We love creating competitions with big prizes for our customers - everyone should have the chance to experience the best of the best from our luxury hotels. The lucky winner of our Frame the Moment competition, Shannon, won an amazing three-destination holiday for her and her husband. Read on to find out more about her experience of the first stop, an incredible 7-day holiday in the Maldives at the ultra-luxury resort Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. This resort is rated 5-star deluxe by Destinology, so if you’re interested in finding out what a super-luxury resort experience is like, read on.
Arrival day: Welcome to paradise
As we came to land at Male International Airport, the excitement was almost too much to bear. A Conrad Rangali representative made everything super easy for us on arrival and the next thing I knew, we were relaxing in their luxury lounge waiting for our seaplane to arrive. We had a lovely pasta meal and some refreshing drinks before we went.
The seaplane journey was simply breathtaking. Any nerves I initially felt quickly melted away as I gazed out of the little window at the picture-postcard views below us. It’s exactly how you imagine it to be, but somehow 10 times more beautiful. We flew over island after island and coral reefs and I barely unpressed my nose from the little window the entire journey.
As we approached Conrad Rangali Island, I was lost for words. The sun was setting and the island was bathed in the golden glow of the evening light. The sea was the clearest and bluest I had ever seen and the beach surrounding the island had the purest white sand imaginable. We received the warmest of welcomes from Conrad Rangali staff and were met by our own personal concierge Niyaz, who assisted us with anything we needed during our stay.
After enjoying a welcome coconut drink, Niyaz took us to our beach villa. It was beautiful, with a huge outdoor bathtub and shower, couples sink area, a small sitting room, a dressing room and a huge comfy bed. The bed had a towel elephant perched upon it above the word ‘Maruhabaa’ spelt out from bits of palm leaves and flowers from the island. This means ‘welcome’ in Dhivehi, the Maldivian language, and it’s safe to say we felt very welcome indeed. We went for dinner in the Atoll market, the island’s buffet offering. The food was delicious and just what we needed before heading back to our room and slipping into the land of nod.
Day 1-2: Exploring Rangali Island
Paradise exists, and we were there. There is no denying this was the most beautiful place we’ve ever visited. I headed out onto our beach villa terrace, a large patio area with two huge sun loungers and a table and chairs. I padded barefoot down the short sandy path to the beach just in front of our villa. There were two further sun loungers and a parasol at the end of our path just for us.
We explored the soft white sand beaches of the main island before heading over the footbridge onto the second guest island. We were greeted by the lovely bar manager Shaheed with a welcome drink of cinnamon-infused water and the lunch menu. We spent the first day lounging beside the clear turquoise ocean and enjoying the views over toward the main island. We even saw some wildlife, including a huge heron that glanced over at us curiously before going fishing for his lunch. On the second day, the lovely barman helped us carry out a mini couple’s photoshoot on the beach, out of the kindness of his heart. I honestly can’t speak highly enough of the staff at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island – they can’t do enough for you and they are all so kind and welcoming.
In the evenings we had some lovely dinners – a highlight was the fresh pasta from the Italian counter where they’ll make whatever combination and flavour of pasta you’d like. We spent both evenings enjoying drinks in Rangali Bar. The first night was a movie night and the second night they had an amazing live band who played some of my favourite songs and even took requests. We took a walk down the jetty to look for manta rays afterwards, as they sometimes swim by at night to feed on plankton. There’s so little light pollution on the island we also did a little stargazing – the number of stars you can see is truly breathtaking. I saw Jupiter, Saturn and Venus too.
Day 3-4: Spas and snorkelling
After spending a couple of days exploring the island and unwinding, we started really making the most of the countless facilities at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The resort has an overwater spa with glass floors beneath the massage tables so you can watch the fish swim by as you get your massage. There is also a 2nd spa on the main island. I booked myself into the main one and it was wonderful. You get to choose which oil you would like them to use from some fragrance samples, which all smelt divine. I opted for a deep tissue massage. My therapist was lovely and worked wonders on my back, neck and shoulders. After my treatment, I went to the relaxation room where I had some ginger tea and oatmeal cookies. I had the whole area to myself.
The next day we had our adventure snorkelling trip. We boarded a boat with three other couples and headed to the first spot where we were going to look for manta rays. It wasn’t long before we found one. I had rented a GoPro from the dive centre so I jumped straight in the water to capture the moment. I saw the magnificent manta ray gliding across the seabed. It was a truly magical moment, I was totally awe-struck. A second one came along and the gentle giants swam around together making spirals.
The next stop was Turtle Point, a shallower area with a coral reef below us and within five minutes I saw my very first sea turtle in the wild! It was moving slowly on the reef below me, surrounded by colourful fish. Later, we saw another and it swam inches from my face. At our third stop, we saw a reef shark, huge starfish, an eel, an octopus, beautiful corals and even more species of fish both big and small. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we’d get so lucky to see so much. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Day 5-6: Underwater restaurants and overwater villas
These were by far my favourite days on the island. After breakfast, we moved from our beach villa to a Grand Overwater Villa right at the end of the jetty, 500m out into the Indian Ocean. Honestly, this trip is just getting better and better. I keep having to pinch myself to check I am awake!
The new villa was absolute perfection, with a huge lounge, bedroom and out-of-this-world bathroom. The best bit was the view. The whole villa was surrounded by windows that looked out upon the beautiful ocean. I felt like I wouldn’t sleep because I would just be gazing out and watching marine life all night. The deck of the villa had an infinity pool, sun loungers, a seating area and steps leading directly into the ocean. We were lucky enough to be placed in a west-facing villa which meant the sun set directly in front of our infinity pool, so we sat and watched that together and counted our blessings before getting ready.
It was then time to head to the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant which Niyaz had booked us into. It was an amazing experience. After some welcome champagne and canapes, we made our way down the stairs, five meters below the ocean. Suddenly, we were lost for words. The sunlight glistened through the water’s surface down to the restaurant, which was a glass dome surrounded by fish with all the colours of the rainbow. Turtles often visit whilst people are dining, and I immediately spotted two black-tip reef sharks swimming by. If you visit the Conrad on Rangali Island, you simply MUST visit Ithaa. It felt like a beautiful dream.
Final day on the island
What a view to wake up to! Another sunny day meant the water looked extra blue and inviting. I couldn’t wait to snorkel straight off our villa steps. We snorkelled around in the warm ocean outside of (and beneath) our villa and found some more vibrant fish. We even saw a giant puffer fish and a baby reef shark. We soaked up some sun before heading to Mandhoo Restaurant opposite the spa where Niyaz had made us a reservation.
Lunch was delicious! Mandhoo has an organic concept menu that is based on the basic elements of air, earth, fire, water and plants. I had a Quinoa & Broccoli dish with cherry tomato ragout and crispy asparagus which was my favourite meal of the holiday so far. We then had a couple more drinks with some friends we’d made on the island, before heading back to our villa to pack the last of our things and check out.
We had an hour or so after check out before our seaplane was due to pick us up, so we sat in the bar overlooking the beach and soaked up every last possible moment of this heavenly holiday. I feel so lucky to have experienced it and I will do everything in my power to return to Conrad Maldives Rangali Island one day. What an experience. Thank you Destinology.