Review: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Length of Stay
3 nights
Room Type
Two Queen Reef Villa
Elite Status
Hilton Diamond
Date
May 2022
Rating

For my second trip to the Maldives, I’d be splitting my time between two resorts: the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi and the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli. Our six-night stay in the Maldives consisted of three nights at each property. 

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is widely considered the pinnacle of aspirational redemptions with Hilton Honors points. The property looked exceptionally luxurious from the outset, so I was beyond keen to finally give it a try myself.

In This Post

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Booking

As one of the most aspirational resorts in the world bookable with hotel rewards points, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives costs a whopping 150,000 Hilton Honors points per night – one of the most expensive properties under Hilton Honors.

To maximize value, you can book this hotel for four nights using points and get the fifth night free. A five-night stay would therefore cost you 600,000 points, equivalent to 120,000 points per night.

On the other hand, you can also redeem Hilton Free Night Rewards for a stay here, as long as there is standard room availability that’s otherwise book with points. 

Arguably, this is the best deal for staying at this property, as Free Night Rewards are uncapped in terms of how many points they can replace, and redeeming these certificates for a stay that would otherwise cost 150,000 Hilton Honors points per night is certainly a fantastic use. 

However, the major challenge with both avenues of booking the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is that the standard room availability is extremely rare to come by – most often, when you check, you won’t find any available rooms at all. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Reef Villa aerial view

Finding a standard room requires booking far in advance and getting somewhat lucky with the timing by checking the reservations page repeatedly.

Nevertheless, with enough dedication, it’s indeed possible to snag a booking here at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives on points. I was able to lock in a five-night reservation for May 2022, one year in advance in May 2021.

After finalizing my travel schedule, I ended up reducing this five-night booking to a three-night stay, with all three nights covered by Hilton Free Night Rewards at a spectacular value.

Despite all the effort that was required to book a stay here on points, I could already tell it would all be worthwhile as I stepped off Qatar Airways 777 First Class in Malé and met our airport butler.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht Transfer

The Waldorf Astoria Maldives offers a yacht transfer instead of the traditional seaplane due to the island’s relative proximity to Malé. It’s a 45-minute journey on the yacht, and indeed, the yacht transfer is one of the true highlights of staying at the resort.

It doesn’t, however, come cheap. There’s a mandatory transfer fee of US$730 plus taxes and service charges, which works out to US$900 per person round-trip in total. Visiting as a couple, we therefore spent US$1,800 on the yacht transfer alone. 

It’s certainly quite a barrier to entry for staying at this resort, but if you’re coming to the Maldives as a once-in-a-lifetime getaway, it’s a price worth paying for a truly special experience.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht dock

We had around a 30-minute wait at the dock for the yacht to arrive. Unlike the seaplanes, the yacht schedule is very flexible.

Essentially, the yacht will be available to pick you up at any arrival or departure time, including at night, unlike other resorts where the daytime-only seaplane schedules mean that you’ll have to spend a night in Malé if you’re arriving in the evening.

Depending on other guests’ schedules, you might be sharing the yacht with other passengers, or you might have it all to yourself. In our case, there was one other couple on the outbound journey, while we had the vessel to ourselves on the inbound.

As soon as the yacht arrives at the dock, it exudes opulence with its sleek white modern exterior, black tinted windows, and the Waldorf Astoria logo emblazoned beautifully on the side of the bow.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Arriving yacht
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht

As you step onboard, you’re welcomed into the interior cabin. You have the option of sitting on the outside deck, the upper deck, the bow, or the stern of the yacht.

The outdoor decks are equipped with smooth leather seating, with plenty of cup holders dotted around for drinks.

Generally speaking, if it’s going to be windy or stormy, then the crew will recommend staying off of the upper deck or the bow, which happened to be the case on our journey. Our visit was in May, the transition time between the dry and wet seasons, so we quickly checked out the decks but spent most of our time indoors. 

As part of the journey, you’re offered complimentary snacks, coffee, still or sparkling water, or even Veuve Clicquot Champagne. If you opt for Champagne, they’ll open a fresh bottle, popping the cork right off the edge of the boat, and pour you a couple of glasses for a truly lavish journey across the water. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht transfer Veuve Clicquot Champagne

In our case, we had already indulged in quite a bit of Krug 2004 after coming off of our Qatar Airways First Class flight, so we opted for just one glass of Veuve on the way in. However, on the return journey, we certainly helped ourselves to quite a few more glasses. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht transfer complimentary Champagne
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht upper deck

As you begin exploring the interiors, you’ll notice a modern but classic elegance in the decor. The yacht interiors have a soft palette of creams and whites, along with sleek upholstered leather seats, decorative wood panelling, and a cushy plush carpet below your feet.

(Note that the resort has quite a few different vessels in its fleet, so the yacht we rode on isn’t necessarily the one you’ll get to experience during your stay. However, the boats are all made by Princess Yachts, so I’d expect the same standard of luxury no matter which one you get.)

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht interior seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht interior seating

Immediately as you walk inside, to the left is a small kitchenette and fridge. Further inside is a small dining nook with seating to the left, while leather couches line the right side of the yacht.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht kitchenette
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht dining nook
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht dining nook

Continuing through the yacht, you’ll reach a set of stairs, which lead to the bedrooms on the lower level.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht staircase

These bedrooms are very much one of the highlights of the yacht experience. On this particular vessel, there were two bedrooms: a larger room and a smaller room. Meanwhile, the largest yacht in the Waldorf Astoria’s fleet has three bedrooms onboard.

The bedroom is fitted with a queen-sized bed, fresh sheets, a private bathroom, and dark wood panelling adorning the room. There’s another small dining area in the bedroom, and two large windows on either side offer stunning views of the Indian Ocean.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht bedroom
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht bedroom dresser & window
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht bedroom dining nook

The bathroom is also immaculate, with a round vessel sink sitting atop a beautiful marble countertop. The mirror spans the back of the vanity, and to the right is a shower.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht bathroom
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht bathroom shower
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht bathroom shower

Naturally, I couldn’t resist showering on the yacht, and I certainly appreciated the unique experience having already showered on land and on a plane before. 

After showering, we were free to relax on the bed and marvel at our surroundings for the remainder of the 45-minute journey.

I found it absolutely crazy to be lying on this bed here in the middle of the ocean – but what was about to be crazier was the actual resort itself.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yacht view

We were greeted by the entire welcome committee as pulled into the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, catching our first glances of the dream-like Ithaafushi Island.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – View of resort from yacht

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Check-in

As we arrived, members of the welcome committee handed us a welcome drink and gave us a quick introduction to the resort. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Arrival jetty

We were introduced to our associate for the stay, Zinger, and she would be our point of contact. The service here is akin to, but perhaps slightly less involved than, the butler service at the St. Regis or JW Marriott in the Maldives.

We were escorted down the jetty, through the welcome pavilion, and then onto a buggy. Zinger drove us around the island for a few minutes and gave us a brief tour of the key locations and attractions.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Welcome pavilion
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Welcome pavilion

We then headed to Room 510, a Two Queen Reef Villa, my excitement brewing under the surface to explore our luxurious living quarters for the next three nights. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa

Ideally, we would’ve of course preferred a room with a king-sized bed; however, the Two Queen Reef Villa was the only available base-level room that was bookable on points at the time.

Going back to the scarce award availability at this resort, I had snapped up whatever I could get, and a room with queen beds was certainly better than no room at all.

The Reef Villas here at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives are fairly unique, and can be thought of as a hybrid between Overwater and Beach Villas. These room types have an entrance on land, while the outdoor deck and pool hover over the crystal-clear Indian Ocean.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Room 510 entrance

For all intents and purposes, the Reef Villas are very similar to an overwater villa experience in the Maldives, and you can’t tell the difference at all when you’re relaxing on your deck. The only exception is that you don’t access the villa from an overwater jetty. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa layout

All of the Reef, Overwater, and Beach Villa room types are further divided into regular villas and “Grand” villas, with the primary difference being that the Grand villas have an additional seating area. 

Given the high occupancy at the resort during this busy travel season, there was no complimentary upgrade forthcoming even as a Hilton Diamond member. We had been offered a paid upgrade to an Overwater Grand Villa for an additional US$1,500 per night, but we felt our regular Reef Villa was sufficient. 

At 3,077 square feet, the Two Queen Reef Villa is extremely spacious, with a substantial amount of this space dedicated to the spectacular outdoor patio overlooking the Indian Ocean. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa front door
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa interior

The room features two queen-sized beds, an equally spacious bathroom, an infinity pool, and plenty of seating areas dotted around.

The interior design is soft, drawing upon a palette of taupes and whites. Marble-clad and solid wood elements bring about a contemporary feel, while still blending with the natural environment of the Maldives.

The primary living space has an open concept with high ceilings. The two queen beds look out through a series of large floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, boasting spectacular views of the lagoon.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa interior

The beds are flanked by modern wooden floating shelves, while at the foot of each bed are stylish benches.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa beds
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa beds

To the left of the beds is a desk doubling as a vanity, with a large mirror and a smaller beauty mirror. Although visually appealing, the vanity and desk combo wasn’t exactly the most comfortable for working, and I actually preferred to work from the outdoor table instead. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa vanity desk
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa vanity desk

Just in front of the windows, two wicker chairs also overlook the ocean, along with two side tables sitting between the chairs. Each table featured a welcome amenity upon arrival in recognition of my Hilton Diamond status: a bottle of wine and a fruit arrangement.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa wicker chairs
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Welcome gifts
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Welcome gifts

The complimentary bottle of wine was a much-appreciated touch, given the marked-up cost of purchasing liquor at the resort otherwise.

The room features a large flat-screen TV, perched in the corner and out of the way of the spectacular ocean views.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa television

Near the entrance of the villa, a well-stocked minibar is housed within a baby-blue cabinet, reflecting the colour of the ocean outside. A few bottles of “house water” were placed here on a complimentary basis, in addition to a very advanced espresso machine and a wide range of capsules.

The soft drinks, liquor, still or sparkling water, and snacks would be chargeable at an extra cost.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa minibar

Between the bedroom and the bathroom, you’ll find a large walk-through closet – a very welcoming space with ample room to store your luggage and garments.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa walk-through closet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa luggage rack & closet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa storage unit

The bathroom itself is indeed laden with luxury, featuring an impressive indoor shower that also gives way to an outdoor shower nestled in the foliage. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa bathroom
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa indoor shower
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor shower

Behind frosted doors, next to the shower, you’ll find a Japanese-style smart toilet with a bidet. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa toilet with bidet

The bathroom vanity was impressive, with two long, full-length mirrors and stunning herringbone mosaic tiling on the wall behind. The two decorative brass vessel sinks really popped against the accent wall.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa bathroom vanity

In the middle of the bathroom was a marble-top bench, and facing the windows, an oversized stone bathtub that was beyond remarkable in its size and design.

With so many swimming pools at the resort to take a dip in, and of course our outdoor pool on the deck, we didn’t get a chance to use the tub until our final night at the resort, when we decided to go for a soak in the bathtub just for the sake of it.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa bathroom
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa bathtub

Lastly, the Waldorf Astoria offered luxurious Aesop toiletries, which were stocked within the shower, at the vanity, and next to the soaker tub.

The outdoor space is undoubtedly the highlight. The space is accessible through any of the sliding glass doors in the bedroom or restroom, or simply by walking around the corner from the front entrance. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor deck
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor deck
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor deck

The area features a truly gargantuan private infinity pool, almost spanning the full length of the deck. Equally as impressive are the many varied types of seating dotted around the patio.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor infinity pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor infinity pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor deck

Housed under a canopy near the garden side of the villa are a swing chair, two armchairs, and a small two-person dining area. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa canopy seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa canopy seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa two-person dining area

On the opposite end of the deck is a hanging two-person daybed.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa outdoor daybed

There are two lounge chairs sitting half-submerged in the pool, and two more on the deck facing out towards the ocean. Furthermore, two hammocks hang over the water at the edge of the deck, where you can lie with the ocean beneath you.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa in-pool lounge chairs
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa lounge chairs & hammocks
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa lounge chairs & hammock

Lastly, there was a four-person outdoor dining table situated closest to the villa. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa four-person outdoor dining table

At each villa, there are steps which lead down to the ocean itself, which is always a highlight out here in the Maldives.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa ladder to Indian Ocean
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa view from water

The space was truly astonishing, making this villa easily the most impressive hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. The sheer size of the outdoor pool, along with the true infinity edge pool splashing directly into the ocean, was by far the highlight of the villa itself. 

We spent countless hours here relaxing, taking a dip, and splashing in the water. Even compared to our last Maldives experience at the JW Marriott, as special as it was, we were in agreement that this outdoor deck and pool experience was superior on many levels. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa aerial view

The space was equally as inviting at night, when the illuminated pool stood out amongst the darkness.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa deck at night

We couldn’t help but spend most of our time at the resort just relaxing and enjoying the impressive space all around us, and I could scarcely believe that even the base-level rooms here at the resort were so luxurious. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Two Queen Reef Villa aerial view

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Resort Layout

Each villa here at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is equipped with two sets of bicycles parked outside.

Bikes are the primary mode of transportation around the island for guests; however, you can always call a buggy if need be.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Bicycles

The resort is fairly spread out and also quite large by Maldives standards. As a man-made island, there’s a single main trail that spans all the way from one end of the resort to the other, and you’ll find all of the restaurants, pool facilities, activities, spa, and villas dotted along this main path.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Resort aerial view

To give a sense of just how large the island is, it would take around 10–15 minutes to ride your bike all the way across. 

Our villa, Room 510, was relatively close to the main resort features like the Tasting Table breakfast restaurant, the Peacock Alley happy hour bar, and also many of the other dining venues.

Meanwhile, if you’re staying in one of the overwater villas all the way down the “curve” at the end of the resort, you may face a longer bike ride or walk down to the main facilities in the morning.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Overwater villa jetty
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Overwater villa

At the opposite end of the main path of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi are some of the resort’s most spectacular accommodations, including the two Stella Maris Ocean Villas. These overwater villas are completely isolated in the middle of the ocean and only accessible by boat. 

Further beyond that, the Waldorf Astoria has a private island for rent, featuring a three-bedroom beach villa, a two-bedroom overwater villa, a four-bedroom residence, five pools, and a private entertainment clubhouse – all for a cool US$80,000 per night. 😉

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Breakfast

Breakfast at the resort is included for both Hilton Gold and Hilton Diamond members. Hilton Gold status is easily attainable with the American Express Platinum Card, and it’s certainly something you’ll want to leverage if you’re staying here at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives.

Breakfast is hosted at the Tasting Table, the resort’s all-day dining restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating, from 6:30–10:30am. The outdoor seating is rather pleasant in the mornings when it’s not too sunny; otherwise, it does get quite hot. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Tasting Table entrance
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Tasting Table indoor seating

During the changing of the seasons in May, there were some flash storms on a few mornings, so the people sitting outside had to move inside. We had sat outside on the first day, and it was thankfully quite peaceful and relaxing.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Tasting Table outdoor seating

In terms of breakfast selection, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives undeniably lives up to what your expectations would be for a luxury resort here in the Maldives, offering a downright dizzying selection of buffet and à la carte items.

The selection ranges from Indian and Maldivian items to Asian-inspired dim sum, rice, and an entire noodle bar, where naturally, I helped myself to at least two bowls of noodles every morning.

The noodle bar features three different types of noodles and two different types of soup stock each morning – a vegetable stock and a meat stock which rotates between chicken, beef, and fish.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Noodle bar

Of course, there were also the Western classics, including a wide variety of fresh pastries, juices, cold cuts, salads, charcuterie, and the usual hot items.

Some Middle Eastern items consisted of shakshouka and umm ali, along with a series of dips and spreads.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Middle Eastern breakfast buffet
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Middle Eastern breakfast buffet

From the à la carte menu, you can choose from a wide range of chef creations, from waffles and pancakes to Eggs Benedict and omelettes.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – À la carte waffles

Furthermore, almost any drink or caffeinated drink you could imagine is available as a hand-crafted beverage from the espresso bar.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Coffee bar

Even better, free-flowing mimosas were available with Taittinger Champagne, plus a choice of orange juice and watermelon juice. Needless to say, we left our table with a nice buzz every morning after downing a few glasses of these each. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Mimosa

We helped ourselves to huge portions of breakfast every morning, as we’d then no longer need to eat lunch and could head straight to dinner in the evenings.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Breakfast spread
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Breakfast spread

On our last morning, the breakfast committee prepared a special stack of birthday pancakes, which I greatly appreciated and certainly brought the breakfast experience to a very pleasant conclusion across our three-day stay.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Birthday pancakes

I spoke to the executive chef on some of the mornings, and he mentioned that he happened to be re-jigging the entire breakfast spread the day after our departure (unfortunately). Since he had just arrived at the resort a few weeks ago, he intended to spruce up the breakfast offerings even further over time.

He let me know of his plans to introduce more customizable and widely rotating options, such as a wider range of dim sum, plus different soup options like miso, laksa, and tom yum for the noodle bar. Other items he mentioned included red velvet waffles and pandan crepes – both of which sounded absolutely delicious and I wished I got to try during my visit.

Not only was the Waldorf Astoria Maldives one of the most impressive breakfast spreads I had ever seen, but you can expect it to get even better as the resort’s new executive chef works his magic. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Dining

The Waldorf Astoria has a plethora of 11 dining facilities, each with its own unique offering. The list of restaurants is as follows:

  • Terra
  • Yasmeen
  • Li Long
  • Tasting Table
  • The Ledge by Dave Print
  • Glow
  • Peacock Alley
  • Amber
  • Nava
  • Zuma (opening soon)
  • The Rock

Whenever you’re dining at one of the restaurants, you are offered a choice of still or sparkling water, although you can also order “house water” free of charge.

The restaurant we chose to dine at was Glow, the resort’s garden-to-table restaurant. Glow offers organic ingredients which are sourced from the island’s edible garden right next door.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Glow entrance
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Glow restaurant
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Glow beach seating

We had a nice enough meal of appetizers and a Maldivian fish plate, which was pretty tasty. We ended up not being able to finish all of it, so we brought it back to our villa to enjoy the next day. 

Of course, dining at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi doesn’t come cheap: our meal came out to about US$220 for the two appetizers and a main dish. 

Connected to Glow is the hotel’s sunset Champagne bar, Amber. The bar offers a selection of hand-crafted champagne cocktails and a few curated appetizers.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Amber entrance

It’s worth noting the resort is largely east-facing, so in terms of sunset views, it’s here at Amber that you’ll typically get the best view. However, during our stay in May, it was fairly overcast, so we didn’t get many great sunsets on this particular stay, and only a peek at the best of times.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Amber sunset patio seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Sunset view

I had heard great things from other guests staying at the resort that The Ledge by Dave Print was excellent. The restaurant offers modern Australian barbecue-style meats, and they mentioned the wagyu sandwich here was very nice. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – The Ledge entrance
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – The Ledge restaurant

I also heard the Li Long restaurant was good, but since we eat Chinese food quite often, we weren’t exactly in the mood to spend hundreds of dollars on Chinese food in the Maldives.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Li Long restaurant

Zuma is set to become the latest addition to the resort’s already vast dining facilities. The venue will become the resort’s flagship sushi restaurant, while also offering a non-traditional approach to Japanese cuisine.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Zuma restaurant

For a truly unique dining experience, Terra sits among the treetops overlooking the resort. The dining experience takes place in bamboo pods amongst the forest and features a customized tasting menu that you can order for around US$300 per person.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Terra entrance
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Terra bamboo pod

Again, the price is certainly quite expensive, but you’d be coming here for the unique and intimate treehouse dining experience more than anything.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Terra bamboo treehouse

Nava is the resort’s pool and beach club, complete with a live DJ, wood-fired pizza oven, and a variety of cocktails and appetizers. We stopped here for a drink one day.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Nava indoor seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Drink at Nava

Yasmeen has re-created an Arabian village setting, with cuisine focusing on Middle Eastern heritage and traditional dishes.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Yasmeen restaurant

Lastly, The Rock is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi’s wine cellar. Here, you can book exclusive dinners for up to 12 people around a 200-year-old Jarrah wood table.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – The Rock entrance

In addition to dining at Glow, we also tried the wagyu beef burger via in-room dining, which came to US$70 after taxes and service charges. For the price, alas, the quality was pretty average.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Room service burger

Despite the Waldorf Astoria’s multitude of dining venues, not all of them are open on all days of the week, and the more popular restaurants do get booked up at peak times fairly quickly.

I’d recommend taking a look at your dining options soon after arriving at the resort and coordinating with your dedicated staff member to make reservations so that you get to try as many of the places to eat as you want. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Happy Hour

Hilton Diamond members get access to a happy hour here at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi from 4–5pm every day. It’s hosted in Peacock Alley, near the main welcome pavilion.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Peacock Alley

There is always a selection of four or five cocktails to choose from, and we came here on two of the three afternoons to take advantage.

Peacock Alley has a number of indoor and outdoor seating options. We opted to sit outside on the patio while we enjoyed our drinks, but the indoor options looked quite inviting, too.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Peacock Alley bar seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Peacock Alley indoor seating
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Peacock Alley outdoor patio seating

In addition to the cocktail menu, there is coffee, tea, and light snacks, all of which are complimentary for Hilton Diamond members. This is quite a nice benefit for Hilton’s top-tier members, especially considering you can earn top-tier status just by holding an American Express US Hilton Aspire Card. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Happy hour coffee & tea
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Happy hour light snack

I thought this was quite a valuable benefit, and also a great way to work up a nice little buzz on some alcoholic drinks in the afternoon and evenings without having to contend with the inflated prices if you were to order the same drinks at the restaurants.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Happy hour drinks
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Happy hour drinks

The service at happy hour, however, was a bit of a hit-or-miss, and it often took quite a while for our orders to be taken and drinks to be brought out. Overall, though, it was certainly a nice addition to the experience for top-tier Hilton members.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Pools & Beach

The resort features two large public pools: one for adults only and one for families.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Adults-only outdoor infinity pool

The adults-only pool is a long strip of water going from the main path near the tennis and paddle ball courts all the way out to the beachfront, where there is an infinity edge. 

The pool looked relatively peaceful and tranquil, with plenty of cabanas and lounge chairs dotted around, although I rarely saw anyone using it.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Adults-only outdoor infinity pool

Each guest has a private pool back on the deck of their villa, so there really isn’t much reason for people to come here, and thus the pool was largely sitting empty and quiet each time we passed by. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Adults-only outdoor infinity pool

There is also a family-oriented pool, where occasionally you’ll see some children splashing around. This was more circular shaped with shallow areas, but also had an infinity edge splashing out onto the beach.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Family outdoor pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Family outdoor pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Family outdoor infinity pool

Near the pools and by the activity centre at the head of the lagoon, there is also a nice public strip of beach for guests to relax. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Public beach
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Public beach

As the island is a man-made resort, you won’t find the same amount of sea life around the beach as you’ll find on a natural island. Instead, the beach simply consists of soft white sand, which I thought was quite pleasant.

There are also beaches scattered around the outer edges of the island. While most stretches of these beaches are reserved for Beach Villa occupants, there are also a few slices of beach that are accessible to all guests, if you’d like to enjoy a quieter, more private beach experience away from the action.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Spa

The spa is situated on the western side of one of the islands, closer to the jetty leading out into the overwater villas. This is also where the fitness centre is located. 

The spa offers the usual range of treatments such as massages, facial treatments, and body treatments, in addition to haircuts, manicures, and even professional makeup services.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Spa entrance

As a Hilton Diamond member, one of the perks is that if you book a 60-minute session, you’ll get an additional 30-minutes of treatment for free.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Spa waterway

In addition to the paid treatments, there is also a hydrotherapy pool, which makes for a very interesting experience.

The pool is almost like an obstacle course in the water, with each station offering a different type of water feature or massage jets, targeting different parts of the body – all ending with a hot tub ensconced within the hydrotherapy pool itself.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Spa outdoor hydrotherapy pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Spa outdoor hydrotherapy pool
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Hot tub in hydrotherapy pool

As someone who enjoys taking a dip in various forms of pools, this was certainly a fun experience to try out. The pool can be used by any guest who books a spa treatment, and is also available for a one-time complimentary use for all guests between 10am–2pm.

After the hydrotherapy session, you are provided with light snacks, cool towels, and a cool drink.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Spa amenities

We didn’t go for a paid spa treatment, and instead came to the fitness centre for a morning workout each day. We really felt that, given our sheer level of indulgence and enjoyment at the resort, we needed to work hard and “earn it” by expending some sweat and energy.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Fitness centre entrance

The gym is open 24/7, and I thought it was a very impressive space for a Maldives resort.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Fitness centre
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Fitness centre
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Fitness centre

The facility featured plenty of treadmills, aerobics space, and free weights, in addition to a proper bench press and squat rack. You can certainly get in a good workout without having to make any fitness sacrifices, as we discovered with our fruitful gym sessions in the mornings.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Fitness centre
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Fitness centre

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Activities

When you’re not lounging in your villa’s infinity pool, the resort offers a wide range of motorized and non-motorized water activities to take part in, ranging from jet ski rentals to paragliding to jetpacks. 

Kayaks, paddle boats, and stand-up paddleboards are all available for rent free of charge, while most other water activities are paid for separately.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Watersports building
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Watersports rentals

For our part, we decided to stick to the paddleboard rental, which proved to be quite a significant workout due to the winds that day. We easily paddled all the way out into the lagoon, but struggled on our way back and certainly used a lot of energy on our return. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Stand-up paddleboarding

There is also a dive shop closer to the northern end of the island where you can borrow snorkels for free and leave them in your room. 

In terms of the snorkelling at the resort, in our case, the weather wasn’t too great during our visit, so we had a fairly limited snorkelling experience near our villa without getting to see too much.

This is indeed often the case here in the Maldives: many activities are often weather-dependent, and although things weren’t too favourable here at the Waldorf Astoria, we’d luck out later on at the St. Regis.

In addition to water activities, the resort also has a tennis court, paddle ball court, and basketball hoops. Coaches and lessons are available if you wish.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Paddle ball court
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Paddle ball court
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Tennis court

Lastly, there is a games area at the Nama beach restaurant, which features a ping pong table, pool table, and foosball tables.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Ping pong table
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Foosball tables

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Service

Lastly, in terms of service, I found that the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi struck a nice balance between attentiveness and still leaving room for autonomy. 

The front-of-house staff would check in on you at least once a day, and you’d say hello to the same faces each morning during breakfast, between your dedicated associate, the general manager, the executive chef, etc.

Otherwise, in contrast to the butler service at the JW Marriott or St. Regis, the attention is less constant and less intimate – perhaps due to the size of the resort and the number of guests staying at any one time. 

You can simply ping your associate on WhatsApp for any needs such as booking restaurants, arranging activities, or getting answers to any questions you might have. 

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Wedding pavilion

However, for us, we found the service to be more than adequate, and we appreciated the balance of checking in every so often and then simply having someone available at the touch of an app for whenever we needed something.

Furthermore, I appreciated all the extra steps taken for my birthday. They decorated the bed and brought us a cake in the evening, which I was somewhat expecting.

But even further, the staff set up a dedicated table at breakfast for us that day, including some breakfast pancakes, a sparkly firework candle, and a card, which was a beautiful gesture.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – Birthday decorations

Conclusion

Our three-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi easily surpassed the already lofty expectations I had for this ultra-luxurious resort in the Maldives.

From approaching the resort on a luxury yacht to setting foot in one of the most impressive villas I’ve ever stayed in, I was enthralled with every minute of our experience here.

It’s hard to believe that we had stayed in one of the base-level rooms here at the Waldorf Astoria, given how unbelievably expansive and indulgent it was, especially the oversized infinity pool and the ample seating all around.

The breakfast offerings were far-ranging and some of the most impressive I’ve experienced, the dining options are plentiful with almost a dozen venues on offer, and the service was perfectly balanced between attentive and autonomous. I also truly appreciated the added touches to make my 28th birthday as special as could be. 

The birthday celebrations would only continue later that day as we took the yacht back to Malé that day and boarded a seaplane en route to the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli – a world-class resort in its own right, which we’ll cover in the next installment.

3 Comments
  1. GR

    Great review…but I do fail to see a value in some of the aspirational redemptions. Yes, the villa is great but 900$ 45-minute boat ride and 200-300$ dinner in none Michelin star restaurant is kinda questionable (I will not even mention 70$ burgers ;). Maybe it’s just me… as much as I enjoy flying first class I would never pay the cash rate for it or burn 5k for a bottle of Cristal in a fancy nightclub. 🙂

  2. James

    Great review, thanks! 🙂
    How did you manage to take the drone photos? I thought they don’t allow drones.
    Thanks and looking forward to the St. Regis review.

    1. Ricky YVR

      It’s kind of like going 10 past the speed limit, if you know what I mean. Get up in the air around sunrise before other guests are out and about, and no one will come looking for you.

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