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.
Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction & Planning
- Part 2 – Flights from US to India
- Part 3 – Flights from India to the Maldives
- Part 4 – Conrad Airport Lounge and Seaplane Ride
- Part 5 – The Grounds of the Conrad Rangali Island Hotel (Conrad Rangali Island Base Room)
- Part 6 – A ~$1,300 per Night Beach Villa for Free
- Part 7 – Saving ~88% on a $3,000 per Night Overwater Bungalow
- Part 8 – Activities at the Conrad Maldives
- Part 9 – Breakfast in the Maldives
- Part 10 – Cheap Food
- Part 11 – Underwater Restaurant
- Part 12 – An Afternoon in Male
- Part 13 – Male Airport and Plaza Premium Lounge
- Part 14 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
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 Bora, Maui, 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.
There is also a small counter to check-in.
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!
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 and 5
pounds 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.
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.
The Conrad Lounge at the Male Airport
The Conrad has a small but relaxing lounge.
I was surprised that they even had a lounge, since it was a small airport.
The lounge had plenty of seating. There was only 1 other couple there when we visited.
Daraius was quite comfy in the lounge chairs!
There was a small selection of food, but it didn’t look particularly fresh.
There was also a salad station that was badly in need of some TLC.
We grabbed some bottled water.
Near the food counter was a spa.
However, it seemed small. There is also a spa, which offers complimentary 10 minute neck and shoulder massages.
The lounge also has an outdoor seating area.
We had a great view of the seaplane!
After ~10 minutes of waiting in the lounge, we were escorted to our boarding gate for the quick 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.
It was a small plane with room for just ~8 to 10 people.
Our luggage was strapped down in the back of the plane.
The cockpit door stayed open, so it was pretty cool to watch the pilots maneuver the plane. They fired up the engines…
And we took off…
The views were spectacular!
Male is a very populated city with its many buildings and small streets…
…unlike the rest of the Maldivian islands, many of which are private resorts.
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!
After ~30 minutes, we landed at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort.
We were all so excited for our upcoming stay!
It was worth the long trek!
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
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
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
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!
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!