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The Maldives launches the world’s first loyalty program for a country

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Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (January 15, 2021): The Maldives launches a loyalty program

The Maldives is one of the world’s most breathtaking travel destinations. The scenic beauty of the archipelago’s 26 atolls is something to behold and unmatched anywhere in the world. Located in the Indian Ocean southwest of India, the Maldives comprises 1192 coral islands and sandbanks (200 inhabited islands, plus 100 islands with tourist resorts), which are the visible tips of an oceanic volcanic mountain range whose outer edge plunges to a depth of over 3 km (10,000 ft). The tiny islands are encircled by magnificent beaches and incredibly beautiful lagoons, blessed with crystal clear waters and protected by reef structures.

The hotels in the Maldives are also spectacular, ranging from fabulous underwater hotels to phenomenal overwater bungalows with private pools. Every resort in the Maldives is built on its own picture-perfect tropical island, with all of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands competing with each other to offer their guests unprecedented levels of mind-blowing luxury. The Maldives is also home to two of my favorite resorts in the world: Soneva Jani (located in the Noonu Atoll) and Soneva Fushi (located in the Baa Atoll). Both properties offer superbly designed and ultraluxe villas with slides going directly into the Indian Ocean and retractable roofs that allow stargazing at night.

SONEVA FUSHI, MALDIVES
SONEVA FUSHI, MALDIVES

However, staying in this tropical paradise requires plentiful cash. And although that won’t change anytime soon, travelers to the Maldives can now save a few bucks by enrolling in the world’s first traveler loyalty program for a country. The program is designed to promote and increase the popularity of the Maldives in response to the decline in tourism as a consequence of the pandemic. The Maldives needs more visitors as its economy is heavily dependent on hospitality industries (tourism accounts for almost two-thirds of the Maldives’ GDP).

The loyalty program is called ‘Maldives Border Miles program‘ and is somewhat similar to the loyalty programs of airlines and hotels. Tourists enrolled in this program will earn points for each border crossing with additional points being awarded for visits to celebrate special occasions. The program operates in three tiers, named in the local Maldivian language: Aida (bronze), Antara (silver) and Abaarana (gold). As tourist move up the tiers, privileges are enhanced, and benefits are made exclusive:

  • Bronze membership tier is called Aida. The word Aida is from Dhivehi linguistic, which is referred to a bright star. You can reach “Aida” by earning 500 points.
  • Silver membership is called Antara. The word Antara is from Dhivehi linguistic and is recognized as attractive and prestigious. You can reach “Antara” by earning 2000 points
  • Gold membership is called Abaarana. The word Abaarana is from Dhivehi linguistic, which is an honorific name given to monarchs. You can reach “Abaarana” by earning 4000 points.
How to enroll?

Only tourists are eligible to become a member of the Maldives Border Miles loyalty program. Tourists can register and become a member of the program while submiting the Maldives’ Traveler Health Declaration (THD). However, points will only be rewarded if you stay in a registered tourist facility and if you stay at least three nights in Maldives.

How to collect points?

Tourists earn points in the loyalty program by visiting the Maldives and crossing the border. Bonus points are earned for special occasions (e.g. honeymoon, wedding anniversaries or birthdays).

  • 50 points per border crossing. Points for this category will be generated automatically.
  • 5 bonus points per night spent in the Maldives (with a maximum of 30 nights in a single trip).
  • 30 bonus points for a honeymoon celebration
  • 30 bonus points for a wedding anniversary
  • 30 bonus points for a birthday celebration
  • 20 bonus points for visiting the Maldives in the green season (1st June to 31st August of each year)
  • 10 bonus points for visiting the Maldives during Eid holidays
  •  5 bonus points for activities like snorkeling, surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, diving, excursions or island hopping (tours to local islands) during your stay with selected tour operators.
How to spend points?
  • Privileged immigration clearance on arrival and departure (for Antara & Abaarana members)
  • Discounts (up to 20%) at restaurants, diving centers and spa. The list of participating properties is available on the program’s official website.

So far, the perks of the Maldives’ loyalty program represent bad value. Keep in mind that a holiday at a fancy resort in the Maldives can set you back by a few thousand dollars per night, so the typical high-spending Maldives visitor won’t likely be impressed by a 15% off coupon in a mediocre restaurant close to the airport. However, the program is set to improve in the near future, with pay-offs that travelers will find worthwhile, like a room upgrade, free activity, or cheaper transfers between the airport and farther-flung atolls. And what’s impressive is that this has never happened before: the Maldives is the first country in the world to have a rewards program.


MY REVIEWS OF HOTELS IN THE MALDIVES

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