Time for a polishing: A review of the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
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To The Point
The Park Hyatt Maldives wasn’t quite the paradise I imagined. Pros: Affordable points rates, rejuvenating spa and beautiful ocean waters. Cons: Aging all around, and average food — especially considering the cost.
At the end of last year, the TPG team decided it was time to re-visit the Maldives, one of the world’s most aspirational destinations, especially for those with hotel points to burn. The island nation has a dizzying number of high-end points resorts to choose from, with many having opened in the last couple of years.
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But the new properties aren’t the only ones worth your attention — the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has been a mainstay in the island nation for years. The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, and many other staffers have used their points to visit the property numerous times over the years.
I really enjoyed my stay at the all-new InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, so I was eager to see how this older Hyatt would stack up, especially considering the praise it’s garnered over the years from TPG staff and readers.
Ready to plan that bucket-list trip to the Maldives? Visit TPG’s Maldives destination hub for more stories about travelling to the region on points and miles, where to stay and what to do while you’re there.
The Park Hyatt Maldives is a Category 7 World of Hyatt hotel, meaning you can book rooms for 30,000 Hyatt points per night. Hyatt will soon introduce peak and off-peak awards, so the points rate will vary from 25,000 to 35,000 points per night when that change takes place.
We used 90,000 World of Hyatt points to book my three-night stay in a base room, a Park Villa. Cash rates during my dates were right around $630 (about £487) per night. As is the case with just about every Maldives resort, I had to pay for a mandatory round-trip airport transfer, which at this property costs $520 (about £402) per person.
The Park Hyatt Maldives is in North Huvadhoo, one of the largest natural atolls in the world, but pretty far from Male Airport (MLE). The $520 (about £402) charge wasn’t just for a simple round-trip seaplane flight. Since the Park Hyatt is so removed from Male, it involves a commercial flight on a turboprop aircraft, a buggy ride and then a 30-minute boat transfer. No one said getting to paradise was easy.
When I arrived at MLE, I was met by a Park Hyatt representative who took me to the domestic departures terminal and assisted me with check-in for my flight to Kooddoo (GKK), an island south of Male.
At Kooddoo, another Hyatt representative was waiting for me at arrivals. He helped me with my luggage and I hopped in his buggy (similar to a golf cart) for a short ride to the boat.
A crew of three helped get my luggage from the buggy into the boat, which was clean and comfortable. I was welcomed with cold drinks and towels, and we sailed for just over a half-hour to get to the hotel.
The whole trip from Male Airport to the Park Hyatt took close to three hours, which wasn’t terrible in the grand scheme of things, but after a long international flight, it seemed to stretch for ages. However, there was always a Hyatt staff member getting me where I had to go next, so I never felt lost or uncomfortable, just tired.
The one upside to this arrival system is that it can be done after dark. Seaplanes aren’t allowed to operate after dark, so for some of the hotels in the Maldives, you have to spend the night in Male if your flight arrives late, then catch a seaplane the next morning.
I completed a few check-in necessities on the boat. Once I arrived at the resort, there was no paperwork, no stress and no waiting to see if housekeeping had prepared my room yet. Instead, upon stepping out of the boat, I was welcomed by my host, who drove me straight to my room.
For any transactions related to checking in or out, there is a small desk, which I only noticed during my checkout. A semi-open-air traditional lobby had seating and tables.
This resort itself is small, exclusive and lush — it certainly gave me a private-island feeling.
The Park Villa
The buggy ride to my villa was bumpy, along a rough and uninviting road. I still can’t decide if the raw, natural beauty on the way was impressive or represented a worrisome lack of infrastructure for the hotel. The road was full of sand and mud, tree trunks, fallen leaves and huge potholes which would fill with water after every rain, making it difficult to walk around the resort.
But after that brief, final part of the journey, we arrived to my park villa — number 28.
I entered the room full of anticipation and it was … a room. A dark and dated room, not particularly tropical or luxurious.
A massive empty space separated the bed and the glass door that opened to a spacious balcony set among the tropical foliage.
The space was large, bright and clean, with double sinks, shower and toilet, and big, fluffy white towels, plus an outdoor soaking tub that looked like it could use a thorough scrubbing. It was dirty and covered with wet leaves — and it stayed like that throughout my stay.
However, the outdoor shower was inviting, and I loved getting to shower outside while watching the wildlife circle overhead and all around me.
Except for the shower, the whole outdoor area was unkempt and not at all what I would expect from a five-star property. The indoor bathroom didn’t seem particularly well-maintained either, but it had lots of amenities — a toothbrush and toothpaste, comb, razor and more.
The biggest letdown of this room, however, was the outdoor space and “beach access.”
Living in an apartment in London, I dream of a hotel with beach access, but this was no dream. The beach was a few inches of bleak-looking grey sand with two stained and dirt-covered lounge chairs, which — just like the bathtub outside — remained uncleaned and covered with debris throughout my stay.
Although the room had an espresso machine and a fridge, as well as a nice desk/workspace, it was poorly lit with flickering old lamps. There was no pool with this villa, though some of the villas on land do have pools.
For anyone considering a honeymoon in the Park Villa, I would advise against this room type and to pick a different room category.
A large, sexy hotel swimming pool was where I spent most of my time. The area was chic, but the poor service spoiled the experience. Each chair by the pool had a white flag. The concept was that a staff member would come to you if the white flag was up.
After I raised my flag, it took 45 minutes before a staff member arrived to hand me a menu. Another 20 minutes later, someone came back to take my order. After 35 minutes more, I received my coconut.
There was really only one usable beach at the hotel. While the whole island is surrounded by beach, I found most of it to be dirty and unkempt. The only beach area that was clean was the main beach opposite the restaurant. There, the water shone a brilliant turquoise, perfectly complementing the white sand. This was the Maldives I had imagined.
I enjoyed relaxing here, especially on the very Instagrammable swing.
The gym was on the smaller side, though the equipment was state of the art and free water and towels were offered.
The Vidhun Spa blew me away, though — and in a good way. It was a beautiful space, with five treatment rooms and its own adults-only swimming pool facing a forest of wild trees.
Related: Best spas in the Maldives
The outdoor loungers were perfect for chilling out and the treatment rooms are large and comfortable. Although spa treatments aren’t cheap (starting at about $250), it was still a wonderful place to hang out.
I did test a body treatment, which was fine. I’m not sure I’d do it again, but I was pleased with the service, which included the application of aloe vera, perfect for my sensitive skin.
The Wi-Fi was complimentary but slow throughout my stay.
Food and beverage
There were only a few restaurants at the Park Hyatt Maldives — a surprise after the InterContinental Maldives with its six restaurants.
I tried both of the main restaurants during my stay — the Dining Room, which offered breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the Island Grill that is considered fine dining. I was not impressed with either and both are extremely overpriced.
Since I don’t have elite status with Hyatt and had booked a room-only rate, my stay didn’t come with extras like breakfast. However, if you have Hyatt Globalist status — or have your award stay booked as a “Guest of Honor” stay by someone with Globalist status, then you’ll save a bunch by not having to pay for breakfast. Options on the a la carte menu cost around $20 (about £15) per entree and the buffet price was $35++ (£27++). Pretty much everything in the resort comes with the double plus sign after the dollar amount just to make sure guests know that things are never quite what they seem and that taxes and service fees are additional.
I had the combo option (the buffet plus two a la carte items), which came to about $45 (about £35).
Breakfast options varied from eggs to Asian curries to tropical fruits. However, the buffet was limited and the food was just average. Some of the fresh juices were extra, and when I asked for a fresh coconut, I was told it would cost $13 (about £10), which was absurd since I probably could have gone outside of my villa and picked one up off the ground. (I didn’t, but I thought about it.)
The Island Grill is right next to the Dining Room, which made it seem less high-end. The two eateries were so close I could hear people in the other restaurant.
With high ceilings, the Island Grill is intimate but airy and the floor is sand, so guests were wearing dressier outfits but also barefoot. Island Grill had a seafood buffet for dinner the evening I went, priced at $145++ per person (a glass of Chablis cost $17++). My bill came to slightly over $200 — the magic of those extra plus signs. (It’s common to see food dishes and services listed with “++” following, which signifies taxes and government service charges.) I’d certainly never spent $200 while dining barefoot before!
The buffet allowed guests to choose both their seafood and the way it was prepared. I had freshly grilled squid, steamed lobster and fried prawns. The seafood was delicious, but the rest of the buffet was unappetizing — some sad-looking pasta and other small bites that didn’t pair well with the fancy seafood. I only ate seafood.
Looking back, I might have been happier with one of the all-inclusive packages that were available to prebook on the website. Full board starts at $200 per person, per day, but if you’re considering this, beware, as there are many restrictions so learn the details or risk a +++ situation.
The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is an older resort and during my stay, I didn’t find it to be particularly well maintained or updated. There’s no denying its location is stunning and its impossibly blue waters are full of sea life.
But, my room was dark, dingy and not properly cleaned. Slow — and at times unprofessional — service let down the experience for me. Perhaps if I had splurged for an overwater villa, it would have been a different experience. In any case, I’d rather save up and head to a fancier Maldives resort or have a much more affordable island experience in Thailand or Indonesia.
Although the Park Hyatt Maldives can be booked with 30,000 Hyatt points for an award night, the extras like meals, spa treatments, airport transfers and even coconuts are very expensive. That can still be an overall good offering for a special trip, like a honeymoon, if your expectations are met with high-end service and hard product realities on the ground.
But in this case, despite the location, the resort just wasn’t pristine enough to justify the prices.
All photos by Jean Arnas.
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