Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Since there are several readers who have asked me about the Maldives and my accommodations during my stay there, I figured I would just do a proper review of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.  I have already made a post on the number of miles and points it took to book this trip and you can read about that here. The Maldives is one of the world’s premier beach destinations and there really isn’t any place like it. Crystal clear waters, an abundance of marine wildlife, and hospitality that is unparalleled regardless of the hotel you may choose. This particular Conrad is located on Rangali Island, an island that is part of the Alif Dhaal Atoll. The Maldives has 26 different atolls with some of them subdivided into two or three.

The atolls of The Maldives.

Getting There

The only way to get to Rangali Island is via 45-minute seaplane flight on Transmaldivian Airways from the capital city of Male. The distance between the two islands is about 59 miles or 95 km.

Since my wife and I booked with Conrad,  our experience actually started upon landing at Velana International Airport in Male. The Conrad staff guided us to an exclusive Conrad Lounge as we waited for our seaplane to arrive. It’s very rare for a hotel to have a branded airport lounge and this was our first time experiencing one. The lounge was very spacious, had a decent selection of food and drinks, and was clean and well maintained. It also offered free Wi-Fi and couches that could be used as beds. It was much better than most airport lounges we’ve visited.

About 45 minutes later, our seaplane arrived and it was time to take the much-anticipated flight to Rangali Island.



I apologize for taking this video vertically.  The plane seats around 15 people and flies at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. You get some amazing views of the other atolls and islands on your way. It’s a loud flight due to the propellers but it was much smoother than I anticipated. Once we arrived, we boarded a golf cart that took us to our villa. The staff gave us a tour of the villa, the amenities, and explained to us in detail the services that they offer. We also found a complimentary bottle of sparkling grape juice and a fruit basket that had been left for us. You can see the video of our villa below.

 Retreat Water Villa (Overwater Villa)

Sorry again for the vertical video. Snapchat and Instagram have basically programmed me to do it this way.

The stairs lead you straight into the water. I’d say the depth is around 7 feet.


The path to the beach area
Sunset Jacuzzi
Jacuzzi with a view
Shower area
Private spa room


The various colors of the jacuzzi at night. 
Majestic sunsets are the norm in the Maldives

As a Hilton Gold member, Conrad upgraded us from a water villa to a retreat water villa. The retreat water villa came with our own jacuzzi and also had a more private feel since the neighboring villas were several hundred feet away.  The villa itself was incredible. This property has won numerous awards including the best luxury resort in the world.  Each villa also included a private spa room with two massage tables. We didn’t use this service since all we wanted to do was be outside and soak in the sun. Each villa also has stairs which take you right into the water. I would estimate the depth to be around 7 feet right at the villas so if you don’t know how to swim, you might want to keep that in mind. It gets much shallower once you’re near the beach.


As Hilton Gold members, we were entitled to free breakfast, free afternoon tea at Mandhoo Spa Restaurant, and free cocktails/mocktails between 5-6pm. The breakfast had a large variety of options and I had something different every day. The afternoon tea at Mandhoo was more like a lunch since they also had sandwiches.  Purchasing meals at this property was quite pricey. I mean it is a Conrad Hotel after all.  To minimize meal costs, we would have breakfast at the latest possible time, around 10:30 am and then have the complimentary tea and lunch at Mandhoo Spa Restaurant at 4:30. Since this was pretty darn close to dinner time, we only utilized the Atoll Market for dinner once. Dinner can easily run past $120 a person so if that matters, it is something to beware of.   Conrad Maldives is also home to the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. Unfortunately, all the daytime slots were reserved during our visit there and there was no point in making a reservation during the evening hours since you couldn’t see the marine wildlife.

Mandhoo Restaurant
Pastries, cookies, and tarts
The roast beef sandwich and the fruit tart were delicious.
A wide variety of teas
You can help yourself to as many sandwiches you want

Other Areas of Conrad Maldives

This property actually has a total of three islands. Two of them (Rangali and Rangalifinolhu) are used to for guests and a third is used only for employees. To get from one island to another, we just called the front desk and they sent a golf cart which got us from place to place. You can certainly walk the distance if you wanted to but it would take a solid 25-30 minutes. You will save a ton of time by using the gold cart below.

I didn’t measure the Wi-Fi speed in the villa but it was pretty fast and I had no issues with connectivity. They also have a fantastic business center within a lounge on the second floor in case you needed one. I only used it for a few minutes to print out some documents but it had everything you needed. If you’re a Mac person, they had those as well. Great job Conrad!

Lounge on the second floor
Business center within the lounge

People have often asked what we did after sunset. We made it a point to go sleep by 8pm every day. Sunset was at 6:20pm so we woke up right at sunrise, around 6am, and made the most of our day. If you’re in a place like the Maldives, I’d strongly recommend waking up early and not sleeping in.  As far as activities, you can do excursions such as swimming with whale sharks or go scuba diving and jet skiing. If you’re used to paying a certain price for those activities, you will be paying double and triple that over here. Seeing the exorbitant costs, I just preferred to snorkel at the reef right off the island and swim in the waters right near my villa. If only they allowed to book excursions with miles. This Conrad also has two infinity pools, one on each island and all guests are allowed to use either. I took full advantage of that as well.

The beach area at Rangali island. Both islands have beaches
Infinity Pool 2. The Dhoni ferry in the background is another way to get from one island to another.
The seaplane platform which is also used to connect Rangali Island to Rangalifinolhu Island. It’s beautifully lit in the evening


When I made this reservation, I informed them that my wife’s birthday would be on the second day of our stay there. They remembered and when we entered our room after breakfast during the second day, housekeeping left a nice little gesture.


They also surprised her with a delicious cake during dinner
Night time was perfect for the jacuzzi

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, fantastic resort, pristine beaches, excellent food, excellent service, super friendly and helpful staff, and an experience that I hope I’m able to be a part of again in the future. If you do decide to book at Conrad Rangali Island, having the AMEX Hilton Surpass card or the AMEX Platinum card and the Gold status that comes along with it will take you a long way. I estimated that I got over $700 in value just by having the card.

View of the Conrad Rangali Island from the seaplane

Some of you have asked if you could take a speedboat rather than the seaplane to Rangali Island. From my understanding, the only way to get there is by seaplane. It’s way overpriced for what amounts to a 30-minute plane ride and unfortunately, if you don’t have miles that can be redeemed for cash (Chase Ultimate Rewards or AMEX Membership points), there really is no way around it. Transmaldivian Airways has a monopoly on this route so it probably won’t change anytime soon.  If the seaplane cost is a turnoff, keep in mind there are plenty of excellent hotels that only require a seaboat transfer from Male. The cost for that isn’t cheap either but it’ll save you about $500 for two people.


Maldives: Miles Redemption Breakdown

Boston to Dubai, via Toronto: 40k United Mileage Plus miles redeemed per person

First leg of our trip to Dubai was on an Embraer 190 flown by Air Canada. This redemption cost 40k miles per person. When I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve back in September, they had a limited time offer of 100,000 bonus miles upon spending $4k in the first 3 months. Thanks to tuition, I hit that threshold pretty quickly. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, you can transfer your points on a 1:1 ratio to United and then use one of their Star Alliance partners to fly. This is exactly what we did.

 2nd leg: Toronto to Dubai

This leg of our trip was on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner flown by Air Canada in economy class.  This was part of the redemption above. Air Canada is a Star Alliance partner of United.

Star Alliance
When using United MileagePlus miles, you can redeem them on any of their Star Alliance partners above.


Abu Dhabi to Male, Maldives: 30k American Airlines miles redeemed per person

My wife and I both signed up for the American Airlines Platinum Select credit card by Citi a few years back and received the bonus 50k miles after hitting the minimum spend threshold (that tuition again). American Airlines is part of One World Alliance but they also have several partners outside the alliance where you can find great redemptions. Etihad happens to be one those partners outside of One World. Others include, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Alaska Airlines, and WestJet. One World partners are all below.


American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be redeemed on any of the airlines listed above. This is in addition to several that are not part of the One World Alliance

Male to Rangali Island: TransMaldivian Airways.  Partial cost offset by 55,000 American Express points.

When you book a trip to Maldives, there are two ways to get your island: by an expensive speedboat transfer or a ridiculously expensive seaplane transfer. Unfortunately, the sea plane transfer is offered by a single company, TransMaldivian Aiways,  which allows them to price the 30 minute flights for as much as they desire. They are not affiliated with any airline alliance so you can’t book them using miles. And it costs $546(!!) per round trip ticket to get to your island if it is only accessibly by seaplane. Since we booked the Conrad in Rangali Island, Maldives using Hilton points, our only option was taking the seaplane transfer. Since I couldn’t use miles and I wanted to reduce the cost burden of the seaplane transfer, I redeemed 55,000 American Express Premier Gold points for $550 in statement credit. AMEX Premier Gold has 20 airline transfer partners as well as the highly coveted Starwood hotels program as a transfer partner. Transferring to almost any of the programs would have given me significantly more value than the 1 cent per point I received by redeeming the points for statement credit. But I also hated the idea of spending $1,092 in cold hard cash for a 30 minute round trip flight. Redeeming the points made it a more palatable $273 round-trip per person. As for the experience itself, it was a very unique and scenic flight. The plane seats about 14 passengers in relatively narrow seats. The plane flies at around 4,500 feet so you get a great view of many islands with their over-water villas on the way to Rangali Island.


Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island: 620,000 Hilton Points

I’m not quite sure I’ll ever have another redemption in my life that will require as many points as I needed for the Conrad Maldives. This redemption took a lot of planning and required meeting multiple Hilton Card bonuses to have enough points for an award redemption. Back in 2015, My wife and I both applied for and got the Hilton Honors American Express credit card. It had no annual fee and the bonus was 75,000 Hilton points for spending $1,000 over the first 3 months. In 2016, we both got the Citi Hilton Honors Visa card. This offer was 75,000 points if you spend $2,000 over the first 3 months. I timed my car maintenance expenses and college expenses in a manner which I was able use the Citi Hilton card and get the bonus. My wife’s card was used in a similar manner. So if you’re keeping track, that is now 320,000 Hilton points we have accumulated between the two of us. Then earlier this year, American Express had a 100,000 point offer on their Hilton Surpass card. The annual fee was $75 but it came with automatic Hilton Gold Status. The benefit of having Gold status was significant. It ended up paying for the annual fee many times over. Both of us were able to achieve the 100k bonus due to miscellaneous spending + partial tuition.  Point count: 535,000 between the two of us. At this point, we had enough for 3 nights but due to the unpredictability of the weather (it was technically going to be rainy season in July), we really really wanted to get that in that 4th night. It was around this time that Hilton started a new feature in their Hilton Honors program in which you were now able to combine your points with 10 other people.  This was the break we needed. I asked my mom and dad if one of them was willing to apply for the no annual fee Hilton Honors AMEX card and get the 75k bonus after spending $2k in the first 3 months. Since they had a relatively large expense upcoming, they obliged and received the bonus. I was able to transfer those points into my account. Point count:  ~ 620,000.  Now we had enough points for 4 free nights at one of the best accommodations in the Maldives. Nightly rate if paid for in cash? $670. But the best part of this redemption is the Hilton Gold status that came with having the AMEX Hilton Surpass card. As Hilton Gold members, Conrad upgraded us from the superior over-water villa that we had booked to a retreat over-water villa. The cash value of the upgrade per night is about $130 a night. Multiply that by 4 and the upgrade is worth about $520. Hilton Gold members also had other benefits at the hotel such as free tea, biscuits, and lunch sandwiches between 4 and 5 pm and free mocktails between 5 and 6 pm. Buying lunch or mocktails at the Conrad with cash is not cheap. I’d peg this value at about $60 per day between two people. Multiply that by 4, that’s an additional $240 in value. For paying a total of $150 of annual fees between the two Hilton AMEX Surpass cards ($75 each), we derived about $760 in value. In addition, we both get a free night during our card member anniversary.



Male, Maldives to New York City, via Dubai

This was the part of our trip that really helped in reducing the overall miles/cash expenditure of our entire vacation. Sometimes you just get a little lucky. Back in early May, one of the travel blogs I follow sent out an alert on twitter about a mistake fare for a 1 way ticket from Maldives to NYC on Emirates. The mistake fare was $201 per person (!!!) for the 1 way ticket with dates extending as far out as December. Since Maldives was a trip I had been planning anyway, I thought I’d book the ticket and wait and see if Emirates would honor it. 24 hours after booking, I received an e-mail from Emirates that our tickets had been cancelled and that they would not be honoring the mistake fare. I was slightly disappointed but was prepared for this outcome. One week later, I received a call from Emirates asking me if I was still interested in that one way ticket. I told the rep I absolutely was. The booking/reservations agent informed me that there was a reversal in their decision and that they would be honoring the mistake fare. $201 per ticket from the Maldives to NYC is a steal. To put this into context, this flight would have cost $1,400 in cash per person or 70,000 Emirates miles (which I did not have)  and additional $100+ in taxes person.  Once this domino fell, everything else fell into place. Sometimes you just get a little lucky.