For my Maldives vacation, I wanted to book a hotel via points so I wouldn’t have to pay outrageous cash rates. Yet, I also want a property that was luxurious and encompasses all that I’ve dreamed of when planning this trip. I’ve saved up a lot of Hilton points, so my first choice was the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.
Booking the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
For my travel dates in January, the cash price for five nights would have been over $13,000 including the 10% mandatory service charge on cash rates.
That’s not in some foreign currency. Those are US dollars!
Compare that to the cost of using Hilton Honors points.
A standard reward is 95,000 per night, so the normal price for five nights is 475,000 points. However, you’ll receive the 5th night free on reward bookings if you have Silver, Gold, or Diamond Hilton Honors status. With the 5th night free discount, the total cost for my reservation was only 380,000 points. Cardholders of the American Express Hilton Honors credit cards receive automatic status. Click here to see the latest credit card offers.
This redemption provides 3.5 cents per Hilton Honors points, which is HUGE! For details on the booking process, please visit a detailed review at The Frugal Guys.
Getting to the Conrad Maldives
After a superb Qatar Airways Qsuites flight followed by a restful stopover at the Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha, I finally reached Male Airport. I’ve been pretty spoiled so far in this vacation, and I couldn’t wait to see what the Conrad Maldives had in store for me.
After waiting in the Conrad lounge for several hours until a seaplane flight was available, we went over to the seaplane port. The hotel books the seaplane for you but it is not on a regular schedule as normal flights are.
Instead, they tailor the schedule each day depending on the guests’ arriving time. Ideally, they want the plane as full as possible. If you’re the first guest arriving at Male airport, your wait for a seaplane will be longer.
Arrival at the Conrad Maldives
When we arrived at the seaplane port at the Conrad Maldives, a buggy was waiting to take us to check in. The buggy couldn’t fit everyone at once, so some of us had to wait in an air-conditioned arrival room.
While waiting, my host introduced herself and explained the resort to me. She went over all of the benefits I’d receive as a Hilton Honors Diamond member. The benefits included a free daily breakfast, complimentary drinks & snacks during happy hour, bonus points, etc.
Once everything was done, a dhoni was called for. A dhoni is a traditional Maldivian boat. It whisked us off to the smaller island. Conrad has 3 islands – a big island, a small island, and a 3rd for the staff.
Conrad Maldives Water Villas
My first two nights at the Conrad Maldives were in a water villa. The water villa and the beach villa are the two options for standard rooms. Normal rates are 95,000 points per night. If you book five nights on Hilton Honors points, the average price per night drops to 76,000 points.
The Conrad Maldives water villas have recently been renovated and you can tell easily when walking in.
Why is the bed facing the wall?
I couldn’t understand why the bed is facing a wall and not the ocean. When you’re in a place like the Maldives, you should be watching the ocean views, not the television.
On the deck, there are a couple of lounge chairs, a dining table, and a mini infinity pool. The overwater villas have steps leading down into the ocean. The base water villas are fairly close together in comparison to other water villa categories.
The decks are great but…
Looking at the deck, you’ll see the wooden barriers to either side of the villa obstructing views to the sides. This offers guests privacy when the standard water villas are so close to one another.
Each water villa has a plunge pool right at the edge. It’s nice to have if you want to just cool down and take in views of the ocean but don’t want to go into the salt water.
Conrad Maldives Superior Water Villa
After 2 nights at the Conrad Maldives, I was upgraded to the Superior Water Villa. Before arrival, email the hotel about upgrade options and they’ll respond with the rates to upgrade for each type of room. The cost is usually the price difference between what room was booked and the room you want to upgrade to.
Cash or points for the upgrade?
In my opinion, it is better to pay for the upgrade with cash instead of points. The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Superior Water Villa is significantly more points than the standard water villa.
If you were to pay for an upgraded room with Hilton Honors points, you would pay an extra 221,000 points per night. For my stay, the cash upgrade fee was only $40 – $65 per night. Well worth it!
Finally, the bed is facing the right direction
You’ll notice here, the bed faces the ocean, as does the couch.
There are also several Bose speakers throughout the villa so you could put on some tunes, turn up the volume, open the deck doors, and just enjoy the ocean and sunset. No better way to mellow out, I almost promise you!
The Conrad Maldives Superior Water Villas are spaced further apart so neighbors won’t hear you. The water is also fairly shallow. There are no reefs below the villas, but some fish do swim by, especially in the morning and evening.
The bathtub faces the ocean as well. It doesn’t provide as good of a view as you’d get from the jacuzzi outside, but you’ll get much cleaner.
A much nicer deck in the Superior Water Villa
The deck here is much nicer. There aren’t long barriers on both sides as was the case with standard water villas. The superior water villas themselves are spaced much further apart so there’s more privacy to be had.
The sunsets were sublime. Each evening I’d be sure to be in my villa just at least 30 minutes before sunset. I would just gaze at the sunset for an hour as the sun went down.
Although I did this every night for the seven nights I was in this villa, it never got boring.
Conrad Maldives Water Villa vs Superior Water Villa
The Conrad Maldives water villas have been renovated, so they look better inside in every way. However, that’s where it ends.
Superior water villas, while older (will be renovated soon) have a much better view, the water is shallow to easily snorkel a bit in, and you’ll see fish nearby regularly.
I recommend booking the Water Villa (if you are coming in the near future) if the upgraded interior is important to you. However, the real reason you travel to the Maldives is for the water and views. Splurge a little and book a Conrad Maldives Superior Water Villa. Do so, and you too may just see this guy:
Panorama views at the Conrad Maldives
A normal camera angle doesn’t do the Conrad Maldives justice. These panorama shots provide a much better picture of how amazing the views are.
Above is a panorama shot of the deck from the standard water villa. I had to step in a bit to minimize the barriers. notice how close the other villas are.
Above is a panorama shot from the bedroom of the superior water villa instead of from the deck itself. The deck is much larger and other villas are spaced apart more
Conrad Maldives property
As great as the rooms are, you won’t stay inside them for your entire vacation.
The resort looks great and very well maintained. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous of course.
Activities at the Conrad Maldives
There is an onsite diver center (as most Maldivian resorts have) to rent scuba gear and take lessons. Motorized water sports and scuba diving is where you have to pay up. The Conrad Maldives also offers a watersport center with complimentary non-motorized activities, such as snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
There’s also a tennis court, ping pong table, beach volleyball, yoga pavilion, and a kid’s club. Kids ages 3 and over are complimentary with their own set of activities.
The two islands are connected by a walkway bridge or you can take a boat between them. You also have the option to use a resort buggy on call.
Scuba Diving at Conrad Maldives
For those who dive, this is a great resort. It is close to Manta Point, where, you guessed it, you’ll see plenty of Manta Rays.
Close encounters with Mantas at 0:45 and 1:30.
Walking around the Conrad Maldives
There are two ways to go from one island to the other. One is a Dhoni while the other is this walkway. During the night, spotlights are turned on and you can see all sorts of fish in the water.
Above is a panorama shot of the dhoni dock at the smaller island. As mentioned above, this is the other way to go from one island to the other.
The watersports center offers complimentary water activities as long as they aren’t motorized. This means wind sailing, snorkeling, etc.
Restaurants at the Conrad Maldives
Conrad has 11 eateries to choose from. Yep, 11! There are so many to choose from, such as:
- The undersea restaurant
- The buffet
- Adults only
- One that specializes in just Wine and Cheese, aptly named the “Cheese & Wine Bar”
- Chinese food
- Above a set of reefs
- Set over the lagoon and doubles as a Spa
Lots and lots of options here.
Breakfast at the Conrad Maldives
There are two restaurants that serve breakfast. One a la carte and the other is a buffet. You can have all kinds of things! From sushi, to noodles, to stir-fried meat/fish to standard breakfast items.
I only went to the buffet once. It is beach weather after all and I wanted to make sure I still fit in my bathing suit.
The second restaurant which was more traditional with a menu offering much better quality food. I always prefer a menu over a buffet. All else being equal, the view is much nicer at the menu restaurant!
Of course, if you’re a Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond member (who here isn’t? I mean, really?), then your breakfast is complimentary each day. If you’re on any sort of paid stay, breakfast is complimentary as well.
Dinner at the Conrad Maldives
My favorite restaurant was Ufaa. It’s a Chinese / Asian restaurant with not only decent prices (as far as the Maldives goes) but also great food and good portions. An entree on average here ranged from $20 to $40 while at most of the other restaurants, they were $60+.
Food quality was pretty good at all restaurants, but trust me on this: don’t fall for the special beach dinner buffets. The price is exorbitant and the quality not as good as the restaurants. For example, a lobster and seafood dinner at the beach dinner buffet was $290+ taxes not including alcoholic drinks. PER PERSON!
The service at Conrad Maldives
While service was great, I’d say it’s behind their main competitor for points, the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. Restaurant service was great for the most part. Although, once they forgot that I was waiting for an order and another time I had to ask for a smoothie three times.
My “host” never reached out to me. I had ask them to do things which I realized later I can do myself. Not a single buggy driver asked me if they can offer me a ride. And, when calling a buggy, it can take a good 15 minutes for one to arrive.
Why is it so hard to get get a buggy ride?
When coming back from snorkeling one day, I wanted to return the equipment. I asked the watersport staff if they can call a buggy and her answer was, “no, the reception can”. The reception was next door, so I didn’t make a big deal out of it. However, five-star service would have been if she handled the request, even if it wasn’t her job.
Anyway, I went to reception and approached a concierge staff to ask for a buggy ride. His response was that “oh the boat is coming, you can get on that”. Well, no, if I wanted a boat ride, I wouldn’t have asked for a buggy ride. Then, I talked to the front desk who finally called a buggy which came about 15 minutes later. Why is it so hard to get get a buggy ride?
The checkout experience
Lastly, while and after checking out and settling bill, not one person asked me how my stay was. It is a small thing, but those small things matter when this hotel stay had a cash value of over $13,000 if I were paying cash.
They did let me check out at 1 pm instead of noon, so I guess that’s something. Although Hilton Honors Diamond status is supposed to receive late checkout upon request.
Is the Conrad Maldives good for families?
Although I was traveling by myself on this vacation, I have a family back home. As a Dad, I’m always on the lookout to see how a hotel treats family travelers.
Another item to add is that this is a great property for families. The Park Hyatt Maldives is targeted towards couples with their intimate setting, service and more privacy. Whereas, the Conrad Maldives offers great service (for the most part) and has many more activities that families can enjoy. Plus, the Conrad offers a Kids Club so the parents can enjoy adult activities while the children can play in a safe environment under supervision.
My advice is to book the Conrad Maldives if you are with your family and the Park Hyatt Maldives if you want to create a family.
The Bald Thoughts
While this was a great stay, there were some minor service issues. The hotel setting is so beautiful that I didn’t let those small issues ruin an otherwise great trip. The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Superior Water Villas are scheduled to be renovated throughout 2019. I’m planning to return in about 9 months, and I look forward to that experience.
Yes, I’m going back to the Maldives less than a year after this stay. I don’t usually go back to the same destination so quickly, but I enjoyed myself so much that I can’t wait to return.