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.
Over to Michael ….
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…
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.
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.
We were met off the seaplane by many Conrad staff on the pontoon:
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.
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):
As you can see the villa has outdoor showers & bath in the rear garden leading to an open area with his and her sinks.
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.
This is the view looking outwards to the beach from the private garden entrance (click to enlarge):
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.
This was my evening birthday meal at Sunset Grill:
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 ….
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.)