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Traveling 10,000 Miles for Barefoot Luxury: The Conrad Maldives

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  Site Where: Rangali Island 2034, Rangali Island, Maldives
February 5, 2009 at 3:49 PM | by | Comments (0)

Carsten Schieck, the tall, tan, genial General Manager of The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, breezed into Los Angeles last week on a tour of the U.S., and sat down to tell us why a visit to his resort is worth flying 10,000 miles (plus an extra island hop of 50 miles.) Turns out that even if you hate traveling long distances, once you get to the Maldives, the Conrad will do everything in their power to make you forget just how long and tiring that trip was.

But first, we had to ask--what is Conrad. This is actually one of Hilton’s ultra luxe-brands ("but still hip," says Carsten) with just a handful of properties around the world. This location was actually once the former Hilton Maldives but underwent a recent $35 million refurbishment to emerge as a brand-new, shiny and sparkling Conrad Hotel.

Accommodation 411
There are only 150 guest villas on the resort’s two islands, so the experience is intimate. The villas range from 74-300 square meters (about 800-3200 sq. ft.) and most have features like outdoor wraparound terraces, private plunge pools, and even private spa treatment rooms in the over-water Spa Villas (3-night stay required for those). If you really want a splurge, rent one of the two two-bedroom villas with glass-floored living rooms, private butler service, and a circular rotating bed in the master bedroom (hubba hubba!). We’re calling the overall design island-minimalist chic since the rooms seem to be done up in native woods, neutral earth tones, and simple, uncluttered furnishings.

The Dining Scene Carsten tells us there are seven restaurants at the resort, each designed to create a unique experience so that guests never get tired of dining in. After all, there’s not really anywhere else to go.

The most distinctive of them is Ithaa, the world’s first all-glass underwater restaurant. It seats only 18 guests, and each day’s menu is a 23-course $320 prix fixe dinner. The foods are locally sourced when possible, but the cuisine is what Carsten calls “Maldivian fusion” with Arabian Sea spices. People come from other resorts just to eat here, says Carsten. The other restaurants are more moderately priced, but still high-end gourmet.

What To Do
In addition to the resort’s two spas, there is a fitness center where you can take a “boxercise” and yoga classes (among others). But since the Maldives are a diver’s paradise, you should definitely go for some snorkeling or scuba diving on the nearby coral reefs where you can spot turtles, sharks and manta rays. You can also arrange a picnic on the resort’s private deserted island, visit a local fishing village, take a luxury yacht cruise, go game fishing, or hey, even get married underwater (yep, we saved the best for last on that one). If you’re already married, try one of the four, yes four, “Renewal of Love” ceremonies the resort caters.

Children Allowed!
We know you might be looking for an excuse (any excuse!) to leave the kid at home, but the resort is one of the most kid-friendly in the island chain, so the whole family can come along. For tykes ages 3-12 years, there are daily programs to keep them busy, including a Kids Spa program to “help those busy children unwind!”

Internet Connect
Though your blackberry might not work there, the whole resort is connected to a WiFi network, and you can always use the new business center if you just can’t stand to be out of touch with the office.

Bottom Line
They don’t publish their room rates, but with a little online investigation, the lowest we could find was a villa for about $550 spiking all the way up to about $1,300 before taxes. You might be able to save a little cash by taking advantage of a 25 percent discount they offer periodically, and you definitely get bonus HHonors and Delta SkyMiles points for staying there.

Many thanks to Carsten for taking the time to meet with us!

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