Review: Lounge, Flight and Boat from Male to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives

Here I review the Male airport’s domestic lounge and Maldivian’s Male – Kooddoo flight to get to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction, overview, and costs
  2. Star Alliance first class and business class lounges, LAX
  3. Etihad First Class, Los Angles – Abu Dhabi.. the 3rd Longest Flight in the World!
  4. Premier Inn, Abu Dhabi International Airport
  5. Etihad’s new business class lounge, Abu Dhabi
  6. Etihad Business Class, Abu Dhabi – Male

When you get off of your flight to Male, you walk out on the tarmac over to the arrivals building, which is more a shack than anything else. You walk inside and queue for immigration.

There’s a premium line on the far left, though it may not be especially fast. On this visit there were two lines working, although one was far faster than the other. It took about 15 minutes to make it through, not bad at all though a wait is a hazard when several flights come in relatively closely packed together. The building was warm from so many people and a door propped open to outside air. (Last year it took over half an hour to clear immigration.)

Once you go through immigration you’ll walk directly ahead to the baggage claim belts, pick up your bags, and then walk them through customs. Everything gets x-rayed on your way out.

After making it through customers you’re in a covered outside arrivals area. That’s where there are several hotel desks and many of the hotels will meet you. A gentleman working for the Park Hyatt was there (last year he was late) and ready to assist.

Here’s what he does:

  • Helps you turn left and walk over to the domestic terminal
  • Gets you settled into the lounge
  • Takes your passports and luggage and returns with boarding passes and baggage claim tags

This is when you find out what flight you’ll be on to the island where the Park Hyatt will pick you up. The Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives is located on its own island, which is a flight and a boat ride away from Male. Many of the resorts are a mere boat ride or sea plane from the capital, but the Park Hyatt is a further journey. (I’ve long considered this remoteness a plus but others prefer less travel.)

While Maldivian’s domestic flight schedules appear relatively stable, they don’t actually confirm until the day before. If you contact the resort and you’re insistent they can probably tell you when you’ll fly. But in general Maldivian times their flights to coincide with international arrivals and departures.

There are actually two airports within reach of the Park Hyatt resort — they used to pick up from Kaadedhdhoo airport which is an hour’s boat ride away. Now they pick up from Kooddoo, a newly built facility, that’s a half hour’s boat ride from the resort.

The flights may make stops and I ask to be put on a non-stop flight from Male, even if it means getting picked up in Kaadedhdhoo. That’s what they once in the past. This year we had a non-stop flight to Kooddoo.

Things have changed markedly since I first visited the Maldives in 2012. There’s a new domestic lounge upstairs rather than directly across from the check-in desks. And they no longer seem to weigh you at check-in. (Yes, really, they used to make you get on a scale as part of their weight and balance planning for the aircraft.)

The new lounge itself isn’t impressive, though crucially it is air conditioned. It’s a large room, partially raised at one end, with separate seating areas defined by the furniture.

The furniture isn’t well kept, it’s already starting to show quite a bit of wear.

The lounge has a pay-in spa.

    (Click to enlarge.)

There’s also a kid’s room.

There are restrooms and a shower — the shower in the old lounge is perhaps not one I would have used. (And I’ve showered in the Gol Smiles domestic lounge in Sao Paulo..) I didn’t check it out on this visit.

There’s a kitchen area that has some substantive food items during designated meal times, but is quite barren with just a few snacks outside of those times. (There was nothing here that I tried.)

Besides air conditioning, the other key amenity is internet. You’re given a printed code to use to access the web.

There’s also a departures board. They do call flights, and don’t be surprised that when you think your flight is supposed to board it doesn’t. These planes don’t board 30 minutes prior to departure, and they’re frequently delayed (if only a little). So everyone mills around the departures board and asks the staff what’s happening, and the answer is always ‘soon’.

When they finally call the flight you head downstairs where you’ll see the checkin desks, turn right and there’s the security screening line.

Everyone’s clearing for your flight and perhaps another at once, but security is quick and more or less just a formality on these flights.

I love that we were leaving out of ‘gate 8’ when it’s all just a medium-sized room with chairs and one sign above each door.

We waited around a bit until they called for boarding and then were directed out onto the tarmac to board our aircraft.

There’s no first class, all the seats are pretty much the same, though they seem to cluster tourists towards the front. Some aircraft have a backwards facing row 1, and this one did. So I sat facing two other tourists directly (as I was in the forward facing row 1 just behind them).

The flight itself is unmemorable, especially taken at night, though during the day there will be impressive views. There’s a beverage service including an island punch on offer. But otherwise it’s a non-descript regional flight.

The only intriguing thing that happened this time is that one gentleman didn’t realize he wasn’t getting off at the first stop. He was a young Middle Eastern man, he got out of his seat to deplane when we arrived at the first stop. The flight attendant seemed to know that he wasn’t supposed to be getting off so she asked for his boarding pass. She told him he had to wait until the next stop and he pretty much exploded.

He declared that he had been told he’d be at his destination in an hour. And it had been an hour. He hadn’t been told there was a stop. And he was getting off.

The flight attendant informed him she would have to call the authorities, he was not permitted off the aircraft. He demanded to speak to the captain, and the flight attendant got on the phone to call the captain. Meanwhile the stairs were deployed from the aircraft, and he went down the stairs — but did not get off the plane. All the while he was cursing and yelling, while his bride remained inside the aircraft, mousy and mortified.

Finally the man calmed down slightly and asked to get off for a cigarette break and was told this was not permitted either.

Other ground staff were at the plane by this point, and he was coaxed back aboard (and out of the way so those of us who were at our stop could get off).

We waited in a buggy while the Park Hyatt representative waited for our bags at baggage claim.

We had a brief drive through the island and out to the boat dock where the Park Hyatt’s speed boat would take us out to the resort. They gave us life jackets to put on and gave us each a bottle of water.

The speed boat portion of the trip is short, just a half an hour, but it’s not one of my favorite parts of the journey. It’s too loud for relaxed conversation. We each listened to music, my wife with an ipod and I with my phone and earphones.

I do wish they had a nicer boat for the journey, something with indoor seating perhaps, some champagne and canapes (I hadn’t eaten since the start of my flight from Abu Dhabi so perhaps nine or ten hours earlier). But it’s over soon enough.

And when you pull up to the resort you’re in a whole different world…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Your new site only shows a preview of this post in feedly. Using an ipad, the feedly link to your website is really slow. It is so slow, I had to get on chrome, type your link, go find this post, and finally when I got here, I didn’t care about the article anymore. You need to get the full post on on feedly because there is a barrier with your new site preventing people from accessing your content.

  2. Really dumb question, but does everyone that arrives at Male get acces to the lounge while they wait for their flight to their respective resort/island?

  3. Nice review. I’ve heard that many of these island flights and boats don’t operate on Fridays. Do you know if that is true? I would hate to time my arrival or departure on a “bad” day.

  4. What time did you arrive at the resort? Have a trip coming up and we get in on Etihad too.

  5. I’m also having issues with the new site in Feedly being unreadable. Hope you’re able to get it fixed as I really enjoy reading.

  6. @Jon — methinks it’s ALL about driving the eyeballs to the site for the ad $$$… Not saying that is bad, just sayin’…

  7. @Gary — Yeah, those speedboats are unpleasant. When you tell people that you’re jetting around in speedboats they think it’s glamorous, but it really isn’t. A seaplane ride straight to the resort would be more efficient.

  8. agreed that I prefer full post in the feed. now having to click through the links to see the contents in full browser is not as convenient.

  9. @Gary the link at the top of the page to the review of the Abu Dhabi to Male report is broken.

  10. Soooooooo… there going to be another installment talking about your actual stay? I’ve got my trip booked in December and I need more travel porn. Give me my fix!

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