Ever thought about living in the Maldives on paradise islands? I lived and worked for 1.5 years in HR in a high-end Maldives resort, a place that many people can only dream about visiting on their (very expensive) honeymoon. Living in tropical paradise has many advantages and also disadvantages and I will share my experience here.
While you really can call your "office" paradise if you decide to work in the Maldives, there are a few things you need to know before you start sending in your applications. There can be a big learning curve to working on this slice of tropical heaven, and while I won't dive into everything you need to know about the Maldives, here's a quick glance at the most important things to keep in mind:
- The most likely way you'll get hired to work in the Maldives as a foreigner is by working in the hospitality industry, or more specifically, one of the major resorts.
- All resorts I know of require staff to work 6 days a week with 1 day off. This is generally compensated by better holidays than many other places but is definitely something to consider.
- Many of the islands, while holiday destinations, are remote and it can require a seaplane, domestic flight or a boat from the international airport of Male (the capital city and it's own island) to reach them.
- The remote location also means it can be tough to go from one island to another on your off day. There should be a staff beach though, so you'll still get to enjoy the incredible tropical beaches on your day off, just maybe not a new one every time.
- Please note that in the Maldives, resort islands are the whole island so everyone living and working there will be employees of the resort.
- As a female employee, it is also important to note that most resorts have a majority of male employees so you should consider if this would suit you or not!
- When living in the Maldives, there's a big difference between life on local islands vs. life on resort islands. These differences are palpable not only for expats but for locals, too.
Job Opportunities in the Maldives
Most resort jobs are, of course, in tourism. Therefore they require staff for many different departments such as:
- Food and Beverage
- Kitchen Staff
- Dive, Recreation and Water Sports
- Human Resources
Getting Hired at One of the Resorts
Since there are so many different job opportunities in the Maldives, there's no one strict set of requirements to met in order to apply. Each industry will have their own requirements. In some cases, you might get hired even with very little experience, but just like in most other jobs, the more qualified you are, the better your chances are of getting a great job.
If you have your eye on working for a particular resort then I recommend going through their specific website in order to apply. Most sites have dedicated pages on their website to job listings you can browse and apply directly to.
Luxury resorts in the Maldives include:
- One and Only Reethi Rah
- Four Seasons
- Dusit Thani
- Cheval Blanc
- St Regis
- Waldorf Astoria
- And even more!
As a perk to the job, your work visa will be taken care of and travel expenses will be covered, usually with a return flight at the end of the contract or each year if it is an permanent contract.
Resort Job Salaries
Salaries can fluctuate a lot as many staff will receive a base salary plus service charge. The service charge can change dramatically depending on the occupancy of the resort so it’s good to be aware of this.
In an interview ask for the average service charge. Peak season is during the festive period (Christmas and New Year) and this is when service charge is at its highest as many resorts are fully booked.
The Perks (and Not So Perks) of Working in the Maldives
Your Group of Co-Workers
Tiny islands can be great for community. Because the islands are all so small (even the bigger ones like Male are still compact) you will quickly make friends and become very close with people as you all live, eat, and work together constantly.
Of course, the downside of this is that you also can’t get away from people.
The friends I made while working in the Maldives were from all over the world. All resorts employ a range foreigners from all different nationalities and it truly is an international experience as well as a Maldivian one.
Many religious holidays are celebrated by the staff and I enjoyed being part of all of these. If you're interested in working with a melting pot of people from all different countries, this will be a great perk for you.
The Type of Accommodation You Can Expect
This probably goes without saying but your staff accommodation will be very different from the guest villas!
As the islands are so small, the vast majority of staff will room share with 2 or more people. Sharing a bedroom with people is definitely something to consider if you are considering a move to the Maldives. It is quite rare to get your own room unless you are at upper management level.
Accommodation can vary a lot between resorts with some horror stories so don’t hesitate to ask for photos before committing to a job. Regardless, I wouldn't expect an apartment or anything with too many amenities. It will most likely be basic but it should be comfortable and clean.
All resorts have a staff canteen where employees are entitled to three meals a day. At most places you will be unable to cook your own food so adapting to what's served at the canteen is essential.
Where I worked, the meals were generally of a high quality, with multiple options every day including vegetarian options. For people with restrictive diets, I would suggest asking in the interview if the canteen will be able to provide you with what you need.
Most resorts will have a small tuck shop for staff where additional snacks can be purchased. Some resorts also provide staff restaurants where food can be purchased or you may be able to visit guest restaurants occasionally for special meals.
While in most resorts staff are able to drink alcohol, you may find restrictions. If you've never been to the Maldives, you might be surprised to know that on the local islands drinking alcohol isn't allowed, but in general, is OK on resort islands.
For example, where I worked we had a limit of how much alcohol we could buy and we could only purchase it on one specific day of the week. We also had restrictions on where we were able to consume these drinks. On the other hand, some resorts will have staff bars.
Enjoy the Local Activities
If you love the ocean and all ocean activities then you will never be bored in the Maldives. I am passionate about scuba diving and snorkeling and enjoyed evening swims on our staff beach every day.
If you aren’t a water person, staff often get involved in sports, dance classes, movie nights, karaoke, and games nights. While I was working here, I started and led Zumba classes for staff.
Some resorts are also willing to let employees join guest activities and we were permitted to join snorkels, dolphin cruises and yoga classes with guests provided there was space. We were able to join fun dives for free and my resort also encouraged all staff to learn to scuba dive for free. Diving in the Maldives is incredible as it has some of the world's best dive sites. They are worth paying for but even better if you get them for free as part of your employment package.
The Clothing You Should Pack
Resort islands are not obliged to follow the same strict Islamic laws as local islands. Just like with drinking alcohol and eating pork, the resorts don't have to abide by the same rules you'll find when visiting a local island.
However, in some cases, staff will still be required to adhere to certain policies. For example tattoos should be covered and women are expected to cover shoulders and knees. This did not apply to our staff beach where we could wear what we liked.
For work, you will be provided with a uniform.
Unlike most other jobs abroad, your loved ones will most likely be unable to visit you on your resort island. Some resorts do offer big discounts for up to 7 nights stay for immediate family which I recommend taking advantage of. My family certainly did!
However friends and partners that you are not married to are unlikely to be able to come and stay with you. This is usually because of the accommodation situation and sharing bedrooms with others.
The Interview Process
Alright, if you're still with me and eager to work in the Maldives, you'll want to be as prepared as possible for the interview.
Be aware that the interview process can be lengthy as resorts often require that you interview with HR, the Department Head, the Resort Manager, and the General Manager (the top boss). I know staff who had anywhere between 2-7 interviews for a role!
That means, you'll want to apply with plenty of time in advance. The biggest hiring period happens before the end of the year rush. Since most tourists visit the Maldives during Christmas and New Years, it's not unlikely for resorts to hire seasonal staff at this time.
Even if you want to stay on for a full year or longer, this time of the year might make getting your foot in the door a little bit easier.
Questions to Ask During the Interviews
I recommend asking questions concerning all the above topics to make sure the resort is the right fit for you. I'd even suggest with asking highly specific questions that will make the gig even more exciting for you. For example, my resort had a marine conservation center and as I am passionate about the environment this was important to me so I could have the chance to be involved in ocean protection.
Other important questions you won't want to overlook are:
- What life/work balance can I expect to have?
- What is the average service charge?
- What activities do staff enjoy outside of work?
- What is the accommodation situation?
- How do you get to the resort from Male?
- What professional development can you offer me?
Time to Apply
Good luck with your job search, the applications, and the interviews. You're welcome to reach out to me if you have any specific questions regarding working in a luxury resort in the Maldives.
Hero Photo by Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels.