The Maldives are a place that was almost made up to me. I never really thought they really existed. I had seen so many brochures and pictures of this amazing place; a tropical paradise on the other side of the world that seemed so exclusive and alluring. Well it is. It is as gorgeous as the pictures and the brochures do not lie. It is a paradise in all senses of the word. The weather is perfect. The beaches are divine. The people are so nice and accommodating and the resorts are stunning. The only bad thing is the prices (which are astronomical) but at the same time, sometimes you have to pay to play.
The Maldives is an island nation consisting of 26 atolls and 1192 small islets. The archipelago is sparsely populated wherein most Maldivians live in the capital city of Male, which is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. It is very small yet somehow they pack a ton of people in there. The Maldives is the smallest Asian nation in terms of population and area. It is also the smallest Muslim country in the world (there is no alcohol in the country except at hotels for tourists) and it also has the lowest high point of any country in the world at 7 feet,7 inches above sea level. The country is so low that apparently the President believes the country is sinking and threatened to move the entire population to an island off the coast of Australia that he intends to buy. I don’t know what island and can’t possibly fathom that ever occurring. Besides, it would be a shame to leave this amazing place.
I spent my first night in the Maldives on the capital island of Male after I arrived at night from Colombo, Sri Lanka. I stayed at a place called the Marble Hotel which was pretty much crap but had a nice rooftop restaurant with a free breakfast. Considering the place was a hole and it cost $100 to stay there for a night, they better throw in breakfast as well. This was my first sign of how expensive this country is as opposed to its neighbors, India and Sri Lanka.
Male is a pleasant enough city. It is a typical kind of island capital but with a more friendly and pleasant feeling than places in the Caribbean. It is also relatively clean although it lacks sidewalks for some reason. Many people from the resorts will come to Male to go shopping. However, they only sell crap so I don’t know why anyone would do that! However, I did manage to get my haircut for $2 which was a major coup.
The bottom line is that nobody comes to the Maldives to see Male; they come for the amazing 5 star resorts that basically dominate the majority of the islands. They consist of some of the finest resorts on the planet. Literally, most every International hotel corporation has a flagship resort here. Thanks to my Starwood platinum status, I managed to hook myself up with two free nights at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort and Spa and arranged my boat transfer from Male.
They arrived in a small yacht to collect me and bring me 20 minutes to the Sheraton island which is clearly visible from Male. The people who work there met me waving from 100 meters away and had a cold drink for me upon arrival. I was thinking this is paradise for sure. And it got better. They upgraded my room to a deluxe cottage right on the beach. It is actually one of the nicest places I have ever seen. The bathroom is outside and the shower is out in the open outside (there are walls) and the room is to die for with a ridiculously comfortable king size bed. I normally don’t brag or even talk about hotels or their luxury amenities but that’s basically what the Maldives is so I feel obligated to talk about it.
The water at the resort is amazing. The water is crystal clear and is everything that you’d expect from the Maldives. For me, it was a little awkward because I am the only person here not on his honeymoon. Literally, this is a honeymoon hotspot for Europeans and Japanese which are the sole guests here. Everyone I’ve met has been very nice with one notable exception.
The couple in the next cottage were on their honeymoon and were next to me on the beach yesterday. The British guy seemed really cool and the girl seemed like a major pain in the ass. I say this because she kept yelling at him for apparently no reason and bitching about everything imaginable. Anyway, this went on for a while so I went in the water. The guy soon followed and gave me the rolled eyes meaning he had it with his new bride. So I laughed and we started chatting. He quickly said that he totally caved to the pressure and married her even though he couldn’t stand her. I laughed and said that was a brilliant move. He nodded with disgust at himself. I then invited him to come watch the final round of the US Open golf and the opening round of Wimbledon. He accepted much to the chagrin of his new bride who went away pouting. I can only imagine the nightmare he encountered when he went back to the room-I give them a month tops. They checked out today so I never did find out.
That was definitely the most interesting thing to happen to me here thus far as this place is the most relaxing place I have ever been I swear. I have done nothing but sit in the sun, go swimming and chill out. It is perfect and nice to be grounded for a few days on the road. Again, the only annoying thing is the prices.
I have a $100 food credit with the hotel (thanks again Starwood) and I figured that would be plenty. When you go to a hotel you expect to pay a little extra for food and drinks but here it is the highest I have ever seen. For instance, a hamburger is $25 plus 10% service charge that is mandatory so that’s $27.50 for a burger. It’s not even that good. The margarita pizza is also crap and that runs cheap at $19 but if you want pepperoni (that’s actually bacon) or something else-that jacks it up to $24. Drinks are actually reasonable but not from the minibar.
I don’t ever actually use the minibar but on top of it they display little bottles of liquor and they sell a small thing of Smirnoff vodka for $100. I am glad I am not an alcoholic here because I’d go broke with these prices. Room service-forget about it, so overpriced I won’t even mention it. Needless to say I will definitely be staying under my $100 limit as I was smart and brought some snacks…as I always say, “This isn’t my first rodeo”.
Anyway, I fly out tomorrow to the chaos of Chennai, India before hitting the Andaman Islands and will be very sad to leave this paradise of a country. It really is again in every sense of the word. It is very far away from the States and I realize most have never even heard of it but if you are looking for an exotic paradise and are tired of the Caribbean and all the American tourists, give this place a try because you’ll love it.