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort in Gaafu Alifu Atoll is an all-villa resort where you can check-in and get change from a Dh1,000 per night budget. For that price range, you’ll be able to book a stay in a beach villa, located along the pristine shoreline and surrounded by mature coconut trees. Each villa also comes with a secluded outdoor bathtub and rainforest shower. There’s a variety of dining packages on offer and two restaurants to choose from – you can opt for international cuisine at Alitas or head to Gastrobar, which is set over the water and has some of the resort’s best sunset views.
There’s not an endless list of leisure activities on offer here, but it’s a good place if you just want to kick back and relax and there’s plenty of marine life in the surrounding waters for snorkelling, swimming or diving. If you want to push the budget a little, you can also book an overwater villa for a little over the Dh1,000-per-night bracket.
Beach villas cost from $246.50 (Dh905) per night on a bed and breakfast basis, domestic plane transfers cost $360 per person; accor.com
Summer Island Maldives
The locally owned Summer Island Maldives is on Ziyaraifushi Island which, at just a 15-minute seaplane ride from Male, makes it a great pick for a short getaway. The four-star resort has spacious beach rooms with outdoor bathrooms and small decking areas, and the entire island has a laid-back vibe. Spend your days lounging by the resort’s infinity pool, which is a little on the smaller side but has amazing ocean views and comfy loungers and bean bags for whiling away the day. There’s also an overwater and bar, both of which have regular happy hours and entertainment.
Yoga fans will love the dedicated yoga and Pilates space and there’s a large overwater spa with open-air treatment rooms. There are plenty of activities to do on the waters surrounding the island, including diving and snorkelling, and the hotel can arrange these for you. Beneath the waves, you can also discover the marine life that has made a home in the world’s largest submerged 3D-printed reef.
The category of room that you book dictates which of the restaurants you’re able to dine in, with the overwater restaurant reserved for those staying in the more premium categories. But even if you’re booking the best value rate, you’ll be able to dine on international cuisine at the resort’s signature restaurant or head to the beach bar for chilled-out sundowners.
Half-board stays in a superior beach room start from $160 (Dh587) per night. Speedboat transfers cost from $150 per person; summerislandmaldives.com
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