Trip Report – Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

This is part two of a trip report from the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and includes a full review of the resort, our upgrade, amenities, activities, costs, and more. This is also part nine of a fifteen part trip report from my travels to the Maldives and Dubai. If you haven’t yet, check out – Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort Part 1 – Airport Experience, Lounge, and Seaplane Transfer for award booking details, Conrad airport lounge and transfer, and seaplane details.

As noted in the first post, I reserved a standard twin beach villa for 37,500 points per night and that was the room that was shown on the registration forms in the airport lounge. However, I logged into Hilton from the lounge and was extremely excited to see that I was upgraded to a King Water Villa!

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I was quite surprised as I had received this email just a few weeks earlier:

Due to the very special nature of the accommodations at Conrad Maldives, we are unable to offer complimentary upgraded accommodations. However, as you are a valued Diamond member, we are delighted to offer you the following benefits during your stay. Please ensure that your Diamond status is active upon arrival in order to enjoy full Diamond member benefits. Kindly note that Diamond benefits are only applicable for cardholder and one guest. In the event that cardholder is not travelling, guests who are staying with us will not be able to enjoy the benefits below.

  • Complimentary breakfast for cardholder and one guest per day. Additional guests will be charged at $35 + taxes per adult per day. Children below 12 years old get 50% discount.
  • One bottle of wine upon arrival
  • Chocolate & Fruit amenities upon arrival
  • Daily Happy Hour at Vilu restaurant for you and sharing guest in same villa from 17.00 – 18.00 hours

ROOM UPGRADE

If you wish to upgrade your villa for your upcoming stay, either for the entire stay or partial stay, I am pleased to offer 30% discount on upgrade charges. The discounted upgrade rates from Beach Villa to the below mentioned villa categories as follows.

Beach Villa to Water Villa                              – USD 350.00 + taxes per night
Beach Villa to Deluxe Beach Villa               – USD 350.00 + taxes per night
Beach Villa to Superior Water Villa            – USD 525.00 + taxes per night
Beach Villa to Retreat Water Villa              – USD 665.00 + taxes per night
Beach Villa to Deluxe Water Villa               – USD 840.00 + taxes per night
Beach Villa to Premier Water Villa             – USD 1,645.00 + taxes per night
Beach Villa to Junior Beach Suite               – USD 1,645.00 + taxes per night

I posted about the upgrade that day and received a few reader comments / suspicions that it was not my HHonors Diamond status but my blog that was responsible for the upgrade. However, I at no time contacted the hotel prior to my arrival and did not post my confirmation number or any other personal information. Here is how the hotel responded to those comments:

No, we did not read BoardingArea, but we saw twitter this morning when you tweeted that you’d been upgraded and that led us here to your blog. Your upgrade really was due to your HHonors diamond status. It’s not correct that upgrades aren’t offered at Conrad Maldives. We do upgrade diamond members, but we can’t guarantee the upgrade because of the large number of HHonors guests we get and the small size of the resort (we can easily have 35 diamond members at any one time and we’ve only got 150 villas). To avoid disappointment we advise everyone that the upgrade isn’t possible and then try to upgrade if we can.

Picking up from part 1, our host walked us from the seaplane dock across the bridge to the main reception area on the main island.

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Welcome coconut drinks. There’s a check-in desk but all guests are leisurely seated while the host brings over any paperwork and information pamphlets. We were told our room wouldn’t be ready for another 30-45 minutes, but in the meantime we were offered a drink menu. No worries, chilling on the beach with two drinks was fine with us.

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Our water villa upgrade was confirmed and was located on the other smaller and quieter island. There’s the bridge as well as constant boat service to the private island. We went with the boat…

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Walkway to our room:

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Our water villa: for me the highlights were the extremely comfortable bed, awesome shower, and the water views from the floor.

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However, the best part of the villa by far was the outdoor area. Two chaise lounges, a table and chairs, private jacuzzi, and direct stair access out to the sea. The sea behind our villa was great for snorkeling (and we saw some great reef fish) but it paled in comparison to the sea life and coral that the beach reef offered on the other side of the island – make sure you snorkel there during your stay…the drop off is especially incredible. Also, note that it’s extremely shallow behind the water villas, I found it easier to just start snorkeling from the final step…oh and watch out for the crabs on the stairs. In any case, being able to walk out into your private ocean was incredible. We barely ever saw or heard from anyone else and found ourselves in the water every 30 minutes or so. You have complete privacy with walls blocking adjacent villas, though anyone in the water can look up onto the decks (though some rooms offer more privacy than others). Our neighbors didn’t seem to mind going topless…

We spent most of our days just lying out there. Most guests seem to do the same regardless of their room type as we really saw no one anywhere except at breakfast, dinner, and happy hour! The resort was 80% full and we literally went for extended periods without seeing anyone anywhere on the public property. Even at the amazing beach reef, we were by ourselves or had one or two other guests around, same went for the pool on the smaller island. The main pool had people but it wasn’t crowded by any stretch of the imagination.

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Let’s take a break and talk some pricing for food and activities. Everything is pretty expensive! I guess for some honeymoon couples this might be a splurge event, but we were not honeymooning! Dinners priced between $115 – $350 per person , drinks at $7 – $18, and activities generally starting at $110 per person.

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Our take – we heard from several guests who had done the snorkel safari and snorkel hopping that the on property snorkeling at the beach reef was actually where the boats were stopping in addition to one other stop. Granted, they got further out but almost everyone unanimously agreed that the coral and sea life was better by the hotel! While it might have been a bit washed out behind our water villa, it was fantastic at the beach reef. As such, we skipped the snorkel activities.

In terms of food, we skipped a formal lunch and had breakfast between 10 – 11am each day. The breakfast choices on both the smaller island and the main island were extensive with multiple options that included typical breakfast, dinner, and dessert items. We “took some snacks” every day to enjoy on our villa.

Breakfast on the smaller island (you can eat on either side, taking the boat or walking across the bridge). Inside and outside seating available with amazing views. Besides the buffet, there’s a full menu and you can order anything (and as much as) you want.

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Later that day on our deck … some tuna salad, fruit, and hard boiled eggs (refrigerators in the room).

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Breakfast on the main island included an omelet station, sushi station, juice bar, and more.  – This breakfast was much larger with many “lunch” options including chicken and beef stir fry and reef fish.

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Back at our villa again 😉  Maldivian tuna salad anyone?

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Granted, if you are on a honeymoon or just a relaxing vacation this might become annoying and stressful as you probably aren’t supposed to be taking food “to-go”… For us, we didn’t mind and it was actually nice not having to waste an hour or more at a formal sit down lunch in the middle of a beautiful day!

Everyone comes out of hiding for free alcohol and some socialization after spending the days alone. A free happy hour occurs every night at 5pm and many guests are there for the free drinks, getting in as many as possible before 6pm rolls around. We made many good friends at happy hour (what up Boston? and BoardingArea readers) and the majority of people we met seemed to be doing the same as us for lunch (many on their honeymoons). You’ll also receive a small snack each night at happy hour.

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Most nights after happy hour we weren’t all that hungry, especially for a buffet or $300+ dinner. The nights when we were hungry we opted for one of the bars where you can order awesome fresh fish for $28-$32 with a side salad and fries. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Trip Report099Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Trip Report098

For those of you interested in spending too much on the buffet, here are some pics of what’s offered:

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There was one formal dinner we had and that was our “honeymoon” dinner. All honeymoon couples are given one complimentary dinner and 50% off one activity…no marriage certificate required. The staff seemed to assume we were on a honeymoon as well…

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There are evening entertainment activities but they were quiet empty, though we had a good time at the DJ & cocktail event, though it was mostly our happy hour friends and hotel staff.

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A few more beautiful property pictures –

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Entrance to our water villa..

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Pool on the main island…

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Quieter and more secluded pool on the smaller island…

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Final night – your bed is decorated regardless of whether you are on a honeymoon or not…

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If you don’t happen to get upgraded, the standard beach villa is pretty incredible too and is actually larger with a private outdoor shower…we actually really liked the room that we walked passed (and housekeeping allowed us tour) on to the way to the beach reef. It’s a completely different vibe, with a jungle / beach feel.

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On our last night there we decided we wanted one more night in paradise…unfortunately awards were pricing at over 350,000 points for one night and this was the special rate quoted to me by the hotel to move to a beach villa that would be upgraded to a deluxe beach villa…

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Instead I booked an extremely late flight back to Dubai and asked for late check out. We received a 4pm check-out that was later moved to 5pm, and then again to 6pm! Pretty awesome. Upon departure we were presented with a Conrad Maldives baggage tag and of course sent off with a full goodbye from the staff at the seaplane dock.

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Let me mention here that we found the staff to be amazing. Everyone greeted us and was always smiling. Our housekeeper was the best and genuinely checked to ensure we were enjoying ourselves each day and that everything in our room was perfect. Our host was the same, never pushing any activities or reservations even though they work on commission and calling just to check that we were relaxing and in island mode. In fact, everyone from the servers to the pool attendants treated us so well. Nothing but great things to say about the staff.

Overall, we fully enjoyed our stay at the Conrad. The grounds were beautiful, our unexpected water villa was everything we pictured a Maldives hotel room to be, we loved walking out into the sea from our room, we made good friends, the staff was great, the weather was fantastic, and it was amazing to have the beach reef snorkel experience right there on property.

Phew…longest trip report ever!

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  1. We stayed there a few years back on pre devaluation points. You pictures bring back memories. It was a stunning property. We enjoyed the snorkeling safari and thought the hotel had one of the best spas ever. We found food to not be so good, however, except for the spa restaurant which we discovered the last night. Our island host vanished after a few days.
    We did not get an upgrade to over water as diamond even thought the resort was empty, but we really enjoyed the beach villa due to the large size and outdoor garden with spa and shower. The hotel is great and hope you really enjoyed.

  2. I’m really glad to hear that the snorkeling on the house reef was better than the snorkeling excursions. We went on the whale shark excursion on the second to last day of our trip (no whale sharks to be found, though) and decided that we should have booked more snorkeling excursions. We did a ton of snorkeling on the house reef and it was really incredible.

  3. Looks like an amazing stay. But lets get down to the real brass tacks and nails here….. Where is the Conrad Rubber Ducky that is supposed to be in the bathtub? Did you swipe it before the photo was taken? Or did they not have any in your room?

  4. really good trip report. 1st i’ve read that shows the option of eating at one of the bars as a break from the high prices in the restaurants. it’s probably kinda funny with a lot of people making sure to bring a bag and hats to breakfast to shuttle the food back to the room! i hope a lot of people are doing the same when we go- less shame in numbers!

    you didn’t mention anything about scuba- i assume you were not certified. it also wasn’t on your price lists. so i assume the group that handles scuba is separate from the snorkeling/fishing/boating excursions…

  5. Have been waiting for this – thank you!!

    We just returned from Park Hyatt Maldives (4 night stay on points – w/ late checkout last day like you).

    I’ve been curious about the Conrad Maldives and am definitely going to try that next – got a free HIlton night burning a hole in my pocket!

    Maybe I missed this but how many nights did you do and what would you do differently next time?

    Can’t wait to go back…I can’t stop thinking about that place!

  6. Great report and very informative. We are going in November and this will help a lot. Just had one question. Haven’t really seen anything on tipping? Staff, etc. Thanks again and can’t wait to see everything for myself!

  7. Generally speaking, beach villas are a much better bet. They’re normally cheaper, as water villas are seen to be premium. I enjoyed the beach villas much more – it is nice to be on the beach, and generally much cooler too. Trees are important, unless you like cooking from 10 to 4pm….

    Tipping – you’re paying 10% service charge, so generally best not to get sucked into expectations for more tip….

    • I agree completely. My wife was slightly underwhelmed at the overwater bungalow, mostly due to knowing the market price per night as well as the upcharge we spent to stay in one for a single night. When we moved to the beach villa she was much more impressed, and we loved being so close to the house reef for snorkeling.

      Tipping beyond the built in 10% is a slippery slope, and can really add to your bottom line. I may be slightly jaded, though, as I’m now based in a country where tipping 10% at meals is considered extremely generous.

  8. Yep, everything exactly as you’ve described – stunningy beautiful and memorable – we just honeymooned there in November on HH pre-devaluation points. We are both Golds and didn’t get upgraded, so we stayed at a basic beach villa for 3 nights and paid about $680 per night to enjoy a Retreat Water villa upgrade for the remaining 2 nights.
    One word of note – I can tell you that the beach villa that you toured is NOT a basic beach villa that one gets on HH points. A basic beach villa has a very small patio that is shared with other adjacent villas (basically rooms) via partitions (you still get a private walkway to the beach though). What you are showing in pictures are either Deluxe Beach villa or Superior Beach villa. Those are bigger and have a much larger private outdoor patio space. Still, I agree that beach villas have a different vibe from Water Villas. Prior to arriving, we read recommendations from other reviews to try both and I am glad we did. We did enjoyed both.
    I also highly recommend staying on a main island – the house reef is within an easy reach, tennis courts and a gym (god forbid you decide to peel yourself away from the ocean or Jacuzzi) are available and a buffet breakfast is simply incomparable. Plus don’t forget a 4pm free cookies and tea available to everybody at Vilu restaurant. Given the cost of food & drinks. we’ve seen a lot of people migrating daily from 4 pm complimentary cookies and tea to 5pm drinks to 6p DJ hour. 🙂

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