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 BA.
I took Raffles (@ http://www.headforpoints.com) advice and used 16,667 Amex MR points to for a nice 50,000 Club Carlson points redemption booking Park Plaza Westminster, paid £49 for upgrade to Executive room with access to excellent lounge for canapés prior to watching War Horse later in the evening….
Fabulous breakfast with view of Big Ben in Executive lounge.
Checked out and headed to London Gatwick (LGW) early afternoon via Uber Prius Taxi, £50 flat fee and used £20 off voucher.
Used Priority Pass to get into Lounge @ LGW, food limited but okay.
Been a while since we sat in Economy, but 10 hour direct BA Flight was very good, leaves UK 6:30pm, gets into Male 9:40am local time the next day.
Arrival at Male: You are greeted by Conrad rep, baggage weighed – there’s a strict weight limit of 25kgs so plan ahead. You then board a small shuttle bus for a 15 min 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 30mins, its hot in the small plane so have bottled water with you. Spectacular flight, awesome views of the Atolls and Islands. Transfers are US$560 rtn each, added to your Conrad bill to be paid when you leave the resort.
Far Aerial 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 smaller Rangali island on the left, Atoll Restaurant is on the main island of Rangali Finolhu on the right, we also stayed on this island. (Beach Villa and a Retreat Water Villa)
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, its 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 (I cover our other accommodation at the end of the article.)
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. Has a well stocked Fridge and Nespresso coffee machine. We got good delivery of new coffees + Bottled Water daily. We also received Fruit + chocs & sparkling wine on day of arrival. The WiFi (free for all guests) worked well and had good availability, 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, courtesy of the Conrad website (click for larger view)..
As you can see the Beach Villa has outdoor showers & bath in the rear garden leading to an open area with his and her sinks.
Air Con throughout interior, spacious Living area and Bedroom.
The Patio doors on the right of the above photo gives access onto the Beach via your own private garden.
The private garden from the Patio doors, 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.
View looking outwards to the beach from the private garden entrance.
The room staff even recognised my Birthday while I was there…
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 as it means sunrise is approx 7am and sunset approx 7:30pm, perfect for dinners, etc.
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/biscuits.
As shown in previous photos above, resort staff paid attention to special occasions, this extended to 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…
Breakfast at Atoll
The buffet Breakfast at the Atoll with sand under your feet is superb. 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 à la Carte, definitely recommended, extremely quiet and peaceful.
Here’s a Bento box I enjoyed with the above view…
Breakfast at the Atoll and Vilu restaurants are entirely free for Hilton Honors Gold/Diamond members. Our morning routine was, awake around 7:30am, coffees, 1+ hour snorkel and then onto breakfast/brunch at 10:30am. (Breakfast stops at 11am)
Oh and if you’re up for it and maybe having a late breakfast there’s also Sparking Wine, useful to combine with the fabulous views from Vilu, especially great if it’s a special occasion.
The Vilu staff put this display on for a lovely couple (well-known to Rangali) for their Wedding Anniversary who we chatted to.
The Villas in the background show one of the Retreat Spa Water Villas that we upgraded to for our last 4 nights, more on that later. All this talk of champagne leads me nicely onto….
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…
Cocktail menu at Vilu and the fabulous view approaching via the Dhoni ferry-boat
The staff at the Vilu Bar were very friendly and helpful, I made a mental note to tip them at end of our stay. 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 also drink still water so you pace yourself in the heat and also 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.
All of the following photos were taken by myself whilst snorkelling on the house reef.
Spotted Eagle Rays
Same Octopus 15 seconds apart!
Impressive Plate Coral Structure
Yellow Margin Triggerfish (about 1/2 a metre long!)
Stingray found very near our Retreat Water Villa steps
White Tip Reef Shark and Turtle (both found at drop off out from Mandhoo restaurant)
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, but as it was my first time to Conrad Rangali I really wanted to sample the over water 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. Other than the photo and plan view of our villa below, I’ll leave you to view the Conrad page for details…
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, just hoping that I can find availability!