Paradise or Worst Trip Ever? South African Couple Trapped At 5-Star Resort In Maldives

I don’t often write about people, I write about travel (particularly airlines) and points because that’s what I know. But given the gloomy situation, I think it would be fun to switch it up and cover something besides X airline flying a widebody plane with 9 passengers on board.

THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME

Olivia and Raul De Freitas left for the Maldives on March 22nd for a 6-day honeymoon at the Cinnamon Velifushi Maldives. At the time, they were assured by their travel agent that they would have safe passage back home despite the turmoil happening around the world. 

Similar to many people that were traveling during this time, after arriving in the Maldives they received word that South Africa would be closing their airports within 24 hours and the couple was unsure of their ability to get back to South Africa on such short notice.

They were also given an option by the South African Embassy in Sri Lanka to charter a jet with the other South Africans (who were also trapped in the Maldives) to travel home at a cost of more than $100,000.

The message from the Embassy noted that it would be at their own expense and everyone could split the cost. However, the government had only connected with around 20 of the 40 South Africans in the Maldives and many were unable or refusing to pay. The fewer the number of people on board, the more expensive each share would become so the De Freitas decided to continue to stay at the resort.

Interestingly during this time, all of the other couples at the resort had cleared out and therefore this meant they had the resort all to themselves. 

They spent a lot of time sleeping and going to the pool. They also get quite a bit of attention from the staff due to the lack of other guests (e.g. special candlelit dinners on the beach, an entire performance of a show just for them, nine waiters waiting at their table, etc.)

“We’ve started playing a lot of table tennis and snooker. It’s incredible that we get this extra time.” Ms. De Freitas said.

But the financial toll is weighing on them. Although the couple has been paying a generously discounted rate, the bill continues to grow. Each day that ticks by is more money out of their savings.

On April 5, they were contacted by the South African embassy and given an hour’s notice to pack their things and were transported to a different five-star resort where the rest of the South Africans stuck in the Maldives have gathered. This will surely be easier for the embassy to help arrange an eventual escape.

In addition to their escalating endless honeymoon debt, they can add the unknown price of two tickets on what may likely be a near-vacant jet.

“Everyone says they want to be stuck on a tropical island, until you’re actually stuck,” Ms. De Freitas said. “It only sounds good because you know you can leave.”

Until then, the honeymoon will continue in what is sure to be a… memorable experience.

What do you make of this experience? Does it sound like paradise? Would you want to switch places? What would you do?

HT: The New York Times

6 comments

  1. I think I’d be over it after a week. The stresses of what’s going on with my family, my career and my community back home along the the global impacts wouldn’t allow me to enjoy it anyway. I’m more of a city girl and I think the isolation would definitely get to me. I’d rather be home…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. @Merdice And these islands offer little more than isolation. They are completely flat and there is nothing to do besides sleep, eat, and snorkel. In addition to what is going on at home, marriage is tough. Imagine that pressure.

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  3. Wow, I was one of the people who said “hmmm I’d rather be stuck on an island” just as the woman stated. I guess I have to retract my comment. While reading I was saying oh my gosh. Debt gives me anxiety so I wouldn’t be comfortable being somewhere knowing I’m sort of stuck. I do think if I was able to afford a rental home for at least two months food ect… it would be more tolerable but after a week I usually miss my own bed. I’m confused on why they still went after all of this was going on even mid March? Clearly the news was warning us before the 22nd. I wish them health and safety of course nonetheless.

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  4. Unfortunately, there are no rental homes on these islands. Often, the hotel buys the whole island so you have to fly to the main island on a global airline and then book a separate and expensive ticket (through the hotel) to get to the hotel so there is no escape once you’re there.
    Concerning why they would still go despite the news…I assume bc of what their “travel agent” said but who knows. 🤷🏾‍♂️ This is also an assumption and idk if they had a big wedding and all but there is a lot that goes into planning a wedding. perhaps they spent a year planning it, were married only a day or two before and felt the pressure of doing what everyone does? Or, perhaps they made a non-refundable reservation and decided to just go with it? Either way…they’ve been there for a minute. I love hotels and travel but this is too much for me. I’d go crazy. 🤣

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  5. There is no place like home especially when you can’t get there. Wishing the people in this situation a resolve very soon

    Liked by 1 person

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