Review: JW Marriott Maldives, Part 2: Resort Highlights Ricky August 5, 2020

Review: JW Marriott Maldives, Part 2: Resort Highlights

In the first installment of my review of the JW Marriott Maldives, I covered the process of booking my long-awaited stay at a Maldives overwater villa resort, the arrival experience (including the seaplane transfer), and the two overwater villas we were assigned over the course of our five-night stay: the Sunset Overwater Pool Villa and the Duplex Sunset Overwater Pool Villa.

In this post, let’s delve into the remainder of the JW Marriott Maldives experience. I’ll walk you through what it’s like to spend an “average day” at a resort like this, starting with…

In This Post

JW Marriott Maldives – Breakfast

Since both of our villas were Sunset Overwater Villas facing west, Jessy and I would roll out of bed in the mornings, don our bathrobes, craft a cup of Nespresso, and head out the front door to sit on the boardwalk as we watched the sunrise, the dim lilac hues of the sky slowly flickering to life over the expansive horizon. 

We knew we’d only have five of these magical sunrises to enjoy, so even in our mildly jet-lagged state, we did a great job of waking up in time to catch the sunrise on all five mornings.

Now, breakfast at the JW Marriott Maldives is served from 7am until 10am, but was it a good idea to head over as soon as breakfast opened?

JW Marriott Maldives – Aailaa restaurant

Of course not. You see, given the high cost of meals here at the JW Marriott Maldives, there was a fair bit of strategizing required to balance two objectives of equal importance: avoiding going hungry during our time at the resort, and avoiding burning a hole in my wallet with the exorbitant costs of lunch and dinner every single day.

The conventional wisdom, if you’re visiting a resort like this while hoping to remain cost-conscious, is to maximize the free breakfast benefit of your elite status to the fullest extent possible, indulging in a gargantuan feast for brunch every morning that will tide you over until dinner.

(Speaking of which, the “strategy” for dinner will vary from person to person as well, and we’ll discuss this in more detail in the next section.)

Therefore, Jessy and I would slot in our visit to the gym and a yoga session in the early-morning hours between 7am and 9am, and we’d only head over to breakfast at around 9:20am, which would give us enough time to fill up our table with at least two, if not three, rounds of food from the buffet before it closed, and slowly make our way through the feast until about 11:30am at the latest.

JW Marriott Maldives – Aailaa restaurant

Breakfast is hosted in the Aailaa restaurant, the resort’s all-day casual dining establishment situated right next to the welcome pavilion. The dining tables are spread out across a shaded area and an outdoor deck immediately next to the water’s edge; meanwhile, the buffet itself is split between the shaded area and an indoor buffet spread as well.

JW Marriott Maldives – Aailaa restaurant

Let’s take a look around, shall we? We’ll begin with the indoor section, where there are separate spreads for Asian, Western, Indian, and Maldivian delicacies.

Each of the stations offered rotating selections on a daily basis; for example, the highlight of the Asian spread was a noodle station, where we were treated to Singaporean chicken laksa, Thai tom yum soup, Japanese miso, and a savoury crab broth as the chef’s special across four different mornings.

JW Marriott Maldives – Asian noodle station

That was combined with a variety of meat and vegetable stir-fry, fried rice, and dim sums.

Over at the Western spreads, we were treated to the usual cold cuts, charcuterie, fried foods, and a custom-order egg station. At both the noodle and egg stations, the chefs were more than happy to take your order and then ask one of their associates to deliver it to your seat later, allowing you to pick freely from the buffet in the meantime.

JW Marriott Maldives – Made-to-order eggs

There was also a chilled bar for salad, fruits, and juices, and I was very impressed that you could order your own custom drinks and fruit plates even if they weren’t part of the buffet. For example, I asked for a plate of sliced fresh mango and a glass of mango juice on the first few mornings, and by the last morning, the staff members at the chilled bar were already proactively offering me “the usual?” as soon as they saw me walk in.

I was sure to grab a few items from the quartet of Indian delectables every morning as well. Meanwhile, the Maldivian spread was similar in taste, even if I found them a little less appetizing, most likely due to my unfamiliarity with these dishes.

Heading outside, we find a single counter dedicated to baked goods, from donuts to danishes and everything in-between. Needless to say, I wouldn’t even have gotten hungry by dinnertime if I allowed myself to truly indulge in this particular spread, but in the interest of my waistline, I restricted myself to a solitary pastry every morning. 

JW Marriott Maldives – Baked goods spread

Finally, there was a station for healthy treats, such has chia seed pudding and yogurt parfait, as well as decidedly less healthy treats such as pancakes, waffles, ice cream, sorbet, and a cereal selection with about a dozen different toppings.

One notable omission from the breakfast spread? It might be too much to ask for, but hey, the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli offers it: complimentary glasses of Prosecco. If there were some free-flowing bubbly here, that would’ve been the icing on the cake.

Overall, though, it was a spectacular breakfast spread that certainly made it very easy for us to load up on huge portions in the mornings and stay properly nourished until the evenings. The staff at breakfast were more than happy to help our cause as well, continually stopping by to see if they could top-up our coffee or bring us an extra helping of something.

JW Marriott Maldives – Eggs Benedict
JW Marriott Maldives – French toast soufflé
JW Marriott Maldives – Iced cappuccino

One last thing to talk about in terms of breakfast. You might’ve noticed that I mentioned we came to Aailaa for breakfast on four mornings, rather than five. That’s because I had convinced the hotel to throw in a complimentary round of floating breakfast, delivered straight to our villa, on the morning after my special occasion.

Pictures of people eating breakfast from a floating tray in their infinity pool are all over Instagram these days, and as someone who was mildly intrigued by this idea, I couldn’t help but give it a try. The published price for a floating breakfast at the JW Marriott Maldives is a staggering US$175 per couple (even for elite members!), and I certainly wouldn’t have been willing to pay that if I couldn’t ask for it to be thrown in as a freebie.

JW Marriott Maldives – Floating breakfast

How was the floating breakfast itself, you ask? Well, I must say that it was underwhelming in the extreme.

Even though we had ordered plenty of food, only a few plates would fit on the floating tray itself, and there was no possible way to eat bacon and hash browns from your swimming pool without getting your pool all oily, getting your bacon and hash browns all chlorinated, or both. I only took a few bites of the food before deciding to retreat to our poolside deck chairs and eating from there instead.

Lesson learned: a floating breakfast might make for a flashy Instagram pic, but there’s no need to actually try it in practice – it’s a pretty miserable time all around.

JW Marriott Maldives – Dining

Before discussing the dining “strategy” at a resort like this, I’ll first introduce you to the JW Marriott Maldives’s five fine-dining establishments:

  • Aailaa, the all-day casual dining establishment serving Western and international cuisine, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Shio, the seafood bar and steakhouse, open for dinner only
  • Hashi, serving fine Japanese cuisine, including sushi, teppanyaki, and omakase, open for dinner only
  • Kaashi, the Thai restaurant situated in a treehouse, open for lunch and dinner
  • Fiaama, the Italian restaurant serving pasta, pizza, and paninis, open for lunch and dinner
JW Marriott Maldives – Shio & Hashi

All of the resort’s menus (including the master wine list and the spa menu) are available at this Google Drive.

You can take a look through the menus to get a sense of the prices – if you can stomach it! They certainly do not take mercy on the wallet; in fact, the JW Marriott’s food and beverage costs far exceed those of the W and the Westin here in the Maldives, and are on par with (and occasionally exceed) the St. Regis Maldives too.

Don’t forget: on top of the high prices, 10% service charge and 12% GST is automatically added to your bill. Fortunately, to provide some measure of solace, the JW Marriott Maldives is part of Marriott’s Restaurants + Bars benefit in the Asia-Pacific, which gives a 20% discount on food and beverage costs as a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member or above.

It goes without saying that your dining experience at a resort like this will be highly dependent on the budget that you’ve set for the trip.

JW Marriott Maldives – Fiaama

If you’re a bigshot who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at paying US$30++ for a bowl of soup or US$65++ for a plate of Pad Thai, then by all means go ahead and sample all of the resort’s dining establishments one-by-one over the course of your stay.

On the other hand, if you’re a frugal traveller who’s scraped together enough hotel rewards points to redeem for a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to a place like this, but simply cannot justify dropping such fat stacks of cash on lunch and dinner every day, then it’d certainly be wise to pick up a few packs of instant noodles at your final port of call prior to arriving in Malé.

For most guests, I’d imagine the decision will fall somewhere in-between. Yes, the menu prices are exorbitant, reflecting the twin realities of the resort’s sky-high operating costs and the captive market that guests find themselves in (i.e., quite literally surrounded by an endless ocean on all sides). Even if you’ve accepted these exorbitant costs, it still might not feel great signing off on the bill at the end.

But then again, just look at your surroundings. Do you really want to be subsisting on snacks and instant noodles every single night, when you could treat yourselves to perhaps the most romantic of candlelit dinners underneath a gorgeous Maldivian sunset? Even the most frugal-minded of travellers, I dare say, would surely be seduced into splurging in a setting as stunning as this.

JW Marriott Maldives – Kaashi

In the end, my decision-making process was influenced by the special occasion that I had planned during our stay. We ended up eating at Aailaa the first evening, booking a private sunset dinner on the beach on the fourth evening, and enjoying a few bowls of gourmet instant ramen by the pool on the other three evenings.

If not for the private beach dinner – which ran me a cool US$325++ per person, for a total of US$650++ – then I certainly would’ve elected to try out two or three of the other dining establishments as well.

At Aailaa, we each ordered a main course for dinner: the chicken escalope for US$40++ and the wagyu beef burger for US$65++. I didn’t think these were too overpriced, all things considered, and the dishes were certainly quite tasty.

JW Marriott Maldives – Chicken escalope at Aailaa
JW Marriott Maldives – Wagyu beef burger at Aailaa

Meanwhile, having paid top dollar for our private beach dinner, I certainly had the highest of expectations for this meal – and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. But I’ll save this for a little later on in the article. 😉

On the whole, whether it was seafood or steak, Japanese or Italian, I don’t think any of the restaurants at the JW Marriott Maldives would’ve served up a meal that I couldn’t find elsewhere in the world at more reasonable prices, so I didn’t feel too enthusiastic about paying these particularly ruthless dinner prices.

However, I certainly hope to return to the Maldives’ resorts in a position to feel a lot more comfortable with these prices someday in the future.

JW Marriott Maldives – Pools & Beach

In addition to the private pool at every villa, the JW Marriott Maldives offers two public pools for guests’ enjoyment: the main pool, located close to Aailaa and Fiaama, and the adults-only infinity pool, known as Pool 18, perched at the very southern tip of the island.

The main pool is large enough for several families’ children to splash around, and is flanked by several cabanas lined up along either side.

However, the presence of frolicking children also makes it hard to properly relax by this pool, which is why Jessy and I mostly ventured over to the adults-only pool instead.

And my oh my, the Pool 18 is an absolute stunner in every way, and was easily our favourite part of the resort outside of our villas.

It instantly reminded me of the Horizon infinity pool back at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi – the kind of place where my worries simply can’t help but splash away along with the water over the infinity’s edge.

JW Marriott Maldives – Pool 18

The pool has plenty of room for swimming a few laps, although the real highlight was the shallow area at the very edge, where you could lie on your back or your belly, half-submerged in the water, immersed in the sights and sounds of the water cascading down into the ocean below.

Jessy and I must’ve easily spent three or four hours per day here at Pool 18, lounging by the poolside, going for a dip, and perfecting our tan. The staff would bring us complimentary bottled water and the occasional glass of juice or plate of fruits, as well, and the time would tick by in a state of total relaxation.

JW Marriott Maldives – Poolside amenities

Yes, we had a private pool and direct access to the ocean back at our villa as well, but I can confidently say that this infinity pool – especially given the fact that we only ever saw one or two other couples at the pool at any given moment – was no less worthy of our time.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the JW Marriott Maldives also boasts a small stretch of beach on the western side of the island. However, with all the other modes of relaxation available at our disposal, there wasn’t much of a reason to use the beach – especially as it was frequently occupied by residents of the Beach Villas, those poor souls with no direct ocean access. 😉

JW Marriott Maldives – Beach

JW Marriott Maldives – Gym & Yoga Pavilion

Amidst all the eating, drinking, and simply languishing by the water, Jessy and I aimed to get at least a little bit of exercise every day to balance everything out.

As you might imagine, the JW Marriott Maldives’s fitness centre turned out to be one of the most unique gyms where I’ve been able to enjoy a workout.

JW Marriott Maldives – Gym and yoga pavilion

The gym is housed in a single structure with glass walls, accessed via a gorgeous path of stone tiles followed by a wooden bridge, leading to the elevated platform perched atop the ocean off the northeastern corner of the island.

JW Marriott Maldives – Fitness centre
JW Marriott Maldives – Fitness centre

A swipe of the room key grants you access to the fully air-conditioned gym. While the gym’s aesthetics were very impressive – check out those full-length mirrors leaning so casually against the walls, just like in the overwater villas themselves – its equipment was perhaps more limited, as there were only a handful of treadmills and exercise benches scattered around the space.

However, the spectacular views from the gym were undeniable, and I must say that there are very few things more motivational than the sight of the infinite open ocean when you’re sprinting on the treadmill.

As I was finishing my workout on the first day, I was approached by Diana, the exercise director, who introduced me to the resort’s schedule of daily complimentary exercises.

Many of these sessions, such as the morning yoga or the HIIT training, would take place at the Yoga Pavilion, situated immediately next to the gym. Following a second set of stone tiles followed by another wooden bridge, you’d arrive at a large, circular elevated platform with no railings to protect against the waves of the ocean below – a spot in which it’d be impossible not to feel invigorated for your exercise.

Over the next five days, Jessy and I would drop in to the yoga, meditation, boot camp, and HIIT sessions at every opportunity. Diana led a few soothing sessions of sunrise yoga, as well as a few merciless rounds of HIIT – but it’d all be worthwhile when we retreated to our villa and jumped into the pool right afterwards!

JW Marriott Maldives – Spa

Even though I’m not a big fan of spa treatments myself, Jessy was tempted by our lavish surroundings to take a look at the spa menu and treat herself to a massage, even though we knew it’d be a pricey one. But hey, who was I to say no?

JW Marriott Maldives – Spa by JW

After breakfast on our second day at the resort, we dropped by the Spa by JW – located in the same “fitness complex” as the gym and Yoga Pavilion – to book her spa treatment. The friendly Russian staff member working there slotted her in for a one-hour massage at 12pm, priced at a cool US$150++.

At least we’d receive an unexpected Titanium Elite benefit here: to reward us for our elite status, Jessy would be treated to a complimentary extra 15 minutes of hot-stone massage as well.

I asked Jessy to take a few pictures of the Spa by JW as she went about her indulgent experience. She mentions that she was first greeted with a complimentary welcome drink…

JW Marriott Maldives – Spa by JW complimentary drink

…and was then invited to unwind in the sauna facilities…

JW Marriott Maldives – Spa by JW sauna

…after which she proceeded to the treatment room (which offers, you guessed it, sweeping ocean views) for her massage.

JW Marriott Maldives – Spa by JW treatment rooms
JW Marriott Maldives – Spa by JW treatment rooms

And after the treatment, she was allowed to relax for a little bit further with some tea and complimentary snacks, before making her way back to the villa.

JW Marriott Maldives – Spa by JW snacks and tea

Even though the price was high, Jessy was satisfied with her spa experience and felt that it was sufficiently cleansing and revitalizing. To be fair, we’ve never shelled out for spa treatments when staying at hotels, so if any resort spa would be a fitting first-time candidate, this was it.

JW Marriott Maldives – Activities

In addition to the pools, gym, and spa, the JW Marriott Maldives also offers a few complimentary activities for guests to pass the time. Given the state of the pricing for everything else on the resort, I wouldn’t have put it past them to charge an arm and a leg for kayaks and paddle boards as well, so it was refreshing to see that these could be rented free of charge from the activities hut.

JW Marriott Maldives – Activities hut

Guests are allowed to kayak and paddle-board within the resort’s lagoon – just make sure you steer well clear of the seaplane as it comes and goes!

Snorkelling gear is also available on a complimentary basis, and can be brought over to your villa for the duration of your stay. However, if you needed life jackets, they would be US$10 per person per day.

Outside of water activities, the resort’s on-site photographer is also pleased to offer every couple a complimentary photoshoot, with one free photo at the end. I’d recommend making your booking well in advance if you want a photoshoot during the most popular hours of sunrise and sunset.

A variety of paid activities are also available (such as a big-fishing boat ride or renting a jet ski), but we didn’t feel the need to try them out. I did inquire about the prices for jet ski rental, and was told that it would be US$99++ for a 15-minute rental or US$299++ for a one-hour rental. Yikes!

JW Marriott Maldives – Jet ski rentals

JW Marriott Maldives – Other Facilities

Let’s go over a few of the resort’s other facilities that we haven’t covered yet.

The welcome pavilion, a beautiful structure in the middle of the lagoon, serves as the resort’s port of entry and exit. After being greeted upon arrival, most guests would link up with their butler and complete check-in within the comfort of their villa; however, there is an actual front desk as well, housed in an air-conditioned glass room near the resort’s main building, should you need to take care of any formalities throughout your stay.

JW Marriott Maldives – Welcome pavilion
JW Marriott Maldives – Front desk

Opposite this, there’s a second air-conditioned glass facility that acts as the library, which also had a few iMac computers for guests to use. We didn’t spend too much time here, but did enjoy popping in for a while after breakfast to enjoy the ambience and flip through a few of the library’s coffee-table books.

JW Marriott Maldives – Library
JW Marriott Maldives – Library

The Aailaa restaurant has a dramatic-looking wine bar hidden inside, boasting a selection of over 100 vintages from all over the world. If you were so inclined, I could see this space being the setting for a very memorable wine-tasting session to add another dimension to your stay.

JW Marriott Maldives – Wine bar

The resort has an adults-only lounge, known as Lounge 18, which was unfinished at the time we visited. When it’s complete (it’s my understanding that there will be a cigar room as well), it seems like it’ll be a fine space for unwinding with some foosball, board games, television, and karaoke, as well as an outdoor wading pool to watch the sunset with some cigars in hand.

JW Marriott Maldives – Lounge 18

Finally, the resort offers a Little Griffin Kids’ Club (named after the JW Marriott’s griffin logo), where you can drop-off your kids for supervised play while you and your partner go for a nice meal or some alone-time. It seemed like there was plenty to keep your little ones entertained, including its own wading pool and a playground designed to look like a ship!

JW Marriott Maldives – Little Griffin Kids’ Club
JW Marriott Maldives – Little Griffin Kids’ Club

JW Marriott Maldives – Service

To sum it up, the service at the JW Marriott Maldives was exceptional in every way.

Sajja, our designated butler for the duration of our stay, was our main point of contact. He offered me his WhatsApp number as soon as we checked in, inviting us to text or call for anything we needed. Like clockwork, he and his team would then show up very promptly to whatever it was.

JW Marriott Maldives – Resort

If we had a request for a buggy, Sajja would be on our doorstep within five minutes’ time, ready to whisk us away to Pool 18 at the opposite end of the resort. In fact, Sajja was arguably too eager to whisk us around on his buggy, as he’d always persuade us to call him for a ride – even if we preferred to walk around the resort whenever possible, just so we could get some steps in!

When we had encountered a minor issue with our villa, such as the persistent black flies buzzing around our deck on the first day, Sajja promptly showed up with his team to address the problem and apologize for the inconvenience.

And even when he had no real obligation to help, he was always at the ready to do so. For example, I had accidentally spilled tea on Jessy’s laptop one day, and frantically called Sajja to ask the rather outlandish question of whether I could borrow a tub of dry rice to absorb the moisture. No worries, he said, and not only did he arrive with a bag of rice in hand, but he and his staff member proactively wrapped the laptop and rice in several layers of cling-wrap.

JW Marriott Maldives – Resort

Sajja was a friendly presence, an astute problem-solver, and an ever-present spiritual guide of sorts to a JW Marriott Maldives experience that had more than a touch of magic about it. Jessy and I soon grew very fond of him, even feeling a few pangs of jealousy whenever we saw Sajja helping out other guests!

Of course, Sajja’s biggest contribution would be his role in helping me with…

JW Marriott Maldives – The Proposal

At long last, allow me to devote a few words to the lifelong memory of proposing to my girlfriend-turned-fiancée, Jessy, on the fourth night of our stay here at the JW Marriott Maldives.

I had been in close contact with the resort to arrange many elements of this proposal, including:

  • The pre-arranged upgrade to the Duplex Sunset Overwater Villa (for an upgrade fee of US$500++ per night, which I was not billed for in the end)
  • The private prix-fixe dinner on the beach for US$650++
  • A bouquet of 60 red roses for US$250++
  • A bottle of champagne with chocolate-dipped strawberries for US$250++

As I mentioned in the last installment, Sajja quietly confirmed these elements with me during the in-room check-in.

However, I also had one very unique request in my mind: after our beach dinner, I had wanted the resort to bring us onto a private boat and transport us across the lagoon towards our newly-upgraded villa, where we would ascend onto the villa’s deck and I’d complete my proposal under the sunset.

In the end, this was not to be: partway through my stay, the onsite manager and Food & Beverage Director, Amit, called me to the Aailaa’s wine bar for a meeting of the minds. He let me know that the resort had tried everything they could to make this happen – including taking their boat for a test ride in the lagoon themselves – but there was simply no safe way to dock the boat against the overwater villa and ensure that we could make our way up to the deck. And if an accident were to occur along the process of disembarking from the boat, that would put a real damper on the occasion to say the least.

I fully understood Amit’s position and was appreciative of all their efforts to make it happen. In the end, I agreed that it’d be enough for Sajja to transport us to our new villa onboard the buggy, and for a few resort employees to be stationed along the entrance to the villa while performing the celebratory Maldivian drum song.

Then, it was all about the big day itself. In the afternoon, I told Jessy I was going to the library to “print something”, before joining Sajja to scope out the new villa. I left the ring in his possession, to be placed on the table alongside the bouquet and decorations, and also gave him my camera so that he could document the occasion.

At 6pm, it was time for our “dinner reservation at the seafood restaurant”. I think Jessy had some inkling of what was going on, but she certainly didn’t expect it when Sajja drove us through a wooded grove and onto the beach, letting us know that this was a “secret path” to the restaurant. We took a few steps down that path, and arrived at the stunning private beachside dining table that the resort had set up for us.

JW Marriott Maldives – Private beach dinner
JW Marriott Maldives – Private beach dinner

Across all of the luxury resorts we’ve visited so far, Jessy and I have always talked about shelling out for one of these special romantic dinner packages one day. This was certainly a fitting occasion to make  good on that promise.

Dinner would begin with a spearing of the house champagne, performed by the lone server who’d be taking care of us tonight.

The appetizer course would follow with one of Jessy’s and my all-time favourite indulgences: a massive chilled seafood plate, spanning oysters, mussels, fish, jumbo prawns, and king crab.

JW Marriott Maldives – Private beach dinner appetizer

After polishing this off, the main course would arrive in the form of an even bigger shared plate: grilled lobster, fish, chicken, lamb shanks, and potatoes and vegetables. Jessy and I couldn’t finish everything, so we asked for half of the plate to be packaged and delivered to our villa later on, and our server was more than happy to oblige. 

JW Marriott Maldives – Private beach dinner main course

Dessert was a lemongrass panna cotta; by then, I’ll admit that I was getting quite antsy about the main event that was to come, and frankly don’t remember all too much about finishing the dessert.

JW Marriott Maldives – Private beach dinner dessert

As we sipped our champagne and tucked into the many delicacies on our table, Jessy and I spent every moment soaking in the million-dollar views of the spellbinding sunset in front of our eyes.

And as the orange skies turned to pink at the conclusion of our meal, we walked to the shoreline and paused for another moment to absorb these views and commit them to memory, before I gave Jessy’s hand a squeeze and said, “Come on, Sajja’s waiting for us.”

Jessy may have been forgiven for feeling a little disappointed that we’d be returning to our villa so soon…

…but those feelings evaporated as Sajja zoomed past Villa 133, our old living quarters, and told Jessy that there was a “special sunset view” further along the boardwalk.

We pulled up at Villa 153, where a large group of resort staff had gathered with their Maldivian drum song, and everything is a little hazy after this point.

JW Marriott Maldives – Villa decorations

I remember unlocking the villa’s door to reveal an entire floor covered in rose petals, as I guided Jessy past the king bed (where Sajja had prepared some even more intricate flower decorations) and towards the balcony – where it was time to get the job done.

JW Marriott Maldives – Proposal decoration

Sajja followed a short distance behind us, dutifully taking up his role as cameraman as I launched into my spiel, as Jessy began jumping for joy, as I got on one knee and slipped the ring on her finger. There, under the magenta skies and against the gentle lapping waves – a moment of magic.

Sajja, my friend, if you’re reading this – thank you!

JW Marriott Maldives – Departure

Jessy and I spent our final day at the resort paying tribute to some of our favourite spots: breakfast at Aailaa, a dip in Pool 18, a dip in our private pool, and a dip in the ocean. We also strolled around the resort with Jessy’s bouquet of roses in hand, taking some photos of the happy fiancée.

A happy fiancée
A happy fiancée

At around 2:30pm, Sajja came to collect us for our 3:15pm seaplane departure. It was no doubt a bittersweet moment as we said goodbye to an overwater villa that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

Since I had US$200 in cash left in my wallet at this point, and felt that Sajja deserved all of it, I left it in an envelope and handed it to him just before we boarded the seaplane.

I was stunned to see that the resort’s senior staff had all gathered at the dock to wave us goodbye – a fitting last act of memorable and exemplary service to bring our stay to a close as we jetted off back to Malé International Airport for our onward flight back home.

JW Marriott Maldives – Departure
JW Marriott Maldives – Departure

Conclusion

I could tell you that the JW Marriott Maldives was the single best luxury hotel stay that I’ve ever experienced, but that wouldn’t quite be doing it justice. For one of my most highly-anticipated trips across all my travels, and indeed one of the most significant occasions of my life, the JW Marriott Maldives performed to perfection in almost every single way.

A stay at the JW Marriott Maldives transports you to another world: a sanctuary surrounded by endless blue, where all of your earthly burdens are washed away by the ocean’s waves. And between not one, but two stunning overwater villas, a dazzling breakfast spread, an exceedingly luxurious Pool 18 infinity pool, and a comprehensive and visually striking gym and spa complex, there was no shortage of ways to occupy ourselves for five days on the resort, and we would’ve gladly stayed for five days more.

A special mention goes out to the world-class service provided by our butler, Sajja, and especially his assistance in helping me with my proposal – I certainly couldn’t have pulled it off without him. Inspired by its competitor the St. Regis, butler service is something that will truly add another touch of luxury to your stay at the JW Marriott Maldives and leave you in good hands for anything you require, especially if you happen to get Sajja as your butler.

As I mentioned, I’ll follow-up this review with a future post on whether I think a trip to the Maldives using your hotel rewards points is “worth it”. For me personally, I can say with certainty that even though the final bill might’ve left a tear in my eye, I had absolutely no regrets about going to the Maldives, and I’m itching to do it all again at one of the Maldives’ many other resorts in the future – or perhaps even a return to the JW Marriott a few decades from now to recapture our special experience of March 2020.

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10 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Patricia

    Congratulations, best wishes and happiness always!!

  2. Avatar
    Jay

    Congratulations to both of you!
    Great article and in details. Love the floating breakfast part. It’s not that practical for us either. Just the experience. I prefer to get the bacons at the buffet lol

  3. Avatar
    Oz

    What a great story. So anyone who needs to get engaged has to step up their game, and to anyone already married like me – I have to make up for it. Gee thanks a lot “Prince of Proposals”.

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      I promise you that was not my intention. 🙂

  4. Avatar
    Jason

    The Restaurant + Bar benefit shows as 30% on the link you put in the review. Was it only 20% when you went? Maybe you can recoup some cash!!

    1. Ricky
      Ricky

      I believe it’s been bumped up to 30% temporarily due to COVID. Normally it’s 20%.

  5. Avatar
    Wrubel

    Thanks for sharing your great memories with us. All the best in the future.

    1. Avatar
      Fernand

      I read both parts with great interest. It was well written and interesting. I’m glad you are planning a « is it worth it ? » follow-up. The truth is, there are very significant fees / spends to make even though you used many Bonvoy points. While I’m sure it was fantastic there, the costs seem prohibitive to many (most ?)…

      1. Avatar
        Andrew

        I was able to book a 7 night trip in Hawaii and 6 nights in Bora Bora for my family, spending around what I would have paid for just an average week in Hawaii with miles and points. Miles and points helped to subsidize the flights and accomodations, allowing me to spend more money at the destination, including food, upgrades and transportation, without breaking the bank.

        While this strategy might not be for everyone, I’m thankful to miles and points for giving me this opportunity. Spending a week at a luxury resort in Hawaii followed by time in Bora Bora (in an overwater villa to boot) is something many people only dream of. I’ve come to see miles and points not so much for “free” travel but for heavily subsidized travel.

        With that, I’m generally not going to lose sleep over minor details or negotiate to all heck, annual fees, taxes and fees, surcharges, etc. are just part of the overall cost and I can travel a lot better / more often than if I didn’t have miles and points.

      2. Ricky
        Ricky

        Thanks Fernand. Yes, there’s a fair bit to think about when considering visiting a resort like this. I think ultimately it boils down to what you want out of your points – and out of life!

Ricky

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