Review: The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, a good value option
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This is our review of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo resort, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s Westin Hotels and Resorts brand. It is, on a value for money basis, potentially one of your best options in the area.
Marriott markets Westin as a ‘premium luxury wellness’ brand, aimed at allowing customers to prioritise aspects such as sleep, fitness and healthy eating.
For business travellers, this actually makes a lot of sense – regular travelling can play havoc on sleep patterns, not mention the impact of room service on a waistline. I was intrigued to see how this played out in the Maldives, a location that very much aligns with relaxation rather than maintaining a routine.
I also travelled with my young daughter, so this review has a particular focus on the family-friendly aspects of the resort.
This article is the first part of a series of three Maldives resort reviews from what was, frankly, not the toughest HfP assignment I’ve had to do. If it makes you feel better, I did need to change resort every three nights, requiring another two sea plane flights via Male each time.
Flights (for me), food, accommodation and activities were provided by Marriott. I paid for flights for my husband and daughter, as they would have got grumpy if left behind for 10 days ….
Many thanks to Sonali and Mikel for all their help, and for providing a fascination snippet into life working on a tropical island.
Getting to the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo
As lots of readers will know, the Maldives is an island nation, made up of 1,190 coral islands. Many resorts occupy the entirety of an island and to get to them requires either a sea plane flight or a speedboat ride.
The Westin Maldives covers the whole of the small island of Miriandhoo in the Baa Atoll, a set of 75 islands now classed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with a thriving coral reef and spectacular marine life.
We took a 35 minute sea plane to the resort, but it is worth noting that you can take a domestic transfer from the Maldivian capital city Malé to a nearby island and then transferring to the resort via a short speedboat ride. As return sea plane flights clock in at around $550 per person, I’ve been told that the domestic transfer can offer a cheaper route to the resort. That said, I struggled to find any availability for less than $400 but perhaps with some forward booking this is an option.
Sea planes are a lot of fun in my opinion but they are 18 seat light aircraft so can be a bit bumpy at times and they are a tight squeeze.
Arriving into the resort
Landing at the Westin after a 12 hour flight, plus a sea plane transfer with a vomiting toddler, was a welcome relief regardless, but with cool towels and friendly welcome line (hello White Lotus), first impressions were very good.
Sea planes land next to a shaded, wave-inspired structure.
We were introduced to our thakaru, or butler, a lovely man called Dalut, who loaded us onto a golf buggy and took us to check in.
Check-in takes place in a reception area made up of individual booths under a large shaded roof. At four years old, the Westin Maldives is a newer property and it has some quite unusual design aspects, many of which have been inspired by the marine life surrounding the island. The ‘reception’ area is inspired by the head of a whale shark for example.
Check-in was incredibly quick and easy, and we were plied with cold drinks and chilled towels throughout. One thing I found incredibly useful at all three of the resorts I visited in the Maldives was that a lot of communication was done through Whatsapp. Dalut immediately set up a Whatsapp group so that whenever we needed to contact him, we could via this method.
Villas at the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo
After a quick tour of the resort, Dalut showed us round our beachside villa. The owners of the Westin Maldives are Japanese and there are some very clear Japanese design features throughout the resort. Notably in the rooms there are lots of sleek lines and natural textures, and many of the rooms can be divided into separate sections with sliding doors.
We stayed in a Deluxe Beach Villa, with a sitting room area as well as the bedroom. The villa was very spacious, with tons of room around the bed as well as an integrated desk area. Whilst no one wants to work whilst in the Maldives, if you did need to, I thought this was a useful and particularly zen space to set up shop.
Storage was good, with three double wardrobes containing an iron, umbrellas, safe and drawer space and was situated behind the bed.
The bed was vast and comfortable – I was asked how I found the bed on a couple of occasions, just to make sure. Guests are provided with a lavender balm to contribute to a good night’s sleep, which is a nice touch. If I was going to be super picky, I would encourage the housekeeping team to tighten up on the bed linen ironing for first impressions.
The sitting area was a good size, with a couple of seating options and a small dining table. A low console ran along one wall, with the TV mounted above. A Nespresso coffee maker was at one end, along with glass water bottles, all very standard in a hotel room these days.
A more surprising addition, however, was the orange juicer provided, along with several oranges. It was a fun touch, and aligns with Westin’s wellbeing ethos, although I actually didn’t try it during my stay.
The console housed a kettle along with lots of glasses, cutlery and the minibar.
The bathroom was impressive, a good size with a large freestanding bath in the middle and double sinks along one side. On the opposite size was a very large shower and a high-tech toilet, complete with motion sensors (the toilet rinsed when you walked in), a heated seat and multiple wash functions, all of which could be controlled by a remote control.
There was also an outdoor shower, which was very pretty and the bamboo ladder was a useful spot for drying swimwear.
Toiletries in the shower and some by the sink were Westin Heavenly Spa branded and were in refillable stoneware bottles, which was great from a sustainability perspective, although I am always disheartened to see plastic packaging on the additional toiletries and amenity kits. Plenty of hotels now do them in paper, and given the impact of plastic waste on the oceans, I was especially disappointed to see these in the Maldives.
That said, the Westin was very committed to the use of glass, rather than plastic, bottles and has even installed its own water purification and bottling plant on the island.
The villa had a small private pool, with sun loungers and some additional seating, along with a small sandy area that led directly to the beach. It was a lovely spot and the pool was deep and wide enough to be ideal for a cooling dip.
The exterior of the villas have an interesting domed roof, apparently emulating a turtle shell and which I’m told provides an additional layer of air capture, helping the rooms stay cooler.
The beachfront location is beautiful but it is a bit tricky to swim or snorkel from the villa as it is rocky underfoot and the tides can make it quite choppy. You need to swim out beyond the wave break to find the calmer waters, but that isn’t easy for everyone.
As I travelled with a small child we stayed in beachside, rather than overwater properties throughout. I did go to visit an overwater villa to see what they were like.
The larger overwater villas run horizontally so guests are always facing the sea, with sections that you can again separate with sliding doors.
There were glass floor panels allowing you to spy on the marine life below.
The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo restaurants and bars
There are three restaurants at the Westin Maldives – Island Kitchen, the all-day restaurant that houses the breakfast buffet, Hawker, an Asian street-food restaurant and The Pearl, a glamourous Japanese restaurant positioned on a jetty.
Of the three resorts I visited, when it came to food and drink I particularly enjoyed the choice that was on offer at the Westin. Westin has an ‘Eat Well’ menu that offers healthy food options alongside less-healthy favourites, so you can pick and choose.
What I really valued were the healthy kids options – this really can be a rarity in my experience. Whilst my daughter would like nothing better than to eat macaroni cheese twice a day for a week, we could at least try to order her some more balanced meals, even if she would occasionally categorically refuse to eat them.
Breakfast was hosted in the Island Kitchen, a high-ceilinged space that faces the resort pool.
The breakfast options were considerable, again with health-focused options such as spirulena pancakes and wheatgrass bircher muesli (both actually very tasty) alongside bacon and eggs and a large bakery section.
We ate one lunch at Island Kitchen too and proving that you don’t have to make healthy choices, my husband ordered this impressive lobster sandwich.
The restaurant hosts a Maldivian night once a week with traditional Maldivian food and freshly grilled meat and fish.
I enjoyed the food at Hawker, visiting on their Indonesian cuisine night and enjoying an excellent Thai curry on another occasion.
At night, it’s a beautiful, balmy spot, although if you are seated in front of the open kitchen at lunchtime it can get a bit hot.
The Pearl is the resort’s ‘specialty’ restaurant (read ‘extra £ when staying on full board’). The placement of the restaurant out over the sea gives it a zen and romantic atmosphere and there are more of the glass panels beneath your feet to watch sea life swim by.
The sushi and sashimi at The Pearl is excellent and there’s a wide selection of sakes guests can pair with their meal. If like me, you know nothing about sake, the waiters are able to recommend pairings.
We had a set 5-course menu, which was very good but not overwhelmingly large so we could enjoy each course. I particularly like the sashimi which must be in part to do with the locally caught fish, making it very fresh.
There’s a bar above the Island Kitchen and looking out over where the sunsets and is aptly called the Sunset Bar. We quickly clocked that there’s a happy hour from 6pm at the bar which was perfectly timed with the sunset. A selection of cocktails and drinks are half price during happy hour – which is useful to know when a cocktail can set you back $25.
A quick nod to my daughter’s favourite part of the resort – the popsicle shop. Although at $9 a popsicle, we didn’t go too often ….
Activities and amenities
There is a large communal pool of differing depths, meaning it is suitable for swimming lengths in one part, but is also great for kids.
I would recommend anyone heading to the Maldives to find out a bit more about the coral reef and how to protect it. The Westin offers lectures and learning with a marine biologist, Kay, who is incredible knowledgeable.
I was able to take part in the Westin’s coral propagation project, which was fascinating and is open to guests. Live coral is attached to frames and placed in parts of the ocean where the coral has been damaged. Despite growing just 6cm a year, coral propagation can really improve the marine life in the area.
The kids club has weekly sessions at the marine centre too, where they learn about the coral. My daughter and husband went along and although my daughter was too young to take part, my husband was really impressed with the teaching and activities Kay ran for the older children.
You can learn to scuba at the Westin and they offer guided snorkelling trips. Thanks to its location in the Baa Atoll, the Westin is in close proximity to one of the main areas for spotting manta rays. During the manta ray season (June – November) the resort offers dedicated snorkelling trips to this area and it is said to be a spectacular sight.
I took part in a Maldivian cooking class which I recommend if you like cooking as Maldivian food is lovely – lots of fish, coconut and curry leaves.
The Heavenly Spa at the Westin was situated in an overwater bungalow complex. I had a head, shoulder and back massage with a therapist called Kruti.
Despite being someone who has a massage to fix problems rather than relax, I found the treatment truly calming, with the sound of water splashing beneath the treatment room and a beautiful view. Kruti ended my massage by plaiting my hair, a completely novel experience in a spa treatment, but strangely, the most relaxing part of all.
Gym and fitness at the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo
The Westin’s gym is possibly the best hotel gym I’ve experienced to date. The view out across the palms and overwater villas is inspiring but the gym is also really sizeable and very well-stocked.
There was a full-sized power rack, TRX and battle ropes along with a large selection of dumbells and kettlebells, plus treadmills, bikes and cross-trainers.
There are a lot of fitness activities on offer such as HIIT classes, outdoor yoga sessions, guided runs and tennis lessons. I took part in a ‘RunWestin’ guided jog, where a Run Concierge leads a group run for guests.
I understand this is available in quite a few global Westins and I can imaging in some cities it must be a fun way to see some of the city with a local. The Miriandhoo island is pretty tiny so a lap only takes about 10 minutes, but it was still a pleasant place to run and if you want a proper workout you could do a few laps.
I also tried out a yoga class which I really enjoyed. It was much more challenging than I anticipated and was situated on a good spot next to the gym looking out to the sea.
Kids Club at Westin Maldives Miriandhoo
The Westin Family kids club offers childcare and entertainment for children aged 4-12 and is run by Haifa and Karen who are just lovely.
The area itself consists of a good-sized, air-conditioned playroom, filled with toys and games, with a small pool that is almost entirely shaded and therefore perfect for kids. There’s also a small pirate ship climbing frame / structure and lots of sand to play in.
There were lots of activities every day including face-painting, cupcake decorating and sand-sculpting. Although children have to be aged 4 and above to attend unaccompanied, younger kids can go and play or take part in activities with a parent or guardian.
I went along on a beach walk to find hermit crabs, which was a fun way of teaching the kids about the ecology of the island. You can also pay for additional out-of-hours babysitting.
Understandably I could not take photos inside the kids club. The images here are taken from the resort’s website but I think they are pretty true to life.
For older kids or teenagers, there’s a pool table, table football and video game area above the Island Kitchen.
A slightly unusual experience I had at the Westin was a trip to the resort doctor. If you’ve ever wondered about what happens when you get sick on a remote Maldivian island, you will be interested to know that many resorts have a full time doctor and well stocked clinic.
My daughter had a nasty vomiting bug on the first day of our trip and as soon as we told the hotel, we were immediately taken to the clinic and seen by the doctor.
The doctor was reassuring, no nonsense and unflappable. Fortunately, it turned out to be a non-serious case of my daughter eating something she shouldn’t (picked up before we arrived at the hotel).
Some anti-sickness medication and a long nap later, our daughter was almost fully recovered and demanding ice lollies. It was interesting to see the clinic and to know that the medical support is there should anyone need it.
I was impressed by the Westin Maldives. The resort still feels new and fresh and I really liked the sleek design of the villas and restaurants.
Compared to some of the other Marriott properties such as the W and JW Marriott Maldives, coming later in this series, the Westin Maldives costs significantly less. In fact, it is a third of the price at some times of the year. Despite this, I found little or no compromise on comfort or amenities. I particularly rated the kids club and the marine centre.
Whilst it won’t be everyone’s idea of a holiday, the fitness and healthy-living aspects of the resort will appeal to many and the quality of the food was very good.
The service was outstanding throughout, but I particularly appreciated the kind concern when my daughter was ill, with members of the restaurant staff stopping me to find out how she was doing and suggesting things to make her feel better. Yes, the staff were fully aware I was on a press trip so some aspects of the service will reflect that, but I also found the staff warmer and more natural than I have experienced at other hotels.
A stay in a deluxe villa like ours costs from £883 per night for a full board package for two in the low season summer months (higher chance of rain, but with the benefit of being able to see the manta rays).
Marriott Bonvoy redemptions are also available, of course, but don’t forget that sea plane transfers and expensive food and drinks will mean that even a redemption stay will result in a chunky final bill.
The link to the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo website is here.
Many thanks again to everyone at the resort for providing this stay.
The two additional resort reviews in this series will follow over the next few weeks.
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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points.
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