Paradise found at Conrad Hilton Rangali Island

I’m writing this while sitting at a glass desk, watching the fish swim beneath my feet (yes, the floor is glass as well) and thinking about the last 4 days we’ve spent at the Conrad Rangali Island resort in the Maldives. This has been my bucket list trip for years…to stay in an overwater bungalow in one of the most gorgeous places on earth…and it completely lived up to the hype and all my expectations.

First, a little bit about the resort itself: it’s a Hilton property and boasts the first-ever underwater restaurant in the world, and the first-ever underwater residence (which costs $19,000 per night, so no, we won’t be reviewing that!)! We stayed here on points and miles (more of that to come in a near-future video) and flew here on points and miles as well. That said, it’s still not cheap. Dinners will easily cost you upwards of $200 per night (for two). Breakfasts and lunches are similarly exorbitant, although, thanks to our Diamond status in Hilton Honors, we do get breakfast for free as well as happy hour every afternoon, which consists of a rotating house cocktail, beer, wine, and some light canapés. We are also those people who packed granola bars and ramen with us in our suitcases, just to make sure we could eat on the cheap if and when needed. Also, the seaplane to get to the island costs $675 per person round trip and can’t be booked on points and miles. However, you can charge it to your room, which is what we have done with dinners and our whale shark excursion as well. If I have to pay for it, I might as well get 34 points per dollar spent, thanks to our Diamond status and holding the Hilton Aspire credit card. The $2500 we’ve charged to the room so far (including the seaplane flights and excursion tour) is going to net us over 82,000 points, which is enough for another free night or three depending on the hotel.

The resort consists of two public islands (there is third island but that is reserved for staff), the main family island and an adults-only island. Our points got us booked into an overwater bungalow on the adult island, far from the hustle and bustle (and crying children) of the family-oriented island. Our island, Rangali, has both beach and water villas, a couple of restaurants and bars, a yoga center, fitness center, and overwater spa. The main island, RangaliFinolhu, is connected to our island by a 3,200-foot-long bridge, with a seaplane dis/embarkation platform in the middle. That island also has multiple restaurants, a fitness center, a business center, a spa, a large infinity pool, the underwater restaurant and residence and more. You can walk from one island to the next (like we mostly have) or you can call guest services to send a golf cart and driver to transport you.

There are several random things that have struck me about this resort:

  • The staff are amazingly friendly, helpful and polite. Our…I hesitate to call him housekeeper because he is so much more than that…Mohammed, is one of the nicest, most hardworking people I’ve met. He not only takes care of any needs we might have but anticipates them as well. When we first arrived, there were four 1-liter bottles of water on the counter. We went through them so quickly that the next day, he left us with nine bottles! We never asked for those additional bottles of water, he just left them for us after seeing how much water we went through. He also comes to our villa twice a day, once in the morning to clean, make up our room, replenish the water, etc. and once in the evening to turn down our bed, draw the blinds for privacy, and take care of any concerns we might have. Other staff are just as wonderful. Multiple times we have been walking between the islands and golf carts passing by have asked if we needed a ride. Almost every single employee greets you with the traditional Islamic greeting of their right hand over their heart and a cheery “good morning”.
  • The guests here are extremely diverse! There are more young families than I expected, and more non-English speaking guests. We have even seen multiple gay couples which kind of surprised me a bit! There are many young couples (who are either very wealthy or also managed to swing this place on points and miles) as well as many families with young children (under 5 years old). Not where I would expect to take an infant or toddler but to each their own. 🙂
  • The water here is crystal clear, very shallow, and full of the most amazing marine life! Despite not seeing the whale sharks we hoped to swim with, we have seen reef sharks, eagle and manta rays, moray eels, parrot fish, trigger fish, clown fish, tangs, sea cucumbers, a sea turtle, ghost crabs, fiddler crabs, hermit crabs, dolphins, and more (that I can’t name because I don’t know them)! I have never liked going into the water (not even a lake) because I don’t like what I can’t see but the water here is so clear that I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by to learn to snorkel!
  • Speaking of snorkeling, we got masks, snorkels and fins on our first day here and have been able to keep them with us the entire time. All non-motorized waterspouts are complimentary including the snorkeling gear, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, catamarans, etc. Only motorized vehicles (boats, jet skis, etc.) and scuba gear have an additional cost.
  • In addition to the marine wildlife, we have seen a variety of birds (mostly grey Hern and sandpipers), lizards, and some very large (like humongous!) Maldivian Fruit Bats (known here as Indian Flying Foxes) in the early evening. These bats can wingspans of up to 4 feet!
  • The resort is immaculate, with gardeners out early each morning raking the paths of leaves that fell through the night, raking the beaches and picking up plastic (yes, people are still the worst, even here), and watering the local vegetation.
  • The temperature (at least during this time of the year) rarely fluctuates more than a couple degrees. During the day, the average temp is 85 degrees F. At night it drops to 82-83 degrees F. Luckily, the AC in our villa is amazing, and the ceiling fan helps circulate the cool air.

I’m sure I will think of more that I want to share over the next days and weeks of thinking back on this tropical paradise, but I wanted to at least get my initial thoughts down and share them. Tomorrow, we fly to Malé, the capital of Maldives, and spend one final night there. It should be interesting because it’s Ramadan and therefore most restaurants will likely be closed from sunrise to sunset. Lucky for us, we still have some of those granola bars and ramen noodles! 🙂

From Malé, we head on to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for a 12-hour layover where we hope to leave the airport and explore the Batu Caves and the Petronas Towers. Then back to the airport for our flight to Singapore. I’m very excited for Singapore because it should be the exact opposite of the past week. A bustling and cosmopolitan city with lots of sights, smells, sounds and tastes to experience!

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