Passengers arriving in the Maldives often have a bit of a ‘black box’ getting between the airport and their resort.
With the ‘better’ properties either they’ll be taken directly from the airport by boat or seaplane to their resort, or they’ll need to take a domestic flight first to a farther out domestic airport before making the journey to their island home. In either case, these properties meet you on arrival once you clear customs and guide you the rest of the way.
That can actually be frustrating for the super-intense planner, although with questions to your resort they will try to reassure you. For properties that require a domestic flight, you’re somewhat at the mercy of the domestic airline whose flight schedules are far from fixed. But the resort is on top of it.
This section of my Maldives and Malaysia trip report talks about getting from customs at the Male airport to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa — domestic lounge, flight, arrival, and boat ride.
- Introduction: Maldives and Malaysia in First Class, How I Booked It and What it Cost
- Etihad Lounge and First Class, Washington Dulles – Abu Dhabi
- Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport
- Etihad’s Abu Dhabi first class lounge, and business class Abu Dhabi – Male
On arrival in Male I was faced with a jam packed immigration hall. Even the fast track cards we were given were little help, they meant a shorter but still long line and fast track was moving slowly.
Baggage is directly in front of you once clearing immigration, you collect that and walk it through customs where everything including your carry on gets x-rayed. Don’t bring in any contraband… alcohol, drugs, or porn…!
That process tends to be quick though and there should be someone waiting for you with your hotel’s name on a sign immediately upon exiting customs.
Male Domestic Lounge
Our Park Hyatt representative was there, and walked us the familiar (we’ve done it 3 times now in 27 months) short distance outside from international arrivals over to the domestic terminal. He escorted us straight inside the lounge (whose key benefits are internet and air conditioning) and took care of our flight check-in and checked bags. (He also tagged our bags with our villa number, so that was the last we’d touch our bags until they were delivered to our room.)
The lounge has plenty of reasonably comfortable furniture, is large enough and with enough seating although it can get crowded.
Besides a comfortable place to sit amenities are limited. There’s food but it’s never been appetizing enough to me to try any of it. I’ve just taken water and called it good (definitely stay hydrated!).
There’s a bathroom and even a shower, although I’d rather wait to get to the resort to shower because the final flight to Male probably hasn’t been that long and the shower room isn’t really appealing.
Internet access in the lounge requires a code that’s uniquely generated for you. It’s valid for two hours.
Our local host took our passports, and returned a short while later with them and our boarding passes. This is how it worked on our last trip, too. The first time the host brought us to the checkin counter while our baggage was weighted and we had to get on the scales, too but that procedure doesn’t appear to be in place any longer.
The Park Hyatt Hadahaa used to use the Kaadedhdhoo airport, which was an hour’s boat ride away from the resort. About 18 months ago a new closer airport (half the distance away) opened on Kooddoo and that’s what the resort now uses.
There are several daily flights to each, although some make a 20 minute enroute stop. Last year we strongly requested a non-stop flight to Kaadedhdhoo rather than the one-stop to the closer airport. It would be the same overall travel time (less flying time, more boat time). The resort accommodated us, although it’s not standard practice.
This time we were given boarding passes for a non-stop Kooddoo flight, which was great. All flights were delayed, though, due to rough weather earlier in the morning. Delays just stacked throughout the day and we’d be waiting a bit more than an extra hour.
The delay was long enough that I had to get a second internet code from the front desk to stay online, catch up, and keep myself focused on something to pass the time. I was feeling pretty jetlagged despite getting some rest the night before.
Male – Kooddoo Flight
Our flight was finally called, and that meant proceeding through security for which there is no line and takes only a couple of seconds. Then we were “airside” in the sparse gate area.
We had about 20 minutes to wait, and I entertained myself musing over the exotic flight schedules board.
It was time to board, boarding happens pretty quickly, and then a short walk straight out to our aircraft.
These are one-cabin aircraft. It always seems that resort guests are placed in the front of the aircraft, locals (paying local fares) in the back.
The flight was uneventful. No announcements were made during the flight, and it was pitch black outside. I only knew it was time to land when the flight attendant buckled in. Then he got on the PA system and We touched down just about 2 minutes later.
From the Kooddoo Airport to the Park Hyatt by Boat
We walked into the baggage hall and there was a Park Hyatt representative waiting there for us. He took our baggage tags, guided us to a waiting golf cart, and went back inside to collect our luggage.
It was a short ride out to the dock, where our bags were placed inside the boat and we were greeted onboard.
The boat itself is comfortable enough, the forward seats are used for luggage and then there’s seating on each side and in the back of the boat closest the water. We sat inside. The seas were going to be rough, and the ride was going to take a little longer than usual.
In fact, the seas were very rough and I held on tight! We bounced around, took some waves fast, I never felt danger, it was more like what I would call an old school Disney “E ticket.”
In the past the ride has been smoother, so I wasn’t entirely expecting this, though I’ve always stayed during the high season which is dry and waters calmer.
Eventually we made the resort, where the GM and several staff members greeted us and then sent us in a golf cart to our villa for check-in formalities.
When We Finally Got to the Park Hyatt
We left the Premier Inn around 7am local time in Abu Dhabi.
Our flight was scheduled to arrive from Abu Dhabi at 2:30pm. We were about 15 minutes behind schedule, and it was 3:40pm by the time we exited immigration. We had been scheduled for a 5:20pm Kooddoo flight, and it was delayed until 6:30pm.
The flight is about an hour. The boat ride normally 30 minutes, but especially rough seas made it 50. And the resort is an hour ahead of Male and even Kooddoo — the Park Hyatt is on its own time, which maximizes daylight hours and gives you a sunset around 7pm which is lovely. That means we were arriving about 9:20pm local time.
Despite only an hour’s time difference between Abu Dhabi and Male, and another hour’s difference to the resort, this was a full day’s journey.. about 12 hours “door-to-door.” And that’s after taking a 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi and overnighting. So it’s a true journey, albeit one made as comfortable as possible by first class, lounges, and ground assistance throughout. Many don’t think of the Maldives as worth it. I do. The next installment of the trip report will – hopefully – help to explain why.