While sitting on the daybed of our overwater bungalow at the Park Hyatt Maldives, I finally felt the same breathtaking excitement that had captured my senses while in French Polynesia. This is what makes the Maldives the Maldives.
I was fortunate enough to fly business class from DC to Doha on Qatar airlines, possibly the best in-air experience I’ve ever had (although we do have business class flights on Cathay on the way back…I’ll keep everyone posted if Cathy trumps Qatar in my book). I barely knew airlines existed outside of Delta a year ago – the international carriers are unlike anything I could imagine.
We stopped for one very quick night at the Ritz-Carlton-managed Sharq Village & Spa, a beautiful hotel that’s situated ideally close to the airport for quick layovers. I’d highly recommend eating at Parisa, a Persian-influenced restaurant based on property. I would love to go back and spend more time in Doha, we really only dipped our toes into a very fascinating culture and up-and-coming destination.
With another 5-hour flight on Qatar to Male, we landed in the Maldives and hopped on a not-so-business-class Maldivian Air flight to Kooddoo (I’ve been on older planes, I’ve been on uglier planes, but I’ve never been on smellier planes than what Maldivian Air has to offer).
After falling in love with French Polynesia a few years ago and receiving my Tahiti Tiare Status, I’ve since dreamed of visiting the Maldives to compare the two. I believe I’ve been asked more about the Maldives since receiving the certification and am excited to finally be able to announce a winner….
There is no winner.
As I’ve come to find in many circumstances of the travel world, it’s not black and white. One is not superior to the other, they simply differ depending on your own personalities, needs, and interests. While French Polynesia exudes glamour to showcase the beauty of the islands, the Maldives proclaim the surrounding nature in a much more humble way.
When you step foot into an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, you feel as though you have arrived in the world. When you do the same in the Maldives, you suddenly realize that you have arrived for the world. One is about flash, the other is about subtlety – regardless of your preference, it’s hard to deny the beauty or exclusivity of either destination. You honestly can’t go wrong.
We began our trip at the Park Hyatt Maldives, where we enjoyed both a beach villa with a private plunge pool and an overwater bungalow. With its completely private location on a secluded stretch of beach and a sizable plunge pool, I almost enjoyed the beach villa more than the Overwaters (that’s not my usual style, but it’s happened in the past depending on the property – like at Le Taha’a in French Polynesia). The Park Hyatt’s style for the overwater bungalows is a very unique blend of modern and Asian architecture, not your typically thatched-roof huts, but a great example of the brand’s unique touch.
With its location only 30 miles away from the equator, the Park Hyatt is far enough away from the rest of the world that you’ll feel an incredible sense of isolation, greater than any I’d ever experienced.
The property, which became a Park Hyatt a little over two years ago, has a design that leans toward minimalistic, clean, and modern and an atmosphere that regularly nods toward the Maldivian society and culture. The brand is not necessarily known for its ventures into the world of resorts, so it’s interesting to see the typically corporate-driven brand’s take on kicking back on a completely remote island. It’s definitely for a client who wants to feel like they’ve reached the end of the world.
As a social butterfly and type-A personality, it took me a minute or two to embrace that isolation. However, once I learned to relax and settle in (this is a theme for me, is it normal to have to learn to relax?), the property did feel like paradise. As mentioned above, my favorite place in the world became the daybeds on the overwater bungalows, situated so perfectly above a breathtaking reef that I felt like I was floating just feet above the water.
Despite experiencing the worst sunburn of my life, we had a fantastic week on the property. When the hardest decision of each day is whether to lay out on the beach or at the pool, I think that’s the sign of a great vacation spot.
More to come soon with another resort (Anantara Veli) and business class experience (Cathay) – stay tuned!