A couple of years ago, I started one of those chat enquiries with a travel agent online. “Hi!” types the chirpy agent at the other end. “How can I help you today?” I didn’t know where to start. I just wanted her to tell me how to choose a resort in the Maldives!
A Holiday in the Maldives
“We are looking at booking a holiday in the Maldives…” I say. I’m a bit nervous. I have no idea if we even have enough money to do this. I’ve contacted an agent who specialises in Maldives holidays. We usually book our own travel and accommodation but the choice is overwhelming. I know, I know. Life is so hard choosing between incredible 5* luxury resorts in a place that can only be described as paradise. First world problems and all that.
But back to my story. “Sure thing!” she writes back. “Can I take a few details? And can I ask why you have contacted us?” I give her the usual information – 2 adults, one toddler, one baby. I supplied the dates of travel and a budget.
“Great!!!” She says (lots of exclamation marks. I’m imagining she’s the sort of person who is all sparkly even at 5am on a cold day in London). “Can I ask what else are you looking for?” I hesitate. What else? Sandy beaches? Crystal clear waters? Nice food? Comfy bed? “Well, I think we would like to go to one of the larger islands” I type. “You know, with a few restaurants. I don’t want to eat all 3 meals in the same restaurant for a week. We’d like to be able to take a walk around the island and for it to take longer than 3 minutes. We will be getting off a long flight with 2 unpredictable kids. So maybe somewhere that’s not too far from the mainland.” I pause. “Oh, and a kids club – they don’t need to take the kids but it would be nice to have some place that we can take them to play.” I already knew most places wouldn’t take the Things as they were so little.
There is a long pause at the other end. Finally she asks if there is anything else and I say no.
“That’s not really specific enough.”She concludes. “How can you expect me to choose a resort out of all the ones we have here? Almost all of them will offer you these things.”
Too Much Choice
I fought back the urge to write back in caps “WELL IF YOU CAN’T THEN WHAT HOPE DO THE REST OF US HAVE????”. I made my apologies for being such a difficult customer (!!!!!!!!) and left the conversation. We did go to the Maldives that year but, unsurprisingly, we didn’t go with that agent.
You may find it interesting to know that Mr Wanderlust is actually the one who does most of our booking. I will quite often do a bunch of research especially if it is the sort of holiday where we are direct booking. But I get a bit deer-in-headlights overwhelmed sometimes.
The amount of choice is crazy these days with resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday rentals. My FOMO means I have a bit of a struggle actually pulling the trigger. Do we really want to go there? We’ve been before. We really want to go to this place too. Maybe we should go there? I think this house looks awesome…. But what if I’ve missed something? Maybe I should just check again… Mummy Wanderlust says I have the patience of a saint dealing with the Things sometimes (she’s right) but Mr Wanderlust takes patience to a whole new level.
Mr Decisiveness to the Rescue!
Mr Wanderlust did some research and found a travel agent. They made some recommendations. We booked it, got our flights and a few weeks later we were in Kurumba.
This year, even though it wasn’t in our plan we decided we needed to get away and quickly booked a long weekend away. The embargo means there aren’t loads of (warm) options for a late October break. We had had a wonderful time in the Maldives 2 years ago so we jumped at the chance to go again.
How Do You Choose?
There is just SO much choice in the Maldives (over 70 resorts!). Here are some tips for narrowing down the search:
- If you are travelling as a family you can eliminate some resorts which are couples only.
- Have you got a long inbound flight? Do you want a long wait in Male followed by a long transfer?
- Do you get motion sick? These are little boats and planes. Chances are everything will be flat calm but you never know.
- What time will you arrive? Most seaplane transfers can’t leave after 4pm. A late arrival (scheduled or delayed) could mean spending a night on Male. (Not necessarily a bad thing – day trips to Male are increasingly popular).
- Do you want a Kids Club? Do your kids? Even if you don’t want to use the child care, we find hotels with kids clubs can more accommodating towards kids. E.g. more likely to have baby equipment and a decent kids menu.
- Are your kids toddling about or are they teenagers? We had a garden room to be away from wandering into the sea or off the side of a water bungalow.
- If your kids are napping, is there a space where the adults can go? (Lying silently in the dark was never my favourite thing to do. Nor was sitting in the bath / on the toilet reading a book).
- What is your budget and what does it include? For example, an all inclusive price will be more expensive than bed and breakfast in the same room. If you set a budget but don’t say what it should include then B&B at booking will mean your total holiday cost is higher. That might be ok for you.
- Be aware that your resort will have you as a captive audience. Food and drink will be expensive because… well, you literally have no choice.
- Are you looking for a more authentic experience? You can do the Maldives on a budget quite easily by staying in a homestay or guesthouse. You won’t get the luxurious hotel packages or be able to drink alcohol. But you’ll save a ton of money and get to see the real Maldives.
That’s Not Enough Information
Even having thought about all these things, you won’t be able to narrow down your search by much. What’s more is that the prices you would find yourself on a site like, say, booking.com are going to be more expensive than through an agent.
Against all our instincts, for both bookings we have used a travel agent. They’re just one we found on the internet and did some research on to make sure they are reputable. I found another one that had a quote that was $500 cheaper for the exact same room, rate, etc but we did some research… It made us things that generally things that look too good to be true are. That being said, our agent was $200 cheaper than another one that had been recommended to us by a friend. All the agents we got quotes from were cheaper than the booking sites AND included extras such as free room upgrades or kids eating free.
I’m going to wait till after the trip to make sure we have had a good experience and then give our agent a shout out.
What if you’re short on time or money?
I’ve never stayed on Male or even done a day trip there. If you’re only around for a couple of days or are looking to keep costs down then this is a great way to do it! Soujourning in Life has some great tips for you if this is your plan.