REVIEW – Conrad Maldives : Beach Villa (pre-renovation)
September 9, 2017
GUIDE – A comparison between the Main Island and Quiet Island at the Conrad Maldives
October 5, 2017

REVIEW – Conrad Maldives : Retreat Water Villa

Retreat Water Villa - Conrad Maldives review

Conrad

  • Location: Rangali – Maldives
  • Rate: 76,000 Hilton Points per night
    • Complimentary Upgrade from standard Beach Villa
  • Room Type: Retreat Water Villa
  • Chain: Hilton
  • Loyalty Program: Hilton Honors
  • Status during stay: Diamond
  • Date: April 2016
  • Website: Conrad Maldives


FOR INFORMATION ON HOW I BOOKED THIS TRIP CHECK OUT THE INTRODUCTION TO THIS TRIP REPORT HERE:

Trip Report: First Class Apartments to the Maldives


During our stay at the beach villa, our island host Naeem kept in constant contact with us. Each morning at breakfast he would check in with us to see if we had any activities planned and whether he could organise any dinner or lunch reservations for us. On the first morning he asked how we slept and I mentioned the super loud air conditioning plant next to villa 208. He said he’d ask the engineers if there were any issues and would report back.

True to form, later that afternoon he came and found us on the beach outside our villa. He said that the engineers didn’t know of any faults but he would leave us some earplugs for now and see if there was anything else he could do.

I asked if there was any possibility of getting moved to another beach villa, even if it was facing the bridge. Naeem said to leave it with him and he’d see what he could do.

After a fantastic morning diving with Manta Rays we arrived back at the Rangali dock to be greeted by Naeem.

“I have some good news and some bad news”, he said.

I asked him to start with the bad news.

“You have to pack all your bags by midday tomorrow”.

The good news?

“We are moving you to one of our Retreat Water Villas”.

I’m not going to lie. I high fived him then and there. It was like all my Christmases had come at once. I had spent quite some time looking through the various upgrade options at the Conrad, there is an incredible thread over on Flyertalk which details every possible permutation of upgrade prices for all the different villa categories. It may well be the most detail heavy thread on Flyertalk ever… and that’s saying something.

I already had an offer in mind and was ready to head over to the front desk and see what it would cost to get us out of the beach villa – so getting upgraded for 3 nights, for free, was a very welcome surprise.

 

That evening we packed our bags and took a final nighttime walk on the beach before heading to sleep with some earplugs in. However, sleep was now difficult as a result of the sheer excitement at the prospect of moving to a Retreat Water Villa! 😝

The following morning we waved goodbye to our room as we made our way to the Dive Centre.


On our return from our morning dives we were once again greeted by Naeem at the dock. This time he had a buggy waiting for us, ready to take us to our new room.

At this stage I had no idea which villa we would be assigned. I was happy to be in any kind of villa not adjacent to a clunking industrial behemoth; the fact that we were being assigned one of the largest overwater villa categories was absolutely astounding. If we ended up on the lagoon side, right next to the spa I definitely would not have minded!

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

The RWV ‘neighbourhood’ as seen from the spa.

As each second passed and our buggy got further and further up the jetty, my anticipation levels kept cranking up.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Suddenly I spotted a stingray swimming below the villas.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

So naturally I asked if we could stop and take a quick pic 😄

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Looking back…we were really getting far up the pier now!

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

The buggy stopped at the small area between the final three villas and I was delighted to see that our bags were waiting outside of the villa on the very end. Retreat Water Villa 421.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t help but look at the fire safety map on the door, as soon as we went in. I’m sure I’m not the only person that looks at these and wonders who gets to stay in the craziest looking rooms. This time, it was definitely us 😆

The layout of the Retreat Water Villas is rather unique, they all have their own private spa rooms, overlooking the ocean as well as a multi-tiered outdoor deck with a hot tub and shower. Looking back at that sentence I just realised all over again, how utterly next level these villas are.

I was almost over it. Now I’m not again.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Our humble environs for the final three nights at the Conrad

The RWVs are also the only water villas on the main island; the Standard Water Villas, Superior Water Villas, Deluxe Water Villas, Premier Water villas and Sunset Water Villas are all located across the water, on the quiet island. The benefit of this is that you are closer to the house reef and also have quite good snorkelling (with no currents to worry about) right on your doorstep!

 

Bedroom

As soon as you open the door to the villa you are greeted by a full length view of the turquoise lagoon below. Immediately you are transported to an entirely different world, one bathed in light where spectacular scenery abounds.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

There is a sofa and table right by the door, if we bothered wearing shoes this is where we would sit to put them on. This also doubled as our breakfast table when we ordered it to the room one morning, as the deck was way too hot.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Our previous room said ‘Happy Honeymoon’ on the bed. When we first arrived at this one, the sofa by the door had been made into a child’s bed… I think the Conrad team may be trying to tell us something.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

The bedroom is a marked improvement on the Beach Villa. The wooden floors, ceiling and cladding really give a tropical island feel and the bed and pillows were noticeably softer and more comfortable than the ones in the entry level room.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

One of my favourite features of the RWVs is the abundance of seating options. You are never more than a few feet away from somewhere to lounge.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

From here you can already see an outdoor sitting area and the sitting area in the centre of the bathroom.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

If you leave the under villa lighting on at night you get an awesome glow reflecting off the water, visible from the windows on either side of the bed.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Where all the turndown pillows go. Plus minibar and tea and coffee making facilities.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Light switches next to the bed and a slightly more modern iPod dock. That wonky lamp could do with being sorted though.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

The cushions for the outdoor furniture were stored here after turn down and then put out for us each morning…in theory. In practice I usually grabbed these myself and sat outside to soak up some pre-breakfast rays.

Bathroom

The bathroom is where things start to get really special. Dual vanities, freshly cut plants, acres of counter space and a large sofa/ seating area. Aside from all that though, the star attraction has to be the glass floor which gives you a window onto the impossibly beautiful waters below.

I must admit to really taking my time brushing my teeth each morning, in the hopes of catching sight of something special. On day two, no word of a lie, I saw a turtle swim by!

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

The best bathroom ever?

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Naeem offered to bring us custom bathroom amenities. Whilst we usually go for Shanghai Tang he suggested we should take a set of Refinery products too. These are the same creams that BA supply in their First Class amenity kit.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Shanghai Tang toiletries

Looking at the main bathroom photograph you’d be forgiven for thinking that the bath is quite plain and boring. Definitely not the sleek and elegant standalone tub with separate taps that most design focused hotels use. You’d be right about that but you know what? I wasn’t too bothered by that…

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

…because the bathtub views were absolutely epic. [This picture is taken from the shower, which stands in the wetroom area immediately before the bath]

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

My favourite thing about the bath was that you could open all of the windows and suddenly find yourself in an outdoor plunge pool!

 

Spa Room

The most outrageous, indulgent and frankly unnecessary room feature ever: the spa room. We went in here once to take pictures. That’s it. Oh yeah, there was also a yoga mat.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Indulgent.

The Deck

Cool though the indoor areas are, the primary allure of the Retreat Water Villa is undoubtedly the outdoor deck. The instant I went outside I felt compelled to video what I was seeing. The colours were just so perfect that I needed to capture video evidence!

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Most of our time was spent under the shade on the sunloungers, staring at the infinite blue. Right on the horizon you could just about make out some waves crashing up against the breaks on the edge of the atoll.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

One level down from the sunloungers were the table and chairs which we used as our dinner table when ordering room service. Of course the indoor/outdoor bathtub was not enough, we also needed a jacuzzi tub with a ton of jets…

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

…which also lights up at night, to look like the bacta tank that Luke got put into after his run-in with the wampa on Hoth.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

There was a conveniently located shower at the top of the steps leading to the lagoon, that way you could wash off the saltwater before jumping in the jacuzzi or catching some rays.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Kamara and I enjoying some freshly squeezed juices on the deck. [You can really see the waves on the horizon in this pic. One of these days I’d love to take up surfing…]

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Our view from the table and chairs.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Heading down into the lagoon from our private steps was every bit as cool as I had imagined it would be. I honestly can’t imagine this ever gets old. Strangely enough though we never really saw anybody else whilst we were out snorkelling. Of course, being the end unit, we didn’t have a direct line of sight to the front of any other villa anyway.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Where is everybody? (let me take this opportunity, once again, to mention that this is the resort at 99% occupancy)

 

Wildlife

The views from this villa were undoubtedly spectacular but the the more time I spent here, the more I felt myself drawn to the wildlife. I’ve never been on a safari holiday before and only discovered diving relatively recently. I also never had pets growing up (unless you count my imaginatively named stick insect: Sticky). For me sitting on the deck and watching stingrays, turtles, crabs, sharks, doves and herons was a real revelation. I feel that after this 5 night trip to the Conrad Maldives I now ‘get’ animals and that’s kind of awesome.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

One of our frequent visitors. There is an enduring myth at the Conrad that there is only one heron and his name is George. I’ve no idea where that story originated but for the sake of argument – meet George.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Better to be lucky than good… my photo of the clouds gets photobombed by a swallow.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Our shallow bodied companion came to visit every evening, drawn by the under villa lighting and the prey which it attracted.

Too lazy to put my snorkelling gear on in the evening, I opted instead to mount my GoPro to a selfie stick and put it into the water under the villa…

Of course in life one has to learn to take the rough with the smooth. Alongside the delightful selection of friendly creatures, we were relentlessly hounded by a group of gigantic black bees.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

See that oppressive hatred machine in the top left corner? He’s the worst.

The bees were unrelenting in their dive bombing and basically made it impossible to go out on the deck on our second afternoon. It is pretty damned hard to relax when the sound of lapping lagoon waters and cooing doves gives way to what sounds like a belligerent blender heading straight for your head.

Here’s a video of George coming to visit. You’ll notice the interloper at the end [top right corner].

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

After a call to reception a couple of guys in jumpsuits came over to spray the parts of the deck with some sort of insecticide. This shot was taken from the safety of our pillow fortress indoors.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

The bees left us alone for about an hour and then returned… as did the maintenance guys.

After a wonderful night’s sleep in the super comfortable bed, I headed outside with a cup of coffee to enjoy some sunshine. At which point the bees came back. I called reception again and this time one of the senior guys in maintenance was with the team. He took one look and said that the bees had eaten the wood and made nests.

He told us not to worry, he would come back with all the necessary equipment to cut out the damaged wood and fill in any nests. In the meantime we just made the most of the lagoon. No bees there.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Kamara demonstrating her foolproof tactic for dealing with the giant bees. Yes. I was tempted to pour honey down her snorkel.

Ultimately the issue was fixed but it did take a full 24 hours. Given that we only had three nights in the villa, the impact was not insignificant. Overall we spent less time lounging on the deck and more time snorkelling and exploring the resort instead, which I guess isn’t such a bad thing. Luckily the bees were never present in the evenings or at night, which leads me conveniently to my next section…

Sunsets at Villa 421

Much like the standard water villas over on the quiet island, the Retreat Water Villas do not guarantee a sunset view. However RWV 421 gets a perfect head-on view just like the top room category, the Sunset Water Villas.

You know you’ve done well when your villa faces the exact same direction as a villa named for the sunset.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Heading back after cocktail time at Vilu, just in time to see our fiery friend descend into its aquatic resting place.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

You couldn’t really ask for much better alignment with the sunset.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

These dusk colours are really something else. Dreamlike pastels as far as the eye can see, punctuated by puffs of grey-white cloud.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

A slight twinge of sadness as the last slither of the sun dips below the horizon.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

The vivid hues are even more spectacular for the twenty minutes or so, after the sun disappears.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

Sunset gives way to the first sprinkling of stars.

 

Conclusion

It is hard to put into words the excitement I felt when I was told by our island host that we had been upgraded to a Retreat Water Villa. I had seen what these rooms looked like online and had a pretty good idea of what they would look like. Nothing can really prepare you for the reality of actually living directly on top of a lagoon in the Indian Ocean with infinite blue in all directions.

The RWVs are not as modern and sleek inside as some of the other water villas at the Conrad but they more than make up for this with their palatial dimensions, not to mention the fact that the villas themselves are far more generously spaced than the tightly packed standard, superior and deluxe water villas over on the quiet island.

The experience of being on the lagoon with multiple outdoor lounging areas at your disposal is truly a world away from the big resort feel of the beach villas.

During our time at the RWV we basically never saw other people, save for our two daily jaunts to Vilu for breakfast and happy hour. We had dinner on the deck every night instead. With such privacy and a backlit canopy of twinkling stars above with a gently lapping ocean below, it felt like a shame to eat anywhere else.

When you stay in a beach villa you have a base of operations from which to enjoy the resort, in the RWV the villa itself becomes your resort and totally comes to define your experience.

I absolutely loved spending time in this villa and almost as important as the experience itself are the memories that I created. Every time I have a stressful day and life is getting me down I remember that first morning coffee on the deck, cathing sign of a stingray, the waves on the horizon or the bright white brushstroke of the milky way against an ink blank sky above – and suddenly everything is ok.

Conrad Maldives Rangali - Retreat Water Villa - Jarvis Marcos

First Class Apartments to the Maldives

Part 1:
Etihad : First and Business Class Lounge – London Heathrow T4
Part 2:
Etihad : Apartments (First Class) – A380 – London to Abu Dhabi
Part 3:
Etihad : Business Class Lounge – Abu Dhabi
Part 4:
Etihad : Business Class (Regional) – A320 – Abu Dhabi to Malé
Part 5:
Conrad Maldives Seaplane Lounge – Malé [morning]
Part 6:
Seaplane Transfer and Arrival Experience at Conrad Maldives
Part 7:
Conrad Maldives : Beach Villa (pre-renovation)
Part 8:
Conrad Maldives : Retreat Water Villa
Part 9:
A comparison of The Main Island and the Quiet Island at the Conrad Maldives
Part 10:
Eating and Drinking at the Conrad Maldives
Part 11:
Diving and Snorkelling at the Conrad Maldives
Part 12:
Conrad Maldives Lounge – Malé [evening]
Part 12:
Etihad : Business Class (Regional) – A320 – Malé to Abu Dhabi
Part 12:
Etihad : Business Class – A380 – Abu Dhabi to London

 

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2 Comments

  1. Karim W says:

    Thanks for the great review and pictures.

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