Maldivian sweet spot: A review of the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort
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To The Point
The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort is a great option for those looking to use Marriott points in one of the world’s top bucket-list destinations. Pros: It’s a Category 7 hotel, the property itself is brand new and beautiful and the staff is friendly and helpful. Cons: Minor service issues and some misses food-wise.
The Maldives seems to be on almost everyone’s bucket list. And for good reason, too: It’s filled with epic sunsets, crystal-clear turquoise water, friendly people and some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, with many of them being points properties.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Maldives and stay at The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort shortly after it opened in 2016 and then again in 2018. A few months after my most recent visit, I decided it was time to get back to the island nation, but this time I wanted to try something different. Armed with plenty of Marriott Bonvoy points, I decided to look at other properties under the Marriott umbrella. I’m often drawn to newer properties, so the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo piqued my interest.
The Westin Maldives opened in October 2018, surprisingly ahead of schedule. As a Category 7 Marriott Bonvoy property, the Westin Maldives offers great value on points, since a free night will cost you 60,000 points and cash rates for base rooms start around £545 per night. Since the introduction of Category 8 pricing in March, other top Marriotts in the Maldives, like The St. Regis and W Maldives, now cost much more, so the Westin is really a sort of sweet-spot redemption.
With beautiful photos on the hotel’s website but a lack of reviews online, I threw caution to the wind and made a five-night reservation for a total of 240,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for my wife and myself. As a result of a flight change, we found ourselves deciding between a night in Male prior to the stay or an extra night at the Westin. We went for the extra night at the Westin for an additional 60,000 points, bringing the reservation total to 300,000 points for six nights. Generally, I try to maximize the value of Marriott award stays by staying in increments of five nights, but I made an exception this time.
When making a reservation at basically any Maldives resort, you have to factor in the cost of the transfers from Male’s Velana International Airport (MLE) to the resort, whether by speedboat, seaplane or a combination of the two. At this property, a round-trip seaplane transfer costs £371 per adult, and the plane/boat combo runs £293 round-trip.
The Westin Maldives is approximately a 35-minute seaplane flight from Male, located in the Baa Atoll, and is within a UNESCO-protected biosphere. As I mentioned above, the island can also be reached via domestic flight from MLE to Dharavandhoo Airport (DRV) followed by a short 20-minute speedboat ride. The latter option is ideal if your international flight is to arrive after 3:30pm, which is the resort’s cutoff time for seaplane transfer.
Due to the arrival time of our international flight, we had arranged for a domestic flight and speedboat transfer. Upon arrival at MLE airport, we were greeted by a Westin representative who assisted us with our domestic transfer and checked in with us periodically until our domestic flight boarded. On the return, we got the seaplane transfer to maximize our time at the resort. With the exception of a delay to our domestic flight to DRV, the transfers in both directions were without a hitch, and the Westin representatives at MLE were helpful on both legs of the journey.
After a 30-minute domestic flight, on an aircraft whose interior had seen better days, we arrived at DRV airport, which resembled a large garage. Our Westin butler was waiting for us with a taxi to escort us to the Westin speedboat three minutes away.
Once we boarded the boat, we were off! The ocean was calm that evening, which made for a pleasant 20-minute boat ride to the Westin. I was disappointed it was dark at the time, as I think during the day the boat ride would have provided spectacular views.
Upon arriving at the resort, we were greeted by a few staff members and were promptly handed the resort’s signature welcome drink. Being a wellness resort, the Westin features juices and cocktails infused with various herbs, fruits and vegetables. I don’t recall exactly what the welcome drink was made up of — it had an interesting taste, though I wasn’t keen on the bits of herbs floating in it.
After arriving late due to our domestic flight delay, we were provided with only a brief tour of the island before being escorted to our villa. We were fortunate to have been upgraded to an overwater villa with a pool. In the villa there was a bottle of Champagne, a fruit platter and chocolates awaiting us on the dining table.
Check-in was completed inside our villa, which was a welcome alternative to standing at a check-in counter after a full day of travel. Our butler took care of the check-in and gave us a brief tour of the villa and its features before leaving us to turn in for the night. The resort had a reception, but it appeared not to be in use. Perhaps at some point this space will be repurposed, but during our stay it sat empty.
The Westin is an all-villa property, with each one being a standalone unit. The standard room category is the Beach Villa, a modest-sized room with modern décor featuring an outdoor shower, a deck with seating area and two beach chairs and a small plunge pool.
With all beach villas and beach suites, direct beach access was available from the front of the villa just off the deck. The beach villas and suites were fairly private, thanks to various plants and trees surrounding the front, though they still offered a glimpse of the ocean from the deck. The only difference between the beach villa and beach suite, from what I could tell, was that there was a seating area in the suite between the bedroom and the outdoor space that could be closed off with a sliding panel.
All overwater villas had the same floor plan, with only the ones on the sunset side of the island featuring a plunge pool. Most of the overwater villas are very private, with the only intrusions being the odd snorkeler or boat passing by (or Instagram influencer in the villa beside you who wasn’t informed of the strict — but apparently unenforced — no-drone policy). Villas on the side of the arrival jetty were slightly less private due to speedboats or seaplanes arriving periodically through the day.
The villas were spacious and open-concept, but could be divided into sections using rolling wall panels. This was particularly handy if you were traveling with a companion or with a family. In our case, it was useful to keep the bed area quiet and dark in case one of us wanted to sleep in or have an afternoon nap.
Each overwater villa featured a seating area with a small couch, lounge chair, writing desk and a glass floor allowing you to view the marine life below. All overwater villas offered direct access to the ocean via a ladder, which we found to be quite slippery. We found our villa to be bright and filled with natural light, thanks to sliding glass doors and windows covering one whole side of it.
The pool itself was a generous size for a plunge pool, and the placement at the edge of the deck gave it a luxurious overwater infinity feel.
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More importantly, the position of the pool allowed it to remain in the sun without being shadowed by the roof of the villa, making it a pleasant temperature (unlike some we have encountered, where the pool remains in the shade much of the day). We enjoyed spending the afternoons lounging in the pool looking over the edge at all the creatures in the crystal waters below us. We were impressed by the amount and variety of marine life visible from the villa, including reef sharks, sea turtles and countless types of fishes.
As in the beach villa, the bathroom in the overwater villa had a glass-enclosed toilet, which was rather high-tech with with numerous controls and sensors, including one to automatically open as you approached. The shower space was generous and featured a bench, rainfall shower, and handheld shower head. There was a double vanity with ample space for personal toiletries.
The bathroom had direct access to the outdoor shower on the deck, as well as the plunge pool. There was a large, freestanding bathtub in the middle of the bathroom that provided exceptional views of the deck, pool and ocean. The bathroom could remain open to the rest of the villa, which made the villa feel spacious, though it did seem a bit odd. Luckily, the area could be closed off entirely with the sliding panels, if you weren’t into exhibitionism.
There was a minibar with some standard offerings including liquor, beer, water, juice, pop and snacks. There was also a small wine fridge and a hand juice press. Oranges for the press were provided daily, and we were able to request more without a problem on days we wished to make multiple glasses of juice or mimosas. The minibar area also included a Nespresso machine with complimentary coffee pods, which were replenished daily. Reusable glass water bottles were provided daily during housekeeping and turndown service.
We were able to catch a number of stunning sunsets from our deck. The Maldives is known for exceptional sunsets, and since no resort has a monopoly on sunsets, you could be assured epic views from just about any property in the Maldives.
Since Westin brands itself as a wellness-focused resort, many of the activities at the hotel were focused on health and wellness. Though we didn’t participate, daily yoga and meditation classes covering various topics were offered for free. On our second day, we were approached by the yoga instructor, who informed us that in the evening he would be hosting a meditation class focused on sleep. Ironically, we fell asleep in the afternoon and missed it.
The property also featured a large gym with what appeared to be state-of-the art gym equipment. The views from the gym were stunning. There was a personal trainer on site, and Westin offered complimentary use of workout gear and New Balance shoes — sorry, no excuse not to hit the gym here! Near the entrance of the gym were a bowl of fruit and infused water.
The resort also had a spa on the eastern side of the island. The spa featured a number of treatment rooms and was built over the water. The spa also offered exceptional views of the ocean.
There was a full-service dive center on the property that offered a wide range of snorkeling and dive excursions, as well as additional activities such as a sunset dolphin cruise, local island tour, deep-sea fishing and Jet Ski rentals. Complimentary use of kayaks for two hours per day was included with our rate, as was complimentary use of snorkeling gear. Glass-bottom kayaks were available for an hourly fee, though I suspect one might achieve a similar view by simply looking over the side of a standard kayak. Stand-up paddleboards were also available for rent at an hourly rate.
We opted for the sunset dolphin cruise during our stay and were pleasantly surprised to see dozens of dolphins playing around the boat. The cruise also provided incredible views of the Maldivian sunset.
The resort had a kids club, but we had no reason to use it. For guests of all ages, there was a multipurpose sports court as well.
The main pool looked beautiful, but we didn’t use it, given the villa had the amazing infinity plunge pool at the edge of the deck. And it seemed that most of the other guests agreed with us — there was hardly anyone using the main pool throughout our stay.
Just off of the main pool was another, shallower pool with three large, round sun loungers. We didn’t see these in use, aside from couples taking photos, presumably for Instagram or other social media.
The beaches around the resort were a bit rocky, though every morning we saw staff cleaning the rocks from the main beach. It seemed like a losing battle. There were some areas that were less rocky, and it seemed guests in the beach villas were enjoying the beach, but rarely did we see anyone at the main beach swimming.
Food and Beverage
The resort had four places to eat, as well as a fairly extensive in-villa dining menu.
Having arrived late on our first night, we got room service for our first meal. I had a pizza, which was average in every way. My wife had the jasmine fried rice, and it was borderline inedible. This meal had us concerned, given it was our first impression of the Westin’s culinary offerings, but our concerns were quickly put to rest by our dining experience the following day, starting with breakfast.
The Island Kitchen was the main restaurant on the property, offering all-day dining in addition to the extensive buffet breakfast with a number of made-to-order options. As Bonvoy Titanium members, we got the complimentary breakfast as our welcome amenity (according to our butler, not everyone selects the breakfast option).
We were quite pleased with the variety, quality and freshness of the breakfast spread. There was a selection of bread and pastries, sushi and sashimi, various cheeses, cereals and fruits for the cold portion of the buffet.
Hot dishes included various Asian and Western dishes such as fried rice, noodles, curries, steamed and sautéed vegetables, sausage, and bacon. The made-to-order station included various forms of eggs, pancakes, crepes, waffles and noodle soups.
The wellness theme carried through to the dining options, with a daily selection of healthy fresh-pressed juices available in the dining-room fridge. The options changed throughout our stay, though we noticed that the usual juices (apple, orange and watermelon) were there daily.
For those hoping for a mimosa or Bloody Mary bar similar to The St. Regis Maldives or W Maldives, you won’t find it here. I inquired about it (for a friend of course), and was told that, because it’s a wellness-focused resort, alcohol isn’t provided as part of breakfast. On our last full day, we ordered a bottle of prosecco at breakfast to make mimosas, which resulted in a few raised eyebrows. The mimosas were delicious.
We dined at Island kitchen for both lunch and dinner throughout our stay. We really enjoyed the curries, and the chef was very accommodating in making modifications to suit any dietary preferences.
I was unimpressed by the halloumi burger, however. Even as a cheese-lover, I found this to simply be too much cheese. (It appeared to be an entire block of halloumi straight from the package, breaded, and deep-fried on a roll.) Otherwise, we were pleased with our meals at Island kitchen, and it was nice to see the food-and-beverage director interacting with guests during mealtimes.
Hawker was the resort’s casual beach venue, serving street food from around the world.
Hawker had a laid-back vibe, and the tables were all set in the sand, making for a pleasant barefoot dining experience. There were also a number of beanbag chairs and low tables along the beach, providing a comfortable spot to relax and take in the views while sipping one of the many delicious cocktails on offer.
The open kitchen at Hawker allowed you to watch the chefs at work preparing your food. The heat from the wok looked intense. Combined with the heat of the Maldives, it looked like it was quite hot for the chefs. We found the food to be good to excellent at Hawker. I especially liked the shaking beef and my wife the pad thai.
The Pearl was the resort’s fine-dining venue, and also the only one with a dress code. It offered fine Japanese dining and different set menus in addition to a la carte menus. We didn’t dine at the Pearl, as the night we visited they were offering only ramen and gyoza, which we weren’t interested in. The restaurant itself looked quite nice — it was built over the water and provided stunning views of the sunset.
There was also a bar and lounge on the second level of Island Kitchen, named Sunset Bar, which featured a games area complete with Jenga and a pool table. The outdoor portion of the bar had various seats for lounging, and in the evenings a live DJ spun tunes.
During our stay, the resort was celebrating margarita week with a discount on second margaritas. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t test a few of them to ensure the product was made consistently each time. The name of the place implied it was the ideal spot to watch sunsets, but it also overlooked the rooftop of Hawker, which detracted from the ambience a bit. We preferred to watch the sunset from our villa most evenings.
The Westin had what seemed to be a decent selection of wines from around the world, starting at around $45 per bottle. The resort offered wine tasting sessions with the sommelier starting at $45 per person, which included three tastings and a cheese platter.
The food-and-beverage director was often visible at meals interacting with guests, and was a great help in ensuring my wife had ample options for meals given the standard menus offered very few vegan options. I was surprised at how few vegetarian and vegan options there were on the menus — apart from salads — given the wellness focus of the resort and the rising popularity of plant-based diets. Nonetheless, they were very accommodating in modifying dishes or offering to make something off-menu. If you have dietary preferences or restrictions, it would be wise to reach out to either in advance or upon arrival to ensure you have plenty to eat during your stay.
Overall, the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo is a solid resort, and despite having opened less than a year ago, there were few service issues. The checkout process, similar to the check-in process, was completed in the comfort of our villa. Our departing seaplane was set to arrive at approximately 2pm, so we remained in our villa until we saw the plane landing, at which point our butler picked us up and escorted us to the jetty. Staff were there to greet the arriving guests, as well as to see off the departing guests.
The flight to Male from the Westin was scenic, crossing over a number of resorts areas and uninhabited islands. When we landed at Male, there were Westin staff waiting to escort us to the international terminal. They assisted with our baggage and stuck with us until the final security checkpoint after airline check-in.
All in all, the Westin is a great option for using Marriott Bonvoy points. The resort was spared the Category 8 increase, while the other premium Marriott Maldives were not, making it an outstanding redemption option in the Maldives. Our stay was great — not perfect in all aspects, but the minor service issues were nothing more than just that. One day I had to call to have my orange basket refilled, and another I called twice for ice — minor issues.
Given the age of the resort, I was pleasantly surprised by how well things were running having been open for less than a year. Keep in mind this isn’t The St. Regis Maldives. If you go in with appropriate expectations, the Westin is a fantastic property for a wonderful and relaxing vacation, has a good variety of food and beverages and, most importantly, extremely friendly and attentive staff. I wouldn’t hesitate to return. In fact, I’m going to do just that in early 2020.
All photos by the author.
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