“What’s your budget?”
That is the very first question I or the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum will ask of anyone looking for advice on which of the 120+ resorts to book. And be careful about saying ‘money is no object’ because in the Maldives, the top rooms top out at over $10,000 *per night*.
So when I built the Maldives Complete database that would allow people to filter on the key variables for them, I had to include ‘Cost’ as one of the top variables. The challenge in the whole site is keeping it ‘complete’ (ie. data for as many islands as possible). A clean, consistent, ideal definition of cost would be great, but would be a nightmare to get and maintain for all resorts. In fact, it is this difficulty of getting such information broadly across the resorts that inspired me to build the site in the first place. So I had to choose a definition of ‘Cost’ that was useful and relevant as well as available.
On the Finder page, the ‘Approximate Cost’ is defined as ‘£ GBP for half board and transfers for 7 day stay’. And on the Profile page it is described as ‘UK Feb 15 Cost (GBP £)’. So what exactly does this mean? And why did I choose this measure? That was the question posed by ‘Froggy’ in the recent Trip Advisor Forum post ‘New categories for Complete Maldives’.
The cost is composed of a few assumptions…
- Duration – I found that most people thought about the costs of going to the Maldives in terms of the cost for a week. Most tour operators quoted their packages as such. So the cost is for 7 days which people seemed to both relate to and the data was readily available for (for starters, I used tour operator catalogues for research).
- Half Board and Transfers – These considerations are meant to include the ‘whole’ cost of the holiday at the cheapest one could achieve. You have to include transfers because resorts that have a seaplane ride will be a few hundred dollars more expensive for that transfer. Half Board seemed like the reasonable minimum Board costs. Our family did Half Board our first few times when our budgets were tight. We ate huge buffet breakfasts late in the morning, skipped lunch, and then had a filling meal again at the resort buffet which is, again, all-you-can-eat. As a result, I could only get Full Board or All Inclusive rates for some resorts and I had to make an ‘adjustment’ allowing for the extra food and amenities at these rates. If I could determine the supplement cost for these Board levels, then I would simply deduct that amount. If an explicit amount was not published, I estimated £50 per day for Full Board and £100 per day for AI.
- Lowest Room Category – The price researched was for the cheapest room category available. Again, I wanted people to be able to answer the question ‘what would it take’ to stay at this resort.
- Feb 15 – The price of Maldive resorts varies quite dramatically across different high and low seasons. I chose mid-February as a semi-arbitrary compare point for several reasons…
- High Season – I wanted a High Season rate so that people didn’t see a Low Season rate, think they could afford the resort, and then find the price for their time was much higher. High Seasons rates are also more consistent. Resorts typically sell-out at full price in High Season. On Low Season, people can find all sorts of bargains at all sorts of prices if resorts are trying to move unsold inventory. As a result, pegging a representive price point for Low Season is a lot harder.
- Not a Holiday – ‘Xarla’ correctly pointed out on TripAdvisor that the very top prices are typically during Christmas/New-Year and Easter holidays. But the former typically includes special meals and entertainments, and the latter moves around from year to year. So February seemed a safe and consistent time where the prices would be most uniform.
- From UK (and GBP pricing) – The packages differ by country because (a) different offers are available to different markets, and (b) airfare differs. I chose the UK because I was from the UK. The UK was the biggest source of guests back when I started researching. While the absolute cost might differ in other countries, the numbers should still provide a good relative comparison between the resorts.
Curiously, when I recently added the ‘Room Type’ Profiles, I adopted a slightly different definition for ‘Cost’ primarily because the type of information that you get on an individual Room Type differs from that available for Resorts overall. I had to make a few modifications to the ‘Approximate Cost’ listed…
- US Dollars – The biggest source of information on individual room rate (especially these days) are the Room Quote capabilities and published rack rate listed on the resorts’ websites. These are always listed in US Dollars.
- Bed & Breakfast – Looking at an individual room, it seemed to make more sense to just talk about the room price typically referred to at ‘B&B’ (Bed & Breakfast) or ‘RB’ (Room and Breakfast). Every resort includes breakfast as a part of the most basic rate. Again, if FB or AI rates were all I could find, I adjusted them as noted above.
- One Night – While the ‘Resort Cost’ was listed per week, I listed the ‘Room Cost’ per night. It is just my assessment that people think of Resort costs per week and Room costs per night for comparison purposes.