Choo Choo! Don’t Fall Victim To The Marriott Le Meridien Maldives Hype Train

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Don’t Fall Victim To The Marriott Le Meridien Maldives Hype Train

Ah the Maldives hype train, my old friend.  It is rolling full steam ahead once again, all aboard!  News broke a week ago about a new Marriott Le Meridien in the Maldives.  New hotels popping up in the Maldives is not all that surprising but ones opening where you can use low end Marriott free night certificates is surprising for sure.  Especially since so many of us are sitting on a stockpile of free night certificates from all hotel brands. Thankfully Marriott recently extended most of theirs.

Having said all of that, I see that Maldives hype train choo chooing back into action.  I talked about the reasons why you will never see a Maldives trip report from me. I went into more detail on my thoughts in a follow up article, how influencers, social media and travel bloggers have skewed our perception of travel. Unfortunately I am seeing the same patterns happening again.

Stoking The Coals Of This Fire

There of course have been a slew of articles about the new development and the potential value, we covered the news ourselves.  Then come the follow up articles and a deep dive into what you can get with a credit card free night or 5th night free etc.  All of this has the potential to create some serious FOMO in readers and points and miles hobbyists.  Because of that I figured I should get out my soapbox one more time and say, take a step back and evaluate.

There is no doubt that this can be a great deal. Using a free night certificate at an aspirational type of property, often earned for paying a sub $100 annual fee, is always the goal after all.  But I want to make sure you are making the decision for the right reasons, for your own reasons.

Make Decisions Based On What Works For You!

Don’t fall victim to the hype and make a decision based on trying to keep up with the Jones’ or because a blogger said it offers amazing value. The Maldives have become this sort of miles and points badge of honor.  You aren’t anything until you have been to the Maldives! I think a lot of that is because it was always a place exclusively for the rich and famous and most of us don’t fall into that category. But miles and points have once again opened the door to a place that is several rungs above our weight class.  And because we are deal / value hunters we can’t resist that sweet sweet nectar that a Maldives redemption offers.  The Instagram posts, website photos, and picturesque tweets don’t hurt either.

My main point here is to say, step back and evaluate this decision.  If you were planning on going to the Maldives anyway then jump on this awesome deal for sure.  If it was even on your radar and you want to bump up your timeline to get in before the category for this hotel inevitably gets increased, that makes sense.  But if you want to book it solely because it is a good deal or because you have FOMO over this “great” opportunity, you may wanna take a beat and really consider this.

There Are Still A Lot Of Costs For This “Good” Deal

Remember that it will still take you a ton of miles, points and time to get there, not to mention an overly expensive 30 minute plane ride to the resort ($420 per person). Once you are there the prices of everything make a Las Vegas pool drink look cheap.  So be sure you are doing this because you want to and not because a blog broke down the insane value you could get for the umpteenth time, or because everyone in a Facebook group or your chat group is booking etc.

There, I have said my peace.  Hopefully I have offered a counter point that will have people step back and make sure the decision they are making is the best one for them.  I know many of us have fallen victim to miles and points hype trains in the past, myself included, but hopefully we can learn from our previous mistakes.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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35 COMMENTS

  1. There are plenty of good things about the Maldives, but here are some bad ones from my experience:
    – The monsoon season is increasing in length due to climate change. Be weary of any article that tells you it ends by November . . it’s more like January now.
    – The whale shark grounds on the southern end of Ari Atoll have been permanently impacted by the dredging and construction of the Villa airport. You can expect dozens of boats chasing the few whale sharks left
    – They are out of undeveloped islands. Most new construction relies on dredging the reefs to build artificial islands. Underwater reefs are being buried with dredged sand to create islands as well.
    – The coral was heavily bleached in 1998 and 2016. The reefs have not recovered
    – A large number of disenfranchised Maldivians joined ISIS years ago. Government corruption was rampant at the time. There is a risk of terrorist acts by repatriated ISIS fighters
    – Most of the major resorts are foreign owned, some by Saudi and Syrian firms with suspect financial ties. The lease money for many of these projects went to corrupt government officials and not the Maldivian citizens
    – The larges domestic airline, TMA, was allowed to buy out its competitors and become a legal monopoly. It’s owned by Bain Capital and little of the profits benefit Maldivians

  2. Forget Maldives and go to the Seychelles.

    There is no nature in the Maldives, the islands are mostly flat and the environmental destruction is rampant. The Seychelles have extensive parks,beaches and endemic species like the double coconut! Going to the Maldives is supporting a corrupt regime while the Seychelles Gives its people healthcare including helicopter rides off the island of their citizens need special care.

  3. Last fall, we bought a five night certificate fir a Hilton property in the Maldives for $999. Paid with Barclay Arrival card, already reimbursed.

    But.

    I’ve been trying to put together a decent flight package from MSP or even ORD without sitting in coach for far too long, or paying hundreds and hundreds of thousands of miles. So far without success, although now that we can fly through the EU, it may become easier.

    We bought the 5 nights because they’re good till December of 2022, and fully refundable.

    Shrug. We may end up getting a refund.

  4. I love getting a new perspective! Back in the beginning hobby days, I followed a ton more travel / points bloggers, but eventually most are so cookie cutter and saying the same thing or pushing on cc offers. I’m only down to your blog and two others. I really appreciate you sharing and offering different views. I must admit I went to check on availability for Maldives but in the end stopped myself. This confirmed my decision. Thank you 🙂

  5. As always, excellent point.
    Have been to most other “paradise” locations (Phuket, Bora Bora, Mediterranean, etc.)
    For me, as far a “bang for the point” or buck if you want, still, it is very hard to compete with the various destinations in Mexico (Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Mayan Riviera, San Miguel Allende, etc.)
    What happens if you are found to be COVID positive in the Maldives before your return to the USA?
    We cancelled our trip to Tahiti in March due to the uncertainty, and limited options for a “Plan B” in case we test positive.
    We are vaccinated, but the CDC seems to be at best ambiguous in just how we are truly covered by the vaccine. And there are those pesky false positive tests.
    From the ICD10 monitor:”COVID-19 PCR tests. So we reviewed 43 external quality assessments of PCR tests for other viruses similar to COVID-19, and found that half of these assessments produced false-positive rates between 0.8 and 4.0 percent, with a median value of 2.3 percent.”
    Just som thoughts.
    Thank you again Mark. Reasonable dissenting viewpoint. Facebook “fact checkers” would probably ding you. 🙂

    • Thanks Doc! I am in the same boat for international travel (hopefully sharing my thoughts on it this week) with international travel. I don’t think I’ll be participating until the return test is dropped because of that uncertainty and being stranded if hit with a false positive etc. The Maldives would probably be the worst possible place to have it happen because of the cost of having to stay 2 more weeks there.

  6. Don’t hold back Mark. Tell us how you really feel. . Ok, I got that out of my system. What you’ve made here is perhaps the most valid point of travel hacking. Anyone who goes anywhere just for a photo op is an idiot. There are plenty of tropical islands in this world with amazing beaches. If you were teleported to one of those beaches, not knowing which one, how would you know where you were? That’s right, you wouldn’t. The points and miles which could preserved by going to a more practical location would leave plenty of gas in the tank to go on three more fabulous trips or more! I’d never say this over at FMI, because they are really nice guys and they’ve helped me a lot, but come on! Let’s not through the baby out with the bath water.

    • I do think social media and peer pressure has changed the way we all travel sadly. So I always try to keep that top of mind for sure and focus on places I find interesting and that fit in with my travel goals / likes. My hope is that is what everyone else does as well. If the Maldives fall into that category then great, as long as it what YOU want.

  7. We went to the Maldives (Westin) in November of 2020 because it was one of the only places that was open. We did the Al Maha on the way back, it was by far a better destination, experience, and bang for the points redemption. When leaving the Al Maha I felt as we got away with robbery staying 5 five nights and only paying very little in cash. In the Maldives I felt that I was robbed even after paying with points for the stay then having to pay cash for everything that comes with getting to and enjoying the Maldives.

  8. I am with you, Mark. I will go to Bora Bora if I ever want the overwater villa. Also, as a side note, I also don’t like Disney World. You are also not alone on that one either.

    Thanks so much for doing your podcast. I love listening every week!

  9. Right about Bora Bora. If you are in La or SF, it is an easy trip to paradise. Hawaii is nothing in comparison to the beautiful waters of Bora Bora. The transfers from Tahiti to Bora Bora are expensive as well. Those on the east coast have a real difficult time getting to Bora Bora with all the stops. I can take my suitcase to jfk, lie flat on the plane, and be in Tokyo or Seoul. Life is so hard and stressful already. Why make it harder on vacation no less going out of the way. If you are in the UAE, the Maldives are doable. If you are not, it’s not worth the trouble until you are taking the round the world trip or will be nearby already.

  10. For West Coasters why travel 25+ hrs to the Maldives when you can have an exotic experience like that in French Polynesia (Moorea or Bora Bora) on points and only have an 8 hr. LAX-PPT flight. I like F/J cabins too …. but 20 hrs of extra flight time? No thanks!

    • That doesn’t surprise me but I bet a lot were speculative bookings too so may open up some in the future.

  11. omg I laugh when I read about people schlepping to the Maldives. They eat themselves sick at breakfast- while hiding food for later in their napkins. they skip lunch to save money, pull out the booze they packed b/c they can’t afford the resort bar prices, freak over the dinner prices, …should I continue?

  12. Minimum of 27 hours and at least 2 connections (each way!) to pay $400+ pp to get to a hotel where food & bev will then cost you more than a mortgage payment… That’s my idea of hell.

  13. I absolutely agree with you that there are still substantial costs to this “free” night, but at the same time, I really do think that as long as you like beaches, the Maldives is a bit of a ‘right of passage’ for points enthusiasts. I don’t remember which blogger it was that coined the term “Vendoming” a few years ago, but it holds true here as well – it is picture postcard perfect, but it is also aspirational to a point simply because of the ridiculous costs and all the IG influencers and travel bloggers/vloggers who say you ‘have to do it’.

    With that said, I’ve been in the hobby for about 20 years now, and still have not made it to the Maldives (or the PH Paris for that matter), but I will get there eventually. In fact I was thinking about it this year itself for the other issue that you mentioned – all the free night certs. I’m actually sitting on 3 of the Hyatt Cat 1-7 certs right now from Globalist qualification (and Covid related extensions). I honestly would never pay 30,000 Hyatt points per night for a hotel if there are other options that are cheaper, so this seems like it is almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to hit the PH Maldives without feeling guilty about spending 30k/night.

  14. I will never understand the hype. Like yourself Mark, this has never been a place that I’ve even considered regardless of how often points and miles bloggers bang the drum.

  15. Don’t forget that coral reefs take years to recover from the silt that’s stirred by construction traffic. Snorkeling won’t be on par with other more established resorts.

  16. This is a great post. The Frequent Miler podcast this past week talks in some detail about the air transfer costs at the various resorts. You should bring this up as well. I often see people on Facebook or reddit groups concerned about free breakfast benefits at Maldivian properties with obviously no clue about the resort fees and air transfer costs. Sadly this area is overhyped and not as safe as people might think. They had another terrorist attack there yesterday.

  17. Thanks for the well thought out view for those who may make the long trek from America. As we are Marriott peeps living in Dubai, the Maldives are much more accessible. At the risk of bragging, I won’t say how many times we have been there. Just back from a trip in April at the W Maldives. We always go on points, Marriott, IHG or Hilton. But the points only cover the room and depending on status, breakfast and an evening cocktail. Even with a room on points, this is no budget holiday. In any case, the Maldives is no doubt a beautiful location and the service level has always been top notch. Interesting to see the cat 5 assignment level for the Le Meridian. Closer inspection of the rooms show only some higher room categories with a private pool. Most, tho not all, Maldives properties have the private pools.
    The seaplane transfer, for me, is part of the trip. No bargain cost wise but I think it is a reasonable cost considering the size of the plane and location where they operate. Views out the window are killer.
    Not a blogger, influencer (tho we see them all over) or have a vested interest in the Maldives.
    Pre COVID I traveled extensively thru out Asia, ME, Africa, Russia, Baltic’s, Europe. I can honestly say the Maldives is one of my favorite places to visit.
    If you stop over in DXB, check out Al Maha, I consider this property “the Maldives “ of the desert.

    • That makes a difference for sure. Even if you are already traveling in the area and tack it on to the trip that makes it easier to swallow. I just wanted to make sure people aren’t booking a trip to the Maldives solely because they had FOMO on this deal.

  18. The Maldives on sale is like buying a Maserati for fifty grand instead of eighty: awesome for people that want a Maserati. Thanks for the dose of sanity in the Marriott Maldives madness frenzy.

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