Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 10 – Saving on Dinner at the Conrad Maldives

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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.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Dinner With a Sunset View at the Conrad Maldives

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!

Food is very expensive in the Maldives.  To save money, we tried to eat big breakfasts, which were included with the room because we had Hilton Diamond status.  You also get free breakfast with Hilton Gold status, which you can get with the Citi Hilton Reserve card.

Also consider bringing food with you to save money, but know that you will be charged if your luggage is overweight on the seaplane.

We had lunch and dinner at the Rangali Bar, which had the cheapest food on the island.  To give you an idea, the hamburger was $30 and the club sandwich was $29.

Rangali Bar

We ate at the Rangali Bar most evenings for dinner to save money.  The dinners are a la carte.  The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Plenty of Seating Ensured No 20-Minute Wait!

It was very relaxing to be sitting outside, under the palm trees, listening to the waves.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Choose a Table by the Water for the Best View

The cheapest main courses (sandwiches, pasta, etc.) are ~$30.  Even the soups and salads are expensive!

There was a selection of Italian food, including gnocchi, pasta, and pizza.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Keep in Mind that You Will Also Pay a 10% Service Charge and a 8% Tourism Goods & Services Tax!

There were several American favorites as well, including sandwiches, salad, and grill menu items.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

The BBQ Chicken Quesadilla Was My Favorite

In addition there was Thai, Indian, and Japanese food.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

There Were a Few Options for Vegetarians

We found a table right by the beach.  It was magical watching the sky turn beautiful shades of pink and orange as the sun dropped from the sky.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

A Sunset Dinner With My Favorite People in the Whole World

The 1st evening, I ordered a BBQ chicken quesadilla that looked more like a burrito.  However, it was delicious!  I really liked the salsa and guacamole it came with.

We filled ourselves up on bread as much as we could.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Fill Up on the Free Bread So the Small Portions Don’t Leave You Still Feeling Hungry

The next evening, I ordered penne arrabiata.  The pasta was a bit dry and flavorless.  Daraius joked that each piece of penne cost $2.  But it’s OK because we’re paying with our Chase Sapphire Preferred card to get 4 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per noodle.  ($2 per noodle X 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining with Chase Sapphire Preferred.) 🙂

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

There Are Vegetarian Pasta Dishes, Though This Was Not My Favorite

I preferred my quesadilla, but was glad I tried something new.

My mom and Mark split a cheeseburger.  The meat patty looked small though, and I felt bad they split it (though they knew they could have ordered more).

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Is There a Burger Under That Bun?

Daraius and his dad split biryani.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Daraius Recommends the Biryani, It Was Very Flavorful!

We also got a pizza for everyone to share.  The pizza was OK.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

The Pizza Was Comparable to What You Would Find in the Frozen Food Aisle at the Grocery Store

You can also ask for the lunch menu and order from that menu for dinner.  It had a slightly larger selection of food.

The lunch menu has deli favorites and Italian favorites…

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

You Can Order From the Lunch Menu at Dinner for More Options

along with Asian and Indian food.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

The Main Courses Were $22 to $44 and the Sides Cost $10 to $16

Finally, there were sandwiches, appetizers, and grilled food.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

There Are Lots of Dining Choices

I also tried the potato gnocchi with beef bolognaise sauce, which tasted a lot like spaghetti.  It was pretty good, but not as good as my chicken quesadilla.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

I Couldn’t Finish All of My Food So I Shared It With My Family

My mom and Mark shared a salad.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Not Much of a Dinner for Two

Daraius and his dad shared Indian food…

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Daraius & His Dad Loved the Indian Food

…and a papaya salad.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

The Papaya Salad Came With 2 Chicken Skewers

The view from our table could not have been more breathtaking.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

One of the Most Amazing Sunsets I’ve Ever Witnessed

On our last night, my mom and Mark decided to enjoy a romantic dinner on the beach.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

“It’s Not So Romantic With You Here Taking Pictures!”

They ordered the lobster which came with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Get Fresh Lobster for “Only” ~$40

It was another beautiful evening.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

Two Love Birds Watching the Sun Go Down

We saw a small yacht pulling into the dock.

Conrad Maldives Cheap Food

It Sure Would Be Nice to Use Miles and Points to Rent a Yacht…

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

If you want to save some money, eat a big breakfast each day so that you can order less for lunch and dinner.  The food in all of the restaurants is expensive, with the cheapest meals costing ~$30 a plate.

The portions are small, so it’s difficult to share some dishes.  Consider bringing food with you to the Conrad, but know that you’ll have to pay extra if your luggage is overweight on the seaplane.

We saved enough money that we were able to splurge and have an unforgettable experience dining underwater…I’ll show you in the next post!

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10 responses to “Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 10 – Saving on Dinner at the Conrad Maldives

  1. I’m not sure if you intended this as a comedy, but I thought this review was very humorous. One of my favorite things about international travel is eating well on local cuisine. You got to do neither of these. You traveled to the other side of the world to visit a resort that has such outrageously priced food that you had to eat like birds. Those meals at the Rangali Bar looked like $7 appetizers from Applebees (an American casual chain restaurant). I have enough airline and Hilton points to go on this same trip. I am thinking, do I really want to spend a week at a resort where the food is so overpriced that I can only afford one proper dining room meal during the whole stay? At least the view was fabulous.

  2. As a person who loves to explore the local cuisine of where ever I visit, I have never considered a resort like this, no matter how pretty, it’s completely cut off from the culture around it. Those photos serve to reinforce my feelings! Those meals look like economy class airlines meals – and they charged for them! I tolerate similar food at dive resorts – but it’s included in the cost and plentiful. It’s a shame, with such a lovely setting, but isolated places don’t lend themselves to opulent eating.

  3. @Mercruiser Before I went to the Conrad Rangali, I was thinking the same way you were thinking. I am a big city guy and enjoy going to foreign places where there are a lot of things to do and also cheap eats and travel like a king. Bangkok comes to mind. And I do love Bangkok. Never in my life I thought I would enjoy a trip at a resort for multiple days. But boy was I wrong, the Conrad Rangali is nothing like I have ever experienced. The weather was great there. There are plenty of activities you can do. The beach and water is arguably the best the world. We saw so many underwater marine animals when we snorkel and dive (for the first time). Food was very good although expensive. I did not regret a single penny I spent on that Maldives trip. If I have more disposable income and vacation, I would love to go back once every couple of years. I am sure your perspective will change too once you get there.

  4. You travel all the way there and then eat at the hotel each night?

  5. The view might be breathtaking, but the food looks extremely pathetic! I would be coming home, thinking how I mistreated my stomach…

  6. Great series, thanks for sharing! Did you guys have a lot of problems with mosquitoes and other bugs while on the Maldives? And how humid is it? I am the bug magnet in the group, so dining outdoors like this always looks wonderful, until the mosquitoes (inevitably) find me!

  7. Thanks for your comments! Here are my thoughts on the food:

    The Maldives is known for its beaches and underwater life, not for the food. So I would not recommend the resort if you’re looking for new exotic foods to be the highlight of your trip. Maldivian food was served, as well as other ethnic foods. I heard the Indian food was very good.

    The scenery and snorkeling more than made up for the food. Seeing the coral reef and hundreds of fish so easily was the highlight of this trip, and I’d be more than happy to do it again! I’ve truly never seen anything so beautiful, and so closely experienced it! I could literally stretch out my hand and touch the fish and coral if I wanted.

    Also, there are no other options besides the hotel because it’s a $500 flight back to the main island. My experience with all-inclusive buffets at resorts has been disappointing. The food was much worse than what I had in the Maldives even though it was included in the price.

    The food was much better than airline or airport food, and I felt happy that I could eat safely. Because I have a severe food allergy it’s always tricky traveling to international destinations (especially to islands that have no hospital and limited emergency care).

    @ LindaK- Mosquitoes were no problem at all! I get bit everywhere I go, and I never had an issue in the Maldives. I brought bug spray with me, but never had to use it thankfully! It was not humid, either. It was hot in the sun, but it made swimming and snorkeling that much more refreshing and enjoyable. 🙂

  8. Peter S, I love Bangkok too! Whenever I think of great food, Bangkok comes to mind first. I’m also glad to hear your had a great time.

    Emily, Thanks for responding. I’ve been reading this series, wondering if you had fun on this trip. It’s been a little hard to tell. Your writing style can be very analytical – almost to the point that you hide your feelings about an experience. I’m glad you came out and said it was wonderful.

    I’m a big fan of French Polynesia, so I hope you wrap up this series with an answer to your opening line, “We heard that the Maldives Islands rivaled the beauty and splendor of Bora Bora, so we planned a trip to decide for ourselves!” I would really like to know what you like best about each place and where you are more likely to return.

  9. Hi. Has anyone been to the Maldives and/or Conrad end of November (Thanksgiving week)? I am thinking of going this year but am reading conflicting things about the monsoon rains. Any experiences/thoughts? Thanks very much

  10. My husband and I stayed at the Conrad Rangali Island and I will tell you that the food was some of the best food I have ever had, however, we did not take this trip on a budget. We went for the big fancy dinners, sunset dinner, wine cellar dinner, underwater dinner, etc. If you are planning on going to the maldives and want to experience everything, it is extremely difficult to do if you are not willing to spend money. It is an expensive country overall. Well worth it though.