If you’re on the lookout for generous sunshine, surreal glassy sea and ivory-white sand, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is the destination for you. With vast, spacious suites (some with roof terraces for stargazing) you can truly find bliss in your very own island sanctuary whilst discovering private gardens, mouth-watering gastronomy, plunge pools, and stairs that dip into the Indian Ocean.
Conrad has two sides to it – one island for families with kids and one island for those looking for a quieter, more secluded time… how clever. You can take a scenic walk to either side via a long bridge, or hop on a buggy to speed things up. They’re hardly in competition, with both islands donning first-rate restaurants and powdery beaches. And while our villa was on the more peaceful isle, we dipped into the dining and activity scene on its more energetic counterpart, only to swiftly retreat to our cast-adrift refuge when we craved its seclusion once more.
Set the scene
Envisage a desert island, one heaving with green and birdsong. Butterflies and lizards dart between purple and pink flower bushes; snaking sandy baths remain cool under the shade of giant palms and beaches feel as though someone has ramped up the contrast on a camera – with impossibly turquoise water lapping impossibly white sand with an impossibly cloud-free, blue sky overhead. Honeymooners will love ‘The Quiet Zone’ adult-only beach where beds are spread out to the point where couples may feel they have the whole island to themselves.
To really get under the skin of this far-flung corner of the world and behold its surreal beauty, hop on board Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s luxury yacht for the Sunset Cruise. You may be lucky enough to see dolphins swimming alongside the boat as an emphasised Maldivian sun begins its crimson descent. This other-worldly natural theatre is paired with delicious canapés and Champagne – just one of the activities the hotel can put on, courtesy of its extraordinary geography.
Snorkelling is another stellar way to fully anchor yourself in the exotic surrounds, with a kaleidoscopic array of marine life to discover. Watch turtles swim, exotic fish dart and rays glide through the gin clear water, and if you’re lucky, the majestic whale shark, whose presence can bowl over even the most experienced diver. Conrad’s efforts to preserve the marine life surrounding its islands is just part of a broader sustainability action plan, one that includes rebuilding coral nurseries, which guests can get involved in).
We stayed in the Sunset Villa which, as the name would suggest, promises knockout views of the sunset every evening – the sort that wipes out all memory of a long haul flight. A private pool overlooks the crystal-clear water and stairs tempt pre-breakfast swims in the ethereal blue lagoon. The setting calls for floating breakfasts (that old Maldivian chestnut, but a novelty nonetheless), which can be enjoyed while watching the morning light move through its various shades.
The staff are so friendly and welcoming, leaving notes and artwork on your bed made out of leaves like ‘Have a nice day’ with a parrot. On one of the days, we were surprised with a bubble bath with flower petals when we got to our room after the day out.
Honeymooners can choose between thatched, overwater villas perched on stilts (stairway to heaven into the Indian Ocean) or beachfront villas which have a more modern feel and spill onto the beach via a private garden. Both styles of rooms have their own pools and, while the beachfront villas are more spacious, the overwater villas are the quintessential Maldivian honeymoon cocoon – seemingly hovering over an impossibly blue lagoon.
For a real blow-the-budget honeymoon stay, it has to be the Muraka – an underwater suite that appears to have sprung from a Bond film. Couples can snuggle under the covers as eels, exotic fish and even sharks swim above them, or brush their teeth while tracing the synchronised movements of tiny iridescent fish. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, truly magical experience.
Food and drink
Couples are spoilt for choice at Conrad Rangali with seven restaurants and imaginative (and seriously romantic) private dining options. Floating on the water and beautifully uplit, Sunset Grill offers a birds eye view of the fish and sharks circling the shallows below. The lobster here is something to write home about, and the most basic seafood dish is cooked to perfection and garnished with herbs. Breakfasts at Vilu Restaurant are a calming (and delicious) start tot he day, with uninterrupted views of the beach directly ahead and an extensive buffet, and menu, to choose from. A boat lies waiting beside the restaurant to take those who’ve enjoyed every exotic fruit juice, omelette and pancake, to the other side of the island for a mid-morning snooze or to set off on the day’s activities.
The light lunch spot tends to be Mandhoo Spa Restaurant, where tasty salads can be enjoyed from a sun bed after a pampering treatment, all to the soundtrack of the waves curling close by. Atoll Market is the unbuttoned, buzzy spot for a buffet-style breakfast, lunch or supper, while Ufaa by Jereme Leung is the one to dress up for – a five-star Chinese menu (don’t miss the coated prawns, their signature dish). Another romantic island haunt is Ithaa Undersea Restaurant (the world’s first undersea restaurant) where couples can dine amongst marine life, sipping Champagne as sharks, sting rays and fish glide past. And while not completely private, the ‘private event BBQ’ cleverly spaces tables so far apart that you feel as you’re dining alone on the sand. It’s worth noting that this needs to be booked in advance, and is well worth it for the romance factor – sipping Champagne under the stars while tucking into exquisite grilled seafood.
Families stay on the family-friendly side of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, (connected via a long wooden bridge), while giving honeymooners without children in tow the peace they shlepped across the world for. Other than the Atoll Market, most restaurant tables are cleverly spread out to allow families to go about their day, without worrying about disturbing others.
Of the two spas at the resort, The Overwater Spa is the most serene. Class squares carved into the treatment room floors offer those having massages a privileged glimpse into the lagoon below. The couples massages here are as otherworldly as the setting itself – with a soothing soundtrack of the Indian Ocean rolling onto the beach. Post massage, therapists lead you to a wooden deck, that tips over the ocean for calming teas and some ‘pick-me-up’ treats. We recommend booking a treatment for late afternoon so you can experience golden hour as it hits the spa.
To book your Maldives honeymoon at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, visit: conradmaldives.com
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