We woke up very early at the Trader’s Hotel, back into our travel clothes-no word on our luggage; and headed to grab some breakfast. They had a very nice buffet for about $25 a person.
After breakfast an employee walked us over to the dock and we took the hotel’s speedboat back to the airport, checked our hand luggage with the seaplane company (strict restrictions on weight and amount of luggage) then Conrad employees took over. We took a shuttle to the Conrad lounge overlooking the seaplanes. We arrived at about 8 am and walked in – the lounge is big, clean, modern, and comfortable. We also didn’t realize that there would be a full complimentary breakfast spread here – oops.
Trip to the Maldives – the flights part 1
Trip to the Maldives – the flights part 2
Conrad Lounge in Mali and Seaplane to Rangali Island
Beach Villa at the Conrad Maldives
Euro swimsuits and Turtles
The main pool and snorkeling
Our luggage arrives, Vilu, and the Quiet Zone
The employee strike
The strike ends
Ithaa underwater restaurant, Water Villa, and sunset cruise
The spa employees from the Conrad offer 10-15 minute complimentary neck and shoulder massages. We relaxed for about 2 1/2 hour when they called us to go out to the seaplane. It was somewhat frustrating that they had us leave our Male hotel so early after 4 long flights, when our seaplane ended up not leaving for a couple hours, but the luxury of the lounge made up for it. We met fellow travelers and enjoyed the various seating options and food. They also had computers with complimentary internet access.
We walked the docks, to the seaplane. The seaplane was tiny. Along with our two water bottles, and Bulgari packaged cold cloth, they had given us a set of earplugs and we sure did need them. The pilot gave a pair of his headphones to the infant on our flight.
We climbed aboard the seaplane, there were 12 passengers on the flight, the captain who was in an open cockpit and the “steward” who sat at the back of the plane. The plane was pretty small and the “steward” asked me if I need a seatbelt extender. Ouch.
It was hot it was in the plane. There was no air conditioning except for a small fan up front which was turned on after takeoff, and the noise of the plane was incredible.
The view from the plane was amazing and I really got excited that I was finally going to Rangali Island after all these years of saving up points and planning.
The flight was 30 minutes. Upon hitting the water, the steward unexpectedly opened the door and hopped out barefoot onto the outside of the plane. As we l approached the landing dock there was a huge crowd of Conrad employees waiting for us. As we got off the plane, we were lead into the reception hall where we were introduced to our island host. They gave us a cold towel infused with peppermint.
Our island host was from Russia and was going to be our guide during our entire stay. Each guest was assigned an island host which I thought was an incredible gesture of customer service and hospitality. The island host was assigned based on the resort guests language needs.
She walked us down the bridge to the main waiting area and told us to sit down in some chairs as she went to get our registration documents. Someone shortly came by with some fresh fruit drinks. The entire registration area has a sand floor – no carpet, no wood, just sand. How unique is that?
She came back and had our room keys, along with a map and instructions about all of the restaurants and excursions. At this point – she hadn’t mentioned anything about the complimentary breakfast benefit as Diamond members and so I told her that we were Diamond members and would we receive free breakfast? She had a confused look on her face and told us wait a second as she went back to the front desk. She returned about five minutes and said that yes indeed as Diamond members we would receive complimentary breakfast at either Atoll or Vilu.
Side note – if Diamond is the highest tier in the Hilton Honors program – wouldn’t the island host be alerted perhaps by the General Manager or the Manager of Hospitality that her guests were Diamond members? Shouldn’t we have been welcomed as Diamond members thanking us for our loyalty? Our island host had only worked at the property for one month, my wife and I felt a more experienced island host would have been better and expected for Diamond members. At all other times we stayed at Hilton properties both in the United States and abroad we were welcomed, thanked for being loyal and always had a special expedited check in desk area. At this property, everyone had the same check in process and I believe the same welcome drink.
When we had booked our reservation eight months previous, we were given the option to pay for a room upgrade. We were also promised as Hilton Surpass America Express holders that we would receive a basic water villa. Here is the email we received:
1 – No taxes are applicable on the HH packages :o).
2 – I can offer you an upgrade to a Water Villa free of charge or alternatively please see the below room descriptions with supplement charges.
Beach Villas (Entry Level Category)
1.) 35 villas, Up to 150 square meters, our spacious rooms are equipped with all the amenities you could possibly need for you and your family to enjoy all the comfort and style a vacation destination as unique as the Maldives has to offer. The villas are equipped with portable telephones, CD players, tea/ coffee makers, mini-bars, and their own private landscaped gardens filled with lush foliage native to the Maldives.
2.) Relax on your own private verandah or enjoy the convenience of direct beach access. Within seconds, you can plunge into the picturesque tranquil blue and turquoise waters the Maldives are famous for or just relax on the beach and get a great tan.
3.) The perfect feature for families: 11 connecting villas. This allows you to have the perfect amount of privacy with your significant other while still being in close contact with your children, friends, or other family members. – (Must be handled on arrival. Cannot be guaranteed prior to arrival on the island).
4.) In addition to the private landscaped garden, each villa also offers a thatched roof bathing pavilion and open air shower to allow for the perfect relaxing and/ or romantic bathing experience for you and your partner.
Deluxe Beach Villas (+220.00 + 10% Service Charge per night)
1.) 44 villas, Up to 300 square meters with private plunge pools in addition to the private landscaped gardens. Private plunge pools in each villa give you the luxurious convenience of jumping into fresh water just steps away from the comfort of your bed.
2.) Each villa also comes equipped with a courtyard with a fountain, in addition to the bathing pavilion, open-air shower, and all the amenities offered in the beach villas.
Water Villas ( Upgrade FOC for HH Diamond Credit Card holders, normally +175.00 + 10% Service Charge per night)
1.) 28 villas, 74 square meters in size allow the perfect amount of comfortable space as you relax and enjoy the views over the Indian Ocean.
2.) Each wooden villa offers a private sundeck equipped with sun loungers. This allows you to arrange a romantic evening under the stars above the gentle lapping of the water beneath you.
3.) Each villa also offers beautiful ocean view baths, creating a wonderful dream-like feeling of floating above the lagoon while relaxing in the bathtub.
4.) Steps leading from the private sundeck into the welcoming water below allows hassle-free swimming and snorkeling right in front of your villa.
Superior Water Villas (+325.00 + 10% Service Charge per night)
1.) 12 villas, 74 square meters. A private Jacuzzi on the deck and luxurious furnishings in addition to a flat screen TV with DVD player and surround sound makes this the perfect place to relax. Unwind in your private Jacuzzi while you gaze out over the ocean.
Spa Water Villas (+620.00 + 10% Service Charge per night)
1.) 21 villas, 150 square meters of spacious, uniquely arranged floor space and architecture.
2.) Enjoy some of our world-class spa treatments in the comforts of your villa with a separate treatment room equipped with two massage beds.
Deluxe Water Villas (+640.00 + 10% Service Charge per night)
1.) 6 villas, 115 square meters gives you more space than the Superior Water villas but with all the same amenities plus a few additional extras.
2.) Large bedrooms with many different lighting features and options, as well as a huge romantic four-poster bed.
3.) 42″ LCD TV with DVD player and iPod hookup with surround sound provide the ultimate in audio and video entertainment that you can enjoy both in your villa, or relaxing in the Jacuzzi on the verandah.
Premier Water Villas (+790.00 + 10% Service Charge per night)
1.) 2 villas, 119 square meters, very comfortable and spacious.
2.) 2 Jacuzzi bathtubs, one on the deck for total relaxation under the stars, and one corner Jacuzzi inside the villa with a built in TV screen to allow you to never miss a beat in the world of news, sports, and entertainment.
3.) The freestanding Pharo shower in each villa allows for a wonderful shower experience.
Sunset Water Villas (+3,925.00 + 10% Service Charge per night)
1.) 2 villas, 360 square meters, the most spacious and luxurious of all the villas.
2.) Two bedroom villas complete with a glass floored living room for you to enjoy all the undersea wonders the Indian Ocean has to offer from the comfort of your villa.
3.) If the undersea life isn’t enough entertainment for you, each villa is equipped with flat screens and satellite TV throughout, DVD and CD players, and state of the art touch-screen computers.
4.) There is a circular rotating bed in the master bedroom, as well as Philippe Starck fittings and a bedside telescope for some breathtaking stargazing at night.
5.) Vast sundeck with a beautiful private infinity pool equipped with a sophisticated color-changing lighting system. There is also a Jacuzzi on the deck as well as lots of space for entertaining friends and family.
6.) There are two spacious bathrooms, an indoor and outdoor shower and extra amenities throughout.
7.) The villa also comes with an in-villa kitchen and butler service 24 hours a day.
I look forward to hearing from you.
The reviews online implied that room upgrades for Diamond members had been inconsistent, but we decided roll the dice.
She informed us that we would be in the beach villa (the lowest room category). I mentioned to her that we had received an email confirmation stating that we would be in a water villa due to the American Express Surpass card. When she returned from speaking to her colleague, she was vague and said that we wouldn’t be in a water villa. I got the sense that she had no idea what the Surpass card was and I didn’t want to bother arguing about it. It’s our understanding from online reviews that the standard water villa isn’t a true upgrade anyways – more on that later.
Our island host led us to our beach villa, still no luggage.