Maldives Trip 2014: Conrad Maldives

Chauffeur + Washington Dulles Airport
Dulles to Abu Dhabi Etihad Diamond First
St. Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island
Abu Dhabi Airport and Etihad First Class Lounge
Abu Dhabi to Male Etihad Pearl Business
Conrad Lounge & Seaplane
Conrad Maldives
Male to Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Business Class
W Hong Kong
Hong Kong Airport
Hong Kong to Munich Lufthansa First Class
Munich Airport and Lufthansa First Class Lounge
Frankfurt Airport and Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Frankfurt to Washington Dulles Lufthansa First Class

Happy Super Bowl Monday!

We arrived at the dock and were quickly escorted to the “lobby” area where fresh coconuts were waiting for us.

Hydration

Hydration

At that point, we were introduced to our host Nizam.  I can not say enough good things about him.  Anytime something went wrong he went above and beyond to fix it and go to bat for us with management (more on this later).

We booked a base category room, which at the Conrad is a “beach villa” and were assigned room 208.  Each beach villa structure is shared with 2 rooms.

Villa 208

Villa 208

The room featured a king sized bed:

Bed

Bed

…as well as a desk area and large outdoor porch.

King Beach Villa

King Beach Villa

From the porch one can easily walk to the reef side of the main island.  The resort itself is currently 2 islands with a 3rd being built.  The new third island will not house any guests–only staff, as well as mechanical.  The main island housed all of the beach villas as well as the spa and spa overwater villas.  The other island was entirely overwater villas.

Upon arrival, we had waiting for us our welcome amenity of champagne and fruit, which was nice:

Champagne

Champagne

Shortly after arrival, Cara was mauled by ants in the outdoor bathroom, so we were off to a pretty rough start.  I got the bug spray out of the closet and went to work on the wood pillars and it turns out the pillars housed quite a number of ants.  There must’ve been a few hundred dead ants on the floor by the time they all cleared out.

Obviously unimpressed, I walked back to the front desk and spoke to the duty manager.  She offered to discount our upgrade to an overwater villa beginning the following day, and we said we’d discuss it and get back to her.

The following day we made our way to breakfast (after sleeping with one eye open).  As HHonors Gold members we were entitled to full buffet breakfasts at either Atol Market on the main island or the small buffet and menu at Villu restaurant on the other island.  We chose to eat at Atol Market most days because they have made to order fresh juice which Cara loves.

The spread was pretty extensive and the food was of decent, though not exceptional quality.

Juicing station

Juicing station

Hot dishes

Hot dishes

More hot dishes

More hot dishes

Breads

Breads

Pastry

Pastry

Yogurt and cereal

Yogurt and cereal

Meat & cheese

Meat & cheese

Salad

Salad

Still & sparkling water

Still & sparkling water

Caption

Asian

More Asian

More Asian

Fruit

Fruit

More fruit

More fruit

The buffet at Villu was a much simpler affair (mostly bread, fruit, yogurt and pastry), though they did have a la carte menu–also included–which featured eggs, pancakes, waffles, etc made to order and much better than Atol Market.   Ultimately, we usually ate at Atol because of the variety, how late we were (we usually ran before breakfast) and the fresh juice.

The view from Villu was also much better…

View from Villu at breakfast... not bad

View from Villu at breakfast… not bad

Back to the first day… After breakfast, we spoke with Nizam about the ants the previous night and what they could do for us, as obviously we shouldn’t bare sharing accommodation with them.  He escorted Cara to the clinic where the doctor gave her a cream for the bites (and also told the doctor to bill the hotel not our room).  Then, he went back and forth with his manager several times and in the end they upgraded us at no charge to a standard King Overwater Villa.

What a difference!

Better view!

Better view!

The over water villa was absolutely better in every single way.

First, the bathroom was indoors.  I love outdoor showers–when I have the option to take one.  But having literally the entire bathroom outside as they are in the beach villas is not a smart design.  It’s way. too. hot.  If you want your guests to get dressed up and spend $500 every night on dinner (we’ll get to this), the least you can do is provide them an air conditioned place to get ready.  It’s no wonder everyone at the restaurants is wearing t shirts and shorts… they’re probably trying to cool down from their shower!

Second, and in the same vein, the air conditioning is soooo much better in the overwater villas than beach.  We couldn’t get our beach villa below ~72, even at night, and about 75 during the day.  Here’s a quick overview of the room:

King bed

King bed

Desk with a view

Desk with a view

Bathroom

Bathroom

Tub

Tub

Indoor shower

Indoor shower

Given the cost of excursions and the relative price to confirmed or standby upgrades, I can confidently say, I would spend every last cent I had here on an upgrade to an over water villa before I did the first excursion.

We honestly rarely left our villa, which is exactly the type of vacation we were looking for.  We had a tanning deck, plunge pool and direct access into absolutely gorgeous water.

I know that SCUBA in the Maldives is a big draw, and I’m sure those excursions would be very cooler for divers, but honestly the rest of them seemed pretty manufactured, and I don’t regret skipping them.

One highlight of every day was afternoon tea at Mandhoo restaurant which was complimentary and had several teas as well as finger sandwiches and cookies.

Afternoon tea set up

Afternoon tea set up

Overall, our stay was pleasant, but most of that had to do with our over water accommodation and the simply unrivaled natural beauty of the Maldives.  Nizam also did take excellent care of us, and was able to secure a deluxe beach villa from our 12pm check out (all over water villas were occupied on our check out day) all the way until our 6pm sea plane departure.  That’s extremely impressive given that:

1) We were redemption guests

2) We were HH Gold, when apparently at any given time over 50% of the hotel is Diamond guests.

3) I overheard a guest speaking to his host asking for a post-check out room.  He was a revenue guest and had 2 rooms (so he was probably paying $3k++ per night) and his host said no rooms were available.

That said, beyond Nizam the service was very hit or miss and almost entirely reactive as opposed to proactive and anticipatory–which ultimately is the key to a really relaxing vacation.  Also, and this really bugs me probably more than it should, but every. single. service. failure. was “corrected” with a bottle of champagne sent to the room and without any type of apology or acknowledgement from management.  Failures and mix ups are going to happen with a 9 day stay anywhere, but eventually the champagne bottles just become tokens of impersonal service and management disconnection.

Given that in each hotel’s respective high season, one could have three vacations at St. Regis Bali for the same price as one vacation here, I think this hotel needs to re-tool a bit and improve the value proposition here.

Don’t get me wrong… we had a fantastic vacation here, and I’d go back in a heart beat. But the service had little to do with why.  At $1500+ per night, it definitely should.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the update. I am glad to hear that a Maldives has its pluses and minuses. Sounds like an awesome time notwithstanding.

  2. I just wanted to mention, that in November 2000 we visited Rangali finohlu Hilton Island (today Conrad) and we also had a beach villa. On specific time each afternoon the ants where marching all over the bathroom. Those are a special species of ants known as the long-legged ant or Maldive ant, it is on a list of “One Hundred of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species” formulated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It has invaded ecosystems from Hawaii to Seychelles, and formed supercolonies on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

    • We Fly Free says:

      Thanks for commenting! That’s really interesting, and I’m glad you shared since I had no idea it was actually fairly common. I totally believe you about being invasive as they completely took over the bathroom.

      Did you stay on points back in 2000 and was any compensation offered for the “march of the ants?”

      • Since I was a kid, I had a very close relationship with ants (I spend hours watching and feeding them on my backyard) so there was not a chance to mention to the staff this thing. It made me wonder about the fact their visit every afternoon in the same time – in a line but in general on the island there were also other kind of creatures as lizards, bats, crabs, sharks etc. To be really honest, I had the feeling that I was an invader on an island that still holds its ecological privacy – balance….. I would add on the list of things that bothered me A LOT the case of paying everything in cash but they charged me also the whole amount on my card. So, on the way back home after changing 3 planes and having 1 flight more – I found out that I had no possibility to use my card!!!! Its a long story until we made clear with the hotel what happened with phone calls and fax messages days later…..

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