It’s not just location that has become flexible in the digital age, but time. People bemoan the 24×7 always-on culture of today’s high-powered business, but the problem is not the “24×7” part, but the “always-on” part. And it doesn’t have to be work that’s available 24-7. Siyam World offers a 24-hour bar Kulhivaru sports bar as a part of its all-inclusive package:
- “KulhiVaru for live sports, cask beers, bar bites and great company. All major national and international games are broadcasted, meaning you’ll stay up to date with all the latest scores.”
Especially great for catching those football matches being played back home in a different time zone.
At Kandolhu immerses you in the art of a deal with their “Spa AI” package. You can relax about a spa splurge and leave behind your worries about a wallet purge:
- “The new offering provide unlimited access to the entire range of spa treatments including VOYA body experiences, YonKa facial treatments, skincare options and a wide range of specialised massages. Skilled therapists personalise daily treatments and activities according to the guests’ wellness needs. By unlimited, no restrictions are applied from visit frequency to type of treatment. Curated instructional videos, Manduka towels and mats, specially designed wellness beverages and healthy mixed fruit plates are provided to all guests booked for this package. A preferred discount is given on all VOYA and Yonka retail products sold at the spa.”
Let your aches and cares melt away instead of your budget.
You don’t want even the trip of a lifetime to cost your life savings. That is why All-Inclusive (or “AI”) packages are so popular. You pay for your holiday and you know that is it. Everything is included. You can enjoy yourself and not have to worry about rocking up to the cashier’s desk on the final day and being hit with a massive outstanding bill. You don’t have to be thinking about every pina colada you order at the pool bar to figure out if you are still within your budget.
The problem is that AI packages themselves add a fair supplement to the price of the holiday. Especially in a location like the Maldives where alcohol is especially dear, giving guest unlimited access needs to be priced pretty high to make sure that they don’t drink the property out of all its profit. Unless you *really* like to drink, or you *really* value the peace of mind factor, I always counsel people against AI because it can add so much to your bill.
As a part of Kudafushi’s drive to be one of the best value 5-star resorts in the Maldives, it has introduced the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too (all the cake you want) package of the “Soft AI”. “Soft” as in “Soft Drinks” included. Kind of a “Full Board Plus”. That’s not just your waters (resort bottled still and sparkling) and fizzy drinks, but also a wide range of mocktails, coffees, teas, juices and even milk shakes (see bar menu above). On top of that, you are also allowed 2 beers from your mini-bar each day included in the price. And if you, are still hankering for a stiff drink but don’t want to budge from your budget, then the resort holds a cocktail hour every Thursday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm which serves free drink (and canapees to boot).
In the traditional travel market, the term “all inclusive” often connotes a bit of a down market, budget holiday with white-label booze and tired buffets. I often get enquiries that are concerned about the quality of a resort because it has all-inclusive offer. As with so many aspects of luxury, the Maldives destination re-writes the conventional wisdom and the “AI” package is in many cases a cornucopia of luxury.
All-inclusive got its reputation catering to budget travellers who had saved up precisely a certain amount for their vacation and not a penny more. They couldn’t chance facing some big check-out bill of extra charges and still hope to pay the rent the next month. To some degree, the same dynamic takes place in the Maldives…but at an entirely elevated level. For many, a trip to the Maldives is a trip of a lifetime. Celebrating a special occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary or milestone, people splash out their life savings for this bucket list adventure. Despite spending thousands, they too want some bounds on just how much the trip will set them back. So a number of the finest resorts offer AI packages to help plan and contain their expenditure.
And it’s not just about financial planning. It’s also a handy convenience. Write your cheque and then don’t worry about prices or money or signing things at all for your entire holiday. Just let the resort pamper you with all they have on offer.
What is on offer is becoming a bit of an escalating arms race in its own right. When I visited the World Travel Market in London this year, I go around to the resorts exhibiting and ask about their distinctive features and offers. Two properties – Centara Grand and OZEN – claimed to have the “most luxurious” AI package in all the Maldives. And that’s no small claim given some of the extravagant packages on offer including a previous Best of the Maldives post on Lily Beach as well as an impressive rival I uncovered at Kandolhu this summer.
As the various inclusions are a bit of an apple-to-orange comparison, I’ve decided to assemble the summary table above to let you all figure out which opulent omneity best suits your tastes. I haven’t included the pretty standard stuff that many if not most resorts provide FOC to all guests like snorkelling equipment, wifi and use of non-motorised sports facilities.
I’ve also now added the Tag “All Inclusive” to track all of the best AI offers.
I told you so. 3 years ago, I awarded Kurumba the “Best of the Maldives for 5 Star Value”. This week, the rest of the world agrees awarding the resort the Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award for Best All-Inclusive. Not just in the Maldives. IN THE WORLD.
The “All-Inclusive” category is all about value-conscious travelling. Many travellers push their budget to the absolute limit in order to afford a bucket-list trip-of-a-lifetime to the Maldives. They don’t want to check-out and get hit with a bunch of unanticipated extra-charges. They want to relax and relaxation means peace of mind that they can do whatever the heck they want and not worry about it.
With the rise of the Maldives’ worldwide profile in recent years, room rates have gone up and up. Many people are opting for a few of the budget options that are out there that still provide the enchanting Maldives experience, but do offer quite simple accommodation, food, décor and amenities. The charm of Kurumba is that it maintains true 5-star exquisite luxury standards in all parts of its operation…and still remains reasonably priced. No wonder so many people have returned from their stays there and raved out it in their TripAdvisor reviews.
[Kurumba staff celebrating their recognition]
‘Luxury’ and ‘All Inclusive’ don’t typically go hand in hand.
All Inclusive resorts have tended towards the budget end of the market where people wanted to have a very defined price for their holiday without risk of overspend. Also, budget conscious travellers value the ‘quantity’ (all you can eat) versus ‘quality’. The problem with having ‘All In’ for premium travellers is that when they want extra wine, it could be £100 per bottle wine. An evenings drinking session could consume more than the cost of the holiday. If you start excluding all the treatments, yacht trips, Blue Label scotches and lobster dinners, then the high end traveller wonders what the point is.
But if you want your cake and eat it too in wanting a 5 star resort with an All In plan, then the Lily Beach is the place to go. Trip Advisor Forum reports and reviews consistently rate it as the highest quality all inclusive resort.
They offer a special ‘Platinum Plan’ which they describe as…
“Keeping the overall concept of ‘Affordable Luxury’ in mind, ‘Platinum Plan’ is a Premium All-Inclusive Plan, offering the discerning traveler absolute value-for-money and a hassle-free holiday with uninhibited enjoyment and peace of mind. Our ‘Platinum Plan’ will delight you with a fantastic array of quality services including premium wines & spirits, sumptuous dining experiences, hand-crafted excursions, sport activities, and much, much more!”
Lily Beach is the place were high rollers can go ‘all in’.
While the absolute lowest price for the Maldives seems to be Asdu Sun, if you want a refreshing brew, pool-side pina colada or glass of wine with dinner, those refreshments can add a tidy amount to an tight budget. As a result, many prefer the ‘All Inclusive’ scheme which minimises those mounting extras and can provide the lowest total cost of a holiday.
Equator Village has an All-Inclusive (AI) for $167 for 2 people sharing making it $84 per person per day which would seem nearly as low as Asdu Sun’s FB offer. Unfortunately, it does take an extra plane transfer to get there which adds $337 per person or $48/day for a 7 day stay.
But, Club Faru quoted $184.00 on All Inclusive for two people sharing for $92 per person per day. That not only covers an extra meals, but drinks (including spirits), soft drinks, coffees and even an city tour excursion to Male. That could be an even a better deal than Biyadhoo’s FB offer overall.
An example of the kinds of questions that TripAdvsior Forum and its experts can help you with was a topic that comes up regularly – ‘All Inclusive’ packages. Many guests are drawn to the notion of all-inclusive so they can truly relax without worrying how much more in ‘extras’ they are going to rack up at the end of their already wallet-biting holiday. But what is included in ‘AI’ packages varies dramatically. Typically, they do include drinks, but some resorts have only a limited selection of drinks available to AI guests and all other drinks are extra. Some activities are included and others are not in places.
According to Spammie, one of the top all-time Maldives destination experts, Athuruga is the premier offering when it comes to ‘all inclusive’…
- “to my knowledge, there are only two resorts that will give you “real AI” – without the dreaded exclusions that mount up to a big bill at the end – as their base standard. the newly refurbished Athuruga and its sister island Thudufushi , which is due to close for refurbishment over this summer. depending on when you are planning to go, Athuruga is your only choice.”