The extensive review and what you need to know
Today I go through and review the beach villa at the Conrad Maldives. I'll try to break it down into a few logical sections for things most travellers will be interested in knowing about and even some things most of you probably will not have thought about until you're actually here on the island.
My hope is that this becomes the definitive review of the Beach Villa so you know exactly what to expect when you head down.
If you're looking to book a room at the Conrad Maldives, the beach villa is their most basic and cheapest room when it comes to price and points. That being said, it's by no stretch in economy class.
This is quoted straight from the Conrad site:
“150 sq m/1614 sq ft, terrace, private garden, open-air garden bathroom with large bathtub.
Indulge in this Beachfront Villa which boasts a glass-walled bedroom which opens out onto a terrace and small private garden, leading to the beach. The private terrace features wooden sun loungers, an umbrella and a coffee table.
To the rear, an open-air garden-bathroom with a romantically lit, large bathtub sits in a beautiful fountain courtyard. There are 11 interconnecting villas to choose from, offering flexible accommodation options for families or friends travelling together.
This air-conditioned villa also comes with a refrigerated mini-bar, CD stereo with iPod connector and a range of indulgent bath products.
Sleeps three adults or two adults and two children.”
At the time of booking, for 9 nights, the cost of a 37,500 points per night.
At the time of writing this blog (April 2014), the same 9 nights booked out in 2015 at the Conrad Maldives will cost the following:
If you crunch the math that's 752,400 points for the same 9 nights or $26,625.06 after taxes and service charges if using cash (and that's with advanced purchase too).
So that gives you a bit of an idea of what the devaluation has done and what it costs in today's HHonors world to stay at the Conrad Maldives. Keep in mind though that the costs do fluctuate and I have seen promotions pop up from time to time that makes a room like this much more affordable.
Ask and you shall receive
After doing extensive research reading the infamous Conrad Maldives thread on FlyerTalk, the consensus was that if you were going to be staying at a King Beach Villa, the best rooms are 213-216 as a first choice and 201-208 as backup. When I spoke to one of the reservation coordinators, I made sure they put this in my reservation file and so should you. If you don't ask and if you're not a returning guest, it is likely you'll get placed into whatever room is remaining after requests are fulfilled.
Why 213 to 216 are the best king beach villa suites on the resort
- Your backyard is as close as it gets to the house reef (unless you pony up for the deluxe of junior suite)
- Although sunset side may seem enticing, many people have complained that villas 101-123 are no good because of the noise from the generators nearby
- If you're a sunrise kind of guy like me, you're only a few steps away from your terrace
- Best balance of privacy and convenience. Although you're never really going to have an issue with privacy, I felt that it was much more calm on this side of the main island because it was away from the Rangali Bar, Atoll Restaurant, main reception and all of that. There also seemed less people just walking along the beach on this side. On the flip side, we weren't too far from the activities. We were ridiculously close to the clinic and dive shop and only a little further from all the food and dock to the dhonis (boats to take us to the small island). Contrast that to the Retreat Water Villas and Mandhoo as an extreme and how much longer the walk would be to get to the restaurants. Most people out there just seemed to call the buggy.
- To drag this example out a bit more, there were a few times when we made it to Atoll for breakfast and then realized we forgot something. The walk back to 213 was decently quick but imagine having to go all the way out to Mandhoo's area.
A photo walkthrough of Suite 213
This is the official map that you get when you check into the hotel. This was really useful to help you get around and get a perspective on where things are in relation to each other. If you look at all available beach villas, suites 213-216 are the closest to the house reef.
Shower and Bath
So I'm going to try something different this time and keep the review in a summarized table to make it super easy to consume.
|Beach Villa Section||Review||Love it||Improve it|
|Outer entrance||At the front of suite you have little sign post with the suite number but you soon realize it's a mailbox too that I affectionately called "treemail" for you Survivor fans out there.|
From there, you're graced with a truly zen walkway with white painted walls and an orange painted inset into the wall in front of you. If it was painted blue, you'd think you were in Santorini.
|Love how sand covers the entire island so you can literally walk bare feet everywhere.|
Impeccable attention to detail here and the rest of the resort with the raking of the sand that's done every day.
|Welcome||When we were first introduced to our room, we were greeted with a wooden box containing 4 delicious chocolates, a bottle of champagne on ice, welcome fruits in mesh basket, welcome letter and hibiscus flower on our bed. |
The complimentary champagne was due to my Gold status. This would apply for Diamonds as well.
I also noticed that they placed fresh hibiscus flowers on the courtyard fountain. I only say this because the flowers were not refreshed throughout our stay.
|All great gestures and much appreciated after a long day of commuting to the Conrad.||None|
|Bar + Fridge||Turn right from the entrance and this is the first area you see. The bar area is filled with the usual suspects and of course everything from the fridge is going to cost money. |
I'm grateful that they didn't have one of those super fancy pressure sensitive auto-billing fridges so you can fill it with your own things like the free water bottles you get and fruits.
The 3 water jugs are constantly refreshed each day so you never really run out of fresh water. They're great for in-suite usage.
If you're looking for cutlery, coffee mugs or tea sets, they're included as well in the drawers below.
Wine and champagne glasses can be found above.
There was a nice Nespresso machine in our suite but we never got to use it since we preferred to have our coffee at breakfast.
Nespresso capsules and tea bags are included and free.
And most importantly each suite has their own kettle/water boiler.
|We didn't have to ask for a water boiler.||An ice bucket is included but never filled. Honestly not a big deal since you can request it (which we did once) and probably not something you'd need every day but if you REALLY wanted to nitpick...|
|Outer bathroom||When I first walked in, stunning was the one word that came to mind. |
The his and her sinks are modernly designed and refreshing. Each side has their own awesomely tall mirrors with candle-like lights.
The open-air space is liberating in many ways with access to the mini fountain courtyard and the shower/bath area.
Add the who-knows-how-high ceilings and you really feel like this is a grand space.
There are folding doors that can close it up but you would never really do that because it's the open air that brings fresh air in since keep in mind the AC doesn't reach this area.
Loved the bamboo towel rack against the wall as well.
Towards the shower side, there is a clothes line that can be strung from one end to the other.
Amenity wise, you get tooth brushes, cotton pads, disposable floss, q-tips, mouthwash, shower cap, body lotion and soap bar.
You can also find the only tissue box and covered garbage bin of the suite here.
|Clothesline is great for us hand-washing folks as our clothes could easily dry within a day.||I think this is really personal preference for people but the flip side of the awesomeoness of having an outdoor bathroom is that it's going to be hot and not air conditioned. It's a big climate change from inner-bedroom to the outer bathroom.
The sink stoppers could not completely close and that was always an issue for us when it came to washing our clothes or just to soak my underwater camera in freshwater after snorkelling or diving.
|Shower||Elegantly designed with the square tiles that lead you from the outdoor bathroom into the truly open space.|
Shower consists of a "bench" area on either side if you ever wanted to sit down and shower, a "rainforest" shower head + additional hand-held shower head that is separately controlled with a separate knob.
Water pressure and hot water availability was never a problem.
To the right of the extra shower head is a shelf with luxurious shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. All of them smelled wonderful with the conditioner's eucalyptus smell particular refreshing. We used these Conrad bath amenities the entire trip.
Lighting wise, there's a switch "inside" that turns on two lights that light up the stone floor of the shower.
|Showering under the stars can now be checked off the bucket list. |
I really can't describe how delightful it is to shower just out in the open and not feel awkward and insecure.
|Bath||We honestly didn't use this area much except for the one time.|
It's quite the lovely sight from the outer bathroom with a full covered bamboo hut roof and the square floor tiles that lead out to it.
Fiddling with the switches to the right of the bamboo towel rack, you find that there's roof lighting for the bath hut and a ceiling fan.
On the sides of the tub, they have two candles in holders and a box of matches to accompany them. You also get a jar of bath salts and a body scrubber.
The tub is made out of something granite-like and square shaped but on each corner is a raised square that made me to believe it to be some sort of seat.
We tried using the bath tub once but let me tell you it's a HUGE tub. It's more or less jacuzzi sized without any jets so the problem is that it really takes a long time to fill it up. Even before that because we didn't use it much, there were some ants and bugs we wanted to flush out and just clean the tub all around before we used it so that took some time too. At the end of it all we only filled it up to the top of the corner "seats", sat for a bit with the bath salts and realized the impracticality of it all. It just seemed to be a bit of waste of water.
|Loved the grand-ness of it all with the size and ceiling fan.||If it was a true jacuzzi and consistently filled with water like the water villa pool, it would be more practical.|
|Wardrobe||So to the left of the bathroom and through the sliding wooden doors is the wardrobe. This is where the concierge will drop off your suit cases and where you'll probably keep all of your clothes.|
This is essentially a big walk-in closet where you can hang your clothes on the left, use some of the drawers below the suitcase bench, place some clothes or other misc things like sunscreen and water gear on the shelves to the right and put your passports and valuables in the safe.
At first we figured this area was not air conditioned like the rest of the outer bathroom but in fact it was.
You will also notice that there's fixed open wooden blinds that connect directly to the bedroom so you really want to make sure you close up the wardrobe so nothing can access your bedroom (i.e. mosquitos).
Although not there at the beginning, our room was later stocked with two rain jackets. You'll also find the beach bag, outlet converter and blow dryer here.
|Nice and large with tons of hangers of different varieties.||To be honest we thought the placement of the wardrobe, layout wise, to be a bit odd. It was a bit annoying that we had to leave the comforts of our bedroom to go the open air bathroom in order to access the wardrobe which was air conditioned anyways. It made for a lot of trips between the main door that separates the open air part of the suite and the bedroom.
We also had the initial concern that bugs and mosquitos could easily go from the bathroom -> wardrobe -> bedroom.
|Bedroom||After you make it past the main wooden doors that take you inside the air conditioned area, you walk down a short hallway which then opens up to the whole bedroom.|
When you first see it with all the curtains up, all the light that enters the room brightens up the white-washed walls and light colored granite flooring. The place feels huge. Combine that with the wooden decor, the ceiling fan and all the modern influenced furniture, you really soak in the laid back atmosphere and feel homely all at the same time.
The bedroom was truly fantastic and often times felt large for just the two of us.
I took over the office table which was just large enough to put my computer, some papers and other tech gear I brought along.
The couch we put the snacks we had brought from Hong Kong and most of Chantelle's stuff.
The circular table by the couch was usually where housekeeping would put our 3 new fruits for the day and two plates + napkin and cutlery.
The bed and the sheets itself were super comfortable as you'd expect from a Conrad hotel. Impeccably clean and soft as a baby's bum.
There are wooden blinds pretty much surround the entire room including the glass windows that lead out to the terrace and to the small fountain courtyard. These are controlled by a remote control that hangs on the wall of the right side of the bed. The remote itself is a bit confusing to use but depending on the light that's flashing when you press the up or down button, it tells you which blind it's controlling (1,2,3 or 4). To change which blind you're controlling, you hold the big circle button and you'll see the flashing red light change to a different position. When pressing up or down, if you hold long enough, it'll eventually just automatically roll the blinds all the way up or down. You'll figure it out eventually. The wooden blinds along the small hallway are manually controlled but we usually let house keeping manage that one.
|Incredibly grand and spacious. |
Enjoyed the numerous different types of pillows that were given to us.
Sofa was super comfortable.
|I find this is a problem with most hotel rooms but why can't there be a tissue box in the bedroom itself and not just in the bathroom?
Also with ants and things being a concern, it would've been nice to have a lid on top of the garbage bin though I can understand why forcing us to put food-related garbages in the open-air area in order to be super safe.
Office table could be larger. It was extremely narrow.
I didn't really have a problem with this but I could see others having trouble sleeping with the fountain running 24/7. We later found that there was a plug in the courtyard that you could unplug if you wanted to turn it off completely but like I said I didn't think it was much of an issue.
|Air Condition||When it's running, the air condition blows nice and cold. It's not very loud either.||None||We never quite figured it out but we noticed that sometimes the AC would just cut out. My theory was it had something to do with us accidentally hitting the master switch. However we could never confirm whether the master switch affects AC or not.|
|Inner bathroom||So you will have realized by now that the toilet is actually not part of the outer bathroom. Perhaps a strange layout decision but it was nice that we didn't have to go "outside" to use the toilet or quickly wash our hands. |
This particular bathroom isn't large and aside from the toilet in the middle has a wooden table on the right and left sides. The right side is just a table but the left side is where the super mini stone bowl sink is.
Amenity wise, you have a soap bar plate, some small towels and that's about it.
|None||I think the biggest annoyances from the bathroom was just how small the sink was. Because of it's size, I was splattering water all over the wooden table the sink sits on.|
|Technology||TV is a 40 some inch LG TV which was good for the task and hooked up to the island satellite with access to a mix of some local and international channels. For us it was really good to watch Bear Grylls all day long. He was on every time we had the TV on (which wasn't often).|
I was impressed that the TV was accompanied by an LG sound bar with integrated Blu-Ray player. What's more is that the sound bar was also connected to an iPod dock (30-pin) that had an actual iPod touch connected. It was nice touch if you wanted to use the Conrad concierge app or listen to some of the Conrad soothing tracks.
So yes not only do you have TV to watch but if you bring your own Blu-Ray disks, you can watch your own movies. Sweet!
If you're facing the bed, to the left is a clock radio with integrated iPhone dock (lightning) which was great for me since I didn't need to have another cable and adapter dedicated to phone charging. The clock was also great on the few occasions I wanted to jam to music through speakers.
One last thing which I'll bundle into tech is a comment about the outlets. 1) I should've discovered this through my research but I was a bit caught off guard that UK plugs are used here and 2) There simply isn't enough extra outlets. Actually there aren't any extra ones at all. The only way to charge anything is to unplug something else in the bedroom.
|Full sound system connected with TV (yes there's even a small subwoofer in the back) and Blu-Ray player. |
Access to 30-pin and lightning docks for you iPhone users.
Lots of channels to keep you busy.
|TV could be bigger but I really can't complain.
The cable from the iPod dock to the sound bar seemed to be super loose in our suite so didn't quite work most of the time.
Biggest gripe to the beach villa is the lack of plugs. By design or lack of foresight?
|Lighting||I don't usually have a section on this but I thought for this suite, special attention be placed on lighting.|
Lighting controls can be accessed from the very front of the main entrance and by the bedside.
There's the concept of a master switch and then individual control of certain lights. Shower and bath controls were on the wall close to shower in the outer bathroom.
Without going into the detail about the controls themselves, sufficed to say they were not easy to figure out. They were not easy to use not because the labelling wasn't clear but we found that they were unpredictable in behaviour. For example, sometimes when you turn on the master switch the light atop the bar could be turned on and on other times it couldn't so I would have to flip the master switch off and on again.
Bedside, we had trouble figuring out how to turn off all the lights and this resulted in us just pressing buttons at random until most of the lights were off. We were also never really sure if the two tall lights to the left and right of the sofa bed could be controlled bed side or not or if we managed to turn them off because we turned the master off. It was just very confusing.
I think the other big gripe with the lighting in the bedroom was the lack of it. There were times when I wanted to work from the desk but had to do it in near-darkness because all I had was a very dim table lamp. And because of the lack of open outlets, I didn't even have access to the table lamp because I was using the outlet to charge something like my laptop. Struggles.
The bed itself had sufficient light because each side had it's own reading light that we could use that was very bright but on the TV and sofa bed side there really wasn't anything except for the tall lamps.
|None||The frustration with the lights was that the controls were not predictable. I felt that there were something weird going on with the wiring but honestly did not have time nor want to spend time investigating what the exact behaviour was.
This is something I feel like can be fixed.
To fix the lack of lighting I feel that all the room needs is two additional potlights on the ceiling by the sofa bed.
|Terrace||Like I mentioned above in this post, the main reason why we requested this beach villa was because of it's proximity to the house reef. It's all about location right?|
Even when our island host walked us in, she said it was her first time to this suite because most of the time these were taken by return guests.
The terrace is complete with its own sun loungers and circular table with two chairs. This was great for relaxing just outside of the suite or in our case, to have some snacks outdoor.
The terrace also has one of those water vases which I will have a video on later to wash your sandy feet off before going inside.
One thing to keep in mind with the terrace and bedroom is that it's a granite-type flooring and so when wet, becomes VERY slippery. Do be careful and wear slippers.
Privacy wise, because suite 213 shares a wall with 214, there is the possibility of hearing the neighbours if they're outside as well. The wall that separates the terraces is about head-height which makes it still relatively private in my opinion.
|Beautiful terrace. Huge space. Well furnished.||None|
|The Beach||Although I suppose you can't claim this section of the beach exclusively yours, the beach chairs and umbrella that are just outside the 213 backyard are more or less yours to use. |
This was truly amazing and the best part of the beach villa because we were stone's throw away from using our very own beach chairs and umbrella. Nobody was going to fight us for these chairs like you would for the main pool and it was straight beaching paradise from that point forward.
The other big bonus of this suite is that the beach is mere minutes away from the house reef
To clarify, when I say "house reef", I'm thinking about the straight channel that was dug out to give you access to the open water and best chance to see bigger fish. The channel can be found if you head straight ahead from roughly suite 229/230.
That doesn't mean there isn't reef anywhere else. Even from 213, if you walk straight into the water and snorkel forward, you'll hit huge patches of coral and fish everywhere.
|Super quiet stretch of beach with quick access to the house reef.||None|
|Housekeeping||Super awesome is what I can say here. |
Morning clean was thorough including a sweeping of the floor, raking of the small fountain courtyard and our backyard plus replenishing of our water supply and 3 new fruits.
Turn down service was just as good, moving the additional bed covers and pillows away, cleaning out the garbage, replacing of the towels and managing of the blinds. I'm sure they did much more but those were some of the main things I observed.
Oh and they also give you a plush Conrad manta on your first night's turn down service so make sure you don't miss that. We had heard they used to drop a different animal a day in the past but they've definitely stopped that.
|Top notch service.|
It was so good that we never put up the do- not-disturb sign on our door.
|Timing was a bit unpredictable but I think that's just the nature of it. Just our luck a couple of times, we'd walk back to our suite to find housekeeping still working on our room.|
|Bugs and things||I know not particularly pleasant to talk about but honestly if you're coming to a tropical island, there's just no way around ants and I'm not going to be one of those guys to complain about it. |
They also dropped a note in the suite binder that they do an island wide fumigation between 4PM-6PM so they're definitely trying to control things. Just make sure you don't get caught in the middle of the fumigation outdoors. We were on a buggy this one time getting from Mandhoo to reception and we literally drove through this massive cloud of opaque smoke.
We never had any big problems in our bedroom and in the outer bathroom we could see ants and the one odd gecko but nothing that really spooked us.
|Thank you for the ant spray in the wardrobe. Didn't need it but good to know we had one in case.||None.|
|Wifi||Our suite had our own router and so when you search for a wireless signal, it'll actually say 213. From there, you're connected right through. That means there's no log in screen which you normally get with other Hilton hotels.|
The speed itself could be faster but to be honest I had set my expectations low and for an island out in the middle of nowhere, it was decent enough to do basic surfing.
I did some photo uploads for my photo essay blog posts and that definitely took a bit of time. I usually had to kick start it and leave it on for a couple hours to complete.
Beach or Water Villa?
So inevitably after reading this review and my water villa review, you're going to be wondering which one is better. To be honest I loved how were able to break up our stay at the Conrad into two parts – 6 nights in the king beach villa and 3 nights in the water villa. Each suite has its own advantages and key draws.
- Beach access from your suite's backyard.
- Novelty of having an open air bathroom and outdoor shower.
- Larger room. On top of the king-sized bed you get an extra sofa bed as well.
- Convenience of being on the main island and having everything a quick walk away.
- Don't need to pay for upgrade costs.
- At it's core, it's simply not a water villa. The Maldives is known for the water villa and not not try at all seemed like a bit of a waste for us so that's why we upgraded 3 of our 9 nights.
- The beach villas are a bit older than the newly renovated water villas.
- Not as private as the water villas just due to the nature of the core difference of the villas – it's not on stilts. It's also on the main island vs the smaller island so you're dealing with even less people and no kids.
- Due to open air-ness of things and being on the ground you'll deal with more bugs and things.
Tips and Tricks
I'll finish off this post with my usual tips and tricks that everyone can take away from this review.
- If you're looking to stay at the King Beach Villa suite, make a request for 213-216 and 201-208 as backup. Amongst 213-216, 216 is preferable to 213 due to proximity to house reef.
- Make sure you bring a few UK outlet adaptors. The suite has one and I'm sure you could ask for more if you needed to but its nice to have more. If you can fit it, I might even bring one of those travel style surge bars like this one: Belkin SurgePlus 3-Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Charger
- There are two type of slippers available from the Conrad – indoor and bamboo outdoor. Neither are in the room (at least in our case) upon arrival. You have to make a special request. Simply call concierge and they'll make it happen. They'll ask for the kind you want and size.
- No need to bring a beach bag because each suite comes with one. The bag is actually pretty good because it has no problems carrying two sets of snorkel and fins.
- If you're going to be eating any sort of food, make sure you put the garbage in the covered garbage bin in the outdoor bathroom to make sure you don't wake up to a trail of ants.
- No need to bring bath amenities as the ones provided by the Conrad are of high quality.
- If you want to make use of the Blu-Ray player, bring your own discs.
- When you first get into the room they provide you a few floor towels. One should be just inside the outdoor bathroom leading towards the shower. One should be by the entrance to wipe off sand and water if you used the water vase. Another should be on the terrace by the water vase. You really want to make sure you dry and clean your feet off as the floor does get super slippery.
- If you're looking to buy some postcards, no need because each suite has 2-3 postcards in the leather folder which contains information about the resort and suite. There are 4 designs from what I gathered and if you want more, don't be afraid to ask your island host or front desk to send you some.
Check out the prices for the Conrad Maldives for when you want to go.
For more information, head over to my Insider's Review of the Conrad Maldives article.