Second Honeymoon in Maldives

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  1. calvinoeh
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  2. calvinoeh
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    Introduction:
    We love the Maldives - the sun, the beach, the snorkeling. It’s one of our favorite holiday destinations. Having just been for the first time for our honeymoon a couple of monthsago last October, we were not planning on going back to Maldives that soon.
    We stumbled onto a mistake Emirates first class fare when finding out that they offer a relatively cheap first class flight on the Colombo - Male – Colombo route giving an affordable way to experience first class on Emirates albeit on a 1.5 hour flight only. (This was before the fare was posted on flyertalk). For some unknown reason, the emirates website was allowing a Colombo – Dubai – Male routing for the same price hence making it an 8 hour first class experience. We initially hesitated to book as our holiday plans for the year were pretty much set with the trip to Sao Paulo (TK mistake fare which we eventually cancelled), Kazakhstan and Harbin later during the year. We were running low on time off and money for another holiday. The kicker was when Emirates started offering bonus miles for flights in May and June. For a return first class Colombo – Dubai – Male flight, we would have enough miles to redeem a one way first class ticket on the A380 (the private suites, the on board shower!) on the Bangkok – Hong Kong flight. The redemption ticket and the amount of Dom we were planning to drink would pay for the ticket itself and the experience to try out Emirates First Class for the first time:)

    The flight booking itself was an adventure. We tried for half a day to book the flights through the Emirates website but the transaction would keep failing when I entered my credit card for payment. After trying all the credit cards I had and multiple calls to my credit card company that assured me everything was fine on their side, we were going to break the cardinal rule of mistake fare by calling Emirates to try to book the ticket. We figured it was probably a mistake and the ticketing system couldn’t issue the ticket when it had to, so no harm calling since we couldn’t book it anyway. The agent we got on the call was really helpful. She manage to pull out ALL the multiple transactions we had by just the flight routing and names (we didn’t have the PNR numbers yet since the tickets were never really issued). She put us on hold for a while and when she came back, we were happy to hear that they were going to honor the ticket and the price since the website was showing it. She noticed that we had a 20 hour layover in Dubai and offered to book us the limousine transfer and a stay at the Le Meridien as part of the STPC Emirates program. We were impressed that Emirates were providing all the services even when this was clearly a mistake fare. We were definitely not expecting the hotel room.
    Instead of the “crazy” multiple Colombo – Dubai – Male runs some flyertalkers (eightblack,ung1,Yurop -!) were taking, we were keeping it “normal” by just booking one return flight only and was going to spend a couple of nights in the Maldives itself. We were not Emirates frequent flyers and didn’t need the additional miles.
    We still needed to get to Colombo from Penang. Award flights on *A were not convenient, having only one daily Penang – Bangkok which would require long layovers in either Bangkok or Singapore. In the end, we decided on AirAsia Penang – Kuala Lumpur – Colombo routing to get us there that would get us in around 7 in the morning giving us plenty of time to see Colombo which we have not been before. To get back we decided on Malaysia Airlines as they had a really good fare for Colombo – Kuala Lumpur – Penang. In summary, our flight routing:
    • Air Asia: Penang – Kuala Lumpur – Colombo; overnight in LCCT & getting in to Colombo at ~7.30 in the morning
    • Emirates First Class: Colombo – Dubai; ~20 hour layover allowing us to see Dubai during the day.
    • Emirates First Class: Dubai – Male; 5 days in paradise
    • Emirates First Class: Male - Dubai – Colombo
    • Malaysia Airlines Economy Class: Colombo – Kuala Lumpur – Penang
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    Sorry for the long post and very few pictures. The good stuff is yet to come.. Can’t wait for our first flight in Emirates especially in first class! J
     
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  3. MSPeconomist
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    Am I missing something? This seems to be identical to the material on your blog.
     
  4. calvinoeh
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    Just updated the 2nd portion of the trip:

    We opted for AirAsia to get us to Colombo. We would take the last Penang to Kuala Lumpur flight of the day arriving in Kuala Lumpur at midnight. AirAsia's flight to Colombo leaves Kuala Lumpur at 6.15am and gets into Colombo at 7.15am giving us a whole day to explore Colombo. There's not too much to say about both the AirAsia flights as it was the typical AirAsia flight - uneventful, packed, horrible leg room and can't wait for the plane to land. Kind of regretted not booking a *A redemption on either Thai or Singapore.
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  5. calvinoeh
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    We arrived in Colombo around 7.15 am. We were done with the immigration, customs and luggage collection within 30 minutes. We exchanged some local currency at the airport and proceeded to the arrival hall where our driver that we rented for the day was waiting for us. Our flight to Dubai would only be at 3am so we had a whole day to explore Colombo.
    Our first stop of the day was the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The hotel is one of the colonial hotels in Colombo with the other being Galle Face Hotel. It’s located on a cliff right by the beach giving nice views of the beach area in Colombo. We had a breakfast buffet at the Governor’s Restaurant at the hotel. The food wasn’t terribly good for a 5 star hotel.

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  6. calvinoeh
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    Colombo to Dubai on Emirates First Class:

    The check-in counters opened around 3 hours before departure. We were the first first class passangers to check-in. We were promptly checked in with our bags tagged only to Dubai per our request. At this point, there were no questions from the check-in agent on our unorthodox routing.
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  7. calvinoeh
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  8. calvinoeh
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    Next part of the trip report:

    There was a line when we got the gate. The ground agent indicated to a couple in front of us that there was a plane swap and they needed to have their seats changed. This is where we hoped for a substitution to a plane with the suites instead of the usual F seats but no dice. Read more......
     
  9. calvinoeh
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    We got off the plane and walked along the pavement to the arrival terminal. Just behind the custom clearance, was the luggage collection bay. The airport was pretty small. We stood under an air condition vent while waiting for the luggage, weather was hot and humid. Then the conveyor belt started to move, and to our surprise, our luggage was the first that came out on the conveyor belt (as we were the only 2 first class passenger). We were very impressed, a praise of respect to Emirates for taking care of all the minute details even one such as this.
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  10. calvinoeh
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    We were initially supposed to be leave Male on the night flight but decided to change last minute to the morning flight as we did not want to have to wait for 6-7 hours in Male (The resort only transfers to Male latest by 4-5 pm which would mean a relatively long wait in Male for midnight flight). We would then have a longer layover in Dubai which would allow us for more shopping time in Dubai.
    Emirates Airlines uses a contract lounge in Male. The lounge has adequate sitting and a basic selection of drinks (although no alcohol) and food. The thing I liked about the lounge was the view of the tarmac. We spent the 45 minutes in the lounge catching up on the real world and email and having a Coke.
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    View from the lounge​
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  11. calvinoeh
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    We had another ~20+ hour layover in Dubai. For this layover, we decided to stay in Novotel Deira City since it was within our budget (~$100 USD), close to the airport and just opposite the Deira City Shopping Mall. It took only about 15 minutes car ride from the airport to the hotel. We spent the next couple of hours in Dubai doing last minute shopping in the mall.


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    View of the mall from our hotel room.​
    The rooms at Novotel Deira City were adequate with really comfortable beds. The pool at the hotel seem pretty nice but we only checked it out after 8pm so didn’t know how pack/happening it might get. I would recommend the Novotel for those who are on the short layover in Dubai and didn’t want the hassle of going further into the city.
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  12. calvinoeh
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    his was our last Emirates First class flight on this trip. We left the hotel around 5am for our 7.45am flight to Colombo. We were promptly picked up via the Emirates chauffer drive and dropped off at the premium check-in area. We spent the next hour or so with a back massage first proceeded by breakfast.
    Our breakfast items:
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    The gate for the Colombo flight was a 10 minute hike away from the lounge and when we got there, found out it was a remote gate and we had to be bused to the plane. We again had the non-suites first class variant Boeing 700-300ER. After settling in our seats, the fight stewardess offered champagne, dates and Arabic coffee. She recognized us from our Colombo to Dubai flight a week earlier and we made some small talk on where we were going, etc. The service from her for the rest of the flight was top notch with her bringing whatever we wanted and periodically checking up on us to see if needed anything.
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  13. calvinoeh
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    It was sad to leave the Emirates flight as it would be the last premium sector of this trip. We arrived in Colombo around 1.30pm giving us another 10 hours before our flight home to Malaysia later that night. Having already visited Colombo in the earlierpart of the trip, we decided to visit Negombo this time round. Negombo is a coastal town 30 minutes from the airport. Negombo is actually closer to the airport than Colombo is.
    After getting done through immigration, luggage and customs formalities, we proceeded to rent a car with a driver from one of the tour desks after the exiting the arrival hall. We paid about $75 USD for the use of a car and driver for 6 hours which seem pretty reasonable to us.


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    Buddhist Temple in Negombo​


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    Church in Negombo​
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  14. calvinoeh
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    We arrived back at Colombo airport about 4 hours before our departure time. We were stuck in the land-side waiting area as the check-in counters for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) did not open until about 3 hours before departure. When the counters opened, we were the first few to get checked-in.
    After clearing immigration, we proceeded to the Lotus Lounge thanks to our Priority Pass card. We took a much needed shower after being hot and sweaty from the day in Negombo. The lounge itself was pretty similar to the Araliya lounge visited earlier during the trip.
    This flight on MAS to Kuala Lumpur would be our first international flight with them in a couple of years. We have primarily been flying Star Alliance carriers or Air Asia for our regional travels. I was pretty excited upon boarding that we got one of the newer 737-800 planes on this flight instead of the in-famous 737-400 planes. The load in economy was about 75% full with several passengers moving to the back after the doors closed. We had an entire row to ourselves which made the flight more comfortable.
    The service on this flight even in economy class was excellent. There was a round beverage and peanut service before supper was served. This however did made sleeping for those passengers who just wanted to sleep on this red-eye a bit more difficult with the cabin lights left on until after the supper service.
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  15. calvinoeh
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    Overall, this was another wonderful holiday with several new experiences like Emirates First Class, exploring Dubai and Colombo. Some final thoughts:
    The Emirates First Class is awesome although not perfect. In the air, the service was excellent although the food offerings could be better. On the ground, the sit down restaurant and the spa service in the first class lounge was good. However, it still lacked the “wow” factor one would get when visiting the Lufthansa First Class terminal. We would rate it on par with the Thai First Class Lounge in Bangkok. In addition, we liked the complimentary limousine transfers for premium class passengers.
    The Maldives continue to be paradise to us. Overall, we were not “wowed” with Eriyadu which we attributed to not having an overwater bungalow, which we had at Dhiggiri. However, the excellent snorkeling at the easily accessible house reef made up for most of the slight disappointment. During the week in Eriyadu, we sort of promised to not return to Maldives after another few years but after just return to Penang, we definitely already miss the Maldives and might break the promise hopefully soon. We can’t explain why Maldives is so addictive to us but we definitely want to be back there sometime soon and this time in an overwater bungalow.
    We also don’t think we would be returning to Sri Lanka. It was good to visit Colombo and Negombo for the first time for a day but there’s really nothing much else to see or do. For those who have long layovers in Colombo, we would recommend just taking a taxi straight to one of the Jetwing hotels in Negombo for drinks or food to kill time. The beaches, churches and other tourists attractions aren’t simply that interesting..
    For those who are interested, the approximate breakdown of cost for this trip:
    Emirates Flights: ~$500 USD per person
    Air Asia Flights: ~$200 USD per person
    Malaysia Airlines Flight: ~$ 200 USD per person
    Eriyadu: ~$250 USD per night for 2 persons with full board meals.
    Man, we miss the Dom and the fishes we left in Eriyadu…
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