Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 4 – Conrad Airport Lounge and Seaplane Ride

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I used our miles and points to have a fabulous honeymoon in Bora Bora.

We heard that the Maldives Islands rivaled the beauty and splendor of Bora Bora, so we planned a trip to decide for ourselves!

The Maldives is known for its luxury resorts, and most resorts have their own private island.  There are beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water.  The islands also have fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving!

We booked 5 nights using Hilton points at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.  The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a 30-minute seaplane ride from Male, the capital of the Maldives.  We booked this trip to make the most of our Hilton points before the Hilton devaluation last year.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Ready for Our Seaplane Adventure

Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too Index:

The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, just south of India.  Getting to the Maldives is a long journey, but the trip is definitely worth it!  Daraius and I have been to many beach destinations such as Bora BoraMaui, and Kauai on miles and points, but the Maldives tops them all!

Traveling to the Maldives is also very expensive, but you can do it for much less than the retail cost!  This trip would have cost us ~$27,000, but we only paid ~$4,300!! These series of posts will show you how you can also take a trip to the Maldives on miles and points!

Conrad Lounge in Male

Once we collected our baggage from our flight into Male, we met a representative from the Conrad resort to direct us to the lounge and seaplane. He was holding up a sign near the exit of the airport.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

A Conrad Representative Was There to Lead You to the Conrad Lounge

There is also a small counter to check-in.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Conrad Welcome Desk at the Male Airport

He then escorted us to the Trans Maldivian seaplane counter.  We had to take 1 more flight…in a seaplane…to get to the Conrad.  It was a ~30 minute ride from Male, and the only way to get from Male to the hotel.

The seaplane costs ~$500 per person.  Unfortunately, you can’t use miles to book these flights, and they are very strict about excess baggage fees!

Daraius did the math and that’s ~$17 per minute!

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Taking a Seaplane Is the Only Way to Reach the Conrad

Beware of Weight Limits

The agents were very particular about the weight of the luggage, and weighed each bag.  There were strict weight limits of 55 pounds for checked bags andpounds for carry-ons with a maximum of ~70 pounds per person.

Unfortunately, we were over the limit and had to pay $5 for every  ~2 pounds we were over weight plus an 8% tax.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Pack Light or You’ll Be Charged Excess Baggage Fees!

After delivering our luggage to Trans Maldivian airlines for our seaplane flight, we were escorted to the Conrad lounge.  We all rode in a van to get there.  The lounge is located in the seaplane boarding area.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

It’s a Quick 5 Minute Ride to the Conrad Lounge

The Conrad Lounge at the Male Airport

The Conrad has a small but relaxing lounge.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

I Was Looking Forward to Checking Out the Lounge

I was surprised that they even had a lounge, since it was a small airport.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Access to the Conrad Airport Lounge Is Free From 7:00 am to 5:00 pm

The lounge had plenty of seating.  There was only 1 other couple there when we visited.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

But There Is a Fee to Enter the Lounge From 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm, Which Includes Dinner

Daraius was quite comfy in the lounge chairs!

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Daraius Relaxing Before Our Last Flight

There was a small selection of food, but it didn’t look particularly fresh.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

There Was a Variety of Sandwiches

There was also a salad station that was badly in need of some TLC.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

And a Bare Bones Salad Bar

We grabbed some bottled water.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

We Helped Ourselves to Cold Drinks

Near the food counter was a spa.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

The Lounge Was Nearly Empty

However, it seemed small.  There is also a spa, which offers complimentary 10 minute neck and shoulder massages.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Anybody Want a Massage?

The lounge also has an outdoor seating area.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

The Lounge Deck Where You Can Watch the Seaplane Departures and Arrivals

We had a great view of the seaplane!

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

In the Maldives, Thanks to Miles and Points!

After ~10 minutes of waiting in the lounge, we were escorted to our boarding gate for the quick flight.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Soon Enough It Was Time to Board Our Flight

The Seaplane Was Small and Noisy

We were given earplugs for the noise (seaplanes are pretty noisy).  After a few minutes, we could board the seaplane.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Ready for Our 1st Seaplane Ride

It was a small plane with room for just ~8 to 10 people.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Get a Window Seat for the Best View

Our luggage was strapped down in the back of the plane.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

The Cabin Was Very Small

The cockpit door stayed open, so it was pretty cool to watch the pilots maneuver the plane.  They fired up the engines…

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Bye, Bye Male!

And we took off…

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

We Couldn’t Wait to Step Foot on the Island!

The views were spectacular!

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

The Pilots Sure Have a Tough Job…

Male is a very populated city with its many buildings and small streets…

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Male is the Maldives’ Most Populated City

…unlike the rest of the Maldivian islands, many of which are private resorts.

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

The Maldives Is 2 Chains of 26 Atolls

Most of us sat on the right side of the plane, and I tried to look out both the left and the right sides of the plane to see which side had the better views.  Both sides looked equally fantastic.  The best strategy is just to get a window seat, regardless of which side!

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

The Beautiful Views Eased the Sting of the ~$500 Seaplane Tickets

After ~30 minutes, we landed at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort.

 Seaplane Conrad Maldives

Yay! We’re Here!

We were all so excited for our upcoming stay!

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

I Couldn’t Wait to Hit the Beach

It was worth the long trek!

Seaplane Conrad Maldives

While Daraius and His Dad Couldn’t Wait to Eat

How You Can Do It Too!

Our favorite way to get to the Maldives from the US is with American Airlines miles on Etihad or Qatar Air.

If you’re willing to book separate award tickets (i.e. 1 award ticket from the US to Hong Kong & another from Hong Kong to the Maldives), you could even fly on Cathay Pacific or Malaysia Air using American Airlines miles to the Maldives.  

Here are ways to get lots of American Airlines miles.  And here’s my series on using American Airlines miles.  It could also be worth using an award booking service to book the flights for you.

You can also use Alaska Airlines miles on Emirates or Cathay Pacific. And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

We used United Airlines miles because we wanted to go to India first.  But folks who only want to fly from the US to the Maldives would likely use American Airlines miles or Alaska Airlines miles.

1.   Using American Airlines Miles

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

A flight from the US to the Maldives costs:

  • 45,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 67,500 American Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 90,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

You can use American Airlines to fly many different ways to the Maldives, including on Etihad, Sri Lankan, Qatar, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airways.  If you want to book on Etihad, first find the available flights on the Etihad website and then call American Airlines to reserve the tickets.  See this step-by-step guide for more information.

2.   Using Alaska Airlines Miles

Link:   Alaska Airlines partner award chart to Middle East

From the US to the Maldives you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Emirates)
  • 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Cathay Pacific)
  • 62,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 72,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Emirates)
  • 90,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Emirates)

You can book Emirates flights on the Alaska Air website, except for Cathay Pacific, which has to be reserved by calling Alaska Airlines customer service.  See this post for more ways on using Alaska Air miles to get to the Maldives.

And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

3.   Using United Airlines Miles

Link:   United Airlines award chart

To fly from the US to India, you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 70,000+ United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 140,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

Here’s a post on how to use United Airlines miles.

And here’s how you can get the airline miles and hotel points for your trip to the Maldives!

Bottom Line

The Conrad Maldives lounge at the Male airport was a relaxing stop, but they didn’t have the best food selection.

The seaplane is the only way to get to the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel from the Male airport.  It is a quick ~30 minute ride, but an expensive round-trip ride at ~$500 per person!

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4 responses to “Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 4 – Conrad Airport Lounge and Seaplane Ride

  1. Regarding the carry-on weight limit: I belive the allowance is 5 kilos or about 11 lbs, not 5 lbs.

  2. Hi Darius, the links for the different parts of this post aren’t working-they are not clickable. Im behind reading them, and I cant get back to part 2 or 3. Please fix! Thanks!

  3. Darius, do you have to pay the seaplan at the airport or they add it to your bill at the hotel?

  4. @pD: The sea plane is charged to your room.