Elsewhere in the world, you are what you wear. But in the Maldives, where clothing is often kept to a minimum, a better adage would be: you are where you stay.
All the Maldives resorts are self-contained. Everything needed is brought in from the outside world, and in the vast majority of cases there is nothing on the island apart from the resort.
As a result, rates will most often include all meals, or at least half board. Prices can vary wildly, depending on the type and design of facilities. Obviously top properties like Four Seasons and One & Only are going to command a greater financial outlay, one that most guests would agree is more than worth it. But note that at more economically priced properties, the sun, sand and sea are pretty much the same as at the high-end ones.
One major factor in choosing a resort is its distance from the airport, and from local attractions. Until Gan International Airport lives up to its name, visitors from abroad will continue to have to use Malé as their entry and exit point.
Dedicated divers who will want to cruise around the top sites are advised to pick a resort within striking distance. The same goes for surfers.
The hotels in Malé are in no way a match for the resorts on the outlying islands, and there are very few reasons to stay overnight in the capital.