One of the things we love is to hear stories from our readers about how our passion for miles and points has affected their lives. The exotic honeymoon planning that is in the works, gifting their parents a luxurious vacation to Goa or just enjoying that First class seat that they got on redemption (We can help!). During our recent meetups in Bangalore and Mumbai, we heard many success stories and we requested some of our readers to share their stories with us.
So here we go with our first reader’s success story, where a lovely Mumbai-based couple enjoyed a points-paid vacation at Maldives’ luxurious Hilton resort, The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. So here we go…
Paradise on earth! Maldives 2017
The “Husband” (a.k.a. “P”) and I (a.k.a. “H”) decided to take off to the Maldives during the short Diwali break last month. We finally had enough Hilton Honors points to redeem a few nights at the famous Conrad Maldives Rangali Islands!
We decided to fly on Sri Lankan from Mumbai as we wanted to reach Male between 6 am – 4 pm so that we could experience the seaplane flight to the hotel which is indeed magical. The other option was to fly Air India, which would have us reach Male in the evening and it would have been a hit or miss for the seaplane. For reference, in case you arrive between 4pm-10pm, the hotel can arrange for a short domestic flight to a nearby airport on a turboprop plane of Maldivian and then a boat ride to the hotel; anything post that would require you to spend a night at Male.
We took off from Mumbai at 03.10 am and arrived at Colombo after a short 2.5 hrs flight. As our layover was 2 hours at Colombo, we visited the Lotus First Class lounge and waited for our next plane to Male. We were able to get to the lounge due to the Marco Polo Gold status on Cathay Pacific, which is equivalent to Emerald Status on oneworld, and hence the access to the First Class Lounge. Another 60 minutes flight and we arrived at Velana International Airport in Male at 8.15 in the morning.
We collected our bags and realized that one of our bags had “security check” labels tagged all over it. We were told by the security officials that alcohol isn’t allowed in Maldives and hence we had to remove the two wine bottles we were carrying with us (there went our savings on alcohol!). The only respite was that we could collect the bottles on our way back.
We were met by a Conrad representative on arrivals and whisked away to the Conrad Executive Lounge which is 10 mins drive from the Airport. The lounge is very luxurious and we had a good breakfast of muffins, cereals and coffee while waiting for our seaplane. The moment we finished our breakfast, the staff announced that the seaplane is now ready for boarding.
Trans Maldivian Airways operates a fleet of 52 seaplanes (De Havilland Twin Otters) making it the largest operator in the world of such a plane type. Each of the twin otters can accommodate 14 people and is fairly comfortable. Conrad Rangali is a 30 mins seaplane ride (500 USD / person round trip, apart from the 12% tax) from the terminal; however the moment you take off, you are completely mesmerized by the beautiful views and blue azure waters all around. The jaw-dropping views make the 30 mins flight pass off very very quickly!
We arrived at the resort and were greeted very warmly by the hotel staff who provided us cold towels and guava strawberry smoothies!
The Conrad is the biggest luxury property in Maldives at 150 rooms. The property is actually quite big with one main island and another smaller “quiet” island (family with children below 12 yrs can’t stay on this island) connected by a 500m walkway bridge or using a traditional “dhoni” boat made of coconut palm timber. The property has another 3rd island called “staff island” as that’s where the hotel staff stays.
The hotel boasts of two pools, a family pool on the main island and a smaller infinity pool on the quiet island.
Moving around the hotel can be easily done through the multiple golf carts who are indeed very prompt! On arrival, we were assigned a hotel staff member who would be taking care of us during our entire stay.
For the first two nights, we stayed in a Deluxe beach villa and then moved for two nights to an Overwater villa. Regardless of your Hilton Status, you do not get upgrades, although we did get some leeway there, more on which later.
Deluxe Beach Villa
The Beach Villa was huge and luxurious (1500 sq. ft)! We were told that the deluxe beach villa that we stayed in had been recently refurbished.
Our villa had an outdoor shower and bathtub, walk-in closet, a huge couch, Nespresso, king size bed and an outdoor area where you could enjoy your morning cuppa!
Being Hilton Honors Gold members, we were informed that there would be complimentary breakfast and high tea at Mandhoo restaurant every day from 4-5pm and a cocktail hour at Vilu restaurant from 5-6pm!
The afternoon tea spread was quite impressive – scones, tea cakes, sandwiches, cookies and exotic teas were laid out every day at the restaurant.
The cocktail hour too had spirits and canopies every day. So our schedule would pretty much be the same – late heavy breakfast, then enjoy the high tea and cocktail hour and then a light dinner at any of the restaurants.
Conrad has the first undersea restaurant in Maldives called Ithaa and we decided to experience it. We decided to go for their cocktail menu wherein we would be provided with a glass of champagne/mocktail and some canopies – all for approx. 92 USD/ INR 5,940 per person! (who said Maldives can never be done on a budget!). The restaurant offers a set menu for lunch and dinner but we decided to skip it as being vegetarians there was a limited variety.
The rest of the days were spent snorkelling at the coral reef (hotel provides complimentary snorkelling gear and mask), relaxing on the beach and catching up on some reading!
The idea of waking up and walking barefoot on the softest sand ever with a cup of tea was indeed magical. We were so grateful to have experienced this luxury and being so close to nature!
After the first two night at beach villa, it was time to move to the overwater villa.
Retreat Water Villa
We were provided with an upgrade to the retreat villa – our overwater villa spelt luxury through and through – a sitting area, king size bed, walk-in closet, huge bathtub and shower, and wait for it – a separate spa room for two people!!
The outdoor area involved a side bed, sun deck beds, Jacuzzi, coffee table and the beautiful lagoon all around us! It was so private and secluded; almost reminded us of all the picture-perfect postcards that we had seen of Maldives!
I’m a sucker for sunsets and hence every evening we would watch the sun go down and the sky would be painted with orange and pink hues!
The per night differential in USD pricing between Beach & Over Water Villa was USD 75 (+ taxes) Vs over 2.5 times in terms of Points (95K Vs 236K per night). We chose to book the Beach Villa, booking 3 nights with Points and 1 night by Cash. Once at the resort, with an extra USD 100 per night we got upgraded to Overwater Villa. Therefore, seemed like an attractive deal for 2 nights each between Beach & Over Water Villa.
Before we knew it, it was time to come back to reality and we were on our way back to the Male airport. As we had some time to kill at the airport, we decided to take a short 60 mins tour of the city of Male. The city is a short 10 mins ferry ride (fee $2 / person return) from the airport terminal and Conrad arranged a tour guide to take us through the city tour. It’s a small city with a lot of construction work going on but very different from the picture-perfect sand beaches. It was interesting to hear the political environment of the city from a local.
Again, a big thank you to our readers P & H for sharing their experience and such amazing pictures. With a deluxe beach villa inclusive of breakfast going for USD 1500 a night, I’d say it was a great use for 95000 Hilton Honors points per night giving a value of 1.6 US Cents. But the better value was in the Overwater villa which is 1900 Dollars a night, but they paid only a 100 USD extra. We love that a lot of you are out and about galavanting with your points.
We would love to hear more from you. If there are strategies that you have learned reading LFAL and they have helped you score an amazing hotel deal, grab that first class seat or score an amazing upgrade and would like to share it with our community, please share it with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we will be happy to publish some of them.