Hotel Review: SAii Lagoon, Hilton Curio Collection, Maldives
Hilton has had a presence in the Maldives for many years, and until now, their properties have been a pipe dream for most travelers. However, Hilton recently opened a new, far more approachable hotel in the Maldives just 20 minutes from Velana international airport and we were extremely excited to see what it was all about. What we learned was that we absolutely love Curio Collection and we reallllyy love this gem of a property. Part of the Crossroads Marina complex, made up of Hard Rock, SAii Lagoon and the public Marina, SAii offers guests a relaxing, yet exciting, dream vacation for much less than its sister properties.
SAii Lagoon and the Crossroads complex is located 20-minutes by fast speed ferry from Malé‘s main international airport, Velana. This makes getting to the hotel incredibly easy. If you’ve been to the Maldives before, you’re likely very familiar with the $500+ per person transfers and half day journeys to get to your hotel once you get off your international flight. While some people have called the proximity unpleasant, we would argue that it’s actually pretty amazing. SAii Lagoon, unlike Hard Rock Hotel faces away from Malé, so from anywhere on property, all you see is beautiful blue lagoon and the distant sandbars.
The property is part of the larger Crossroads Marina complex, meaning guests have access to a large, disney-land like marina and the neighboring Hard Rock property. Crossroads is bringing a new concept to the Maldives, moving away from the one-island-one-hotel theme that has always prevailed in the Maldives. The marina is accessible by a long bridge and offers guests the chance to dine and shop “offsite”. We loved the Marina and found them to have some of the best restaurants across the properties.
Lobby & Check in experience: 4/5
We look at Lobby & Check in a little bit differently in the Maldives, where your check in actually start upon arrival at the airport. We were arriving from the neighboring Hard Rock, so our experience was a bit different- however, if you’re interested, check out our Hard Rock review as the arrival experience is the same.
One note about getting to the hotel, the only way to get to the hotel, despite being just a short boating distance away, is via a $148 per person ferry ride ($74 for kids). While this is fairly steep for a quick ride, that’s really just part of the deal when you travel to the Maldives.
We were taken from the lobby of the Hard Rock straight over the bridge to the connecting SAii Lagoon property and immediately greeted with non-alcoholic welcome drinks and a straightforward check-in process. The lobby is stunning and very indicative of the rest of the property: quirky, cute and very unique.
The property has mobile app that guests can use to see activities, ask for items to be brought to the room and request reservations, etc. We were given a full tour of the app before the final piece of check in occurred: a very cool and unique amenity testing. SAii Lagoon offers guests a chance to pick their own bath product scents. Behind the lobby is a small “MIY” (mix it yourself) station where you can select your fragrance. Your chosen products will be sent to your room following check in. It was a fun experience that was very unique.
After choosing our Frangipani fragrance, we were brought to our overwater villa via buggy.
SAii Lagoon offers guests a variety of room choices at different price points: standard rooms, beach villas and overwater villas. We were lucky to be able to tour the majority of the room types so we could share the differences and our thoughts with you so you can make the best decision for your needs.
In general, we loved the unique features of all of the rooms and villas. The property worked with local artists to commission artwork for each of the rooms as well as the rest of the property. The design of all the rooms is quirky, fun and every room features a fantastic view, regardless of room type. Whether you’re booking a base level room or the highest end villa, you are guaranteed beautiful lagoon views and quick access to the lagoon.
The Sky Room is the standard base room at SAii Lagoon. These rooms are on the second floor of the two-level buildings scattered around the property. They feature either a king bed or two doubles as well as a balcony overlooking the lagoon as well as a bathroom with double vanity. Our recommendation is to request the side of the property facing away from the Hard Rock hotel as it will be quieter in the evenings.
Beach Rooms are the first floor rooms of the two-level buildings. This room type is the exact same as the Sky Room, but the difference is the direct beach access from your patio. Similar to the Sky Room, they feature the same configurations with King beds or two doubles as well as the double vanity, patio and sitting area. Similarly as well, we recommend the rooms facing away from the Hard Rock. We absolutely love the beach rooms because you have a beautiful stretch of white sand directly in front of your room- it’s hard to go wrong.
Family Beach Room
The family beach rooms are simply a guaranteed connecting room. This is a great option for families who want to ensure they end up next to their kids with a connecting door. We highly recommend booking this if you’re not looking to break the bank, but want to make sure you are close to the kids.
We absolutely love the beach villa. These cozy free-standing villas feature the same bedroom configuration of king bed or two doubles, but with the addition of an indoor-outdoor bathroom. The bathroom features a double vanity as well as an indoor and outdoor shower and outdoor freestanding tub. The outdoor portion of the bathroom is completely enclosed and feels very tropical and private. From the bedroom, you have access to a private patio, lounge chairs and hammock on your private little sanctuary. You have direct access the lagoon from your villa. If we were planning a trip but did not want to splurge for the overwater villa, I would be booking a beach villa.
We were booked in the overwater villa and we absolutely loved it. This spacious villa features floor to ceiling windows, an expansive patio, stunning views and a large bathroom. There is an indoor dining table for two, sitting area and king bed as well as the double vanity, indoor shower and free standing tub outside. The one thing to keep in mind with the overwater villas is that they are a bit less private than the beach villas. Due to how they were built and depending on your location, your neighbors may be able to see you on your patio.
The patio features two chaise lounges with an umbrella as well as a hammock and direct access to the lagoon. The lagoon is perfect for swimming both during high tide and low tide. We saw many neighbors using their emergency flotation devices as lounging devices out in the lagoon – it was very clever and adorable. I would say the Overwater Villa is worth it if you’re looking for the quintessential Maldives experience. As with all hotels, keep in mind you will be adding about 5-8 minutes to your walk from the jetty to get around property. They do also offer buggies and if you want a ride, be sure to call in advance.
2-Bedroom Beach Villa
The 2-bedroom villa is essentially two standard beach villas put together. This is a fantastic option for guests looking to share a more private space with each other. The villa bedrooms are connected by a connecting door and each features their own bathroom, patio and sitting areas indoors. They “share” a beach area and outdoor lounge space.
2-Bedroom Overwater Pool Villa
The 2-bedroom overwater is the pinnacle experience at SAii Lagoon. This is currently the only room type that offers a private pool. It features two large bedrooms connected with a large living room, complete with a glass-bottom floor under the sitting area. There is a stunning patio with a large pool, hammocks and sitting areas. There are two of these villas next to eachother and they are located at the entry of the jetty. We fell in love with this villa and highly recommend it for groups of friends or a family traveling together.
Overall, the service was good, with particular standouts in food & beverage and housekeeping. Housekeeping came twice a day and did an excellent job. We met our housekeeper and he was very focused on whether or not he did a good job. We appreciated his effort and personal touch.
Food and beverage was also a standout. The bartenders, waiters and hostesses were kind, helpful and provided a very personal experience. The bartender at Miss Olive Oyl Pool Bar remembered us and our preferences every day and he treated everyone the exact same.
The app was a great feature and worked really well for general questions and room requests. There were some areas that were missed and they would ask you to come to the front desk to pick something up instead of being able to deliver it to you or assist from afar, however, in general, we prefer to communicate via text so it was a great option for us. They also support guests in multiple languages, making it very easy for guests to communicate with the front desk in a more comfortable way.
The dining at SAii Lagoon was great, and the addition of being able to access Hard Rock and the Marina make it an incredible experience for guests, particularly if you are staying for longer. When looking at Hard Rock versus SAii, we preferred the outlets at SAii and loved their creative cuisines.
The property offers a number of meal plans and we were on the all-inclusive plan. The all-inclusive plan is definitely worth the cost if you like to enjoy cocktails throughout the day and eat three meals a day. Otherwise, half board and full board are also great options, particularly if you do not drink alcohol. The all-inclusive plan is extensive and allows you to access every restaurant. A few restaurants in the marina, like Ministry of Crab, provide a meal credit of $45 per person, while most of them allow you to choose 3 courses.
Breakfast is served at a buffet across the bridge at the beach club currently and they have a large selection. Guests from Hard Rock can access the breakfast at SAii and we noticed it was very busy around 9-10am. The selection was good – we preferred to stick with the omlette stations and the Maldivian cuisine. They serve mimosas, coffee and juice as well. The service was a little iffy during busy times and the staff did seem a bit overwhelmed. We preferred to eat around 8:30/9 as we found it quieter and less overwhelming.
Lunch is served at Miss Olive Oyl pool bar, or guests can access any restaurant at the Marina. We loved going to Miss Olive Oyl, thanks to the amazing setting by the pool, with comfortable lounge sofas and delicious cocktails. We loved that we were able to order an Aperol spritz on the all-inclusive menu with our daily tomato burrata salad and charcuterie platter. While we wanted to venture out for lunch, we couldn’t help it- we kept going back to Miss Olive Oyl. This was also an excellent sunset spot and post-dinner drink spot. We are usually not big bar people, but we spent all afternoon and evening at Miss Olive Oyl pool bar so we could catch the sunset and the great musicians.
They do serve dinner at the Miss Olive Oyl restaurant, connected to the pool bar. This well decorated outlet served delicious seafood and was our favorite food on property. The service was excellent as well.
Mr Tomyam was also a favorite of ours. This Italian-thai fusion restaurant had one of the most romantic settings in the complex. Most of the tables were extremely private, tucked between trees on the edge of the lagoon. The food was very good, but the setting was truly exceptional. It almost felt like a private dinner experience, without the cost.
Guests also have access to the Marina and Hard Rock. While we were at Hard Rock, we enjoyed meals at Kinkao and Kebab & Curry in the Marina as well as Elephant and Butterfly and Hard Rock Cafe. There are so many options to choose from- guests will absolutely find what they’re looking for across the complex. Even if you stay for a few weeks, you have so much choice.
SAii Lagoon is comparable to a boutique property in a larger complex. SAii shares a number of facilities with the Marina, including Len Spa, watersports center and the breakfast buffet. Within the property, SAii has an excellent gym, beautiful garden, many beachfronts, the restaurants as well as an incredible pool with full beach service for lunch and drinks.
We had the chance to experience the Len Spa and we both had an excellent massage. The spa is quite a way from the hotel itself, so we recommend requesting a buggy for before and after. The spa has a great selection of treatments with excellent prices, a bespoke massage starting at just $98 for 60 minutes. These prices are pretty unheard of for the Maldives. They do not have a steam or sauna.
The watersports center features both non-motorized water sports and motorized sports like jetski excursions, scuba, snorkeling, dolphin cruises and more. We did a dolphin cruise as well as a snorkeling trip and jetski adventure during our time at Crossroads and we had a blast. They offer a lot for guests to experience, both complimentary activities and paid experiences.
The pool area was our favorite on-property hang out. The pool bar served great drinks and food both at the restaurant as well as on the beach and pool area. There was great music playing all day and we loved hanging out all day watching boats and dolphins pass by.
The Marina was also running a Street Market while we were there, where they invited different outlets to showcase their products. In “normal times” they will bring in artists, musicians and vendors from Malé so guests can buy and experience Maldivian crafts. It was such a cool concept- we can wait to see it fully in action.
The style at SAii Lagoon is unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else. It’s quirky, fun and we absolutely love the custom artwork by a local artist. SAii means “wave” and across the property, you will be hard pressed to find a straight line. They really leaned into the unique vibes and didn’t skimp when it comes to eclectic design and furnishings. While it is certainly not standard, if you’re looking for “muted tones” and “corporate”, there are plenty of hotels that can offer that. SAii is not that. The style was well executed across the property and every space felt just as unique and fun. While the hotel is in this broader complex of Crossroads, it feels incredibly separate, which is really extraordinary.
Overall, we fell in love with SAii Lagoon and wouldn’t hesitate to come back. The price point is so affordable that you almost wonder if it could possibly meet expectations, but it really surprised us. The lagoon is stunning, the food is good and its proximity to Malé makes it and incredibly easy escape. We can highly recommend SAii for anyone looking for affordable luxury – a truly welcome gift in the Maldives.
COVID-19 Safety Rating: 4/5
Finally, our hopefully temporary COVID-19 safety rating .This rating is not factored into the overall hotel score since it is a temporary addition.
Overall, the property did a great job with COVID-19 safety. Naturally, most areas of the property are outside, with the exception of the buffet. Staff mostly wore masks at all times and they had plenty of hand sanitizer around property. Tables were sanitized pre and post dining and we appreciated these measures.
The buffet was indoors and masks were not required, though, they did take temperatures and require you to use hand sanitizer upon entry. Max and I wore our mask and sat outside for extra protection.
The marina was not open to the public when we were there, ensuring that less people were around the complex. As the world continues to reopen, we will be curious to come back and experience the property at full capacity.
That being said, the hotel did a great job all around and we felt safe in all areas. We took our own precautions at the buffet given our extensive travel and encourage other travelers to do the same.
Disclaimer: We were hosted by SAii Lagoon on a media stay. Please know the opinions expressed are all our own and may not reflect the hotel’s own views.