Conrad brand of hotels are Hilton’s higher end properties behind the Waldorf Astoria brand. Typically at higher end properties, all the hotel staff members are dressed in suits and well groomed. With that business like atmosphere, I kind of feel out of place because of my casual attire(shorts and a casual button down T-shirt), which doesn’t jive well with the upscale atmosphere found at the Conrad.
This atmosphere doesn’t carry over to the Conrad Rangali. Though the staff members are wearing uniforms, they don’t resemble suits or have a business like presences partly because it is a resort and partly because the reception areas and some restaurants have sand floors. Nearly all staff members are wearing flip-flops and thus sets the atmosphere as casual where ever you go, which is one of the aspect I LOVE about my stay.
In fact, if you’re feet are tough enough; you can practically go your entire stay in bare feet. There might be a few restaurants where they might require flip-flops, but shoes are never required anywhere.
TRANSFER TO THE CONRAD(time zone change)
Seaplanes can’t land at night because the shallow reefs are not visible to pilots. It is, however still possible to arrive in the Conrad late at night via a transfer to a domestic airport and a speedboat. The transfer cost is the same, but I strongly urge against this option.
Our flight from Singapore arrived at 10:30pm in Male and my friend and I decided to spend a night in the capital city before going to the Conrad despite having the option to make the transfer. Had we gone with a late night transfer, our arrival to the island would have been around 2 am local time because of the transit time.
It’s also helpful to note that there is a time zone difference between the capital city of Male and the Conrad Rangali. The best sense of the time zones I could make out is: the Capital city of Male is on MVT(Maldivian Time) time while the Conrad is on IOT(Indian Ocean Time). So the Conrad Rangali is one hour AHEAD Male time.
However, you won’t need to worry about this as the Conrad handles all the logistics of the transfer, after all you’re paying top dollar $500USD(the price at the time of this writing).
CHECK-IN FOR OUR SEAPLANE
After overnighting near the airport, we arrived at the Conrad counter in the arrivals area of the international airport. I speculate they weighed our bags to ensure that luggage and passengers do not exceed the maximum take off weight of the seaplane as they have props.
Once that was completed, we took a 5-10 minute shuttle ride to the terminal where the seaplanes depart from. The shuttle ride was nothing fancy, but it was air-conditioned. The weather in the Maldives is hot and humid so if you’re not used to it, you’ll be uncomfortable and the air-conditioning is a welcomed relief.
THE CONRAD TRANSFER LOUNGE
The check-in agent escorted us up stairs to the Conrad lounge when we arrived at the seaplane terminal. Access to the lounge is included in the transfer fee because other passengers in the shuttle bus who were not going to the Conrad were in the normal waiting area.
The lounge is nothing special, but definitely better than the Iru Fushi side, which is no longer a Hilton Property.
THE SEAPLANE RIDE
The views are stunning for a first time visitor. There’s a sense of excitement and anticipation of getting to the island that I don’t think you’ll get if you take a night time flight and a speed boat where you just won’t be able to see anything.
Before this trip, I’ve never been on a seaplane before and I was really looking forward to the novelty of the experience. The seats are not the most comfortable things in the sky, but the entire ride to the Conrad was a short 35-40 minutes long. So it’s tolerable.
The seats are arranged in a single seat on the PORT side of the plane while a two-seater bench resides on the STBD side. There’s about 5 or 6 aisles. There’s no overhead storage. You have to put any carry on items in the back of the plane or it’s sitting on your lap.
The only thing I had was my camera ready to see the views from the ride.
I was in a Beach villa. It doesn’t have the novelty of an overwater bungalow(OWB). There was an upcharge to upgrade to an OWB if I wanted to experience it from the standard redemption for a beach villa, but the beach villa sufficed for me.
There’s a slew ton of activities that one can do all for a fee. There are some free nighttime activities such as cinema under the stars(watching a movie on the beach).
Links to the Holiday Planner given at arrival(PDF format):
The pools are a great place to lounge around a just be lazy. My favorite was the “Quiet Zone Pool.” I really liked how the pool was set out in the ocean on stilts making the views of sunset amazing. I really made it a habit to come to the pool after the complimentary cocktails at the Vilu Bar.
Anytime I was lounging by the pool, hotel workers would bring iced water to you along with these cool damp scented towels. Both are a welcomed with the hot and humid weather.
PLACES TO SNORKEL
You can pretty much access the water from any part of the island since the entire island is practically a beach. The waters look amazing and stunning that gives a sense of false security. The thing to keep in mind that you’re just a fly speck out in the middle of the Indian Ocean. That said, there are some strong currents on parts of the island while mild on another part, if you see signs posting STRONG CURRENT WARNINGS – heed them. It’s there for a reason.
The dive shop does loan out snorkel and flippers free of charge. I brought my own equipment because I was diving with my own equipment.
The dive shop did outline some of the better snorkeling spots and I highlighted them on the map of the island.
Breakfast is served at the Atoll Market or Vilu Restaurant. I assume they have one place on either island so people don’t have to make the walk to the island to get breakfast. Though, one could arrange for a golf cart to pick you up at your room to take you where ever you wanted to go on the island.
I mentioned you really could go your entire stay barefoot and I’m being serious. The Atoll restaurant as well as some other places have sand floors where it’s completely appropriate to go bare feet. I choose that flip flops were more appropriate.