Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thanksgiving 2013 in Maldives: Conrad Maldives


As mentioned in the previous post, we were shocked to find out our seaplane transfer to the Conrad was scheduled to be at 2pm instead of the earliest possible transfer as requested. We were even more pissed off to find out that there were indeed a bunch of other guests getting transferred earlier in the morning when we managed to sneak a peek at the guest list the Conrad rep was holding on to. There was nothing the Conrad rep could do at this point, since the seaplane office was now closed and he promised to call us in the morning if they managed to get us on an earlier flight.

I did not sleep well that night due to both jet lag and the worry that might waste a day in Male instead of enjoying ourselves on the beach at the Conrad. I even called the Conrad on my cell phone hoping that talking to a manager might quickly resolve the problem. The manager I spoke to knew of the situation and promised to call in the morning once the "transportation" manager got in. Thankfully the situation was resolved when we got a call around 7 that morning that they managed to get us on a 9 am transfer to the Conrad. This start to the holidays definitely left a bad taste. For a luxury resort, I'd expect them to proactively catch mistakes like this. There was also no apology or service recovery when we got to the resort but we did get a couple of thousand Hilton points after filing a complaint once we got back to Austin. Very disappointing indeed!

Lydia enjoying a massage in the Conrad Seaplane Lounge

The rest of the stay went much better especially since we have somewhat low expectations and Maldives is just a happy place for us that it would take a lot to get us unhappy. Sandy white beach and crystal clear water = heaven for us!

Welcome Drink
Since we already covered the Conrad Maldives before, I'll focus on the differences during this trip (previous review here). We decided it was not worth the money to upgrade from a standard beach villa to a water villa since we wanted to be close to the house reef and would rather spend the upgrade money in the spa or diving.

Welcome Amenity
The main highlight for this stay (especially for me) was definitely the diving. After recently getting certified and training in murky lake water in Austin, this was heaven. Lydia was also certified as part of the plan for the trip but she got pregnant after that so no diving for her. I ended up doing dives everyday we were there except for the no-dive day that day before we left. The dives were in the morning after breakfast and we would be back after two dives by around lunch time. I also did a whole day dive trip where it was a 3 tank dive and also looking for whalesharks. We got so lucky that we saw a whaleshark on three different occasion and by the third time, all of us were too tired to even go in the water. One of the best dives was the only one night dive I did where there was much more sea life coming out - we saw a lobster nest of like twenty lobsters but best of all was turning off our lights during our safety stop and seeing bio-luminescence plankton all around us. Felt like an astronaut surrounded by stars!

I have to also add that the dive center was certainly top notch. It ended up being ~$100USD per dive (I brought my own scuba gear) which was not that expensive considering the small groups we were in, the amazing guides and dive sites, tips included and the luxurious diving dhoni we were on.

Highlight video of the diving:

The rest of the time I was not diving, we would spend lazing by the beach and snorkeling by the house reef. We didn't get as lucky this time round as to see a whale shark by the house reef but we did manage to see some dolphins and a couple of sharks.

As usual, we would end the day at the daily complimentary happy hour at Vilu enjoying a cold one. The happy hour seem much more busy and packed and the last time we visited to the two servers looked overwhelmed most of the time keeping up with the drink orders.

Lydia also enjoyed the spa a couple of of times during this trip when I was out diving to make up for missing out on the diving. The spa at the Conrad Maldives continues to be one of the best we've been to.

We already have plans to return again during Christmas this year thanks to a pre-devaluation Hilton Honors points booking. I can't wait to go diving again and this time with Lydia. We just have not figured out what to do with the baby by then :P

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