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After traveling for nearly two days, I was really looking forward to getting to the Conrad Maldives Hotel on Rangali Island, which I had been able to book on pre-devaluation Hilton points and also one of my free weekend nights from the sign-up bonus on the Citi Hilton Reserve card. At the time I booked my reservation, I was able to reserve it for 50,000 Hilton points a night, which is incredible considering the base rooms go for over $1,000 a night.
For the first night, I paid to upgrade to a Deluxe Beach Villa, but in all honestly I do not think the upgrade is worth $400+ a night to simply have a larger room with a pool. All units are beachfront, so if you’re going to stay on the island, I’d just stick with a normal guest room. I do believe the Overwater Villas are amazing, but not worth it if the weather isn’t nice- and I had 3 days of constant rain, but more on that later.
The King Deluxe Beach Villa is a 30o square-meter/3,229-square-foot beachfront villa, with a garden, “bathing pavilion” and its own pool. There are 42 of them on the resort and they all have floor-to-ceiling windows on all four sides so that the ocean breezes flow in, as do the scents of the tropical flowers from the gardens. The King Deluxe Beach Villas are a step up from a base room, but even the most basic rooms here looked gorgeous. The resort is on two different islands, the other side was more secluded with an exclusive adults-only area and some nice restaurants, but pretty much anywhere you go is incredible.
My villa had fresh white-washed walls, was surrounded by a garden exotic plants I’ve never seen before, even had its own sunken plunge pool and it was just a few steps through lush vegetation to the white sandy beach. It was decorated in blues and turquoises that kept with the water theme and added to the tranquility.
The standard amenities in the rooms include air conditioning, a flatscreen TV with all the cable networks and movie channels, complimentary WiFi (slow), coffee maker, DVD/CD player and MP3 connector, a choice of pillows, and a work desk with lamp. Because I got the King Deluxe Beach Villa, there was a separate seating area with a sofa bed. In the enormous bathroom, there was a separate outdoor whirlpool bath and shower, plus bathrobe and slippers. Described as a “bathing pavilion,” you can even order candles, petals and scented oils from the in-villa bath menu to add to your bubbles.
The only negative was that the only shower was outdoors, and it it did rain some of the time we were staying here, which made bathing awkward. Also, there were moments when some of the rain actually leaked through into the room a little bit, but that didn’t deter me from enjoying the room, and when the weather was nice, things were perfect.
Speaking of bubbles, I was pleased by the warm welcome that I got – as a Hilton Diamond member, they sent me a gift package with a bottle of Prosecco, and you get a free breakfast and happy hour from 5-6 pm every day. Cheers!
Needless to say, I was excited to explore the rest of the island, and there was certainly plenty to see and do. Along with the expected fitness center, pools, jacuzzis and tennis courts, there are a whole lot of activities for the those who don’t want to just kick back on the beach. One of my main aims for the trip was to scuba dive after recently getting PADI certified. I will write an upcoming post on that unforgettable experience, but for people who prefer their workouts above the ocean’s surface, there is yoga, beach volleyball, table tennis, and a whole host of watersports including catamaran sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, wakeboarding and kayaking.
Of course, I always love to try as much of the local cuisine as possible when I am in a new country, and although it is not easy to venture out of the Conrad resort to different restaurants or islands, there are plenty of options onsite, with seven eateries on the grounds along with room service and poolside dining. By far the most memorable was the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant, 16 feet below the surface. With the tropical fish literally swimming above your head, I almost felt guilty ordering seafood for a second, then quickly got over it! It has a six-course set dinner that starts with caviar and includes such delicacies as Maldivian Lobster Carpaccio, Black Angus Beef Tenderloin, or Yellow Tail King Fish (see my upcoming restaurant review for more delicious details).
If you would rather drink and dine on dry land, you can choose between the Atoll Kitchen – which has a buffet with eight show kitchens – the Mandhoo, the Vilu, the Sunset Bar & Grill, the Rangali Bar, the Koko Grill, the Wince Cellar, the Cheese and Wine Bar or the Quiet Zone, which is an open-air tented lounge.
It took forever to get to the Maldives but it was worth it. It is not cheap – the seaplane from Male was $500, but when you get your flights with miles then you are saving along the way. I used 60,000 miles with Chase points with United for my EVA flight to Taipei, then Taipei to Singapore on EVA Business Class, and then Singapore to Male – all for 60,000 miles one-way and $24. Not bad for a little slice of paradise!