Life is all about finding your own paradise.. I think I found mine!
With turquoise blue lagoons, dazzling coral waters, indigenous flora and soft powdery white sand beaches, Maldives is indeed an idyllic tropical paradise. I was overwhelmed when I got a chance to visit the amazing Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Known for its luxurious living, impeccable service and top-notch cuisine, I knew I was in for a treat. This postcard island was a dream in every way. Set on two plush lands, this property was a perfect blend of natural beauty and world class luxury.
The seven days that I spent here were almost like a fantasy- uninterrupted, relaxing and a total treat to the eyes! It was that one time in my life when reality looked better than google images. Itâ€™s a place where time stands still and you soak in everything that nature has to offer. This deluxe island living left me with memories of a lifetime.
Located in the southwest of Sri Lanka is the island of Maldives which has around 1190 coral islands forming 26 major atolls. There are four international and six domestic airports with Male International Airport being the main one. Transportation within the Maldives is via a seaplane or a speed boat. Rangali Island is about 30 mins from Male by the seaplane and two hours by boat. This is the adventure I was most excited about. Nothing is more dramatic than arriving to your holiday destination on a seaplane!
The Seaplane Experience:
The moment we landed into Male we found a Conrad representative with our name boards at the exit who then escorted us to the Trans Maldives check in counter. I definitely was thrilled to see a separate check in for the sea plane. Ten minutes later when the formalities were over, the representatives took us in a private car to the seaplane terminal where Conrad had itâ€™s very own waiting lounge. The lounge was white and plush with classic leather sofas and some relaxing beds facing the lagoon with a stunning view of the parked seaplanes. While we were waiting for the other guests, we were treated to a light spread of breakfast and juices along with a shoulder massage.
As we headed to the seaplane each of us were given a bag with earplugs and bottled water, how thoughtful! It was this moment that I couldnâ€™t contain my excitement. It was my first ever seaplane ride and you know you are in the Maldives when your pilot and captain are wearing shorts and flip flops, oh what a sight! The plane felt a little stuffy at first but once it took off it was all fine. Make sure to keep your camera right next to you at all times. The aerial view of the most beautiful landscape is not worth missing. The plane landing was so smooth, we didnâ€™t even realise and just like that we landed on our piece of paradise.
As we arrived, it was an absolute pleasure to see a line up of the Conrad hosts waiting outside the seaplane to greet their guests. The hotel had its very own seaplane lounge on the bridge where guests were received. We were greeted by our island hosts and welcomed with a delicious berry sorbet.
The hotel reception was on the main island. While we were waiting to complete our formalities I couldnâ€™t help but admire the sand floors. At that moment I was dying to get into my flip flops. The check in process took 10 mins where our host, Olga, explained the details, handed us a map and an activity brochure. She then escorted us to our room and briefed us about the amenities.
Hotel description: This oasis of luxury consists of two picturesque islands that are connected by a long footbridge, both sides equally charming and offering remarkable experiences. Sand floors, dense palm trees and turquoise lagoons form the perfect landscape throughout the property. One side of this retreat has stunning water villas along with the best sunset views and is ideal for couples whereas the main island is buzzing with activities and home to the beach villas, a spa retreat, an infinity pool and their house coral reef. The islands are accessible by foot, a club car or you can opt for a fun ride in the dhoni (boat)
All the rooms are designed luxuriously with plush furnishings, state of the art technology and unique spaces.
King Beach Villa:Â The beach villas are clubbed together and located on the main island. A five min walk from the reception through the lush woodland was our 150 sq mt beach villa which was huge and spelt luxury in every way. As you enter the villa, you will spot walls in bright purple hues making the entire place look so vibrant. The doors open up to the changing area which further leads to an outdoor bathing pavilion in the greens, I couldnâ€™t think of a more romantic setting. Attached to the changing area is a walk-in closet space where you can leave your luggage and head into your bright and spacious bedroom. The best part about the villa is the glass courtyard that divides the shower area and the bedroom bringing in so much natural light. The room has its private deck with sunbeds and the trail further leads you to the ocean.Â From bathrobes and hairdryers, a pillow menu and nespresso machines to remote controlled blinds, this villa has it all.Â The only thing missing was a large sized mirror but with everything perfect, this can be totally overlooked.
King Water Villa:
Located on the other side of the island is a cluster of all water villas, some restaurants and the adults only pool. The doors opened up to a spacious and modern room setting with a beautiful sleek couch and a coffee area. The highlight of the room was the glass bottom work station and the thatched roof, now only if every office looked like this.
Set in wonderful blue shallows is the roomâ€™s private deck with two sunbeds, a coffee table and our private plunge pool. The extensive clear turquoise lagoon and the bright blue sky made the view so magical. Our villa had a private access to the ocean, that made snorkeling possible at any time of the day!
Itâ€™s amazing how such a small island brings the entire world to your plate. In seven days we were treated with exquisite culinary options and never did we have to repeat a cuisine. With a dozen restaurants on board, the foodies are definitely well looked after. I tried the following ones and was spoilt for choice.
-Rangali Bar: Set on the beach and right next to the main pool was the multi cuisine Rangali Bar. With sand floors, day beds and a happy staff, this was our favourite lunch spot. Post sunset the ambience brightens up with live performers and DJs. Coming from the Middle East, I was more than happy to see sheesha here!
-Vilu Restaurant & Bar: Offering delicious Mediterranean cuisine, this fine dining spot had breathtaking views of the lagoon. I would highly recommend Vilu for an amazing romantic dinner. They also serve an a-la-carte breakfast along with a mini spread here.
-Sunset Grill: Set 50 mts out in the water right under the stars with passer-bysâ€™s like manta rays and sharks, this was the most romantic restaurant on the island. Specialising in grilled seafood and meat, their baked lobster is worth trying.
-Mandhoo Spa Restaurant: With a concept so unique and food so healthy, a meal here is mandatory. Located in the spa retreat, the spread here is organic and based on natures five elements – air, water, earth, fire and plant. This spot also hosts daily shark feeding sessions at 1.30pm.
-Ufaa by Jeremy Leung: By far one of the best Chinese meals ever. Sand floors, relaxed seating, low swings and starry chandeliers set up the perfect ambience. Absolutely loved their homemade steamed buns and the local lobster. I would have loved to try their hot pot too.
-Atoll Market: If thereâ€™s something that we were always excited for, it was the insane breakfast spread. Coming to Atoll every morning was like a treat. From an omelette station and a fresh juice counter (they made my veggie juices too ) to delicious breads and fresh tropical fruits, they had it all. We were always welcomed with a big smile and tea/coffee. This is the only buffet restaurant on the island. Apart from the daily breakfast they also have international spreads every night. I tried their local curries on a Maldivian Night, which is every Monday. Dining on the outdoor tables under the scented frangipani trees with stars for company was quite an experience.
– Ithaa Undersea Restaurant: You are truly living a dream when you sip champagne at 11 am in a restaurant which is situated five metres in the sea. The morning cocktail session in this glass undersea restaurant was definitely one for the bucket list.
-The Cheese and Wine bar: Home to the worldâ€™s best selection of cheeses and wines, this bar hosts some fun tapas and fondue tasting sessions. The soft sand on the floor here is imported from New Zealand to maintain the overall temperature and to enhance the experience. Itâ€™s the perfect place to head to before dinner.
-The Wine Cellar: Thanks to the staff at Vilu we got a tour of the wine cellar which is home to the some really expensive bottles in the world. This cellar hosts some great degustation dinners for true connoisseurs.
The Quiet Zone
Activities and Excursions :
With so many activities in and around the island even seven days arenâ€™t enough.
-The resort has its very own dive centre which offers exciting underwater attractions. Here you can borrow snorkelling gear and sign up for tours.Â You can also go kayaking, paddle boating or try other water sports.
-The house reef at the Conrad is worth venturing into. Unlike other places, this reef is big and massive with a variety of fishes. Since the weather was a bit stormy we requested the lifeguard to come in with us. He was so kind and enthusiastic, he immediately replaced his duty with another life guard, got his snorkelling gear and came in with us. I canâ€™t thank him enough, without him this experience wouldnâ€™t have been the same. He took us right till the deep end, gave us descriptions of the fishes and fascinated us with some stories. The corals are the beach villa sideÂ where the currents arenâ€™t usually that strong and the water is quite shallow. We were lucky enough to spot a huge reef shark, octopus, a school of red snappers and some other cool fishes.
-Maldives is a great place for scuba diving too. You could also take an excursion and snorkel along with Manta Rays and Whale sharks.Â Another fun activity was the daily session of Shark feeding in Mandhoo. It was a delightful sight.Â For all sport lovers, the resort also offers a tennis court, table tennis, volleyball, board games and all kinds of water sports.Â The hotel also organised a luxury dolphin sunset cruise for us but the stormy weather didnâ€™t permit. It was during these rainy days that I actually mastered the art of doing nothing.
Set in the most tranquil beach setting along the ocean and the lagoon, each island has its own spa retreat.Â The spa on the main island near Mandhoo was the one I tried. My treatment room was right on the waterÂ with an open air bathtub and an open toilet, can you believe that?!. My therapist treated me with a Maldivian Indigenous Massage where warm coconut sticks are used to relieve tension and stress. It was one of the best experiences of my trip. This spa also had an over water manicure station.
The Over Water Spa on the other islandÂ sits above a coral reef in the resorts lagoon. I didnâ€™t get a chance to try any treatments in this one but Iâ€™ve heard the glass bottom treatment rooms are worth a visit.
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The hotel grows it’s own aloe vera plants
The Over Water Spa
Pool and other amenities:Â The hotel boasts two infinity pools, one which is on the main island with incredible sea views right on the beach and the other is a quiet zone adults only pool on the island. It had an amazing lounge area right on the lagoon with good music, white leather beds, scrumptious cocktails and unending blues.Â The resortâ€™s fitness centre is right on the main island and offers impressive views of the ocean. They also offer private yoga sessions and have a meditation pavilion on the beach.
The adults only poolÂ
The Quiet Zone Lounge
The service here was just like the island vibe- relaxed, chilled and happy. Flaunting the biggest smile and a happy spirit was a huge staffÂ who actually love what they do and they make you feel so special. After three days, most of them knew us by our names and always greeted us every time they crossed our path. Attention was paid to our smallest need, from wet towels to complimentary treats, we were pampered and how! Apart from the regular room service the resort also offered a turn down service in the evening where anything we needed was fulfilled and little surprises were left in our room. From the restaurant managers to the service staff, everyone was so kind. They were not like regular staff, they were more like friends whom we could talk to and discuss our daily lives with. If thereâ€™s one thing that made me sad on the last day was bidding goodbye to all the lovely people I met on the island. A huge shoutout to Ranjeet, Zainab, Olga, James, Shark, Nizam, Ali, Joyce, Rizvi and the entire team of Conrad â€“ Thank you so much!
Tips & Tricks:
– I would recommend you to experience both, the Beach and the Water Villa. They both are quite different and equally amazing.
-If staying in the King Water Villa try requesting for rooms 315/318 for better sunset views or else just head over to the sandy area near the sunset villas to catch natures most glorious display.
– In the water villa turn on the deck light in the night to spot fishes.
– If you want to try the undersea restaurant then go for the cocktail session in the morning.
-The footbridge connecting the two islands is a great place for spotting Manta and Sting Rays at night.
– The best seaplane seats are either the second row or the fifth row.
– For breakfast make sure to try both, Atoll Market and Vilu, just for the experience. The vibe and ambience is better at Vilu whereas the breakfast spread is the best at Atoll Market.
Room Rates: For current rates check their website- www.conradmaldives.com
Flights: Emirates and Fly Dubai fly direct from Dubai to Male (4 hours approx)
Currency: The official currency of the Maldives is Rufiyaa. You can check the conversion rates on www.xe.comÂ But all hotels and airports widely accept US dollars.
May to September is actually the monsoon season with short span of showers. We travelled around end of August and were not at all blessed with sunshine. But since we love the rains, it wasnâ€™t a problem at all. Keep in mind that if you are keen on doing the activities, cruises and snorkelling adventures then avoid this season completely.
– Rangali Island is an hour ahead of the standard Maldivian time zone, which means that Conrad Maldives has their very own time, how cool is that!
-Since Maldives follows Islam, bringing in alcohol is absolutely illegal. Even if you have bought it from the duty free of the departing country, these items will be confiscated/ bonded by the customs upon arrival. Of course, you can drink legally in your resort premises.
-Not only is this a great place for couples and honeymooners but itâ€™s definitely a kid friendly resort.
-The luggage restriction for the seaplane is 25kg check in and 5kgs for hand. They are quite strict about this so avoid overpacking.
WIFI: All guests get free Wifi in the room and the entire resort
What I loved the most:
– The entire resort is covered with soft sand making barefoot luxury a reality, so donâ€™t even bother carrying anything but flipflops.
– Loved the daily happy hours at Rangali Bar and Vilu Restaurant.
– Attention was paid to every detail. All the rooms are equipped with umbrellas, raincoats, torches and a beach bag too!
– The menu in all restaurants was on the ipad and most of the dishes and drinks had pictures too.
-No matter who it is or what time of the day it is, if a staff member crosses your path they will definitely greet you.
– For me, a holiday is incomplete without good food. I canâ€™t even explain how impressed I was with the variety and quality of food offered on this island.. After spending seven days, not once did we repeat a restaurant or a dish.
-All the rooms are equipped with nespresso machines and serve an amazing variety of teas.
-The resort will never feel overcrowded because there are two islands. You never have to fight for beach chairs, its your own little paradise
Donâ€™t leave without:
-Snorkelling in the house reef
– Trying the local Maldivian lobster
– Eating the spicy Maldivian curries
– A visit to the Spa
– Feeding the sharks
– Checking out the Undersea Restaurant
For reservations contact:+ (960) 668-0629
This was definitely one of the most exclusive, romantic and luxurious experiences of my life. Itâ€™s hard not to boast about a land where the water is brighter than any blue youâ€™ve every seen and the beaches powdery white, I donâ€™t think I can ever get the sight of the emerald sea and the aquarmarine lagoons out of my mind.