One of our regular contributors recently headed back to Conrad’s Rangali Island resort in The Maldives. This was the same trip on which he was downgraded on his Amex 2-4-1 booking, but that is a story for another day!
We don’t normally accept hotel reviews from readers but, as this is such an amazing Hilton Honors redemption, and as we are unlikely to make it down there ourselves, we are happy to share this with you.
It such a huge article that we are splitting it over four parts. Part 2 is also published today. Parts 3 and 4 will follow tomorrow.
The original version of this report, which includes some additional photos, is here.
Take it away ….
“In February 2017, I returned to one of the Hilton group’s flagship properties, the excellent Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.
As an aspirational redemption opportunity, it’s a destination that I know is high on the wish lists of many long term Hilton Honors members.
In response to reader requests on HfP I volunteered to write a follow up article, covering anything of interest since my first visit in February 2015.
As an introduction, you may wish to review my previous article to fully prepare yourself for an extensive deep dive into my return to the Rangali…
I’ll get this long-haul effort out of the way first! British Airways (BA) has direct 10 hour overnight flights from London Gatwick (seasonal Oct-Mar).
We’d never experienced flying in a business class flat bed seat to the Maldives, so we decided to plan ahead and make this trip extra special. I booked a pair of Club World tickets as soon as they became available a year in advance.
As you might imagine we were eagerly looking forward to it for months, however our hopes were not realised. You can read about the whole experience on my own blog. In summary we experienced the following:
- Enforced Downgrade mandated at check in 8 hours before scheduled departure
- Refreshments not complimentary for business class ticket holders
- Baggage delayed almost 3 days
- 15 hour overnight delay on our return home
- A lack of genuine concern for the issues we encountered.
Arrival at Malé (MLE)
(all images click to enlarge)
After enjoying superb views of the islands on approach, we noticed Malé Airport (MLE) is currently being redeveloped. It’s undergoing a huge construction project to build a new runway and terminal building, which looks likely to continue for a few years. We also noticed a bridge being constructed across to the neighbouring main island of Malé.
Upon disembarkation, we immediately felt the intensity of the sun and the warmth of the Maldives. This was particularly welcomed after leaving a snowy UK the day before.
After passport control, we waited for 30 minutes at the baggage carousel, collecting only one of our two bags in the end and then had to spend another 20 minutes filling in a missing bag report. The local staff at the baggage desk kindly phoned the Conrad to let their Airport representative know why we hadn’t appeared off the BA flight.
Once through customs we met the friendly and helpful Conrad representative (Azu) and checked in our luggage for the Seaplane. The weight restrictions of 25kgs each still apply, so remember to pack light.
We were then introduced to our dedicated helpful driver and his air conditioned Conrad minivan. He drove us to the Seaplane Terminal on the other side of the airport and carried our bags into the lounge.
Conrad Seaplane Lounge
The welcoming staff at the Conrad lounge lightened our mood and helped us forget about the unnecessary inconvenience we’d encountered on the journey out. We started to really look forward to experiencing a level of service that is truly World Class.
The lounge is located upstairs at the Seaplane terminal, it’s a really good improvement on the lounge we used on our last trip which was a temporary installation on the ground floor. The lounge has a good selection of soft drinks, light snacks, sandwiches, salad bar, fruit, cakes and biscuits, etc. It also has a day spa, showers and a changing area.
The relaxation loungers are great to enjoy the view of the lagoon runway/seaway and catch up on communications using the fast complimentary WiFi.
The Neck & Shoulder massage is still complimentary, but sadly as we had been wasting too much time waiting for our missing bag, neither of us had time to take advantage before our Seaplane departure to the Conrad Rangali.
Ironically, 2 weeks later our BA flight home was delayed, so we enjoyed the Conrad Seaplane lounge facilities for a couple of hours. This allowed plenty of time for massages, a shower and a change of clothes.
Seaplane returns are still $560 each (inclusive of tax). This fee is payable on departure from the Conrad at the end of your stay.
Although I’ve flown in a Seaplane a few times before, for an aviation fan it’s still great sitting in the front row, looking through the cockpit seeing the barefoot pilots fly the plane. Sharing their experience of the flight and taking in the views of the surrounding islands adds that bit of excitement to your journey.
Here is a map of the resort:
The map above shows the Rangali islands joined by a bridge where the Seaplane pontoon is located. The island on the left is the smaller island of Rangali (with Vilu) and the main island Rangalifinolhu (with Atoll) is on the right with the Retreat Water Villas, top right.
Bobby (Director of Operations) and Alex (Director of Guest Services) greeted us by name as we got off the Seaplane, asked about our journey and assisted other staff members in lifting our luggage up the arrival ramp at the Seaplane pontoon. Whilst I thought this was a really nice gesture, it was not out of the ordinary. During my stay I witnessed them assist many other guests with their luggage and give the same excellent service.
Our resort host Anees (same as 2 years ago) greeted us and got us a refreshing sorbet, bottles of water and cool face towels. We then walked with Anees across the bridge to the main reception on Rangalifinolhu island to check in for our stay.
I got to look inside a few different types of accommodation during this stay. In part two of my review I will go into more detail of the different accomodation types, here are three floor plans for a first impression:
I emailed the resort a few weeks in advance to:
- arrange seaplane transfers
- advise we were staying for a special occasion
- inform them I intended to write a follow up review
- discuss and organise upgrades for our stay.
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 depend on many factors, such as season, accommodation capacity, etc.
Click here for Part 2 of this Conrad Maldives Rangali Island review which focuses on the different types of accommodation available. Parts 3 and 4 will be published tomorrow.