Pristine beaches, dream-like turquoise waters and overwater villas – the Maldives is a true bucket list destination. But with many of the 100+ private island resorts selling beach and overwater villas for over US$1,000 per night, those dreams can quickly evaporate. But despite the luxurious image, there’s definitely something for everyone here. And here’s some good news: you really can save money on your trip and make your ideal getaway a reality with these easy tips.
1. Travel off-peak
The Maldives is a popular destination year-round, and while you’ll hear talk of “rainy seasons”, the truth is that no matter when you go, you’ll be blessed by excellent weather the vast majority of the time unless you’re really unlucky. From May to October, the cost of villas can be less than half that of the peak November to April period. Each resort has a slightly different schedule of “on peak” and “off peak”, so try out a few different dates and resorts to see what the best dates are.
2. Book direct and negotiate
It’s easy to default to a travel agent or a hotel booking website, but the truth is that both will take a generous commission in exchange for their services. While most resorts have an agreement that they won’t advertise lower prices on their website, you can usually negotiate a lower rate if you contact the hotel directly, particularly during off-peak periods. Some tips for direct negotiation – you can lower the base price a bit, but see if you can get a higher tier of room for free, or get an all-inclusive package thrown in – this will save you big money when you’re there.
3. Watch out for transfer costs
Regardless of where you’re going in the Maldives, it probably won’t be the bustling and hectic capital of Male or its high-density neighbour, Hulhumale. That means you have three possible options to get to your chosen island – seaplane, domestic flight or speedboat. The cost of your villa and package are one thing, but don’t get stung by an excessively high transfer fee! In general, transfers by speedboat will be the cheapest, seaplane will be the most expensive, and domestic flights will be somewhere in between. Even among seaplanes though, the costs can vary massively – for example, the family-oriented Kuredu Resort charges US$360 per person for a return seaplane transfer, while for the ultra-luxe Soneva Jani charges guests US$1,100. If you’re set on having a seaplane experience, aim for something around the US$300-400 mark.
4. Stay on a local island
Local islands are an amazing way to support the local economy, learn more about the Maldivian culture. Best of all, the cost per night for a very comfortable and clean guest house can be as low as US$50 a night. On the other hand though, The Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country and the standards and expectations for a local island experience can be vastly different to the resort experience. For example, bikinis and alcohol are usually banned or heavily restricted, your room will be within the village rather than on the beach or over the water, and beaches have been known to be quite litter-affected. As a compromise, rather than spending a full 2 weeks at the resort, why not spend a week on a local island, then a week at the resort? With this strategy you could save nearly 50% on your trip costs and have an authentic local experience in the process!
5. Book an all inclusive package
While the villa cost can be high, food and drink at your resort can really break the bank. When you’re on your dream vacation, the last thing you want to be worried about is an unexpectedly huge bill at the end of your trip. Between breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and activities, you can easily spend US$200 per person, per day – more if you’re not careful. To avoid all of this, book an all inclusive package, or better yet, find a resort that offers all inclusive by default (for example, Komandoo Resort). This is one true investment in your experience to make sure you don’t leave with a sour taste in your mouth and a huge debt on your credit card.
6. Get a rewards credit card
Speaking of credit cards, a rewards credit card is a great way to minimise your travel costs. While it can be hard to redeem points for the resorts themselves, many cards come with large sign-up bonuses that can be redeemed for international flights from your home base to The Maldives. Whether you’re flying from Europe, North America, Australia or elsewhere, international flights can be one of the most expensive components of your trip, so redeeming reward points can be a great way to cut down big time on your trip expenses.
One final note…
The international travel situation is constantly evolving throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The good news is that The Maldives has announced that they will begin to welcome international tourists again from July, however this could change at short notice. We’re frequently researching the best options for travel once it’s safe again, so be sure to follow our blog and our social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) for the latest updates! Thanks for reading to the end, here’s to a Better Break soon!