Overwater bungalows and water villas are known for being expensive, but at least they are also known for being larger than a typical hotel room, especially when you include the private decks. There are over 110 resorts in the world offering these over-the-water rooms, and almost all of them are over 500 square feet, and usually around 1,000 square feet. This makes those about 2 to 3 times larger than a typical city hotel room.

At the Gili Lankanfushi Maldives, (formerly known as Soneva Gili by Six Senses) they have 44 Villa Suites and Residences that range from 2,260 to 2,691 square feet, making them among the largest in the Maldives. But one – known as the Private Reserve – measures in at an astounding 15,069 square feet (1400 m²)!!! It's arguably the finest overwater resort in the Maldives, and the Private Reserve is BY FAR the largest overwater villa in the world.

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Like a bit of privacy? You got it

The Private Reserve is the most remote of the 8 water villas that are only accessible by boat at the
Gili Lankanfushi Resort. You can get to the island in your own private motor boat, or you can have “Mr. Friday” (one of your two 24-hour private staff) pilot you back and forth.

 

This degree of privacy is one of the reasons that many celebrities prefer to stay at the
Gili Lankanfushi Maldives when they holiday in the Maldives.

Extreme luxury or not?

One interesting aspect of all the Six Senses resorts is that they don’t actually claim to be “luxury” properties, as they are more focused on comfort. By this they appear to mean that you won’t find a solid-gold minibar or a piano made of diamonds in the rooms. In fact, the decor is what they call “rustic chic” and it looks much more like Gilligan’s Island than it does the Burj al Arab Hotel.

 

They are just being modest. In reality, this is the highest-rated of all resorts in the Maldives by TripAdvisor and by nearly any other measure. The rooms range from huge to ridiculous, and the staff get universal raves from anyone who comes near the place.

Key features of the Private Reserve

  • Area: 15,069 sq ft (1,400 m²)
  • Resident Mr & Mrs Friday (Personal Butlers) on call 24 hours
  • Luxuriously appointed living space in the middle of a turquoise blue lagoon
  • Situated 500 metres from Gili Lankanfushi and 300 metres from the closest villa, accessible only by boat
  • Uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean
  • 5 separate buildings designed in rustic chic style
  • 2 master suites, each with ceiling to floor windows on 3 sides
  • Private indoor and outdoor relaxation areas and sundecks
  • A large central open plan living area with sea garden, natural
  • coral pool, surrounding viewing/sun decks, dining area, writing desk and daybeds
  • Unique open-air 100sqm private bathroom with separate glass walled shower enclosure
  • Each master suite has a relaxing horizon style plus a 2 person bathtub built over coral gardens
  • Private spa facility with sauna, steam room, indoor and outdoor treatment pavilion and upstairs air-conditioned gymnasium
  • Entertainment/library suite with the latest in plasma and audiovisual technology
  • Individually controlled music throughout the villa, including the underwater coral pool
  • Fully equipped gourmet kitchen available for private dining, snacks, healthy drinks or coffee and tea
  • Residents will be invited to design their own cellar selection from our list of 300 wines
  • A deep water coral pool is situated next to the central living area
  • For the light hearted, a waterslide is installed from the top deck into the coral pool
  • Roof-top sun deck with daybed and two outdoor dining pavilions
  • Personal, easy to use motorised transfer boats exclusive to guests
  • Alternatively Mr Friday will captain and transport residents
  • A private 400hp, 36 foot speedboat with crew on call at all times

Price of the Private Reserve

US$8,750 per night for up to 6 guests during low season
US$15,000 per night in high season

 

The above rates are just for the “room” as it were. You can also get packages that include all meals (including soft drinks) and one massage per day for an extra fee.


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28 thoughts on "6 Tips to save money booking an overwater bungalow"

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    1. Pam,

      We keep a full list of all overwater bungalows in the Caribbean, and each one is describe in pretty great detail. I have no reason to think that the ones in Panama aren’t safe, although I haven’t been myself. They tend to attract scuba divers and they are very popular from what I can see. There are also overwater bungalows at the Disney Resort on a lake, so that’s another one to look into. Sorry I’m not of more help. -Roger

  1. Hi there. We’re a family of 6 (mum, dad, and four boys 16, 15, 13 and 8) who primarily surf, but also want to enjoy time snorkelling etc. We’d love to stay nearest to decent surf (doesn’t have to be massive though! Just really fun waves-especially as the 8 year old needs to be involved and me (mum) doesn’t really surf bigger than 2-3 foot either these days :)). We desperately want to stay in a water villa but are so happy to do it on the cheap (thats we how we travel-always on a massive budget, so as long as rooms are clean that’s all we care about). Can you recommend anywhere/a few cheap water villas for us? Thanks so much! We’re coming April 13th-April 20th.

    1. Samantha,

      Your main challenge will be that most overwater resorts only allow 3 guests per bungalow and a few allow 4 guests per bungalow, but none of them allow 6. You’d have to get two overwater villas for six people and that would start at around US$700 per night at even the cheapest place. A few of the Maldives water villa resorts have surfing beaches, and the cheapest way to pull that off would be to get one water villa and one island villa and take turns in the water villa. Sorry the news isn’t any better. -Roger

  2. Hi
    I wish to combine a trip to Tahiti with a trip to Easter Island next year. Do you have suggestions for somewhere in Tahiti that is an over water option? Also do you know if it is correct that Tahiti and Easter Island are only connected on a Tuesday by air? Do you have any recommendations for how to combine the two? We are flying from NZ.

  3. I am currently planning a birthday and graduation get away, two weeks, two islands, over the water and beach front looking at next April any suggestions on how to save $? I know if we do the over the water on Moorea vs Bora Bora will save some $. Anything else would be much appreciated.

    1. Rosary,

      I’d say your best strategy for (hopefully) saving some money, or rather getting a free upgrade, is to book only two nights are so in each overwater bungalow and the rest in a beach room. You will have a much better chance of a room upgrade compared to anyone who is only booked in a beach room, so you should be at the top of the list. You might end up 4 or 5 nights in an overwater bungalow that way while only paying for two and the rest in a beach room. It’s a bit risky if you REALLY want to spend most of the week overwater, but it could work.

      Honestly, the overwater experience is amazing for a few days but the novelty wears off a bit after that because you always have to walk much farther to get anywhere compared to the beach rooms. April is one of the slowest months in the South Pacific, so you should be getting pretty good rates as it is. Sorry I don’t have more advice for you. -Roger

  4. You mentioned eco-style resorts in the Caribbean that are fairly affordable. Do you have a list of these? We would love to stay in an affordable over the water bungalow but don’t want to have to fly all the way to Tahiti.

  5. Soleena,
    for the future
    I hope you don’t mind me sharing 🙂
    It is considered rude to use capital letters when chatting. It is considered to be shouting. You did not sound like you were cross so I thought you’d like to know. Cheers Audrey

  6. FIRST AND FOREMOST, I MUST COMMEND YOU ON YOUR ATTENTIVE, RESPONSIVE DEDICATION TO ASSISTING THOSE THAT SEEK GUIDANCE AND OR SOME SENSE OF DIRECTION ON THE ENDLESS PLETHORA OF VACATION DESTINATIONS AND THE POTENTIAL DISCOUNTED RATES AND TRAVEL PACKAGES. VERY ADMIRABLE, I HAVE TO ADMIT!

    AND AS FAR AS MY CONCERNS GO, DO YOU KNOW OF A RELIABLE AND LEGIT, YET DECENTLY/AFFORDABLY- PRICED WATER BUNGALOW RESORT/HOTEL/ETC., THAT I COULD BOOK IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS FOR A POTENTIAL 4-7 NIGHTS STAY- DURING THE END OF TIS MONTH THRU THE END OF SEPTEMBER? Thanks so much sweetheart!

    1. Soleena,

      Thank you for the kind words, and sorry for the delayed response. We actually do an annual list of the cheapest overwater bungalow resorts in the world on our sister site. You’ve probably seen it, but you may not have realized that it’s the same data. There are no secret places that aren’t on the list, at least if you are looking for a "honeymoon-style" overwater bungalow. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll try to help, and more quickly this time. -Roger

    1. Jacki,

      There is a new resort opening next year in Panama with honeymoon-style overwater bungalows. We don’t know the rates yet, but they should be far more affordable than the new Sandals resorts in Jamaica. If you are okay with the eco-style resorts, there are many in the Caribbean that are fairly affordable. -Roger

  7. hello there
    this will be our first time traveling to the maldives ,
    my wife and me want a nice romantic place with a private pool in our overwater bungallow and a beautiful view ,,this will be our second honey moon ,,, wich island or resort do you recomend

    thank you so much .

    1. Agustin,

      Actually, we have a list of the best Maldives water villa resorts with private pools. The first one on the list is amazing and it’s also the best of the all-inclusives, though it’s quite expensive. If you are looking for one that is more modestly priced you’ll want to focus on the bottom one on the list, the Irufushi Beach and Spa Resort. The water villas there are huge and all have private pools. Have a great trip and let me know if I can help further. -Roger

  8. Is there a number to call to tell an advisor what exactly we want / expect out of our trip so they can recommend the best resort thay would fit our needs. Also which part of maldives is the best to stay as far as entertainment brar by etc.

    1. Kira,

      We are primarily an online guide to water villa resorts and we don’t do bookings or consultations, although I try to offer advice when I can. As far as which part of the Maldives, each resort there (by law) is on a private island, and each one is different. If you are looking for a place with nightlife and entertainment then you’ll want to book at one of the larger places like Meeru Island, as they have multiple bars and night time activities. Some of the smaller resorts have nothing beyond the dinner service and a small bar. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  9. I am dreaming and want to plan a trip for a ann. next year. a couple different places so I see all the beauty in Tahiti or where ever I can afford. please send me more info and updated rates. THANKS for the tips.

  10. I really want to stay in a over water bungalow at some point in time. So can you get an all-inclusive with 2 or 3 day in the bungalow and then move to an island room?

    1. Dee,

      Yes, you can definitely stay in an overwater bungalow for only part of a stay at a resort. In fact, it’s mentioned above that this is a pretty good strategy to possibly get an upgrade for additional days or perhaps your whole stay. Best of luck with this. -Roger

    1. Katherine,

      They are good deals if you enjoy drinking more than one or two alcoholic drinks each day. Generally, pretty much all the activities are included at all overwater resorts, so it’s pretty much food and drinks that are part of all-inclusive. And it’s not surprising that alcohol tends to be quite expensive (as does food) at these resorts, so all-inclusive is best for drinkers. Otherwise, you are subsidizing big drinkers if you don’t consume much alcohol.

      It’s also worth noting that nearly all the all-inclusive overwater resorts in the world are in the Maldives. There are none like that in or near Bora Bora. -Roger

    1. Alino,

      There is a link to the cheapest online booking site for each resort on each page. Just look for the link that says "Check for online specials…"