Booking our stay
We were very overwhelmed with the amount of resorts to choose from in the Maldives, but ultimately we chose the St. Regis because it’s a brand we love and knew what standards we could expect on some level. We also had a lot of Marriott points to burn and with the upcoming devaluation it was the perfect excuse to use them. We had originally planned this trip in 2020 and had to reschedule it 3 times because of the pandemic, so I was really excited to actually be visiting.
The room categories are confusing and still didn’t make total sense to us when we were there. We chose the St. Regis overwater suite because of some reviews we read, and we were ultimately really happy with our choice. We emailed the resort ahead of time to request room 519, which they were able to accommodate. We learned this was an impressive feat given the resort was full during our visit and the complexity of arrivals/departures!
Overwater St. Regis Suite
Our room was beautiful, modern and spacious. It was a true suite with a separate living room, dining room and half bath that could be sectioned off from the bedroom. The bed was extremely comfortable and overlooked the pool, deck and ocean. The primary bath was huge with a dual-vanity light-up sink, large bathtub and separate toilet/shower rooms. There was also a large walk-in closet behind the bedroom.
The outside space consisted of a dining table with chairs, loungers, a day bed, private pool, netted over-water hammocks and a private entrance into the lagoon for swimming and snorkeling. Our view was of the lagoon and resort on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. Our room (519) was particularly great because it had views of the ocean but access to the lagoon for snorkeling, where the water wasn’t as rough. If you aren’t planning to snorkel or swim, I think an ocean-facing room might be best.
The resort takes up the entire island and has several extensions built over the water such as the arrivals jetty, spa, whale bar and overwater villas jetty.
The spa is beautiful and has about 6 treatment rooms as well as a large jacuzzi. Unfortunately, the resort charges 175USD++ for using the jacuzzi, which seems ridiculous. At most resorts, the jacuzzi, steam room, saunas, etc are available for hotel guests free of charge. They only had the jacuzzi and you had to pay (a lot) for what they probably assumed people would do for an instagram shot. I hope they change this and offer it on a first-come, first-served basis.
Jason had a massage during our visit, which he said wasn’t great.
On the island, the beachfront rooms dot the exterior. There are also a few restaurants dotted throughout the property, with the Whale Bar offering some impressive sunset views. The biggest structure on property is the Volumi House, which is where the gym, salon, and kids zone are located.
The gym was small but offered an impressive amount of relatively up-to-date equipment for such a remote location.
The main restaurant, Alba, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It overlooks the pool and some beach loungers. Since I think all rooms have a private pool, I was surprised at how busy this beach area was during the day.
It’s no secret that food in the Maldives is expensive, and food at the St. Regis is no exception. The breakfast buffet came out to a whopping $80USD per person per day inclusive of tax. With that being said, the breakfast buffet was massive and you could also order á la carte items. Plus, mimosas were included! The buffet options changed daily and the service at breakfast was some of the friendliest and proactive we experienced on the island. I do have to mention, as a self-proclaimed coffee snob, the coffee was not good. I regretted not bringing some of my own from home for our room.
Speaking of bringing food from home, we also brought some protein bars since we knew food was going to be very expensive. Having those bars on hand definitely helped some days, so I would recommend it. There is also a mini-fridge in the room, and the restaurants can box any of the food you don’t finish at meals (except for breakfast), which we also did sometimes.
For lunch, we loved Crust & Craft. In fact, we ate there for lunch just about every day. The pizza was really good! To give you an idea of cost, 2 pizzas and 2 glasses of roses will run you about $150USD.
Before I dive into the dinner options, I want to point out that the resort really tries to crowd control the dinner restaurants. On our arrival day, our butler gave us a list of the dinner reservations he made for us each night. The location and time were already set and somewhat cumbersome to change. In hindsight, I wish I would have coordinated with the hotel ahead of time about our dinner reservations. We preferred to eat at a certain time and also weren’t excited about the Middle Eastern restaurant menu, so we had to ask our butler for some changes. Some of them were accommodated and some weren’t.
In full transparency, because of the jetlag we slept through dinner the first 3 nights of our trip. Afternoon naps can very easily turn into a night’s sleep after 36 hours of travel! On the nights we made it to dinner, we ate at the Whale Bar and Orientale.
The Whale Bar has a great ambiance and is a spectacular spot to watch the sunset. If you want to eat there for dinner, you need a reservation. If you want to have drinks and light bites to watch the sunset, you don’t need a reservation, but it did fill up quickly. The food here was expensive, and I found it to be the least tasty of the restaurants on the island. Dinner for 2 was $250 and only one of us had alcohol.
Our favorite restaurant was Oreintale, which has an asian-inspired menu. The food was fresh and delicious. I also loved that they didn’t care if you ordered off the kids menu. The dishes were $25-35 and decently sized, so we felt like we got to try a lot by mixing in those selections.
Overall, I was really impressed with the service at the St. Regis Maldives. Service is the #1 thing I care the about when it comes to travel, and the team here exceeded my expectations for not being an Aman property (the gold standard for hotel service IMO).
As I mentioned earlier, we requested a specific room and our request was honored, which I feel like happens less these days at big hotel chains like Marriott. There was a housekeeping blip our first morning, and it was taken care of immediately and they brought us a bottle of champagne as an apology. I got sick on our 2nd day and the resort staff were extremely proactive in helping. The breakfast staff was proactive, attentive and extremely friendly. Overall, I felt they genuinely wanted to make sure we were happy and were willing to make any changes/modifications necessary to do so.
Also, having a butler available was amazing. Everything was just a quick Whatsapp message away. Shah was our butler, and he was really instrumental in making sure our stay was seamless and relaxing. He coordinated unpacking and packing our suitcases, dinner reservations, spa treats, and making sure we had the departure paperwork ready for leaving the Maldives.
The Maldives is great for relaxing and not doing very much. Our days were spent by the private pool in our villa and slow walks around the island. You can get more active by snorkeling, swimming or scuba diving. The resort has a lot of other experiences like private dinners and chartering a boat, but we didn’t feel like the price matched the value. Plus, everything is taxed out the wazoo.
There are so many options for luxury hotels in the Maldives that it can be stressful trying to pick the right one since most people are traveling immense lengths to get there. I was really happy with our choice at the St. Regis, and would definitely recommend it. The modern, updated rooms matched the style we like and the service exceeded my expectations. With that said, there are definitely other properties I would characterize as “barefoot luxury” that I’d be curious to compare it to.
Here is a quick rundown of what I think you should know before you go to the St. Regis Maldives:
- Maldives immigration clearance at the airport is a cluster, so it may be worth it to pay for the VIP arrival services they offer.
- Maldivian airways will definitely weigh your bags.
- The seaplane can causes some serious seasickness on windy days, pack dramamine.
- The resort crowd controls the restaurants so it might be worth asking for an itinerary ahead of time. Once you get to the resort, it can be difficult to reserve dinner/spa appointments.
- If you want to swim/snorkel, pick a lagoon/sunrise facing villa. If you don’t plan to enter the water from your room, go for an ocean/sunset facing villa.
- The food is very expensive, but also very good. Pack some protein bars.
- You can use the St. Regis seaplane lounge on arrival and departure. The lounge situation at Male Airport is awful, so I would avoid having to spend a lot of time there.