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THE MALDIIIIIIIVES!!! This far-flung group of islands, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, has been at the top of our “travel bucket list” for a long time. Bright blue waters, white sand beaches, tiny tropical islands, unique marine life, and overwater bungalows… simply paradise. As our Singapore Air flight descended over the islands, we pressed our noses against the window in anticipation. Come along with us for a 5-night stay at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, complete with scuba adventures, shark feeding, dolphin cruising, lobster dinners, and luxurious spa treatments…
- Cash & Point Expense – Hotel costs in terms of cash, points, or both.
- Hotel Overview & Rooms – Overview of the property and room choices.
- Service & Conveniences – Service and amenities offered by the hotel.
- Restaurants & Dining – Restaurant and bar choices in the hotel.
- X-Factor – What sets this property apart from others.
Cash & Points Expense
The Maldives is definitely a luxury destination, with prices that soar into the tens of thousands of dollars per night at some resorts. The Sheraton Maldives is one of the most reasonably priced resorts in the area, especially when it comes to using points! If you want to pay cash, rooms start around $620/night (tax & fees included) for garden-view (inland) and $950/night for overwater bungalows.
In my opinion, this Sheraton Maldives offers the best point redemption value in the Maldives. You can get a room at this resort for only 20,000 SPG points per night. If you book 5 nights, the fifth is free! This brings the price per night down to only 16,000 points per night! To put that in perspective, hotels in most major US cities cost 16,000 per night.
Brooke and I booked 5 nights for a total of 80,000 SPG points. Since we were upgraded to an overwater bungalow, that gave us a redemption value of 5.9 cents per point! SPG points are typically valued around 2.5 cents per point, so this is a PHENOMENAL VALUE!
One additional point to consider is the cost to get to the resort. Most resorts in the Maldives require a seaplane transfer that costs between $500-$600 per person! The Sheraton Maldives is close enough to the airport that you can take a round trip speedboat transfer for only $136 per person. While that may sound like a lot for a 15-minute boat ride, it’s a significant savings over the seaplane price. When we landed at MLE, a hotel representative greeted us by name with a huge smile. He quickly took our bags and showed us to our boat.
Hotel Overview & Rooms
Let me address this up front – The Sheraton Maldives has received mixed reviews in the past, due to its proximity to Male, the urban Capital city of the Maldives. This can detract from the “alone-in-the-ocean” feel that people seek on these islands. Guests have complained that they can see the construction of a new, man-made island nearby. I was concerned about this myself, so…
As I usually do, I reached out to the General Manager of the resort before we arrived. He agreed to meet us for cocktails, and he shared some of the exciting developments for the resort. He has taken guests’ reviews to heart, and his team is working to construct a beautiful visual barrier from the nearby main island. This barrier will include sand bars with palm trees to obscure the view of cranes and buildings across the waterway. I really think this will improve the overall ambiance of the resort.
Now, on to the good stuff – As we arrived on the speedboat, a group of staff members met us at the dock. They were all smiling and waving to greet us. Once we stepped off the boat, we were taken by golf cart to check-in at the Sheraton Club Lounge (SPG Platinum perk). As we rode through the middle of the resort, we were surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation. Palm trees and bright, tropical flowers passed by, and we caught glances of the white sand beach as we went along.
The small island holds 176 guest rooms, 7 restaurants, a dive shop, a club lounge, a water sports complex, a couple freshwater pools, and a gym. The spa is actually on its own smaller island, connected by a bridge.
We stayed in a newly-renovated overwater bungalow – Room #112. Before arrival, we emailed the resort to request a SPG Platinum member upgrade. Upgrades are subject to availability, and fortunately, the overwater bungalow was open for our dates! We learned that the Sheraton Maldives was one of the first resorts in the Maldives to feature overwater bungalows. A project started in early 2017 to renovate all of the bungalows with modern features. Our room had been completely refreshed, and it was AWESOME!
Our room was on the northwest end of the resort, the side that faces away from Male. The bungalows are arranged in a row, and they sit on stilts in the turquoise lagoon. At 581 sq ft, the room isn’t huge, but it is very comfortable. We had a king-sized bed, under a vaulted thatch roof, with a large, glass sliding door. The door opens to a deck with a two-person, cushioned lounge chair. The bathroom is freshly renovated with a very modern feel. It features a glass-enclosed rain shower, marble counters, and a large bathtub, under a window overlooking the lagoon. We even got a nice, little welcome amenity of macaroons, nut brittle, and some fruit.
Other room options include:
- Club Overwater Bungalows, which will have their own plunge pools! We got a tour of these as renovation was being finished.
- Ocean Pool Villas on the windward side of the island. These are very private, and some have their own pool.
- Beach Cottages, which sit inland, facing south.
- Deluxe Rooms, which are the standard room you can book with points
Services & Conveniences
Extreme Maldives runs the water sports booth and the dive center at the Sheraton Maldives. They coordinate all of the activities, and you can borrow or rent equipment from them. The water sports booth sits along the edge of the southern lagoon. We went snorkeling on our own here a couple times. Less than a hundred feet from the water’s edge, we saw beautiful fish, a stingray, and a reef shark in the span of 30 minutes!
One of my main goals during our visit to the Maldives was to complete my PADI Open Water Diver certification. Fortunately, the Extreme Maldives dive shop offers the full scuba course at a similar rate to what I could pay locally. They also conduct the confined water (pool) training in the lagoon. Instead of bobbing around in the shallow end of a swimming pool, I actually got to be in the ocean water around the Sheraton’s house reef.
My instructor, Yaafis, has been teaching Scuba for a long time, and he is a fantastic teacher! He explained everything very clearly, and he helped me with some of the more advanced techniques. He’s also great at spotting random wildlife during open water dives. I also worked with Ted and Iman… thanks for everything!!
My training also included four open water dives, where I got to explore the marine life at dive spots near the resort. I had an absolute blast exploring the reefs and seeing all sorts of crazy fish, eels, giant manta rays, stingrays, and turtles! If you are considering Scuba certification, what better place to do it than the Maldives??
Dolphin Sunset Cruise
One evening during our stay, we booked a dolphin sunset cruise. This tour departs from the main dock at the resort, aboard Dhonis (traditional Maldivian boats). We cruised around the edge of the island and into open waters to watch the spinner dolphins jump and play. They love to follow the wake of the boats, and they jump really high out of the water. After a couple hours of cruising around, we headed back to the Sheraton as the sun was setting.
Another day trip we booked through Extreme Maldives was a snorkel safari to a couple nearby reefs. At the first reef, our guide found two sea turtles swimming just below us. At the other site, we saw stingrays, eels, and an assortment of tropical fish. This snorkel trip is very beginner-friendly.
As I mentioned before, the Shine Spa at the Sheraton Maldives has its very own island! Brooke and I booked massages at the spa for the final morning of our visit. The whole space is built for relaxation, with an open-air lobby and its own soaking pool. After checking in, we received cool towels and a delicious herbal tea. We changed in the locker room and spent a few minutes relaxing in the outdoor pool area before our massage. After the excellent, 50-minute massage, we had the opportunity to sit in a serene room and sip tea until we were ready to leave. Definitely “treat yoself” to a spa visit during your stay!
Sheraton Club Lounge
As a SPG Platinum member, the Sheraton Club Lounge is an incredible perk! You can also gain access to this lounge by booking a club water bungalow room. The club lounge at the Sheraton Maldives is one of the best I’ve ever visited! It features a large indoor seating area, a pool table, a computer, an ocean-front pool, and free beer and soda all day. Also, every evening the lounge serves heavy hors d’oeuvres and an assortment of wine and liquor.
One additional way to access the lounge, if you are not SPG Platinum or willing to pay for a higher room category, is to get the Amex Starwood Business credit card. They do not advertise this perk, but the card grants access specifically to Sheraton Club Lounges. Huge benefit!
While the resort island is relatively small, it can take a while to walk from one end to the other. We stayed on the northwest end of the resort, and the club lounge is on the eastern tip. Fortunately, with a quick phone call, we could request a golf cart ride across the island. We could also get a ride back from the lounge to the main bar/restaurant area for dinner and live music in the evening.
The Sheraton Maldives has a professional photography studio in the main lobby. Here, you can book time for a customized photo shoot around the resort. After the shoot, you will get one free picture of your choice, and you can purchase additional photo packages if you like.
After our professional photography shoot, I tried my hand at a few cool shots. I think they came out pretty well… Hard to take a bad picture of Brooke in the Maldives 🙂
Day Trip to Male
We did not take this trip, but the resort offers the opportunity to visit the Maldivian capital city of Male for a day. Most resorts are too far away to offer this tour, so this is a pretty unique option for the Sheraton.
Shhhh… there is a “secret” volleyball court at the Sheraton Maldives. If you get to know some of the staff members, you will learn that they LOVE volleyball. There are even rivalries between the food service staff and the housekeeping group. You may even get an invitation to one of their late night volleyball matches in the staff lodging area of the island.
Restaurants & Dining
The resort features seven restaurants/bars. SPG members get a 10% discount at most of these places! Here are just a few highlights of each option.
Sea Salt is the primary restaurant at the Sheraton Maldives. This open-air, fine dining restaurant serves an assortment of locally-caught seafood and fine imported steaks. Brooke and I simply had to do dinner here and get a real taste of fresh seafood cooked to perfection. When you order fish or lobster, you even get to select your meal from the giant live tank in the center of the restaurant. Their expert sommelier can recommend wines to pair with every course of your meal.
- Reef Fish & Tuna Tartare with avocado jelly and coconut foam and garlic bruschetta
- Pan Seared Scallops with cauliflower mousse, crispy chicken skin, baby beetroot, and sphere
- ULTIMATE SURF & TURF – Grilled 10oz Wagyu Ribeye and Lobster, grilled mini vegetables, roast baby potatoes, and Bearnaise sauce
- MEDIUM RED REEF FISH – Cooked Maldivian style, with truffle potato puree, and garlic lemon butter sauce
- Deconstructed Black Forest Tart – White chocolate and Kirsch mousse, cocoa rocks, glazed morel cherries, cherry vanilla ice cream, and cherry drops
- Chocolate Blast – White and milk chocolate mousse with chili chocolate ganache, mango pearls, and cocoa crumble and bubbles
I’ll key in on a couple items here. The tartare appetizer was the freshest fish I have ever eaten. My entree, the Ultimate Suft and Turf, is one that I have talked about ever since. I picked the lobster out myself, and had it grilled over a Wagyu ribeye, paired with the perfect Pinot Noir. WOW! Brooke’s fish was also picked directly from the tank and cooked in the local style. The deconstructed black forest tart is an awesome dessert presentation, and it tastes as wonderful as it looks! The entire experience at Sea Salt will stand out as one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Do not miss it!
Anchorage Bar is the central hang out at the resort. Situated between the main pool and the water on the south, central coast of the island, this bar features live music, tropical cocktails, light eats, and a great chill vibe. Brooke and I had cocktails here on our first night, and we enjoyed a tuna pizza one day for lunch.
Come by around sunset each night for the shark feeding! Seriously, you can stand with your feet in the shallow water of the lagoon, while one of the staff members tosses meat to the reef sharks.
Feast sits directly in the heart of the island, across the main pool area from Anchorage Bar. This is where we enjoyed our daily breakfast from the HUGE buffet (SPG Platinum perk). The breakfast buffet had everything, including a honey sampler with over a dozen unique honeys. They also will cook meals to order if you can’t find what you want on the buffet.
Each night, Feast has a different dinner buffet option, including Maldivian cuisine, Chinese, barbecue, and others.
Sand Coast is the casual dining restaurant. They offer burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and smoothies. Brooke and I had lunch here one day, sharing a cheeseburger, fries, and smoothie.
As the name suggests, Baan Thai offers authentic cuisine from Thai chefs. Even though Brooke and I had just spent eight days in Thailand, we couldn’t resist the urge to get some more delicious Thai food!
Sheraton Club Lounge
The Sheraton Club Lounge serves heavy hors d’oeuvres every evening. A couple nights, Brooke and I just relaxed by the pool at the club lounge and had “dinner” there. Brooke was able to drink a few glasses of the free wine, and I could mix some bourbon & ginger drinks. They also serve a light breakfast in the lounge. In a place like the Maldives, where food and drink prices are much higher than average, we really appreciated the complementary food options. After dinner, we could even play a few games of pool before heading back to enjoy the live music at Anchorage Bar.
T for Teahouse
The newest addition to the resort is the tea house. We stopped in and chatted with Sarah, the resort’s Tea Sommelier (yep, that’s a thing). She knows SO MUCH about tea! The tea house offers a wide variety of tea from around the world, including a very rare jasmine pearl tea. We had to try a cup, despite the price tag, and it was worth every cent.
You can also pick up some light snacks at the tea house and eat them by the pool.
Before we visited the resort, I assumed the x-factor would be the overwater bungalows, or the incredible scuba diving, or the fantastic meals. All of those were great, but honestly, the resort staff really made our stay special!
I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone who works at this resort is SO NICE! From the guy who carried our bags at the airport to the General Manager, everyone we met was smiling and always trying to make our stay great. We truly felt like we were treated like family during our time on the island. I want to thank a few people by name, who we got to know over the course of our five-and-a-half day stay.
- Jean-Louise (General Manager) – We really enjoyed getting to know you and hearing your story of working with Le Meridien and Starwood. Thanks for sitting down with us for cocktails and sharing your vision and plans for future development of the resort.
- Shumaes (Marketing Manager) – Thanks for meeting with us a few times and showing us around the resort. It was great to get to know you, and we appreciate the “behind the scenes” look at the newest bungalow renovations.
- Yaafis, Ted, & Iman (Dive Staff) – Thanks for being the best dive instructor team! The pictures and memories from the dives are some of my favorite from any vacation.
- Nafha (Lounge Manager) – Thanks for coordinating our tours, driving us around in the “Island Porsche,” making sure Brooke got a beautiful Maldivian wrap, and running an all-around awesome lounge. We looked forward to seeing your smiling face each evening!
- Irufaan & Kay – The best food & beverage team! Thanks for feeding us and providing such awesome service. We really enjoyed getting to know you, chatting about Game of Thrones, and learning about the volleyball league. Cheers!
If you visit the Sheraton Maldives, and you meet any of these lovely people, please tell them that Jesse and Brooke said “Hello!”
The Sheraton Maldives is a fantastic resort! We loved absolutely every second of our stay. Brooke was literally on the verge of tears when we had to leave. While it doesn’t offer the same level of isolation as other Maldivian resorts, it makes up for that in service and convenience. The food is fantastic, the overwater bungalows are fresh and modern, and the scuba diving is some of the best in the world. If you’re looking for the best value for your hard-earned SPG points, look no further than the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa!