Several years ago, around the time of our engagement, I showed Mr. T a photo I had found on Pinterest. Said photo featured clear, aqua water, endless sky, and a seemingly impossibly isolated bungalow on stilts, appearing to float on the water’s surface. Without further question, he said, “We’re going there on our honeymoon.” Many months and hours of internet research later, Mr. T planned us a picture perfect honeymoon in the Maldives. He has previously planned several vacations for us, including those to Hawaii and Mexico, so I knew he would do a wonderful job planning our honeymoon. There have been plenty of wedding-related decisions that he has opted out of, and frankly, I don’t blame him—how many men enjoy discussions of exactly which shade of coral, peach, or apricot the bridesmaids should wear? He happily took on the task of honeymoon planning, and I asked him to share his experience with you all! I’ll let him take it from here.
Photo by Bethany Salvon / Beers and Beans
Aside from that Pinterest photo, I knew nothing about the Maldives. Naturally, Wikipedia was my first stop as I sought out how, exactly, I was going to convert that picture into my reality in two years. Also, fun fact: When people ask where we’re going for our honeymoon, we get one of two responses—“Oh?” or “OH MY GOD ARE YOU STAYING IN AN OVERWATER BUNGALOW?!”
The first thing you should know is that the country is not going to be around much longer. Geopolitically, they’re doing fine, but geographically, the tallest point in this chain of 26 islands is only eight feet above sea level, which doesn’t lend itself to longevity given the current climate trends of Earth. Depending on which climate model is used, it is estimated that most of the country will be uninhabitable between 50 and 100 years from now. This, obviously, has become kind of a big deal, and I’ve read that the country is currently looking for places to relocate its population.
The second thing you should know is that the Maldives, because of its geography and now worldwide Pinterest appeal, is relatively pricy to visit. I grew up in Los Angeles, land of the $6 latte, but even I found my chest tightening as I tried to think about how we could ever afford to visit this place.
So, beautiful, expensive, and potentially underwater in 50 years? Sounds like honeymoon material! When else will we be sans-kids, with some gift money, and ready to get the hell out of New England?
First on the agenda was figuring out how I, a mere mortal, and Miss Tractor, a benevolent goddess strangely attracted to a mere mortal, would be able to find anyone willing to take care of our orange menace for a couple weeks.
Scout says hello!
The second step was figuring out how we could possibly afford such an extravagant honeymoon without canceling the wedding and investing that money in extremely risky high yield securities. This is where laziness helps—if you’re willing to wait long enough, there are deals to be had in the world of international travel. Since we had decided on, or at least aspired to, this destination around the beginning of our very long engagement, we had plenty of time to plan and wait for said deals.
Before I go any further, I want to say that this is how we managed to do this. There are countless ways to skin this cat (sorry, Scout), and I would recommend trying out lots of different avenues if you, too, are trying to get to the Indian Ocean. Some of the below will seem like a promotional post for credit cards or hotels, but I can assure you, it is not. What it is is an example and proof that you, too, can vacation with the 1% if you’re willing to save, scheme, and save some more.
Because a trip to the Maldives is so expensive, and I’m cheap, my main goal was to pay for as little as possible without compromising the experience. To do this, I hopped on the Credit Card Points Express train and set a bunch of alerts to let me know as various properties had deals.
I ended up choosing the Hyatt Maldives Park Hadahaa, because by signing up for the Hyatt credit card, we received two free nights (to be used at any of their properties), and we were able to transfer points from Chase, which is my bank of choice and provider of the Sapphire Preferred card, which we both use for day-to-day expenses. Also, a friend had been there recently and had nothing but compliments.
Once the property was chosen, I used this award alert website to let me know when award nights were available for my desired dates. Award nights are dates on which points can be exchanged for hotel stays, which at many of these higher end properties is not every night. If you’re a little more flexible on the dates of your honeymoon, you can end up with a cheaper overall stay. Plan carefully, as award nights tend to fill up one to six months before the full-rate rooms.
Our regular expenses on our credit cards combined with the earned free nights gave us five nights of essentially free stay at the hotel. To get a few more nights, I waited for one of Hyatt’s semi-annual points sales, where you can purchase points and receive a 20–40% bonus, depending on the year. After the point purchase, I had enough points for eight nights in the standard room. I hastily booked our stay over the phone at, like, 1:30 on a Wednesday. I may have shouted, “We’re going to the Maldives!!” in a conference room, by myself, at work. Let’s just say, that conference room may have had glass walls and, just outside, a slew of coworkers staring at me, a screaming lunatic, wondering to themselves, “What does he even do here, anyway?”
Park Hyatt Maldives, Hadahaa / Photo by Kiwi Collection
Eight nights in the Maldives? Great! But what’s the point in going to an exotic hotel with overwater bungalows if you’re not going to stay in the bungalows? I spent a bit more cash, about $400 a night, to put us in the overwater bungalow for two nights toward the middle of our stay. I figured we’d want full days to enjoy the room without being too jet-lagged or worrying about leaving for home the next day.
In total, for a place where the standard room rate is over $800 a night, we will be paying an effective rate of around $250 a night including two nights in a $1,200 overwater bungalow. Not cheap, but it can be doable with some advance planning, and at a rate fairly comparable to a stay at a mid-range hotel in one of my favorite places in the world.
What’s your ideal honeymoon destination? Where was your dream honeymoon? How early did you start planning?