So, this morning came early again, only this time instead of naturally waking at 330am, we were greeted by a vomiting Ainsley. We’re not exactly sure what caused her upset stomach but are suspicious that it might have been the allergy medicine she was given so we stopped giving that to her. Her bug bites, while still numerous, look a lot better. After several hours of resting her stomach, she ate a normal breakfast so we think the medicine may have been the culprit.
Yesterday was more of the same. We intended to try to do dinner a little earlier in case the late dinner was a contributing factor to Ainsley being eaten alive, but it was so hot that none of us were in any sort of mood to eat. So, we went back to the room to cool off before returning for dinner only to pass out and never make it back. Needless to say, we were ready to eat by the time breakfast came around this morning!
It’s hard to believe, but our short stay in the Maldives is rapidly coming to an end. We have one more full day tomorrow and then our transit back to reality begins. We’ve been at the Conrad Rangali Island in the Maldives for the better part of a week now and we’ve made a lot of observations and discoveries that have been helpful to us as a family. Prior to traveling half way around the world to reach this paradise I had done a lot of research on what to expect, but found it difficult to get information on the resort from a family perspective. With that said, I’m hopeful that this post will be useful to families coming to the Conrad in the future.
We had read that the villas numbered in the 200’s were more peaceful and quiet than the ones numbered in the 100’s due to the fact that they were on the other side of the island from the sea plane and boat transfers. While we have definitely found this to be true, we also like the 200 villas because of the proximity to the reef and the size of the beach. There are some villas (both in the 100’s and 200’s) that basically do not have a beach when the tide is in. Our beach outside of villa 208 is probably the widest on the island which means that the tide doesn’t affect our ability to enjoy the beach. And the proximity to the reef from the beach has been great so that we can take turns snorkeling while the kids play.
We have also found that the beach in the morning on the reef side (200’s) is so hot that we really can’t enjoy it until early afternoon (conversely, the beach on the lagoon side – 100’s sees the sun in the afternoon). So, we spend the morning at the pool on the other side of the island which is shaded in the morning. We also have let the kids take a decent nap during the middle of the day to stay out of the heat altogether.
There is a free happy hour on the other island at Vilu Restaurant. It is intended for Hilton Gold and Diamond members (I’m Gold), but we never were asked for our room number nor did we see anyone else get asked. There is a pretty extensive drink menu and they serve small bites to eat (that were a little too fancy for our kids). The mocktails were tasty for the kids and we were impressed with the choices of alcoholic drinks. We have stayed away from the paid alcoholic drinks at the restaurant and chosen this time of day to get our alcohol fix so we don’t break the bank.
And of course the happy hour scenery can’t be beat. On our first visit to Vilu, we had decided to walk across the bridge connecting the two islands. At 5pm, this wasn’t the best decision. It is still very hot and humid. And we didn’t wear shoes so our feet took a beating. We should have taken the dhoni (traditional boat) which makes the 5 minute drive back and forth between the islands.
In general, this other island where Vilu is located caters more towards couples. The “Quiet Zone” is over there along with the Over The Water Spa. Additionally, there are only Over The Water Villas and no Beach Villas on that island which I imagine naturally reduces the kid population. The other thing that we noticed is that the water seemed to be “dirtier” on that island for some reason. When I say dirty, I just mean that there is noticeable sea debris (not litter) versus none that we have seen on the main island.
The free breakfast for Hilton Gold and Diamond members is a must for a family. One can get the Hilton Reserve credit card issued by Citibank and instantly receive Hilton Gold status for a $95 annual fee. Given what you receive as a Gold member here, I don’t think it makes sense to travel here without it. Free buffet breakfast for four has allowed us to eat our big meal of the day without breaking the bank. We’ve been able to bridge our hunger between the late breakfast and dinner with snacks that we brought with us. Our kids tend to snack throughout the day when at home, so it was only natural that we’d bring snacks with us. But it has also helped Ken and I stave off hunger while awaiting dinner time.
The cheapest dinner option is at Rangali Bar. The atmosphere is beautiful. They have lounge singers almost every night and the location is right next to the beach. The menu is a far cry from reasonably priced, however. Lachlan prefers macaroni and cheese to just about any food out there, so we’ve ordered the penne with alfredo sauce and that has appeased him. This dish is $26 and is large enough for two to share. Ainsley is far less picky so she’s sampled the kids menu, liking both the pizza ($16 and large enough to share) and the hot dog ($18). To get my daily caffeine fix, I’ve splurged on a Coke at dinner for $6.50 while Ken has taken one for the team and only ordered water. The kids have shared both the milkshakes and the smoothies which have been more than enough for them and quite reasonable in terms of cost at $9.50 (she said trying not to laugh).
Given the ages of our kids (2 and 4), we haven’t spent much time at all considering any of the many excursions that the Conrad offers. Most of the activities require strong swimming and our kids just aren’t even close. But the excursions get great reviews for the most part and would be something that families with older kids may want to consider. But, again, there aren’t many activities that one would consider inexpensive. The kids club here seems to be wonderful and has a lot of activities both of our kids would enjoy (and is free, apart from some paid activities). However, you have to be three years old to attend without a parent. I don’t think Lachlan would enjoy it that much without his sister, but I think it would very much be worth checking out if you have older kids who are comfortable in new/different situations.
In short, this has been a wonderful vacation for our family. While not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, it has been manageable and we’ve managed to offset the majority of the expense by using miles to get here and Hilton points for our stay. However, no matter how you cut it, we still had to pay over $1600 for our sea plane transfers and there is no way to offset that cost (other than utilizing the Barclay Arrival credit card, but we’ve used our sign up bonus elsewhere so that wasn’t an option for us). I’ll be doing a final post on our total out of pocket expenses so that frugal families can see what it cost us for 6 nights on the island. I’ll also be doing a post on how to replicate this trip however, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to afford a return to Rangali Island again as the Hilton program now charges about double what we paid in points. And it is just difficult to ascertain that many points without a concerted effort over the course of many years (unless you’re a big spender).
Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have or alternatively consider utilizing my travel consultation service if you’d like specific advice on putting together a similar vacation to paradise.