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Maldives Experience

We always wanted to go to the Maldives. 2019 was going to be our 20th wedding anniversary, so we had to do something big. Sitting in our apartment in Barcelona at the tail end of a 20-day adventure through the Mediterranean we got an email. The seed was planted and grew rapidly over about a day or so. Yeah, we just couldn’t pass up the offer in the email. Luxury Escapes was offering the steal of the century on a 5-day, all-inclusive experience in an over water bungalow at Finolhu Maldives. Having to travel over 2-days to get there, 5 days wasn’t going to be long enough. So we booked 2 packages – Thank You Amex.

If you’re not familiar with Luxury Escapes, they’re a luxury travel package company. They offer amazing trips around the world at great prices. The booking could not have been easier. We actually made a mistake on the dates during booking. A simple email to Luxury Escapes and they got back to us right away to make the correction.

Getting There

Getting to the Maldives from the US requires literally flying halfway around the world. From the west coast there are several options to get there. You can fly east bound through Doha or Dubai or fly west bound through Asia. We consulted with        Business Class Consolidators to find the best route and decided on Singapore Airlines. Booking through BCC was easy. They find the best routes and prices for you on Business Class and First-Class tickets through major airlines.

Our first leg would be 17 hours from LAX to Singapore. Then a couple of house layover in Singapore then a 5.5 hour flight to the Maldives capital of Male, where we would spend the night and then hop a float plane to our final destination, Finolhu.

FLIGHT TIP: We live near a secondary market airport (Sacramento, California). We can get easy domestic flight to anywhere relatively easy, but international can get expensive. If you’re in this situation try booking from a convenient International airport and book a separate ticket from your local airport to there. We booked our flights out of LAX. Now San Francisco is only a 2+ hour drive from us, LA actually is much easier. Our airport is only a 30-minute drive and the flights to LA are plentiful and cheap and only an hour or so.

We flew to LA the night before our trip to drop off our son off with my wife’s sister. The next morning, we arrived at LAX to a nearly empty First Class / Business Class check-in. We were warmly greeted, checked in then escorted to the security checkpoint. Once through security we settled in Singapore’s Business Class Lounge, where we enjoyed a cocktail and a bite to eat before our journey began. You can read more about this amazing lounge here.

This was the longest flight we’d ever taken (3rd longest in the world at the time) but would prove to be the best flight experience of our lives. We boarded early to settle in and were greeted by name by our head attendant and offered a glass of champagne. Shortly after takeoff, we were served our first of several amazing meals.

We took advantage of Singapore Airlines Book the Cook service to pre-order our meals. This ensured we got what we wanted, but we still had the option to order something off their extensive menu if we chose. The first course was Prawns with preserved cabbage, served with sugar snap peas and steamed rice, followed by a filet of beef. The wine list was wonderful, and I never asked for a refill. I joked with my wife that I only had 1 glass of wine the whole flight – It’s only one glass if it’s never empty right?

Several hours into our 17-hour first leg it was time for another round of amazing food – Smoked Duck Breast with duck confit. For the final meal I ordered the Dim Sum.

In between all this food over the course of 17-hours we enjoyed several movies and a nap or two. We booked the middle seats so we could sit together. We also booked seats in the smaller forward section of the 2-section business class on this aircraft. This offered a little more privacy. In the seated position there’s plenty of room and storage is abundant. Once you’re ready to sleep, the flight attendant will make up your bed while you get changed or use the restroom. Singapore’s business class seats on the A350 are a good design, but if you’re tall – I’m 6’2” – they can be a little tough. They are a true lay flat bed, but your feet go into a small footwell that is off center. It makes for an awkward sleeping position.

After 17 hours in the air it was nice to walk around Singapore’s international airport. This is an architectural dream. Wide open spaces, easy directions, friendly staff, shopping galore and a waterfall in the middle. If you have a layover here, make sure it’s a long one so you can explore.

Our next flight was bout 5 hours from Singapore to Male. After coming off Singapore’s signature route with arguably the best crew in the air, this flight was a little underwhelming. Service was off with new crew, the aircraft was older, but the food was still good. Plus we were so tired it didn’t really make a difference.

Arrival

We arrived in Male at about 10pm local time. Since the float planes can’t flight at night we had to stay overnight before heading to our resort. We booked a room at the Maagiri Hotel through Booking.com. We took the ferry from the airport across the harbor which is right in front of the dock. We chose this hotel for its proximity and lucked into a great choice. In the morning we enjoyed a free breakfast at the hotel. They already knew our flight plans and were coordinating our transportation to the airport. They drove us the back to the far side of the airport to the seaplane terminal.

If you’re a plane nut like me, you could hang out here all day long. Our flight was delayed so we had a little extra time to watch the plans come and go. I want to be one of these pilots when I grow up. The 3-man crews are in shorts and flip flops as they magically glide with Twin Otter’s into the dock to drop off and pick up passengers all day long. Bonus, when they land at a resort late in the day, they stay at the resort overnight. How cool is that?

The float plane ride is just 30-minutes from Male to Finolhu. Depending on your resort location and how busy the day is, it could take longer. The planes make multiple stops for passengers at several resorts. We were lucky to be the first drop off on this flight. Take off and landing are much smoother than you’d expect, and the view can’t be beat along the way. Seeing the small atolls pop up all over the deep blue seascape is the most unique thing you will see. They dot the seascape as far as the eye can see. Every resort is its own island that dot’s this majestic landscape. I was in awe staring out the window the whole flight.

The plane pulls right up to the dock at the resort and we’re greeted by the friendly staff. We had someone meet us at the dock and take us by golf cart to the check-in area, fondly known as Mission Control. The developer of Finolhu was a huge Austin Powers fan, so you’ll find all sorts of fun movie references throughout the property. We were taken to a small outdoor lounge area, given a cool cloth and a glass of champagne while our host took care of checking us in. This was the most serene check-in we’ve ever had.  Once checked in we were taken out to our overwater bungalow to begin 10-days scenic peace.

The Resort

Opened in 2016 and remodeled in 2020, Finolhu stretches across 4 islands and is about 2 kilometers long. The resort has 125 private villas. You can choose from beach villas on the main island or the famous overwater bungalows. The overwater villas come with and without pools and start at about 1,500 square feet on up to the nearly 5,000 square foot 2-bedroom Rockstar villa. There are only 2 of these villas and are at the far end of the jetty. Don’t worry about being that far away from the main island because they come with their own golf cart.

You can walk anywhere on the resort. If you select a room at the far end of the jetty, it is a long walk. There are carts running regularly to pick up guests, but they are tough to get, so don’t count on one. Most of the time it’s easier to walk. Guaranteed it will rain a few nights right when you’re ready to head for dinner. Pack a poncho, it was the best trick we had in our bag. We dressed up, threw on the ponchos and laughed in the rain all the way to dinner. It was great.

The pool area has plenty of room to spread out. You’ve got your choice of sitting ocean side, in the sand poolside or on the deck. There’s no bad seat. Once you find your perfect lounge chair to relax for the day, you’ll be greeted quickly by staff who offer you a cool towel and an icy complimentary drink.

For us this trip was about doing nothing, and we did a pretty good job at that. If you want a little more activity Finolhu offers plenty to do. All non-motorized sports are free for guests. Choose from kayaking, stand-up paddling, windsurfing, or sailing with a catamaran. Want something with a motor? Try jet skiing, fly on the x-jet blade, water ski, and more are all sitting on the beach calling your name.

Ready to relax after all the activity, don’t miss the spa. We enjoyed a couple’s massage on 2 occasions. The second one was their romance package. Fair warning don’t do this package if you have a nice dinner scheduled that night. They pour olive oil and wine all over you, including your hair. Now as a guy, that’s pretty easy to wash out. My wife, however, had some serious work to do on her hair to get ready for dinner that night. Totally worth it, just would have been good to know ahead of time. There’s a wide variety of services available.  Find out more here.

Get Discounts on Maldives Vacation

The Room

The view from this amazing lagoon villa in Maldives over the lagoon with its endless shades of blue is something you’ll never tire of. Here you have 145 m² / 1560 ft² of living space directly on the water. Each villa is its own separate building for total privacy. Entering the room, you’re greeted by a large bar area with snacks, bottled water and fridge. The glass water bottles are replenished twice a day – a really nice touch in this warm clime. Storage in this area is abundant with hanging space and drawers. This backs a king size bed that faces the double sliding doors leading out to the large, covered deck with plenty of room to stretch out and relax on the loungers. Your very own jetty lets you walk right into the sea. There’s an outdoor shower to clean off the salt water when you get out.

The bathroom is huge and features a large soaking tub facing the covered deck and the crystal blue water beyond. Two sinks allow you to both get ready each day. In the back of the bath is a large walk-in shower. Beyond this space is the 3rd shower – yes there are 3 showers. This one is outside, yet completely private.

We booked a Lagoon Villa versus the Pool Villa. We are so glad we did and would highly recommend these over the pool villas for 1 simple reason – weather. We were here in July which can be rainy off and on. The rain and wind would roll in and hit hard for a little while then clear out. The Lagoon Villas are on the leeward side, so your front door takes the brunt of the wind and rain not your deck. This allowed us to have the big sliding doors open and sit on the covered deck while the rain came down around us. Had we had a pool villa, we would have had to have the doors shut tight for the storms and sit inside.

The Food

The resort features 4 restaurants plus the poolside dining – Beach Kitchen, Kanusan, Arabian Grill and Crab Shack. Beach Kitchen is included if you purchased an all-inclusive package. The other 3 are extra charge but so worth it.

Beach Kitchen (Baa Baa Beach when we were there) is where you’ll have most of your meals. This is an open-air restaurant with the pool on one side and the beach on the other. You’ll have breakfast lunch and dinner here most of your stay. The food won’t blow you away on most days but is particularly good and changes daily. It’s served buffet style with several stations. You’ll find a wide variety of food from a range of cultures.

Kanusan is one of two fine dining restaurants and sits over the Indian Ocean and is reached via a short wooden jetty. The culinary focus is Asian and the food is impeccable. Seating is offered either in the restaurant or on the outside veranda. We dined on the veranda looking right over the sea both times.

Arabian Grill is newly renovated with a new menu and a new name. It was Baahaa Grill when we were there in 2019. Our menu was steak house with an Indian flair. The menu is new and more details can be found here. This is another open-air restaurant. There are several tables right on the edge of the roof overhang bordering the beach. If you want a little more protection, you can opt for an interior table. On certain nights you can ask for a beach table and dine right on the beach for a truly unique experience.

Crab Shack is an extra charge, but a must book experience for lunch. You can walk out to the restaurant from the main resort. Fair warning it’s a long walk on the beach, but when you’ve got time it’s a beautiful walk with the ocean on both sides of you. The other option is to take the boat over. This is only about a 5-mintue ride. We elected to take the boat there and walk back.

As the name implies, Crab Shack is seafood focused in a casual beach bar setting. This is probably the coolest beach bar you’ll ever visit. All the tables sit in the sand and every table has an ocean view. The food is fresh and prepared on site. You can’t go wrong with any selection, but the Seafood Sampler is what they are famous for.

If you’re just hanging by the pool you can order lunch poolside and never leave your beach chair. Looking for something unique? Finolhu has you covered try a Private Beach Dinner, Lagoon Lunch, Floating Breakfast, or an In Villa Breakfast. Learn More

Need a little grab-n-go, stop by Milk LAB for a selection of pastries, coffee and milk shakes.

The Bubble

The Bubble is the most unique place you will ever stay. It’s a clear, inflatable structure with its own shower and water closet. It features a wood floor and 4 poster double bed and a telescope to watch the night sky. It is clear all around so you can see the ocean and sky from every angle. Don’t worry about privacy you are left alone for the night and a security guard stays on the other side of the foliage about 1,000 feet away to make sure no one comes around.

CLICK ON THE BUTTON TO READ ABOUT THE FULL BUBBLE EXPERIENCE.

READ MORE

Heading Home

We departed our island paradise on a mid-morning float plane back to Male. Our butler, Razan, came to get us and see us off. Taxing out to take off, the resort staff waved goodbye and we slipped through the water and it began to fall away from us as we heading into the sky. Back at Male we had a little downtime and relaxed in the Business Class lounge since our flight to Singapore didn’t depart until 10pm. If you’ve experienced business class lounges in other major airports, this one won’t blow you away. This space is large and offers plenty of mediocre food. There’s no alcohol because you’re back on the main island. This is not a place to try to come early if you don’t have to. Given the flight schedule of the float planes and the flight schedule of west bound flights, you’ll likely have plenty of time to spend here though.

We thought we’d break up our return flight and flew from Singapore to LAX via Tokyo. Bad decision. Given Singapore’s impeccable service it would have been nicer to stay on the really long direct flight rather than break it up into two long flights. Lesson learned.

Traveling halfway around the world was exhausting. We spent 49 hours in the air over 8 flights, and 31 hours of layovers and covered 22,532 miles there and back. Fun fact, the Earth’s circumference is 26,000 miles!

It was worth every minute to spend 10-days celebrating our 20th anniversary in the most stunning place in the world. The water, the people, the Bubble, it was all just too much to put into words. We enjoyed an experience that will be extremely tough to top. Thanks for all your warm wishes during this trip. We hope it inspired you to take on your own adventure.

Now it’s back to the real world, work, school and figuring out where our next adventure will take us.

On to plan our next adventure. We hope you enjoyed the Maldives experience. We’d love to hear your comments below and hear more about your experiences.

Christopher

Author Christopher

I'm a 40 something father, husband and entrepreneur. I love to travel and experience life in between being involved with my son's activities, and running 4 companies, one of which I own with my wife of 21 years. One month after taking the plunge to do an epic 26 day trip from Sydney Australia to Honolulu Hawaii I had a heart attack. I survived because of the quick actions of my wife and the fact that I had been a triathlete for the years leading up to the event. Now, more than ever before, I appreciate what life has to offer and making time to go experience it, not just dream about it.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Melissa Martin says:

    Loved your Finolhu rundown. We were there in Sept ‘21 & we were actually the last to stay in that beach bubble before they tore it down to build a larger 1. Amazing!! The food was amazing @ all restaurants. But I disagree- the overwater pool villa was well worth it. And it rained more than we expected. Tho still beautiful & we still got plenty of sunny days. We also had a beachfront villa for a few days as well. Finolhu was absolutely wonderful. It was great to read your blog abt it.

    AND we do Iceland with Norway & Finland nxt month for our 30th anniversary!

    Keep traveling!!

    • Christopher says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m so glad you had a great time in the pool villa. We loved the resort and look forward to going back. Iceland is amazing. Finland and Norway are on our list. Have a great time and Happy Anniversary!

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