Male, the capital of the Maldivian islands is just a short 70 minute flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka so it made sense to tack on a few days here before our 2 week SL holiday. We were told by MANY that 3 days was not nearly long enough — the consensus on Flyer Talk being 10 days or at least one week. Three days was plenty for us: 1) it is EXPENSIVE in all caps plus at least 10 exclamation points. 2) the food… mediocre to good, or at least at our resort. And 3) once you have swam from your villa, gone snorkeling, joined a whale-shark tour, dined at every restaurant, read a book or 2, tried the spa… what else can you do? It is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous here, and three days were plenty to absorb the beauty and sun, recover from jet lag, plus make a sizable dent in the vacation budget.
We stayed at the Conrad Maldives as recommended by friends, as well as the ability to spend our Hilton points. We rented 2 water villas, side by side, using points for one of them. And actually earned somewhere between 3-5 nights using our Hilton credit cards on the other (plus all the $250++ for each meal.)
We spent time studying the resort map and researching the Conrad Maldives thread on Flyer Talk before requesting 2 specific villas — 301 & 302 — on the quieter island, facing the sunrise as we assumed sunsets would be spent nightly in one of the resort bars or restaurants. We were not disappointed by our choices as they are at the end of a pier so no one walked by them, and they also made for some good sunrise swims and coffee on the deck. The villas were spacious — always like it when there is a walk-in closet with plenty of space for luggage. Good AC and ceiling fans as well. Decent bathrooms. Style of the typical modern-luxury-asian-resort type with dark wood and muted neutral colors. Nothing wowed us (other than the views) but nothing disappointed us either — well maybe electric blinds would have been nice.
Word of note: we were on the 2nd smaller island so it was either a long walk (great to burn off all the meals), buggy ride, or a lovely boat ride to the main island. There is a bar (Quiet Zone), a restaurant (Vilu, closed during our stay), and another spa. We didn’t use the spa as we had hoped to, but the spa here has rooms with a glass floor to look at the water and fish while faced down during massage — the main spa does not have the glass floors, FYI.
We joined this tour operated through the dive shop, but unfortunately were unsuccessful in finding a whale shark. Still, it is a nice boat, a beautiful ride, and provides some excellent snorkeling if you are unlucky as we were on the shark-spotting front. We also managed to see several types of rays and dolphins.
The Conrad offers free equipment and there is a reef here which supposedly offers some decent snorkeling. However, we ended up aborting our endeavor due to such murky water (it’s beautiful but not always clear) that a dropped mask in shallow water still managed to elude all four of searching for it over 10 minutes. Plus a painful scraped knee due to the aforementioned waters thus not seeing the reef. But one can keep the equipment for the entire stay and the water was much clearer on other days, so still a viable option.
The Quiet Zone
One of the prettiest restaurants I have ever dined at! This is located at the main spa and includes a menu proclaiming health attainment through options based on the 5 basic elements of air, water, earth, fire, and plants. My “fire” choice of spicy tuna (or was it water?!) looked beautiful but was not very fresh tasting. And definitely lacking in heat or “fire”. However, my salad starter of crabmeat and watercress was quite yummers. And the Australian sauvignon blanc went down WAY to easily. Note that there is fish feeding here at lunchtime AND the lunch bill offers a 20% discount for Honors members.
The high-end Chinese restaurant. Boys wanted to do room service so it was date night here. Delicious Peking Duck with all the fixins’! Pretty interior though most were dining by candlelight outside with a lovely view of the Sunset Grill/ITHAA pavilions.