Beach, Family, Travel Tips
Conrad Rangali Island Resort & Spa
November 7th, 2009
One of the first luxury branded properties to boost Hilton’s reputation abroad, the Conrad Rangali Island is also Hilton’s oldest property in the Maldives. Occupying two private islands in the central Atoll’s, the Conrad requires far less transit time (a mere 30 minute sea-plane ride from Male right to the resort’s dock) and guarantees the smooth service of a well-honed professional.
The example by which the other properties strive to follow, the Conrad guarantees the Hilton guest (also a spot to use your Honors Awards) plenty of option from rooms (beach, over the water, even mansion-size) to cuisine (french to japanese to casual bar fare) to activities (from top-level spa to water sports to tennis).
More like an all-inclusive resort (meal plans do apply) or a high-quality cruise ship, the Conrad is a well-oiled machine with all the requisite amenities one would expect from a five-star resort. Including, those few over-the-top amenities that let you know you’re somewhere the owners/staff are intent on wow-ing you and making a mark on your memory. At Conrad, the wow-factor is Ithaa, the Maldives’ only underwater restaurant.
With just twelve seats, Ithaa requires advance booking and comes at a competitive price – $195 a head for lunch and $320 for dinner. The meals are three course and the food is exceptional, though, it is a tad strange to be eating fish as they swim by. We did joke that they probably see US as the attraction and come swim around the sunken restaurant (50-meters below the surface) for some daily people-gawking. Well, that and there’s someone that tosses chum overhead, ensuring the fish swarm at least once throughout the meal.
Suitable for both families and couples, the variety of water sports and dining options alone fill a week’s activities while the varying options of accommodations are well suited to everyone’s needs. For me, the place to stay is on the smaller island where the adults-only pool and chic new tented bar and private dining area are located.
The ‘other island’ is also home to the over-water spa (there are two spas at the resort – one on the big island, known as the Spa Retreat and the other, smaller one with just four treatment rooms).
Above is the site of one of my favorite massages I’ve ever had. The room on the far left is where the magic happened. I’m not sure whether it was due to the exceptional quality of the room-there’s a glass peephole in the room’s floor right below the massage table – or the masseuse herself – a wonderfully strong woman from Thailand – or most likely, the winning combination that did it. I was transported to heaven with the noise of the water lapping and the strong hands (and elbows) working out every possible kink. The center villa is the relaxation room with open walls out to the sea and a hot tub. I could have spent hours there quite happily.
The treatments are based on the colors and their chakras and you’re allowed to modify and combine as you see fit. I enjoyed the red, which focused on my bottom chakra and included a foot massage. Again, heaven.
As for where to sleep, I fell in love with the Deluxe Water Villas (shocker), also on the adult island. Although their contemporary-Schraeger-esque decor is not quite my taste, I was enamored with their 115 sq meters of open space, natural wooden walls and ceiling and expansive views.
There was a particular villa that struck all of us on the trip as ‘the one’ to rent. Number 348 – its corner location was the envy of all others.
And last but not least, the piece de resistance – every woman’s most important element to ensuring a pleasant stay; the bathroom
At Conrad, the water sports – fishing, snorkeling, diving, sailing, banana-boating, windsurfing, wakeboarding etc. – are so abundant the array of water toys are practically challenging you to participate.
Our hosts had kindly booked a mid-day snorkeling adventure on the Conrad’s plush fishing yacht with the promise of finding one of the area’s famed Whale Sharks.
Eager to spot whatever was out there we were delighted to be off on the boat. Our guide, Tomas, explained to us the docile nature of the Whale Shark (a vegetarian) and their recent elusiveness. It appeared he was setting our expectations to avoid disappointment.
As luck would have it – we found one! Naturally, the French were already there crowding the fish and swimming far closer than Tomas had told us possible. Yet, despite the crowds I was also able to swim right alongside the magnificent beast.
My favorite angle was from the back. Swimming directly behind the shark and recognizing just how long and large the animal was, not to mention how gracefully it cut through the water, was one of the more amazing things I’ve ever seen – and with just a snorkel mask. I have to say, I felt like it was my own mini-version of the Abyss.
I must admit, I also enjoyed sunning on the boat’s bow on the way home.
At Conrad there were so many things to do, see and eat. The four days flew by and even though the weather sometimes did this…
It also gave us this….
I will forever remember the Maldives as a spot of remarkable beauty, intrigue and genuine warmth. Thank you Hilton for bringing me here to see it firsthand. Now, all of you reading – trust that this is a tropical island experience unlike any other.