NiQi Travel Guides: A guide to Maldives

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I’m almost certain of all the places in the world that I’d like to visit. Maldives was never high up on that list.

I’m not sure why, I mean look at this picture.

To me, it always seemed like the kind of holiday that one would go if you were getting married, or celebrating a milestone; perhaps an anniversary or worse, your 60th birthday! Maldives is also a popular family destination, but so too is Mauritius and Seychelles at a fraction of the price. So what made us change our travel plans and decide on a holiday to Maldives this year?

380 000 Hilton Honors points, that’s what!

After our Umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca and Madinah) earlier this year we earned enough points to comfortably book a few complimentary nights at any Hilton resort worldwide. My first and only consideration was to use it towards booking a trip to Maldives, just from how expensive it would have otherwise been to book 2 rooms (we are 2 adults and 4 children traveling). For me personally, Maldives should be that one and only holiday that you don’t skimp on the room type at-all. You spend so much of your time in the rooms and at the Resort that you really don’t want to spend 5 or 6 days in anything that isn’t nice-ish. It’s one of those trips that you save extra hard for and make it all worthwhile.

Here’s how I booked:

Conrad Maldives is the only HH hotel in the Maldives. I followed the account on Instagram, visited their website to browse through the accommodation and resort appearance and finally read through the reviews on TripAdvisor. This should usually be your route of booking for any holiday/hotel when you travel. It’s great to get an idea of what other travelers are saying and to see what promotions (if any) or events are happening at your hotel/resort before you book.

We were quite flexible with our travel dates as we were only traveling for 6 days and had the whole of August to do it in. There are usually days/dates which cost slightly more than others (sometimes assuming weekends or popular holidays) so keep that in mind. The great thing is that the HH booking process gives you an exact room cost per day so you’re able to see which days cost slightly more than others.

As South African travelers, we don’t require a Visa to visit Maldives. Once I had an idea of the Resort dates, I checked flight rates and times at the same time. We always utilise the services of Ebrahim or Laura at Royal Travel based in Melrose for Emirates flights. He usually comes in slightly cheaper than the web fare. We needed to factor in leaving a day earlier if we expected to arrive earlier at the Resort. So we left SA at 13.40pm on the 14th of August to be able to arrive in Male at 07.40am on the 15th of August. I didn’t want to waste a day arriving later. Bear that in mind when you’re booking. It’s really important and I overlooked it for years until recently.

Once you have an idea of your exact travel dates, you can opt to email the hotel to inquire about promotions or proceed to book directly on the App. I wanted to utilise all of our points which equated to a free room for the full duration of our stay. Because of the ages of our children, the OWV (Over Water Villa) was not an option (you can opt to stay in them but you will need to sign an indemnity form that the hotel is not responsible for any accidents). In fact, once I had a look at the floorplan of the OWV, I knew that it was not suited for kids and that many of them (x4!).

We chose the Garden Villa and the 5 complimentary nights were valued at $3621 (Whaat!). The other room was billed at the same rate. Our rate included breakfast. Because of the nature of the accommodation, upgrades on a Diamond HH Status was not permissible. The upgrade to the Garden Villa would have been one with a pool. To be completely honest, even though my children are fairly water-safe, I felt more comfortable that they had limited access to a pool given that my twins are only 4 and a half.

I booked this though my App and the money was deducted a day later. This is important to note when booking on the HH App. Once you are certain about booking, make sure that you have sufficient funds in your account as the money is deducted immediately. (You input your credit card details when registering). I received my confirmation on email which I forwarded to the Reservations department at the hotel as I needed to look at the options of getting from the airport to the Resort.

Getting to the Resort from the Airport:

If we had an option of traveling to any other Resort in the Maldives, I would have likely looked into booking the Four Seasons as a ferry is used to transport guests from Male to the Resort. The Seaplane is a wonderful experience but it is very costly! For 2 adults and 4 children, our return flight came to $2240 (That was half of what our return airfare cost us to Maldives and Dubai). There simply isn’t any other option really. The ferry would take hours to get you to the Resort and it’s really not an option if you’re already spending so much at a good resort anyway.

The Resort arranges everything for your flight over email. They are unable to confirm the times, but there are certain times that the aircraft doesn’t fly and it’s really important for you to ask before booking any tickets. It’s safe to say that arriving around 8am or 9am in Male is a good option for getting onto the Sea plane in an hour or less. This will also depend on the season and occupancy. Arriving any time after 4pm might mean having to spend the night in Male as the plane doesn’t fly out in the evening.

Guests departing Malé on an international flight before 9am will be transferred from the resort to Malé the previous afternoon. Overnight accommodation is required in Malé and accommodation options are at additional cost.

If you arrive by night flight (or between 4pm and 10pm), there are no night transfers available. The Resort can transfer you from Male’ International Airport to Conrad Maldives by a 25 minutes domestic flight to the nearby Maamigili Airport, followed by a 30 minute speed boat transfer to Conrad Maldives. This option is available if you don’t want to spend a night in Male. The transfer time is up to 3 hours wait after your arrival at the Airport. The transfer charges for this service is same as that of seaplane transfers; $250 plus 12% TGST  per person per trip (Children below 12yrs get 50% discount).

It seems like a lot to consider but essentially just make sure that you arrive in the morning so you can get a seaplane out to the Resort earlier in the day, even if it is delayed by a few hours. It beats having to spend a night in Male.

Once you arrive in Male, what do you do?

A Conrad representative will locate you and lead you to the Conrad lounge. You are offered a drink and a wet towel to refresh yourself. Your luggage and passports are taken. From this moment on, you actually do very little. The representative will take care of everything for you, including having your luggage weighed.Although there are lots of people waiting to board the plane, or purchasing tickets, Conrad guests are given a separate check-in with no wait time (unless another guest is also waiting to get their boarding pass).

Before we proceed, let’s discuss the luggage; The luggage allowance is 25 kg per person plus 5 kg of hand luggage and the maximum weight is 32 kg per piece of luggage. Any excess goods will need to be removed and placed in another baggage. Any excess baggage is chargeable and will have to be paid directly to Trans Maldivian at US$ 5.00 plus 12% TGST per 1 kg per way. There is no guarantee that all guest luggage shall be transported on the same flight as the luggage owner due to weight restriction limits.’

It’s so important to just adhere to these rules. It’s for your own safety. Every single piece of luggage is weighed, including your hand luggage and hand bags, so be mindful and have your luggage weighed before you leave home to make sure that you have not exceeded any of the allowances.

Once your luggage has been cleared, you will get on board a taxi which transports you to the Seaplane terminal.

The terminal is air conditioned and spacious. There are 2 separate bathrooms both of which have shower facilities. You are welcome to shower and freshen up before departing. I would recommend asking how long your wait will be so you can work out properly how much time you have at the lounge.

There was a light breakfast offering for us which was complimentary. I particularly enjoyed the large day-beds and the kids also had their own space with games and activities to keep busy while we waited. Above everything else, I really enjoyed just laying down and having some quiet time after our 2 flights to the Resort.

You will be called to leave the lounge when your plane is ready to depart, so don’t worry about falling asleep and missing your flight. There is a large seating area outside to watch the planes take off so try to get a seat upfront while you wait.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your Sea plane flight:

The likelyhood is that there will be other passengers on the flight, so your seat choice is limited. If you are the primary photo taker (this is a thing), try to position yourself towards the front so you are away from the wings of the plane below you. They can obstruct pictures. You can also get a better view of the cockpit. Technically, who ever is at the front of the queue is going to get the best pictures!

Try to sit on the left side (in my opinion, there were more photo ops and more islands to see). I was on the right and swopped sides with my husband mid-flight.

There is an inner seat, avoid that if you are taking pics.

Once you arrive at the Resort, well, let’s save that for another read!

Here are some helpful links to read through:

  1. If you’re unsure how the Traveloyalty program works, click here: Link
  2. If you would like to know what to pack for your trip to the Maldives, click here: Link
  3. If you are traveling and unsure about how to pack your childs carry-on luggage, click here: Link
  4. Conrad Maldives Instagram Page: conrad_maldives Link
  5. Conrad Maldives Website: Link

 

 

 

1 Response
  • Fathima Bobat
    October 13, 2017

    Thank you for an informative & well written article.It is full of tips & important & useful information.I really enjoyed reading it & hopefully one day soon I will be consulting it to book our dream Maldives get away✈️

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