The Upgrade

This To-Die-For Maldives Hotel Tour Is the Vacation You Need From Your Desk Right Now

PART 22: One Mile at a Time blogger Ben Schlappig explores indulgences at the St. Regis — like an overwater bungalow with a private plunge pool.

Hi again, fellow wanderlusters. It's Ben Schlappig here again, the full-time traveler behind One Mile at a Timeand the guy who introduced you to my uber-luxury travel lifestyle all made possible by using miles and points. In our series with Jet Set, we're going around the world in 21 days... all in five-star luxury, and booked at the very last minute.

In my last post, I was arriving in the Maldives in over-the-top luxury.

I’ve been to the Maldives a few times now, and it has grown on me with every visit. I’m absolutely horrible at relaxing and struggle with unwinding, so prior to my first visit I figured I’d be bored. Since most resorts are on private islands, the Maldives isn’t really for someone who usually likes city vacations.

Maldives... stunning!

However, with every visit I’ve enjoyed it more and more, and I’ve been surprised by how well I’ve been able to unwind while there. It’s one of the few places where I manage to disconnect. Often you need to go far away to unwind, at least for me.

The other great thing about the Maldives is that there’s an increasing number of points properties there. Prior to visiting the newly opened St. Regis Maldives, I stayed at the Park Hyatt Maldives twice, which is an exceptional use of points. The property costs just 25,000 points per night, while paid rates are typically over $1,000 per night. So that’s an unbeatable use of points.

A couple of years ago we even spent New Year’s Eve in the Maldives, where the rates would have been about double as much as usual when paying in cash. However, when paying in points the cost is the same no matter when you stay, assuming a standard room is available.

The St. Regis Maldives opened in November 2016, so it was only a few months old when we visited. To say that the property is stunning wouldn’t begin to do justice to it.

The St. Regis Maldives has 77 rooms, and about two thirds of those are overwater villas. If you’ve seen a picture of a resort in the Maldives, you’ve probably seen these overwater villas, and they’re every bit as special as you’d think.

However, even the beach accommodations are amazing, and many even prefer them, since they typically have direct beach access.

St. Regis Maldives snapshots

In our case we were staying in a St. Regis Suite, which was stunning beyond words. Typically when you have a secluded luxury resort, some compromises are made on design. That’s especially true in the Maldives, given the challenge of sourcing many materials.

However, the design of our suite was to the same level as any other new St. Regis I’ve stayed at, if not nicer. The room was modern and luxurious without being minimalist, and I felt like the design was true to the brand.

Our suite had a living room along with a dining area. Then next to that was the bedroom, which had a comfortable St. Regis signature king size bed. Then next to that was the bathroom with a walk-in shower and soaking tub.

Beyond the beautiful furnishings, the room was also brilliantly designed. Rather than having the rooms be behind one another, all three actually next to one another, so they all have prime ocean views. I was also impressed by the little details — the outlets were everywhere you’d expect them, for instance. You’d be surprised by how often that’s not the case, even at newly built luxury hotels.

As beautiful as the inside of the room was, though, the highlight was the exterior of our suite. We had a huge overwater patio with a dining area, lounge chairs, and even a private plunge pool. I’ve stayed in a few overwater villas in my life, but never one with a plunge pool. How cool!

There’s also a dock on each overwater villa, so that you have direct access to the ocean. It’s pretty cool to go snorkeling directly from your room.

Since it had been a long travel day and we arrived shortly before sunset, we decided to go to the Whale Bar for sunset. When the hotel was designed, they put effort into making as many aspects of the hotel ocean themed as possible, and that includes the bar, which looks like the head of a whale.

This is also the best place from which to watch the sunset. There are a lot of things to love about the Maldives, though the single best part is how consistently stunning the sunsets are. So enjoying a cocktail with live music was pretty tough to beat.

But we didn’t just go for any cocktail, but rather a bloody mary. As you may recall, every St. Regis has a signature bloody mary. This is because the drink was invented at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis New York, so each hotel offers its own local take on it.

The St. Regis Maldives has the Island Mary, which is served in a conch and is super spicy. This is no doubt one of the most unique St. Regis signature bloody marys. 

Speaking of drinks, the hotel also has a really impressive wine cellar. Hotels — especially five-star hotels — make a lot of money off having an amazing alcohol selection. After all, properties like these have hundred-millionaires and billionaires who come and drop $5,000 per bottle of wine.

The wine cellar

The St. Regis has a very impressive cellar which I imagine would suit just about anyone’s tastes. If you’d like to experience the wine cellar, the hotel has a twice weekly five-course menu paired with wines, which accommodates at most 12 guests. This is hosted by the hotel’s executive chef and wine director, so is worth considering.

Personally I’m a big fan of champagne, so I loved just exploring the cellar. It sounds weird, but over the years I’ve acquired a taste for different champagnes through various first-class products. It’s amazing how much some airlines spend on champagne in first class. For example, there are airlines serving Dom Perignon, Krug, Salon, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle, and the like. I love seeing what champagne collections hotels have, and often I can point to the various bottles and rattle off which airlines serve those brands and vintages. 

The St. Regis Maldives is stunning, and in the next installment I’ll talk a bit more about a day in the life in the Maldives. Stay tuned!

FOLLOW MY JOURNEY:

Getting to the Maldives is one of the best parts of the whole experience!

Why the Middle East is an ideal place for a sensational stopover.

Dubai is over-the-top glitzy — but here's why it makes travelers like me feel right at home, too.

Here's why hotels club-level lounges are no-brainers for travelers (especially if you work on the road).

This is one of the best hotel suite upgrades I ever got... and that's saying a lot!

Here's what makes a Middle East vacation so unique.

Is this the most incredible all-inclusive hotel in the Middle East?

Tour one of the world's best first-class airport lounges.

This is what it's like to fly inside one of the fanciest cabins in commercial air travel: an apartment in the sky.

Come with me on my flight filled with caviar, designer pajamas, and luxury gifts.

I support my boyfriend's first-class travel life (and in return he lets me pull stunts like this).

See how I booked a $12,000 flight for nearly free.

See Bali's littler-known party side — including a hangover brunch (with a DJ) to end them all!

Glimpse the five-star life I love (and buy with miles!) in Bali.

Here's why I call Bali the ultimate place to recharge.

Check out my epic layover in the world's best airport on the way to Bali.

Read up on my Hello Kitty-themed flight to get this far...

And the Hello Kitty airport experience to match!

And here's where it all began at LAX.

How I became an airline champagne connoisseur:

The Airline Champagne Connoisseur
Walking through the collection of bottles at the St. Regis in the Maldives, One Mile at a Time blogger Ben Schlappig identifies many varieties from the first-class cabins that serve them.

See the remote island wine cellar that renders even this seasoned luxury travel blogger "speechless!"

Ben Schlappig, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, experiences about $1 million worth of travel every year using miles and points — and covers about 400,000 miles annually this way. Ben has teamed up with Bravo’s Jet Set for a series called The Upgrade, in which he shows you how you — yes, you! — can score real-world-ready strategies for upping your travel game. Come along for the adventure!

Jet Set is Bravo's launch pad for the most extravagant, luxurious, and unforgettable travel experiences. Ready for takeoff? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.

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