Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island: Heaven on earth


There are few destinations in the world that elicit wide-eyed reactions, “oohs” and “aahs” and looks of envy when you tell people that you’re going to the Maldives. Postcard perfect, even photos don’t do the place justice. A literal heaven on earth of 26 atolls littered across the Indian Ocean, it’s also the smallest Asian and world’s lowest-lying country.

Window view from the seaplane

At First Glance
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is located in the South Ari Atoll, around a 30-minute seaplane ride from Malé’s Velana International Airport, so your first look at the gorgeous surrounds, pearl-white islands and azure waters is a bird’s eye view from the window of the plane. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a pod of whale sharks frolicking in the deep blue ocean.

The footbridge connecting Rangali Finolhu Island and Rangali Island

The plane whisks you straight to the hotel jetty for check-in, followed swiftly by a buggy ride to your private villa or suite on one of the twin islands of Rangali Finolhu Island (suited for couples and families) or Rangali Island (adults only), which are connected by a 500-metre footbridge.

Arriving at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

The Story
The resort opened in 2017 and underwent an extensive two-year renovation that was completed in March 2022. Notably, the hotel was the first international brand to arrive in the Maldives; the first resort in the country to build overwater villas built on stilts; the first in the country to have an underground wine cellar; the first to have the world’s first undersea restaurant, Ithaa; and the first hotel in the world to boast of an undersea two-level stand-alone residence known as The Muraka.

The bedroom area in our Deluxe Water Villa with Pool

A picturesque destination, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is true Maldivian perfection. Hands down where we witnessed the best sunrises and sunsets we’ve ever seen, everywhere you look—from the crystal clear waters to the furnishings and flora—is idyllic.

The Abode
We stayed in the Deluxe Water Villa with Pool, a secluded, minimalist-designed 1,237-sq-ft thatched-roof space featuring a private infinity plunge pool overlooking the ocean, sundeck with steps leading to the water, lounge area, king-sized bed, walk-in closet, double vanity bathroom, and 360-degree panoramas of the jaw-dropping Maldivian seascape.

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The hotel provides Byredo amenities

Byredo amenities and eco-friendly toiletries were an indulgent touch. As part of its sustainability journey, single-use plastics have been eliminated from the resort since January 2020, so amenities like shampoo come in refillable dispensers, key cards are made of wood, drinking water is housed in reusable glass bottles, and single-serve items are offered in glass containers.

The spacious bathroom in the Deluxe Water Villa with Pool

The Food and Drinks
Even though we were there for five nights and confident that we would be able to dine at all the island’s outlets, we didn’t. There are 12 culinary experiences across the twin islands that make up the resort, including Ithaa, the world’s first undersea restaurant located five metres below the water. Start the day with breakfast at Atoll Market, the hotel’s only buffet restaurant, or Vilu Restaurant & Bar, which serves Italian fare in the evenings. There’s also Ufaa by Jereme Leung for Chinese food cravings, Sunset Grill for land and sea specialties, Mandhoo Spa Restaurant for organic dishes inspired by the five elements, Japanese cuisine at Koko Grill, the Rangali Bar for all-day dining, a cheese and wine bar, an open-air Quiet Zone bar on the adults-only Rangali Island, and private dining options.

The Deluxe Water Villa with Pool

The Hospitality
Staff are always smiling, up for a chat and professional. Upon check-in, we were promptly invited to join a WhatsApp group chat with our designated butler for 24-hour service. However, we did note that the service standards dropped over the course of our stay, with requests like daily ice buckets gradually forgotten and others simply overlooked.

The outdoor area of our Deluxe Water Villa with Pool

Fellow Guests
Couples and small families.

Location
The hotel is located in the South Ari Atoll, close to 42 dive sites and whale shark spots. It is a 30-minute seaplane ride from Malé’s Velana International Airport.

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Rangali Island features overwater villas only

For Your Consideration
Seaplanes only fly in the day, so if you’re arriving after sunset (like we did), you may have to stay for a night in Malé before departing for the resort the next morning. There are also domestic flight and speedboat transfers, and overnight yacht cruise options for evening arrivals.

The watersports and dive centre, where you can loan snorkels, flyboards and more, is fully kitted out. But if you want to partake in a jetski or water excursion, prepare to pay handsomely for the experience.

Postcard-perfect everywhere you look

The Noteworthy
Practically everything. In particular, the food at the airport’s Conrad Lounge was surprisingly delicious. We were also bid goodnight every night by a giant manta ray that floated alongside the lighted up footbridge that connected the two islands. And as our stay happened during the World Cup, it was a memorable experience to watch the nightly matches on a huge projector screen, with swaying palm trees and starry skies as the backdrop.

In the face of mass coral bleaching caused by global warming, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has been active in its conservation efforts. Since 2017, the property has invested in a coral regeneration programme to safeguard and nurture the reefs surrounding the resort. We were treated to a coral planting experience one afternoon with the in-house marine biologist, where we snorkelled to the house reef just 50-metres from the beach to see how our adopted corals would be safely housed and grown.

The Summary
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is paradise. If you’re looking for a tropical escape of a lifetime, look no further.

Amenities
Boutiques
Fitness centre
Watersports centre
Tennis court
Spas
Infinity pools
Kids club
Meetings and event spaces
Wine cellar
Cheese and wine bar

Rooms
151 villas and suites

Staff
Cheerful and professional

Food & Drinks
Creative

Bed & Bath
Luxurious

The Crowd
Couples and small families

The luxe factor is:

7 Location
9 Rooms
8 Service
9 Breakfast
8.3
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