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
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.
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.
The room featured a king sized bed:
…as well as a desk area and large outdoor porch.
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:
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.
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…
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!
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:
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.
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.