As I write this, my sister and I are currently on our flight home from an epic sister trip and staying at the incredible Alila Maldives.
Soft, white sandy beaches. The most turquoise blue water you’ve ever seen. Amazing diving and snorkeling…
All things you’ll find in the Maldives.
This was my second time visiting this hard-to-reach location. The first time was a few years ago when I was on a work trip with Google in Bangalore. When I realized that the Maldives was just a short 40-minute flight from there, you know I had to go spend a three-day weekend in this tropical destination.
This time, I was excited to be back for a longer stay, and at an incredible new property.
The Alila Kothaifaru Maldives just opened in May 2022, and from the pictures, online reviews that I’d read, and my past Alila experience at the Ventana, I knew it was going to be epic.
Alila Maldives Review
Getting to the Alila Maldives
Getting to the Maldives in general is not easy. We flew from SFO to Singapore (over 15 hours nonstop), and spent a few days there.
Then, we flew from Singapore to Male. Since our flight was in the evening and got in late, we spent the night near the airport in Male. The following morning, we took a 45-minute seaplane from Male to the Alila property, which is located in Raa Atoll.
The Alila will coordinate with you regarding your flight times beforehand, and they’ll have someone at the airport waiting for you to help you navigate and find your plane, as well as someone to escort you on your way back home. While it’s of course an international airport, the set up is a bit strange (like for example having to go through security before getting your boarding pass) so having someone guide you is helpful.
The seaplane costs $600 roundtrip, and they weigh both your large and small carry-ons and checked bags (it’s all the same on a tiny seaplane—all the bags are placed in the back). Each passenger has a weight limit of 25kg total for all your bags, and you’re charged for extra weight.
Because my checked bag was 25kg (the weight limit on Singapore Airlines) and my carry-on was heavy (I’m traveling with my DSLR, laptop, and drone), I had to pay around $170 extra, on top of that $600. That wasn’t a fun surprise, but there was no way to avoid it.
But all my stress melted away when our seaplane landed at the Alila Maldives. We were greeted by waving staff, smiling and playing the drums, as well as a glass of champagne, and whisked off to our rooms in a buggy.
Rooms at the Alila Maldives
Beach Sunset Villa
The Beach sunset villa is the most spacious room. It also has the most unique bathroom I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying at a hotel. It’s a covered but open-air situation and you feel like you’re in a serene, beautiful jungle every time you step out there.
Clearly, I had to take a bubble bath here, and at one point it started pouring rain, which made the vibe and atmosphere even more serene.
Beach Villas have a separate living room and bedroom and a private plunge pool. You can also walk right out to the beach from your room.
Over Water Villas
We moved from a Beach Villa to an Over Water Villa for our last two nights so that we could experience both rooms. While the Over Water Villa is technically considered a downgrade because it’s smaller, I personally felt like it was a major upgrade.
I mean, it’s an overwater villa.
I had never stayed in an over-water bungalow before but obviously, it’s every travel blogger’s dream. And like, the dream for anyone who enjoys traveling and luxury.
Alila’s overwater villas are absolutely epic. You have your own plunge pool overlooking the ocean and the beach, and a net for lounging on above the turquoise water. Pro-tip, the net is not super comfortable to walk or lay on, so do as influencers do and lay your bed’s comforter down on the net if you want to lounge on there.
You also have your own staircase and entry point into the water if you want to go for a swim or snorkel right off your villa.
The bathroom is not as large and epic as the Beach Villa bathroom, but it does have an incredible view of the water.
Check out the bubble bath our personal host Hussain made for us!
We were in heaven in this room!!
The other rooms on the property have names that reflect their location and which side they’re facing. Lagoon Water Villas are closest to the beach and the least private, sunset water villas face the west for the best sunset colors, and sunrise water villas face the east.
We had a Sunset Watervilla which I think is ideal because let’s not kid ourselves, I’m not up to see the sunrise!
All the rooms have their own private pool—we love a private pool situation!
Restaurants at Alila Maldives
Prepare yourself for food and drinks to be expensive. Everything is imported, and this is a luxury resort, so drinks are $20 and a main dish usually starts at $40.
I do have some tips/hacks for you so you can skip lunch and save some $$ below, though!
Seasalt is the main restaurant by the pool where they serve breakfast every day. Breakfast is included with your room and some of our favorites were the Maldivian fried rice dish with an egg and crispy chicken, the avocado toast, and just a simple, hearty omelet.
Also highly recommend getting whatever your coffee drink of choice is with coconut milk—so good!
At breakfast, we would also order the cheese plate and the cold cuts, and then take those with us in a to go box along with some croissants. Then we’d make ourselves some little sandwiches for lunch. Between that, having a big hearty breakfast, a few power bars/snacks that we packed, and the complimentary happy hour snacks at Peabati (see below), we were able to skip paying for lunch every day.
We had dinner at Seasalt on our first night and if you’re going to eat there, I’d recommend leaning into their seafood choices. Hanae had their catch of the day which was Grouper and it was soo delicious. I had their burger and it was pretty subpar.
Mirus Bar is located right next to the pool, and it’s the ideal place to watch the sunset here. Grab a drink or a fresh coconut and watch beautiful colors paint the sky.
Umami is Alila’s Japanese restaurant, and our favorite—we dined here three times lol.
Definitely recommend the miso eggplant, shrimp tempura, and whatever their catch of the day is.
Their Yakitori Bar is right next to Umami and a great place for drinks or even dinner. It’s right by the water and just so peaceful and beautiful.
We had some yakitori skewers here as well and they were really good. You can also order from Umami here, which we did one night.
Every day from 3 pm – 5 pm, there’s a complimentary happy hour for guests at Peabati. They also have a choose-your-own adventure-style tea station, with fresh herbs and spices to concoct your own tea.
The chef creates different small bites every day, so this was the perfect spot to tide us over until it was time for dinner.
Service at the Alila Maldives
Every room includes a personal host/butler who is like your BFF/attendant for the entirety of your stay. They give you their WhatsApp number (download the app before your trip and get set up if you don’t have it already) and you can just text them for anything you need, big or small.
Whether you need a ride in a buggy cart, more towels, want to book an excursion, or make reservations, you just text your personal host and they get back to you almost immediately.
Hussain was our personal host and he was awesome!! We loved him. He was so sweet and took such great care of us. I miss him lol.
The rest of the staff were all very friendly and helpful as well. Everyone was so kind, and we were sad to say goodbye at the end of our trip!
Hanae and I are big on snorkeling (we literally planned our Maldives trip around manta ray season), and we were excited to check out the diving at the Alila.
Their house reef right off of the island has great biodiversity—tons of cool stuff to see and you can just jump right in and snorkel on your own. The Alila has snorkel gear that you can keep and use during your stay, complimentary.
Hanae and I travel with our own gear because we love our fancy, long fins (they make such a big difference and help you swim so much faster and dive deeper) and I like knowing I have my own mask with me that gives me the perfect fit and won’t leak. You can shop my gear below:
We did their snorkeling excursion one afternoon which goes out to a different, nearby reef. It was a great trip with some nice reef, fish, and turtles.
We also went out on their Night Dive excursion, which involves going out with a guide and underwater flashlights at night. I’ve been interested in trying night diving before but was a little nervous about the idea!
Once we got in the water though, I felt surprisingly comfortable and we had so much fun. Our guides Chelsea and Aman were awesome and helped us feel at ease while pointing out cool stuff for us to see. Obv I’d only recommend this one if you’re an experienced snorkeler and very comfortable in the water.
Some of the highlights from the night tour included tons of lobster, turtles (some of them were sleeping in little caves and it was so cute), and huge parrot fish (also dead asleep so that was cool to see them up close because they’re usually pretty shy and swim right off), a black reef tip shark, and a large Napoleon fish sleeping in a cave.
The property also offers other non-motorized water sports like kayaking and windsurfing, but we were so busy with the snorkeling we didn’t end up doing either of those.
If you’re there during manta ray season, you can also do a private speed boat snorkel trip out to Hanifaru Bay, the Unesco World Biosphere Reserve where you can see the mantas. Because it’s a private boat situation, it costs a little over $1k for the group (not per person), so I would ask your butler if he can ask around to see if there are any other parties interested in going out with you and splitting the cost.
The spa is beautiful and designed like a chic treetop/treehouse. There are several double treatment suites, all with a private bathroom, shower, and a floor-to-ceiling window with views.
The gym is located right underneath the spa and while small had all the equipment I needed for a quick workout.
How’d we book the Alila?
The Alila Maldives costs around $1,200 – $1,400 per night for an overwater villa. However, Alila is owned by Hyatt, so you can book with Hyatt points.
Hanae and I booked with Hyatt points, so join Hyatt’s loyalty program and maybe even consider getting a Hyatt credit card so you can rack up those points and get to booking your dream vacay!
I miss the Alila Maldives already! It’s definitely in the top five most luxurious hotels I’ve ever stayed at and it was such a special experience.
Keeping my fingers crossed that someday I’ll get to experience the Maldives Alila again because it was a total dream!
Looking for more Maldives content? Find it here!
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.