TRIP REPORT INDEX
The highlight of our honeymoon was expected to be visiting the Maldives. Most of the resorts require a seaplane transfer and they do take advantage of that.
Wait, how much do I have to pay for a 30 minute seaplane transfer to the Conrad Maldives? Unfortunately, you cannot pay for the seaplane with points and miles. It is very expensive and was the single most expensive part of our 20 day Asia Honeymoon trip. I can hardly complain because almost the entire trip was paid for with miles and points.
We were excited about the seaplane – it was our first time taking off and landing on the water. Check out the video above to see for yourself.
They made us wait a couple hours until enough people arrived to fill up the plane. Waiting in the airport was not comfortable at all — it would have been nice if they brought us to the Conrad lounge sooner. I asked a few times and each time was told that we would be heading to the lounge shortly. The Conrad lounge was very nice which I will cover in a separate post. If you arrive in the evening, you may need to spend a night in Male like we did. It's also good to do in case there are some travel delays/problems (I would be more upset if I miss my first day at the Conrad).
Finally, it was time to board the seaplane. Everyone walked out on the docks and passed a few planes. I made sure to secure the iPhone… anything dropped could easily fall into the water. As we step into the plane, I noticed the interior of the seaplane was, well… very cramped. There is not much space or leg room…but we are heading to paradise right?
After 15 minutes of waiting on the water, the plane picked up speed and we were off. The view was INCREDIBLE as we passed over many islands. The propellers were loud but tolerable, even without the complimentary ear plugs. It was really warm inside so it's a good idea to put on those shorts before boarding (there is no air conditioning inside)! About 25 minutes later, the plane prepared to land in the water….lower lower and we landed. The landing was smoother than I expected. As the plane got closer to the Conrad resort welcome center, we could see the staff line up waiting to welcome us. The porters took all the bags and a few minutes later, we were welcomed by our host. So far we were impressed and ready to check out one of Hilton's most expensive properties in the world.
The views were amazing!
The view was amazing inside the plane too… what an interesting outfit:
- Cost: $560 (including 12% tax) as of Dec 2014 – per person, round trip. Ouch!
- Alternatives: There are a couple alternatives, neither are very good:
- Speedboat – I don't recommended this, however. For the bargain price of just $3,500 + 18% tax (for the entire boat, one way, as I understand), the resort will pick you up in Male. The trip takes 2.5 hours and may not be so pleasant if the conditions are rough.
- Fly to Maamigili – a domestic airport near the Conrad Resort. The flight from Male to Maamigili takes 20 minutes and the speedboat transfer will take another 25 to 40 minutes depending on weather conditions. The speedboat transfer costs $560 + tax, the same as the seaplane from Male. I understand the only reason to use this alternative is if you are arriving late and don't want to stay in Male.
- Departure times: Start at 6am -8am, however, you really have no control over when your flight will depart.
- Flight Time: 30 minutes
- Flight Distance: 90km from Male airport (Hulhule Island)
- Flight Times: 6am-4pm during daylight hours only
Why is the seaplane so expensive and why do the prices keep going up? Perhaps it's because there were two seaplane companies until 2013 when Blackstone bought both Seaplane companies and created a monopoly. Other resorts nearby charge almost half the price! The following prices are all round trip.
LUGGAGE WEIGHT LIMITS
The Maldivian Air Taxi company is very strict on weight limits and will charge you for excess baggage if you are over the weight limit. When we arrived at the airport, the Conrad rep took our bags and brought them to get weighed right away. If you plan to rebalance you stuff, do it before you hand the bags to the rep because there is no chance to do so later. Before we entered the Conrad Lounge we had to pay about $20 USD for excess baggage weight which I believe was for 1 way only.
- Luggage Allowance: 25 kg per person + 1 piece of hand luggage max 5 kg
- Maximum Weight: 32 kg per piece of luggage
- Maximum Size: Length 33cm, Width 20cm and Height 28cm
- Excess baggage fees: Every 1kg over will cost $5 USD + 12% tax each way
- Tripadivsor: price for seaplane transfer to Conrad Hotel
- Conrad Maldives – Upgrades, Seaplane, Honeymoon Benefits
- Advance Upgrade Options for My Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Stay and Seaplane Transfer Costs
Camera Equipment: These photos and videos were taken using my Canon S110 Digital Camera which has been replaced by the S120. I love it – it's tiny, fits in my pocket, and takes amazing pictures/videos!
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blackstone used to own Hilton right? what a scumbag move. considering the rapacious cash prices for that resort you’d think they would include free transfers. I won’t be ever setting foot on that property.
if the resort is fully booked and people are willing to pay…may as well keep raising the prices
Well of course…price gouging only works if someone is willing to tolerate it. But I meant this in terms of ethics. I wonder how many ppl know ahead of time that they’ll be more or less forced to take an overpriced flight, and how many find out at the last moment when they have no choice. It would leave a bad taste in my mouth.
I don’t think the website is so clear when you are booking it – they should put a big warning in my opinion.
However, the resort does contact you long before your trip to arrange the flights and also to offer you upgraded rooms. They can also help you arrange a hotel before/after your trip.
I’ve heard that the IHG resort is about $200 per person each way by boat. I’ve also heard that if you need to leave or arrive on a Friday that it can be hard if not impossible to get transportation to the resorts on Fridays. Not sure how true that is.
Which resort? Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives? I’m not a fan of any Holiday Inn but this looks much nicer than the typical HI.
I stayed at both HI Kandooma and Conrad Rangali on my trip to The Republic of the Maldives. It was for a 40th Birthday trip for my SO. First was HI then Conrad. The service was beyond exceptional at HI and a disappointment at the Conrad. We arrived late evening and had a very awesome 30 minute high speedboat ride in the pitch black darkness. To wake up in our room the next morning in paradise was so relaxing. Used points and paid a very modest upgrade fee for a water view suite. I had HI make a full sheet cake of Red Velvet and Cream Cheese frosting with Maldivian decorations; the price was $20 bucks. Shared the cake with the staff and other diners; we were talk of the resort for the rest of the stay. It was unbelievably decorated and the Cream Cheese Fondant was the best I’ve ever had. The HI made the transfer reservations to and with Conrad. We spent about 2 hours in the Conrad Lounge before the flight. Pretty col that we got to land and takeoff twice; they needed to drop off a couple at another resort. When we landed at Rangali the dock had a plane on it so they had to Beach the seaplane; that was cool. I used points at Rangali but upgraded 3 nights to Deluxe Beach (got my requested room which was great location and very private) and then 2 nights Deluxe Overwater (got my requested room which was last one and most private). Had dinner underwater and except for one other couple it was basically a private dinner underwater for 2. They did the table up for Birthday and made the special cake I requested. Had great service though when we needed to see the doctor for an emergency.
I think the next I go it will be the HI for sure. With Conrad I think I would just settle for the basic points room and leave it at that.
Dreaming of white sand beaches is very relaxing.
When I get stressed at work, all I have to do is dream of the Maldives…
Was the dinner underwater worth the fee? We ran out of time but we’re planning to at least have a cocktail for the bargain rate of only $75 per person. The reviews were generally not good for the underwater dinner, not to mention the price.