Although it was quite disappointing to find out that we hadn’t been allocated an upgraded water villa, we got a beach villa which perfectly matched the criteria that I sent to the hotel ahead of our stay. I was seriously impressed by this, as I can only imagine the degree of complexity that goes into giving every person the room they want, especially when people are constantly coming and going and the resort stays at near 100% occupancy throughout the high and shoulder seasons.
In fact, there is a $1Million prize available to anybody who can prove the underlying mathematical theorem for solving (and indeed fully explaining) this type of problem.
I requested a villa on the Eastern, reef side of the main island. This would allow us to walk straight outside and snorkel right by our white sand beach, whilst also ensuring that we could look out towards the ocean from our villa, rather than looking over at the other island and the bridge.
I also asked for an end unit so that we would only share a single wall with an adjoining villa rather than being sandwiched between two.
As luck would have it, our villa was also right by the dive centre, which was very convenient for us!
The door to our villa: 208 , was on the left of the entrance passage. My eyes immediately jumped to the cool detail of the water vessel and wooden boards by the door. A simple and elegant solution to getting sand off your feet before entering the villa.
There was a real rush of excitement as we finally opened the door to our villa. We had been planning this trip for so long, reading up on a whole host of trip reports, forum posts and looking through the resort’s Instagram page. We were finally about to settle down into our accommodation and fully experience this resort for ourselves!
Immediately upon entering, there was a tea and coffee making area, as well as numerous bottles of complimentary still and sparkling water. These were refilled throughout the day, with the staff observing our preferences and giving us more bottles of still when they saw that this was what we wanted.
I quickly glanced at the mini-bar prices. We’ve all heard how expensive the Maldives are but this was my first experience of the intense ‘sticker shock’ that abounds here. Bear in mind that these prices are exclusive of Maldivian tax and service charges. To give you an idea of how absurd these prices are, the 2013 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre retails for around $25 in the UK. At the Conrad Rangali that won’t even cover the ++ on the price of $135++
Suitably shocked we headed into the villa and caught sight of the famous purple walls for the first time. I honestly have no idea why they incorporated this ‘feature wall’ concept into the design of the beach villas. The color is horrifically jarring and feels like it would be more appropriate on the wall of a children’s play area than the walls of a 5* luxury resort villa. Having been universally panned, these walls were repainted to a neutral tone during the recent refurbishment of the villas.
The bathrooms are a great size and I particularly love how they spill out of the villa into the garden. This setup reminds me of the layout of the spectacular rooms at Alila Villas Uluwatu. There is something undeniably awesome about showering in your own private space outdoors. The sliding doors mean that the area by the sinks can be easily closed off and air conditioned, which I’m assured makes putting makeup on a lot easier.
In order to be eco-friendly the resort refills these pots with the Conrad’s signature Aromatherapy Associates products. You can still request Refinery, Tara Smith or Shanghai Tang if you want but we were happy to stick with AA. The smell of Aromatherapy Associates body lotion is now inextricably linked to the Maldives, in my mind, as a result of this stay.
How’s this for a first world problem? The tub is so large that it takes around an hour to fill, so we only used it once and gave up because we were just splashing around in ankle deep water, getting cold, waiting for it to fill completely. The recent renovation addressed this issue by filling a large portion of the tub to create a more usable space.
Of course, if you have more money than sense, you can delegate the task of filling the bathtub to somebody else for a mere $130++, plus and additional $15 delivery fee.
The toilet is indoors next to the bedroom and features acres of counter space, way more than what you get near the sinks. I feel like you could create a pretty decent library in here, or perhaps do some large and complex origami with the toilet paper. Speaking of which, I particularly like the twin toilet roll holsters. Nice touch. Very nice. Bonus points for the Thai style butt hose too. Jack Kerouac wrote rather eloquently on the virtues of these, maybe I should have left a copy of Big Sur to start off the library…
Back inside, before reaching the bedroom, you come to a very large wardrobe/ luggage area.
The bedroom is very spacious, I particularly like the high, vaulted ceilings and love the view out to the private outdoor sitting area. The colour scheme…I’ve discussed already. Suffice to say, I’m glad they fixed it with the renovation.
The TV was turned on when we first arrived, playing the same welcome video that was showing in the seaplane lounge. We never turned it back on after this. One really annoying feature of the room (and another one which has now been fixed) was the useless courtyard next to the bed. It had a really loud fountain inside of it that did nothing but take up space and make noise. There was no switch to turn the fountain off so I had to go in there and pull the power plug from the wall. Thankfully the cleaners got the message and didn’t reconnect it.
The bed was very comfortable and I like how the bedside tables were very large and totally fixed in place. The bedside lamps were very cool too. Having the bed up on a platform does present a slight hazard for your shins though.
You can see how little privacy you have whilst in the ‘backyard’ of the beach villas here. Whilst we thought it was a good idea to pick an end unit, it transpires that there was a super loud air conditioning plant on the side where our other neighbour would have been. The noise was loud enough that we could hear it in the room with all the doors shut. We needed earplugs to sleep. Perhaps we should have left the fountain on to drown out the noise!
On our first evening, after unpacking, we took a moonlit walk along the beach and saw hundreds of these little guys. We soon came to realise that the defining highlight of our experience here would be the close proximity we would enjoy to the local wildlife. When you see nothing but seagulls and pigeons all day, you forget how amazingly diverse and interesting the World’s creatures can be.
At this point I feel I should mention a couple of things about the beach. Firstly, there is a lot of obvious, visible erosion. There are large steps in the sand around both islands, with roots sticking through. If you have kids or older people travelling with you it is something worth bearing in mind, as the tripping hazard is significant.
Secondly, the sand looks good in photos, it has a really white shade to it as a result of the large amount of coral it contains. However, it is not soft. It is coarse and grainy and not particularly comfortable to lie or sit on. The sand at the beach in my birthplace of Valencia in Spain is considerably more soft and powdery. If you’re expecting sand like talcum powder, you won’t get it here.
The hardware of the beach villas had some major issues which have now been addressed. I’m glad to hear that the Conrad Maldives took on board the concerns that people had in the past:
I really liked the bathroom, particularly the outdoor shower. The storage space for clothes and luggage was more than adequate and the villa was very conveniently located, close to the dive centre, gym and numerous restaurants.
The best part of the beach villa experience was unsurprisingly the proximity to the beautiful beach and the house reef. Is the hardware alone worth the price tag? No. Is the location worth it? Absolutely. 100%.
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