November 6, 2016

Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives Part One
Conrad Maldives Part Two
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

The Maldives are kind of a "once in a lifetime" destination.  Without miles and points, we'd probably have gone once and called it a day.  But after an amazing trip last year, we decided to go back.  It's essentially half way around the world from Denver so we also decided to fly around the world both trips which will never get old.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
I've had a couple of months to reflect (sorry for the long delay on getting this portion of the trip report published) on our stay at the Conrad.  Many of you have asked for a comparison of this property vs. the Park Hyatt.

Overall, it was great.  I plan on publishing a more complete comparison of the Park Hyatt vs. The Conrad but the main difference was size and weather.  We had perfect weather last year while we had 2+ days of rain this time around.  The Park Hyatt is much smaller both in terms of rooms, dining options, and overall space on the island.  While there was a ton to do at the Conrad, in some ways, there was too much to do.  There are over a half dozen dining options, multiple bars, beaches, etc...along with almost a dozen room types.  On the plus side, the size really means there is something for everyone and there was more diversity in the nationality and age of the guests at the Conrad vs. the Park Hyatt.

Now on to the review.  I'm going to break this review up into two parts given the amount there is to review.  I'll try to focus chronologically so you'll get dining and activities in both parts.

Our host (Ahmed) showed us to our villa.  We were assigned beach villa 120 on the sunset side of the island.  Let me cover the room first.  These rooms are definitely in need of renovation (which is currently underway).  They are good size but the color scheme, (purple) layout, furniture, and overall design could be a lot better.  Keep in mind these are entry level rooms.  We could have paid cash to upgrade to a "better" beach villa or an overwater villa for $200 - $600 a night.  We chose to save the cash but know that there are lots of options.  The "backyard" that led to the beach was nice but didn't feel nearly as private as the Park Hyatt's backyard.  The outdoor shower was really nice, although I don't totally get the outdoor bath tub/gazebo setup.

As you enter the villa, there is a small foyer with Nespresso, water, and minibar.

Conrad Maldives Foyer
Waters were refilled twice a day and we never ran out or had to call for more.  As you continue towards the bedroom, there was a good sized walk in closet.

Conrad Maldives closet
We were able to stow all of our luggage on the rack.  The hotel provides Helly Hansen rain jackets which came in handy during what were some pretty big downpours.  On the right was the bathroom with dual sinks.

Conrad Maldives bathroom
Conrad Maldives toiletries
Then the outdoor shower and bathing "pavilion" to the right.

Conrad Maldives outdoor shower
 The bedroom was good size with a king size bed, desk, and couch.

Conrad Maldives bedroom
The outdoor patio featured a couple of chaise loungers and a table.

Conrad Maldives outdoor patio
The walk to the beach was about 50 feet and then there were another couple of loungers and an umbrella.  Beach towels were stored in protected cabinets every couple hundred feet or so around the island.

Conrad Maldives - walk to beach
The air conditioning worked well and we had no issues with temperature at the property.

Conrad's provide Aromatherapy Associates toiletries but also offer Tara Smith or Shanghai Tang products upon request.  We asked Ahmed for the Shanghai Tang toiletries and they were placed in our room later that evening.

Overall, I'd say the room was perfectly functional although not luxurious.  The Conrad is definitely more of a family (i.e. kids) destination than the Park Hyatt so perhaps it makes sense that the rooms aren't quite as luxurious as other resorts.  But it also could be the entry level room with so many room types.  The interior courtyard with fountain was super strange.  Sounds like they are removing these as part of the remodel.

What is the point of this fountain?
I should also point out that the hotel is located on three islands.  The main island we'd be staying on (Rangali) as well as another island containing villas, the overwater spa, the adult pool, and Vilu restaurant (among others).  There is a new third island that the hotel built to house staff.  The hotel offers Dhoni service between the two guest islands between the hours of 7AM and midnight.

Conrad Maldives Dhoni "stop"
Conrad Maldives Dhoni service
 You can also walk across the bridge spanning the lagoon between islands.

Conrad Maldives bridge between islands
While we preferred the walk, the Dhoni is fun and a great way to get some perspective (and exercise) on the two islands and the beautiful water between them.

The hotel also provided a bottle of wine, fruits, and chocolates as a welcome amenity.  Ahmed explained our benefits as Hilton HHonors Gold members.  We could have breakfast in the main restaurant or at Vilu on the other island.  We'd also be invited to a daily happy hour at Vinu from 5 - 6PM which provided complimentary drinks and canap├ęs.

Conrad Maldives Vilu daily happy hour
I would highly recommend going to the Conrad with at least Gold status which can easily be attained by picking up the Hilton Reserve card.  Complimentary breakfast saved us around $250 and the happy hour was probably saved another $100 as we would have headed to the bar before dinner anyway.

At this point, we were ready to explore the hotel grounds.  We unpacked, changed, and headed out for a walk.

Conrad Maldives
At this point in the review, I should note the weather.  It wasn't great.  We knew we were going during the rainy season but got a bit unlucky.  We had fairly constant rain/clouds/wind for the first 2+ days we were on the island.  The temperature was generally still very warm but did get chilly a handful of times when it was super windy.

Conrad Maldives when cloudy/rainy/windy
Conrad Maldives storms rolling in
Regardless of the weather, the Maldives are a beautiful destination.  During periods of rain, we had both islands to ourselves as most everyone seems to stay in their rooms.

I'll include a handful of pics during the rain but the sun came out on our last day+ so most of the pictures are from the sunny days.

We made our way to the dive center to pickup complimentary snorkel gear.  The hotel fitted our feet for flippers and provided us with a pretty nice bag to stow all of the gear.  We had planned a Whale Shark snorkel excursion which was a present to Emily for our anniversary.  Due to the weather, the excursion was pushed back a couple of days and then eventually cancelled which was a pretty major bummer.  That said, the house reef at the hotel was pretty awesome (more on this later).  We saw turtles and tons of reef sharks in addition to the beautiful coral and fish and Emily put her GoPro to good use.

We circled Rangali Island before heading over the bridge to Vinu for happy hour.  We grabbed a seat and had a couple of drinks staring out at the crystal clear water.  Not a bad way to start the evening.

Conrad Maldives Vilu
On the first night, we had dinner at the main bar and went to bed early.  We were tired after two consecutive red-eyes.

The next morning we woke up around 6AM and headed to the gym.  Located next to the lobby above the four boutiques, the gym was well appointed and empty each morning.

Conrad Maldives gym
Conrad Maldives gym
Note that there was also a secret stash of bottled water.

Conrad Maldives gym bottled water
Our Whale Shark excursion cancelled, we headed for an early morning snorkel.  The house reef is located on the opposite of the main island.  It took maybe 7 minutes to walk over there each morning.    The house reef has a "channel" built such that you swim in a straight line where the reef has either died or been cut back.

Conrad Maldives turtle
 This takes you to the point where the reef drops off and you can then make a left/right and swim perpendicular to shore.  The snorkeling was fantastic and I'd say as good or better than the Park Hyatt.

Conrad Maldives fish
We headed back to the room to shower and change and then to breakfast at the main restaurant (Atoll market).  We provided our room number and we never saw a bill.  We ordered coffee and juice and then explored the sizable buffet.

Conrad Maldives Atoll Market breakfast
Conrad Maldives Atoll Market breakfast 
Conrad Maldives Atoll Market breakfast
We spent the rest of the day lounging around the beach, our room, and the quiet zone adult pool.  Located on the other island, we had this gorgeous setup all to ourselves each day.

Conrad Maldives quiet zone pool
Conrad Maldives quiet zone beach
I'd say this is one of the highlights of the Conrad.  You can go from lounge chair to pool to ocean in a matter of seconds.

Our second night on the island, we had dinner at Mandhoo (named after a nearby island).  This is the "spa" restaurant located on the main island on a pier close to the house reef.  We found the food to be very good although I'd note that the drink selection was limited to wine, a couple beers, and whiskey.

Conrad Maldives Mandhoo
After dinner, we headed back to the main bar for a couple drinks before bed.  The hotel had a "house band" which was made up of a couple of singers from LA.

Conrad Maldives bar - band setting up
They were actually pretty entertaining although sang pretty much the same songs each night.

And with that, half of our time at the Conrad Maldives was up.  Stay tuned for part two!

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