Hotels

Six Senses Maldives Laamu epitomizes barefoot luxury – Full Review

a wooden walkway leading to a row of huts on stilts

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Six Senses Maldives Laamu Surprise Honeymoon Destination 1

How did we end up at the Six Senses Maldives?

I love surprises and it just so happened that my wife wanted a surprise honeymoon and I really hemmed and hawed at what would be a perfect fit for us.  If you’ve followed my travels for very long you’re well aware that we have taken some pretty outstanding trips as a couple, and for the most part, we haven’t spent more than a few nights in any one place. We’ve always really enjoyed a fast paced trip, hopping from here to there, making use of points, but this past year has been quite stressful for us, as it has been for most people in the world. I decided that, for our honeymoon, I’d do something that we hadn’t really ever done…go to one place for 10 nights. The Maldives seemed like a perfect place, and moving between resorts wouldn’t be too hectic.

If we were going to go to two different resorts I wanted them to be markedly different.

I really hemmed and hawed. There are so many beautiful resorts in the Maldives, but even more impressive was the sheer amount of 5 star point properties.  Everything I kept reading came back to the Six Senses and how their sustainable, barefoot approach to luxury was in a league of its own. Ultimately, I decided the Six Senses Maldives and St Regis Maldives would be a perfectly juxtaposed combination. I couldn’t have been happier.

One thing I will make transparent, while we paid for our room with points and over $3500 of extras, IHG became aware of our honeymoon stay, greeted us upon arrival, and comped us a 60 minute couples massages, a dinner, and dolphin cruise. This is kind of weird to say, but I now have over 1 Million TikTok followers and was recognized at both resorts and flying over. You can take this into consideration as to whether this impacted our stay outside of them comping some items. I don’t believe it made much of an impact, but I want to be fully transparent.

a building on stilts in the water

Details of our Stay at the Six Senses Maldives Laamu

We stacked several benefits to enhance our stay at the Six Senses Maldives

  • When: September 2021
  • Where: Laamu Atoll Maldives
  • Villa: 26 on Jetty 1
  • Elite Status: Platinum Ambassador with IHG Rewards Premier and IHG Rewards Select
    • 4th night free on points booking
    • 10% back on point redemptions, up to 100k a year
    • Free breakfast and upgrade
  • Cost: 360k IHG points for 5 nights
    • after the 10% back was calculated
@zacharyburrabelCould be worse ##travel ##travelhacks ##ihg ##sixsenses ##maldives with @elizabeth_henstridge♬ STAY – The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber

Part of our Honeymoon in Maldives series:

My Maldivian Honeymoon 2022

 

  • How I planned the trip
    • When I booked
    • Selecting the flights
      • Qatar QSuites
      • Emirates First Class
      • Lufthansa First Class
    • Selecting the resorts
      • 5 nights at the Six Senses Maldives
      • 5 nights at the St Regis Maldives
  • How I earned the points
    • 150k Amex for roundtrip QSuites
    • 400k IHG for 5 nights at Six Senses
    • 325k Marriott for 5 nights St Regis Maldives
    • 122k Emirates points for Emirates First Class
    • 107k Singapore miles for Lufthansa First Class
  • How I found the award space to book my tickets
    • Using Amex Travel for Qatar Airways Qsuites with a 35% rebate
    • Booking via IHG app for Six Senses
    • Booking via Marriott to find the cheapest rates
    • Finding award space on Emirates
  • Reviews:
  • What is the actual cost of staying at a 5 star resort

Booking the Six Senses Maldives with points

Earlier 2021 IHG made points bookings available at their top tier brand Six Senses. These are some of the most aspirational properties in the world

  • Six Senses Botanique (Brazil)
  • Six Senses Fiji (Fiji)
  • Six Senses Ibiza – coming later this year
  • Six Senses Kaplankaya, Turkey
  • Six Senses Laamu (Maldives)
  • Six Senses Ninh Van Bay (Vietnam)
  • Six Senses Uluwatu Bali (Indonesia)
  • Six Senses Yao Noi (Thailand)
  • Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles

The process of booking the property – don’t forget the transfer fee of $1465.76

I found the app to be easier to book with rather than use the IHG.com website. I tried multiple times to book via IHG.com and it kept giving me an error message when I wanted to use points for a Six Senses hotel. Rather than phone IHG, I opted to try via the app. It worked seamlessly. Note that the Lagoon Water villa is the base room and the only one available with points.

What you’ll see is the straight up points rate, but take into consideration that a transfer fee of over $700 per person is added on to that price.

I have been a long term holder of IHG credit cards, and even picked up the latest iteration the IHG Rewards Premier before the trip. I had more than 400k points in my account to book this trip, but you don’t have to…I’ll get into that in second. I wanted to point out that, because I still maintain the old IHG Rewards Select ( not available for new signups ) I earned 10% back on my points redemption. This knocked the point total for 4 nights down to 360k points, or 72k points per night. This is an absolute steal IMO and brings me to my next point. Buying points.

Buying points to access this property at a discount

Deals fluctuate throughout the year and you can track them here, but the best deal we’ve seen is when IHG lifts the cap to 500k points in a year, and gives a 100% bonus. This prices points at $0.005 and means my 5 night stay could have been had for $2000, or $1800 if you have the legacy IHG Rewards cards. That’s a massive discount.

a screenshot of a casino ticket

Why I would recommend getting IHG Ambassador status prior to going

If you’re unfamiliar you can actually buy IHG Ambassador status to get perks at Intercontinental and Kimpton hotels around the world. One of the big draws is a BOGO free weekend night amongst other benefits. However…one thing many aren’t aware of, and I’d suspect it’s because IHG so recently folded Six Senses into the brand portfolio, is you get an upgrade, massages/experience, and free breakfast at Six Senses Resorts when you carry IHG Ambassador status. It’s $200 a year, or you could use points, and if you’re visiting a Six Senses property you will undoubtedly recoup that money on the daily breakfast alone.

a screenshot of a white text

Getting to the Six Senses Maldives

  • International Flight
  • Domestic Flight to Kadhdhoo
  • Speed Boat

The journey from the United States isn’t for the faint of heart. In total it’s over 24 hours. Luckily, an incredible deal popped up prior to booking that allowed us to fly from Chicago to Doha to MLE on Qatar Airways QSuites roundtrip for just 150k Amex Points a piece.

a person standing on a bed with a teddy bear

Once you land in MLE you’ll be greeted by a Six Senses representative and escorted to a lounge while you wait for your Maldivian Air flight to Kadhdhoo Airport

After landing in Kadhdhoo you’ll be greeted and escorted to the Resort via Speed Boat. The boat features a delicious lemonade and roughly 10 minutes into the journey you’ll be given a bag to put your shoes in. The Six Senses strongly advocated “Barefoot Luxury.”  The transfer isn’t free when you’re using points and is roughly $735 per person.

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Arrival to Six Senses Maldives

We had an absolutely incredible welcome to the resort where it seemed like the entire staff came out to the arrival dock to greet us. There is a warmth to the arrival that was very reminiscent to the way the Alila Villas Uluwatu made us feel when we visited in 2019.

a building on stilts on water

Meeting our GEM – Guest Experience Maker.

Other resorts have butlers, the Six Senses Maldives has GEMS. At arrival we met our wonderful GEM, Abdulla. If you happen to visit the Six Senses make sure you request Abdulla, he was such a fun, warm, and thoughtful person to be around – an absolute highlight of our stay.

a group of people posing for a picture

The Room

The island is the resort and, as you can see on this map, there are 3 jetties: A, B, and C. We received an upgrade to a Sunrise Ocean Overwater Villa on Jetty A.

This is a single category upgrade and we loved it.  There are varying categories of villas ranging from those that look at the bay shared with the main hotel facility, sunset overwaters, beach villas, and those with pools. You can see the pool overwaters are located at the far end of the jetties. I’d assume you can upgrade to any of the villas available at the time of booking for the difference in what a base overwater villa sells for and the retail on the upgraded room. I considered upgrading us to a villa with a pool, but since our villa at the St Regis has a pool, I thought we’d have a different experience. Ultimately…we didn’t miss it one bit.

I love the rustic vibes of the Six Senses. While other resorts offer more up to date amenities, better electronics, more contemporary feel, etc – I have to say, I didn’t fly halfway around the world to experience what I can get at home supplanted onto an island. I loved that this resort felt very integrated into its surroundings.

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Villa 26

Villa 26 is roughly halfway down Jetty A, faces Jetty B, and is kind of the best of both worlds. We were far enough away from the shore to feel private, but also not at the far end of the jetty where the Ocean can get a bit rougher. The entire island is surrounded by a massive reef so it never gets too choppy, but when we went snorkeling off the end, it was a noticeably stronger current than just off the back of our villa.

All of the villas look the same from the exterior and offer varying views. One of the benefits of jetlag is consistently being awake for sunrise – and one of the reasons I loved having a sunrise view villa. The sunset villas are pricier, but we were often away from the villa at sunset anyways, and the restaurants offer tremendous sunset views.

a row of houses on a dock

The main living quarters

The villa has the ability to open completely to the outside. All walls have some kind of collapsable quality to them, aside from the bathroom wall, and glass bottom inserts are a super fun feature.

One thing to remember is you get unlimited bottled water in your room. The water from the tap, however, is not potable and you need to drink bottled water. This bottled water is over $10 a bottle in restaurants around the island.

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Outdoor bathroom

The shower and iconic glass bottom tub are completely outside, but obscured from any peeping eyes. There are steps that lead you straight into the water as well as up to a private viewing deck on the 2nd floor.

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The outdoor deck

The back of the villa has built in hammocks, multiple daybeds, a dining table with a glass bottom, and stairs that lead directly into the sea

Welcome gifts

Not only did we have a bottle of prosecco, fresh juice, and some snacks waiting to welcome us. Miles had his own bed!

Every villa comes with a bike per guest as well.

a man standing on a dock with a bicycle

Dining

The island has its own farm, and any kind of sensitivity, diet, allergy, requirement, etc that you may have – it’s no problem. Not only is it no problem, but they do it deliciously. Let’s just say this…the St Regis had very good food. Six Senses blew them out of the water. I was very impressed albeit still sticker shook. Yes, be prepared to spend some cash. Even with free breakfast, you’re looking at dropping anywhere from $100 to $200 a day on food per person…if you’re not having many drinks. With that warning said, you won’t be disappointed. Below you can see the herb farm.

a garden with trees and plants

Breakfast at Longitude

Buffet + a hot dish menu that changes every day. It was spectacular.

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Chill Bar

Adjacent to Longitude is Chill Bar. There’s nightly music, a la carte food, and if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the prix fixe dinner fares of Zen or Leaf…this is it. It also has fantastic sunset views.

Leaf

One of the coolest entrances to a restaurant I’ve ever seen, across a rope bridge, hanging over the farm, into a circular restaurant with an open kitchen overlooking the Indian Ocean is quite the treat. The food was nothing less than Michelin quality.

a bridge over a building

Sip Sip

If you’re looking to lounge by the pool and snack on burger/fry style food this is great.

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The only restaurant we didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy was the Zen.

The Spa and Fitness Center

We enjoyed a couple of spa treatments and they were sublime and overlooked the ocean in a small nest. In addition to our  massage ( Ambassador members get a comped treatment or activity don’t forget ) we also indulged in an hour long couples facial. Both my wife and I were quite sunburned and magically after the treatment we had healed up by the next day. After each treatment you’ll retreat to the tea room to sip some herbal tea or have a freshly squeezed juice. Quite impressive.

The Fitness Center is two stories with a gym on the main level and a class room on the upper floor. There are comped and paid classes to attend.

Activities

Aside from snorkeling everyday I could not recommend going on the Dolphin Cruise enough. We had a spectacular time and it costs about as much as you’d pay for the Prosecco they serve you while on board. We not only saw bottlenose dolphins and spinners, but we also had a great view of one of the best surf spots in the region, Ying Yang.

a close-up of a schedule

One thing I regret not doing is taking advantage of the incredible dive center and trying out scuba for the first time. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but chickened out.

a man sitting on a boat holding a glass of champagne

Tuesday Management Cocktail party

If you happen to be at the Six Senses Maldives on a Tuesday I would highly recommend popping by the management cocktail party. Not only will you receive some tasty comped drinks and snacks, but you’ll have the privilege of watching a traditional Maldivian dance.

 

Covid Protocols we experienced while at the Six Senses Maldives

We needed to show a negative Covid Test 96 hours prior to arrival and then while at the resort we only needed to wear masks when inside. The only indoor spaces are the gym, spa, boutique, and office/reading room. Everything else is outdoors and doesn’t require masking.

a store front with glass doors

The True Cost of Staying here

No matter how hard you my try to cut costs…you’re going to spend a pretty penny. At the very least here is what I would budget for the stay.

  • $735 per person for transfer
  • $100 to $150 a day for food per couple
    • I think this could be accomplished if you really ate the bare minimum, but that would be no lunch, eating snack bars you bring with you, ramen noodles, etc
    • More realistic is that you’ll spend $200 to $300 without any big alcohol spend
  • $100+ a day for activities
    • Unless you don’t plan on doing any organized activities, spa treatments,
  • $125 per person Covid test upon exit

a hammock on a dock with a body of water in the background

Overall

There is something special going on at this resort. Yes, it’s luxurious. Yes, it’s in the middle of paradise. But, the ethos and culture that the Six Senses has curated elevates this to another level. Add in the sustainability aspect of the property and the fact that they have Marine Biologists on staff that hop in the water and snorkel with guests every morning at 11am, they’re executing on a level that is very rare.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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