Hey Travel Junkies,
Many of you have been wondering how to make a trip to the Maldives happen. Off the bat, you should know that it takes a lot of planning. It can take 500,000+ points to put together a full trip if you’re flying in business or first class.
Personally, my trip took almost a year of planning. This guide will help you navigate and plan what points to get so you can take a dream vacation.
How To Book Your Flights
The biggest challenge you’ll run into is figuring out what flights to book. Flying from the US often means over 24 hours of travel! Fortunately, you have three amazing airlines to choose from if you are booking with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
American Airlines classifies the Maldives as part of the Indian Subcontinent and, while American’s routing rules can be confusing, you can connect in Abu Dhabi to get to the Maldives.
You can fly with Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong, Etihad through Abu Dhabi, or Qatar Airways through Doha*. A one-way first class award ticket will cost 115,000 American miles between the US and the Maldives, while a one-way business class award is 70,000 miles. A one-way economy class seat costs 40,000 miles.
*The Maldives and several other Arab nations recently cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. As a result Qatar Airways is not allowed to fly the Maldives, currently.
Fly With Etihad Airways
Etihad has one of the best first class products on the market available known as The Apartments. To experience Etihad’s Apartments you need to fly on one of their Airbus A380s. Between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and the US, your only option is to fly to or from New York City (JFK).
In addition to, perhaps, the best first class seat in the sky, you can enjoy an in-flight shower, great food, a lounge, and tons of space to stretch out.
If you’re flying to or from another US airport like Washington-Dulles (IAD) or Los Angeles (LAX), you won’t get to experience the Apartments but you will still get a great first class seat and amazing service.
If you’d prefer to save a few miles, Etihad has a great business class product with a lie-flat seat and direct aisle access.
Fly With Qatar Airways
If the diplomatic issues between Qatar and several Arab nations change, another option for flying through the Middle East to the Maldives is Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways does not fly a first class product between Doha, it’s hub, and the US, but they are known for a great business class product as well as a great business class lounge.
Fly with Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific is another airline with a reputation for excellence. If you’re flying first class, you’ll experience an amazing in-flight product, great champagne, and amazing service.
The service is a little different than carriers such as Singapore Airlines. While the crew might be ever-present with Singapore Airlines, a Cathay Pacific crew is rarely seen, but if you use the call button they’ll be there quickly and happy to help.
Their business class product is also considered one of the best in the industry. Like first class, you can expect amazing service.
Both first class and business class with Cathay Pacific will allow you to experience several amazing lounges during your connection in Hong Kong.
Etihad isn’t the only way to get to the Maldives using AAdvantage miles, but is by far the easiest. You can also route to the Indian Subcontinent on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. If you’re based on the west coast, this could make for a much easier flight!
How To Earn Enough Miles To Fly To The Maldives
Booking through American Airlines’ AAdvantage program gives you several options to earn enough miles to book your trip. Obviously, a first class or business class adventure will take a little more work, but you can make it happen with a little patience and a few sign-up bonuses.
First up, we have the Starwood Preferred Guest cards, both the personal and business versions. One of the biggest perks of SPG Starpoints is that transfers of 20,000 Starpoints earn a bonus 5,000 miles when transferred. That makes it just that little bit easier to bank the required American miles.
You can also use the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, Citi AAdvantage Executive card, and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card. The cards earn American miles directly to help boost the miles in your account.
You can learn more about all of these cards by visiting our credit cards page.
Finally, check out the Barclay Aviator Red card which also earns American miles directly.
Don’t forget to use the American shopping portal when making purchases online to boost your earnings. Before you know it, you’ll have the miles necessary for a flight to the Maldives.
Choose Your Resort
Choosing where to stay can really make your Maldives getaway. Different properties have different characteristics, so choose what fits your desires!
Park Hyatt Maldives
The Park Hyatt Maldives is by far the easiest to get with points. The Park Hyatt Maldives costs only 25,000 Hyatt Points a night. The Chase Hyatt card often offers two free night certificates as the sign-up bonus which can also be used at this property.
Chase Ultimate Rewards can also be transferred to Hyatt 1:1. These rooms often cost over $1,000 per night. This means you are getting at least 4 cents per point for each Chase Ultimate Rewards point that you transfer! This is almost 3 times the value you can get when using Ultimate Rewards in the travel portal with a Chase Sapphire Reserve!
If you can’t imagine the Maldives without staying at an overwater bungalow, then the Park Hyatt is one of the easiest ways to stay there.
The Park Water Villa can be upgraded for around $500 per night from a points redemption. While it isn’t cheap, this certainly beats the $1,700+ per night the rooms normally cost.
The Park Hyatt is in a remote location, with only 50 guest rooms. There are no kid areas. The hotel is most frequently used as a couple’s’ retreat. If you’re considering a romantic getaway or honeymoon, this is the place to be!
Conrad Rangali Island
Another option is the Conrad Rangali Island by Hilton. Hilton recently changed the Honors redemption rate, making it difficult to predict exactly how much it will cost.
Generally, you should expect it to be around 95,000 Honors points a night. You can earn tons of Hilton Honors points through the American Express Hilton Honors Surpass card, the American Express Hilton Honors card, the Citi Hilton Reserve card*, and the Citi Hilton Honors card*.
The Conrad Rangali is a more family-friendly option. The property has a kid’s club and an island that is kid-friendly. However, the smaller island is adult’s only if you want a more secluded adults’ only getaway.
During peak season, standard rooms can cost over $1,500 a night! This is a value of about 1.6 cents per point and is a great value for Hilton points.
Also, you can upgrade to an overwater villa using points, but expect it to be at a significant cost. You’ll have to call to book these upgrades, as these rates aren’t published on Hilton’s website.
*The Citi Hilton cards are not currently available and might not return. American Express reached an exclusive deal with Hilton that will take effect in 2018.
The Starwood Preferred Guest program has 3 resorts that can be booked in the Maldives. However, they start at 25,000 Starpoints per night and increase from there. For example, the Sheraton has rooms available as low as $300 per night making it worth 1.2 cents per point.
This generally isn’t considered a great value for Starpoints. You can get a better value at the more expensive properties, such as The W or the brand new St. Regis, but you will need over 35,000 Starpoints per night to book a room.
There are many other costs associated with the Maldives. Since most of the resorts are on their own private islands, food costs can be high, and at some resorts you should expect to pay $300 a day for food.
The biggest additional cost is the airport transfer. Many of the resorts require either a seaplane or speedboat to get to their remote island location. Typically the transfers cost $500 and have strict baggage weights.
Your transfers will most likely be arranged by your hotel, but this varies by property. If it is, you can pay using a Barclays Arrival+ card and use points to erase the travel cost.
The Maldives is not an easy destination to visit, but it’s a fun one that you can visit thanks to miles and points.
With over 1,500 islands, you can find the right resort that fits your style. From the romantic seclusion of the Park Hyatt Maldives to the family friendly Conrad Rangali, you’ll be able to find your dream Maldivian resort somewhere amongst the vast island nation. Just be prepared to pay for your seaplane transfer and food. In the end, it will all be worth it for the experience!
See you in the sky!
Spencer and Travis
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