AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort: Pro review with videos & photos

The AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort opened in 2011 with much higher room rates and the early reviews were quite poor, but they have been getting steadily better ever since, and room rates are now very appealing for a “water villa.” So I booked myself 2 nights here as part of a short trip to Malaysia, after two nights in Kuala Lumpur.

The AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort has 392 water villas, which made it by far the largest such resort in the world until a nearby competitor called the Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson recently opened with 522 water villas. Still, I've been anxious to see what this place is really like, especially since they are offering very competitive room rates these days starting at around US$150 per night for two people, including all taxes. [read more]

World’s largest overwater resort, with 522 Pool Water Villas, is now open

Until about 2010, the resort with the most overwater bungalows in the world was the Four Seasons Bora Bora with 100 overwater rooms. Then the AVANI Sepang Gold Coast Resort opened just south of the Kuala Lumpur Airport and it looked unbeatable with its mind-blowing 392 Water Villas (some of which share a structure). Move over, AVANI Sepang, because the Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson Resort is open and it has an amazing 522 water villas, each complete with a private plunge pool.

I had an opportunity to tour the Lexis Hibiscus Resort a few months ago as they were still putting the finishing touches on the last water villas that had yet to open. It's truly an amazing place in many ways, including the surprisingly reasonable room rates at around US$200 per night for the time being. [read more]

Why you don’t need a travel agent for a perfect Maldives water villa holiday

With all due respect to offline travel agents and the hard work and expertise they can provide, those traveling to the Maldives for a private-island holiday don't really need them, and will almost certainly save money without one. If you've only ever booked luxury holidays with your friendly neighborhood travel agent, then you might as well carry on doing that. But if you don't have a travel agent and unsure of the value they bring, read this article and you'll discover that you are probably better off without them.

The main reason for this is that the Maldives is an incredibly well organized travel destination, and after your first visit you'll discover that everything is taken care of for you whether you got a discount price online or paid a higher price to your hometown travel agent. [read more]

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. [read more]

Water villas closest to Bali

Bali is one of the world's most popular and famous tropical islands, and it's responsibility for most of Indonesia's tourism. There's a fair amount of confusion about whether there are any water villas or overwater bungalows on Bali, partly because the resort that claims to have invented and built the first-ever overwater bungalows is called Club Bali Hai.

Unfortunately, that resort is on the island of Moorea, just off Tahiti, in the South Pacific, thousands of kilometers from Indonesia. Bali and its active tides just aren't the right kind of island for rooms on stilts, so it's unlikely that they'll be coming anytime soon. Bali has dozens of 5-star beach resorts, but it doesn't have any shallow lagoons so even if they did build water villas off the shore, they'd be above the noisy waves going in and out.

But the good news is that there is an amazing assortment of water villas near Bali, relatively speaking. With the exception of a few overwater bungalow resorts in the Caribbean, virtually all of the world's water villas are in the tropics between the South Pacific, and the Maldives, which is just southwest of India. [read more]

About overwater bungalows and water villas

First introduced in the South Pacific only a few decades ago, the overwater bungalow is now one of the hottest trends in the resort world. Honeymoon couples have been staying in these iconic rooms since the beginning, but now they are popular with families and adventure travelers as well.

For many people, the South Pacific island of Bora Bora is the most famous destination for the best overwater bungalows, but it's actually the Maldives, which is just southwest of India, where most of these huts-on-stilts exist. The Maldives has more than 90 resorts that feature water villas (as they are typically known there), with several new private-island resorts opening every year.

In the South Pacific you will find almost a dozen resorts on Bora Bora, another five on Moorea, and two on Tahiti that have over water villas. There are about 10 additional overwater resorts on other South Pacific islands stretching all the way to Fiji and New Caladonia.

There are also about a dozen overwater bungalow resorts in the Caribbean, mostly off the coast of Central America, with nearly all of them being diving-oriented “eco resorts.” But a few luxury overwater bungalows exist and more are being built on St. Lucia and other islands in the popular areas of the Caribbean, and this website will be the best place to look for information on all of them.