Why You Will Never See A Trip Report To The Maldives From Me

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Award Ticket Redemption Process- Booking NYC to LAS

Why You Will Never See A Trip Report To The Maldives From Me

Here I go again.  Another rant style post dissing something that I have never experienced, just like my cruise post.  I guess I just don’t learn 😉.  Before I get started you should know this isn’t about the Maldives so much.  The place looks amazing and it is up there in terms of worthy destinations for sure.  It is more about what the Maldives stand for and why it is really so high on everyone’s list.

RELATED: Have Influencers, Bloggers & Social Media Skewed Our Travel Perceptions & Enjoyment?

What The Maldives Stand For?

Don’t get all worked up, this isn’t a political post.  I have no idea what the Maldives stand for in that sense.  What I mean is that I believe the Maldives are popular because a sickness our current culture has. The sickness I am talking about is social media.

Why do people really go to the Maldives?  Do they go because it is beautiful and serene?  Sure.  But do they also go because it is expensive, exclusive and Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter post worthy?  You better believe it!  Did most people know what the Maldives were before reading miles and points blogs or seeing celebrities posting pics on IG?  Probably not.

Miles and points have allowed me to see things that I would have never been able to without them.  I am extremely thankful for that.  It has allowed me to travel outside my weight class so to speak.  Maybe 3 or 4 weight classes up in reality.  Nothing epitomizes that more than the Maldives to me though.  The resorts used to be exclusively for the rich and famous and now they are open to people even like me.

Photo Courtesy Of Hilton’s Website

But Why Go There?

Why do the Maldives get blogged about so much and why are there so many IG posts and YouTube videos made about it?  Because it sells an image.  It says you can rub elbows where the rich and famous do and it allows bloggers to boast insane redemption values.  Those redemptions sell an image that say you can do this too! Get this card and you can travel and party like the rich.

The problem is that even with miles and points it is pretty difficult to pull off.  You have to fly around the world with multiple stops along the way.  Even after around 24 hours of travel you need to take a boat or plane to your specific resort which costs several hundred dollars per person.  Then once you get to the resort you are essentially stuck there and the restaurants are not exactly budget friendly.  You can use hotel status to try to curb that some. At the end of the day you are still talking about thousands of dollars on top of hundreds of thousands points and miles.

So why go through all that when comparable, although maybe lessor versions are out there? Options like Mo’orea that is much closer, easier to access from the airport, and has an island you can explore.  Because it is more brag/post/hash tag worthy.

I know I am generalizing things and that there are many people that go there that don’t care about any of that.  But I bet they were first turned on to it from a blog post or Instagram picture etc.  I remember when I was growing up that Hawaii was “the brag spot” but that is like going to Florida for people like us. And you know us miles and points peeps love to compare passports and redemptions. The Maldives may be the ultimate trump card in our circles.

But have we built up a bubble around the Maldives and put it on a pedestal that it doesn’t deserve in the process?

Conclusion

I don’t think people that go to the Maldives or dream of going are bad people or they all wanna go there for shallow reasons. It looks amazing and I hope if/when you do go it is everything you hope for.  And if you are already in the area visiting India or Asia etc. then the travel isn’t all that terrible either.

This is more about what the Maldives represent.  This sickness that social media has created. Our desire to rack up likes, retweets, and shares.  We seem to make decisions based on what will play well on social media and we derive some self worth from it.  I am just as guilty of this at times too.  That is a dangerous place to be and I feel like nothing represents that more than the Maldives.

So the question I place to you the reader is are you going there because you are interested in the culture, the beauty, the food etc. Or are you desiring the exclusivity that it represents?  I think you can find a ton of beautiful places to unplug and relax and you fly right over most of them on the way to the Maldives.

I am truly curious to hear from people that have been there and been to other similar options.  Is it worth the extra effort?  Does it live up to the hype?  Or is it just another form of “vendoming“?

Be sure to check out my second post on this topic which does a better job explaining the aura phenomenon I was discussing here.

 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

126 COMMENTS

  1. Well said. People are way too concerned with social media and not enough on enjoying themselves. Can you also promise not to review the Vendome?

  2. Good post… open and honest. I get ya.

    And that’s coming from a Maldives addict! I’ve done the Conrad Maldives now… 10 times. Yes I know I need help.

    I got friendly with the staff there (wonderful warm people the Maldivian in general) over the years and also I love snorkeling. There anyway… anywhere else in the world seems pretty much crap. I’ve seen it all there on the house reef..including Manta rays! Sharks, octopus, turtles, dolphins, eagle rays, and every species of tropical fish you can imagine. Last month a guest saw a whale shark right off the beach on the reef (he showed me GoPro footage) The reef is getting trashed though due to inconsiderate guests and global warming.

    The value I get with a family of 3 is just great, on points, having worked my way up to room upgrades after 10 time visits (the management reward serial repeaters), breakfast (brunch) included, happy hour and knowing what and where to eat. I feel they truly understand luxury, without any stuffiness, which works for me immaculately.

    They treat us like family especially my young son. So… a good ad for the Conrad from me, and all genuine.

    However I’ve seen some really bad behavior there recently, and over the years, unfortunately often from my fellow redeemers… extreme cheapness, entitlement and such, plus it’s getting worse. So ultimately and sadly I think I’m coming up to my last stay soon, certainly for a while.

    But the Maldives is a very very special place. For me anyway. Nonetheless… a good post Mark.

    • The ease to get there (and affordability) make it a favorite among many. I need to get to Mexico City sometime soon – I have not been able to check it out yet.

      • Thru the decades, different spots have made a big splash, if only temporarily. When you mention Mexico, I can’t help but think of old Acapulco when John Wayne and other celebrities flocked there, remember everyone had to stay at Las Brisas?! Palm Springs, Rio, St Tropez, South Beach, Cabo – exclusivity is gone. Maldives is turning that way as well.

        A person can’t stay in St Barts easily using points or at least not a boatload of them. I think once a location is pretty much relegated to villa accommodations (& not major hotel chains) you can find a true celebrity snob appeal & lifestyle if that’s what you’re trying to emulate.

  3. I didn’t understand this post. Pretty much, why does it even matter? Different strokes for different folks. If you choose not to go cool. Why even wonder why other people go.

    That’d be like if you found out your neighbor was going to the Maldives and before he went you went over there to make sure he was going there for the “right reasons.”

    That’s just silly to me. People work hard for their money. They work hard for their miles and points. Who cares how they choose to spend it?

    It doesn’t affect me at all how others choose to spend their money and miles and points.

    It’s not some social media sickness. This was a silly article.

    • I get what you are saying and I can’t disagree with you. I shared my thoughts on the subject which differ from many and wanted to see what others thought. Meant to spark a discussion.

      And if you don’t think social media and blogs have influenced the growth of the Maldives at all I think you are sticking your head in the sand. Read Andy’s comment to see what I am talking about.

      I simply wanted to point out that there are other options as well and don’t be influenced into thinking it is a must go trip. Social media and trip reports have the same effect as advertising does.

      • Yeah, usually I agree with most of your articles. Not this one though. Like you feel you’re sharing your opinion, I’m sharing my opinion about how the article comes off as I’m reading it.

        It’s like if you walked by an extremely expensive 5 star restaurant, peeked in and looked at all the people eating in there and then came to the conclusion that they must all be eating there for the “wrong reasons.”

        Then you went home and came up with a list of reasons you felt were “wrong” for eating at this extremely expensive restaurant.

        And you wrote an article about the “sickness that social media has created” and how eating at this restaurant illustrates that. And your conclusion is – you will never eat at this restaurant because there are better restaurants where you can eat at for the “right reasons.”

        My point is – who cares? Different strokes for different folks.

        It doesn’t matter if the Maldives is a social media creation. How does it affect your life whether people choose to go for the “wrong reasons.”

        It doesn’t. If someone works hard, generates a lot of wealth and want to pluck down $10k just for an instagram pic, who cares? I certainly don’t. It’s there money. It’s there points and miles. How they spend their money and points and miles has no effect on my life, nor yours.

        You know what’s a bigger sickness in our world? People constantly critiquing what other people do – when it has no effect on their lives.

        Whether people choose to go to the Maldives is a personal choice that has no effect on my life. Thus, it doesn’t matter to me the reasons why they choose to go.

        • @TNT: I also replied to your other comment, having also taken issue with what Andy had to say.

          I think the criticism in the article is aimed at the trend, not the individual. More “I think these motives are shallow, what do you think? And have you actually figured out whether it’s worth it, or have you let others convinced you it is?” If you don’t think your own motives are shallow (or don’t care), great! If you think you’ve been completely rational, great! It’s just meant to make you think twice before jumping on what seems to have become a bandwagon. I think there’s also the added subtext “Careful trying to be an influencer, lest you become the influenced.”

          Questioning one’s own motives is always good, regardless of whether you’re questioning their morality or their accuracy. Sometimes, you need someone to open your eyes. And sometimes you’re already seeing clearly. If you’re in the latter camp, more power to you!

          • @ George

            Yeah, so many things in life can be looked at as shallow. Flying first class is shallow to those who fly economy.

            The article compares Maldives to Moorea. Ok. You can also compare Moorea to Key West and Moorea would come out as “shallow.”

            Cars are shallow. Houses are shallow. Restaurants are shallow. There’s an aspect of functionality in everything and there’s an aspect of status symbol in everything as well.

            The point I’m making is – why does it matter? It’s just options. Different options for different people.

            Who went to the underwater restaurant at Conrad Maldives? No one goes for the food. It’s all status symbol.

            And my response is – who cares? There’s no right or wrong way to travel. There’s no right or wrong way to spend your money or your points and miles.

            Some would rather be practical/rational/functional. And others would rather be impractical/irractional/and superfluous.

            And it’s a choice. No one’s right and no one’s wrong. It’s your money, it’s your miles, it’s your points. Go where you want to go. Do what you want to do. Do you.

            And for those that want to judge how others spend their money, their points and their miles – my suggestion is – if it doesn’t affect your own life, don’t worry about it.

            Go to Moorea if it suits you better.

            You won’t see people going to the Maldives writing an article how it’s “wrong” to go to Moorea instead. You know why?

            Because they don’t care if you choose to go to Moorea.

          • George I think it hit it pretty much nail on the head.

            If you have watched the Fyre Festival doc you should get where I am coming from TNT.

            You don’t like the article and I get it I didn’t expect everyone to agree or enjoy it. That is never the case. Others seem to like it or enjoy discussing it at least. Different strokes for different folks – right? 🙂

          • @ Mark

            “Different strokes for different folks”

            For sure. And I wasn’t coming at the angle that I’m trying to get other people to not enjoy the article.

            I was trying to defend a traveler’s rights to be “shallow” or travel for the “wrong reasons”

            Traveling is such a personal experience/decision. I couldn’t see telling another traveler that they are traveling for the “wrong reasons”

          • I do agree with you 100% – people should travel however and to wherever they want if it makes them happy.

            This was more talking about the effect social media has had on people’s decision making process and how much it influences people these days.

        • @TNT, As a travel/award blogger, this site definitely influences where people travel. That’s why he cares. He just making the point that going to a place just to social media brag is silly. If you don’t believe a lot of people choose destinations based on what the IG post will look like, you have a better circle of friends than me

          • @ Mark

            “He just making the point that going to a place just to social media brag is silly.”

            This is exactly my point. I’m trying to defend a traveler’s rights to go to a place just to social media brag even if it seems “silly” to you.

            How does it affect your travels in ANY way if another person decides to travel in a silly way?

            That’s why I don’t get this whole social commentary. Is there an epidemic of “silly” traveling? Who cares? Do you care?

            How does “silly” traveling affect any other person? It’s their money, it’s their points, it’s their miles. It’s their life. It’s their travel reasons.

            What’s silly to you is a legit reason to them. Who’s opinion matters more, yours or theirs?

            I think your opinion only matters to your travels. It’s not relevant to any other person’s travel decisions. So it doesn’t matter if you think another person’s travel reasons are “silly”

            So why even provide social commentary on the matter? Does it make the world a better place if we cut out “silly” traveling?

          • TNT if they are going somewhere they want to because they want to (no matter the reason) that is great I don’t have a problem with that.

            My point is don’t go somewhere because someone else says you should or because you feel like you need to for credibility. Travel where you want to because of the reasons you want to. Whatever those may be is fine and everyone should set their own criteria. I am encouraging people to use their own process and make their own decisions.

          • @ Mark Ostermann,

            I get that. But the people that you are appealing to, that’s who they are. They are into status symbols and into bragging. It’s not simply a travel choice, it’s a lifestyle choice.

            They buy status symbol houses, status symbol sunglasses, status symbol purses, status symbol cars, eat at status symbol restaurants.

            And there’s no social commentary on status symbol houses, or cars, or any other thing. It’s just who they are. They are into that kind of stuff.

            The person that simply goes to the Maldives just for an IG pic, is the same person that would buy an expensive car just for an IG pic. It’s the same person that would buy an LV bag just for in IG pic.

            You say you’re encouraging them to make their own decisions, but they’ve already made their own decisions. Their happiness is based on being able to “brag.” So, when the bloggers write about the Maldives being a “bragging” destination, that appeals to them. So why would you think they aren’t making their own decisions?

            I know people who travel to brag. It’s not just a travel decision. It’s a lifestyle decision. They brag about everything. Their car, their clothes, their education, etc.

            And it’s their right. They worked hard for it. If they want to brag, let them. It seems to make them happy.

            Basically you’re appealing to people that like to brag. You want them to think about why traveling to brag is not a good thing. But, there are people that live to brag. It makes them happy. Those people travel to brag. And it’s ok to me.

          • Social media is fake, it isn’t real. It is the best possible image of something. People tend to only post things that put them in a positive light. It is a false narrative that is filtered both figuratively and literally. There are scores and scores of reports of how it leads to depression, low self worth and it shows that the more people spend time on it the more depressed they get. It is in fact a sickness or issue in our current culture that goes mostly overlooked and I believe that the Maldives has become a symbol or symptom of that.

            I work in an industry that directly feeds into this issue so I wanted to call it out for that. If you don’t agree that it is an issue then that is fine but it has been scientifically proven to be one. People that base their self worth on bragging or social media likes are in fact less happy. I am simply pointing out the fact that people that do the same thing I do have fed into that. Peer pressure has been created. Our site probably has from time to time as well even though unintentionally. I don’t know what the answer is but I thought the discussion should be started…that was the purpose of the post. And I think that has happened. Hopefully it goes on from there.

          • @ Mark Ostermann

            If social media leads people to depression, then that’s a more serious topic than the choice between going to the Maldives vs going to Moorea.

            If social media is a sickness, then choosing to go to Moorea instead of the Maldives is not going to cure anyone.

            If social media is a sickness that leads people to depression, then choosing to go to the Maldives for an IG pic is just one of thousands of choices they make in their lives.

            If you really want to tackle the social media is a sickness angle, then choosing to focus on the Maldives is just too narrow. You should be writing on psychological piece social media instead of a travel piece on the Maldives.

          • This is a travel blog so I am taking the travel part of the discussion. How it relates to my industry/our readers. Simple as that.

          • @ Mark Ostermann,

            Yes, it’s a travel blog. But what you’re aiming to tackle (social media sickness) with this article (Maldives) is like trying to plug one hole on a ship with 100 holes.

            If social media is fake that leads to depression, then the person that has this sickness posts hundreds of IG pics every day trying to create a “positive” image of their life. They brag about everything in their life.

            If you are successful in convincing these types of people to go to Moorea instead of the Maldives, what does that accomplish in your goals of bringing light to “social media sickness.”

            They’ll be in Moorea but they’ll still be posting IG pics of Moorea, and it’ll still lead to “social media sickness”

            If people have social media sickness, does it matter if they go to Hawaii, or Florida, or Moorea, or the Maldives?

            Is there more social media sickness in the Maldives vs. Moorea vs. Hawaii?

            Seems like no matter where they go, they’ll still post IG pics and they’ll still have this sickness.

            So, I still don’t understand the angle. If social media sickness is your focus, then why is it better to be in Moorea than the Maldives?

          • You seem stuck on Mo’orea. I brought up Mo’orea because it is a much simpler place to get to, cheaper, and very similar but people are skipping over it (and many others) to go to the Maldives because of influencers, social media, bloggers etc.

          • @Mark Ostermann

            Ok, forget about Moorea. If social media is a real sickness that leads to depression, and that’s your main concern…

            What makes the Maldives more of a social media sickness than any other place?

            These quotes right here:

            “There are scores and scores of reports of how it leads to depression, low self worth and it shows that the more people spend time on it the more depressed they get. It is in fact a sickness or issue in our current culture that goes mostly overlooked and I believe that the Maldives has become a symbol or symptom of that.”

            “If you don’t agree that it is an issue then that is fine but it has been scientifically proven to be one. People that base their self worth on bragging or social media likes are in fact less happy. I am simply pointing out the fact that people that do the same thing I do have fed into that.”

            Here are my questions:

            1) You say it’s been scientifically proven. How many people in the study actually went to the Maldives? I’d say if they studied 1,000 people, maybe 1 went to the Maldives if that?

            2) If you are concerned that “people that base their self worth on bragging or social media likes are in fact less happy” how does convincing them to not go to the Maldives help them? Shouldn’t you be trying to convince them to not brag period? Isn’t the problem that they live their life to brag, not that they choose to go to the Maldives to brag? Because, these people will brag no matter where they go, whether it be the Maldives, or Hawaii, or the Grand Canyon or wherever.

            The problem has nothing to do with the Maldives, as you’ve identified. It’s not a Maldives issue. The issue is that these people live their lives simply to brag and that’s an issue that you say has been “scientifically proven” and “leads to depression.”

  4. I concur with Andy. I have been to more than 80 countries and hands down, The Conrad Maldives’ house reef is the best place to snorkel. You see everything there. And I’ve been to the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, it is expensive to get to but using miles and points does help cut down on the expenses there. It doesn’t feel crowded either like the nearby Caribbean resorts that we have near the US. To this date, every time I travel, I compare everyone else’s breakfast/dinner buffet to Conrad Maldives’. They have so much food and variety that it leaves you wondering, where does the rest of the food go? The staff living on the island maybe? I don’t usually return to the same destination as I try to always see new places/countries but I have been dreaming of returning to the Maldives soon…not because it’s Instagram worthy but it really is a special place. Just my thoughts.

    • I would put up Jinek Bay over the Maldives for snorkeling any day. But like this post mentions, a lot of people think the Maldives are the #1 spot due to social media.
      I’ve seen islands in the Philippines and the South Pacific that blow the Maldives away.

  5. I almost went last year. I was in Sri Lanka anyway, so we’re talking one quick flight to get there and not making a special trip around the world. The resorts and beaches sounded nice, for sure, but the real draw is snorkeling/diving, which is world-class.

    We ended up deciding against it. Even with free hotels, the seaplane transfers & expensive food just added up to too much. Could we afford it for a few days? Sure, but I’d rather take that same $1500 and spend 2 weeks in Sri Lanka instead of 3-4 days in the Maldives.

    Maybe someday…

    • I see a common theme on the snorkeling 🙂 of which I admittedly am not a fan (thanks Jaws lol). But I agree that the cost to get to the resort and the fact that you are stuck paying the resort’s high food cost is a big draw back in my book.

  6. Agreed. At some point a beautiful beach is a beautiful beach. I would rather go somewhere I can get to with one flight transfer and seven to ten hours maximum total travel time. There are places that are worth a ton of travel and trouble. The sunrise at the temple in Aswan, Egypt. Trekking to Machu Picchu. (Not taking the train.) Seeing tigers on safari in India. Plenty of other experiences are worth having no matter the trouble. But The Maldives is a status symbol not an experience. Usually you can tell the difference by asking if you had to do any physical effort, get dirty, stay somewhere less comfy than your house, or try something pretty far outside your comfort zone. An experience can leave you changed. Considering your place in the world differently. Looking at other people in a more open minded way. Nothing wrong with a good week on the beach at a fancy hotel doing nothing. I don’t object. But I wouldn’t travel 24 hours for it. Just me.

    • Emily I loved this line

      Usually you can tell the difference by asking if you had to do any physical effort, get dirty, stay somewhere less comfy than your house, or try something pretty far outside your comfort zone. An experience can leave you changed.

      It sounds like it is world class snorkeling and I think people that are very big into that may say yes to your statement. I am not one of them though. Andy and John do make some compelling points on why it is worthy to people who truly love that portion of it.

  7. Once again Mark, you hit the nail on the head. Ya, by the time you get there, you need a vacation. When you go through all the trouble of leaving the place, you need another vacation. Last, I don’t visit resorts that keep me captive. I also like to get outta Dodge easily and quickly if need be.

    • I can only last 2-3 days tops before I get stir crazy. That is why I think I would much rather enjoy a Mo’orea which has that option but still beautiful over-water bungalows etc. Maybe not as pristine or as good service but those are trade offs I would be willing to make.

  8. Not exactly a benevolent government either. Government officials in various bribery scandals, mortgaging generations of debt to the Chinese to build infrastructure in Male, selling entire atolls to the Saudi government way below market value and displacing the native population (which receives none of the meager proceeds), and selling out every spec of land to private equity and shady foreign-owned development interests that dredge up the remaining reefs to artificially expand the landmass. Was once a great place, now is rapidly burning itself out.

    • Sorry to hear that Dave. When things become popular people look to capitalize and that usually leads to things not being quite as special or charming as it once was.

  9. CONTENTMENT. Is the word why I love this hobby. It took me to the places that with only little out of pocket expenses and saving money at the same time. We plan a Maldives trip last year, but just like becky said a minimum of $1500 to $2000 out of pocket expenses is needed even on the top of points and miles. So we moved on, we’re still happy and not felt we missed out on something really important. Good post Mark.

    • Thanks for reading Eden. Yeah the cost associated with it after already using points makes it a tough pill to swallow.

  10. Great post. Appreciate all the content. I’ve been 3 times in the last 2 years, so I like it a lot haha. When I do go it’s pretty far so I incorporate other places to stopover. Everyones circumstances are different. It’s def not for everyone. Unreal place for me though. 5 star resorts sitting on small pieces of land in the middle of the ocean, pretty surreal.

    • It does look magical when you are there. And if you can time it with hitting some other locations near by I can see it making sense. With my wife’s work schedule and the kids there is no way we could make that work at this time unfortunately.

  11. Bad post overall. You are judging the place solely on your experience with Malè on social media. Maybe go to a place before criticizing it…

    • He said, “Before I get started you should know this isn’t about the Maldives so much. The place looks amazing and it is up there in terms of worthy destinations for sure. It is more about what the Maldives stand for and why it is really so high on everyone’s list.”

      I’m sorry, but I didn’t see any real criticism of The Maldives and him visiting certainly wouldn’t change how far it is or how popular it is on social media?

    • I am talking more about how social media has changed people’s decision making. Influencers are pumping products or locations without revealing their true intentions. That led to the Fyre Festival mess and I think the Maldives may be falling into that category some is all.

  12. People looking for an inspiration!
    That is the true answer to your question – why some choose Maldives. They do look super pretty, very remote and hard to get to – all the ingredients of a perfect “dream” vacation.
    But the problem is not about who travels where, but about bad behaviors travelers impose while being at the place or bragging to much about it afterwards. Ecology can suffer, future visitors can suffer too. Overuse destroyed many beautiful places around the world, but most local governments want more money and promote even more tourism to happen – not sustainable in the long run without extra care to natural environments.
    Another example: most big cities became the tourist traps, and I try to avoid them as much, but I don’t advise other travelers don’t go there – it is their decision to make – may be they find something that would be worthwhile for them to visit those big cities. Also it mean less impact on nature and lesser crowds in natural parks!

    • Look no further than The Beach movie destroying that pristine area of Thailand. So many people went there and essentially blew up the reef there.

  13. The Maldives are a great joint venture with India and Sri Lanka. And the snorkeling is the best in the world.

    • Yup – I think if you mix it in with other destinations nearby it could be a perfect cap to an amazing vacation. I just don’t think I could travel there solely to visit the Maldives.

  14. I think if people want to go to the Maldives that’s there perogative to do so. People have different kinds of bucket lists. I usually end up places where hotel points aren’t useful. I remember when I first started collecting points I hadn’t heard much of the Maldives. But, for a moment I had A thought I had to go. I started collecting Hilton points and the night before they were going to devalue, about 5 years ago, I was on hold about ready to book the Conrad for my 40th birthday. I had some time to think while on hold and eventually talked myself out of it. I ended going to Nepal and trekking for my 40th birthday. The flight still took 24 hrs but, it was an incredible experience and heck of a lot cheaper. I’m sure the Maldives would’ve An amazing experience but, different. And a lot more out of pocket. Another place I didn’t care a lot for that the bloggers hype up is the Hyatt Papagayo. So, I think I’m just weird.

    • @ Kim

      Agreed. If you want to go for whatever reason, just go.

      You only live once. If it’s an experience you want to have in your life, then do it.

      Don’t worry about being judged because you’re going for the “wrong reasons.”

      It’s the “right reasons” if it’s right for you. That’s all that matters since it’s your time, your energy, your money, your points and your miles.

    • I think you got to my point though Kim I think it is popular because of miles and points blogs etc. and people feel like they need to go there because of that. That is my take on it at least.

  15. The more I think about this post and the subsequent discussion, the more it reminded me of how my own travel dreams first started. It was long before social media (yeah, I’m no millenial by a long shot- LOL). But how did I get interested in all the places I’ve been and the ones still on my bucket list? From travel brochures, my traveling aunts’ postcards and slide shows (yeah, like I said, I’m older), travel magazines and movies set in far off lands. So, when I think about it, social media is just the newest form of promotion, more or less.

    The Maldives doesn’t entice me – I’m not a beach person nor a swimmer or snorkeler (my encounters with water take place in the shower). But lots of other places do. And now the internet certainly makes gathering information and planning a trip a whole lot easier than it was back in the late ’80s when I had to write letters to places in Europe before email became the norm. The fact that I can look at photos and read reviews of places that interest me just encourages my endless travel dreams.

    Everyone comes to their travel dreams in their own way, just as they do most things in life. Some people are very independent minded, some are more content to travel the pre-paved path, some are leaders, some are followers, etc. What works for one would never suit another. Or, to quote one of my aunt’s favorite expressions “that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla.”

    • I think the difference is those were not interactive medias. You didn’t look for people to respond to you or look for justification when looking at a brochure or movie etc. I think it has a different effect on the brain and decision making…at least that is my take from the studies I have read.

  16. Well Mark, they say lightning doesn’t strike twice 😉 but am 100% with you. Just the grueling agony of the air travel alone is a major turnoff. If I was an avid scuba diver or surfer, I guess why not? But also “why” since there are world-class water sports are a heckuva lot closer and more value. Nothing of real interest there to me, either.

  17. I have no interest in going for all of the reasons you posted, plus the terrible way the people in power treat their own people. I try to minimize going to a place with such a bad human rights record. Many places don’t have a good track record of treating their own people well, and I’m not going to go out of my way to visit places like that.

  18. Not just Maldives.
    Bora Bora / Tahiti, Easter Island, and the latest jewel, Fogo Island.

    Its one thing to get there via miles, but its the additional excursion to the resorts that distinguishes those who piled on signup bonuses, from those who can afford to envision having the mileage bank and additional cash to live up with the other blog posts.

    • The additional cost is high in this case. I would rather go to a beach somewhere where I can spend that money exploring the area versus just getting to the destination.

  19. I love the Vendome area in Paris. I enjoy the architecture, the food and the feel of the area. It also gives me the opportunity to see the places and streets I learned about in my college textbooks too many decades ago but would’ve been unable to experience were it not for miles and points.

    • Many people love the Vendome area and that hotel and I see why. The term was just made out of the fact that people started to feel like that is where they “had” to stay when visiting Paris.

  20. Gosh, I thought a travel blogger was finally going to be brave enough to avoid countries that go completely against their value system, like a country with zero religious tolerance and rampant corruption like the Maldives. I was hoping you were going to stand up to the rampant hypocrisy, like certain prominent homosexual liberal bloggers that happily enjoy the premium cabin experience of the flag carriers of states that oppress women, homosexuals, and those who follow other religions…not to mention the utter hypocrisy of being a liberal (and by definition buying into the idea that climate change is an imminent catastrophe that will end the world as we know it, and it’as all due to manmade CO2) and continuing to live a jetset lifestyle that emits more CO2 than a small town.

    But no, you’re just making an inane comment about instagram. Yawn.

    • I have never been big into politics and I wasn’t aware of the way the Maldives government treated its people. I agree that it sounds horrible and many people do make decisions based on the way the locals are treated and I commend them for that.

  21. OK. We just did it in February. Not because other people did, or because “we could.” Took me six months to plan completely as part of a two week around the world trip for a milestone birthday.
    Alaska Air miles on Emirates, and Singapore miles from Amex cut the cost WAY down. We only bought the (expensive but) mandatory seaplane from Male, and a ticket on Sri Lankan to Colombo in coach for next to nothing.

    We did it our way. We weren’t out to impress anyone. Started with skiing in Dubai on a 2 night layover with a trip to the Burj Khalifa, so we could adapt to the time change. Then…

    5 nights at the Conrad (using 4 nights worth of points). I’d always wanted to stay in an overwater bungalow, and this was everything I’d hoped for even though it was an award booking. The 30 minute seaplane ride was not luxurious, but it was great experience. I might have even gotten a little sweaty and a little dirty along the way. Gold breakfast daily at 9:30 followed by dinner at 7 (it was already dark). Like most resorts these days, you can get out for $50-$75 per person for dinner if you don’t drink like a fish. Our plan was to do a detox, with no alcohol at all, but that was unfortunately derailed by the HHonors Happy Hour. (What can I say, we were weak!) We felt the wine pours were quite generous!

    The Conrad had wonderful people working there. We left outsized tips where not covered by the 22% service charge. We resisted the “extravagant” evening bar-b-ques – which I’m sure were fantastic, but at $300/person, well, we had better things to do. The $43 hamburger came with great fries (unlike the $20 burgers at Vail), so I guess it’s all relative. We did the champagne underwater restaurant visit, which was terrific despite the pouring rain for three days during what’s supposed to be the dry season.

    There were NO celebrities at the Conrad from what we could tell. People pretty much kept to themselves. We found a few friends we plan to keep in touch with. The beaches and snorkeling were great. Honestly, if you consider the exorbitant cost of car rentals and parking these days on Hawaii, which for a week costs about half what the seaplane did, the pricing wasn’t that different.

    We tied our Maldives stay in with a first visit to Sri Lanka, where we stayed in a colonial hotel built in the 1860s. (Yes, it had been renovated). I wish we’d stayed longer, but we didn’t want to push the tourist visa limit. And then we finished up Crazy Rich Asians style in Singapore.

    Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY. Do I wish the political situation in the Maldives (and Sri Lanka, for that matter) was better? SURE. Would I go back? Maybe to the Maldives, but I don’t feel like I have to – there are so many other islands to see – but definitely to Sri Lanka.

    I’m constantly amazed how people in these blogs seem to have a limitless supply of miles. This took a big chunk out of my supply, but I’d been saving up for something like this – we did it and I’m glad. I know a lot of people who waste 100,000 miles on a transcon round trip – I think we got a pretty good bang for our buck!

    • Awesome – I am glad you enjoyed it. And it takes a small war chest of miles and points that is for sure! For $43 it should be bottomless fries 🙂 and no one can fault you for taking advantage of the happy hour 😉

  22. The Maldives as a specific focus aside for a minute, your post is a welcome respite from the growing boosterism/rah-rah tone of too many points/miles blogs, Mark. Your comments are refreshing and welcome.
    I write this post from Barcelona, where I’m in day 66 of an 88 day solo trip through Spain, Morocco, Portugal and France. A good deal on miles got me here and will return me home, business class, for just $300. And I write this from a very comfortable King Executive Sea View room in the Hilton Diagonal Mar thanks to an upgrade due to status from my Hilton card. So I very much appreciate what points and miles can do. I play the game as best I can, and I really appreciate people’s expertise on the internet. I never plan a trip without it.
    But I roll my eyes at times when I hear people talk about flying 16 hours in Suites and burning hundreds of thousands of hotel points for this or that, as though it’s standard practice. And suggesting something along the lines of spending “$30,000 on the card this year, and another $30,000 as soon as possible next year” in order to get an extra two free nights at a hotel? I just laugh and say “God bless ya, buddy.”
    That’s just not reality for the vast majority of people. And I’d suggest that if you’re capable of that kind of massive cash expenditures (i.e., tens of thousands of dollars a month on various cards a month) points and miles are icing on the cake for you.
    The blogs I read regularly – and I’ll not name names, because I don’t mean this disparagingly, I truly value them all- are at their best, IMO, when they focus on the ways that people of relatively normal means (and I don’t mean the back packer crowd) can experience premium travel and lodging well above their financial means.
    Like you said, the Maldives look lovely; I don’t need to be told that over and over. As for spending the points needed to stay there, thanks but no thanks. This June, I’ll be spending what’s left of my cache of hotel points and free night certificates on taking my girl friend on a 31 day trip to Bali, Thailand Singapore and Siem Reap, book ended by stays in San Francisco. $5,000 -plus in hotel accommodations for around $900 cash.
    I know that’s the beaten track for some people, but for me, and I think for most people, that’s the real value of points and miles.
    Thanks again for your post.

    • Awesome Bill – I am jealous of your current trip and upcoming trip, it sounds amazing. Bali and Thailand are places where you can make your dollar and points stretch pretty far so I think that is perfect for an extended trip.

      I have found it too be much more difficult of late to stock pile points because of the crack down on welcome offers and earning avenues drying up right and left. And I think that is where a lot of people are at these days and I think you have inspired me to focus on that aspect even more going forward. We have to fight the good fight of the regular people 🙂

    • @ Bill Dwyer

      “But I roll my eyes at times when I hear people talk about flying 16 hours in Suites and burning hundreds of thousands of hotel points for this or that, as though it’s standard practice.”

      I like how in the middle of an 88 day solo trip, you still take the time to roll your eyes at other people’s travel habits.

      My advice, enjoy your 88 day trip and business class flight home and don’t let it bother you that others are flying Suites class for 16 hours or burning hundreds of thousands of points on hotels.

      All that rolling of your eyes I’m sure is a strain on your eyes. So enjoy your travels and let others enjoy theirs.

      • @TNT: You seem very focused on the whole “to each their own” angle. And while I agree with you in principle, I think we can also agree on the following:

        1. We’re all influenced by by what we read.
        2. Travel blogs are all recommending the same things lately.
        3. A “one size fits all” approach is not a good one.

        Combine the above and you get the (deserved) criticism seen here. Most of the criticism has been presented as “here’s what the blogosphere would’ve recommended, here’s what I did/would do instead.” It’s criticizing the influencer, not the traveler.

        As far as the strategies that are being recommended – traveling to a select few key destinations, redeeming points and free nights at luxury properties, and booking award flights in business or first class. Those (1) are not right for everyone and (2) should not be presented as “the universal goal” for those in the points game. Seeing those as universal represents a represents a high opportunity cost, both financially and emotionally. No one’s criticizing your personal strategy because no one knows how you travel (or how much money, or how many points/miles, you’re willing to spend). They’re criticizing the proliferation of that strategy, relevant for many and appropriate for a few, among blogs that seem to be aimed at absolutely everyone.

        • @ George

          I’ll just ask this question. Have you ever heard someone come back from the Maldives unhappy?

          You know the sense that I get? I get the sense that there are more people unhappy with the travelers going to the Maldives (for silly reasons) than there are unhappy travelers actually coming back from the Maldives.

          That one is just strange to me.

          It’s like if I came back from the Maldives with a big happy smile on my face and there are 5 people waiting to tell me how depressed my life must be for going. They want to remind me that I must have social media sickness and I probably went for the “wrong reasons” and was influenced by the bloggers.

          • I’ve never seen anyone return from any leisure trip unhappy, to be honest. Everyone just seems happy to get away. Maybe it’s ’cause I’m on the East Coast?

            That’s beside the point, though. The article is not making the claim that:
            – any specific person is being influenced
            – most people are being influenced
            – the Maldives are not for you, or me, or any one person in particular
            – the Maldives are not for most people

            What it’s claiming is that the Maldives have come to represent something other than what they used to, or maybe other than what they ought to. And that you should check both your logic and your motives before embarking on such an expensive trip. Got miles or cash to burn? Go. Want to make people jealous? Go. Trying to make the most of your cash/miles, and/or seeking a fulfilling trip? Make sure your calculations (including true cost, true value, and opportunity costs) are correct, and consider whether your motivations have been skewed. That’s it.

            “there are more people unhappy with the travelers going to the Maldives (for silly reasons)”

            What silly reasons? Certain comments are silly indeed, while others bring up important points about environmental and social effects. But the article is focused on figuring out if it’s right for you, not saying it’s absolutely wrong to go.

            I, too, wanted to go after seeing pictures from 2 friends’ honeymoons. It wasn’t because I was jealous, but because it was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. I’ve since reconsidered, mainly because through later travels, I’ve realized I simply can’t stay put. The Maldives don’t let me escape from my “home base” the way I often do in other places. Had I discovered the points game way back when, my first order of business would’ve definitely been to hoard points and get my butt to the Maldives. Yes, I would’ve regretted it now. I may eventually go, but I’m too much of a wanderer at the moment.

            Someone fresh to the points game risks disappointment and a big expense by blindly following the pack, and the increasingly illogical advice some writers churn out.

            Feeding the egos of egotists ain’t exactly a worthy cause, either, but you seem to think that additional focus on an enviable destination has no effect on them.

          • @ George

            “What it’s claiming is that the Maldives have come to represent something other than what they used to, or maybe other than what they ought to.”

            This is an extremely deep philosophical question for a “leisure” trip. Again, why is it that only the people who choose not to go approach the Maldives in such a philosophical way? And why so philosophical towards Maldives but not Moorea?

            “Trying to make the most of your cash/miles, and/or seeking a fulfilling trip? Make sure your calculations (including true cost, true value, and opportunity costs) are correct, and consider whether your motivations have been skewed. That’s it.“

            Again, I’d agree with this point if there were some examples of people coming back from the Maldives feeling “unfullfilled” or “regretting” their decision. There were none in the article. I’ve not read any bad trip reports where anyone felt regret. The article is from the point of view of someone who has not gone and chooses not to go. No examples of anyone regretting their decision to actually go; yet provides such a serious social commentary that includes: social media sickness. And now, you’re also including opportunity costs and unfullfilment. Most of these reasons just seems like your own values placed upon others.

            If you can’t provide examples of people filling regret or unfullfilled, then why the warning to be so cautious?

            Never forget, this is all just a hobby. It’s all for fun. Has it gotten so serious that we need to warn people of going to the Maldives for fear of social media sickness? Or burning through their miles recklessly?

            It seems that you don’t burn through your miles recklessly. It seems Mark doesn’t. Why do you guys assume that people that go to the Maldives are mere mindless sheep that haven’t thought it through?

            Isn’t that just a form of travel snobbery? Thinking your reasons to not go is better than people’s reasons to actually go?

            “there are more people unhappy with the travelers going to the Maldives (for silly reasons)”

            “What silly reasons?“

            These silly reasons: “ He just making the point that going to a place just to social media brag is silly.“

            “Someone fresh to the points game risks disappointment and a big expense by blindly following the pack, and the increasingly illogical advice some writers churn out.”

            Again, this is extremely fatherly of you. Nice of you and Mark to be so worried about other people’s well being. But, I’d like some examples of people who’ve actually went to the Maldives and came back disappointed. If there aren’t any examples, then what’s this big risk you speak of? It’s just a hobby. People come back feeling happy. I don’t get these serious warnings like they’re about to pick up smoking or something.

            I just think I give people more benefit of the doubt that they know what they’re doing than you and Mark do.

            I don’t know why you feel you can make good travel decisions but others can’t. Why do you feel that way?

          • First of all, the philosophizing is a consequence of the article being sort of “meta.” I’m not philosophizing about a specific decision of mine or yours, but rather about the nature of a medium and the current trends within it. This has nothing to do with the Maldives, and everything to do with the effects of irrationality when there’s an implied promise of rationality.

            In this medium, past experiences have to be put into the proper context and not trump rationality. When your favorite travel blogger, who you trust to give you rational advice on credit cards, earnings, redemptions, destinations, etc. says “go to the Maldives, it’s worth it,” you assume they’re being as rational as they’ve always been. You and I and Mark and thousands of others may indeed be rational and consider all the variables, but what about those who aren’t – aren’t they potentially missing out? And what of the destination – what if it gets overrun like Bali? And in general, isn’t it a bit unbecoming of these bloggers to be irrational in their advice, or even to follow rather than lead?

            On the “new to the points game” crowd – there is indeed the possibility of a big opportunity cost. Combine the implication that you MUST go with (1) advice like “these 3 sign up bonuses will get you halfway there”, (2) the reality that it’ll take 5 years of spending to get you the rest of the way, and (3) the potential credit report implications, and it’s a recipe for disappointment. Not in the trip itself, of course, but in the journey. It’s like video game “grinding” (look it up). And just think, they may have gotten so much value out of 2 less exotic trips, or yearly modest trip…

            It’s not that I know better, it’s that the bloggers do. Bad advice should be called out.

          • @ George

            “Bad advice should be called out.”

            Cool. So who determines the advice is bad advice? You? Mark?

            Or the traveler actually getting the advice?

            I’d like to hear more from people that actually went and regretted it. So far, they’ve been silent.

            The most vocal have been those that don’t want to go and decreeing that it’s “bad advice”

            I’d really like to hear more from those folks that took this “bad advice” and now regret their decision. Any out there?

            Seems like their should be many the way this discussion is trending.

            If there’s “bad advice” out there pertaining to going to the Maldives, then there must be casualties and victims.

            I hope we can agree on this sentiment?

          • @ George

            Just looking at the comments, here’s what I tally:

            Comments from people that have never gone to the Maldives (19)

            1) Mark Ostermann
            2) George
            3) Becky
            4) Emily
            5) Rick
            6) Eden
            7) Ian
            8) Pam
            9) Kim
            10) Marilyn B
            11) Jacob
            12) Alvin
            13) WR2
            14) Bill Dwyer
            15) DaninMCI
            16) Nancy
            17) Parts Unknown
            18) Mike Saint
            19) Michael

            Comments from people who have gone (5)

            1) Andy – went 10x, loved it
            2) John – went, loved it
            3) EyesOnThePoints – went, like it a lot
            4) RTW Rob – went, loved it
            5) Kate – went, glad to have gone

            The most vocal are the group that have never gone. They tell us all these negatives about going to the Maldives.

            Mark Ostermann compares it to “the Fyre Festival mess and I think the Maldives may be falling into that category some is all”

            George thinks people will regret burning all their miles and points.

            We’ve yet to hear from any victims. Not one comment of someone saying they’ve been, they hated/regretted their decision to go. They feel lied to by the bloggers.

            Mark Ostermann compares it to the Fyre Festival. Yet, it’s not hard to find victims of that scam. Here, I find no victims. Not one victim has commented.

            Why is that? Why is George and Mark Ostermann telling us how bad it is, yet no one is willing to come out and testify that they’ve been victimized.

            Are there any bad examples out there? Who are these anonymous victims of going to the Maldives? Who are these depressed souls living fake lives?

            Any other social commentary, you can find victims. If a stock market website was giving out bad stock advice, you’d be able to find victims.

            If bloggers are giving bad advice on going to the Maldives, you should be able to find some victims right?

            Is this a victimless social commentary?

          • @TNT:

            This will be my last comment on this article.

            The lack of “victims” or unhappy travelers is a moot point. The idea in these travel advice blogs is to maximize relative value, not find experiences above a threshold. For the latter, you go to the “plain” travel blogs, or social media, or… comment sections. You can’t call yourself an expert in maximizing earning and redemption values and then completely let your guard down and be uncritical when it comes to a destination you “must” cover as a blogger or that you think others “must” visit as players in the points game or that you legitimately see as the best place you’ve ever been.

            We go to frequent traveler blogs to sort it all out – we expect them to be a bit more skeptical and a bit more rational than the rest. We also expect them to be less affected by the fads and trends to which other travel blogs and social media succumb (or the lack of criticality, the logical fallacies, and the psychological biases that plague the social media crowd and laypeople in general). A points/miles blog hopping on the hype train, being uncritical, and not putting things in perspective shows a lack of both originality and journalistic integrity.

            No one is attacking you, no one is criticizing the act of going to the Maldives, and no one is saying you can’t find outsized value there. All I’m saying is that seemingly every blogger has gone there, reported on it uncritically, used faulty logic for valuations, and given few alternatives. They’re acting exactly like the commenters you trust so much, like the run-of-the-mill travel blogs we tend to avoid, and like the IG crowd.

            In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the Maldives. There’s nothing wrong with going there. No one’s saying you will be unhappy. No one’s saying it’s bad in any way. No one’s claiming that you’ve fallen into a trap if you go there. What I take issue with specifically is:
            – Lack of originality – when it comes to what destinations to cover.
            – Implied expectations – this sometimes stems from unoriginality (i.e. you see it everywhere), but is often explicitly stated.
            – Lack of comparisons – it’s no longer “one of the top”; it’s miles above the rest, it’s heaven on earth, it’s Shangri-La.
            – Irrationality in currency valuation – ignoring additional expenses, inflated prices, opportunity costs.
            – Focusing on questionable ethics – only in a few articles. Ideas like making people jealous, taking IG-worthy pictures, etc. on the same blogs that also offer good frequent travel strategies.
            …all on THIS TYPE OF BLOG. All the criticism is aimed squarely at the trend we see in this teeny tiny part of the blogosphere. Nothing to do with the Maldives, they’re just today’s example. An unfortunate scapegoat, I guess.

            I, too, find it hard to believe anyone’s been “tricked” into going to the Maldives and has come back disappointed. That’s not the point. By bad advice, I didn’t mean only that which leads to bad outcomes. Advice that is irrational with little ill effect is also bad in my book – especially if it doesn’t fit your MO, because you’re stepping on the trust and/or expectations of your readers. Yeah yeah, caveat emptor, but shouldn’t we be free to criticize advisers in general, especially when they’re being inconsistent or “unlike themselves”?

            Say a financial columnist has been overly optimistic lately about certain minor financial moves, in a way inconsistent with their usual rationality and levelheadedness. If someone else writes a letter to the editor, will you be compelled to say, “Well, people should always follow their financial advisor’s recommendation” or “It worked for me and everyone I know”? Or will you consider whether someone in that position ought to know better?

          • @ George

            I don’t know if you’ve been consistent in your arguments.

            In your above post, you say: “In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the Maldives. There’s nothing wrong with going there. No one’s saying you will be unhappy.”

            Well, before, here’s what you had to say about that:

            “Had I discovered the points game way back when, my first order of business would’ve definitely been to hoard points and get my butt to the Maldives. Yes, I would’ve regretted it now.”

            “Someone fresh to the points game risks disappointment and a big expense by blindly following the pack, and the increasingly illogical advice some writers churn out.”

            “On the “new to the points game” crowd – there is indeed the possibility of a big opportunity cost.”

            “the potential credit report implications, and it’s a recipe for disappointment.”

            So on the one hand, you’re claiming that NO ONE is saying you will be unhappy. Then on the other hand, you give examples of how people CAN be disappointed:

            1) You say you will regret the decision if you go
            2) You say those who blindly follow the pack risks disappointment and a big expense by blindly following the pack
            3) You say there are potential credit report implications, and it’s a recipe for disappointment.
            4) You say there is indeed the possibility of a big opportunity cost.

            George, these are all coming from you. You are painting this picture. It’s all coming from you. So, I’m asking you, who are all these unhappy, disappointed people?

            Give me some EXAMPLES!

            To that you reply: “The lack of “victims” or unhappy travelers is a moot point.”

            If there are no victims, then where the heck are you getting all your DATA POINTS from? Are you just making them up? If there are real issues here, then show me some examples of unhappy travelers.

            Any issue must have victims. There are no such things as victimless issues. You can’t paint a picture of POSSIBLE issues/problems and not have any DATA POINTS to back them up.

            If this is actually a victimless issue, then what the heck is bothering you so much George?

            That’s what I don’t get. If you haven’t been affected, and you’re saying no one else has been affected (the lack of victims), then I have no idea what’s got you soooo worked up about?

            The blogs recommend going to the Maldives.
            You choose NOT to go. That makes you happy.
            Some other people choose to go. They seem happy.

            What exactly is the issue George?

            I have a hard time understanding what bothers you SOOO MUCH.

          • I think I’ve figured it out. I think I know why all the people that seemed to be the most bothered are the ones that choose not to go to the Maldives.

            They’ve done the cost calculations, and they’ve made up their minds that it’s not worth it to them. But then, everytime they see a blog pushing the Maldives, it irritates them because to them, it’s not worth it. And the more they see blogs pushing the Maldives, the more they become bothered.

            And since they’ve done the cost calculations and concluded that it’s not worth it, they think whoever chooses to go must be stupid or naive to take the advice.

            So, I think this is where it’s all stemming from.

        • @George we posted the same first sentence at almost the same time lol. At first I thought the system had somehow tagged my comment as George 🙂

  23. Btw, “WR2,” your post makes some valid points, several of which I agree with. But your disdainful tone might resonate more with people if you took your own advice and were “brave enough” to post under your actual name.
    Yawn.

  24. I agree with your blog post. It’s not that it’s not a nice place to go but not worth the effort to me. There are a few places on earth that have become internet famous in recent years. The Maldives and Iceland come to mind off the top of my head. They remind me of places like Hawaii. You know, places that are some of the most beautiful on earth until everyone went there and ruined them. I’m not talking about global warming theories or reef damage from sunscreen that magically doesn’t dilute in trillions of gallons of ocean water but instead attacks random reef systems. I’m talking about going to the beach in Honolulu, Rio, etc. or walking among the faux homeless in Santa Cruz or Austin. Or maybe even those attacking random Admirals clubs with 18 of their closest friends and additional cardholders. It’s tough to have nice things sometimes. But who is at fault? We are. I have a favorite hole in the wall beach bar and snorkel spot I like to go to in Mexico. It’s good because not everyone goes there. If I told anyone about it they would likely go there and ruin it. So I don’t post it on my blog or Instagram because I’m afraid Jimmy Buffet will find out about it and build a resort there which will result in banning the beloved coronas I’ve enjoyed on the beach in return for only being able to get Landshark beer at Margaritaville. So don’t feel bad about the Maldives. For less flying, less money and fewer points and miles you can find a special vacation spot.

    • So I don’t post it on my blog or Instagram because I’m afraid Jimmy Buffet will find out about it and build a resort there..

      I love this line haha. Just like MS secrets we keep the best things to ourselves 🙂

  25. Mark, I understand much of your questions. We just returned from five nights at the Conrad Maldives in February. There’s no question I would never have gone but for reading blog posts for years. We would not have made a special trip there, but went as part of an around the world trip that included India, so it wasn’t that far. And we used points, and had Diamond through the Aspire. I’m very glad to have gone. It was really beautiful and the overwater bungalow was a very cool experience. It was also good relaxing after the rigors of India. I absolutely loved the views from the seaplane trips, I’d urge people to really try to get a window seat. I don’t use social media so that wasn’t a factor for me. With cofffee in the room, and a late breakfast and the happy hour, our expenses were way less than we expected. On the negative side, it was way too hot for my enjoyment, but I’m more sensitive to heat than the average person. So really glad to have gone in the above situation, do not plan to ever go back.

    • Thanks for sharing Kate. I think when it is mixed in with a trip in the area it makes sense for sure. And it sounds like the perfect place to take a break for a few days after doing some grueling exploring elsewhere. I would love to experience an over-water bungalow at some point and I am sure I will, just most likely not in the Maldives 🙂

  26. I agree with your post and think you are brave for writing what many other people are thinking. The miles and points social media/blogging world feels too much like the Kardashians sometimes. It’s all about going to the “right” place and getting the shot. What blows my mind is when people go to a really far off, expensive place for only 1-2 nights. I’m exhausted just reading about all the trouble they went through for such a short stay. But they got that photo, so I guess it’s all good. That said, I do get a lot of travel inspiration from reading travel blogs. But as a writer myself, I don’t want to get caught up in the competition of traveling to the trendiest vacation spot. I want to go to places that are the best fit for my family. Sometimes, those places will be buzz-worthy (like we will likely go to Andaz Papagayo next year) but other times our travel is so not glamorous (like flying to New Zealand in coach–we have 5 people in our family, no way we can do business or first).

    • Well said Nancy and probably better said than I have been saying myself :). I think we have been feeding the beast too much and it has had negative consequences. I do think news outlets, travel blogs, social media influencers have gone to places solely so they could brag about it to their readership. That in turn causes and unhealthy desire or FOMO you could say from the readers. It has become more about getting that perfect photo versus truly immersing the reader or follower in the area. That is why I enjoy Megan Starr’s blog so much and put it in a ton of roundups because she goes to the unpopular place and shows you every little detail of it so you can decide for yourself if you want to go.

      https://www.meganstarr.com/

  27. I think Florida could be similar, but I’ve heard a lot of bad stuffs about Floridians being rude and all… And then there’s the crocs

  28. More so than the social media thing is the effort it takes to get there. From Phoenix the quickest trip is 27+ hours one way just to MLE, plus transfer to resort & with the time difference you get 2 days after you left. I don’t care if it’s in all ultra lux F, I’m not traveling that far & long for any reason.

    • Agreed – if you are in the area visiting India or taking a extended trip it could make sense but I don’t have that type of flexibility.

  29. I think “great places to travel” is totally subjective. NOT objective. I’ve been to many places around the world but haven’t yet been to Maldives but I probably will go someday. NOT because it’s Instagram worthy or because rich and famous people go there. It’s because I heard it’s beautiful.

    I’ve been to Bora Bora and that was really really gorgeous. I went for my honeymoon and it was so amazing I said I’d go back there every 10 years. For many people that is expensive and a hassle getting to too. But it was definitely worth going to.

    Definitely though I don’t fault you Mark for your opinion. That’s the great thing about travel (and life). We all have different priorities and tastes. It would be VERY boring if everyone had the same interests and likes/dislikes/ travel priorities.

  30. Somewhere along my journey as a travel enthusiast, I got the impression that I needed to aim for more luxurious experiences. Was the media, especially social media, responsible for this? Probably. I actually think the 2015 Rolling Stone article featuring Ben Schlappig is what really started the derailing of my train of thought about what travel “should be” about. I think that began my thinking that a flight isn’t a flight unless a bottle is popped.

    Five years ago my husband and I would have the time of our lives spending 15,000 points/night to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Oakland in order to take the BART into San Francisco for a weekend of exploring. We were happy just to be traveling. So happy. Now, it would be the Intercontinental – or the Grand Hyatt – and the mood would be completely soured if I didn’t get an upgrade. I’ve actually considered not taking trips if I don’t think I’ll be able to fly first class.

    I would trade a lifetime of trips to the Maldives in order to regain the happiness I used to get from a points redemption at a crap HIE in Oakland. I am working on regaining that perspective, and thus, deleting my subscriptions from blogs, social media, etc that I think suck the joy out of travel. This post has cemented your spot on my subscription list 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words! And I agree 100% that a lifestyle is being sold and it is slanting our view on what is acceptable. I think people are ashamed to use miles and points for domestic trips because everyone says you should only use them for first class flights to Europe etc. I think it skews our value and our enjoyment and that makes me sad. My favorite trip every year is when I drive to a town I used to visit as a kid with my family and spend the weekend. It is the least fancy thing I do and it is the most cherished.

  31. That’s not why I don’t go to the Maldives. I don’t go because of their record on human rights abuses. I’d rather spend my money elsewhere.

  32. Mark, Another great post from you. How about writing about other special places to go, that would compete with the Maldives in terms of beauty and unique experiences. I could care less about postng on FB or IG, but do care about going somewhere special that is truly beautiful and you are treated well.

    • Yup, looking for the same thing here.

      I don’t want to pay for status, I want to pay for the experience. And I don’t mean the experience of feeling rich, or even of being pampered. Just want to see beautiful places and do adventurous things…

  33. @ George

    “As far as the strategies that are being recommended – traveling to a select few key destinations, redeeming points and free nights at luxury properties, and booking award flights in business or first class. Those (1) are not right for everyone and (2) should not be presented as “the universal goal” for those in the points game. Seeing those as universal represents a represents a high opportunity cost, both financially and emotionally.”

    Why criticize the blogs though? There are different types of blogs for everyone. Mark Ostermann can cater his blog to his target audience and the other blogs can do the same thing.

    Take yourself for example. You haven’t gone to the Maldives right? You read the blogs you choose, and ignore the ones you don’t want to read. They haven’t “influenced” you to go to the Maldives. Look at the other comments on here. No one here has commented that they were manipulated to go to the Maldives against their will. Everyone here seems to be able to make up their own minds.

    So what’s the issue? That everyone here can make up their own minds but we’re worried about the other people that are too dumb enough to make their own decisions?

    If you look at all the comments, you can break them down into 2 groups – those who’ve been to the Maldives and enjoyed it, and those who haven’t been to the Maldives. All the ones who haven’t been have their own rational decisions. The most vocal criticisms are from the people who haven’t been to the Maldives.

    That says alot to me. It’s this mentality –> “I won’t go, and neither should you.”

    There are so many comments on here justifying their own travel decisions, yet criticizing other people’s travel decisions.

    That to me is the “silliest” aspect in all of this.

    • 2 points to be made here:

      “Why criticize the blogs though? There are different types of blogs for everyone. Mark Ostermann can cater his blog to his target audience and the other blogs can do the same thing.”

      I follow about 30 blogs and have seen the Maldives put on a pedestal by most of them; that implies universal appeal. Mark is saying that’s not true, and that it’s actually a trend (or fad, if you will). I’m 100% with him.

      Also, day-to-day blog content may “cater to” (not sure if you mean “be relevant to”, or “be curated for”) specific audiences, but:
      [1] they have more in common than you think (and IMO more than they should), and I’m not only talking about key destinations
      [2] no one’s being selective with their readership, because views + referrals = $$$

      ——–

      “If you look at all the comments, you can break them down into 2 groups – those who’ve been to the Maldives and enjoyed it, and those who haven’t been to the Maldives. All the ones who haven’t been have their own rational decisions. The most vocal criticisms are from the people who haven’t been to the Maldives.

      That says alot to me. It’s this mentality –> “I won’t go, and neither should you.”

      There are so many comments on here justifying their own travel decisions, yet criticizing other people’s travel decisions.”

      It’s amazing how you can put together such an irrational argument while claiming irrationality among the rest of us.

      No one’s saying anyone will be unhappy going to the Maldives. It’s not “will you like it,” it’s “will you like it enough to justify the cost” or “will you like it more than the alternative.” It’s almost certain that the individual will come back gushing about it. It’s also almost certain that for many (if not most), another option would’ve been better. Testimonials from a self-selected group have little value, because they’re based on a prior experience that was almost undoubtedly pleasant and that’s already been paid for, with little/no consideration given to alternatives after the fact.

      The commenters in question are also not the blog authors discussing earning rates, point valuations, and $5-off offers. Experiences ought to inform decisions, not make them; with the Maldives, frequent traveler blogs have gone off the the deep end, setting aside rationality, gushing incessantly, and seemingly always finding a way to justify the high cost. Much like the commenters, and the newspaper columnists, and my Aunt Jane. Destination and point/mile use decisionmaking is a game of hypotheticals, and their treatment of a trip to the Maldives as a foregone conclusion (and reliance on experience alone to justify it) is antithetical to the very principles they espouse.

      • @ George

        Yeah, this discussion is getting a bit serious.

        I had no idea making a decision to go to the Maldives can be such a serious life altering decision.

        I’m simple. You wanna go, go.
        You don’t wanna go, don’t go.

        That’s my advice to anybody and everybody.

        The only people taking this so serious are the folks that don’t want to go to the Maldives.

        So far I’ve heard such negative terms such as:

        1) Social media sickness
        2) irrational
        3) reckless
        4) shallow
        5) justification
        6) fake
        7) depression
        8) little value
        9) fad
        10) trend

        The more this discussion goes on, the worse it seems a trip to the Maldives becomes.

        • TNT this is the last I will comment on this because it doesn’t seem like we are having the same conversation. This post was intended to be very little about the Maldives and I am sorry if that did not come across well on my end. I should have a follow up post tonight or tomorrow that hopefully addresses it better. The post was really about the aura phenomenon. People want to go somewhere or see something just to say they were there versus actually being there.

          My question was for people that have been to the Maldives and to a similar place like Mo’orea. Were the Maldives worth the extra points, travel, money, and overall headache or was it more about checking it off the travel bucket list. Did social media and bloggers have an influence on adding it to that list?

          I don’t think anyone is going to be depressed or let down by a trip to the Maldives but if you put that vs option b which is similar but easier in all the ways above which option would you take? Would you make the same choice etc.

          Was simply meant to spark a debate which I think it has. And also look internally at what type of influence social media, blogs, newspapers etc. have on our decision making.

          • @ Mark

            Please don’t be sorry. You don’t owe anyone an apology. I just have my opinion and you and others have theirs.

            I just feel your article does attack people that don’t have a voice or are scared to voice their opinions:

            Namely, those that travel to the Maldives for supposed “shallow reasons”

            We’re all adults here. No one wants to be told that they are traveling for the wrong reasons or their reasons are “shallow”

            That comes off as travel snobbery or travel shaming.

            I don’t think there are massive traveling “sheeps” out there who blindly follow blogs. I don’t think bloggers have that much power.

            I’ve listed 24 commenters on here, 25 including me and none come off as “sheep”

            I think people know why they are traveling, why they choose to go where they go.

            So it’s cool that you and George want to look out for those you guys feel are making irrational decisions, but honestly when it comes to the Maldives, I think people know what they’re getting into and they’re happy with what they are getting.

            I’ll tell you what, the bloggers can try as hard as they want, they won’t be able to push off Detroit as a travel destination.

            Give your readers more credit Mark. More information is a good thing, not a bad thing.

            Bloggers can push Maldives all they want. But those who do go I feel are making informed decisions. Just like those who choose not to go and have commented on here. They all seem like informed decisions to me.

  34. These bloggers that push Maldives are out to sell credit cards. The more exotic and far flung the better. It will take more miles/ points to get there,hence more money for them when they get you to sign up for more and more credit cards. And they hardly ever mention any card that doesn’t earn them a commission. Oh, and I have never been and don’t care if you go or not. Pretty hard to sell credit cards showing how to fly to Fargo in February in coach.

  35. I have been to the Maldives….but not vendoming. I went on a scuba diving liveaboard which was a nice modern yacht that cost me only $200 a night all in…food, diving, equipment etc. It was a fun time but I can’t say Maldives blew me away as a diving destination.

    While in that boat I passed within earshot of many hyped up luxury resort islands and I thought what a god damn waste of time and money it would be to actually stay there. It’s a tiny island with absolutely nothing to do, so the more the venturous guests ended up just going diving anyway, exact same place I went but I paid a tiny fraction.

    Maldives as done by most, is one of those overplayed destinations for mentally lazy people don’t want to take the effort to have make travel an adventure.

    Yes it’s true to each his own, but then none of us have the right to criticize a fat couch potato to spend their weekends watching football and drinking cheap beer. I’m of the opinion travel should be an enriching experience and Maldives is the complete opposite.

      • It sure is, it’s really the only reason I’d ever return to Maldives, just try diving in different areas or another season. Top-side, sitting on the beach is a total bore and can be done just as easily in Mexico. For most, Maldives is purely a vanity / instagram destination and serves no cultural / historical enrichment purpose, nor is it exactly scenic or full of adventure.

        Anyone who doesn’t dive, but wants seclusion and much better scenery should check out somewhere like Misool or Ora Beach resorts. Fraction of the cost and still relatively not overrun by tourists….and they have diving/snorkeling too.

  36. A lot of nonsense in this post. Why don’t you go there and write about your experience? Since you have no idea what looks like to be there, you throw so many wrong assumptions, mainly since you haven’s experienced it. This post is so wrong; waste of time!

    • I’m sorry that it seems like you didn’t really get the point of the article. It isn’t actually about the Maldives really but about why I think it has become overvalued you could say. About how social media, influencers, and bloggers have turned it into an aura phenomenon. There is a link to the follow up article to this one above that explains it better in my opinion.

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