Author Topic: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi  (Read 2526 times)

Offline Wizmanison

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Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: October 27, 2020, 02:08:41 PM »
MALDIVES ROUND 2 TRIP REPORT:

Breakdown of costs:
280k AA + $190 YQ
480k HH
Infant fees: $282
Boat transfer fee: $1,450


PLANNING:

I thought I would start this trip report while on the trip or like my other trip reports, I won’t make the time to finish them. So, here I am on my LAX-DOH flight starting the TR!

What inspired this trip was a couple of things. We had a big France-Israel-Italy flight planned for June of 2020 but COVID got in the way of that and with our son turning 2 we wanted to make a trip before we have to start paying for his own seat. After my wife, son, and I all contracted covid early September we decided to just book the Maldives for end of October and see how things pan out.

I first booked the 5 nights with points (5th night free) at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives and checked availability every couple days for Q suites for our outbound trip. There was no availability for QR flights on our initial 5 nights booked but I found flights leaving LAX the following day with a mixed class itinerary on J LAX-DOH (9 hour layover) and then DOH-MLE in Y, while hoping that the second leg would open up by the time we have to fly.

However, there was no longer availability with WA if I wanted to change my 5 nights hotel to start the next day. A quick email to WA MLE reservations got that sorted out and was even able to change my double bed queen to a king reef villa (which was not showing available online for the standard rate). Now finding the return flight took several weeks. QR had nothing available for our return on November 2nd and I always wanted to fly something new, preferably a shower class. So my other alternate was using Aeroplan to fly Etihad back. However, that gave me unfavorable times leaving MLE and I had to pay close to $600 for PCR tests to transit through AUH. Regardless, we booked MLE-AUH-LAX and MLE-AUH-JFK-LAX (Hoping I could convince my wife to take the detour for shower class) just incase since Aeroplan’s cancellation policy was free. A week later Aeroplan changed my itinerary and looking at EY’s website it seems they cancelled all flights for that week from AUH-LAX. JFK was still an option but with the PCR test and the multiple stopovers it just wasn’t ideal. So I cancelled all my Etihad flights and began looking into other options. Here is a pic of my idea board:




Unfortunately, there wasn’t many great options. I considered routing through London and spending a week there but the quarantine rules seemed pretty strict and flying Turkish just didn’t seem exciting with both the actual product and the multiple stops and long layovers. So we ended up finding and booking QR for the way back. I was only able to book one mixed class itinerary for MLE-DOH in Y (9 hour layover) and DOH-LAX in J and one full Y ticket for both segments. Up until the trip I was checking twice a day, if not more, on BA and AA hoping that segments would open up in J to upgrade. Nothing at all ever opened up for MLE-DOH or DOH-MLE in J and I think QR just stopped opening up seats because from October through the end of the year there was 0 availability in Business. But, 12 hours before our flight there happened to be 1 seat in business class open up for both segments and I was able to upgrade the full economy ticket to all business which was amazing.

A week before the trip we cooked, packaged, and froze our own food for the trip and put it in our polar bear cooler. We made a food itinerary for the whole trip and worked from there. We froze milk and yogurt as well for the baby:


Some pics of the food under the foil

We actually had planned to return to the amazing SR MLE at the glitch rate of 240k for 5 nights in an OWB for the summer last year but we had to cancel it for a family wedding. (Coincidentally, I ended up helping book the SR MLE for their honeymoon shortly after). After cancelling SR MLE actually agreed to honor that rate again up until a year after original booking but with covid and our new plans we never took them up on it. Although we truly loved the SR MLE on our last stay (unfinished TR :(), our favorite hotel we have stayed at so far (writing this on the way to the WA MLE…), we wanted to try something new and the WA MLE seemed amazing from @israshot  TR and had a great kids park.


Now what was really difficult about this booking was that since up until 12 hours before the flight, our flights were mostly booked mixed class. And QR and AA refused to ticket an infant award on it. Constantly giving me the runaround saying the other airline has to ticket it. AA told me they don’t even handle Infant awards and when I got a supervisor to finally agree to ticket an infant award after quoting me the price and everything. When she tried to ticket it she said it was impossible on her end since it was mixed class and to call QR. Qatar took a lot of HUCA’s before someone could help me even start the infant booking process. And I was finally able to book the infant on the economy ticket no problem for my wife original return flight in Y (cost $170) and on the mixed class it seems that one of the reps were either uninformed or didn’t care but he pushed through an infant award all in economy for both segments. When asking him if that would be ok he said it shouldn’t be a problem. Something didn’t add up so throughout the week I called and spoke to like 5 people and they all confirmed that both infant tickets were all good.


THE TRIP:

I have never seen LAX look so empty.




Thankfully I came to the airport early, which I rarely ever do, and when I got to the checkin desk there was a massive issue with the infant ticket.  As mentioned above the infant award that was booked by the agent incorrectly had to get upgraded to business for the leg we were in business. The agents at the counter had absolutely no clue what to do and we were waiting there for 2 hours until they finally fixed the issue and ended up charging me $160 to upgrade the infant ticket to business. But for those 2 hours they said they had never encountered this issue before and that they don’t think they can do anything. At one point they said they would not be able to get me on the flight today which is when I said that was not possible as I have a whole itinerary planned and arguing so on and so forth. Then they said they can maybe do it but it would cost me $1,400 which I demanded they pay for. With only 20 minutes to spare before flight leaves they figured it out and said they would have to charge me the $160 upgrade fee. With there being no time to argue I gave them the CC to charge and I guess I will just have to figure it out later. (Open to any suggestions on if I should push any further to get that money back or if I should maybe dispute). We had someone escort us to the gate and we definitely were clearly the last ones on the plane holding it up.

The flight was relatively empty. Face masks and face shield were required to enter the aircraft but once you were in your suite it seems that none of the passengers were wearing either masks or face shields and the flight attendants didn’t care. Economy was pretty much completely empty except for a few seats here and there.


The business class seats were not full but also not empty. We sat in seats 11F and E and it was basically a section of the airplane that was cutoff from economy and cut off from the main business class. It was amazing! There was only one other person in the corner which basically gave us 7 seats to use.



The Q suites were simply stunning and they let us use any suite we wanted for anything. We had a suite for our bags, a suite where I would daven, and another 3 for lounging/sleeping.







We opened the partition in the middle and had an extra seat just for the baby to sleep.

Please excuse my mosaic jetblue socks they are just so comfy and soft!



With Q suites you can have 4 seats. Two of the four don’t have a wall in between



But the other two do have something in between. However, you can lower the partition in between but only heads would really be visible and the middle partition can be moved to the side so everyone has a view of one another.




Bathroom has a window also which was interesting. And here was the sunrise view:

 

Service was amazing and the flight attendants were really nice and relaxed. Seats were comfy, infotainment was great and found it really cool that they have a iPhone like device that is really responsive to control the main display.


Kosher food was catered by Emunah and although I forgot to take a picture it was a chicken and mushroom herb with rice and veggies that didn’t taste too bad but was pretty dry for my liking. The breakfast was omelet with hash browns that were not so bad.



My initial concern was that since I am flying Y on the second leg then I wouldn’t be entitled to the business class lounge access. But according to flyertalk and one world if you have a layover more than 5 hours and you arrived in premium class then you are entitled to lounge access. If not my backup plan was to pay around $250 for the Doha Airport Hotel or just slum it in the priority pass Al Maja lounge.

After landing, I stopped by the transfer desk to see if they would be able to bump up my Y flights to J for the next leg but they weren’t willing. The airport was really nice, clean, and modern. All the shops looked open and it was not at all busy or crowded but a decent amount of people flowing through.






We went straight for the business class lounge, Al Mourjan. They denied us entry stating that since our flight was an “upgraded flight” (which it was not. Rather, it was an award flight which should have no restrictions) the standard rule for allowing mixed class itineraries was not applicable. I asked for the supervisor and he was no help so we left and headed for the priority pass lounge Al Maha. The lounge was pretty small and nothing special. With no private areas for family and just chairs and tables. I left my wife and son there and headed back for the business class lounge to argue my way in as something didn’t sound right about their policy.

On one worlds website it states:

Quote
“https://www.oneworld.com/airport-lounges?location=DOH
* Connecting between oneworld marketed and operated flights:
    * First and Business Class customers connecting on the same day of travel, or before 6am the following day, can access the lounge when travelling between an international long haul (a oneworld international long haul flight is defined as an international flight marketed and operated by any oneworld carrier with a scheduled flight time longer than 5 hours) and an international short haul or domestic flight (and vice-versa).
    * Lounge access will be determined on the international long haul ticketed flight (either First of Business Class) regardless of the ticketed class of travel on the international short haul or domestic flight.
    * You must be prepared to show your boarding pass or itinerary showing travel in First or Business class on the international long haul flight, in order to access the lounge before your international short haul or domestic flight.”

After showing this to the supervisor, he still didn’t budge. So I demanded he showed me whatever policy he was going off of. I told him I just got off the phone with one world (not true) and they told me I should have no issue getting into the lounge. He agreed to look further into it and after 10 minutes he told me that I can go bring my family and they will let me in. He apologized for the confusion and said that because my inbound flight was “American airways” and my second leg was Qatar Airways they were having an issue looking it up. I didn’t care to ask any more questions and came back with my family to enjoy the lounge to get the tour.

The lounge was beautiful and massive:



Behind these curtains you can see the runway with several aircrafts.


Stairs lead to the sit down Restauraunt which I didn’t even bother going upstairs to see.


Restauraunt is on the second floor (seen in this picture)


They took us straight to the family area. On the way there you see several different lounging areas:









As well as other type of rooms like a “Parent’s room” which at first looks just like a play area


But, behind the brown doors you have like a 2 bedroom small Appartment with a mini cold kitchen!






Near there you have a game room which looked pretty boring:



Whereas the game room in the business center part of the lounge looked more exciting (thinking emoji)



There seems to be 3 options if you’re trying to take a nap:

Sleep pods (self explanatory):




The quiet area rooms, which is smaller than the family room and not as nice.





Family area room. Which is the biggest of all and the nicest IMO.







As I am writing this while in the family room. The plan is to just stay here until departure or maybe an hour or so before and we’ll walk around the airport with the baby as there seems to be some kid play areas. Internet in the lounge seems to be the same internet you can get for free outside the lounge. It wasn’t great.


Although we had some hiccups to start with. The 16 hour flight was amazing and hopefully the rest will be smooth sailing!
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 02:12:41 PM by Wizmanison »

Offline Dawie

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2020, 02:20:04 PM »
Hatzlacha!

Online Yehoshua

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2020, 02:30:01 PM »
Nice! It makes wanting to go somewhere harder when reading an old fashioned TR, especially one leaving from LAX.

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2020, 02:33:06 PM »
Awesome start... thanks for taking us along...

Offline Wizmanison

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2020, 05:49:58 AM »
About an 1:30 before departure we headed out to walk around the airport. There were several kid play areas with slides and such that we enjoyed with our son.








After that we headed to our gate where I once again was denied an upgrade to Q suites :(.  Saw lots of Israeli passport holders checking into the flight and it seemed like it was a decently filled flight. Not too crowded since it seemed almost everyone in economy likely had their own row of seats to sleep on but even q suites had only a handful of empty seats. Saw lots of others traveling with their kids and babies as well. My wife and son shared 3 seats by the window while I laid down on 4 seats in the middle on the 777-200LR. I fell right asleep and only woke up when we started descending around 4 hours later. For kosher meal they offered some not so appetizing salmon that we passed on.





Descending into Male Airport was stunning as usual with the window views of all the atolls.









It looked like several parts of the airport was undergoing construction but I believe I recall seeing that last time as well and looks like no improvements have been made IMO.

After landing we busses to the small arrivals area which hasn’t changed since we last came towards the end of 2017. Still no WiFi... we went through immigration and ran our luggage through another scanner.






Felt like it took forever to get our bags and since we boarded so last minute at LAX I was worried the bags may have not been loaded properly. But all worked out and we went outside to meet the guy holding the IPad with a Waldorf Astoria logo. He was very nice and tagged our bags and took us to the yacht.











There were actually 2 identical yachts. In our yacht there was 4 parties. One upstairs, one in the general lounge area, we had a bedroom downstairs and another party had the other bedroom.





The yacht was absolutely stunning and modern. They offered us drinks, champagne, and non kosher food which we kindly declined of course. It was about 40 minutes and we just all chilled in the big bedroom downstairs. The bathroom and shower were also really nice.











As we were arriving at the WA it started raining a bit but by the time we docked it stopped. We learned from our last trip that the weather is really sporadic and unpredictable. And regardless of the rain or shine the stay would be amazing!

All the Butlers were waiting by the dock to greet us and the butler assigned to us was named Ella. Someone also was there from the kids program to give our baby a gift, introduce herself, and give us the weekly program/schedule for the kids program. We then went through the main lobby to have our temperature checked by some cool device scanner I have yet to see and then in our golf cart to give us a quick tour and take us to our room.








Ella informed us we were upgraded to an OWB from the reef villa and assigned room 705. And she also mentioned that occupancy is around 50% for them right now.

Next up are pictures of the OWB!

Offline Wizmanison

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2020, 09:50:48 AM »
Stepping into the room was beyond what we imagined and way better than the pictures online. The villa was massive and from the second we stepped in we were blown away. It felt nearly double the size of the SR MLE villa! Hopefully my pictures below do it some justice.































outdoor shower





smart toilet














Since we didn’t want the wine or the champagne they had to offer they gave us a fruit basket and freshly squeezed juice. Ella walked us through the room showing me all the gadgets and such. Like most of these luxury resorts there was an iPad controlling all the main functions of the room. Ella also handed us a basic phone that I can use to call her on speed dial if I need something. As well as giving me the option to WhatsApp her. The villa TV can be connected by chrome cast and speakers can be connected through bluetooth. Was cool that they offered a bike with a baby attachment as well. Like most places we travel to we were celebrating an anniversary and also my sons upcoming birthday which is why there are decorations on the bed. I also requested prior to arrival for a highchair, crib, stroller. They delivered all three and several more baby things that will be useful! Also, something to note is that the resort has its own time zone and places it as 1 hour ahead of Male. Since they delivered all the luggages to our door including our freezer bag with food we took out food for today and the next and called them to pick up the bag to put in their freezer. I was worried after the 9 hour layover and the like 21 hours of travel time that maybe some of the food would defrost but it barely defrosted!





After settling in and unpacking the 220V toaster oven we got from Amazon, to heat our food up and avoid the hefty $50 per a meal fee, we went for a swim in the pool as the sun came out. The pool was nice and pretty warm and as you saw in the pictures above really big. It started raining for about 25 minutes so we went in and returned an hour or so later to the pool when the sun came back out. I guess I forgot how bad it was last time and it slipped my mind to bring mosquito spray or those bracelets because I keep seeing mosquitos and am regretting not bringing along some deterrents.

After a couple hours enjoying the villa I checked back in to see if maybe space opened up for my MLE-DOH flight in J but there was nothing. I then looked at the next day and there were 2 business class seats for the full trip. So I reached out to reservations at the hotel and asked if it was possible to use one of my free night certs to extend my stay a day and then once that was confirmed I called in AA and they reissued the ticket with the new dates. So now were staying 6 nights and they were able to confirm the same upgraded room for the extra night as well.

Here are some other pictures I took while touring around the hotel:

Welcome Pier







Peacock lounge where complimentary drinks are served for gold and diamond members during happy hour.

Probably also important to mention that our butler said masks are not mandatory for the guests. However, I have yet to see an employee who was not wearing a mask. Seems all the guests I've seen though are embracing the no mask policy.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2020, 10:45:45 AM by Wizmanison »

Offline tavster

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2020, 10:57:09 AM »
Great TR. Enjoy!
First impression of WA's resort vs STR?
« Last Edit: October 28, 2020, 11:25:15 AM by tavster »

Offline Wizmanison

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2020, 12:26:38 PM »
Great TR. Enjoy!
First impression of WA's resort vs STR?
Haven’t really seen enough yet of the WA hotel or experienced enough of the service but just going off of the room the WA wins so far.

Offline Wizmanison

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2020, 12:43:20 PM »

After settling in and unpacking the 220V toaster oven we got from Amazon, to heat our food up and avoid the hefty $50

In regards to the toaster since a couple people PM'd me here is the link
« Last Edit: October 28, 2020, 02:02:29 PM by Dan »

Online Yehoshua

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2020, 02:00:56 PM »
Wow, nice pictures!

Offline Dan

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2020, 02:02:55 PM »
Looks amazing!!!
Can't wait for a full SR vs WA review, but the room does look nicer.
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline Wizmanison

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2020, 02:02:58 PM »
Wow, nice pictures!
Thank you! Mostly shot on the most recent IPhone 12 pro

Offline myb821

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2020, 02:15:36 PM »
In regards to the toaster since a couple people PM'd me here is the link
where is my h/t.......

Offline tavster

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2020, 02:17:00 PM »
where is my h/t.......
He gave you credit in the What do you do for kosher food thread

Offline KSMH

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Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2020, 03:26:13 PM »
Looks amazing!!!
Can't wait for a full SR vs WA review, but the room does look nicer.
Overall nicer but missing the big open area.
Always praying for delayed baggage.