Milaidhoo Island Maldives is set in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. // © 2018 Jimmy Im
Feature image (above): A single hammock in a lagoon offers seclusion at Soneva Jani, a luxury resort. // © 2018 Jimmy Im
The Maldives — a group of white-sand atolls in crystal-clear lagoons with blinged-out resorts, back-bending service and remarkable dining — has all the makings of an ultimate bucket-list vacation.
Jetsetters, honeymooners and affluent families who travel to the Maldives experience more than just the beauty that’s likely represented on their iPhone screensavers. There’s also a whole lot of traveler privilege they won’t find anywhere else in the world — perks, bragging rights, exclusivity and extreme luxuries that justify the high price tag.
Here are the top five reasons to sell the Maldives to your clients.
24/7 Butler Service
As soon as clients arrive to many Maldives resorts, they will be greeted by a dedicated, private butler who will be their point of contact for the entire stay. Guests will also receive a cellphone that calls/texts the butler directly at any time.
These butlers are jacks-of-all-trades: They are a concierge, a front-desk officer, a reservationist, a Maldives history teacher, a tour guide and a friend. Butlers can arrange special moments on the beach, handle any troubleshooting (if there’s a problem with Wi-Fi access, for example) and can check travelers out upon departure. Simply put, butlers are as invisible as clients want them to be, and travelers don’t have to speak with any other resort staff for the entire vacation.
Beach Villas Reign Supreme
Who doesn’t love an overwater bungalow in an exotic location? Although the Maldives is known for its over-the-top overwater bungalows, smart travelers know to ask for the beach villas.
Due to the lack of waves in the lagoon, beach villas are located just 10 to 30 steps to the water. There are no resort elevators to go down, no boardwalks to cross and no stairs, streets or division: Beach villas are quite literally sitting on the white sand. This is rare and generally exclusive to the Maldives, considering that other tropical destinations — such as Hawaii, Florida, the Caribbean, Tahiti and most of Mexico — have strict zoning laws (and strong waves) that prohibit villas from being built so close to the sea.
Some resorts offer perks for staying in beach villas. A one-bedroom beach villa at One & Only Reethi Rah, for example, comes with a private infinity pool right on the sand. The beach villas at Baros Maldives, on the other hand, have overwater sundecks. At Jumeirah Vittavelli, beach villas feature a private pool running the length of the villa, as well as an outdoor bathroom. And the one-bedroom beach villa suite at Soneva Fushi is closed off by shrubbery to ensure plenty of privacy for a dedicated oasis, which includes a pool, a deck and a stargazing terrace.
Exclusive, One-of-a-Kind Activities
Have your clients ever wanted to stay in a bi-level villa that floats in the middle of the sea? Or dine in an underwater restaurant? Or walk right into a lagoon to see turtles and nurse sharks? These are just a sampling of the extraordinary things clients can do in the Maldives that are unavailable in much of the rest of the world.
In the Maldives, every resort typically has a cool, unique feature that sets it apart from other properties, not only in the islands — but the rest of the world.
At Jumeirah Vittaveli, massive villas float in the middle of the sea and are only reachable via private “dhoni” (multipurpose sailboat). Meanwhile, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island features the world’s first underwater restaurant, and Milaidhoo Island Maldives, which opened in 2016, is set in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. An underwater spa moonlights as an aquarium at Huvafen Fushi, where clients can relax among jackfish, moray eels and colorful, fluorescent coral. Finally, Soneva Jani features a lone hammock over a lagoon about a quarter of a mile from the main resort. Once guests reach it, fantasy vibes set in.
Of the nearly 1.3 million inbound tourists to the Maldives in 2016, the U.S. visitors count was just 39,180 — so clients who travel here won’t likely run into many fellow Americans. The Maldives is expensive, and resorts are intimate (you’ll be hard-pressed to find one with more than 50 villas), so it amps up the level of exclusivity and privacy. Talk about bragging rights — and the perfect, enviable Instagram caption.
With this intimacy, clients may never see another soul their entire trip. Every atoll is essentially one large, white-sand beach with occasional, tropical greenery. There are times travelers will have an entire beach to themselves, with not another person in sight. And overwater bungalows, while clustered along one boardwalk, have privacy screens and are equipped with more amenities than one could imagine.