When RCI announced that it had included the Maldives in its list of resorts, I jumped at the chance to go to Medhufushi Island Resort, a tropical paradise.
For about a decade, I’ve been a loyal member of Club Mahindra and RCI, believing fervently that until my child turned 18, timeshares were the safest, most family-friendly option for a single mom vacationing with a small child.
This was actually true to some extent. There are many benefits to timeshares, but that’s a topic for a different blog post.
Now, the Maldives was on my bucket list for a number of years, but I never even imagined I could go there. It was a luxury and honeymoon destination that, I thought, would always be out of reach.
In my mind, such exotic places were reserved for celebrities like the Bachchans and very rich tourists. So when RCI announced that it had included the Maldives in its roster, I couldn’t contain my excitement at the chance to go.
We booked our trip through a friendly, Sri-Lankan company called Southern Hospitality, that RCI had partnered with. I decided to opt for the full-board (three meals a day) package and paid for our board, plus the seaplane journey before we left.
In early December 2017, we boarded our Srilankan Airlines flight in Mumbai and took our first steps outside India via Colombo to Male. Since the Maldives is one of the countries where Indians get a visa on arrival, the immigration process was a breeze.
At Male, our tourist operator transferred us to the TransMaldivian Airlines (TMA) Terminal. Unfortunately, Cyclone Ockhi decided to make landfall just then, bringing heavy showers, so all flights were canceled due to bad weather.
This led to quite a bit of chaos at the TMA terminal. The passengers who had booked resorts not too far from Male decided to proceed there by boat, while many had not yet realized that they were not going anywhere.
I knew that once people realized we were spending the night in Male, the hotels would be packed to the rafters with stranded passengers. I had to act quickly if we were to find a place to stay, and asked our tour operator to book us a hotel room pronto. It took us a short ferry ride to get there.
Male City did not impress me at all. There was no feeling of being in a foreign country. It reminded me too much of Mumbai, and as we passed a Tata Housing project, it felt just like another suburb of Andheri. Cities can be dreary, soulless places, especially ones that are poorly planned.
As the capital of an archipelago, I found Male a cramped and crowded place. Stepping through lanes too tiny for even a car to pass, we reached the Octave Hotel, where we retired for the night. I prayed that the weather would improve the next morning if only so we could get out of the city.
I was weary and my feet were cramping up. I soaked them in hot water for some relief. The staff at the Octave Hotel were courteous and helpful, and our tour operator made sure we were well-taken care of. But I suspect, at this stage, I would have found any old hotel a blessing.
The room service had some excellent options, and, hungry from our long day, where the only thing we’d eaten were bland-tasting sandwiches in the TMA lounge, I ordered some jumbo prawns before bed.
The concierge (poor man) thought I’d ordered two plates and was dismayed when I had to ask him to take one back, but he took it back and didn’t charge me for it, which I was grateful for.
Whether I was positively ravenous, or because the prawns were so fresh, I’ll never know, but those jumbo prawns were the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten in my life. I still salivate every time I think of them.
The weather had vastly improved the next morning, but on these tiny islands, squalls can descend pretty quickly. Eager to get going, we had a very early breakfast, thanks to the obliging hotel chef, and left for the airport terminal. It wasn’t long before we managed to take off to our destination – Medhufushi Island Resort.
The 45-minute seaplane journey, a first for us, was a bit stomach-churning, but the sight of the numerous little coral atolls from the air was captivating. In my mind, the melodious voice of Harry Belafonte was singing “Island In The Sun” while below, the sun sparkled and glinted on the blue-green sea.
Medhufushi Island Resort is truly a tropical paradise – one of those picture-perfect little islands that you see in those glossy travel magazines and yearn to visit. I was thrilled to find that, in such a beautiful location, you can get really good photos with just a mobile phone. #nofilter required. 🙂
We were booked into an over-water villa, one of the little rooms on stilts that fan out into the sea. The guest relations manager, Kishore, was a clever young man from Bangalore.
He was quick to inform us that he’d given us the sunset villas that face the west, which were better than the sunrise villas. Those, he said, are allocated to large families, so that they don’t fight among themselves over who’s got the better villa.
Stepping out onto the balcony of our water villa, the first thing that hit me was the breeze and the sight of miles and miles of blue-green waves in every direction. It was unreal. It felt like we’d entered a very rarefied realm that we could lose ourselves in.
It’s true what they say, that the beach is good for your health. The sight of all that water was unimaginably soothing and calming.
All I wanted to do was to spend as much time as possible gazing at the waves, listening to the ocean, absorbing it all so I could see it in my mind’s eye anytime I wanted. Of course, nowadays you have Instagram for that. 😉
The first day we spent on the island was relatively dry, with the cyclone seeming to have taken a hiatus. We spent most of the day exploring the sandy beach, familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the resort, and savoring the excellent buffet.
Maldivians make a living through fishing and tourism. Most of the staff in the resort are ex-pats from Bangladesh and the chefs are very good with fish preparations.
The fish and vegetarian curries were excellent as was the Continental food. The sushi and sashimi were not as tasty. But when you’re spoilt for choice, like we were, you can’t really complain.
On impulse (and thanks to the sales skills of the talented Mr. Kishore), I decided to upgrade us to the all-inclusive package – which included unlimited drinks, two bottles of drinking water a day, and a couple of free excursions. What’s a holiday on the beach without a few Margheritas?
Because Medhufushi Island Resort is just that – an island – freshwater is scarce. The resort has a desalination unit so that they can create the copious amounts of freshwater their guests require.
Being an eco-conscious tourist, I asked Mr. Kishore how the (not inconsiderable) garbage generated at the resort was dealt with. He said it was sent to another island, where part of it is incinerated and the rest is exported for recycling. Hmm, that didn’t sound very eco-friendly.
I could see many opportunities for them to just create less garbage in the first place, especially in the use of plastic straws and plastic bags in the gift shop. But luxury resorts like these are less likely to change their wasteful ways than those that promote themselves as eco-friendly.
10 Maldives Travel Tips
Here are some observations and travel tips if you plan a trip to the Maldives:
#1. The Maldives is a Muslim country
While Maldivians prefer that you dress conservatively, especially in Male, on the island resorts all bets are off. There are even a few adult-only resorts I read about in the flight magazine on the way over. I tend to prefer the family-friendly ones that RCI is well-known for.
Some things, like idols and pork, are prohibited here. The bacon is made with beef. (No, I didn’t try it. I don’t eat beef or pork).
#2. American currency is good here
While the local currency (the Maldivian rufiyaa) is accepted, US dollars are preferred for most purchases. All prices are quoted in USD. Indian rupees are not accepted, although Indian debit cards are.
#3. Malé is like a suburb of Mumbai
Despite the brochures, don’t fall for the Malé tour spiel. It’s like a section of Andheri and even smaller. If we weren’t stranded by bad weather, we’d have avoided it altogether.
That said, it depends on your personal preferences. If you like touring cities and soaking in the local culture, by all means, explore Malé. I, however, loathe cities and long to be as far away from them as possible. On vacation, at least.
#4. If you’re newly married, this is Heaven
It’s worth noting how popular the Maldives is with newlyweds and honeymooners. We saw quite a few beautiful brides posing for photo ops in their wedding regalia.
Also, you’ll see a number of these little mementoes that couples like to leave behind. Very cute!
#5. So. Many. Chinese. People.
The Maldives seems to be very popular with Chinese tourists. There were so many of them, mostly newly-weds, posing in their wedding regalia.
As tourists, they are very friendly and well-behaved people. We even made friends with a very nice guy called Nate, who spoke a little English. Most don’t speak any English, but I did see one of them using a translation app to talk to their guide at the airport.
#6. The best time to visit the Maldives
According to the brochures, it’s from December to April. Barring a cyclone or two (we went in early December), the climate should be beautiful. Cyclone Ockhi made landfall while we were on the island, giving us a couple of days of torrential rains.
When not cloudy and windy, it’s hot and humid, rather like Mumbai weather. Carry plenty of sunblocks and apply them liberally, especially if, like me, you tend to get sunburnt.
#7. It’s a haven for snorkelers and divers
Despite the widespread coral bleaching due to the El Nino event in 1998, the Maldives is still a snorkeler and diver’s paradise. There are many spots where you can watch amazing sea life in the crystal-clear waters. We saw this sting ray close to our room.
Because the house reef was bleached in the El Nino event, it wasn’t exactly teeming with sea life. So they compensate you with free snorkeling trips to a thriving and colorful coral reef a short boat ride away.
We went snorkeling, line fishing, and saw glowing flying fish and spots of bioluminescence in the water (a bit reminiscent of this scene from Life of Pi). Apparently, the Maldives is one of the best places to spot bioluminescence on the planet.
Also Read: Snorkelling And Line Fishing Excursions In The Maldives
If you catch fish during your line fishing trip, the chef will cook it according to your preference. We caught a grouper and red snapper, so the cook grilled it up for us with some garlic butter. For Indians like us, used to spicier fare, it turned out to be a bit bland.
#8. Carry a good camera
The Maldives is so beautiful that even a decent mobile phone will give you great photos like it did for me. Unfortunately, I could not take underwater and low-light/night photos with my mobile phone so it might be worth carrying a better camera for that.
Many of the Chinese tourists had little waterproof mobile pouch covers into which they put their mobile phones for underwater photos. I truly regretted not buying one before I came. Ah well, live and learn.
Click the image to book your room now
#9. Be a responsible tourist
The Maldives is an eco-sensitive zone, and sadly, not immune to the deluge of plastic that’s destroying our oceans. We did see a considerable amount of plastic waste washed up on the beach.
Please don’t add to it by throwing garbage in the water, or on the beach, where it can wash out to sea. You’ll end up harming sea life and making these beautiful islands less attractive.
#10. You may require a travel adapter
The standard voltage in the Maldives is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The standard voltage in India is 220 volts, and the frequency is 50 Hz, so you should be able to use Indian electric appliances in the Maldives.
But we had carried a universal travel adapter and found we could not plug in our devices at Medhufushi Island Resort without the adapter. No idea why that was the case. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why.
I do hope you enjoy your trip to the Maldives. Yes, you’ll be sad to leave, but who can complain when you have a departure lounge that looks like this. 🙂
What’s the cost of travel to the Maldives from India?
It depends. Our Maldives trip cost us around INR 2.5 lakhs (US$4000) all-inclusive. This was not exactly cheap, but thanks to RCI, we did get to stay in an over-water villa for a week at a very nominal cost. In comparison, if you book a water villa through Booking.com, it can cost over US$500 a day.
The airfare, seaplane, and the food package were our most expensive purchases, but it was my first foreign trip with my child and I wanted us to have an incredible experience. It turned out to be a dream vacation and it’s one destination that I wouldn’t mind visiting again and again.
Since I returned, I’ve been researching ways to do the Maldives even cheaper. Lauren Juliff has an excellent guide on travelling to the Maldives on a budget. Check it out if you’re willing to forego the water villa experience (which I’ll remember for a lifetime).
One perk I really enjoyed (thanks to my HDFC Bank Regalia Card), during both my departure from Mumbai and my arrival back in India, was my Priority Pass™ Airport Lounge Membership.
Thanks to the Priority Pass™ card, we got to wait in this really comfortable lounge after the immigration check at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, where we were entitled to free meals and even alcohol (yes, you can get free booze, people).
On the way back, at Velana International Airport in Male, I was gloomily resigned to spending a few hours in the hot, muggy, outdoor waiting area, until I spotted an air-conditioned lounge and asked the lady at the desk if my Priority Pass™ card was accepted there. It was. Oh, joy! 🙂
We found we were entitled to free drinks, cookies, luggage storage, one hour of Wifi, and even a shower if I wanted one. I declined the shower but opted for the drinks, cookies, Wifi, and luggage storage. It made the wait so much more bearable.
To avail of the Priority Pass Airport Lounge Membership, you need to apply for a credit card that gives you a complimentary membership. Learn how to use credit card reward points to travel free.
Check out the video below with some of our favorite moments from our trip.
All images and videos are © Priya Florence Shah
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38 thoughts on “Medhufushi Island Resort: Doing Maldives The RCI Way”
Absolutely beautiful! Sounds like you had a little drama early on in the trip, but that you ended up in paradise after all. Beautiful photos!
Yes, we had to spend a night in Male because of bad weather and flight cancellations, which are apparently not all that uncommon. If you want to avoid that you can always book a hotel close to Male that you can reach by ferry.
I would love to ge there. Thanks for the tips summing up the important facts you should know when traveling to the Maldives.
Glad you found it useful, Per.
Maldives are the heaven! I’m sorry about that bad tasting sandwich. When someone mentions Maldives it’s always the same pictures and the sign that they’re for honeymoon. I’m always opposite so I would probably do it on other way hehe.
LOL. I was on a family vacation with my child. No honeymoons for me, but there were newly-weds all around us 🙂
Oh wow Maldives looks like a dream! If I ever get married, I’d love to honeymoon somewhere like here! Shame about Male too!
It is quite popular with honeymooners.
Sounds like it was a real ordeal to get there…but I’m glad you had a lovely time after your arrival!
Yes, getting there was hard, but the experience more than made up for it.
The priority pass has saved us so many times while traveling. Whether it’s for a quick bite or just relax. I think flying by sea plane would be incredible. Did you feel like the boardwalk to your room was too long to walk at times? I agree that at times luxury resorts are more prone to not changing there style,due to what their guests are looking for. Really enjoyed this post.
Glad you enjoyed the post, Christina. Yes, I love my Priority Pass. And yes, the boardwalk to the room was a bit long at times, but once I got there I didn’t care.
The Maldives looks so beautiful. I would love to visit someday but they are so far I want to combine it with India or another destination.
Where do you live, Patti?
I’ve always wanted to go to the Maldives but getting there sounds like a big journey. After your slight travel issues it sounds like a great trip! Beautiful photos.
Most beautiful place I’ve been to by far, Sara. Worth a visit.
Maldives is so pretty! Love their turquoise blue waters. Great pictures too
If the Bachans have stayed in that resort! It must be fancy, lucky you!
Mayuri, I think the Bachans stayed at some other resort, but this one is just as pretty.
The Maldives are on my list of places to visit and hopefully before they disappear. How about all that rain you experienced on your way there. Looks like it was worth sticking it out. Great story and love the photos….I would have wanted to stare at the ocean all day long too!
Yes, that was my wish too. See them before global warming hits. They have already lost a lot of coral reefs to bleaching and are in danger of going under if the sea level rises.
So.Many.Chinese.People….. you made me laugh out loud! I’m Chinese and even I get you. We are everywhere! LOL! I have always wanted to the the Madives with a stop over at Male, although by your accounts I may give Male a miss. The water looks stunning. Like a gigantic swimming pool, so unspoilt.
Yes, the resort seemed to be very popular with them. But they were very nice tourists. Are timeshares popular in China? Am asking since this one was on the RCI roster. Also, there are some things in Male that may be worth seeing, but we only spent the night there and I am personally not a fan of crowded cities. We get enough of that in India 🙂
The Maldives is a paradise on earth, unrealistically beautiful. I would love to visit someday. Great article, with beautiful pictures, good tips. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you liked it, Valdas.
A waterproof mobile phone pouch is an excellent idea! I’d love to go to the Maldives, it looks spectacular! You took some great photos too, and I think I would go in March, especially when it’s still cold in Europe.
March is not bad, but it could start getting a bit hot. December is peak season.
Your pictures look amazing! I would love to go to the Maldives one day. Sorry to hear about your troubles at the start of the trip but sounds like you had a good time afterwards. I also didn’t expect it to be packed with tourists either. Thanks for sharing
Thanks, Katie. The fun we had was worth all the trouble it took to get there.
Wow! I want to visit this place once.
You really should, Meena.
Hi, I am planning to go for medhufushi..
What meal package is best full board???
How’s cost of aclohol if we directly purchase at the time when we want..?
Not all members in our group drinks alcohol ..so,suggest the best options..thank you
Hi Ashish, If you drink alcohol, get the full package as that will be most economical. Buying alcohol separately will work out more expensive. If not, get the full-board or opt for a breakfast + dinner package if you carry snacks for the afternoon.
We are planning to visit Medufushi…we are pure vegetarian…can we get good choice??
Can we jump into a water from our water villa??
PL guide if points which are concern.
Yes, Nilesh. There are excellent vegetarian options available. And you can swim in the water right outside your water villa as long as you follow precautions.
i am a member of club mahindra .can you suggest me if along with my mrs and one girl child below 12 years will move to Maldavis for 5 night and 6 day from mumbai then what will be the total cost approxmately for us.
I don’t know as they seem to have changed the offer. You will have to get in touch directly.
Enjoyed your post. I’m in the US and will be traveling to Medhufushi in a few months. Will my cords plug in ok?
Carry a universal adapter and you should be OK, Kevin.