I kind of can’t believe I’m writing this post and this trip actually happened! The Maldives is one of those places that you dream about going. You see pictures on Instagram and it’s looks like this magical paradise. It’s always been on my list of places I wanted to visit but I wasn’t really sure how it would happen.
So when my boyfriend, (you can find him @upgradeconfirmed on IG) figured out a way to get us to the Maldives using points, I kind of had to pinch myself. I’m going to interview him for another blog post for a full breakdown of how we planned and took this dream trip so we can share all the nitty gritty deets with you. You can subscribe to my newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it.
We originally had the trip planned for April, but with Covid-19- those plans changed. We managed to change the trip to December and find availability both in airfare and the hotel.
But even with those bookings, there was still some unknowns. Would we be able to travel safely with Coronavirus? Would the hotel be open? Would we have to get Covid tests? Would we be able to get them in time for the trip?
Luckily, with some planning and attention to travel restrictions and rules- we were able to go on the trip. We got PCR tests in Maryland two days before we left and had to present the results upon checkin with Qatar Air, as well as fill out immigration forms online and provide documentation of our test results (they were negative) prior to arriving in the Maldives.
Flying Qatar with their staff and safety procedures was incredible- they made their passengers feel very safe and comfortable. More on the flight later (I’ll be doing a whole blogpost breaking down the Qatar Air experience).
But back to the trip- I’ll be doing daily travel diaries on Instagram Story and wanted to do a full breakdown with all the deets of each day here. So let’s get to the sea, sand and sunshine!
Arriving in the Maldives:
After a 4.5 hour flight from Doha, Qatar- we arrived in the Maldives. The first thing that I noticed was how small the island of Male actually is- it’s super compact with lots of city skyline all packed into a small island. The airport is on a different island, but has a great view of Male.
Once we arrived, we had to find the desk for the resort we were staying at, so we headed through immigration and begin searching for the Conrad Maldives desk. Each resort has their own little checkin desk which makes it easy to find out where you have to go for your island transport.
None of the resorts are actually on the island you fly to- you have to take separate transportation, either by boat or plane, to your final destination. Since the Conrad is pretty far from the airport, we took a 30 minute seaplane on Transmaldivian Air.
Once we stopped by the Conrad checkin desk at the airport, a team member escorted us to the TransMaldavian ticket counter to check us in for our seaplane flight. There, they tagged our bags and printed out our tickets for the seaplane. This airline company also serves many of the other resorts in the Maldives, so you might be paired up with some other hotel guests on your flight like we were.
The Conrad team member than took us outside to grab a shuttle bus to take us to the Conrad seaplane lounge. Once at the lounge- they asked for our passports and put a charge hold for the stay on a credit card. You actually don’t pay for your seaplane tickets until the end of your stay, but the charge hold ensures that they’ll be paid for the tickets.
After squaring up on the incidentals, we were offered food and drinks while we waited for a few more passengers to arrive. I got a fruit plate with espresso and water and my boyfriend got hashbrown potatoes to munch on. I also took a few minutes to finally take care of my skin after a night in the Doha airport and the flight to Male. Gotta make that time for skincare.
After about two hours, more passengers arrived and we made our way to the another small lounge- the seaplane waiting room. This is the waiting room where all sea plane passengers wait to board their flight. This wait was quick and we were taken outside to the water after about 5 minutes.
Taking a sea plane to Rangali Island
Sea planes are a pretty wild experience. It’s kind of crazy taking off from the water. The views were unreal of the Maldives. But a few words of advice after this experience- try to board first so you can get a great window seat. Also, make sure you try to travel light. My boyfriend and I each had just a carryon suitcase. The seaplanes are tight and it would be pretty hard (and expensive) to take a much larger suitcase. Last, be sure to put on deodorant. (But make it clean so you don’t have aluminum near your lymph nodes.) I know this sounds random, but the quarters are tight. Also, if you are a freaked out flyer- try to mentally prepare yourself for a tiny plane that is kind of bumpy. All of this is normal but it might be a challenge if flying freaks you out.
Once we took off, it was pretty incredible to see the Maldives from the sky. So many beautiful shades of blue surrounding the atolls (the ring shaped coral reef that encircles lagoons) and the islands. It almost feels like you are in the middle of a dream when you are flying above all this gorgeousness.
Landing at the Conrad Rangali Island
I know this probably doesn’t seem like landing warrants it’s own description- but at the Conrad, it really does. When we landed there was a team of folks waiting for us- including the GM of the island, guest service reps for each guest group, and employees playing welcome drums. It was a small touch but made all the difference to have such a warm welcome! Once we got off the sea plane, we were taken into a lounge at the welcome dock to meet our guest service rep and were greeted with fresh coconuts to sip on. It was a dream- I haven’t had a coconut like that in a very long time.
Our Guest Service Rep
Meeting Saskia, our guest service rep, let us know pretty much immediately that we were in good hands- she was so kind and had such awesome energy. We boarded her golf cart and she took us to our overwater villa that we’d be staying in. When we arrived, she let us know that we got upgraded to a Deluxe Water Villa, which was such an awesome surprise. My boyfriend is a Hiltons Honor member from the days he used to travel a lot for work, which helped qualify us for the upgrade. If you travel at all, pick a hotel group and sign up for membership rewards so that you can start racking up points for any stays. But more on that in a post to come. 🙂
Exploring the Deluxe Water Villa
This really has been a dream to stay in a place like this water villa. Waking up every morning to the ocean directly in front of you, hearing the sounds of waves at night when you go to bed, and being able to watch the sea creatures in the water at anytime of the day are things that made this trip even that more special. I’ll be doing a full tour of the villa soon on YouTube, so if you want to check it out, subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don’t miss it!
Once Saskia showed us our villa and gave us the lowdown on the restaurants, activities, and navigating the islands (there are actually two to explore at the Conrad), we started to settle in. I’m definitely the type of person who likes to unpack everything and make a little temporary home wherever I am, so it usually takes me a little bit to do this. I like to unpack, hang up my clothes, organize my skincare in the bathroom, put my books next to me on the nightstand, and set up a little health wellness station near the minibar. What’s a health wellness station? Well, whatever vitamins, supplements, or snacks that I bring- I set all that stuff up next to the little coffee bar in the room so that I remember to take my vitamins each day. I also called the front desk and asked for a yoga mat to place next to the health station so that I could do yoga and pilates each day.
Checking out the Quiet Zone Infinity Pool
Once we were settled in, we threw on our bathing suits to head to their epic infinity pool, dubbed the Quiet Zone Infinity Pool. Walking up to this pool is like walking up to every dream I’ve ever had in my mind of a paradise vacation. As you’re walking up, you see two pristine white beach chairs with a pristine white umbrella overlooking this perfectly symmetric infinity pool, which sits cantilevered over the ocean. The most beautiful part about it is that the ocean is very shallow right around the pool, so the water is this gorgeous shade of turquoise. It allows you to experience seeing stingrays, fish, sharks and other sea life right below the pool. We literally perched up on the side of the pool for an hour to check out all of the sea creatures below.
Drinks at the Pool
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge drinker. I kind of retired from partying when I left my 20s. But every now and then- depending on the situation, I’ll enjoy a tequila. And this pool was one of those instances. They have a menu filled with perfectly curated island cocktails. Just be warned that they are pricey- around $20-$30 for a drink, but they do have a happy hour at 6pm when drinks are half price.
I got this one drink (above on the right) for most of the trip because I was in love with the flavor- a tequila base with lemon, lime, thyme and a rim of salt. They finished the cocktail with a gigantic ice cube and it really was heaven sipping on that while staring at the ocean.
My boyfriend switched up his drinks over the course of the week- in the pic below, he got a on a tropical colada with coconut cream, pineapple, and passion fruit. In the pic above, he was enjoying a Pineapple Daiquiri with vanilla and candied pineapple.
They also have a whole list of mocktails which all sounded so good! Including a Virgin Colada with coconut cream and fresh pineapple.
Sun Exposure & Sunscreen
Something else to mention about the pool time is that the sun is gnarly in the Maldives. You are super close to the equator so it is VERY important to wear SPF when you are outside. My boyfriend forgot the top of one of his feet and it burned so badly it was bumpy and swollen.
Wear sunscreen. I brought Juice Beauty for my body (it’s a little hard to rub in, but it worked well) and Kinship for my face. Both have zinc oxide for protection rather than a chemical base. I prefer this and try to avoid chemical base SPFs because they’ve been shown to leech and actually be absorbed into your bloodstream. So they’re not something I really want to be putting on my face or body.
Dinner at Sunset Grill
Once we finished lounging at the pool, we made our way back to the villa to get ready for dinner. We were kind of committed to not napping even though we were pretty shattered from the 30 hours of travel to get to the Maldives. But- we made it out without a nap.
And I think this was the only night we really messed up at dinner.
When you’re visiting a hotel or resort that seems to cater to and be attentive to guests, like the Conrad, it definitely makes sense to communicate with the team so they can help to ensure you have a great stay. For my boyfriend and I- letting them know about being vegan was important. We didn’t do that prior to our first night’s meal (at Sunset Grill) and it was a little limited in selection. I ended up getting a mixed salad and eggplant. Both good, but I was definitely looking for a bit more.
Once we realized how important it was to give the team a heads up and find out if they could cater to our vegan diet, they were so helpful in accommodating to our needs. And that made the meals even that much more enjoyable. By the third day we arrived at breakfast, they were bringing me trays of papaya and passionfruit- what a dream! (But more on that breakfast later.)
I’ll be doing a daily dairy from each day of the Maldives trip both here on the blog, and over on IG Stories. I’ll also be doing longer form vlogs from the trip over on YouTube. My goal is to bring as much sun, sand, and sea to you as possible. ????