I recently enjoyed a FABULOUS holiday in the incredibly beautiful Maldives. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Qatar Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Brussels to Doha
- Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Doha to Male
- Review: Jumeirah Dhevanafushi
- Review: Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane transfer (today)
- Review: The St Regis Maldives Vommuli
- Review: Largest overwater villa in the Maldives
- Review: Park Hyatt Hadahaa
- Review: Transfer from Park Hyatt Hadahaa to Male airport
- Review: Soneva Jani (most amazing resort in the Maldives)
- Review: SriLankan A330 Business Class Male to Doha (via Colombo)
Today (April 19, 2017): Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane transfer.
The recently opened St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort brings the iconic St Regis brand and its hallmark luxury services to the world’s most magnificent destination, the Maldives. The sensational resort is located on a small, remote island in the Dhaalu Atoll, which is a 40-minute seaplane ride from Malé airport. While I will review the resort itself next week, this trip report covers the excellent lounge of the St Regis hotel at the airport and the seaplane transfer to the hotel (which offers breathtaking views of fifty shades of blue).
Flying on board a seaplane features in my top 10 list of the most fabulous things to see & do in the Maldives.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip and slideshow):
- St Regis airport lounge
- Seaplane transfer
ST REGIS AIRPORT LOUNGE
Upon arrival at Velana International Airport, also known as Malé International Airport, and after passing immigration, guests are met by a St Regis airport staff member, who provides assistance with luggage carry and check-in and with securing seaplane boarding passes at the Trans Maldivian Airways counter. Once checked in for the seaplane transfer, the St Regis staff member will transfer you to the seaplane terminal, which is located on the other side of the airport’s sole runway. The drive to the seaplane terminal takes only 5 minutes and the transfer is done in one of the hotel’s limousine cars, with cold drinks and cold towels being provided during the short journey. If you’re lucky, you will be driven to the seaplane terminal in the hotel’s Bentley limousine, the only Bentley in the country. If the Bentley is not available, you will be transferred in a luxury van or Land Rover.
At the seaplane terminal, most of the Maldives’ most exclusive resorts have their own lounges, where guests can wait in all comforts for their seaplane departure. And it has to be said that the St Regis Vommuli resort did a great job since their private lounge, designated ‘The Great Room’, is without any doubt the best lounge at the airport. The decor, with its soft pastel colors, reflects the sensational design of the resorts itself. The decently sized space features a reception desk and a few cozy, partly separated seating corners for around 20 guests (which is more than sufficient when you take into consideration that seaplanes can transfer a maximum of 14 passengers at a time). There are also two bathrooms, one of them coming with shower facilities, which is great when you want to refresh after a long haul flight. The hotel’s staff members at the lounge offer guests an array of fresh juices, coffee, tea, and light snacks in addition to a small self-service station, with soft drinks and sandwiches. There are also toys for small children to keep them entertained while waiting for the seaplane departure. The ground-floor lounge also features floor-to-ceiling windows and a small patio with lovely views of the seaplane activities.
Waiting time at the lounge will depend on the seaplane schedule, and may vary from one to two hours. Check-in for the resort – with credit card and passports – is done at the lounge itself, so that once you arrive at the resort, you will be immediately whisked away by your butler on a gulf cart to your villa to start enjoying your holiday. Another nice gesture is that you can choose a welcome drink from an iPad in the lounge, which is waiting for you after you land at the resort.
Once it’s time to depart, St Regis staff members will escort you from the lounge to a room, where you have to watch a 5 minute safety movie about the seaplane. From there, it’s a short stroll to the seaplane docks where you can board your plane.
The seaplane transfer to the St Regis resort is operated by Trans Maldivian Airways, the oldest (and currently only) air transfer operator in the country. With a fleet of more than 40 de Havilland Twin Otters, Trans Maldivian Airways manages the largest seaplane operation in the world. The de Havilland Twin Otter, manufactured in Canada, is an example of rugged reliability and safety. Perhaps the best testimony to the timelessness of the Twin Otter is the fact that it remains the largest-selling commuter airplane in the world. The De Havilland Twin Otter is a highly maneuverable, versatile aircraft, and the high winger, unpressurized, twin-engine turbine powered aircraft is ideally suited to operate in all conditions and climates. The versatility of this aircraft makes it perform very well on wheels, skis or on floats. The latter, along with the useful short take-off and landing performance, makes it the ideal aircraft for the 1190-island archipelago of the Maldives.
Each seaplane has a crew of 2 pilots and one flight attendant (alias luggage handler), all of them wearing shorts and operating the plane barefoot. The cabin feels remarkably spacious and there are 14 seats for passengers in total, with single seats on one side of the plane and double seats on the other side. Seats are not assigned, so the first ones on board can choose the best seats. There’s no door between the cockpit and the cabin, so you can observe the pilots’ activities when you are not distracted by the awesome views while flying over the atolls. It can get quite hot in the cabin, although some fans cool down the temperature as soon as the seaplane leaves the docks. Also, the seaplane is really loud, and passengers are given ear plugs for their comfort. There are no toilets onboard.
The flight from Male International Airport to the St Regis resort takes around 40 minutes, although it may be 50 minutes in case a stop-over needs to made at another resort to drop-off other passengers. There’s no service onboard, and there’s not much to do, except for enjoying the phenomenal views as you fly over several atolls. For most people, thé iconic image of the Maldives is that of a deep blue ocean interspersed by tiny palm islands surrounded by ridiculously clear lagoons and sugar white beaches. The only way to see that breathtaking view of 50 shades of blue is from the air, and although you will catch a few glimpses of the islands from your plane upon landing or departure at Male airport, the best vantage point for the breathtaking panoramas is offered by the seaplanes that take guests to their resorts. Flying on board a seaplane in Maldives and admiring the picture-perfect archipelago from a bird’s eye perspective is one of the ultimate experiences that the destination has to offer.