Vacation paradise can take various forms for different people. Still, the image that comes to mind for many is the dream of an overwater villa hovering over turquoise-blue water. JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa is the quintessential example of that, although the Maldives, in general, is not lacking in spectacular overwater villa resorts.
One thing sets this Marriott Bonvoy property apart from the competition; for now, it’s our little secret. Here it is. When redeeming loyalty points for most hotels, the redemption is for the standard room category unless you pay more points for a premium room. In resort destinations, such as the Maldives, the prized overwater villas carry a price (or points) premium that, in many cases, can break the bank. Not here.
The JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa classifies its overwater villas as one of the standard room categories, which means you can redeem points for one without worrying about paying extra or getting an upgrade. This resort makes its beach villas premium since many families prefer them for the sandy expanse where kids can play; some choose to split their stay between the two room types.
Are you thinking of taking a trip to the Maldives and considering staying at the JW Marriott Maldives? This JW Marriott Maldives review will give you the basics on what to expect at this dream destination, where your points can unlock a postcard-perfect experience.
This resort is far north, almost an hour by seaplane flight from Male International Airport. The Maldives is a long, vertical stretch of islands, and this property is situated on the private Vagaru Island in the Shaviyani Atoll.
Thankfully, when making an award redemption or paying cash for a stay, the cost of a seaplane flight is built into the taxes and fees of the rate. While the price is not cheap, it makes the arrival process smoother because you don’t need to worry about making separate arrangements. Once you land, a van will take you to the seaplane terminal. The seaplane will bring you directly to the resort.
Opened in October 2019, the resort has not yet had its chance to make a big splash, given the travel pause of recent years. With borders reopening, now is the time to make a reservation before word gets out on the incredible Marriott Bonvoy redemption opportunity here.
When guests step off the seaplane, the tropical pomp and ceremony begin as a bevy of staff members, including the manager and each villa’s private thakuru (like a butler) greets arrivals. There are flowers, welcome drinks and live Maldivian music while guests are escorted from the dock toward their rooms. It’s an exciting experience that takes place multiple times per day. While there is an air-conditioned reception area, guests complete check-in formalities in their room.
Food and beverage
You’re mistaken if you think you’ll go hungry or tire of the fare on this private island. For such a small property, this resort has plentiful dining options. Aailaa is an all-day dining venue serving three meals. The breakfast buffet includes several cooked-to-order stations for eggs and Indian dosas. There’s also a Maldivian, Indian and Chinese station, a fresh juice stand and numerous options for vegetarians and vegans.
Breakfast options include dining indoors or al fresco on the deck facing the water. The staff is exceptional, and the executive and pastry chefs are often seen checking on each table, sometimes with trays of freshly baked treats. Later, the menu shifts to an international selection, everything from burgers and salads to local curries.
Fiamma is an Italian restaurant with a brick oven for pizza and freshly prepared pasta.
A Thai restaurant, Kaashi, has beach seating and a treehouse setup where diners can enjoy an aerial view of the island. The open-plan kitchen prepares a variety of fragrant Thai dishes that are paired with craft cocktails.
Sharing the same building are Japanese restaurants featuring a teppanyaki table and a steakhouse. Here, guests can start with a sunset cocktail from the al fresco bar before choosing between the two menus. At Hashi, the menu includes fresh sushi, teppanyaki meals prepared in front of you, and a wide range of other specialties paired with a long list of whiskey, sake and Japanese teas.
On the other side is Shio, a steakhouse serving prime cuts of beef and smoked cocktails that are as much about the show preparation as the taste.
Guests can opt to dine on the beach with a private romantic setup. They can also sleep in and order a floating Champagne breakfast to their private pool that arrives with such flair that it is a feast for both the eyes and the appetite.
The Wine Room here is spectacular, too, with a unique wine-pairing dinner experience as yet another option for guests. It is tucked away inside Aailaa and has a menu of 1,620 bottles spanning 320 labels, providing something for everyone.
All overwater and beach villas here have private pools, meaning no matter where you stay, you are guaranteed your own plunge. Only 60 accommodations make this resort relatively relaxed and intimate, with no crowds.
Your thakuru is available by phone or WhatsApp at any time. They can make reservations at the restaurant or spa, assist with on-property activities, deliver things to the room or fulfill other special requests.
No matter the accommodation type, they are all similar in style. They have a contemporary design featuring a wooden deck with an outdoor pool and interiors boasting duvet-covered beds, soft sofas, and side tables and chairs.
Bathrooms are spacious with an array of Aromatherapy Associates toiletries, and the primary bathroom always has a separate shower and soaking tub. The outdoor shower in each unit adds to the unique appeal of sleeping on a private island in the Indian Ocean.
There are different categories of accommodations starting with the standard type, the famed overwater pool villas. There is also an upgraded category: duplex overwater pool villas if you desire more space.
Both accommodations sit on stilts over the water and are easily accessible by foot or golf cart transfer. They vary between sunrise or sunset views, and they have a private wooden deck from which you can jump into the water below for a swim. They all have separate sofa beds and day beds, but the duplex units have an upstairs lounge area with separate bathrooms and sleeping areas, perfect for families.
The beach pool villas and duplex beach pool villas are on the island. They are similar in layout and design to those over the water but have both a wooden deck and direct access to the beach, where lounge chairs and an umbrella await.
The accommodations include a wet bar with a coffee maker, closets with complimentary flip-flops, and beach bags. Bottled water is in every room, and the resort is working to create its glass bottling plant to cut down on using single-use plastic and provide water in glass containers.
Whether you want to kick back and relax or immerse yourself in nature, there is much to do. You can work out in the modern fitness center, which has a fridge of chilled towels and bottled water and sits on stilts over the water.
Nearby is the Spa by JW, which floats over the water with six treatment rooms and an additional couple’s room with its plunge pool, sauna, steam and ice rooms. Guests can also participate in complimentary yoga sessions in the open-air pavilion each morning. The spa menu includes massages, body wraps and scrubs, facials and a long list of salon services.
There are two swimming pools, including a recently renovated pool with colorful mosaic tiles in front of the Italian restaurant. Guests can also order from a list of refreshments and snacks at the pool as they stare off into the aquamarine infinity.
On the other side of the island is an adult-only pool with an infinity edge. Also available to guests over 18 is a lounge with several activities such as a shisha and karaoke room, billiard tables, a cigar room and a library with board games.
Guests can also swim along the beach and lounge chairs with umbrellas lining the waterfront. The watersports center provides plenty of alternatives, too. There is:
Stand-up paddle boarding.
While parents enjoy themselves, kids can take advantage of the Little Griffins Kids Club, which has a multi-lingual staff and separate areas for younger and older kids. They include a variety of educational and entertainment activities. There is even a separate pool with a playground. Ringing the pool are adorable miniature cushioned lounge chairs with small umbrellas.
Best of all, this property does not charge a resort fee.
How to get to the JW Marriott Maldives
American AAdvantage has two partners (Etihad and Qatar) that are among the more convenient ways to reach the island nation, which it classifies as part of the Indian subcontinent region.
Etihad Airways is an American Airlines partner connecting passengers from U.S. cities via Abu Dhabi. It costs just 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way to fly from the U.S. to Male in economy or 70,000 miles each way in business.
Qatar Airways, another popular way to reach the Maldives from the U.S., often has award space, including on their enclosed Qsuites in business class, available from several U.S. cities for similar prices as Etihad, but flights are through Doha, Qatar.
Redemption rates at the JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa vary now that Marriott Bonvoy has switched to dynamic pricing. The lowest rates on the dates we checked clocked in at 62,500 points for an overwater villa. Now that’s a bargain that is tough to beat in the Maldives, even with the seaplane cost!
Featured image courtesy of JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa.
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