Meeru Island Resort: Pro detailed review with videos & photos
The Maldives has close to 90 resorts that feature water villas, and about 15 of those offer full-board and/or all-inclusive plans. For years I've been comparing them all as I work on this online guide to overwater bungalows, and I frequently noticed that Meeru Island was among the cheapest water villa resorts in the Maldives, and also had some of the best guest reviews.
Stranger still, Meeru Island has all guests on a full-board plan, or they can upgrade to what they call the “All-Inclusive Plus” plan for a surprisingly modest fee. It seems almost too good to be true, so I had to visit this resort to see how they were able to pull it off.
Long story short, Meeru Island Resort is one of the largest islands in the Maldives so they can keep costs low through economies of scale. And not only do they provide great service and a first-class holiday product, they've also made a conscious decision to keep rates reasonable to encourage repeat visitors and keep marketing costs to almost nothing. I loved Meeru Island, and I'll be back. The details are all below.
Note: Since this website has referred many guests to Meeru Island in the past, they offered me a special low rate to come for a review visit and island tour. But they only offered after I mentioned I was already planning a visit and was already in the Maldives.
- 0.1 Short version: Overall impressions of Meeru Island
- 0.2 Two big surprises about Meeru Island Resort
- 0.3 Speedboat ride and arrival
- 0.4 Check-in and reception
- 0.5 My Jacuzzi Water Villa
- 0.6 Room tour of my Jacuzzi Water Villa at Meeru island
- 0.7 Other Water Villas, Beach, and Garden Villas
- 0.8 Water Villas
- 0.9 Jacuzzi Beach Villas and Beach Villas
- 0.10 Garden Rooms
- 0.11 My Overwaterbungalows.net full Meeru Island tour
- 0.12 The overall vibe of the island
- 1 Buffet restaurants and food service
- 1.1 The buffet food
- 1.2 A la carte restaurants and snack bars
- 1.3 Hot Rock Restaurant and Bar
- 1.4 Asian Wok restaurant
- 1.5 Snack bars
- 1.6 Bars and lounges
- 1.7 All-inclusive plus service
- 1.8 Cost of the All-Inclusive Plus package
- 1.9 Recreational facilities and spa
- 1.10 Excursions
- 1.11 Employee morale
- 1.12 Is Meeru Island good value?
Short version: Overall impressions of Meeru Island
This might be hard to believe, but as gorgeous as the photos of Maldives islands are on the internet, the place is far more beautiful in person. These islands don't just have a few good angles, they are simply stunning no matter where you look. Meeru Island seems typical, and wonderful, in that regard.
Overall my three-day visit was extraordinary and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed all of it, even as a single traveler among a sea of couples. Even though Meeru Island is among the more affordable full-board and all-inclusive private islands in the Maldives, everything seemed first class. I'll explain all of this in detail below.
>>>More information and booking info for Meeru Island Resort
Two big surprises about Meeru Island Resort
1 – The island feels almost empty, even when it's at full guest capacity
With 286 villas and guestrooms, Meeru Island always has around 500 guests there at all times, as it keeps room rates competitive enough to stay booked year round. Yet it feels like there might only be 100 or 200 there, which is a tiny number for a relatively large island. I'm told this is on purpose, as it allows couples and groups to relax on their own, without having to shout over a group sitting at the next table.
Perhaps even more surprising, there are around 800 employees on the island at any given time, and yet it feels like only a tiny fraction of that when you are there. Most of the employees are living and working in the center of the island in the kitchens and laundry and such, but they are also at the employee clubhouse and on the football pitch that you pass going from the south shore to the north shore. Still, Meeru Island feels extremely quiet, peaceful, and mostly empty. I absolutely loved this, even as a solo guest, but some other people might prefer to be in lively groups more often while on holiday.
2 – Meeru is not a “luxury” experience in a traditional sense
My Jacuzzi Water Villa was huge, as were the Beach Villas and other Water Villas I toured. But it's important to know that this is NOT like staying in a Four Seasons or InterContinental. The water villas even all have 2-person Jacuzzis and there is turn-down service each night, so you do get a lot for your money. It's just that there are no marble staircases or velvet lounge chairs or champagne fountains to be found here. But again, this is by design, and it's fabulous for those who prefer comfort to pretentiousness.
Meeru Island, and many others in the Maldives that share a “no shoes, no news” theme, are designed to be extremely comfortable and relaxing, but also casual and unpretentious. There are a few other Maldives resorts that offer champagne fountains and personal butler service, so this is just one of many holiday styles that are available in this stunning island chain.
Speedboat ride and arrival
My flight from Kuala Lumpur landed at around 8pm, so I booked a hotel on the main island of Male for the night. I'll explain how that all works in a separate article. I was told my speedboat to Meeru Island would leave the following morning at 10am, from the dock immediately outside the airport. I was told to meet at Booth 59 in the main Arrivals section of the airport, and it was very easy to find.
I arrived a bit early and was told by the helpful representative for all of the Crown & Champa resorts that I could have a seat nearby. A few minutes later he said the other couple on my boat had arrived, and he walked the 3 of us about 200 meters outside to our speed boat.
This speed boat, as I later learned, was one of about 7 boats that Meeru owns, and they are all different sizes, depending on how many passengers on board. In addition to me and the other guest couple, there were about 5 Meeru employees on board, heading back to the island to begin their work week, and a couple crew members.
The boat (as well as the larger boat I took coming back) was quite comfortable, although also predictably loud. On my morning ride to Meeru Island we passed by about 10 other private-island resorts (on the right side of the boat), and it was very interesting seeing many more of these amazing resorts and water villas in person.
Most people report that the sea-plane rides offer so much scenery that they are practically worth the US$300 to US$500 cost just for that. This was a US$200 boat ride (round-trip) and it was interesting during the day, but not nearly as nice as the sea planes must be. In other words, the speedboats are cheaper, but the sea planes are far more spectacular and probably worth the higher price.
Almost an hour into the ride, the boat turned right into a still lagoon and cut the engines way back. A few minutes later we pulled up to the main dock at Meeru. We were greeted by several staff members, and it appears that each guest is greeted in a similar personal way. We were escorted into the reception building about 100 meters away, and our luggage would find its way to our villas without us having to touch it or even think about it.
Check-in and reception
Since Meeru knows exactly who is arriving on each speed boat, they have a separate representative to meet each group of guests. You can bring your hand luggage, but your larger bags will be taken to your room by staff. They walk you into the semi open-air reception building and give you a welcome drink as you take a seat.
The representative gets your paperwork and confirms your details before giving you your room keys. They also explain where everything is on a resort map (several key things are right next to Reception), and explain about the daily excursions that are available.
If you are on the All-Inclusive Plus plan (which most people are), the Sunset Fruit-punch Dolphin Cruise is included, so many people sign up for that on their first evening. It's really nice, by the way, so I highly recommend it.
They then arrange for a golf buggy to take you to your room the first time. The distances can be significant, depending where on the island you are staying, so this is a very nice service. It's also quite hot and somewhat humid every day in the Maldives, so it really comes in handy. By the way, you can call or flag down a golf buggy to take you anywhere you want at any time, but you might have to wait 5 or 10 minutes depending on how busy they are. I usually walked wherever I went, and it was nice enough and never too hot to do so.
My Jacuzzi Water Villa
After being dropped off at the start of the main pier where the newer Jacuzzi Water Villas are located (in the center of the north edge of the island), I started the walk to my own Jacuzzi Water Villa. Even after seeing hundreds of photos of these places, it's still somewhat shocking how large they actually are, and how long it takes to walk out to the farthest ones.
I was staying in 312, which was only about a third of the way out. But if you are staying near the end, it literally takes more than 5 minutes just to walk to the island itself. My luggage was waiting for me in front of the door, so I grabbed it and used the key to get inside.
You might think that “water villa” is just a fancy name for a hotel room, but these things a FAR larger than even a typical suite at a city hotel. At almost 1,000 square feet (100 sq. meters), it's like a holiday home rather than a hotel room. But as mentioned up top, it's not really “fancy” or posh. Everything is in perfect condition and there were flower petals on the bed, but it's also clear that you are not in a 5-star city hotel.
Since so many people visit the Maldives to swim and sunbathe and such, the villas feel more like beach houses. In other words, since you'll have wet and possibly sandy feet part of the time, you don't want plush carpet and velvet bedspreads. These villas are fairly simple, and easy to keep dry and clean.
The bedroom and living room areas, as well as the kitchenette and wardrobe areas are air conditioned, although the A/C would have to work very hard to keep them cold all day and night. The front deck is obviously not air-conditioned, and neither is the huge bathroom and shower area. There is also a large outdoor deck in the back that has walls all around, but no roof. This is where the 2-person Jacuzzi is located, as well as extra sun chairs.
Room tour of my Jacuzzi Water Villa at Meeru island
The kitchenette is really just a minibar and a sink, since everyone on the island is on full board or all-inclusive meals plans. If you are on the all-inclusive plan, you can drink the beers and little booze bottles in the minibar each day if you like. But of course there is a really nice bar serving everything just at the end of your pier, so you don't have to go far to get a proper beer, wine, or cocktail.
The room has a cable TV, but it was maybe a 23″ and not a flat-screen. This is the first time I've seen an old-school TV in a hotel in years, which was extra surprising at such an expensive place. Obviously, nobody comes to the Maldives to watch TV, but still feels out of place. There are a handful of English channels, plus a house channel giving you a tour of the island. There is also a helpful channel that shows the departure details for each room leaving in the coming two days or so.
Wi-fi in the villa
The Jacuzzi Water Villa even has its own wi-fi connection, which was very nice. In a place like this I worried that there would only be one router for each group of villas, but it turned out to be one router per villa. The free wi-fi that is included with each villa is quite slow. It's fast enough for email and some web browsing, but not fast enough for watching videos or doing Skype calls. They offer faster connections, though they are something like US$20 per day, which is a lot.
On one hand, it's sort of a miracle that you get any internet at all on these remote islands, much less actual free wi-fi in a room that is 200 meters offshore. So in that sense it's great. But if you want to use fast internet, it's not cheap.
Other Water Villas, Beach, and Garden Villas
As I was a guest of the resort (as the owner of this website), they offered me a full tour of the island, including a look in each type of villa and room. Here are my thoughts on those:
There are 27 “Water Villas” which are actually now mostly on the beach. Interestingly, when they were first built they were a bit offshore, but the tides have built the beach up with more sand, so now they are only over the water during the highest tides. Still, I'm told that these are extremely popular, and many people book them again and again.
The room quality was similarly wonderful, although they are smaller. The room rate is lower and they do have other advantages to the overwater villas. You still get the amazing beach and water view from your bed, but you've also got a wonderful (almost private) sandy beach right there. And it also doesn't take a long time walking back and forth on the pier, so they are more convenient for doing other things on the island.
Jacuzzi Beach Villas and Beach Villas
The next rooms I saw were examples of the Beach Villas, with and without the Jacuzzi on the private deck. Almost everything about them is the same as in my Jacuzzi Water Villa, except of course for the location. These are spread nicely in what seems almost like a random pattern all over the edges of the island. In other words, each place seems like a little beach home, rather than, say, the 4th place in a row of 20 identical beach rooms. I loved this part of them a lot.
Each Beach Villa is nicely private and separated so each guest has what feels like a small private section of beach out front, as well as a full patio right in front of your unit. On my next visit I'll probably book one of these for half my stay and a Jacuzzi Water Villa for the other half. The novelty of staying out over the water is amazing, but after a few days that long walk up and down the pier could get old, and having a little private beach might also be nice.
Again, inside these villas were large and well appointed. Each has a large private deck with four full walls (so clothing would be optional while sunbathing), and of course the Jacuzzi Beach Villas have the same 2-person Jacuzzi in this area.
Compared to the “villas,” the Garden Rooms are a bit of a let down because they are essentially a block of 20 normal hotel rooms that are attached on both sides in a U-shaped pattern near the south shore. However, the room rates are about half of what the water villas go for, and they still include full-board, so they are excellent value at such a wonderful private-island resort.
They are nice, and I might just book one of them myself one day, especially on a longer stay. But if you do book them for part of a stay, it's best off to start in a Garden Room and then move to a villa because it might be disappointing to do it the other way around.
Again, for the price, they are great value, and they are in a prime location just a bit away from the main restaurant and nightlife area. I was told they are pretty much always fully booked because so many people love Meeru Island and they want to spend most of their days relaxing on the beach or doing excursions or activities, so spending double for a fancy room isn't worthwhile.
Another way of putting it is that you could spend 10 days in a Garden Room or 8 days in a Beach Villa or 5 days in a Jacuzzi Water Villa for the same price. For many people, the 10 days is the best deal because the food, drinks, and activities are all the same.
My Overwaterbungalows.net full Meeru Island tour
The overall vibe of the island
I mentioned this a bit at the top, and it was really quite a surprise for me. Meeru Island is one of the larger island resorts in the Maldives, with among the highest number of guest rooms, yet even when it's at full capacity, it feels mostly empty. And I mean this in a very, very good way.
If I were to count every seat in every restaurant and lounge, as well as every lounge chair on the beach and by all of the pools, I'd have to guess there are at least 1,000 places to sit or lounge on the island, not counting chairs and loungers inside each room. And yet there are only about 500 guests on the island even when it's at capacity, which it often is. Since at any given moment, many guests are in their rooms or on the beach or on an excursion or on a romantic walk on the sand, it means that most seats and lounge chairs are empty most of the time.
A first-time visitor might jump to the incorrect conclusion that the resort is mostly empty, but it's actually designed this way. Meeru Island is one of the Maldives resorts that is designed to be calm, serene, and totally unhurried. If you want to be within a crowd you can go to the main nightlife bar each evening, but more importantly, if you prefer NOT to be in a crowd, you have dozens of wonderful possibilities.
If you've been to a popular beach hotel in Waikiki or Phuket or in the Cote d'Azur, you are used to the place being crammed with guests and also crammed with daytime visitors just popping in to see how the other half live. On Meeru Island and most other Maldives islands, it's the exact opposite. You feel almost like it's a private island experience and there just happens to be a few other couples roaming around here and there.
Meeru is one of a few Maldives resorts with a “no news, no shoes” motto, and it really is the most relaxing place I've ever been. Even though I was there on my own, I could see that the place is clearly a popular romantic destinations for honeymoon couples and others on romantic trips, for the same reason.
One evening I was having a few drinks at one of the beach bars while watching the sun set. The couple two tables over (we were the only people there) set their drinks down to take a sunset stroll along the beach. The returned about 20 minutes later, and I had literally not seen another guest during that time. Again, it's almost like having your own private island, and it's incredible.
Buffet restaurants and food service
Since every guest at Meeru Island is staying on the full-board or all-inclusive Plus plan, most people eat most meals at the two buffet restaurants. They serve identical menus and have similar set ups, and you are assigned a table at one or the other for your whole stay, based on the location of your room. Even as a solo guest (one of very few), I was asked if I'd like my own table or I'd like to share a table when I arrived for the first time.
You never know how you might get along with other guests, so I asked to be seated alone. To my surprise, I literally had my own table for the three days I was there. Each meal is served over a 2 to 3 hour period, so it would be completely reasonable to be assigned a different table for each meal. But again, Meeru Island wants every guest to be relaxed and unhurried, and never have to wait in a queue. So when I wasn't sitting at my table, it was empty and waiting for me.
The buffet food
As convenient, fast, and filling as buffets are, I don't think many people love the idea of eating every meal at one for a week or more. However, for a full-board resort on a remote island, a buffet is the only practical option. With all of that in mind, I was extremely impressed and happy with the food and choices at the buffet restaurant during my entire visit.
If you've ever been to a place like Las Vegas where every hotel has a buffet restaurant, yet some charge US$10 while others charge US$20 or US$30, you know that there can be a huge difference in buffet food quality and options. In that comparison, the Meeru Island buffet is like the US$30 one.
Not only did each meal come with a wide variety of options, there was a wide variety of types of options. In other words, it's not like a cafeteria where you can choose a soup or salad, a vegetable or two, and one of a few different hot main courses. No, this buffet had all of that and also things like a pasta bar, a taco bar, a sandwich bar, many Indian and other Asian dishes, and more things than I can even remember.
Unsurprisingly, many of the most popular items are repeated at each lunch or dinner (and obviously at breakfast), but there were also many new surprises for me at each meal over my 3 days. The most common complaint at any all-inclusive resort tends to be repetition in food choices at the buffet, and after a week at Meeru you might also feel that way. But if you have the same meal over and over at Meeru, it's because you chose to do that while ignoring many other options.
Bottom line, the Meeru Island buffet is one of the best I've ever had, but it's still a buffet and that can get a bit old for just about any guest over a period of a week or more. Fortunately, there are also a few a la carte restaurants as well.
A la carte restaurants and snack bars
Just like on a cruise ship, it doesn't feel like good value to pay for an a la carte restaurant when you've already paid for a buffet meal that you are choosing not to have. But also just like on a cruise ship, working at least a couple of non-buffet dinners into a week is almost certainly worthwhile, just to appreciate all of it a bit more. In other words, eating every meal at the buffet and then complaining about it when you leave is a choice you don't have to make.
There are two a la carte restaurants at Meeru Island, each with a location so amazing that it's almost worth the money on its own.
Hot Rock Restaurant and Bar
During the day, the Pavilion Pool Deck on the north shore is perhaps the most photogenic place on the whole island. At night, the pool area gets tables and becomes the Hot Rock Restaurant.
This is a grill restaurant with a theme. There are a few other things on the menu, but the idea is that each guest orders one or more pieces of meat, and grills them on the “hot rock” at your table. I was a guest of one of the managers on this evening, and I had a chance to try kangaroo, ostrich, and a few other small items. They were all excellent, and the experience itself is something you won't soon forget. They also have salads and a veggie platter, so it's suitable for just about anyone.
Particularly with the setting and ambience, it actually feels like a bit of a bargain considering that most guests will spend between US$45 and US$60 for a starter and main course, including service charge, not including drink.
Asian Wok restaurant
This one is located in an overwater pavilion in a quiet corner of the island. I had a couple drinks there during the day and didn't get a chance to eat there, so I can't comment on the quality of the food. The location, again, is amazing, and there are even glass sections in the floor beneath the bar so you can watch the sea life swimming around below you. I'm sure it's also wonderful at night, and probably very romantic.
When you hear that one restaurant serves Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, and Indian food, you would have a right to be skeptical of the quality. That's the sort of thing you might see in a small town with exactly one “Asian” restaurant in it. Yet I'd be surprised if the food here wasn't as special as it is elsewhere on the island.
Meeru Island, like most Maldives islands, gets many guests from different parts of Asia in addition to Europe and even the Americas. The buffet restaurants actually serve dishes from these same countries in Asia, almost certainly prepared by nationals of those countries in the main kitchen. The prices are a bit lower for meals here, so you could easily get out with US$20 to US$30 for lunch or dinner if you ordered a couple of the more modest things on the menu. But there are also more extravagant choices as well, all with the unbelievable overwater settings.
There are also two snack bars at Meeru Island, one on each coast. They mainly serve sandwiches and a few other such items, at prices starting around US$15 each. However, if you are on the All-Inclusive Plus plan, you are eligible for a few small snack items for free.
I had a fairly big breakfast one day and I was having a good chat at a bar far from the buffet restaurant as the lunch period ended at 2:30pm, so I decided to hit the snack bar instead. Since every guest is already on the full-board meal plan and I skipped the buffet, it feels like US$15 for a sandwich is kind of a rip-off. So instead I opted for the small sandwich included as a snack for AIP guests, and it was tiny.
With a buffet dinner only a few hours away, there was obviously no way that I was going to go hungry for long, but still I found this “snack” situation quite annoying, and many other guests I asked about it agreed. Evidently the management is focused on guests eating in the buffet restaurants or paying a high price for the alternatives. In my case I'd probably skip the buffet lunch every day if I could get a decent sandwich or salad for free instead. That would save Meeru on food costs, but there must be a reason they choose not to offer this as an option.
Bars and lounges
There are 6 different bars and lounges at Meeru Island, most of which are open from about 10am until midnight, but there is also one 24-hour bar for those who like to drink on their own schedule. Once again, at first it's sort of surprising and odd that these places all seem mostly empty most of the time, except for the main nightlife bar during the evening programs. But again, this is definitely by design.
Since so many guests are romantic couples on getaways, the idea here is that it's easy to find a table for two that is not within earshot of any other guest, even at prime time during the evening. If you are looking for a convivial pub to mingle with all the other guests while on a private island, Meeru is probably not a good choice. However, as a solo traveler, I did plant myself on a few bar seats, and I was able to having running conversations with quite a few other guests over the 3 days I was there. So you definitely can be social here, but more importantly, you can also have a private time at any time you like.
Drink prices for full-board guests
- Beer: US$6
- Glass of wine: US$6 and up
- Mixed drinks: US$7 and up
Frankly, I expected the drink prices to be higher considering this is a remote private island in a Muslim country where all alcohol is banned in its capital city. I was on the All-Inclusive Plus plan, and that includes ALL drinks except for premium call spirits and the most expensive bottles of wine. For example, a margarita made with Bacardi Gold would cost around US$11 on its own, yet it was included for All-Inclusive Plus guests.
Each bar is different, with several on the sunset side of the island and several on the sunrise coast. I spent most of my time at the small bar at the base of the pier leading to the Jacuzzi Water Villas, and I loved the place. The bartenders are all professional and the mixed drinks are made from scratch rather than from a machine or pre-mixed bottles.
All-inclusive plus service
All guests at Meeru Island are on the “full-board” (all meals included) plan, and have the option of choosing the “All-inclusive Plus” plan. This supplementary plan includes not only all the drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) that you want, including from your minibar, but it also includes the Sunset Dolphin Cruise and most of the other island activities such as golf, windsurfing, tennis, kayaks, fitness center, and so on.
The Sunset Dolphin Cruise is justifiably popular, but most of the other activities don't seem to get much use. After all, it's hot every day in the Maldives, and most people are there to relax.
Cost of the All-Inclusive Plus package
During the slowest months of the year (June and July), the All-Inclusive Plus package is actually included for free, so it's excellent value.
During the rest of the year the AIP package is about US$47 per person, per day, which seems quite reasonable for unlimited alcohol in on a remote island. If you like a few drinks here and there while you are on holiday, the AIP package will be well worth it, partly just so you don't have to count drinks and worry what it might cost if you are enjoying the evening with your partner or some new friends.
Also, remember that the AIP package includes ALL drinks, including juices and whatnot in the morning and through the day, and bottled water as well. If you don't drink alcohol, you'll probably end up spending US$10 to US$20 per day on drinks anyway. In a way it's probably better to think of the full-board being a discount for non-drinkers, and AI Plus as the best plan for most guests.
Recreational facilities and spa
I'm not a spa person and I was there on my own, so my daytime tour of the spa was the only look I got. It's a lovely place, as you'd expect, but I can't speak much about the experience.
As for activities, Meeru Island has one of the longest lists in the Maldives. Not only is there a pro SCUBA center and free snorkeling trips to the nearby reef, but there is a football/soccer field, a 9-hole pitch & putt golf course and driving range, and a long list of water sports such as kayaks and windsurfing.
I didn't do any of these myself and I didn't notice many other guests doing them, except of course for the diving and snorkeling trips, but it's still nice to have all of those options.
There is a game room in one of the bars, with dart boards and quite a few other table game options. I saw many of those getting used in my three nights there, but still it seemed like most people are there to relax and have a quiet and romantic time as a couple.
More families visit Meeru Island during the summer months, I've been told, so I'm sure the activities and games are more popular during those periods or even over the Christmas or Easter holidays.
I only had time for one excursion, which was the afore mentioned Sunset Dolphin Cruise, which is included (one time) for All-Inclusive Plus guests. It lasted about 90 minutes, and to be honest, for the first 20 minutes or so I wasn't sure about it because we were just going full speed out into the ocean. Then, we got to where some groups of dolphins seem to hang out, and we spent the next 30 minutes following them around.
As strange as it may sound, the Dolphins seem to enjoy pleasing tourists, as they purposely swim directly in front of the boat, sometimes showing off with jumps and even flips. It's a lot of fun, and a good chance to meet some fellow guests.
For the final half hour the boat went back toward Meeru and then stopped with a small island directly between us and where the sun was just about to set. The sky lit up bright orange and it was so beautiful that it's hard to believe that they are able to do this almost every night of the year.
Other excursions include a complimentary Snorkeling boat to the house reef (equipment is not complimentary), Sunset Cruise, Male’ Sightseeing, Island Hopping, Love Boat Daysail, Photo Flight, Robinson Crusoe Island, Submarine Sightseeing, and more. Aside from the Dolphin Cruise, most other excursions only go every few days, so it's important to check the schedule when you first arrive.
As many more travelers are concerned as much about the ethics of their visits as the rooms they'll be sleeping in, I made a point of talking to many rank & file employees about how they liked working there. To be honest, it was mostly bartenders, but several of them also have other duties, and I got a good sense of the situation.
Quite to my surprise, the employees at Meeru are almost universally thrilled about their jobs, and rather happy with their wages. When rooms at a resort are US$500 per night and higher in some cases, you would hope that the employees would make a decent living wage, but in many parts of Asia and the rest of the world, this isn't often the case.
From what I understand, a Meeru employee works about 10 hours a day, 5 or 6 days per week, and they get about a month off each year to go home and visit family. For Asia, this is actually pretty good, as only a tiny fraction of people in this region are locked into a 40-hour work week.
Even more surprising, I was told (by bartenders who were giving me honest feedback on almost everything) that a starting guest-facing employee at Meeru gets around US$1,000 per month, as well as room and board. The kitchen staff and housekeeping staff almost certainly start at lower wages, but Meeru is definitely considered one of the more desirable resorts to work at, along with the other resorts run by the Crown & Champa company.
I spoke to and heard about quite a few employees that had worked at Meeru Island for 10 or 20 years, which really says something. These are the sorts of jobs that people take in order to make money to send home, similar to jobs on cruise ships. Many people from the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka can take these jobs for 5 years or so and then go home to buy a small home and open a business with the money they've saved. So to have workers coming back for 20 years, when there are so many other employers out there, is a very good sign and fits in with the overall sense of quality you feel at Meeru Island.
Is Meeru Island good value?
I've now been running overwaterbungalows.net for over 5 years, and based on everything I could see, Meeru Island has always been among the best values of any of these resorts in the world. I'd read hundreds of short guest reviews, watched guest videos, and compared the prices and features to literally every other overwater resort in the Maldives and the rest of the world. Just from this research, Meeru Island stood out as one of the top few choices for value and an outstanding experience.
My own trip there only confirmed my online research, and I can't wait to go back again. At least half the guests I spoke to were there on an annual visit, sometimes after trying a few other Maldives resorts first. There is nothing like repeat guests at a “once in a lifetime” resort to tell you what you need to know about this place.
As I was curious about their unusually affordable room rates, I spoke with the manager about it. He told me that they preferred to offer modest room rates so they can not only stay pretty much full all year, but also usually be booked up a month or more in advance. Interestingly, he told me that when guests book a resort like this only a week or two in advance, those visits can be problematic because the guests often don't know what to expect or their flights and transfers can't be worked out properly.
Because of this, he said they prefer to be sold out a month or more in advance, all year round. This keeps them from having to dedicate extra staff to scrambling and crisis-solving for last-minute guests, and usually keeps them filled up with repeat guests who are thrilled to come back each year.
Another benefit of offering modest prices that fill them up year round is that they can afford to keep their best staff at good wages this way. Other resorts might only have 50 villas, and if 30 of them are empty for a given week, many of the employees have to take that as an unpaid week off. This is another reason why Meeru is considered one of the best resorts in the Maldives for workers, they can work every week of the year that they want because it's always full.
>>>More information and booking info for Meeru Island Resort