The Maldives is not the only nation that take a hard-line stance against alcohol, but it certainly is one of the more paradoxical examples. While the nation maintains a strict Islamic façade, it looks the other way as dozens of luxury resorts scattered across its sprawling atolls not only import alcohol, but make no effort to even hide it.
I just returned from five nights at the Park Hyatt Maldives and alcohol was free flowing…with a fully-stocked bar, minibars in each room, and even a manager’s reception on Saturday evening that includes free alcohol for all guests, you would be hard-pressed to conclude that the nation seriously enforces its anti-alcohol laws. But it does.
I was in India prior to the Maldives. As my Diamond amenity at the Park Hyatt Chennai, I received a nice bottle of Italian red wine which I had packed away in my suitcase. After landing in the Maldives, my bag did not show up on the conveyor belt. Finally, after nearly all others had been delivered, it rolled out with “red lane” customs stickers all over it, indicating that my baggage required further inspection (obviously, it was already scanned to find the wine bottle).
From my previous reading on the Maldives, I knew I was not allowed to enter the country with alcohol, but could “check it in” upon arrival and pick it upon departure. I pulled out my red wine from my bag and handed it to the customs agent. He was angry.
“Did you not read the landing card?”
I did, but just stared at him blankly.
He pulled it out and pointed to the alcohol prohibition.
He asked for my passport, scowled when he saw it was USA, then turned around and walked off with my wine.
I hope he enjoyed it, because I never got it back.
My Diamond amenity at the Park Hyatt Maldives was a bottle of French Champagne. To be honest (an anathema to the luxury travel community, I realize), I don’t really like champagne. I would have actually preferred the 1,000 Gold Passport points, but wasn’t given the choice and it was a nice touch to have a chilled bottle of Champagne waiting in my room when I checked in.
Anyway, guess what happened? I thought bringing the champagne out would not be a problem because I was leaving the country, but upon check-in at Kooddoo airport for my flight back to Male, my baggage was again scanned and the champagne immediately confiscated. I offered it to my escort from the hotel, but he stated that he would be arrested if found in procession of it because he was a native.
The moral of the story is that while you can get all the alcohol you’d like on resorts, don’t think about trying to personally import or export alcohol in the Maldives, for it just is not worthwhile.
What was your experience with alcohol in the Maldives?