The JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa is a resort where we lived a few days of dream in the Maldives. To tell you the truth, I never thought I would ever get there, the Maldives was an unattainable dream for me, which finally came true thanks to the reward points.
Here’s what you can expect for a future stay if you use your points too!
Booking at the Hotel
The JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa, open since July 2019, belongs to the JW Marriott brand, which goes to great lengths to offer luxurious havens in every corner of the world.
With the Marriott Bonvoy program, you can stay 5 nights for the price of 4. We booked our stay at a off-peak rate (70,000 points per night instead of 85,000 points). So our 5 night stay cost 280,000 points (56,000 points per night).
All of our hotel expenses were charged to our room and then paid at the end of the stay with our Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card to earn 5 points per dollar!
You don’t have to be a millionaire in points to go to the Maldives and enjoy this little paradise. However, this is obviously a budget. It is important to calculate carefully because many expenses are added during the stay. We’ll talk about it in the course of our article.
The JW Marriott Maldives has 61 luxury villas, all with private pools, distributed as follows
- 19 Overwater Villas with 1 bedroom, 1 king bed, 9 with sunrise view and 10 with sunset view.
- 12 Duplex Overwater Villas with 1 bedroom, 1 king bed.
- 16 one-bedroom beach villas, 13 of which have sunrise views and 3 have sunset views.
- 13 Duplex Beach Villas with 1 or 2 bedrooms.
- 1 Royal Overwater Pool Villa
The Duplex Villas are either fitted out with living spaces on the first floor or an extra bedroom.
Jean-Maximilien being a Titanium Elite member with Marriott Bonvoy, we were entitled to many advantages which were :
- Exclusive rates for members
- Check-in and check-out possible via chat
- Complimentary internet access
- 75% bonus points on stays
- 4PM late checkout (subject to availability at time of departure)
- Restaurant and bar advantage of 20% discount (applicable to all food and beverages consumed in restaurants and bars)
- Welcome amenities in the villa on arrival
- Elite Welcome Gift of your choice: 1,000 points, daily breakfast for the member and a guest at Aailaa restaurant
- Upgrade to a superior room (subject to availability at the time of check-in)
- 15 additional minutes of treatment for each massage booked at the Spa by JW
- Reduced rates for the all-inclusive “food” package and the all-inclusive “food and spa” package
All of these benefits enhance the stay and make the experience even more rewarding.
Flight reservation for the JW Marriott Maldives
The hotel is located on the beautiful island of Vagaru, within the Shaviyani Atoll. It takes about 50 minutes to get there by seaplane from Velana International Airport in Male with Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).
Once our villa reservation was confirmed with the JW Marriott Maldives, the concierge took care of booking our flight transfer with the TMA team and sending us the invoice. So our transfer cost a total of $1,200 USD round trip or $600 per person.
Since this expense was charged by the hotel, we used our Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card earning us 5 points per dollar spent in the process, or 6,000 points.
Arrival in Malé and transfer to the resort
To get to Malé, we chose to book our economy seat with Etihad on an evening flight for an early morning arrival, this to avoid an expensive night in Malé, as seaplanes only fly during the day. Cost: 12,500 Aeroplan points one way per person.
As a couple, we had to pay extra to sit side by side on the plane. Jean-Maximilien had chosen our seats on the aisle side, one central and one lateral. We waited until after boarding to quickly move to the empty front seats – more leg room, and to be next to each other. With the agreement of the crew of course.
Once the plane took off, we quickly fell asleep as we wanted to arrive in good shape. It was going to be a long day.
The flight was fast and smooth. We quickly disembarked thanks to our Away suitcases that remained in the cabin with us. At the exit of the airport, the transport staff of each hotel complex is on the lookout to pick up the future guests as they leave the flight.
Each hotel has a small stand to organize transfers. We will find the person in charge for the JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa who will check us in with our passports and direct us to our van driver with other guests. Once complete, the next stop is the TMA terminals.
After about ten minutes, we arrive at our TMA terminal at about 7:30 am and we will be invited to wait in a lounge. The JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa lounge is not exclusive like the W Maldives lounge, so it is a little less quiet and comfortable.
The lounge offers some refreshments with coffee and some delicacies. The toilet is located outside the living room.
One person is responsible for informing us of the departure of our seaplane. Very well, only this one will be more than an hour and a half late. We will have to insist on this person to have more information, having the impression to be forgotten in the history.
Our seaplane was dropping off guests at different hotels, so we had to wait for other passengers. The person in charge will finally come to pick us up and take us a few minutes away to the boarding gate. 15 minutes of waiting in a glass room and we finally boarded.
Flying a seaplane was a first for us. We were excited to finally get there. We will choose the front seats during the flight, our luggage being stored in the back facing the door. We will be reminded of the security measures. There are 3 seats per row for a total of 15 seats. Our flight will be three-quarters full this day.
The propellers’ turbines started, we finally get a good view of the blue waters of the atolls, allowing us to forget the deafening noise of the propellers. I highly recommend putting in earplugs as I found it hard to bear for myself. The crew offers them as needed.
Our seaplane will land at the Fairmont, a ten minute flight from our arrival point, to drop off the other passengers on the flight.
The staff will then advise us that with the strong winds of that day, it is impossible to take off again. We will have to wait for a boat to be sent to us by the JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa. During this time, we will have the pleasure of taking a guided tour of the Fairmont Maldives, known for having the longest infinity pool in the Maldives.
We finally boarded the boat for the JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa, almost an hour later, to be warmly welcomed by the whole team of the resort in song and to the rhythm of tams tams. A necklace will be given to us as a welcome around the neck and a delicious cockail.
The entire resort team performs this arrival and departure ceremony several times a day. Wow!
Our regular butler, Hussain, will introduce himself to us and drive us by cart to our stilt house. The service is personalized, which makes the on-site experience even more exclusive. Hussain did his best for us throughout our stay. We are very grateful to him.
Once at our villa, a beautiful duplex, we will finish the registration. However, considering the weather conditions of the day and the days to come – the sea was still raging – we regretted the choice of the Overwater villa, especially since the trip between the flight and the boat had made me nauseous. Hussain quickly grasped our discomfort.
He will come back an hour later to change us for a duplex villa on the beach, much more sheltered from the wind than the previous one.
It is quite possible to walk around the resort – everything is accessible – or to call on your butler to go where you want. But if you want to go from one point of the island to the other by yourself, it takes about 20 minutes.
The Overewater Duplex villa is beautiful, as are the following ones. The facilities are modern, the decoration of good quality, in accordance with the environment. Each villa, whether overwater or on the beach, has an exterior thatched roof, reminiscent of inverted dhonis (traditional Maldivian wooden fishing vessels) while the sloping ends are reminiscent of white herons.
The Overewater Duplex Pool Sunset Villa, 1 king bed
The Overwater villas are sufficiently spaced from each other, allowing us to feel really quiet. We enjoyed the walk on the pontoon as it was not uncommon to see parrot fish with beautiful colors, by the way which is a protected species, or reef sharks, and trumpet fish.
The interior decoration is clear, comfortable. The large windows bring in a lot of natural light. The wooden furniture is of good quality as well as the fabrics. We felt really comfortable.
Each villa has a bar and a large dressing room. It includes slippers, bathrobes, flip-flops for men and women, a safe, an ironing board and a very practical beach bag that will follow us during our stay to carry fins, masks and towels on the beach.
Life jackets are in the closet for those wishing to snorkel or swim safely.
Face masks are also available as we had to wear one during the morning buffet.
In the bathrooms, marble and wood are mixed together. When we enter, a large corner bathtub faces us, with a large and comfortable footstool in its center.
Then two counters with a basin stand on each side, for each partner. The bathroom is equipped with a large enclosed shower on one side and a toilet with bidet on the other.
The access is direct from the bathroom to the outdoor terrace for both the stilt and beach villas.
On the floor of the duplexes, we arrive on a small room – yoga room? – which leads either to a bathroom or to a large multimedia room. We would have seen ourselves there with the children to watch a good movie in the evening (or by rainy weather).
The view was beautiful from the top however we didn’t really go upstairs. In the end, duplexes are only really useful for families, where we see children like ours, having their room there.
Sweets and alcohols were available on the shelves.
The outdoor terraces are also very comfortable with deckchairs and sofas. Each one has a private and direct access to the sea either by the beach or from your pontoon ! What more could you ask for?
The villa looks great on the outside.
Finally, the terrace we had at this duplex villa on stilts was much larger and more intimate than the second one we will have later, but with a less stunning view of the sunset that we absolutely wanted to see in its entirety.
Duplex Beach Pool Villa, 2 bedrooms
Why choose a villa on the beach when you can have an Overwater villa? Simply for its calmness.
The interior of the duplex villa on the beach was very similar to the overwater’s one.
As well as the layout of the bathroom, except that the windows looked out onto the greenery.
On the first floor, no big difference either. The view is more isolated, this is the only negative point. But as said, we never took advantage of the duplex. So, not a big miss!
However, this villa had the advantage of having a second room with two single beds and their bedside table, this time on the first floor, and connected to its own bathroom. A perfect room for children.
I enjoyed my time at this villa immensely. I was seduced by the environment. I found a bit of the atmosphere I had felt at Al Maha with the nature surrounding us. Here, there is no noise of cars or people around, only the singing of birds and the clattering of the waves.
Having our private access to the beach was fabulous. In addition to the fact that we had to work, I was able to enjoy watching crabs, hermit crabs, schools of fish, but also to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets on our private deckchairs by the sea.
Overwater Pool Villa, with sunset
We really liked the high ceilings, which gave the room a sense of grandeur that is not present in the duplexes.
After three nights at the beach villa, we had managed to negotiate a smaller Overwater villa for our last two nights. But we especially wanted to see the seabed on this side by snorkeling.
Here is a look inside again.
The interior was smaller but just as well equipped as the previous two.
The terrace was certainly less intimate, since people from the next villa could see us on our terrace, but I loved being able to observe from our terrace reef sharks, stingrays and other fish.
The sunset was most beautiful at this villa.
For my part, I loved the villa on the beach, quieter but I think Jean-Maximilien preferred this one. As a result, there is no need to be upgraded sometimes, the duplex is not a must.
As for our days, they passed quickly, as we spent them working on our computers. But we did set aside at least 2 hours a day for snorkeling (having each purchased fin and mask equipment in Dubai before our arrival – which we recommend you do).
Also, it rained on the second to last day of our departure, preventing us from enjoying the outdoors properly, but that didn’t bother us either as we were working with the window open to the ocean. It was even more relaxing.
Here is an overview of what we could see in the seabed only by snorkeling or from the pontoons.
A word about the seabed. It is really a pity in our opinion to go to the Maldives and not to observe the sea bed. It is true that this makes us even more aware of the damage of man on nature.
We were surprised by the multitude of fish and the quality of the corals following the places where we went. The further we went from the shore, the more beautiful were the corals and species. However, you must be careful not to go too far as well as to the jet skis, boats or seaplanes.
To tell you the truth, as someone who is not at all comfortable with the depths, it was really amazing to be in the middle of this marine fauna. We were able to see among others the famous reef sharks, rays, morays, lobsters, barracudas, turtles, sharks and many other fish. We even saw dolphins on the last day.
Of course we didn’t take any risks and always swam in pairs. We used to go to the beaches in the South on days when the sea was rough. We did not walk on the corals and left all shells on the spot, which we recommend you to do, as they are the home of many hermit crabs for example.
Note that you could be fined at customs if you bring it in your luggage.
The seabed differs slightly between the one on the beach and the one near the houses on stilts. So I advise you to visit both.
And here is what I could see during our walks on the island or on the seaside.
The services of the JW Marriott Maldives
Before detailing each service, a description on the organization of the institution on the island, which I would say, could be defined in three areas:
The first gives access to the welcome pavilion, the Aailaa restaurant, also connected to the Horizon bar or to the swimming pool open to all, with its Italian restaurant Fiamma, the reception room, a library room offering a selection of beautiful books with a work space offering two computer stations, a souvenir store and a photography studio.
The second area to the north offers the Spa by JW, an outdoor yoga area and an enclosed fitness room as well as access to the pontoon to get to the stilt villas.
The third area to the south gives access to a second pool, “Pool 18”, several restaurants and bars: Rum Baan, Wabi Sabi, Shio, Kaashi and Hashi, the kids club, Lounge 18 and the diving and water sports center.
The JW Marriott Maldives staff
Our butler did everything he could to please us and so did the housekeeping staff. We had the right to regular little attentions during our five days. Everything was beautiful and the team was attentive from start to finish.
Please note that Jean-Maximilien had mentioned, before we came, that we were celebrating our 11 years Wedding Anniversary, for lack of being able to come in 2020 for our 10 years.
Restaurants and bars
Every morning we went to the pavilion of the Aailaa restaurant to enjoy the buffet breakfast. The indoor room is nice but eating outside with the view of the Overwater villas or the fishes almost at our feet was so nice.
We had a great time enjoying this beautiful terrace. The food was delicious and varied, international including Maldivian specialties.
The Aailaa is open all day. It offers a simple and very good menu in the evening. The atmosphere is cosy, the staff on the lookout so that you do not miss anything.
For a festive meal, the Aailaa restaurant offers a superb wine room where it is possible to dine.
Hashi is a Japanese restaurant on the waterfront that offers delicate Japanese specialties.
Also we indulged ourselves at Shio, specialized in grilled meat and fish. We opted for the sharing platter, a treat.
Finally, we were able to relax for two evenings in the “swing” chairs at the Horizon bar, enjoying local cocktails, shisha and ending our last evening with a beautiful pink sunset – with a bonus sound mixed by a DJ – while the day itself, we had not seen the sun once.
Other culinary offerings available are:
- Thai Kaashi, located in a tree and offering a view of the Indian Ocean and Pool 18. Next door, there was also the Rum Baan bar.
- The Italian Fiamma, by the main pool with a wood-fired pizza oven.
- Finally the Wabi Sabi, the bar with Japanese inspiration.
The JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa is at your disposal to organize a dinner for two on the beach, for an occasion or just for fun. The team installs beautiful candles in the sand and does everything possible to ensure that you spend a most romantic evening, with the added bonus of a sunset.
Finally, you can order food at any time of the day or night if you feel like it.
We had a choice of two pools at the resort. Honestly, we have only been there a few times as we were either enjoying our private pool or the sea, with our snorkeling sessions.
The first one is large with multiple deckchairs and sheltered cabins, close to the Italian restaurant. Ideal for watching the sunset.
The second, suspended, is reserved for adults 18 years and older. I liked it for two things: it allowed me to observe the sea floor from above. I was having fun following schools of fish or sharks with my eyes. But also for its waterfront ledge where you could sit and enjoy the view of the ocean. Magic.
The staff was never far away to offer complimentary iced water bottles.
Also the sun is very strong. A doctor is available if needed. Sunscreen is a must in the Maldives.
The wellness and fitness offer
The gym faces the sea. It is even possible to observe sharks as you walk on the equipment overlooking the bay window! The environment is calm and conducive to relaxation.
Next door was also the Spa but we did not take advantage of it. 6 treatment rooms are available with the possibility of manicure, pedicure, hammam and many other offers.
We attended an outdoor yoga session. It had been a long time since we had taken the time to exercise or relax. This yoga session, practiced on an outdoor terrace in the evening, did us a world of good.
The diving and water sports center offers free equipment (fins and snorkels) if you wish. The person who manages the equipment speaks French and will be able to offer you a beautiful program adapted to your needs, whether it is scuba diving, a tour in a catamaran, a kayak, a paddle or a cruise to meet the dolphins.
The Kids Club
The Kids Club, also known as the Family by JW – Little Griffins is exceptional. It is one of the most beautiful we have ever seen. Why? The team, the facilities, the surface, the schedules, the game planning adapted to the seasons and holidays, etc.
The team is very attentive, they do their best to make sure that you and your children have a great time on the island and keep exceptional memories of your trip. The children are made aware of nature and recycling. The decorations on the walls and the ceiling testify to this, all under the theme of the underwater world.
Your children are accepted from 3 years old, without necessarily the presence of parents, which is rather rare. There is a changing room with a bed for napping as well. It is also possible to breastfeed your child.
The exteriors are also superb between the pool and the huge pirate ship of more than 13 meters long. The person in charge even told us that they organized popcorn movie sessions some nights with the children on the boat.
Electronic games are avoided, the team emphasizes calmer games, reading, educational activities and crafts. The children also go on group outings on the island with the babysitters.
The hours were restricted following COVID-19 due to a lack of staff, but normally children can come from 10am until 9:30pm each night! And the children love it, they don’t want to leave, the team told us.
Also, there is no charge for childcare (unlike other resorts such as the JW Marriott Venice for example).
The lounge 18
Lounge 18 is a lounge reserved for adults 18 years and older. There is a pool table, cigar and shisha room, karaoke room and a selection of table games.
We had the room to ourselves, allowing us to enjoy a game of pool. The exterior was still under construction.
The photography studio
At the beginning of our stay, we were told that we had a free photo session. Since we have to book in advance, we let it happen.
COVID-19 screening test
Finally, since we were on COVID-19, we had to do a PCR test to present when we boarded our flight in Male. Once again our butler orchestrated everything to make it happen.
However, the fee is not given: US$175 per person.
We first waited in the library before being tested in the reception room.
Some pictures of the library and reception.
Our overall impression of the JW Marriott Maldives
The JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa has done a great job with this resort and its staff. What to leave with stars in the eyes for a while so much efforts are put to seduce you or make you happy. We will keep a memorable souvenir.
For those who are wondering, we spent about US$ 1,500 over 5 days on restaurants and bars (knowing that we had free breakfast thanks to our Titanium status). Our goal was to enjoy this little paradise, the points had already allowed us to save a very nice sum.