Trip Notes Maldives: The Longest Flight In The World And 2 Nights In Paradise

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Trip Planning:

I’ve long dreamed of staying in an overwater bungalow.  The main places where they can be found are in French Polynesia (Bora Bora, Moorea, etc) and the Maldives (pronounced Mahl-deeves).  Neither of which are easy to get to and both of which are among the priciest places to stay in the world with few good point options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The long road to paradise.

More after the jump…

I’ve played the credit card game so long and am sitting on such a stockpile of miles and points that it’s hard for me to make the leap and justify travel with real out-of-pocket costs.  In the past couple years I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world, From Argentina to the reefs of Australia, from stunning Kauai to romantic Paris, from pulsating Hong Kong to the canals of Venice, from serene Vancouver to ancient Jerusalem.  Always flying and staying in hotels using miles and points.  Experiencing all types of welcoming and unique Jewish communities and learning to appreciate and be humbled by the incredible world that Gd has given us.

Such extensive travels are a whole lot easier when you fly in business or first (less jetlag!) and stay in 5 star hotels all while paying with monopoly money.  Of all the hobbies that people have I don’t know of any that can be accomplished with so little out of pocket expenditures than the one of miles and travel.  Flying around the world on a luxury trip that should cost $250,000 but was paid for by opening a handful of credit cards? What can possibly beat that?

Singapore is probably the finest airline in the world.  However they are notoriously stingy about releasing business and first class award seats to their partners.  That means you have to transfer AMEX points to Singapore and cough up cash to cover the fuel surcharges that they assess.  On short trips that’s not too bad.  In December I flew with my wife in a Singapore A380 suite from JFK to Frankfurt for about 57K Singapore miles+$200 each in fuel surcharges and flew Frankfurt-Paris-Philadelphia-Cleveland for 50K United miles in business class while using 22K Chase points per night for 2 free nights in the normally $1,000/night Park Hyatt Paris.   But you would need about 175K Singapore miles plus $750 in fuel surcharges to fly from Newark to Male (pronounced Mah-lay), Maldives in business class.

Last July I wrote about exceptional availability on Singapore business and first class using United miles.
 I redeemed 120,000 United miles for a round-trip business class flight from Cleveland-Newark-Singapore-Male with no fuel surcharges.  United First on an A319 to Newark. Singapore business on an A340 from Newark to Singapore, the longest commercial flight in the world at 18.5 hours.  The A340 only has business class, there are no first or coach seats at all.  The flight is actually being discontinued in November due to low demand.  Then an A330 from Singapore to Male which had coach and business seating.  All I needed to find was an A380 to round out the Airbus lineup :D

Unfortunately I booked for travel during the week of the Chinese new year, which meant that point options and indeed even paid options were extremely limited.  The best point option, the Park Hyatt Maldives at 22K points, was sold out of overwater bungalows and I wasn’t about to fly to the other end of the world without an upgrade option for that.  Normally they charge $350 per night on top of the points to confirm an upgrade in advance from a beach villa to an overwater villa.  Same story with Hilton’s Conrad Maldives which normally charges 50K points (they’re actually raising this to a whopping 95K points starting for bookings created 03/28/13!) plus $350 for the confirmed upgrade.  The Sheraton and Hilton, neither of which have stellar reviews, were also sold out.  A couple of DDF users have stayed at the Constance Halaveli which has specials starting at about $600/night via travel agents or during limited times on Jetsetter, but they were completely sold out due to the holiday season as well.

As much as paying cold hard cash out of pocket for a hotel room is anathema for me, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.  To limit the financial sting I changed from staying 5 nights in the Maldives to staying 2 nights in the Maldives and 2 nights in Singapore where I’d be able to stay for free.  I wound up booking an “Ocean Oasis” at the W Retreat and Spa.  They didn’t even have any rooms available directly from SPG, but I found availability on a last-minute special on hotels.com and a coupon brought the price down under $1,000.  Insanely expensive and more than I’d ever dreamed of paying for a hotel room, but the other option would have been to reschedule the trip to when the Park Hyatt or Conrad had availability and that would have meant paying extra miles and fuel surcharges to get to the Maldives.  When I added in the fuel surcharges ($750 per person) and extra miles (55K) and the upgrade co-pay (roughly $350 per night) it didn’t make any sense to push the trip off.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that even once you get to Male you still need to shell out cash to get to your resort.  Most resorts are located on their own island, so you need to take an air taxi to get there which adds another $400 per person.  Same goes if you find mileage seats to Papeete, Tahiti, you’ll still need a $400 flight to get to Bora Bora.  Bottom line, these places are not cheap even if you do stay with points.  The only real way to limit your costs is by staying fewer days, but it will still be a budget buster for most, especially if you want to confirm an overwater bungalow in advance so that you don’t have to pay upgrade roulette on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

36 hours of flying:

Sunday, 02/10, United 347, Cleveland-Newark, 4:50pm-6:33pm.

Sunday, 02/10, Singapore 21, Newark-Singapore, 11pm-6:30am+2 days.

Tuesday, 02/12, Singapore 462, Singapore-Male, 9:45am-11:15am.

Tuesday, 02/12, Maldivian Air Taxi, 1:15pm-2pm.

I used to hate connecting in delay-prone Newark.  Once I discovered New Kosher Special, a chinese restaurant that has free delivery to Newark I changed my tune.  The food is well priced and delicious.  Their Sesame Chicken may be the best I’ve ever had.  Egg Rolls are also very good and Hot & Sour soup (which I consumed in the food court before security) was delicious.

Hot and Sour Soup

 The Sesame Chicken Combo (left) is a better value and tasted better than the Orange Chicken dinner (right).

Singapore uses the SAS lounge in Newark, which did the job if nothing fancy.  There was also an attached Lufthansa lounge that was less crowded that I had access to as a Star Alliance Gold member.

 SAS Lounge Newark Open Bar

 SAS Lounge Newark, always have to appreciate an open soda tap

The A340 that Singapore flies from Newark to Singapore has 100 business class seats, split into 3 sections and a 1-2-1 configuration.  I’d say that seats 30A and 30K in the rear section are the best on the plane.  The rear section of 34 seats was almost completely unoccupied, as most people tend to pick the forward sections.  Plus 30A/K are bulkheads, so they don’t suffer from the narrow footwell that so many business seats suffer from.  Personally I have a hard time sleeping in some business class seats due to the narrow footwell and if you do as well you will definitely want to select a bulkhead seat on this plane.

The seat itself is wider and more comfortable than even the A380 Singapore suite! It is not as tall however as a bed and if you are taller than my 5’10” frame or if you do not have a bulkhead you may have a harder time falling asleep than I did.

The Singapore service, as always, was phenomenal, easily the best in the industry.  The flight attendants seem to know exactly when to bring you another glass of seltzer and when to leave you alone.  They had no problem finding space and storing the chinese food in their refrigerator for the flight.

As it’s an all-business class flight you don’t receive any pajamas, so I brought along my own from a previous flight as did most other people on the plane.  They do give you nice little booties to wear and an eyemask.  The bathrooms are stocked with lots of other amenities and have nice (disposable) cloth towels which are very welcome over the usual paper towels.

There was wifi on the flight but service was extremely spotty and very slow.  For all intents and purposes it was unusable, which was too bad.

The flight flies over the North Pole and never hits daylight, you take off at night and arrive in Singapore while it’s still dark.  I never will have an Alef Adar 5773.

I drifted off into 8 hours of solid sleep before watching Argo, which was just a fantastic film, and Lincoln, which any history buff will love.

There were 3 meals served on the flight, typical kosher food when departing the USA, nothing special.  They were able to find some kosher wine which I had requested in advance via email, so that was nice.  The flight never really dragged on for me as I thought it might and indeed I was sad when we started landing, the experience had been that good!

The bottom line is that there’s really nothing quite like Singapore, they just do an awesome all-around job and flying with them is like being transported to another era when flying was truly special.  It’s something that everyone should experience, even if just on the short flight from JFK to Frankfurt.

If you do want to fly on the longest flight in the world before it’s discontinued, consider flying it one-way to save on the fuel surcharges.  For just the one-way Newark-Singapore nonstop leg you’ll need to transfer 73K points from AMEX to Singapore and cough up $312 in fuel surcharges. And don’t forget to confirm that you can reserve a bulkhead seat!

Singapore A340 Business Seat, wide and comfy.

 I found the narrow footwell on non-bulkhead seats to be bothersome

The narrow footwell on a window seat

The bulkhead has all the space in the world for your feet. There is a panel that drops down as well for your feet.

 Middle seats

Don’t want to get waken up at mealtimes? Just push the DND button!

Made into a bed.

Had to grab a pic of the Singapore “booties”

Chasing the night.

A vanity mirror and lots of places to charge your devices

The only part of the menu that Orthodox Jews care about…what’s the Single Malt going to be :D

Kosher wine

Meal #1, can anyone explain the gefilte fish on a plane obsession? Who thinks this stuff up???

Meal #1, bland dry chicken but the pasta wasn’t bad.

Meal #2, pastrami on a roll was good

Meal #2, mystery meat!

Meal #3, muffin was decent

 Meal #3, does anyone ever touch the rubbery eggs on a plane?

Upon landing in Singapore on Tuesday morning I had access to their SilverKris lounge.  Nothing fancy but again it did the job.  The shower rooms are quite small, but it felt so great to take a shower after such a long flight.  They had decommissioned pay phone rooms that made for the perfect place to daven shacharis.

The business class from Singapore to Male was pretty good for a short-haul flight and once again the staff on the flight was just phenomenal.  They were worried that they may have trouble sourcing a kosher meal in the Maldives for my return trip and offered to store kosher food in Male for my return.  The Hermolis meal, sourced from London, was pretty good though it was all fish.  The seat itself was quite comfortable, but it doesn’t come close to being lie-flat.

Singapore A330 business class

Hermolis kosher lunch in coach, Singapore-Male

Hermolis kosher lunch in business, Singapore-Male

Hermolis kosher lunch in business, Singapore-Male

Arrival:

The Maldives, a nation comprised of over 1,000 islands, is a Muslim country having been converted by force from Buddhism to Islam in the 12th century.  That being said I didn’t feel any discrimination even with my yarmulkah and tzitzis on display.

All bags are scanned for contraband items like alcohol and pork.

Upon clearing immigration, a W Hotel representative took us to get our bags weighed.  All bags, even carry-ons are weighed and you are only allowed to bring 55 pounds per person along for free.  Extra weight is charged at $1.80 per pound.  They only charged us for overweight bags on the way to the hotel, not on the return.  There is a wonderful W lounge to wait in while you wait for your next flight.  Tons of delicious exotic fruits along with free drinks and Wi-Fi made the connection time go by in no time.

Male

Walking from the plane to the immigration

W arrivals lounge

W arrivals lounge

The seaplane you take from Male to your hotel is definitely a unique experience.  If you have noise cancelling headphones you’ll definitely want to take them out before handing over all of your luggage as these things are noisy!  It was my first time taking off from sea, but it’s just incredible to see a plane take off from the water.  The seaplane cruises along at 160mph at about 3,000 feet in the air.  The plane was taking people to 3 hotels and we were the 2nd stop.

Seaplane

 Barefoot? You better believe it!

Cleveland rocks!

The W sure knows how to handle arrivals.  About a dozen employees wait for your arrival and wave as you land.  It really is a nice “Wow” touch.  They all introduce themselves as you walk past them, it’s quite a show and it’s nice to get to meet everyone that way.  After landing they give you a tour of the island via golf cart before bringing you to your villa.

Arrival area

There are lagoon view overwater bungalows and non-lagoon views.  The lagoon view bungalows are much less windy and face pretty turquoise waters, but they have little privacy.  The non-lagoon view bungalows are far more private.  All villas have their own personal plunge pools.

There are also beach villas.  For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would fly to the end of the universe and stay in a beach villa, but they were all occupied.  They have little privacy as the villa next door can see into your pool and lounging areas.

The island is quite small, it takes just 6 minutes to walk around the entire island.  The hotel staff all stay in dormitories on the island, where some live for years at a time.

The whole setting is quite idyllic.  The warm turquoise waters that you can enter right from your villa are oh so inviting.  Although the hotel was completely full, the island itself never felt crowded.  Sunsets are the stuff that dreams are made of.  The nighttime sky is full of more stars than you’ve ever seen, sitting out and staring up to the heavens is just so serene.

Snorkeling gear is free and you had better go while here.  Putting on the mask opens up an aquarium of wildlife including the prettiest fish you’ve ever seen.  Did I mention the water temperature is just perfect?  There are marked channels so that you can swim out into the clear ocean without brushing up against coral, and the wildlife in those channels is just incredible.  Plus the main channel in front of the main beach is very protected from the ocean’s current.  No, snorkeling isn’t easy with a moustache, but using some vaseline can help create somewhat of a seal between your mask and face so that your mask won’t leak too badly.

Similar to Hawaii, I found that the ocean was calmer and better for snorkeling in the mornings.

I’m not the world’s best swimmer and once you make it through the channel the ocean plunges from a depth of a few feet to hundreds of feet.  I didn’t care for the life-vests that they provide in your room that ride up to choke you so I went to the watersports center to get a body vest.  There’s normally a charge, but they’ll be happy to provide you one for free if you bring it back to them when you finish snorkeling.

We also kayaked around on a glass-bottom boat, which was also free of charge and a fun activity.

Paid activities included boating to your own private island, scuba-diving, nighttime snorkeling, and more.  These activities aren’t cheap.  Surprisingly they don’t offer Jet-skiing.

There are self-serve supply stations scattered throughout the island with free drinks, snacks, suntan lotion, and beach towels.  So awesome.

The spa is located in a villa overlooking the water and treatment prices were pretty reasonable.

The hotel does have a kosher menu and though they do maintain separate utensils and cookware for kosher items I personally wouldn’t trust it.  It’s also quite pricey.  For my free Platinum breakfast though they did find items like packaged cholov yisroel cheeses and fruits to enjoy.

After 2 nights and 3 days though I had done more snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming around than I needed to and was quite sore from it all.  I know most people come here from anywhere from 5-10 days but I would definitely get island fever long before then.  I’m not one to just laze around all day, though I did my share of that too.  It’s a long way to travel for just 2 nights but I experienced enough to know that I loved it and that I’d return.  I didn’t regret having just 2 nights, I was excited about being able to explore another city and eat from an actual kosher restaurant!

The W resort employees couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful, so kudos to all of them for making the stay so enjoyable.  They all really put on a friendly face and try to help without being too “in-your-face” that I experienced at places like the S. Regis Kauai.  This truly is a 5 star resort and is probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever been to.

 Ocean Oasis Villa.

 Ocean Oasis Villa.

 Ocean Oasis Villa, glass-bottom floor.

 Ocean Oasis Villa.

 Ocean Oasis Villa.

 Ocean Oasis Villa.

 Ocean Oasis Villa, outdoor shower

Ocean Oasis Villa

Ocean Oasis Villa Ceiling

 Ocean Oasis Villa jetted plunge pool

 Ocean Oasis Villas at nighttime

 Spa

 Ocean Oasis Villas

 Ocean Oasis Villa

 Beach Oasis Villa

 Beach Oasis Villa

 Beach Oasis Villa

 Beach Oasis Villa

 Beach Oasis Villa

Random kosher items they found for breakfastwith yellow flags!

Landing seaplane

 Yup, that’s US Dollars. If you want the spray-on stuff bring your own!

 Restaurant

It’s not every day that I post urinals, but it’s not every day that you see a urinal with an ocean breeze!

 The path that circles the island.

 Hotel infinity pool.

Ping-Pong table in the pool

 Get your toes wet while eating breakfast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Warm turquoise waters are the allure, the orange balloons mark the snorkeling channel.

Refreshment huts are located throughout the island

The hotel was full but the beach was not.

Rock your worries away

A waterproof camera allows you to capture the magic under the sea. Click on the pictures to expand them but unfortunately a camera only captures a tiny fraction of the experience of being there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Looking for lunch?

An eel!

Like being inside an aquarium!

Our seaplane back to Male departed at 5pm and we had a 6 hour layover in Male.  The hotel provides for a free private guided tour of Male, which is accessible via a $1 boat transfer from the airport.  As it was so late most of the markets and stores were closed, though we did get to see the sights of the compact city.  I can’t say I’d be comfortable walking around without the guide, but it was fine with him.

Islamic Centre, Male

We though better of going to that night’s soccer match.

View from the seaplane

View from the seaplane

Back at the airport there is a generic lounge to wait in that has really slow internet service.  Still it was way better than sitting in the awful and uncomfortable dated terminal.

As there were several empty rows of 4 in the middle of the plane in coach I decided to “rough it” with a ghetto upgrade.  You know the one that is lie-flat due to there being a empty row of 4 to stretch out in.  It sure beat a regional business class product as I was able to sleep without issue.  But before going to sleep came the biggest surprise.  The kosher meal was incredible, the best tasting kosher airplane meal I’ve had in my life!  It was sourced from Louis’ in Sydney and included 2 entrees and delicious snacks and desserts.  Singapore coach service is just great, several rounds of hot towels, great food, plenty of drinks, and friendly service. What a concept!

We arrived fresh and ready to go for 2 nights in Singapore!

Dinner menu.

The chicken breast was moist and flavorful, the cookies were great, the honey cake was far better than what you would ever expect from honey cake, the corn thins were a nice healthy snack, and rice-paper nougat reminded me of the fun times we had in Sydney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 2nd hot entree came after the chicken.  Now I’m no expert in Lamb, but it was succulent and awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ghetto upgrade, just find a row of 4 empty seats and upgrade yourself! Checking the seatmap just before boarding was great for locating such rows and just sitting in them upon boarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow, just wow.

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97 Responses to “Trip Notes Maldives: The Longest Flight In The World And 2 Nights In Paradise”

  1. petzel Says:
    1

    ahhhhh finally, I was going mad waiting for this TR, u rock!!!

    ReplyReply
  2. Businessmachine Says:
    2

    Awesome TR! Thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyReply
  3. Ari Says:
    3

    great review and great pics. my favorite is ocean bottom-glass in the villa
    @kingsfan3344

    ReplyReply
  4. SammyDavis Says:
    4

    awesome!

    ReplyReply
  5. Chaim Says:
    5

    Wow- Although i probably will never (sigh) get to the Maldives! it looks amazing!!! (and you definitely deserved a great trip!)
    Thanks for your site— it is my homepage!!

    ReplyReply
  6. youG Says:
    6

    wow love the report!

    P.S can stay in your room the next night and “borrow that bottle” ( or lend it to a friend?)

    ReplyReply
  7. hey Says:
    7

    from all the pics, the last pic is wat turned me on the most lol

    ReplyReply
  8. Yossi. Says:
    8

    Nice TR! Awesome pics! Questions though, if there would have been availability for the Hyatt at 22K + $350 per night would you have done it?

    ReplyReply
  9. Dan Says:
    9

    Thanks guys, love the feedback!

    @Yossi.:
    Yes, though I would have tried a little harder harassing them to come down from the $350 upgrade price.
    The winter time in the US is peak season for the Maldives. When it’s summer here they are probably more willing to negotiate.

    For Bora Bora the opposite is true. Winter in the US is their off-peak and summer in the US is their peak season.

    Off-peak times for both places have more rain and storms.

    ReplyReply
  10. Redbull3 Says:
    10

    Hero.

    ReplyReply
  11. Sof Sof Says:
    11

    Ok Dan what was the grand total?!?

    ReplyReply
  12. Sam Says:
    12

    How does it compare with Hawaii?

    ReplyReply
  13. Dan Says:
    13

    @Redbull3:
    Awww

    @Sof Sof:
    I’d rather not think about that, but all my expenses were laid out in this post.

    @Sam:
    Completely different experiences.

    When I go to Hawaii I go hiking, off-roading, chasing after lava, and enjoying the natural beauty in addition to finding my own private beach and going snorkeling.

    There are no maintain ranges or massive islands or rivers to explore in the Maldives. You have your own little villa with its own perfect gateway into the ocean and that’s about it. Just a tiny island that is dreamlike, but nothing like the natural beauty and expanse of say Kauai.

    ReplyReply
  14. mickeyg Says:
    14

    @Dan: Where are the pics of the burger from the NY layover?

    ReplyReply
  15. Dan Says:
    15

    @mickeyg:
    First I have to type up my notes on the 2 nights in Singapore :D

    ReplyReply
  16. Anonymous Says:
    16

    so sick!!

    ReplyReply
  17. mickeyg Says:
    17

    @Dan: Ha ha ha ha…..understood! I had a great time! I hope to do it again when you come into NY again!

    ReplyReply
  18. ari Says:
    18

    dan im happy for you, your wetting my appetite for a long over due vacation
    btw what type of cam did u use for the under water pics?

    ReplyReply
  19. Getaway Says:
    19

    Wow.. your trip reminds me of Prospect Park!
    Well…kind of like the water in my cup while at the park!

    ReplyReply
  20. Dans the man!!!!! Says:
    20

    Wow Just Wow!!

    I am thinking of going May time.. how much would it cost to stay at the Hyatt ocean suite in miles??

    ReplyReply
  21. Dan Says:
    21

    @ari:
    http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/18769

    @Dans the man!!!!!:
    22K Chase/Hyatt points per night for a beach villa which normally goes for about $1,000/night.

    If you want to confirm an overwater villa in advance there’s a $350/night upcharge unless you can negotiate that rate down at all.

    ReplyReply
  22. Gus Says:
    22

    This is sick. Maybe they need a shliach in Maldives…
    I can help even though I’m no Lubie..

    ReplyReply
  23. AJK Says:
    23

    Great TR.

    Interesting they were able to secure some Kosher goodies for you all the way in MLE for your Plat breakfast.

    The Constance also has a such a “grand welcome” for their guests. I suspect is Male resort culture to do so.

    Now that you’ve flown the EWR-SIN 18.5 flight, is it out of your system, or would you do it again? (I know, it’s going away this year.)

    ReplyReply
  24. rob Says:
    24

    @dan 2 questions
    a) was the seaplane to the W another $400 pp. thats not clear to me from the post though maybe i missed it…
    b) do you know if the hyatt automatically upgrades diamonds to the over-water bungalows?

    thanks!

    ReplyReply
  25. AJK Says:
    25

    @rob:

    a) Yes, it’s nother $4-500 per person.
    b) They do not. You can either pay the upgrade fee ($350 or so) to confirm before, or risk it and try to get upgraded upon check in.

    ReplyReply
  26. Sam Says:
    26

    Awesome TR, Dan. Green with envy.

    You said you faced east for your Singapore shacharis. You need west. I will allow it this time :)

    ReplyReply
  27. shiframeir Says:
    27

    you mentioned they had an alleged kosher option at the W. what are the details, do they have any sort of supervision?

    ReplyReply
  28. dov Says:
    28

    i just had AA miles expire:( any tips on getting them reinstated?

    ReplyReply
  29. FrequentFlier Says:
    29

    hey,
    trip looks awesome.
    do you know if there are any cards with low or no annual fee that offer airport lounge access?
    thanks!

    ReplyReply
  30. noturbizniss Says:
    30

    !!!

    ReplyReply
  31. rots5 Says:
    31

    did u have to confirm the second night at 350 as well or bank that they wont make yo leave the second night once ur there the first night?

    whered u stay in sin? ;-)

    ReplyReply
  32. to Dov Says:
    32

    There are a few options. Call AA. Happened to my daughter and she got them reinstated by getting one of their c/c’s.

    ReplyReply
  33. Mickydtroi Says:
    33

    Dan what did u do about davening on the plane?

    ReplyReply
  34. noturbizniss Says:
    34

    @Mickydtroi:
    good question. how did the zmanim work?

    ReplyReply
  35. Dan Says:
    35

    @AJK:
    They maintain quite a large selection of kosher food on hand.
    Unfortunately most of it is not double sealed.

    It was a great flight, but I have no particular need to fly it again. Then again I like trying as many different products as I can, so that will always be my answer.

    I know it’s not like flying the concorde, but there’s something to be said for being able to say that you flew on the longest flight in the world. Could be I’d just crazy though :D

    @Sam:
    I’ll have to ask my Rov I guess.
    Do you daven due east or actually towards Jlem?

    @shiframeir:
    Of course not. They had stuff like sealed pre-made burgers from Australia with dedicated utensils and ovens, but I wasn’t about to trust that.

    @dov:
    Find someone who rented a car before your miles expired and didn’t get miles and give your mileage number for credit.

    Or http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/4926

    @FrequentFlier:
    Ink Classic.
    Or get the Plat and cancel?

    @rots5:
    In a place like the Maldives there are limited overwater bungalows (I think the Park Hyatt has 16 IIRC?) so if you don’t reserve it there’s a decent chance they’ll sell it.

    But otherwise that’s a good strategy, particularly in low-season. As long as you won’t be too disappointed by having to move.

    Fairmont Singapore.

    @Mickydtroi:
    I never davened shacharis or put on tefilin on Monday as I never had a Monday, the sun never rose to a Monday.

    On the return I davened twice on Monday as the sun rose twice for me and both times it was Monday.

    This is why you should not cross the dateline during sefira!

    ReplyReply
  36. noturbizniss Says:
    36

    @Dan:

    Info on davening direction http://www.myzmanim.com/messagebox.aspx?messageid=direction

    ReplyReply
  37. noturbizniss Says:
    37

    @noturbizniss:
    You daven facing J’lem, question is if constant compass bearing or a straight line without turning (i.e. great circle distance or standard flat map view distance).

    ReplyReply
  38. Dan Says:
    38

    Heh, complicated stuff.
    Seems like Chabad of Alaska davens facing west. Who knew?

    http://www.kosherjava.com/2011/01/17/davening-direction-from-alaska/

    Appears that Hawaii should also face west, but I wonder if they actually do? Definitely something I’ll do more research into.
    http://www.kosherjava.com/maps/zmanim.html

    ReplyReply
  39. DanR Says:
    39

    Dan, good for you ! Although, you cannot leave us readers behind for too long ! We need your wisdom and deals !

    Phenom vacation ! Very jealous here, but I did just return from Milan, Italy ! Points / miles of course !

    ReplyReply
  40. talha Says:
    40

    Dan what was the food cost per day per person in maldives?

    ReplyReply
  41. Dan Says:
    41

    @talha:
    Nothing, we brought our own.

    ReplyReply
  42. DanR Says:
    42

    Dan, any plans for your next trip ?

    ReplyReply
  43. Dan Says:
    43

    @DanR:
    NY next week.

    ReplyReply
  44. ac Says:
    44

    my guess is no jet skiing, so as to protect the environment; it is too fragile and they want to preserve it.

    ReplyReply
  45. DanR Says:
    45

    Safe Trip Dan !

    ReplyReply
  46. Dan Says:
    46

    @ac:
    Right, but they have areas for seaplanes to land and takeoff, etc.
    Seemingly they should be able to come up with a zone where it would be safe.

    @DanR:
    TY

    ReplyReply
  47. OberBoberGrober Says:
    47

    Although I wouldn’t take that tri because I’m a chassidishe yid, and I don’t go to beach places, I’m happy you had a great time. Also, about the “upgrade” to coach-4 row, I usually go on the plane the last walk down the aisle, see an empty row, I know it’s empty because I walked on last. Works always for me.

    ReplyReply
  48. Dan Says:
    48

    @OberBoberGrober:
    Touché.
    For the record on the non-lagoon side that our villa was on there was never anyone in the ocean and you have your own private pool.

    Why wait to be last when there is no space for your overhead luggage when you can just check the seating chart and know what will be empty?

    ReplyReply
  49. dovid Says:
    49

    “They were able to find some kosher wine which I had requested in advance via email”

    Which airlines would have kosher wine in biz without requesting it, and which airlines can you request it?
    what’s the email address to request it for SQ?

    ReplyReply
  50. chacham Says:
    50

    you mentioned that you had empty rooms in the lounge in Singapore that were facing east ,in Singapore when you daven (pray) you have to face west not east, Jerusalem is west of Singapore not east, i think so, maybe im wrong,i had a friend who visited south Africa so he told me that over there they face north when they daven because Jerusalem is north of Africa, anyway Dan you are the best i hope to follow in you’re footsteps one day to see the world like Dan the king and be able to pay for it myself i know you get a thrill out of this stuff maximizing points and miles,but credit cards and me don’t get along very well, i don’t know if i will ever be able to emulate the stuff you do to acumlate all those points and miles and getting the most out of them, so meanwhile let me dream that i can afford travel like this one day. thanks alot. keep up the good work!

    ReplyReply
  51. DevoiriS Says:
    51

    What local places have these huts on the water? You know… not a 16 hour plane ride away…

    ReplyReply
  52. Dan Says:
    52

    @dovid:
    I just used the email address on their site.
    Always worth trying as you won’t get it otherwise except on Israel flights.

    @chacham:
    Read the previous comments for more discussion.

    @DevoiriS:
    If there were such places locally then I wouldn’t have to go to the Maldives :D

    ReplyReply
  53. wow Says:
    53

    Hey Dan, this sounds divine!!
    So just wondering- What did you do with your baby this time? Did you have his Bubby babysit again? :)

    ReplyReply
  54. bubble347 Says:
    54

    Hey Dan, welcome back i’m glad you enjoyed. Maybe I have my demographics screwed up but wouldn’t the trip be shorter had you flown to Sri-Lanka and from there the 1 hour flight to Male?

    ReplyReply
  55. Freddie Says:
    55

    the menu you posted says dairy free and meat free. Was it vegan?

    ReplyReply
  56. TG Says:
    56

    Dan,
    I have a boatload of united miles and united.com doesnt seem to know of any nonstop EWR-SIN flight on their website. How do I book this flight using my united miles as you did?

    ReplyReply
  57. Chaya Says:
    57

    Started following ur site in December (on bbm) and am hooked…thru ur link applied for chase BA, freedom w checking (unfortunately no longer exclusive) in Jan/13 and my first ever 2BM on dh’s name for SPG consumer and amex biz gold. Until then Citi AA gold and amex delta got all our personal spending, chase slate for monthly premiums and amex platinum for biz expenses. Dh also has an active unused citi plat and non-activated ink bold (w 50k offer), discover cash, amex blue cash and some more…and paying membership on all of them for years…he also received a pre-approved BoAm 5x cc offer recently…question is which card do we use for what expenses now that I’m into it, which cards to still sign up for on either name and which to cancel due to fees?
    Thanks in advance

    ReplyReply
  58. David Says:
    58

    Davening direction: In many places in the world, they daven facing Jerusalem, regardless of what direction that works out it. That was the tradition in Bagdad and many similar cities. Elsewhere, particularly in Russia, they always davened east regardless of where Jerusalem was.

    Once we are on the topic of asking questions, it may be worthwhile to ask about Shabbos in Hawaii and what day to keep. According to R. Tukachinsky, it should be on what the locals refer to as Friday. For that reason, some recommend not visiting at all on Friday or Saturday. According to the Hazon Ish, Shabbos is Saturday in Hawaii. However, according to his approach, Shabbos is on what the locals refer to as Sunday in places like Japan, New Zealand and many of the islands.

    Just a note of something that might be worth looking into. [

    ReplyReply
  59. Eli Says:
    59

    I booked a ticket with AA Miles and was not able to fly then, so I cancelled out the itinerary and they said I had 1 year to use the same itinerary or just pay $150 to put the miles back…..I didnt end up travelling or calling them within 12 months, so they just took the miles. Any way to get them back? It was 150K AA points which is a big hit….

    ReplyReply
  60. Dan Says:
    60

    @bubble347:
    Nope, much longer.

    @Freddie:
    Where does it say that?

    @TG:
    Unfortunately you don’t, read the post again.

    @Chaya:
    Try asking on http://forums.dansdeals.com

    @David:
    Interesting, where do you see that in Russia they davened East?

    There are several Chabad Houses in Hawaii and they all received a psak (as did I) that they hold shabbos only on Saturday.
    Of course YLORMV (Your local orthodox rabbi may vary)

    @Eli:
    Seems to me like you’re out of luck, but if you have a good excuse try calling back.

    ReplyReply
  61. Yosef Says:
    61

    How did the flight from newark to singapore and back work in terms of davening. Were there any tefillos you couldn’t daven?

    ReplyReply
  62. Dan Says:
    62

    @Yosef:
    See comment 35.

    ReplyReply
  63. anon Says:
    63

    Awesome! Thanks for the TR! Makes us all jealous in a good way!

    ReplyReply
  64. bubble347 Says:
    64

    Dan i’m sure your right but this is what I found; NYC to CMB 19 hrs than CMB to MLE 1 hour and 15 min vs. NYC to SIN 18.5 hrs than SIN to MLE 4.5 hrs.

    ReplyReply
  65. Dan Says:
    65

    @bubble347:
    Nobody flies nonstop to CMB.
    So you’ll need to add the multiple connection times.

    And to do that with miles will be hard to put together.

    ReplyReply
  66. @eliteflyer Says:
    66

    @Dan: It says “Dairy Free Meat Free” on the bottom of the menu from the Australian caterer that you posted.

    ReplyReply
  67. bubble347 Says:
    67

    Thanks for clarifying that.

    ReplyReply
  68. Dan Says:
    68

    @@eliteflyer:
    Really strange, I have no idea what that is about as it was most definitely meat.
    They also sell the csame hicken breast in sauce in their physical location: http://www.lewiskosher.com/order/

    Maybe they mean the accompaniments are dairy and meat-free?

    ReplyReply
  69. rots5 Says:
    69

    amazing pics by the way!! one day…. until then i got the great visual… and those underwater pics are great! amazing!!

    ReplyReply
  70. Dan Says:
    70

    @rots5:
    Thanks, but my amateur pics taken on a $99 Elph and a $69 underwater kodak hardly do the place justice!

    ReplyReply
  71. milechazzer Says:
    71

    Are there any SPG hotels that make overwater bungalows available for points? I did a quick search and came up with these three.
    Lemeridien Tahiti (doesn’t show points redemption for overwater bungalows)
    Lemeriden Bora Bora (doesn’t show points redemption for any rooms)
    Sheraton Maldives (doesn’t show points redemption for overwater bungalows)

    Does anyone know if there are any other SPG hotels with overwater bungalows besides these three?
    Is there any chance these hotels would make overwater bungalows available by request over the phone?

    ReplyReply
  72. Dan Says:
    72

    @milechazzer:
    You can use points at all of those for an OWB plus you can use points at The St Regis Bora Bora and the W Maldives.

    However it will likely be a poor use of points. You’d be better off selling the points and paying cash there.

    You can find out the rates for an OWB by calling Starwood or chatting online at SPG.com

    Otherwise start collecting Chase points and stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives where it will be a fraction of the points that SPG would want.

    ReplyReply
  73. Igor Ivanovich Says:
    73

    Dan, amazing TR. Hashem should keep giving you the strength to make a beautiful Kiddush Hashem around the world with your friendly cheer and patience!
    @Dan: In Moscow (Russia), Chabad (Marina Roscha and Bolshaya bronnaya) and other Jewish Kehillos daven South (towards Israel, as of last time I checked).

    BTW, I am about to do a $7k purchase of airline tickets TLV-USA with a travel agent in Israel. Can you remind me, is it better to use the Amex Plat, Chase SP, or Chase Freedom? TIA!

    ReplyReply
  74. Dan Says:
    74

    @Igor Ivanovich:
    Amen!
    Good to know, thanks.
    Sapphire.

    ReplyReply
  75. Yaakov Says:
    75

    Few of us actually expect to ever do this ourselves but it’s nice of you to share your experience in a way which makes us feel almost as if we ourselves were there.

    ReplyReply
  76. gershon Says:
    76

    where were you shabbos?

    ReplyReply
  77. Dan Says:
    77

    @Yaakov:
    Never say never :)

    @gershon:
    Singapore.

    ReplyReply
  78. ava Says:
    78

    Great TR. Is it possible to do this trip with a kid?

    ReplyReply
  79. Dan Says:
    79

    @ava:
    Possible? Of course. All depends how your kid is with flying.

    Better idea: Leave ‘em with the bubby!

    ReplyReply
  80. martin Says:
    80

    @Dan:

    So u only went to the W becase u were paying

    using points u would of gone to the Park Hyatt Maldives

    ReplyReply
  81. Dans the man Says:
    81

    So will it cost 33k hyatt points for a owb? Because its a suite?

    ReplyReply
  82. Dan Says:
    82

    @martin:
    The Park Hyatt is definitely the way to go with points, though bear in mind that their overwater bungalows don’t have a pool.

    @Dans the man:
    No you can’t redeem points for an OWB.
    You need to redeem 22K for a beach villa and then negotiate a rate for an upgrade to a OWB, probably $300-$350 per night.

    ReplyReply
  83. Besalel Says:
    83

    Dan,

    It does not appear that the fact that the Maldives is an Islamic nation had any bearing on your beautiful trip. I would be too scared to attempt to travel to an Islamic country where the official law is that if you practice any other religion(no matter what direction) you are liable to be put to death. How do you research which countries are safe for Americans and which are not? What do you go by?

    ReplyReply
  84. cant fly that long Says:
    84

    is there anywhere more local that’s somewhat comprable to the maldives? maybe somewhere in the carribean?

    ReplyReply
  85. milechazzer Says:
    85

    @Dan:

    Would that be an option for the SPG hotels too, to book a room with 20,000 pts and then upgrade with cash? Or is that not an option, because they have a point rate for the OWBs?

    ReplyReply
  86. Igor Ivanovich Says:
    86

    @Dan: Thanks!

    @Besalel: On the State Dept. website, “Religious Laws: Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. Religious gatherings such as Bible study groups are prohibited; however, a family unit may practice its religion, including Bible readings, within its residence. It is against the law to invite or encourage Maldivian citizens to attend these gatherings. Offenders may face jail sentences, expulsion, and/or fines.”

    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_961.html

    ReplyReply
  87. JJ1000 Says:
    87

    @Besalel: Please do your research before saying or believing fear mongering propaganda. The Maldives is one of the friendliest and safest countries in the world.

    Idolatry is what gets the death penalty, so unless you serve idols you are fine. Also better not to go on mivtzoim.

    ReplyReply
  88. Igor Ivanovich Says:
    88

    @JJ1000: :)

    @Dan: Just to confirm, I have a zero % APR balance on the Sapphire (from a balance transfer) but if I charge $7k now and pay it off, the payment (except the minimum $50) goes to pay off the purchase amount first so I don’t have to worry about getting stuck with an interest charges balance? TIA!

    ReplyReply
  89. Sam Says:
    89

    Great trip report. I imagine it takes a lot of effort to write it, so thanks! Question: did you find that by having to pay for the hotel you appreciated more than if you were to stay there using points? Looking forward to the Singapore trip report (I’m heading there soon, so please include as many details as possible ;)

    ReplyReply
  90. SFuzzi Says:
    90

    Thanks for sharing the details of your beautiful trip! I am wondering where would be best to post/ask this – not meaning to hijack your thread. We will be in Barcelona,Spain for Pesach and would like to find a sephardic seder ( My spouse is of sephardic descent, although raised in Ashkenazi Cleveland). I know Chabad hosts seders worldwide, but expecting that one will not be sephardic.

    Thanks

    ReplyReply
  91. DZ the Telzer Says:
    91

    Dan that site Kosherjava.com that you mentioned is a great site, used it many time.

    ReplyReply
  92. Igor Ivanovich Says:
    92

    @Dan: Another question, with the Amex Plat, I have the premium luggage coverage – delayed etc. what about travel insurance etc, is this all good if the tickets are for my female sibling and her family? Does the Sapphire have similar/better coverage?

    ReplyReply
  93. Igor Ivanovich Says:
    93

    @Igor Ivanovich: I spoke to Amex protection services, they said that there is no coverage for siblings etc, only spouse and children under 24 (?) Any travel benefit to charge on Sapphire? One thing is that you need not pay in full right away.

    ReplyReply
  94. terrific post Says:
    94

    This trip report is terrific (not to exclude the others). Thank you . After reading your post, I would like to plan a trip to Maldives to celebrate our anniversary. I have been saving up for a trip like this one and would like to book sometime in April – I know..late, late.

    I have to book a flight, hotel and hopefully get israel included. I would like to follow your route, if possible.
    We would be flying out of Montreal or NY or anywhere in btwn.

    I am open to all suggestions

    My point balances are currently at
    240k dividend miles (usairways)
    25k starwood points
    54k aeroplan
    25k skymiles
    24k skymiles
    36k skymiles
    23k aa
    15k marriott
    5k marriott
    15k hhonors
    11k hhonors

    80k capitalone travel rewards = $800

    A friend of mine has 100k spg that I may be able to borrow.

    Thanks

    ReplyReply
  95. james Says:
    95

    dan when are you giving us the trip notes for Singapore? i cant wait

    ReplyReply
  96. Lee Says:
    96

    Reading this TR reminded me of my trip to Singapore to see the F1 GP race. Likewise I redeemed 120k USDM for First/Bus all on SQ during the July glitch. EWR-IAH-DME-SIN (UA F,SQ F) // SIN-HKG (SQ J) // HKG-SIN-EWR (SQ J)

    ReplyReply
  97. soly Says:
    97

    wow very interesting!!!

    ReplyReply

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