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Review: St Regis Maldives Vommuli

Overview

The St Regis Maldives Vommuli is now our favorite hotel in the world, thanks to its unique overwater rooms, best-in-class butler service, delicious restaurants, and gorgeous grounds. The hotel is situated on a private island in the Maldives (south of India) which can only be reached by sea plane. Most rooms are situated on stilts directly over the calm Maldivian turquoise water, giving guests easy staircase access to the coral reef below. While overwater rooms at the hotel normally go for $4,000 USD+ in high season, the hotel can be booked for free with Marriott points and is now a great points value post-Marriott/SPG merger. Below is our full write-up.

Room

As detailed in our previous post, we were able to book a standard overwater villa at this property for 85K points per night, which was an error fare that was bookable for about a day, while the same room type now goes for 185K points per night. It's unlikely that the overwater villa will ever be offered again at the 85K rate, but the good news is that garden villas (which are on land) will continue to be available for just 60K points per night - a fantastic value and the most economical way to make it to the property. If you're booking the room with points, I also highly recommend booking 5 nights as you'll get the 5th night free under Marriott's points redemption policy.

The overwater villas are highly private - each a standalone structure directly over the water, and spaced 10-20 feet apart along either side of a long dock extending into the ocean. Some villas are sunset-facing and some are sunrise-facing. Sunset villas are the most desirable as they face the open ocean instead of the island and other villas. They're also pricier though. The resort rarely upgrades, but occasionally makes exceptions for Marriott elites and those celebrating special occasions.

Each villa has a large balcony complete with a plunge pool, deck chairs, hammocks directly over the crystal blue ocean, and a staircase down to the coral reef below. We spent about 80% of our time at the resort on this back balcony - it had everything we could want during the day. Pro tip: we also brought inflatable rafts with us, which we bought on Amazon. These were indispensable for lounging around the reef around our villa.

Picky snorkelers will likely be disappointed by the reef, as most of the coral in the reef is bleached due to the hotel's recent construction. However, we heard that the hotel is apparently hiring a marine biologist to help repopulate the house reef. In the meantime, guests who want great snorkeling can book modestly-priced boat trips to neighboring reefs with the hotel.

The villas are highly private and given the way they're constructed, it's impossible to look from your villa into your neighbor's. If you do book an Overwater villa, we recommend requesting the north-facing villas, which are fully private and face the ocean.

Inside, the villas are very modern, with gorgeous blonde-wood paneling, hardwood floors, and custom finishes throughout. All aspects of the room are controlled by an iPad, from the lights to the TV to room service.

Upon arrival, the room is stocked with a complimentary champagne, fruit basket, and elaborate setup of baklava & petit fours.

Rooms have floor to ceiling windows that slide fully open directly to the back balcony.

The room's walk-in closet is gorgeous, and the butler can pack and unpack your bags for you. The closet and bathroom have a number of fun amenities hidden in the drawers.

The bathroom also overlooks the back balcony, and has a large standalone tub with its own TV.

Food

Unlike other resorts nearby, the St Regis has an impressive variety of dining options on-property, ranging from a la carte menus with $30 entrees to $600pp tasting menus. Overall, we found the food to be impeccable, and it was surprisinngly possible to stay on a reasonable budget each day without feeling like we were depriving ourselves.

The biggest reason that we were able to keep on a reasonable budget was that as a Marriott Platinum member, I requested free breakfast as my welcome amenity (by far the best welcome amenity value offered by the hotel). This breakfast has a value of $200/day for 2 people, and is the most extensive breakfast menu and buffet I've ever seen. The Platinum amenity allowed us to both order as much as we wanted from the a la carte menu (including pricey items like foie gras with gold leaf, bloody marys, and mimosas) and a huge buffet.

 

Here's a peek at the extensive breakfast menu...

Below are some of the (free) a la carte breakfast items we ordered during our stay.

Foie gras with egg and gold leaf...

French toast

Lobster and crab omelette with caviar

Pancakes

Steak and eggs

Sushi platter

And here's what the buffet looked like...

In addition to the incredible breakfast, the property has several dining options for lunch and dinner. Make sure to email the hotel to make reservations well in advance, as most of the restaurant options require reservations and fill up quickly.

  • Crust - Casual pizza place serving lunch only by the pool
  • Cargo - $125pp tasting menu with middle eastern fare, set in the open forest
  • Orientale - Pan-asian concept featuring separate Chinese, Japanese, and Indian kitchens, with entrees starting around $30
  • Room service - The least expensive option; several options available in the $30-40 price range
  • Decanter - Very expensive tasting menu in Alba's wine cellar going for several hundred dollars per person
  • Alba - (pictured below) Italian a la carte options, primarily seafood, from about $35+
  • Whale Bar - Primarily drinks, also serves tapas in the evening as well

Facilities

Each building at the hotel is inspired by a creature of the ocean. From the snail-shell shaped gift shop to the whale bar and lobster-shaped spa, the architecture of the hotel is the most modern and creative we've ever seen in a tropical destination. In addition, as a Marriott Platinum member, several facilities offered me discounted and free services from a free anti-gravity yoga class to 10% discounted spa treatments and a free 30 minute session in the Blue Hole pool.

The gift shop is a great place to buy souvenirs for friends. Be warned, though, that small items like sunscreen and pool floaties are outrageously expensive... it's much better to pack those in advance.

Vommuli house (gym + library)...

Iridum Spa...

The property's Iridium spa won several World Spa awards in 2018, including best resort spa in the world. We could see why. The spa treatments took place in private overwater villas and the masseuses were very well-trained and relaxing. Treatments range from about $200+, and prices are competitive with other hotels in the area.

The Blue Hole overwater pool at the back of the spa generally costs $60pp, but we were comped a free 30-minute session for two

Spa treatment overwater rooms...

The whale bar on the property is a large indoor-outdoor space where guests can take in the sunset over fantastic tropical drinks (my recommendation: "For Love or Money," their signature burnt pineapple and vodka cocktail). Each sunset, the hotel hosts a champagne-sabering here, and invites couples and honeymooners to help saber the champagne.

The hotel pool is directly on the beach next to Alba. It's beautiful, but since all rooms have their own pool, we never saw another soul here - it felt like a completely private pool.

The island is surrounded by beaches. Guests can walk around the island in about 10 minutes, and the hotel also provides St Regis bikes to each guest to help with getting around. Jungle trails around the island are impeccably manicured, with a team of 6+ people constantly re-sanding and raking the trails every day.

Service

We found the service at the hotel to be on par with the best we have experienced. Our butler did everything she could for us from blowing up the rafts we brought, to unpacking our suitcases, to making our restaurant & spa reservations, to driving us to & from dinner on her buggy.

Housekeeping and turndown service was also phenomenal. Our housekeeper did essentially two full cleanings per day, in the morning and evening - keeping our room immaculate, stocked with ice, and free of sand.

Getting There

One of the unavoidable costs of visiting the hotel is the sea plane transfer to the island from the Male airport (where commercial flights to the Maldives land). This private, 14-passenger sea plane costs $695/passenger round trip from Male airport to the St Regis, and is about a 45-minute plane ride. The plane is a 1-2 configuration; I recommend getting a seat on the left side as you're heading to Vommuli island, as this side typically gets a great overhead view of the St Regis just before arrival.

While being on its own private island creates a sense of isolation and exclusivity, the main risk of the sea plane model is the weather. I highly recommend taking morning flights to the island, because if you miss your afternoon connection (even due to weather), you'll be forced to stay in Male for the evening and will pay in full for your night at the St Regis. This is especially risky during rainy season, which ends in late November. December-Feb are generally the dry months in this part of the Maldives.

Pre-flight, we briefly stayed in the St Regis sea plane lounge where our butler recorded a custom greeting welcoming us to the hotel, which was played for us on an iPad.

We also ordered a few free snacks in our private waiting area, which also had a shower.

The sea plane itself was a pleasant experience and was a great way to see the islands from above. I highly recommend requesting a daytime flight so that you can enjoy the view of the Maldives.

In retrospect, this was one of our most enjoyable hotel stays in memory. We can't wait to come back, and highly recommend the property to prospective guests

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