After completing a diplomatic tour of the Maldives, Saudi Arabia’s crown-prince embarked on an extra special private island holiday, commandeering three entire island resorts for his entourage.
Whilst no-one can claim that the House of Saud are ones for doing things by halves, the latest tale of decadence to make its way out of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia caught even the otherwise unshockable Private Island News team by surprise.
After completing a whistle-stop diplomatic tour of the Republic of the Maldives, Saudi Arabia’s crown-prince, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, opted to embark on a private island vacation with a difference, commandeering not one, not two, but three entire island resorts for himself and his royal entourage.
It is believed that the 78-year-old heir to the throne was in residence on the resorts for almost a month, splitting his time between three of the South Male Atoll’s most stunning private island hideaways: the Anantara Veli, the Anantara Dighu, and Naladhu Private Island – one of the brightest jewels of the Maldives Republic.
Our insider at local-based blog, Maldives Finest, also suggested that the prince’s stunning 78-metre-long superyacht, Tueq, was present, as well as a high-tech floating medical centre and over a hundred specially-trained personal bodyguards.
Reported to have cost an eye-watering GBP 18 million, it’s fair to say that the owners of these three privileged private island resorts were over-the-moon to receive such a prominent booking – not only because of the royal revenue it brought with it, but because of the potential to raise the resorts’ profile within the lucrative Gulf market.
One individual who certainly didn’t jump for joy when Prince Abdulaziz made his arrival, however, was holidaymaker and TripAdvisor blogger, “Buford33”, who along with scores of other travellers, found that his dream private island holiday had been cancelled in order to make way for the Saudi Prince and his entourage.
‘Back in December we booked the Anantara Veli in an overwater pool villa for a four night stay. Three weeks prior to our departure, we e-mailed the hotel to confirm a few last minute details,” wrote “Buford33” in a scathing TripAdvisor review of the island. “As a result of our e-mail, we finally learned that the hotel has simply cancelled our reservation.’
‘In essence, [the hotel] said they now have a booking for the period including 19th February until March 15th, which after negotiations, developed into a request for the total private island buyout of Anantara Veli, Anantara Dighu and Naladhu,’ he continued. ‘Not “I’m sorry”, not “we should have notified you,” not “how can we make it up to you,” just “this is now the situation.”’
The disgruntled holiday-goer went on to add that whilst he had been offered alternative accommodation, the options available were ‘less desirable,’ forcing him to cancel his dream vacation completely. ‘The message we took away was “to hell with the clients who took the time to book in advance – we can make more money through a single group total island booking.”’
A spokeswoman for Anantara Resorts issued the following statement: “The well-being of our guests is always our primary concern and we consistently seek to address and allay any queries or concerns that are brought to our attention. Whilst we are not at liberty to discuss any individual reservations or visits, we would like to share that on the rare occasion that a change occurs in the status of a booking, we try our utmost to ensure the guest’s satisfaction throughout the process.”
Have your say: Were these three Maldives private island resorts right to cancel their bookings in the light of such a prominent visit? Head over to our Facebook page to get involved in the debate.