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Reviewed 17 January 2008

Well, for all those tripadvisors who wrote to me on the forum and said that it was going to be risky taking the children to this hotel for Christmas.....how wrong you were!

There were 81 (!!) other children staying there during this time and our kids had an absolute ball (and so did we). The kids club has just been refurbished and now has a kids spa area (amazing!). It also had a fantastic array of activities for the children - they just loved it there.

Here are some of the experiences we enjoyed the most:

1. Sunset Grill and Mandhoo restaurants were both fantastic.
2. Atoll Market had the most wonderful Xmas lunch (plus magician for children)
3. Santa arriving on an old fishing vessel was a blast
4. complimentary afternoon tea every day (near the business centre) was amazing
5. the overwater spa massages (by "May") were the best ever experienced (the other spa area was very busy and not as relaxing).
6. snorkelling out on the reef (just near villa number 325) was unbelievable. We spent hours out in the beautiful warm water with the children finding nemo's and following sea turtles.
7. the fishing trips are great fun....caught lots of fish for our lunch the next day (that was cooked perfectly by the staff in Atoll Market).
8. the wine cellar dinner - a most wonderful memory.

So, all in all, we just loved our week at the Conrad. We'd go every year if we could afford it! The Deluxe Beach Villa was perfect for our family of four....I'd recommend this type of accommodation if you have a child or two.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled with family
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5  Thank SindyM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 January 2008

Stayed at Conrad Maldives over Xmas/New Year's Eve period for 9 nights. Our room was a water villa on the beautiful Rangali, the smallest island, definitely the best to stay if you're looking for a more private and romantic place. Probably it was not the best period for a couple, as the resort was packed with families with screaming children: not my idea of a relaxing journey! The good thing is that most of the children use to stay around the pool on the main island, so we could stay in a more quiet atmosphere on the beaches of our water villas island.
Now the positive comments: we loved the Conrad private lounge at the seaplane departures in Male, where we could relax after a long flight via Dubai refreshing ourselves with perfumed cold towels and sipping fresh juices.
Nice to see that everything at the resort is re-branded from Hilton to Conrad.
The islands are beautiful, with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches: definitely a dream come true!
We were HB so we had complimentary dinners at Atoll Market, one of the many restaurants at Conrad Maldives. Atoll Market is a really good buffet restaurant with a lot of choice from worldwide cousines (maybe a little repetitive). As Atoll Market is the only one restaurant included in your HB plan, avoid half board if you want to try every night a different place.
Our favorite restaurant was Mandhoo: amazing location and a superb cousine made with organic ingredients. We also loved Vilu (unbeatable and MAGIC location) and Sunset Grill (great food but lot of smell arriving from the kitchen, even if we're seated in the outside terrace). We also tried Ithaa for dinner: stunning setting but food so and so, not good as expected (we ate better in the other restaurants).. you pay for the location but that's ok, it's a once in a lifetime experience.
Our water villa was overlooking the main island and the spa water villas; this side of our island was more windy than the sunset side, but that breeze was really pleasant because of the high temperatures. We loved our villa, although it needs a refurbishment as soon as possible as the water villas are starting to show off their age. The bathroom was huge, with a great bathtub overlooking the sea and a GREAT shower. In room amenities include flat tv, cd player (but no iPod connectors!), Nespresso coffee maker, WiFi connections (i called home almost everyday via Skype on my pda!) umbrellas, raincoats, flip flops, beach-bags, Bulgari bath products, fresh fruit and 1.5l bottles of water (2 and sometimes 3 per day) delivered everyday.
As water villas guests we had delicious breakfasts at Vilu everyday, more relaxing and closer than Atoll Market.
The staff are very kind and friendly; when we were leaving they extended our check-out time as our plane was late night.
Food and beverages prices are quite reasonable considering that you are in the middle of nowhere: 12 $ for a mojito is almost the same price you pay here in Italy for a cocktail. Don't forget the happy hour at Vilu where you can have free drinks from 5 to 6 pm. Great cocktails and snacks also at Rangali Bar on the main island, where every night there's a different show, although the best show was looking at the sky full of stars, and the B I G mantas 'dancing' every night under the middle of the bridge connecting the two islands. Simply beautiful.
Nice New Year's Eve party on the beach with music and fireworks by the sea. Nice touch the bottle of champagne we found in our room when we returned from the party.

We loved the resort and our trip was unforgettable, BUT there are some minuses that we didn't like at all. For example their cancellation policy: as we wanted to try the Wine Cellar on our last night there, we told to our Island Host to reserve it for us. We got a confirmation and then, on the same day of the dinner, the event was re-confirmed. Just a couple of hours before going to the Wine Cellar we were told that the dinner was cancelled. Then we couldn't go elsewhere for dinner because it was too late to book our favorite restaurants (like Mandhoo or Vilu) as they were already fully booked, so, we were to Atoll Market, the only one available. Ridiculous policy, also because a 50% charge is applied for cancellation less than 12 hours prior the event, but if the cancellation is their fault, they don't offer you any option or alternative reservation.
We did also the Safari Snorkeling excursion: amazing experience around the reef of a deserted island close to Conrad (we saw 3 turtles and tons of fishes!) but why did we return to the resort at 4pm and not at 5pm as scheduled? By the way, this excursion was really enjoyable (we were given also fresh fruit, sandwiches and yogurts after snorkeling).
The afternoon I wanted to try the pedal boat, I was told by one of the water sports staff that they were closed. Ok, so why they were continuing to rent jet ski and banana boats when i couldn't get a pedal boat..? Maybe 'cause non-motorized water sports are free??
The Island Host service also must be improved: we saw our host when we arrived and then he disappeared until our departure.. when we tried to contact him during our stay for informations and/or restaurant reservations we always had to speak with someone else as he was not available.
These may sound like small silly things but when you're going to a five star resort (and paying for it!) you are expecting a five star treatment!

Anyway, we had a wonderful vacation at Conrad, but i think the next time we'll fly to the Maldives we will try another resort.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
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15  Thank bierre1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 January 2008

Having relied heavily on the reviews here to book our holiday, I'd like to contribute my share for those currently contemplating whether or not to book the Conrad.

Usually, I wouldn't voluntarily book a hotel of the Hilton chain, as they usually are old and ordinary, ugly and unspectacular, and very mainstream, in the wholesale kind of way. But having had a look at
other resorts, and not wanting to risk being trapped on a small island
filled with ugly rooms, unprofessional service, and bad food, we decided to trust the trip advisors and give it a try.

Here's what we liked:
- You get 3 resorts (Main island, Water villa island, Spa) and 7 restaurants. Plenty to discover!
- It is a well organized resort with experienced staff and world-class comfort in a very remote location.
- The arrival lobby at the airport makes the wait for the sea plane seem so much shorter.
- The staff is very trustworthy, motivated & friendly. All our requests were met in a prompt/professional manner.
- Free Nespresso in the villa (though it shouldn't be that it is the best coffee in the entire resort).
- Wonderfully relaxing free cocktail hour for Water Villa guests at Vilu bar every day at 5PM.
- The breakfast buffets (and all meals in general) are of high quality. The drinks are very good, too.
- The Dhoni shuttle ride between the 2 islands is a relaxing and enjoyable way to get around.
- It is more child friendly than you'd think. They have a kids menu everywhere, a playground, and highchairs, too.
- Spotless and prompt housekeeping. They even leave a new stuffed sea creature in the tot every day.
- A wine book (not just a list). Almost all regions and kinds are available. Prices range from 40$ to 19000$ per bottle.
- Plenty of sharks, fish, stingrays and other animals to see, right from the balcony of your water villa.
- The undersea restaurant is a truly magical (though also extremely pricey) experience.

What we didn't like:
- Just because the Conrad name is new doesn't mean the resort is. Some
parts (pool, villa) look more used than they should.
- They live up to their founder's wisdom: "If you are 100% booked, you
aren't charging enough!" Very greedy pricing policy.
- Once you've paid the bill, the conrad treatment stops. No more private conrad shuttle, just an overcrowded bus.
- The foreign management & sommelier sit at the bar just like customers, and uses local staff for drinks & food.
- A big chain hotel means lots of "ordinary" guests. A bit more refinement among the guests would have been nice (not the hotel's fault).
- We went there to escape Xmas. Yet, you get cheesy Xmas music (last Xmas I gave you my heart; all I want for Xmas is you) everywhere! Bring back the chill-out playlists!

Summary:
All in all, we had a wonderful holiday at the Conrad Maldives and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a hassle-free and relaxing holiday, and agrees that it is better to pay a bit more than to end up regretting being stuck at an island hotel. The Conrad is a very safe choice and you can't go wrong with it. You have the "resort" main island, the quiet water villa island, and the modern spa area. The variety is already worth it. The staff, the restaurants, the room - the chances of finding something to complain about are absolutely minimal. Whether the unjustified price hike associated with the new name will stop repeating guests from coming will have to be seen

Now, to the details:

Which villa to book:
- if you like the typical resort comfort (bar, marine sports, shops, music), and like people watching, book a garden villa.
- if you like snorkeling, ask for a garden villa numbered 201-239, as they face the house reef.
- if you like tranquility, a beach just for yourself, and more intimate atmosphere, definitely book a water villa.
- if you like sunsets, ask for a water villa numbered 313-348 (they face the west - and the reef, too)
- if you want to splurge, like modern and simple elegance, and don't mind walking, book a spa villa.
- If it is your honeymoon, go for the sunset water villa. They offer perfect privacy and secluded feeling.

What are the restaurants like?
- Water villa guests have breakfast at Vilu. Garden villa guests at the Atoll market.
- Atoll market: Food court atmosphere at a pretty hefty price tag. Only if you like looking at other tourists roaming around to get food.
- Rangali: A pretty "ordinary" hotel bar offering bar food and good drinks. Happy hour is from 9-10PM, and they have live shows, too.
- Vilu: Great wine list and variety of risottos and seafood. Less crowded than rangali/atoll. The most relaxing place to have lunch.
- Wine cellar: If you miss wearing a sweater and shoes, and prefer being surrounded by wine racks over the ocean breeze, go here.
- Mandhoo: Best location. Half of the menu is the nutritional info. The food is decent - but skip the deserts. Healthy deserts don't taste good.
- Ithaa: Spectacular, but overpriced. Charging 175$ per person and then not including a glass of wine is arrogant. It's the fish, not the food. Go for the 11AM cocktail and save 90%)
- Sunset Grill: Pretty "normal" grill menu - nothing unexpected. Reserve a balcony seat - the inside gets quite smoky. Is very popular for some reason - reserve!
- Koko grill: Only if you don't mind sitting in a pretty dodgy hole in the beach and paying 160$ per person for grilled seafood. Skip it.
- In general: Go for a la Carte. The set menus are overpriced unless you can really eat that much. The quality is decent, and the wines are great.

What activities are there?
- We took a glass bottom boat trip. Great if you have kids that can't go snorkeling yet. We even saw a turtle! The boat seats 6-8 people.
- The spa has a great atmosphere in great architecture. Go there, even if it is only for a haircut! It feels very special.
- Non-motorized marine sports (all kinds) are free and the staff is helpful. Banana-boat, jet-ski etc. is available.
- The pool is overcrowded and some guests (in my case from India) reserve loungers after 11AM.
- There is a dive center, a nice gym, a children's playground, ping-pong. And beach volleyball (nobody showed up, though).

What kind of clientele is there?
- Type: 50% honeymooners, 30% families, and 20% celebrating retirement.
- Fashion: 75% in printed T-shirt or tank top & shorts, 20% elegant resort wear, 5% fashionistas.
- Natlonalities: 40% Europeans (mostly Germans & British), 30% Russians, 30% Asians.

What are the prices like?
- Soft drinks: 6-10 USD, Beer: 6-8 USD
- Wine: 40 - 19000 USD per bottle
- Cocktails: 12-15 USD
- Lunch: 15-20 USD per item
- Dinner a la carte: 20-40 USD per item
- Glass bottom boat (50 USD for one hour per person)
- Haircut: 40 USD, Spa Treatment: 200 USD and up.
- All in all, expect the tab to be around 1500-2500 USD for 2 persons for a week.

Hope this review helps others in making up their minds! Have a great holiday!

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled with family
    • Value
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75  Thank kotarok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 January 2008

Myself, wife and 17 year old daughter stayed in Rangali over Xmas, New Year on a Full Board package- in a water villa/with upgrade to a superior water villa.
As mentioned by most it is a beautiful island, dominated by clear, shallow waters and white sands. It can appear somewhat sterile as it is raked, scaped and cleaned continually and there are not so many fish in the nearshore- you have to go to the reef/deeper waters to see quantity/variety. The water villas were quite basic and noisy, due to the water breaking nearby- the superior water villas a lot nicer, but located in very shallow waters, difficult for swimming.
Although an enjoyable stay, we come across more negativies than anticipated particularly for the large price tag.
On day 1 we essentially had a prolonged argument with our host about whether the Vilu was included in the Full Board/Half Board package. As we booked Feb 2007 it clearly should have been, apparently not so now, and we were basically asked to 'Prove it'- not appreciated straight off the plane.
We found the food, in Atol average, room service and Vilu below average. Elsewhere too much emphasis on 'European classics' to appeal greatly-- although the wine was very good.
Staff were on the whole charming, but over attentive- and pushed wine and events too hard in our view, this became a joke in the end.
Entertainment was weak, epecially for the 'supplements' for Xmas and New Year- the latter bascially being a staff 'Do' which cost us £400 supplement to watch!
We were glad we stayed, but were somewhat disappointed and value for money especially in relation to food and entertainment were weak. The host service must be improved, to be aware of client specifics and to provide a better induction into the island on arrival.

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled with family
    • Value
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19  Thank SpanishTinto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 December 2007

Me and my partner stayed 3 nights at Hilton Maldives (2 nights at Beach Villa and 1 night at Superior Water Villa) in Dec 2007.

The trip was uneventful, with the check-in process delayed because of a faulty door which Hilton failed to resolve before the official check-in time. No offers for a change of room was made.

Luck wasn't on our side either. It rained 2 1/2 days out of 4 days when we were there in mid Dec 2007. It wasn't the rainy season but we paid peak-season rates for it. Snorkeling/ Sunset Fishing excursions were cancelled. For the lucky dolphin trip, we were extremely unluckly, seeing only a couple of "jumping dolphins" for less than 10 secs.

Upon changing from the beach villa to water villa, we were left 2 hours without a room between 12pm and 2 pm. Upon check-in, staff at check-in counter asked us to wait for the island host to show us around in the new villa. Luckily, we didn't wait, the island host was late for 3 hours. I mean if you can't deliver, don't promise.

The Jacuzzi in the Superior Water Villa was faulty. There was some problem with the start button, which was obviously due to wiring issues which cannot be resolved on the spot. Instead of volunteering to change the room for us, the island host asked the technician to come by. Obviously the technician said the issue can't be resolved, and we need to manually switch on the jacuzzi from the main generator. The island host simply wasted our time.

The only positive thing that came from the stay was that they upgraded us for 1 night from a Water Villa to a Superior Water Villa and extended our check-out time since we have a midnight flight (international) to catch.

The service level at the resort needs to be improved. It was obvious that the staff treats western guests better than those from other parts of the world. I would never visit Hilton/Conrad Maldives ever again, its such a waste of money!

  • Stayed: December 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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29  Thank anxious88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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