Michael’s amazing review of the Conrad Maldives – the best Hilton redemption there is!

This is a review of the luxurious Conrad Rangali resort in The Maldives.

Back in May I wrote an article about Hilton HHonors in which I mentioned that the Conrad Rangali resort in The Maldives is probably the best value redemption you can get.  (It was even better before the 2013 Hilton devaluation when it was only 50,000 points per night, of course!)

Reader Michael was at the resort recently and offered to write a full review for me.  As this is such a beautiful location, and because it is such a great redemption, I was happy to accept.

There is a slightly longer version of this review – and with substantially more pictures – at Michael’s blog here.  The hotel’s own home page is here.

Over to Michael ….

Getting There

We flew outbound to the Maldives from London Gatwick in Economy with BA (on a 2-4-1 with Avios). Our journey started from a regional airport to London Heathrow the day before.  Connecting flights were included in the Avios redemption with British Airways.

It has been a while since we sat in Economy, but the 10 hour direct BA flight was very good.  It leaves the UK at 6:30pm and gets into Male 9:40am local time the next day.

Arrival at Male

You are greeted by a Conrad rep and your baggage is weighed – there’s a strict weight limit of 25kg so plan ahead.  You board a small shuttle bus for the 15 minute journey to seaplane airport. On arrival you are escorted to the cooled Conrad Lounge for a seat, offered light refreshments and a complimentary neck/shoulder massage.

Then onto the seaplane…

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

The transfer takes approx 30 minutes.  It is hot in the small plane so have bottled water with you.  It is a spectacular flight with awesome views of the Atolls and Islands. Transfers are US$560 return each, added to your Conrad bill to be paid when you leave the resort.

This is a far view of the Conrad Rangali resort – notice the reef on the right beach. The island at the bottom right is for staff only.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

The landing pontoon is in the middle of the bridge between the resort islands.  Vilu restaurant is on the island on the left whilst Atoll Restaurant is on the main island on the right.  We also stayed on this island in a Beach Villa and an over-water Retreat Water Villa.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

We were met off the seaplane by many Conrad staff on the pontoon:

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

Karin (then Director of Rooms, now Director of Operations @ Frankfurt Hilton) came and personally welcomed me and my wife which was a nice gesture.  We chatted about our flight over and our previous stay at another island (Vilamendhoo) on the South Ari Atoll that we’d visited in 2012 – it is also owned by the Crown group that owns Rangali.

Karin introduced us to our staff rep for our stay.  He was useful for booking restaurants and dealing with any queries. We were informed that my request for a reef side beach villa had been successful, this was especially good news for us as keen snorkelers.

The Accommodation

Whilst we stayed in two separate accommodation types at the resort.  As most readers will be redeeming HHonors points I will primarily focus my review on the Beach Villa.

The Beach Villa is the most “basic” accommodation available on the island, but it is anything but basic, it was fantastic!

We booked via redeeming HHonors points at a staggering 95,000 HHonors points per night.  However, using the 5 nights for price of 4 offer it worked out at a more palatable 760,000 for 10 nights.

Rooms are serviced daily including evening turn down service. It has a safe and good wardrobe area and a well stocked fridge and Nespresso coffee machine. We got good delivery of new coffees and water daily. We also received fruit, chocolates and sparkling wine on our day of arrival.

The WiFi (free for all guests) worked well and had good availability – it was suitable for reading sites and uploading photos. The WiFi was also useful for viewing the constructive discussion of this resort on Flyertalk, with many other helpful tips including my snorkelling map. I found the forum was a great way of meeting up with like-minded travellers, particularly at the happy hours.

Here’s an excellent Plan view of the Beach Villa layout (click for larger view):

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

As you can see the villa has outdoor showers & bath in the rear garden leading to an open area with his and her sinks.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

There is air con throughout the interior, a spacious living area and bedroom (click to enlarge):


The patio doors on the right of the above photo gives access onto the beach via your own private garden.  Note the large pot of water and ladle for washing sand off your feet. On an evening this sandy area was a favourite home for cute hermit crabs.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

This is the view looking outwards to the beach from the private garden entrance (click to enlarge):

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

Rangali has its own resort time zone.  Male is GMT + 5hrs, but Rangali (30min seaplane flight west) is GMT + 6hrs. This may sound strange initially, but once you’re there it actually this makes sense – it means sunrise is approx 7am and sunset approx 7:30pm.


We dined out a few places on an evening but not every night. I can also recommend the late Afternoon Tea (4-5pm) at Mandhoo Restaurant if you want something to tie you over but don’t need a full evening meal. This is complimentary for returning guests. In addition to flavoured teas, it serves sandwiches and cakes and biscuits.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

This was my evening birthday meal at Sunset Grill:

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

We shared various seafood delights with wine.  As it was a treat I felt it was worth the price (approx. US$200 + tax)

The Ithaa Underwater Restaurant seemed very popular (at a price).   Personally, given we were viewing sea life for almost 3 hours a day, we decided to enjoy perfect Maldivian sunset views instead  ….

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

Breakfast at Atoll

The buffet Breakfast at the Atoll with sand under your feet is superb.  There is the choice of Japanese sushi and sashimi, Maldivian fish curry, fried noodles, cereals, cold meats, cheeses, freshly made to order fruit & veg juice/smoothie bar, traditional cooked breakfast, omelette, etc.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

Breakfast at Vilu

Across the water, breakfast at Vilu is semi buffet and semi a la carte.  It is definitely recommended, extremely quiet and peaceful.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

Breakfast at the Atoll and Vilu restaurants is entirely free for Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members. Our morning routine was: wake around 7:30am, coffees, 1+ hour snorkel and then onto breakfast/brunch at 10:30am. (Breakfast stops at 11am)

If you’re up for it, and maybe having a late breakfast, there’s also champagne – useful to combine with the fabulous views from Vilu, especially great if it’s a special occasion.


The Happy Hour from 5-6pm at Vilu on Rangali Island is generous and in a spectacular outdoor setting looking back at the main island.  You can walk or get a free golf buggy taxi across on the bridge. You can even book via reception!

Alternatively chill out and take the Dhoni boat ferry across…

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

The staff at the Vilu Bar were very friendly and helpful.  It is worth noting that cocktails still occur on a Tuesday before the Manager’s Reception @ The Quiet Zone @ 18:45

The happy hour alcoholic drinks are free between 5-6pm for Gold and Diamonds (and all WaterVilla guests staying on the same island), so it’s a good idea to drink still water so you pace yourself in the heat and also to be respectful of the local culture.

Just pull up a chair, relax and enjoy the fabulous view… Afterwards you can always walk along the beach onto 1/2 price happy hour (6-7pm) at the Quiet Zone or back across the bridge to Rangali bar.


For me, the quality of the house reef was one of my main reasons for selecting the Conrad Rangali. The snorkelling was so good that even though I’m a keen Scuba diver I didn’t dive at all. If I hadn’t dived the Maldives before (I have done approx. 40 dives in my previous 3 visits) or there had been 80%+ chance of seeing Mantas, I might have done a dive.

Snorkelling is also much more relaxing fitting it in with your own ad hoc timetable and its nice to spot fishes together and discuss and google them later. The staff at the Dive Centre were excellent and more than happy to help identify fish, give advice on snorkel spots and had a good range of dives and snorkelling trips available including whalesharks.

Conrad Rangali Maldives review

Upgrading Accommodation

I’ve consciously left this part to last because quite frankly I feel the above makes for a spectacular holiday on its own right, one I’d be happy to do again and again.  However, as it was my first time to Conrad Rangali, I really wanted to sample the overwater villas.

I managed to negotiate an upgrade to a Retreat Water Villa for the last 4 nights to end our 10 night stay.  It was definitely worth it. In addition to the luxurious accommodation, being able to snorkel from the steps of the Water Villa and drift down the beach was fabulous.

Conrad Maldives Retreat Water Villa

If you are interested in any type of upgrade then you should contact the hotel in advance to enquire.  Any special deals you are offered really depends on many factors, such as season, accommodation capacity, etc.

Time to leave

We were getting a 9am flight out of Male to Doha so left at sunrise which we watched together with the hotel staff and flight crew.

Sea Plane

I’d like to thank all the Conrad staff, with particular mention to Bobby and Karin. I intend to return as soon as possible – I am just hoping that I can find availability!

You can find out more about the hotel, and book, on this page of the Conrad website.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see  our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Nice trip report. But hard to cope that you did not dine at the underwater restaurant!

  2. Thanks Mike, an informative read and great that you enjoyed it so much. I have always been tempted but somewhat apprehensive that I might get restless after 3 or 4 days so probably would work best for us if we combined a 5 night stay with a trip to Sri Lanka or India. What are the typical nightly rates in the villa you described and what in your experience would be a suitable daily budget for food and beverages, excluding breakfast and happy hour as I’m diamond?

    • If my memory serves me correctly the cheapest daily cash rates I seen in a sale for the Beach villa is $450 ish.

      The rack rate for the Retreat Water Villa is a cool $2k!

      Every couple we met that stated for 5 nights wished they’d stayed longer, even in the Maldives it takes me a couple of days to unwind from work/travel , etc…

      With late breakfast/brunch and the heat, we had little appetite in the evenings, afternoon tea @ Mandhoo also helps line the stomach for the various happy hours…

      Rangali bar does pizza/burgers etc if you fancy something simple, I’d definitely recommend the Sunset Grill when you’re in the mood for a proper meal, we also dined at Mandhoo one eve with a nice German couple, great food there too.

      In terms of budget I’d recommend visiting the Conrad website and having a look at the menus + review comments on Flyertalk.

      • Thanks Mike, I note your point about taking time to unwind first before enjoying properly. Sale rates you mention are actually great value for what you are getting IMO, for comparison I recall paying $379 plus tax for a mediocre marriott in Austin over a decade ago! However, at these cash rates I have to disagree with Robs assertion it is the best value HH redemption around; the conrad residence Samui are typically over three times that so much greater value per point. At thevprices you quote I think I would rather just pay cash and bank the points unless I was awash with hhonors points. All in al it seems much more affordable than I thought so will give it more serious consideration. Anybody got any info on how nearby IHG properties compare?

        • Just had a look at the prices for 2016, looks like the lowest rate is $600/night, so me remembering the 450 rate maybe have actually been £££450?

          • And for March its near to $1000

            • MaldivesFreak says:

              For a standard room (BV) per night;

              BAR in low season (only 2 1/2 months from 12 May through 31 July!) is $750 and, at 30% off BAR it’s $525, making for $646.80/night when you include the 23.2% taxes (10% service charge & then a 12% Tourism Tax on top of the total).

              BAR in high season (9 Jan through 11 May & 1 Oct through 25 Dec) is $1350 and, at 30% off BAR it’s $945, making for $1164.24/night when you include the 23.2% taxes.

              Then there’s a Green Tax of $6/pp to add onto the above totals.

  3. Very good, so how much did you pay for the upgrade? 😉

  4. Nice report. We’re your upgrades based on hold or diamond status?

  5. Hi,

    Michael here, will try and periodically answer queries as they come in …

    Might do cocktails at the UW restaurant next time, despite the destination I’m very keen on value for money, a meal there would pay for a wknd away diving somewhere else!

    I would imagine that if you didn’t snorkel/dive it could feel limited, but there are other activities, some less active, eg photographers would love it.

    Tight lipped on the upgrade I’m afraid, I’m only HH Gold, but was offered a rate I couldn’t refuse. I also believe it helped that I’d paid for a cash stay at a sister resort at Vilamendhoo in 2012, in a Water Villa for the whole 10 nights. (Also v nice island and snorkeling)

    • Just to add I intend going back in 2017 or 2018 for another 10 nights, never got bored.

    • Thanks Mike. Interested to know the Diamond experience if anyone has any insight!

      • I heard a rumour of a evening sunset Boat Cruise for Diamonds????

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          I was invited to this when there as a Diamond in Nov 2014. There were about a dozen guests on the yacht but I didn’t enquire how they came to be there should they have been paying for the privilege.

  6. Afternoon tea and happy hour have apparently been merged.
    We are going early April for 12 nights courtesy of Qatar’s recent business class sale from Oslo. £740 each, which I still can’t get over how good the price was :) 11 nights are booked just waiting to apply for Hilton cc, to get the voucher for a weekend night, and only cancelled IHG premium card on Saturday.
    Upgrades have to be paid for as no complimentary ones are given.

    • Hi Jason,

      What’s your source on the afternoon tea and happy hour being merged? They were on opposite ends of the resort where I visited in March…

      Great result on the QR flights!

      M :)

      • It’s on the FT Conrad Rangali thread- only happens in last week or so.
        The cheapest rate I’ve seen cash wise on the Hilton website, for our dates in the sale, is $937 plus tax although 20% cheaper doing a 5 for 4 offer if your silver or above.

    • They do upgrade Diamond members but it’s dependent on availability upon arrival

  7. Hey Michael, nice underwater photos on the blog. I’m a PADI Divemaster (Australia) and I remember a couple of exciting run-ins with triggerfish, far more scary than sharks when they attack you :) – they’ve got some fearsome ‘teeth’.

    Good review, thanks

    • Hey Harry,

      I’m BSAC Instructor and Dive Leader, the Titan Triggerfish were always entertaining, the Yellow Margin Triggerfish was my fav…

      Photo of it and loads more UW life on my blog referenced by Raffles and by clicking on my Anon name…

    • Pat Butcher says:

      Have you been attacked by a shark for comparison?

      • Funny I thought that when I read Harry’s comment! I’ve been buzzed by Oceanic White Tip sharks in the Red Sea whilst doing deco stops, pretty scary., gets the adrenaline going!

  8. What time of year did you go? Beautiful report!

  9. My concern with these redemptions at high price resorts is that you end up paying a significant additional cost which all adds up.

    Is it right that the sea plane transfers cost $560 each? That’s almost as much as your flight there?

    • Depends where your flying from, Middle East maybe so…..

      But yes $560 each, Seaplanes are never cheap. I believe there’s a 3 hour speedboat if you’d prefer…

      • We had our honeymoon on a different resort island and if booked directly with hotel seaplane was $200 each but if bundled with the booking from Kuioni it was only $50 total.

        You loose some of the benefits of packaged bookings using points but you need to ensure the subsequent cost doesn’t escalate

        • Based on my experience with Kuoni they gets those charges back plus a lot more.
          I once asked them to quote for a hotel in Dubai and there quote was double the Hotel’s website. I had a quote from another agent which had beaten the hotel’s website cost buy quite a bit plus HB thrown in as well.
          When I queried their quote compared to the hotel’s own website they tried to justify the extra £5.5k, they were charging, for the personal touches etc
          Kuoni aren’t My favourite agent dating back to our honeymoon, when having booked the St Geran, in Mauritius, BA changed the flights which resulted in us having 1 night less. However Kuoni thought it was fine to charge us the same for 1 night less. Needless to say we booked with someone else :)

    • I have the same concern.

      Don’t forget that you’re stuck on an island with no choice of restaurants/bars other than the hotel’s. You’ll end up spending considerable amount of money just by being there.

  10. Hi,
    Can anyone offer any first hand knowledge of food prices at the resort. We like value for money eating out so looking for what’s the most reasonable place to eat in the evenings and light lunches.

    • For most restaurants, basically think high end London hotel prices, with quality to match. The most reasonable option is Rangali Bar, but this is mainly burgers, sandwiches, etc. The buffet in Atoll Market would be your next choice from a price perspective, with different themed nights every day.

    • We did a 5-nights-for-4 on points in July. (Thanks to BA cancelling our Club World flights, we did BHX-IST-MLE in Turkish business class at the bargain price of £1275 which nicely re-triggered our Star Alliance gold status with Aegean.)

      The Conrad evening buffet option was US$117.04 each including 12% GST and mandatory 10% service charge. Higher rates applied on some special nights. (The service charge is also applied to the GST, so you have to apply a 23.2% increase to all the prices you see quoted throughout the resort.)

      A margherita pizza at Rangali bar was $33.26 in total. A basic pasta dish there was US$36.96. Staff refused to supply filtered water (as provided in the rooms) at meals. Imported bottled water was the only option.

      The food was ok; nothing special. Certainly not gourmet. (But we are vegetarian, and veggie options were very limited and uninspiring even after talking to chefs; meat and fish eaters might have a different take.)

      As Hilton Diamonds, we were allowed to have complimentary afternoon tea, even though it’s supposed to be restricted to returning guests. (We were the only people at afternoon tea most days.) On some days, a late breakfast, afternoon tea, the happy hour and some snacks we had brought were actually plenty for us.

      We upgraded to a superior water villa for two nights at a nightly rate of US$ 210 + 10% + 12% which we were told included a 30% HHonors discount. This had its own outdoor hot tub and was on the other island. While fantastic, the larger standard beach villas are equally as stunning. We were due to “downgrade” back to the beach villa for the final night, but the hotel told us to stay put, so we had a free upgrade that night.

      We had a one-hour visit to Ithaa underwater restaurant that included a small glass of champagne and two thumb-nail sized canapés. This cost US$80.08 each.

      In summary, the Conrad is great for a one-time visit on points if you have Diamond status. The accommodation is excellent, (vegetarian) food is disappointing, service is mixed, prices for everything are eye-wateringly expensive.

    • The_Real_A says:

      Didnt someone take a camping stove over on flyertalk?

  11. Great Report!

    Would love to go, but the frugal person in me would not allow me to be subject to the high prices the resort demands for drinks/food (granted I understand they have to import everything!).
    Don’t get me wrong; I do spend, and spend well on holidays, I just prefer to have a few options around!

    I think my 25kg would be supplies! – But I would have to stump up for the underwater restaurant!

    Anybody know of any other over water villa options around the world in major chains? Something I’ve never done!

  12. The mention of chatting to other “couples”, and meeting “couples” at Happy Hour puts me in mind of a swingers club.

  13. I was there some weeks ago.
    “On some days, a late breakfast, afternoon tea, the happy hour and some snacks we had brought were actually plenty for us.”

    We found that to be the case also. We aren’t big eaters and with the heat etc, a lot of the times it was enough. The rangali bar does good quality casual food in the evenings. and we had food there 3 nights.

    Just booked to go back for 8 nights in June. Etihad biz flights out of Dub, 4 nights in Dubai, 8 in Conrad maldives. Excluding the sea plane, £120 each in taxes all-in.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      “Just booked to go back for 8 nights in June. Etihad biz flights out of Dub, 4 nights in Dubai, 8 in Conrad maldives. Excluding the sea plane, £120 each in taxes all-in.”

      Good work.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Conrad Dubai as well? Just got back from a stay there this week and was impressed.

  14. Slightly OT query. I know everyone raves about Conrad Rangali but I noticed that even Holiday Inn has a resort in Maldives at 35,000 points. Why is this (or the Starwood) option never discussed so much? In theory it seems good value for money as well. Is Conrad so much superior to the Holiday Inn Resort? At the end of the day if you are there for a beach holiday shouldn’t the nature aspect be more or less same in both places or is the natural beauty around Conrad much superior to Holiday Inn? Obviously Conrad will be more luxurious in their accommodation at those prices.

    • Not been there so can’t help.

      I guess it WILL come down to: 5* vs less than that alternatives.

      I’ve had a zillion holidays in the tropics with the weather, the pure azure seas & white sand beaches, the scuba diving & snorkelling , the superb food, the wonderful hospitality, the relaxation, the improvised excellent company from complete strangers.

      But I’ve always done it on the cheap as an independent traveller, sometimes with my soon-to-be wife, even if I/we often stayed in 4* accommodation in places like Thailand & Indonesia where 4* is not exactly expensive.

      Other times beachfront cottages!

      For me, I loved this review because it was obvious Michael was a genuine nice guy telling us how it went.

      • Hi,

        That’s really nice comment thanks…

        Can’t comment on the Starwood or Holiday Inn, but I will say that it’s the reef that sold it for me, Vilamendhoo house reef is also v good.

        I researched the reef ahead of time before I booked, like I mention I’ve done 2 liveaboard Scuba dive trps in the Maldives, so I wanted the snorkeling to be able to get close to matching that level of exceptional quality.

        For me the luxury and trappings of the resort is a bonus on top of the natural beauty of the reef.

        We all have different drivers for selecting a resort, mine is the reef first.



      • Harry

        Another great snorkeling place is Koh Lipe, Serendipity Resort in Thailand, I would go back. Epic drift snorkeling and cheap on the Beach massage to end your day.


        M :)

  15. If you booked 5 nights for the price of 4 can you use points saved up from two accounts ie from your own account and your husbands or does the full 380000 have to come from one account?

  16. Is there a maximum number of points you can buy from Hilton each year – the 30-50% promotion is still on till 15/12 so if there is an annual restriction I might buy some now then again next year.

    • I think it 80k per year per account, although you may be able to gift them.
      Also I bought 80k when they had the 100% bonus so got 2 lots of 160k.
      Then topped up each account in the recent tesco bonus to via virgin to reach 380k on each account.
      I do believe you need all the points in 1 account and also to book 5 consecutive nights so mpneeds a little bit of planning if you are using the Hilton cc vouchers as well.

      • Thanks Jason – think we might just go for this – will take a bit of planning !

        • From my experience a Qatar sale ex eu is the way to get there if you can get the flights.
          I’ve used 2 241’s in CE, to get to Oslo, as I was never going to use them before 1 expired.

  17. Thanks for the review. Was excellent.

    My wife and I just got diamond in HH through the recent status match so this was tempting for me until we started talking cash.

    I have no HH points , and for that rate I would want all inclusive – ultra all inclusive.

    The fact I’m typing this in my favourite place on planet earth in Antigua where between $800-$1000 a night gets you a Junior Suite , right on the beach with everything included – you want a bottle of champagne for the room – call the bar etc etc, and the Conrad starts to look a little rich for me. As a drinker ;0)

    • Chris Jones says:

      I’m no fan of AI plans but if your stuck on an island I think AI is the only way.

      I stayed at Lilly beach resort and it was amazing. Not sure I could face spending so many points on accommodation and then pay $1000’s on food and drink.

      (If anybody from lily beach resort is reading this I’m free to review! I even have a 2-4-1 BA voucher for the flight!)

  18. Tried searching for LON to MLE avios redemption flights in CW in 2016 and I cannot find any availability at all, is this normal for this route for all availability to be snapped up for an entire year ahead?

    • Yes it is, the seats have gone by 12.01am generally.
      Although BA don’t always release seats on all flights 355 days ahead.

      • Yep try staying up until midnight T-355 or 1am (varies according to BST I think) and being first on the trigger.

        Still the easiest way to get some degree of certainty into avios redemptions.

        Also being quick on the trigger still the easiest way to get those exit seats without paying.

  19. I used a free night coupon for the Conrad Koh Samui which is around £450/night. It was similarly amazing. Recommend it!

    • I have stayed at both and would categorically say that the Conrad Koh Samui is a much better redemption deal as there us no need to pay £500+ a night for upgrades.

      We spent a week at both resorts with similar dining/spa behaviours. The CKS ended up being $8.5k cheaper than Rangali. The big upside of the CKS is that you can self provision booze (there is a Tesco up the road) and laze around by your private pool all day.

  20. I stayed at this resort under the old deal for HH points and paid circa 35k a night as a diamond plus $800 for a deluxe overwater bungalow. We stayed a week and dropped circa $11k in total. It is a great resort and whilst you don’t have to spend so much it us difficult to do on the cheap and have a great time. One of the key features is the great dos and vast (for a small island) dining options and we ate at a different venue every night.

    I definitely want to go back but it doesn’t seem such great value at current HH plus upgrade pricing.


  1. […] a comment claiming afternoon tea and happy hour have been merged, anyone confirm, clarify this? http://www.headforpoints.com/2015/12…ldives-review/ Big thumbs up from me, I found Bobby DoO a top bloke, v personable and passionately committed to […]