We were first off the plane – as were our bags – so we found ourselves in a totally empty customs and immigration hall. After a quick check of our passport and putting all of our bags through a scanner (because the resorts sure as hell don’t want you bringing your own booze when they can charge you $30++ for a glass of wine), we were out in the warm breeze of the arrivals area.
We made our way to the Conrad sign and were escorted by one of the Conrad hosts, over to the Seaplane counter, where all of our bags were weighed individually and tagged.
CON : Not an airport code you see every day…unfortunately.
Be careful though, the weight restrictions are quite strict: Luggage allowance is 25kg per person plus 5kg of hand luggage and the maximum weight is 32kg per item. In order to reach 32kg though, you’ll need to pay $9 per kg over the 25kg allowance.
We retrieved a couple of chargers and our camera equipment after our bags were weighed and took them with us to the Conrad van, which was waiting to take us to the lounge. The host travelled with us all the way to the lounge and was great at making small talk and getting us excited for our stay. We had the van to ourselves, which made the transfer experience seem more exclusive, though I imagine at peak times you may have to share.
Private Conrad van transfer to the lounge.
The route from the International Terminal to the Trans Maldivian Seaplane Terminal is an aviation geek’s dream. You are within a few feet of the runway the whole way, although there is a checkpoint which stops you if a plane is about to take off or land.
QR674 from DOH-MLE coming in to land.
The view from the end of the runway, looking North.
After our quick tour of the runway we pulled up at the seaplane terminal, where several of the high-end resorts host their guests in private lounges. Judging by what I’ve seen online, the Conrad has one of the most extensive facilities, with enviable views of the water below.
Our host introduced us to Afeef, who took care of us for the 1h20 that we waited in the lounge. There was one other couple when we first arrived but they left within ten minutes or so, meaning that we had the entire place to ourselves!
Afeef was an absolute delight, very friendly, welcoming and also quite mischievous! He really couldn’t have done any more to make us feel welcome and to help the time fly by. First he took us on a tour of the lounge:
Upon first entering the lounge, guests are greeted by this painting and model boat. Afeef explained to us that this type of traditional Maldivian boat, the dhoni, is used to carry passengers between the two islands at the Conrad Rangali
Group seating area
This group seating area is located right next to the entrance. I love the reclaimed timber table and you certainly can’t say this area lacks power points!
The main seating area of the lounge is designed in a very light and airy style, with the white leather chaises being rather unique and far preferable to the smaller rattan style seats. The video screens throughout the lounge show you all the various restaurants and activities available at the resort… like the Jetpack.
Definite ‘holiday mode’ seating
The best of the best have to be these double size daybeds. Come to think of it I really don’t know why they didn’t put more of these in the lounge, given how many couples come to the Conrad Maldives.
One major design flaw in this lounge is the lack of power points, particularly given the fact that a lot of people have just disembarked from long-haul flights and will want their cameras fully charged for the flight over. Thankfully there’s a floor flap between the last two day beds, with some power sockets inside.
Not your usual plane spotting from the lounge. After seeing the amazing turquoise coloured water from the air it was a real rush to see it up close; watching the seaplanes come and go just took the whole experience to another level. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time we were here.
Probably my favourite feature of the lounge: the outdoor terrace. Smoking is permitted which I’m sure some people will appreciate. I just loved sitting out here, enjoying the warm temperature and hearing the constant hum of propellers.
Best lounge view ever.
Afeef said that we were welcome to help ourselves to whatever we liked from the buffet and that he would prepare any hot drinks we wanted and bring them over to us. During the day the lounge doesn’t serve alcohol but does offer a variety of soft drinks, including some pretty decent coffee.
Daytime buffet offering. One of the large metal containers was filled with boiled eggs the other was empty.
A selection of carbs on offer, for those wishing to do some last minute damage before their first beach selfie.
I mostly stuck to this section of the buffet…mostly.
A huge selection of TWG and Dilmah teas, just like on Singapore Airlines!
After grabbing a quick snack and getting our various devices plugged in, Afeef came over to ask if we would like a complimentary 10 minute massage each, or if we would like to use the shower.
Kamara is super ticklish and hates massages so was visibly reticent. I thought it would be a good idea to grab a quick shower first as I didn’t want the masseuse to be forced to endure my delightful travel aroma.
The shower room featured the same eco-friendly, refillable bottles as we would later find at the Conrad – filled with the usual Conrad Aromatherapy Associates toiletries.
The shower was really powerful and just what I needed to dust the old cobwebs off after my rather fractured sleep and subsequent anarchic coffee buzz. I like how they placed a luggage stand in here so that you could easily access a change of clothes, without scrambling around on the floor.
After my shower, I headed back into the lounge and happened upon a most unusual scene. Afeef had invoked some form of sorcery and actually convinced Kamara to have a massage. As soon as he caught sight of me a grin took over the entirety of his face. He put his finger to his lips and gestured for me to walk over to him.
I went over and he whispered to me:
“Switch places with the masseuse and I’ll take some pictures, don’t tell Kamara anything and then show her the pictures once you get to your room”
I approached as quietly as I could and the masseuse quickly moved out of the way…
Kamara totally fell for it! She didn’t suspect a thing.
After Kamara’s massage I had time for an excellent ten minute massage of my own. As soon as it was over Afeef came to tell us that our flight would soon be departing. He handed us a Conrad bag containing two bottles of water and two sets of earplugs.
Conrad seaplane ‘amenity kit’
We were then met at reception by a Conrad representative who escorted us to the lift, down to the ground floor and around the corner to the Seaplane dock. Our Maldivian paradise was so close now…