Any mention of the Maldives is synonymous with the idea of luxury. The sheer reference to the country draws up imagery of idyllic, undisturbed beaches, translucent turquoise waters and paradisiacal luxury resorts where a lucky globetrotter has the opportunity to be pampered to within an inch of their lives.
All things considered though, the Maldives has historically been considered as a destination that is out of bounds to the majority of people. Famous for its expensive resorts and exclusive beaches, the Maldives has long been considered a travel destination that many of us dream of, but few can afford. With few options catering to the middle and working classes, local people and businesses in the Maldives are starting to realise that there is a demand to cater to these demographics and are opening up guesthouses or homestay opportunities accordingly.
The Maldives as a More Accessible Travel Destination
Until recently, the Maldives had stringent laws in place in terms of accommodation, which meant that tourism was only possible in the form of resorts built on uninhabited islands. Fortunately for budget travellers, that law has recently been relaxed and as such, dozens of guest houses have been popping up around the area. In fact, there are presently over 400 guest houses in the Maldives making the region more accessible.
In terms of the specific offering, the guesthouses vary significantly between each other. Some offer comparable luxury to five star hotels – boasting infinity pools and rooftop bars that rival those of the pricey resorts in the area. On the other hand, some are quaint, homestay style establishments that offer simplistic rooms and basic amenities. In any case, since there are so many available (and likely to be many more opening up going forward), there is certainly something to suit every budget and taste.
Costs of Enjoying Local Tourism in the Maldives
The price differentiation between luxury Maldives resorts and guesthouses is phenomenal. As a matter of fact, it is possible to stay at a guest house here for approximately $40 per night or less. If you are travelling as a couple or as a group and sharing the costs, that is incredibly good value.
It should also be noted that the budget accommodation options are also accompanied by prices at local businesses and eateries that do not break the bank – eating out at restaurants in the Maldives will set you back no more than $7 or $8 a meal, and drinking tea at local tea rooms cost less than $0.40 cents a cup. Travelling the Maldives on a budget is entirely possible, and the increase of guest houses opening up has helped make this a more accessible travel destination for many.
A More Culturally Immersive Experience
There is no doubt that Maldives tourism in general is beneficial to the local economy, however the rise in the number of guest houses opening means that more money is going directly to the local people, rather to large international chains as previously when the only option was to stay at (and therefore give money to) the resorts.
When you opt to do a homestay or visit a local guesthouse, you have the added benefit of enjoying a more culturally immersive experience. These accommodation types are normally much more cosy, and the locals that host you can give you insider tips on their favourite places to eat and hang out, as well as insight as to what island life is really like. Though the Maldives is primarily a vacation spot for rest and relaxation, staying at guest houses also offers a semblance of a cultural experience to travellers.