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Marriott’s latest property in the Maldives, the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, started accepting reservations a little over a week ago and as I always do with new properties that I think I may like to visit, I decided to take a look and see what’s being offered and at what cost. It didn’t take me long to decide that the newest Ritz-Carlton was a hard pass.
My reasons for deciding that I have absolutely no interest in visiting the Ritz-Carlton Maldives have nothing to do with the property itself (I’m sure it will be a beautiful resort with charming staff) but, instead, are to do with a combination of Marriott Bonvoy’s policies and the fact that I don’t like to feel like I’m being ripped off.
A big issue with the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program is that it allows various hotels and brands to pick and choose which parts of the program they want to sign-up for and which they’d prefer to ignore. In the case of the Ritz-Carlton brand, Marriott’s suite night awards are not honored, elite breakfast privileges are ignored, top-tier elites don’t get access to the lounges that the properties offer, and complimentary upgrades at Ritz-Carlton properties are rarely more than a single level upgrade to what is usually just a slightly better view (even if you hold Bonvoy Titanium status).
Still, the Ritz-Carlton brand has some very nice properties so despite the fact that a visit to one of its properties would see me unable to make the most of some of the more key benefits of my Bonvoy status, I still consider the brand when I’m making travel plans. Lack of benefits alone isn’t always enough of a reason to put me off from booking a Ritz-Carlton property and that’s why I was happy to check out the Ritz-Carlton Maldives.
The biggest surprise I got when I searched Marriott.com for a stay in the Maldives was the difference in cost between the Ritz-Carlton Maldives and the hugely aspirational St. Regis Vommuli Resort. Here’s an example of what I found:
There’s a price difference of approximately $900 per night between the Ritz-Carlton and the St. Regis but to be fair to the Ritz-Carlton, the price the St. Regis is quoting is for a “Garden Villa” while the price quoted by the Ritz-Carlton is for an “Ocean Pool Villa”. Both rooms are approximately 1,600 square feet in size.
The next level room available at the St. Regis (for the same dates) is an “Overwater Villa” which is almost 2,000 square feet in size and costs $1,421/night (on the dates selected).
This is a room that’s 300 square feet larger than the room at the Ritz-Carlton and which costs approximately $660 per night less. Per night, not per stay!
This pricing isn’t an outlier or an anomaly. I checked 5 separate date ranges to see what prices I could find and for every search, the Ritz-Carlton was considerably more expensive than the St. Regis (which, by the way, is only 4 years old).
When you consider the fact that St. Regis properties don’t pick and choose which Marriott Bonvoy benefits to offer their guests, and that Bonvoy members lose a lot of their benefits at Ritz-Carlton properties, why would any Marriott elite choose the Ritz-Carlton over the St. Regis? It’s not like the St. Regis is an inferior property – take a look at it:
There’s a chance that the Ritz-Carlton’s pricing is still not finalized as the property isn’t due to start accepting guests until next year (I’m being charitable by suggesting this because, in reality, these are the prices people are being asked to pay), but this isn’t the only reason I get the feeling that the Ritz-Carlton is a rip-off.
As is the case with most major 5* resorts in the Maldives, it takes a bit of effort to get to the resort – a speedboat and/or seaplane is often required – and getting from the main airport (Male) to the various resorts is far from cheap. The St. Regis, for example, charges a steep $745/adult and $499/child for roundtrip travel:
If you’re looking for this fee while you’re booking, you’ll find it listed under “Local Fee” in the breakdown of the costs:
Keeping in mind that the St. Regis charges $745/person for a roundtrip of approximately 260 miles and that these are the relative positions of the two resorts in relation to Male (the image on the left shows the location of the Ritz-Carlton)…
…it wouldn’t be too much of a leap to expect the Ritz-Carlton to charge a little less for its roundtrip service. But that’s not the case.
At the time of writing, there are no details of the Ritz-Carlton’s service on the property’s website, but we can still see how much a roundtrip transfer costs (for two people) by making a dummy booking and checking the breakdown of costs for the booking:
Yes, for a considerably shorter set of flights the Ritz-Carlton is charging $900/person for roundtrip travel between Male and the resort. I defy anyone to tell me that this isn’t a colossal rip-off.
I know that the Maldives are famous for being expensive, overpriced, and generally not somewhere to go if you’re trying to be frugal, but I really resent properties that feel they can gouge guests to whatever degree they feel like gouging them.
I appreciate that the Ritz-Carlton is new and that it’s a top-tier property but neither of those factors justifies the comparatively ridiculously high room rates the property is currently charging nor do they justify charging guests $900 each for roundtrip travel of just a few miles.
Thanks but no thanks. I love a beautiful resort as much as anyone but I think I’d spend any stay at the Ritz-Carlton feeling like I’d been taken for a fool and wondering why I didn’t go to the St. Regis instead – that’s why I’ll be giving the Ritz-Carlton a wide berth if I ever decide to visit the Maldives.