One of the major advantages that the Conrad has over other Maldivian resorts is its sheer size. There is undoubtedly a charm in being able to walk around your entire island resort in five minutes but I imagine that after a couple of nights things start to get pretty boring.
With ten different bars and restaurants to choose from, all with their own unique identities and cuisines, the Conrad does not suffer from a lack of options. There are also tennis courts, two infinity pools, numerous watersports and several beaches, as well as a house reef.
If you are staying in a beach villa you’ll be located on the Main Island whilst the majority of the water villas are across the water on the Quiet Island. Either way, you’ll probably find yourself moving back and forth between the two islands throughout your stay, although most people tend to have a favourite…
Rangali Finolhu (aka The Main Island)
Deluxe Beach Villa
Junior Beach Suite
Retreat Water Villa
Family Water Villa
Bars and Restaurants:
Sunset Bar and Grill
More bars and restaurants to choose from
Better facilities for kids
Dive centre, watersports and tennis courts
busier and noisier
no adults only areas
When we first checked in we were wowed by the palm trees and turquoise ocean visible from the Main Island. However, upon further inspection there was a lot of densely packed seating as well as live music, which may appeal to some but to us felt quite removed from the idyllic island paradise we had envisaged. The views over to the less picturesque staff island also ruined the illusion somewhat.
The iconic fallen palm tree just outside the main island’s Sunset Bar and Grill.
‘George’ finds a quiet spot, away from the mass of densely packed chairs and loungers.
The Main Island definitely feels a lot more like some of the larger resorts I’ve visited in the past, like the Intercontinental and Ayana in Bali. The check-in area has the feel of a sandy aircraft hangar… without the added excitement of being near planes.
Not my idea of a luxurious welcome.
There are plenty of gift shops, which are both ludicrously expensive (you are screwed if you leave your sunscreen at home, the Conrad will gouge you for all they can) and rather unsightly.
The gym and business centre are located on the upstairs floor, above the shops.
Shopping Precinct – Conrad Maldives Main Island
All of the social seating areas on the Main Island are located near the lobby or in the large bars and restaurants. If you are looking for more of an energetic atmosphere, with plenty of other people to interact with, the Main Island bars are more likely to appeal to you than the options on the Quiet Island.
There are a far greater number of restaurant options on the Main Island. Including the cheapest (but by no means cheap) restaurant: Sunset Grill, as well as the extortionately overpriced underwater restaurant: Ithaa.
Of course, the Main Island also has a decently sized neighbourhood of overwater edifices – this is where our Retreat Overwater Villa was located. It is also where you will find my personal favourite restaurant at the resort: Mandhoo. I’ll cover it in depth in the next segment but let me just say this, it is as close to the experience of an overwater villa as you can get, without actually staying in one.
If you have kids the only public pool available to you will be on the Main Island. We personally never bothered with it as it was always crowded and noisy, plus the view is not particularly great.
There are way more activities on the Main Island – like ping pong, for example. There are also tennis courts and watersports available. If you go diving, you’ll meet at the Main Island’s jetty.
Even if you don’t dive but you still want to go looking for cool underwater creatures – like this orange lined triggerfish – you’ll want to take your snorkel to the house reef, located on the ocean side of the Main Island.
Bonus Area : The Bridge
Talking of marine life, there is one aspect of the Conrad experience which totally blew me away. I had heard that you could see manta rays from the bridge that connects the two islands but this is quite seasonal and one hadn’t been spotted for at least two weeks before our stay. On our second night, we felt like exploring after dinner and thought we’d go and see if the manta had decided to make an appearance.
We struck up a conversation with an American couple who were also staring into the water; it seemed like they had much the same idea as us. This was the final night of their ten night stay and they had come to the bridge every evening in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive aquatic beast.
We stood chatting with them for around fifteen minutes and were about to give up, when all of a sudden somebody further down the bridge shouted over to say that the manta had been spotted!
After that, chaos broke out. We started running up and down the bridge, desperately trying to keep up with the enormous winged creature, as it periodically barrel rolled to the surface only to disappear moments later.
It is kind of weird to see fully grown adults running around laughing, with reckless abandon but that is part of what makes the experience of staying at The Conrad so special. Everybody is completely relaxed.
These two were totally oblivious until we shouted to them to look down!
The best shot I was able to capture of the enormous manta ray.
Rangali (aka The Quiet Island)
Deluxe Water Villa
Superior Water Villa
Premier Water Villa / Suite
Sunset Water Villa
Bars and Restaurants:
Quiet Zone Bar
Higher end dining options
Adults only pool
Overall feeling of tranquility
Beautiful uninterrupted sunset views
Not much for kids to do
No activities beyond strolling, lounging and swimming
From the moment you first set foot on the Quiet Island you know you are in for a profoundly different experience to that which you find across the water. In many ways this is part of what makes The Conrad Maldives such a great resort. Most people don’t want to be perpetually switched off and relaxed, conversely they don’t want to be surrounded by bright lights and lots of people all the time either. Generally we all like to find a balance. The Quiet Island is the perfect yin to the Main Island’s yang.
If you take the dhoni boat across the water, the first place you will come to is the Quiet Island’s lobby lounge. The low ceilings, ample comfortable seats and breezy, open design immediately make you feel relaxed. The staff here are also super friendly and helpful, probably because they almost never have any guests to deal with! As soon as they saw me taking pictures they offered to take a shot of Kamara and I. I told them that I was just interested in taking pictures of the public spaces, which they thought was very amusing. After I was done with my pictures they came over and asked once again, saying that they would love to take a picture for us, so that we could better remember our visit to the Conrad.
In all of the time I passed the Quiet Island’s lobby lounge, I never saw one other hotel guest.
Of course, the quiet island isn’t entirely devoid of commercialism but overall strikes a much more peaceful and elegant tone. The shops here are much smaller than those in the Main Island’s precinct and I feel like they blend far better into their surroundings.
Of course, inside of a lobby is not really the optimal place to enjoy the delights of a tropical paradise. Thankfully there are plenty of public seating areas dotted around outside.
Finally, a hammock that you can easily get in and out of!
The picture taken for us by the lobby staff.
Two of the only activities on the Quiet Island: The Overwater Spa and… climbing palm trees.
When we first visited the Quiet Island we were still staying in a beach villa on the Main Island and were quite curious to check out the overwater villas. Even the pathways seem more spacious, tranquil and enchanting here.
The deluxe water villas – exactly what most people imagine when they picture The Maldives.
We walked all the way up to the far end of the island to the area where the two sunset water villas are located. As their name implies, this is quite the place to watch the magnificent colours as day turns to night.
I couldn’t resist snapping a quick picture of the unoccupied villa 349. As you can see, it really lacks privacy, compared to 350, which looks straight out to the ocean. I can’t imagine it is often booked, given the obvious disadvantages it has compared to its neighbour.
There were no other people but it turns out that quite a few other creatures were keen to watch the sunset with us…
The pool area on the Quiet Island is undeniably more appealing than the one on the other side.
No screaming kids here ?
I think you can guess which of the two is my favourite island but of course these things are entirely personal. I think that these two images of the breakfast options at each island are the perfect representations of each of the islands as a whole (and they also serve as a seamless segue into the next section of this trip report, where I give the lowdown on some of the food and beverage outlets at The Conrad Maldives…)
The Atoll Market Buffett on the Main Island
A la carte buffet breakfast at Vilu, on the Quiet Island.
Love the photos! And thanks for the great comparison of the two islands.
Thanks Jason, glad you enjoyed the review !
Very good comparison. I completely concur. I was there in June and stayed in the Deluxe Water Villa, which was incredible. I can only imagine what staying in the Retreat Water Villa was like. We only went to the main island to snorkel and for tea and dinner at Mandhoo, which is amazing. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say about it.
Thanks! The DWVs look great and have a distinctly more modern look than the RWVs as well as being guaranteed sunset views, so I don’t think you were particularly hard done by 🙂 You visited the main island for the bare minimum. Good tactic! My review of Mandhoo (plus all the other dining options) will be up very soon…