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Goway Expert Returns From the Maldives

Mike Bertoia, a Goway IslandsEscapes Specialist just returned from two weeks in the Maldives (plus a stopover in Abu Dhabi and Dubai enroute). Here he shares his “insider tips” on how to sell the exotic Maldives and why you should be suggesting this destination for your romance, luxury and island-escape clientele!

Where did you stay in the Maldives?
I had the privilege of splitting my stay between two of Goway’s preferred partners, the Anantara Veli and Centara Ras Fushi, offering two very different but amazing stays. However, for vacationers, I would recommend sticking with one property. Your clients will get better value (the longer you stay, the more you save) and you typically have to transfer via the airport to visit two places, which can be expensive.

Anantara Veli Overwater Pool, Maldives
Anantara Veli overwater pool
Centara Ras Fushi Aerial View, Maldives
Aerial view of Centara Ras Fushi

How do you get to the Maldives?
I travelled on Etihad Airways, via Abu Dhabi, and onwards to Male. Emirates airlines is another great choice with good connection times. There are numerous international carriers, depending on the departure city. Once in Male, many properties are reached by a small seaplane transfer. These planes only operate in daylight, so it’s important to pay attention to arrival and departure flight times. Alternate modes of transportation would be domestic flights and speedboat transfers. If your clients have a limited time, it would be my recommendation to keep them closer to the airport using properties that offer short speedboat transfers.

Seaplane in the Maldives
Seaplane in the Maldives

What was your favourite experience while there?
I would have to say the amazing crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean was truly a highlight of my trip. Being able to jump in the water from my overwater bungalows and snorkel around the lagoon was an absolutely amazing experience! The accommodation and service levels are also exceptional.

What is your advice for agents selling the Maldives to their clients?
Qualifying your clients is the number one thing when it comes to creating the perfect trip to the Maldives. Knowing their interests and budget is vital, so we can recommend the best property (there are over 120 resorts to choose!). From surfing, fishing, diving, snorkeling, nightlife and spa relaxation, there is really something for everyone, so it is important to know from the start. Getting an overall budget for your clients (including spending money) is extremely important as this is an upscale destination. Pre-purchasing meals, or buying an all-inclusive plan is the best value and always my recommendation. Goway has preferred properties that we work with, and you can feel comfortable knowing we will make the best recommendation. The Maldives is pretty far away, so it would also be my recommendation that your clients consider doing a stopover in one of the transit destinations to break their trip. I would suggest doing this on your return home to break up the long flight, and make the transition back to work a little easier!

Snorkeler Diving Along the Brain Coral, Maldives
The Maldives are perfect for diving enthusiasts

What’s on your packing list for the Maldives?
The Maldives is very relaxed, so a few bathing suits, a pair of flip flops, shorts, and t-shirts are ideal. Most restaurants are “Resort Casual,” meaning, a golf shirt and Bermuda shorts for the men and a sundress or shirt and shorts for the ladies. Be sure to pack lots of sunscreen, maybe a pair of water shoes, and a camera (including an underwater camera) to capture all the magical memories you will be sure to have.

How does the Maldives compare to Tahiti (French Polynesia)?
While there are several similar (and amazing) experiences and highlights, including beautiful overwater bungalows accommodations, stunning blue lagoons, and plenty of water-based activities, there are also some very important differences:

  • Seasonality is opposite each other with French Polynesia‘s dry seasons from June to October, and the Maldives’ dry season from December to March.
  • French Polynesia offers mainly French cuisine, including beautiful fish with vanilla sauce, pastries, and of course, fantastic wines. Maldives is definitely a “foodie” destination, offering clients an international experience with many choices of food from Japanese, Italian, Arabic, Tappenyaki, Thai, and much more. It is also important to know that while you can get alcohol on the resorts, you are not allowed to bring any alcohol into the country.
  • While French Polynesia tends to mainly only offer meal plan add-ons, many properties in the Maldives offer all-inclusive options, which would be my recommendation wherever possible, as everything is shipped in, and can come with a higher price than we are used to paying in North America (a bottle of water can cost between $8-10USD plus tax and service fee of 22%).
  • Both French Polynesia and the Maldives have cruising options, with French Polynesia offering clients a wide range from your large cruise ships, Princess, Oceania, Paul Gauguin, to working freighter cruise with Aranui or catamaran cruising with Archipels.  The Maldives’ main style of cruising is liveaboard, which caters to your clients interested in diving.
  • A major difference between the two destinations is that French Polynesia is a more mountainous destination with larger land mass, such as Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora, whereas you will find Maldives to be flat, slightly above water level sand atolls (individual islands).
  • It is common to “island hop” between 2 or 3 islands in French Polynesia, but in the Maldives, you typically stick to one resort.
  • Lastly I would like to remind you that both destinations are upscale. In some islands of Tahiti there are some great lead in 3-star properties where the Maldives tends to only offer 4- or 5-star.
  • Both destinations are perfect for romance, honeymooners, families, and of course, your luxury-seeking clientele.

Related Article:
Tahiti vs the Maldives: Six Tips to Help You Decide

Aerial View of Coral Atolls in the Indian Ocean, Maldives
Aerial view of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean

What was something new you learned while there?
Even with all my experience in selling the Maldives, one thing I didn’t realize was the cost while in destination. Due to the remote location, everything is shipped in from afar and it comes with a high cost. A bottle of water is about $9USD and a beer can range from $9-$13 USD, a buffet dinner at $115USD per person – not to forget the taxes and service fee which total 22% on top of the cost of an item. My recommendation no matter which property your clients choose, is that they pre-book as inclusive a package as possible and be prepared for additional expenses in destination. At Goway we offer a wide variety of properties with an All-Inclusive option, so be sure to ask us for our opinion.

What are some interesting excursions/activities you would recommend?
The Maldives is all about the beautiful crystal blue lagoon. Snorkeling and/or diving is a must in this pristine part of the world. Surfing is also a very popular activity, as well as sand bar hopping tours and swimming with the whale sharks! There are also some fabulous spas to be enjoyed, with some resorts offering an overwater spa experience.

If you could go back, what would you like to see/do next?
When I go back I would love to try my hand at surfing and maybe get my diving certification.  As well, I would love to see a few more of our preferred properties, such as The LUX Maldives, which has a “secret bar,” the Conrad Maldives so I can dine underwater at Ithaa Restaurant, and I would love to stay in one of the Sangu Water Villas at the Kuredu Island Resort, one of our most popular properties. Also, if I was really lucky, I would stay at the two Four Seasons properties, and take their luxury liveaboard cruise in between – the package is called “Twice in Paradise” and is simply amazing!

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Mike Bertoia in the Maldives
Mike soaking up the sun in the Maldives

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