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]

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]

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.