Le Meridien Maldives first impressions: Wow!

31

I plan to write a more comprehensive review soon, but first there’s this: In my opinion (based on about 24 hours of experience), Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa is awesome.  Thanks to our “Passing the GUC” trip (see this post for details), Nick and I arrived yesterday morning and we’re already talking about coming back (but separately, with our spouses next time — if they haven’t already left us: after all, we did go to the Maldives without them, so that seems like a possibility).  So, here’s a teaser of initial impressions… (Tip: the best way to virtually tag along on our trip is to follow us on Instagram and watch our Instagram stories!).

Le Meridien Maldives Riviera Pool & Bar. Doesn’t this look like an artist’s rendering? It’s almost too perfect. But, no, I snapped this photo myself in real life with my iPhone 11 Pro.

Awesome staff & reception

When our seaplane arrived at the island, we found a line of resort employees waiting to greet us.  The staff had apparently each been assigned an arriving guest or group of guests to check-in.  In our case, a young woman named Gerlyn (“like Berlin, but with a ‘G'”) greeted us, offered to carry my “Giant Mailbag” (followers of our podcast “Frequent Miler on the Air” will understand the reference), and gave us each a refreshing drink.  She explained the basics of the resort and then drove us in a little buggy to our rooms.

Gerlyn greeted us and asked “Can I carry your….uh, Giant Mailbag?” Why, yes… yes, you can.

Already the resort was off to a fantastic start!  And since then, I’ve been impressed with the staff overall.  Every single staff member I’ve encountered has gone out of their way to be friendly and helpful.

Awesome rooms

The rooms are beautiful!  I really like the interior design and love the unobstructed views of the ocean from everywhere except the toilet room (which is separate from the bathroom which does have a full ocean view).

View from the shower. Here you can see my room’s bathtub and deck.

Nick had been upgraded to a sunset overwater bungalow while I was assigned a standard sunrise overwater bungalow.  Both of our rooms are on the west side of the island and so his sunset view is of the open ocean whereas my sunrise view looks over both the ocean and the island.  His room is near the beginning of the dock whereas mine is near the end.  We both agreed that my un-upgraded room is better: both because of the more interesting view, but more because it is much easier to snorkel from my room than from his.  My room became our snorkeling launch for this trip.  Another reason the sunrise rooms may be better is that as the day gets hotter, the room’s outdoor deck gets more and more shade.  The opposite is true on the sunset side.  We’ll write more about room selection in a future post.

This just in… I’m writing this post from the shade on my deck and just saw a stingray swim by.  It was just a few feet from my deck!  Nick had a similar stingray experience earlier today from his room.  Awesome!

Awesome Snorkeling

This is the apparently artificial reef that is close to my room. The real reef is even more awesome.

Overwater bungalows are located in two parts of the resort.  Those on the west side of the island (where our rooms are) have easy access to fantastic reef which offers amazing snorkeling.  The reef is absolutely teeming with fish.  And the resort offers complementary snorkeling equipment.  The only problem: the tide-currents are often very strong.  On our first snorkeling adventure, we easily swam out to the reef, but had the hardest time swimming back.  A hotel employee came out on a WaveRunner to see if we were OK, but we said “no thank you” and waived him off.  We were determined to make it on our own.  Luckily, we did.  Equally lucky: Gerlyn had told us to make sure to wear our life vests (stocked in each room) when snorkeling.  The downside was that the vests made it impossible to dive down to see fish closer up.  The upside was that the vests kept us alive.  We agreed that staying alive was a pretty big upside.

For those who don’t want to brave the strong currents for long, the resort seems to have placed small artificial reefs all along the water near the overwater bungalows.  You don’t have to go far at all to see lots of fish!

Related posts

More photos

Overwater bungalows at night
Overwater bungalows during the day
Housekeepers use these adorable tricycles to get around!
Overwater Bungalow bathroom
Overwater Bungalow make-up desk
Sunset
My deck
Another view of my deck. I didn’t find that rope area to be comfortable unless I placed a towel down first.
Closet
Nick at breakfast sporting his Frequent Miler t-shirt. We each chose free breakfast as our Titanium elite welcome gift (Platinum elite’s can choose this too).
0 0 vote
Post Rating

Email subscription form header
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

31 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mohammad M

Happy you are having fun. What else is there outside of the resort?

JohnFromATL

This is the catch with Maldives. Most of the resorts (and all of the ones mentioned in this article) are just the resort on a small atoll. You can do what the resort has to offer and that is pretty much it.

Jeremy

Wow fellas – when I started reading about your latest adventure I had a sneaky suspicion you guys may end up in the Maldives! I had my fingers crossed that our paths may cross, but unfortunately my wife and I just got back to the states last night. One of the true highlights of my travel career was crossing paths with Greg several years ago chasing status on a LAS-PHL-LAS merry go round (made me feel like a true ‘frequent miler’)!!

We just took our first international trip since March of 2020, and could not have had a better time. We flew QSuites from IAD-DOH-MLE and arrived at the Le Meridien on opening night September 1. After 3 nights there, we burned the remainder of my Radisson Rewards stash at the Radisson Blü Maldives for 4 nights (booked prior to the separation of the domestic and international programs), and then moved on for a final 3 nights in an over water villa at the Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi (utilizing our 3 accumulated annual free night certificates from the Surpass AMEX).

We couldn’t agree more that in terms of value, the Le Meridien provides an outsized value and experience for the cost. I hope you guys are able to try the Japanese restaurant on property. We were absolutely thrilled with the service, hospitality, and overall experience at the Le Meridien.

This was our second trip to the Maldives (celebrating our 5yr anniversary this trip and our honeymoon roughly 5yrs ago). Last time we split our stay between the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and the Park Hyatt Hadahaa. Believe it or not, every single night we have spent in the Maldives we have either been upgraded to or been able to book originally an over water villa. So I will do a brief ranking on the experiences we have had in terms of accommodation, food (primarily breakfast), service & staff, and overall experience (all listed from best to worst).

Accommodation:
Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Le Meridien, Park Hyatt, Radisson Blü

Food (primarily breakfast):
Conrad, Radisson Blü, Waldorf Astoria, Le Meridien, Park Hyatt

Service & Staff:
Le Meridien, Conrad, Park Hyatt, Waldorf Astoria, Radisson Blü

Overall Experience:
Conrad, Le Meridien, Waldorf Astoria, Park Hyatt, Radisson Blü

Happy to share in depth reviews of each property if anyone cares to read. Draw your own conclusions, but I can’t wait to see how you guys finish the trip and best of luck on your return flights home. We had an absolutely lovely (no joke) experience returning to the US through IAD (30 minutes max clearing customs and immigration). I’m sure you guys will do it all up right and congrats to Nick – I think your 200k challenge is in the bag at this point.

Long time reader still loving the independent analysis that only you guys do well. We may be a part of a dying club, but Greg you’ve been the best at what you do for a LONG time and no point in calling it quits now. You’ve inspired me to take this hobby to the ultimate level, and for that I am forever grateful sir. Keep up the great work and hopefully our paths will cross again someday in the future!

Chris

Thanks so much for this info, Jeremy. I’m deciding between the Le Meridien and the Conrad right now, and your insight really helps.

Josh

Are the snorkel equipment in the room or do you have to go somewhere to “rent” / check it out?

Nick Reyes

You have to go check it out. I brought my own snorkel and mask but grabbed fins. Greg took fins, snorkel, and mask. It’s at the dive center which is right on the dock connected to the sea plane docking point.

Nick Reyes

Life jackets were in the room though.

Raghu N

Been foilowing you guys on instagram, rocking all the fun activities. This is what I call a dream vacation. Anyways I have 3 Marriott Gift certificates. when I try to book a 3 night Le Meridian for next August, I see 105K points redemption, when I click to Book, it does not take the 3 certificates , it deducts 105K points. Through Amex Plat card I have Marriott Gold status. Should I call marriott or how does it book with free certificate nights. Also does it rain in August/September and is it hot (i.e. sweatty/humid ) now

Thanks
Raghu

Raghu N

Thanks Greg. That is what happened.
I will call Marriott inDecember and try to extend it for a year. I have been enjoying your/Nick’s adventures on Instagram

Joy

how was the food overall?

Nick Reyes

It’s been OK. Breakfast is excellent. I wouldn’t call it fantastic or spectacular, but I’d say stronger than “very good”. Plenty of choice (croissants / muffins / donuts / other baked stuff / breakfast cereals / muesli / fresh yogurts / waffles / pancakes / crepes / fresh fruit (less fruit selection than I’d like as one criticism) / fresh squeezed juice / omelet and egg station / Chinese food breakfast station / Indian food breakfast station / Maldivian breakfast food area / charcuterie / coffee barista (who is very enthusiastic about making many different kinds of coffee). It’s a solid breakfast and everything I ate today was good.

My Tandoori butter chicken was very good last night and my mixed grill plate tonight (which included a LOT of meat) was also prepared and seasoned well and Greg liked the Tuna he got tonight but he would have still been a bit hungry afterwards probably (I don’t like lamb and lamb chops came with my meal so I gave those to him). He said he’d have gotten that dish again, but he wasn’t raving about how delicious it was. We missed lunch today – we’ll try to get lunch tomorrow and we have dinner reservations at their “fancy” restaurant tomorrow night to see how that is.

So I’d say don’t expect quality to match price but don’t expect the food to be bad either.

Hagel

Hi Nick I love your reports. Is the breakfast buffet style or a la carte?

Hagel

That’s awesome. Thanks Greg. Can’t wait to be there Thursday.

Anthony Fantino

How much did the Seaplane cost?

Nick Reyes

$420 per person plus $6 in tax. That gets added to your room bill, so I assume (will find out tomorrow) I can use Marriott gift cards to pay for it.

Kevin

How does it compare to PH Maldives? The colors of the room seem a bit down market?

Nick Reyes

I haven’t been to PH Maldives, but I’d expect a top-tier Hyatt (in the sense that Park Hyatt is their top-end Hyatt brand) to be “nicer” than a mid-tier Marriott 10 times out of 10.

On the other hand, the Park Hyatt standard room isn’t an overwater villa and costs nearly as many points (and Hyatt points are significantly more valuable than Marriott points).

As for the colors of the room, I hadn’t even noticed really as I couldn’t care less what color they paint the walls or doors or whatever. If your observation is that the room doesn’t exude luxury in the way that a St. Regis or Park Hyatt would, you’re right. Marriott has 7 properties in the Maldives and at the very least Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriott and W are all higher-end brands, so it wouldn’t make sense to position Le Meridien as more luxurious than those four. At the same time, Le Meridien is so new that there hasn’t been time for anything to get run down in any way really and staff seems to be caring for the exterior of the property really well.

The bed itself is a solid fine. It doesn’t feel as nice as a bed at a Ritz or St. Regis level property, but I didn’t expect that. I expected perfectly comfortable and that’s essentially what it is. The fixtures all work really well, there are international plugs all over the room (including on both sides of the bed and in most places where I’d want one).The mirrors in the bathroom have backlighting that looks really nice. The tub is deep and comfortable and surrounded by glass walls on 3 sides. The couch is firm and new and works out well as it’s where I’m typing from right now. The ocean is clear and sea life plentiful. It ticks most of the boxes for me.

In general, I think of Le Meridien as being a touch nicer than a Sheraton but less “trendy and hip” as a W and less luxurious than a St. Regis or JW. Part of the problem though is that Marriott has *so many* brands. My take on their relative luxury is subjective. I’d say nicer than I would expect a Holiday Inn to be. Maybe on par with what I would expect from Radisson Blu.

Hope that helps as much as possible.

EricF

That struck me too, from the photos, the dirty-off-pink wall color seem exactly “down-market.”

Brant

What a dump!

DSK

Loving your reports. One question–how does the Le Meridien compare with the Conrad? I had a great five nights at the Conrad, and curious since the Le Meridien is so much cheaper on points. Pretty sure Nick has been to the Conrad. Thanks!

Shawn

Going to Conrad next month, any recommendations or things you wish you knew? We’re using free nights for the Beach Villa, hoping for an upgrade. Will pay for overwater upgrade for atleast a few of the nights

DSK

This may be dated since we were there in February 2019, but best suggestion is if you are not already Hilton Diamond, get the Aspire card (which for us more than pays for itself). Free breakfast every morning (which was great) and free afternoon cocktails and appetizers for 90 minutes every afternoon (where we met virtually everyone who runs the hotel, since they all stopped by). Sitting at a table at the edge of the water during those 90 minutes drinking wine and watching the float planes come and go–awesome! We were able to use points for five nights (fifth night free) to book directly into an overwater villa, and then got upgraded due to Diamond status to one with a jacuzzi.

Nick Reyes

I have not been to the Conrad. I would expect the Conrad to be nicer, but Greg said today (and while I may not 100% agree but I see his point) that he’s not sure that any of the “nicer” places can be appreciably nicer to be worth the additional cost. That’s not to say that they may not be slightly more luxurious, but are they luxurious enough to justify the difference in price? That’s questionable.

The Conrad has the evening Diamond social hour going for it and I would expect the rooms to be slightly more luxurious at the Conrad in terms of the mattress and furniture, but the bed here is a solid “good enough” (subjective opinion) and everything else is going to be several years newer than at the Conrad. The bathrooms here are terrific — the entire shower/tub area is surrounded in glass (though that may not be perfectly ideal as in some cases there isn’t enough privacy to be sure that nobody would see you).

One “criticism” of Le Meridien is that there probably isn’t as much to do here as there is at a larger resort. The Conrad has the underwater restaurant and probably has some other activities that this place doesn’t. There is a giant chess board here and stand up paddleboarding is free and snorkeling equipment is free. There is a gym and there are paid watersports like jet skis and sailboats. But the swimming pools are very small and there are no tennis courts or ping pong tables or any of those other resort-y type activities other than beach volleyball. They also have daily classes like sunrise yoga or group activities like soccer or beach volleyball, but the island is pretty small and there is limited room for extra stuff.

DSK

Thanks Nick!

Ed D

If you don’t already know, use color correcting filter for underwater pictures so you have true color. Thanks for the review and pictures as always.

Josh

ELI5? GoPro noob here.

rick b

For shallow snorkeling, a White balance adjustment in post-processing is more than enough.