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
Sunset fishing and Superior Water Villa
The final day
It was our final day in the Maldives and we were in the Superior Water Villa and didn’t want to leave the awesomeness that is this villa!
We went to eat our final breakfast at Vilu and to enjoy our breakfast smoothie. We hung out on the beach by the Quiet Zone for the rest of the morning.
We headed back to the room to pack up and we ordered up some room service so that we could enjoy these last few hours in this unbelievable room. The room service was set up like it was at a restaurant.
The clock hit 3 pm and the porter came to get our bags. We headed to the front desk to settle our final bill. Unfortunately, this became the only unpleasant part of our whole stay. I’ll give you the minute by minute detail.
3 PM – arrived at the front desk, tan, relaxed, and in a great mood though we’re leaving paradise. Our island hostess tells us to have a seat and she’ll get our final bill for us
3:10 PM – The person behind the front counter is typing at a fever pitch – I can’t tell if he’s creating it himself right now, posting Facebook status updates, or just trying to look busy.
3:15 PM – Our island hostess comes over with the final bill. As I inspect it, I notice that they’ve charged us $100 per person for dinner at Atoll Market the night of the strike. I explain that we were told by two different employees that night it would be $35 per person if ate from one type of cuisine on the buffet. Since it was the only option available for food in the entire resort. We asked for her to make the correction.
3:30 PM – Our island hostess comes back to us with version 2 of the bill and says that unfortunately there is nothing they can do about the dinner charge at Atoll Market. I tell her once again, we were told by two different employees (a bartender at the closed Rangali bar and our server at Atoll) that it would only cost $35 that night and to please tell the manager to make the correction.
3:40 PM – I’m getting a bit anxious at this point as our seaplane is supposed to leave at 4 PM. Our island hostess comes back again with version 3 and says that she was able to knock off %25 making it $75 per person and that’s the best she can do. At this point, it’s becoming very irritating. I tell her again that we’re not going to accept that and to please call a manager or someone with authority that we can talk to.
3:50 PM – Our island hostess returns with version 4 and it’s the exact same as version 3! I’m not sure if she thought we wouldn’t notice or what but my blood pressure began to rise now. I told her that it appeared she didn’t have the authority to do anything about this and to please call someone. Also – are we going to miss our plane?
4:05 PM – Once again, they’re both behind the desk, typing away, picking up the phone, calling people, hanging up the phone, calling more people – it’s very apparent that perhaps they don’t have any authority to do anything? Eventually, there were five desk staff looking at the computer screen as a seaplane takes off. There was another one pulling up to the dock.
4:10 PM – Who in the world are they talking on the phone to? Is the manager on duty in a dhoni riding around the island? How can it be this difficult?
4:20 PM – A full 80 minutes have gone by now and we’re still sitting at the front desk trying to settle our bill. I can see a crowd of people gathering over by the second seaplane. I’m hoping at this point that we won’t miss our plane. We’re talking about $80 now – but it’s more the principle of it at this point. This is five star resort and we were seriously inconvenienced by the staff strike and had tried to stay positive in spite of it.
4:25 PM – Our island hostess returns for the final time, saying that she got the charges taken down to what we had been told – and that our bill was finally ready. One more quick scan of the bill, everything is in order, payment by Hilton American Express Surpass, and away we go. Lightly jogging to the seaplane with our island hostess in tow, completely frazzled, blood pressure way too high, and feeling that it was a rotten ending to a fantastic vacation.
We arrive at the departure hall – to say our final goodbyes to the island hostess. It’s been kind of an odd week – I assume most other people create this really great relationship – we just didn’t click with her as we lost confidence in her abilities early on. I feel bad for her, I assume that she wants to do a good job, but perhaps just doesn’t have the experience / training needed? And I am sure if she had more then four weeks at the resort it would have been different. I think they should have a shadow training program for new island hosts. Perhaps this was her first week ‘on her own’.
We say goodbye to the Aussies that we met during our stay here as well and all pile into the very cramped and warm seaplane. Tip: Save your earplugs from the flight to the resort, they didn’t hand out another pair and they did not have any onboard.
The engine starts, the propeller starts to twirl, and we have liftoff.
We land in Male and are picked up by a shuttle van. We asked if we could head back to the Hilton lounge since we have hours to kill at this point. We were informed that the Hilton lounge is only available for people that are departing and if we wanted to go the lounge, it would cost $75 a person. Pass!
The shuttle took us to the main terminal of Male airport. There really is nothing to do at the Male airport and in fact, they won’t let you even enter the airport until 3 hours before your departure time.
There is an enterprising local that has set up a luggage storage business. For the price of $3 per bag, he will watch your bag for you while you walk around and tour Male. His place of business consists of a concrete floor with tape / chalk outlining the storage area and lots of luggage there. I assume that our bags will be safe as there are plenty of other bags there.
The Hilton representative asked if we want a tour of the city, and as we have about 5 hours till departure – why not? A Maldivian who speaks incredible English takes us over to the dock and we speed away on one of the speedboats. We arrive in town and he begins to explain to us all the different landmarks and some of the history of Male. He also takes us outside of some of the mosques.
We have a ton of questions for him and he patiently answers each of them. He shared a lot about his family and beliefs. The tour of the city takes about an hour and we end up back at the Male airport.
At this point, our options are to sit in a seat or go to the Movenpick ice cream shop. We chose the Movenpick ice cream shop. It was a welcome feeling to walk into an air conditioned building. There was limited seating there and we ordered our ice cream and fresh squeezed juice. There were a lot of people in there with their bags taking up space and not ordering anything. Make sure if you go in there that you’re courteous- at least order something! Another hour was killed and finally we were allowed to go into the airport at 8:45 PM.
We checked in and headed to the lounge. It was nothing to write home about – they did have some big chairs in front of a large TV with CNN on.
There was a “buffet” of food at the lounge, though one look at the and we passed – no point in being sick on a long flight due to some questionable curry.
We watched CNN, played around on the internet, and finally it was time to board our plane. Our plane left at 11:45 PM headed to Kuala Lumpur. It was sad to leave the Maldives – it really was an incredible trip and vacation destination.