I am so excited to share this Maldives review shared to me by another one of my trusted travel buddies, Paul L. He and his wife, Kristi, just got back from a grand trip to the Maldives. Paul and I stayed in touch for many months before his trip and my trip. We went to the Maldives in the month of March, while Paul and Kristi went in the month of April. We shared notes, my lessons-learned, and I’m so glad that he was able to write this trip report to share his first-hand experience. Here’s Paul report in his very own words.
25+ hours to Maldives
The Maldives are worth the 25+ hour journey from the US, especially if you can snag an overwater bungalow. Do it, don’t hesitate.
With over 140 resorts, the Maldives has a destination for nearly everyone — some all-inclusive, some “party party”, some all about surfing, some catering to families, and a mix of all the above. Read the reviews carefully, and email the resort, and ask lots of questions to figure out which may suit you. Also, check out Maldives fully refundable deals on Travelzoo.
Here’s a Travelzoo sample that many members of my Facebook Travel Group booked in 2020.
How he booked his trip to the Maldives
Nearly a year ago, I randomly saw that the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (higher end of the Hilton family) had 7 nights available in an overwater sunrise bungalow using a combo of points, free night certificates, and a buy x/get y promo. Within minutes, I snapped it up, not knowing if we (my wife and I) would/could go. That same day, I booked us to Male, the capital of the Maldives, via Emirates in business, and back on Qatar Airways in QSuites using 85K Alaska Airlines points per person each way.
Fast forward to a change of carriers going, I added a night in Singapore. Thanks to:
- American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts for the great price and credits
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Got us into a room at the Conrad Centennial Singapore at 6am with an amazing buffet breakfast
- “Free” breakfast at the Conrad Rangali daily for two (valued at $60 per day for 7 days for 2 guests) = $840 value
All about Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Our overwater bungalow was lovely. Big bed, lots of windows, a plexiglass desk and floor (so you could work and look down into the water), large deck with direct access to the ocean via stairs.
Coffee and tea, lots of water brought in twice a day. Room clean up and turn down twice a day. Big TV, lots of USB ports to charge… Comfortable, clean and crisp. The WiFi was consistently about 7 Mbps.
Paul’s tip: For those who need better connectivity, ask your resort if they offer faster speeds or buy a SIM card and tether to your phone for 40mbps and better speeds.
Things to do at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island offers a wide variety of paid excursions. We did the Whale Shark and Swim with Turtles outings. 100% worth each one. Others enjoyed the scuba expeditions. You can get free snorkels for the week and swim the house reef — a little hazy while we were there but fun. Free stand up paddle boards, wind surfing gear, pedal boats, and catamarans. We loved zipping across the spectacular water on the catamarans. The gear all looked pretty fresh and well kept up.
The food options were fantastic spread across the two islands. Romantic dinner for two on the beach? Massive buffet? Japanese prepared overlooking the beach/water? Omelette in your room? Organic chicken/fish/beef?But know in advance at the Conrad, super pricey. As in “just sign the check and worry about it later” pricey. Great selection of (expensive) booze, too.
Maldives simply incomparable
“Come on” acquaintances said, “the beaches in X, Y and Z… are just as nice and you don’t have to traipse around the world”. Nope. There is something magical about the Maldives. Walking back to our “room” one day, my wife and I realized that our island at one point was 40 feet wide. Cray. Yes, we were VERY lucky. Our resort was 40% occupied and we got a sweet bungalow/pool/view upgrade. It’s the people (and often the lack thereof), the amazing vistas, the ability to snorkel with WHALE SHARKS and swim in gorgeous water. And yes, we enjoyed the luxurious splurge of points on accommodations. Would I visit again — 25+ hours in planes (not counting airport transfer time)? 100% yes absolutely with the caveat that I would only go in low season. (Yes, it rained daily for an hour max, no big bummer).
He said “Do it. Don’t hesitate!”
One important “lesson learned” is book early. A few months after I chose the Conrad on points, the rates went up 25% and 7 day availability became zilch. Also, I grabbed biz class flights using points 11 months prior to travel; six months later they went up to 200K each IF available. As many of my travel senseis have said, “book early and book often, you can always cancel.”
Go the Maldives. We loved it!
Jason’s takeaways from Paul’s and Kristi’s Maldives experience
Man! First of all, thank you, Paul, for sharing this with me, and now, we’ve been able to share this with more readers. I am reliving my own Maldives experience, and seeing all your pictures – they surely did tell a story of how you and Kristi enjoyed your Maldivian getaway. From the journey to the destination – for me and my wife, and many of those who joined us during our trip to the Maldives (a big party of 22), the WHOLE experience was part of the whole travel enchilada. We savored every little bit of it – from the airport lounges, to the flights Qatar Airways QSuites, and Etihad Airways first class back to the US.
Visiting the Maldives was unlike anything we’ve experienced. It allowed me to relax, and breathe. Visiting our resort meant savoring the little things…the pure joys of watching the sunrise and sunset, the endless strolls from the overwater villa to the main parts of the resort, circling the island within 30 minutes, and taking advantage of every non-motorized sports activity that was included at no cost.
There’s something about the Maldives. I tell people, it just sucks you in. If you’re the type that is used to doing so many things that are active, I just had to let myself go with the flow. It wasn’t a place where I could say, “I’ll go hiking up the mountain today, or I’ll go beach hopping, or I’ll be chasing waterfalls”. You are not in any competition with anyone. Just you and the resort.
The credit card takeaway
Lastly, Paul and Kristi’s getaway is another one fine example where credit cards played a pivotal role in making aspirational, dreamy trips come to fruition. I would never have imagined that we’d be flying first and business class to the Maldives, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. Never would’ve thought we’d be staying at 4-5 star hotels for FREE using credit points or certificates. I am so thankful having these credit cards opened up a world of travel opportunities for me and my family, just like the way Paul and Kristi reveled in all things Maldives had to offer.