One of the aspects that distinguishes the Maldives as a destination (and often confuses new visitors not familiar with the lay of the land/sea) are the dedicated resorts islands. On almost all cases, a “resort” and an “island” are a 1:1 mapping. “Tourists Only” resort islands if you will. Most are so dedicated that they don’t really allow guests to come from other islands or visit from things like passing cruise ships.
This is not always the case, though. There are a number of hotels and possibly what one might to refer to as “Resorts” on islands that are not dedicated. One big implication for being on a “shared” island (ie. shared with local population) is that the resort will be unable to serve alcohol. With its Muslim culture, alcohol sale is only allowed on dedicated islands. Barefoot has found a way to accommodate its guests with a special “off shore” license for a boat bar that only its guest can access (in essence, a dedicated “island” of a floating craft).
A few new properties have emerged in “hotel” category on a “non-dedicated island” that seemed reasonable to add to the Maldives Complete database. They are big enough and high enough quality to offer a reasonable alternative to some of the resorts. I have spent time in many of them, visited a few more, and in general have a good appreciation of the considerations for a good hotel from my regular worldwide travel.
I am continuing with my decision to not cover guest houses. There are so many of them, there is little information on the Internet about them (which I depend on for research), and I personally have never stayed in one so I don’t feel I can offer editorial insights about the experience or what to look for.