-Days Thirteen through Sixteen Part 1: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Review

3 Years of researching, planning, and dreaming... we had finally arrived at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. The resort operated one hour ahead of Male time, so it was almost 8:00 when we arrived (7:00 Male time), and already dark.

Prior to booking our stay, I had cancelled a Hyatt Credit Card I opened in 2013, then a month later reapplied to receive the 2 free night bonus again.  I also had Kim apply for this card as well, getting us another 2 free nights.  The Hyatt credit card was my first real foray into the points and miles world, and I strongly recommend it.  If you spend $750 or more on food/gas/car insurance or other charges that can be paid using a credit card, you will achieve their minimum spend requirements to receive the 2 free night bonus.  You pay an annual fee of $75 for this card but in return you get one free night at a category 1-4 hotel each year.

The value we received between the two card's sign up bonuses was over $3000 (Nights at the Park Hyatt Maldives generally run $750+ a night for a Park Villa).

-The Big One! Introduction/Giveaway
-Day One: Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport Review
-Day Two: United First Class B737-800 SFO-IAD summary
-Days Three through Six: D.C Area recommendations: Smithsonian, National Harbor, Baltimore Aquarium
-Day Seven: Lufthansa Business Class Lounge IAD summary, Lufthansa First Class A330-300 IAD-MUC Summary
-Day Eight Part 1: Six hours in downtown Munich, Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich Summary
-Day Eight Part 2: Lufthansa First Class A330-300 MUC-DXB Summary
-Day Nine Part 1: Dubai Exotic Limo brief review part 1 & Abu Dhabi recommendations: Ferrari World, the Grand Mosque
-Day Nine Part 2: Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Review
-Days Ten through Twelve Part 1: Park Hyatt Dubai Review
-Days Ten through Twelve Part 2: Dubai Exotic Limo brief review part 2 & Dubai recommendations:  Burj Khalifa Sky
-Days Ten through Twelve Part 3: Dubai Recommendations: Tea at the Ritz Carlton Jumeirah Beach, Atlantis Monorail, Dubai Mall
-Days Ten through Twelve Part 4: Dubai recommendations: Platinum-Heritage Falconry Heritage Tour.  The Dubai Museum
-Day Thirteen: Emirates 777-300 DXB-MLE summary, Moonima Lounge MLE summary, Park Hyatt Maldives transfer summary
-Days Thirteen through Sixteen Part 1: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Review
-Days Thirteen through Sixteen Part 2: What to do at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
-Day Seventeen: Maldivian Dash-8/Boat Transfer Park Hyatt-MLE summary, Conrad Rangali MLE Lounge summary, Trans-Maldivian Twin Otter transfer MLE-Conrad Rangali Island
-Days Seventeen through Twenty-One Part 1: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Review
-Days Seventeen through Twenty-One Part 2: What to do at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort
-Day Twenty-Two Part 1: Trans-Maldivian Twin Otter Conrad Rangali Island-MLE summary, Conrad Lounge MLE summary, Leeli Lounge MLE summary
-Day Twenty-Two Part 2: Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 MLE-IST summary.
-Day Twenty-Three Part 1: Turkish Airlines IST Lounge Summary, six hours in Istanbul
-Day Twenty-Three Part 2: Turkish Airlines Business Class B777-300  IST-SFO summary
-Day Twenty-Four: Hyatt Regency San Francisco Embarcadero Review
-Trip Summary/The Numbers
-The BIG Question: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa or Conrad Maldives Rangali?

Getting to the resort consisted of a plane ride from the main island to Kooddoo and then a boat over to the resort.  It wasn't cheap at $520 per person, but such is the cost of visiting the Maldives, and you'll find similar fees for transfers to other resorts there as well.  More detail about our transfer can be found on my previous post: Dubai to Park Hyatt Maldives Transfer Summary.

Our boat-hands helped us off the vessel we had taken in and handed us off to our personal host, Ahmeez. He introduced himself as the boat-hands loaded a buggy with our luggage. Then we were off down the jetty and across the sandy trail to our room. As we rode, Ahmeez explained to us that normally check-in would be processed at the resort Dhoni, but due to the time and the inclement weather, he would process it at our room.  He pointed out the wooden structure he was referring to as we went by: a building in the form of an upside-down boat.

We had booked a Park Villa for our first two nights, and were pleased to find we had been upgraded and assigned room 27, a Park Pool Villa.  This may have been as a general courtesy or because of my status as a Diamond member.  Either way, it represented a value of another $300, given that the cost difference between a Park Villa and Park Pool Villa is ~$150 per night.

Villa #27: Park Pool Villa

Ahmeez led us into the room and handed us the  key. We then started the check-in process, which consisted of a general explanation of the island, locations of the restaurants, spa, and dive center, and verification of payment method. Ahmeez also showed us how to navigate the hotel provided iPad, which included menus, excursions, and other helpful information. He gave us the room layout, including where the minibar, water, light switches and outlets were.

He then demonstrated how to move the giant sliding panels that functioned as the room's curtains. We then reviewed our itinerary for our stay, talked safety procedures, and he left his cell number with us for whatever we needed.

Kim inquired about completing her intro dive the following morning prior to our first excursion.  He informed us that he would attempt to schedule it with the Dive shop.  Kim also queried whether the intro dive would transfer over to the Conrad Maldives, as it is Maldivian law even for certified divers to complete such a dive prior to any further diving. Ahmeez had never fielded that question and told us he would check with the dive shop on that as well.

Before he left, we requested that he replace the sparkling water with tap, he handed us our keys (actual keys!), and then he was off.

Before anything else, it was Ocean Time!  Kim and I walked out of the room and down the steps of our patio. Twenty feet down a path through some bushes and trees and the trail opened to the beachfront:

We spent a little time just enjoying the atmosphere and digging our toes into the sand.  There was complete and utter calm and quiet.  We stuck our feet in the warm Indian Ocean water and took it all in.

After, back in the room we continued the process of unpacking.  By the time we finished it was around 9:45, and we decided to try our hand at the Island Grill for dinner.

As we walked in, a chalkboard advertised the catch of the day, and we were instantly infatuated with that option. After taking our seats, we kicked off our shoes and dug our feet into the sand.

Our dinner started with cocktails and fresh baked Maldivian bread with dipping sauce (which we quickly devoured and ordered more of)

For our main course we had Scallops and the Catch of the Day.  Unfortunately I'm at a loss for exactly what the fish was or which cocktails we enjoyed .

Playin' it cool.

Scallops!

But the dinner was phenomenal.  You may find from many reviews that food in the Maldives is much more expensive, but for $45 for the fish and two sides, it really wasn't bad.

While I've heard horror stories about people being bombarded at dinner with sales pitches for excursions, we were pretty much solidly booked already and weren't pestered.  We were told about a buffet that'd be taking place the following night, but we already had plans for a private dinner on the beach.

All in all, our meal took about an hour, and then it was time for bed.  We passed out quickly, but I woke up to find the same issue I had experienced in Abu Dhabi and Dubai... the bedding was too much, and I was dripping in sweat.

The catch of the day! With Baked Potatoes and Carrots included.

This problem would be solved the next day when we had the hotel replace our comforter with a lighter blanket.

Meanwhile, the room itself managed to stay quite cool and comfortable.

The following morning we woke up early to attempt to fit Kim's intro dive in.  Ahmeez managed to get in touch with us and let us know that she would be able to get her dive done that morning, and that he had confirmed her intro dive would meet the requirements for Maldivian law for diving at the Conrad.

Getting out of bed and opening the curtain panels revealed what we couldn't see in the dark: the beautiful outdoors:

Our secluded villa, nestled in the foliage of the island.

Before Kim's dive, it was breakfast time!

As Diamond members, our breakfast is always complementary at Hyatt, and at the Park Hyatt Maldives this benefit extends to paying customers as well.  It does not apply to non-Diamond members staying on points, however.

We walked through the jungle foliage on a smooth sand path to the Atoll market.  I discovered that while the sand on the path to all the Beach and Pool villas stays cool under the trees, you should typically wear flip-flops for the sand on the beaches (unless going in the water) and on the patios for the pools and market, as they can be quite hot.

We took a seat, the only two people at the restaurant, on a perfectly temperate April morning.

What could be better than frothy fresh-squeezed pineapple juice on a tropical paradise with nobody else in sight?

I was actually surprised how little on the menu appealed to me, though there were a variety of options behind us at the buffet.  We had the option to pick two menu items and still take from the buffet, but I stuck mostly with menu items: a magnificent French toast with cinnamon glazed apples, toasted walnuts, and maple syrup.  Kim on the other hand elected for the buttermilk pancakes, complete with Blue berry compote, mixed fruits, vanilla, and licorice cream.

Breakfast overall was phenomenal.  We savored our meals with pineapple juice and mango iced tea.  I still maintain the best Hyatt breakfast served to me was at the Andaz San Diego, but who can argue with virtually private dining on an island resort?

Kim left mid-meal to complete her intro-dive, leaving me to attempt to scarf down the remainder of her pancakes.  I ate what I could, then it was off to take some quick photos and videos.

Kim's intro dive turned out to be quite short, which was good since we had an 10:00 departure time for our equator trip.  Despite my anxiety about the timing, the dive-master reassured us as he and Kim exited the water that our excursion was exclusive and catered to our schedule, so we didn't need to rush to get ready.  It would not be leaving without us, after all!

After we got our things we went to the dive shop, where our crew awaited us.  Look for our summary of the equator trip in the next article on the blog: what to do at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.

Kiru Bokiba

When we returned at about 4-430ish, we went back to the room and began the process of packing once more.

A little later in the evening, Kim went on a guided night dive of the house reef.

Homemade vanilla ice-cream at Island Grill

We were thoroughly exhausted and sufficiently full so that we didn't end up attempting dinner that night.  However, we did manage to get to the Island Grill at around 9:00 for dessert.  We split an order of Kiru Bokiba- which consisted of Maldivian rice cake, caramelized coconut and ginger ice cream-  and a scoop of homemade Vanilla Ice-Cream.

Afterwards we explored the island a bit, searching for the fabled over-water villas.  We felt cool breezes along the sandy path and enjoyed the sounds of the wind through the lush foliage:

Soon we found a gecko who offered directions:

What first appeared to be a decorative Gecko turned out to be live!

We followed the signs until we came across the jetty leading to the room we would be staying in the following night:

The villas were beautiful in under the night sky.  Even more fantastic were the stars, which made their bright appearances amidst ever rolling clouds:

Then it was off to bed.

It was another early morning for us as we woke around 6:30 for breakfast.  Kim had a morning dive, and I wanted to get some more photos and video in before finishing up our packing and moving to our water villa.

At breakfast I spent a little more time exploring the buffet, but ultimately still chose off the menu.  While not paltry, the buffet fell short of the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi and the Park Hyatt Dubai, and I ended up with menu items every day of our stay.  The menu was fairly small, but served its purpose for me: waffles, french toast, and pancakes!

I took a couple minutes to capture the buffet and the view:

As I continued my breakfast, Kim took off for her dive, leaving me to conduct more wandering. And wander I did, locating pretty much the only places I hadn't yet been on the island- the gift shop and the Spa.

While Kim was away, I finished packing up our room in preparation for the resort to move our belongings to the water villa.  I also had a chance to film and photograph:


The Pool Villa was spacious and comfortable.  On entering, the bed and sitting area were off our left, floor-to-ceiling windows spanned most of the far wall and wrapped the corner.  Beyond the bed was a counter top with the house-provided Ipad, ports to connect an HDMI or VGA device to the television, and a digital photo frame showing pictures from around the island.  A lounger chair stayed in the corner of the windows, while another chair with an ottoman rested in the shaded corner.

Built into the headboard of the bed were universal outlets, light switches, and night lights- all on both sides of the bed.

Outside, a deck wrapped around the plunge-pool and featured an outdoor bed.  The pool itself kept water warm enough for comfort, but cooler than the ocean.

Next to the deck was the concrete sidewalk, and a small set of stairs that led to the sandy trail curving around and down to the beach.  On the stairs was a small bowl with fresh water so we could rinse our feet upon return from the beach.

Behind the bed and to the right of the entrance was the bathroom.  On the left was the shower and on the right was the toilet, both enclosed by frosted-glass doors. Behind each of them was a cabinet-style closet, one with a safe inside. In the main part of the bathroom, his and her sinks graced each side, in the center of the room was an ottoman with a tray of towels resting on top.  Beyond the bathroom was another highlight: an outdoor shower in a small enclosed garden-area.


As Diamond members, we received a complimentary bowl of fruit, filled daily, and a bottle of champagne to welcome us.  We were also given some chef-made treats.

Originally I was expecting to move out of the Pool Villa by 1, and had wrapped up my filming and photography by then, but it was closer to 2 before the staff were finally ready to move us.  At that point Kim had already returned from her diving.

We loaded up the buggy and took the trip to our water villa.  This villa cost us a $405++ per night upgrade fee.  But when in the Maldives, it'd be practically sacrilege not to try it.

Turns out we received another upgrade: to Park Sunset Water Villa #47.  The Sunset Water Villas are towards the end of the jetty and have a slightly less obstructed view, but I consider this a lesser upgrade than the one we received from the Park Villa to the Park Pool Villa, even if the cost differential is about the same.  Just a few years ago all the Water Villas were within the same category.  In my opinion, the only real upgrade among the Water Villas is to villa #51, which is at the end of the Jetty and has more privacy.  Nonetheless, the villa was terrific:

View from just outside the room

The room was practically the same size as our Pool Villa.  The most blatant difference was the layout and the view. Like the Pool Villa, this room featured a lounger and a chair with an ottoman.  The counter-area was situated at the back of the room behind the bed, while the TV was mounted directly in front of the bed.  Also like the Pool Villa, sliding panels closed the room off to the sun in front of all the sliding glass doors.

Around from the entrance was the bathroom, where a soaking tub sat in the perfect position to soak some sun.  As opposed to the wooden panels though, blackout curtains came down from the roof to shade the room from the sliding glass doors.

Along the back wall was a single super-sized cabinet-style closet, as opposed to the two smaller closets in the Pool Villa.  The bathroom sat closer to the bedroom, and the shower lay next to that.  Both the shower and toilet were in an airy-type room with a skylight to protect from the rain.

Outside the room, the day bed offered a place to lounge and enjoy the view and sun.  A ladder behind a gated fence made for easy snorkeling access.

We spent a little time taking some pictures and video before unpacking again:


The snorkeling around the room was terrific.  We saw a variety of fish, including a school of parrot-fish, and enjoyed the beauty of the reef.  I did find that an afternoon snorkel like the one we took upon arriving to the room offered a higher-tide, and thus more clearance between my stomach and the coral.  A second snorkeling attempt the following morning led to a close-call, my stomach nearly scraping the top of the reef. More details and images from our snorkeling to come in my next post: what to do at the Park Hyatt Maldvies Hadahaa.

After we finished our snorkel, we saw we had a message from the resort.  Our host Ahmeez advised us that he recommended that we reschedule our planned Private Beach dinner due to the possibility of inclement weather that evening.  We called him back and after a short discussion agreed to reschedule to the following night.  In the meantime, he recommended that we take part in the buffet dinner at the Island Grill.  We decided to give this a shot, and were not disappointed.

A variety of seafood and desserts awaited us at the buffet, which was filled with what appeared to be the entirety of the islands population (not saying much).

There was sashimed ahi tuna, a chef who prepared Maldivian hors d'oeuvres with salmon on demand.  There were Maldivian breads and an entire table full of desserts.  There was fresh sushi and fresh sashimi, and much more!

While many more of the details elude us a year later, we did feel it was a worthwhile meal.  The weather was fairly temperate that night, and our private beach dinner likely would have been fine, but we were comfortable with the reschedule.

Some people have noted that the temperature in the Water villas can become a tad uncomfortable, and that the A/C doesn't keep up as well as the Park or Pool Villas.  Ultimately we felt that the room could get a bit warm during the day, but nothing overbearing.  In the evening, the temperature was perfect.

On our last full day before departing, Kim went diving once more before our scheduled 12:00 Spa Treatment.

We arrived at the Vidhun Spa close to noon, and saw another couple had just finished a treatment.  We found out that the couple was also from California!  More details on our treatment can be found on our upcoming post: what to do at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.

Our treatment was 4 hours long, and when we finished it was time to get ready for our Private beach dinner. Ahmeez called us again while we were getting ready and advised we cancel our dinner because of the possibility of bad weather.  We were insistent that we'd be okay if we had to move in the middle of our meal, so he relented and confirmed a 7:00 start time.  More details on this can also be found on our upcoming post: what to do at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.

By the time dinner had ended, it was time to start packing for our departure and to go to bed.

The following morning we woke for an early breakfast.  After our meal we wandered over to the dusk jetty on the north side of the island.  There we found a spectacular treat: reef sharks!

Schools of fish formed bait-balls and swarmed the area, and the sharks made occasional attempts to nab some, sometimes causing them to jump out of the water.  A staff member advised us the sharks came there for breakfast pretty much every day, and we were disappointed that we hadn't ventured over there on previous mornings.

A morning at the Dusk Jetty

We decided to go for one last snorkel before our scheduled 12:30 departure.  After trekking to the room and gearing up (and throwing on lots of sunscreen, too!), we went back to the jetty and hopped in the water.  We swam from the dusk jetty westward, and after 30 minutes or so came up on the northwest side of the island.

Then we had to face the reality: it was time to leave! We left our swimwear out to dry (doesn't take long), while we finished loading our bags.  When we finally finished, a buggy arrived at our villa to bring us to the reception area.

We signed our bill, and asked if we could exchange any currency so that we'd have Maldivian money to bring home with us.  At this point Ahmeez ran over to the gift shop and picked up a pack of coins for us as a gift.  He also pulled a 100 dollar Maldivian bill from his wallet and gave us that as well!

We waited a little bit while another guest argued with the hotel.  Apparently he wanted to depart early and avoid the charges for additional nights.  We found out from him that he was just too bored to stay any longer, and given that he was alone and not a water-person, it made complete sense that he'd want to get out.

We said our goodbyes to Ahmeez and some of the dive staff, the General manager came to greet us and ensure our stay was enjoyable, as well as to present us with a certificate for our equator crossing.

Then we walked over to the jetty to hop on the speedboat back to Kooddoo.

Please enjoy the following video I put together from various clips we took on our holiday:

Ultimately:

This had been our dream for several years.  What's not to love about a tropical paradise secluded from the rest of the world and catering to your every need?  Kim and I were happy with every aspect of our treatment, the service, and the food during our stay.

Even with 4 free nights, the bill was not cheap between transfer fees, upgrades, food and excursions.  But we don't regret the splurges in the least, and you can read all about the luxury of those in my next post: What to do at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.

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