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Yes you can stay in an overwater villa in the middle of the Indian Ocean for free using points! We recently returned from our second trip to the Maldives this time choosing to stay at Hilton’s Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.

In this post I’ll go over the how I booked this award, show you the two different villa options available on points, an upgraded overwater villa, and recommended villas locations.

 

Getting There

Like most resorts in the Maldives, after arriving into the capital city of Male, you will need to take a domestic flight, a seaplane transfer, a boat, or a combination of these to get to your island resort.

Our last trip to the Park Hyatt Maldives included both a domestic flight and a boat transfer, getting to the Conrad Maldives was much easier with just a single ~30 minute seaplane transfer.

The seaplane roundtrip transfer costs $590/person which is the only cost (other than food) I had to pay for but used my American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card for the charge which gives me a $250 Hilton resort credit.

 

 

 

Villas on Points

While Hilton allows you to use points for any room, the two lowest level awards are the Beach Villa and the Water Villa at 95,000 points per night or the use of a free weekend night certificate.

We ended up staying 8 nights total with our first 2 nights booked in a Beach Villa followed by 6 nights in the Water Villa.  We were also surprised with a complimentary upgrade to the Grand Water Villa for our last two nights.

We ended up using a combination of free weekend night certificates and points for our stay.  Don’t forget Hilton gives you the 5th night free when booking on points and free weekend certificates are good for Friday, Saturday, & Sunday nights.  Arriving on a Saturday, we ended up with the following:

  • Saturday – Free Night Certificate
  • Sunday – Free Night Certificate
  • Monday – 95,000 Points
  • Tuesday – 95,000 Points
  • Wednesday – 95,000 Points
  • Thursday – 95,000 Points
  • Friday – 5th Night Free
  • Saturday – Free Night Certificate
  • TOTAL = 380,000 Hilton Points + 3 Free Night Certificates

 

 

 

Resort Map & Recommended Villas

The resort if made up of a total of two island (really three, workers live on the third and guests are not allowed).  The larger island houses most of the restaurants and all of the beach villas while the smaller ‘quiet’ island is home to most (but not all) of the overwater villas.

 

 

For our first two nights in a standard beach villa we were assigned to 214 which ended up being the best location with the nicest largest beach area and next to the house reef area.  I highly recommend requesting beach villas 213-216 or 208 down to 201.   Try to avoid 101-123 – these villas are very close together, have a very small beach, and generally not the best location.

 

Beach Villas 101 – 123

 

For our next four nights, we moved the standard Water Villa 305.  This location wasn’t bad but the water was definitely rougher than on the opposite side.  I would suggest requesting one of the water villas 315-330 on the opposite side with calmer waters.

Our complimentary upgrade our last two nights was in Grand Water Villa 420 and was AMAZING!

Beach Villa

 

Luckily our 95,000 point standard Beach Villa was one of the four best.  We were assigned 214 which is one of a group of four beach villas sandwiched between Deluxe Beach Villas with an amazing larger beach right in front of the house snorkeling reef.

We shared an entrance with one other villa.

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Entrance

 

After entering, there is a small table with a couple of umbrellas with a window to your own personal outdoor shower and tub.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Entrance

 

Walking down the hallway to main area, the sink areas are on your left.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Sink Area

 

There is only an outdoor shower and tub – there is no indoor shower.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Outdoor Shower

 

We actually didn’t use the outdoor tub, it was huge and would have taken a while just to fill up.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Outdoor Tub

 

Across from the sink area was the large closet.  There was a beach bag for use during your stay, bug spray, a safe, etc.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Closet

 

The last door in the hallway before the main area was the bathroom.  The only odd thing about this room was the extremely low sink – plan on hunching over to wash your hands.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Toilet

 

The main area consisted of the bed, a mini bar area, and a lounger with a table where we ate room service the first night.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Main Area

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Bed

 

The mini bar included complimentary Nespresso coffee and bottled water.  There was a small refrigerator too.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Mini Bar

 

There was a large lounger to the left of the bed with a small table where we ate room service the first night since we were exhausted from traveling and just wanted to rest.  There were curtains between the bed and this lounger (which could work as a kids bed) if you are traveling as a family.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Table

 

There was an outdoor patio (with a heavy door).  The glass doors could be slid all the way open but we never did this.  You can see in the photo below the walls that separate your neighbors.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Patio

 

There is a short patch that leads to the beach.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Path

 

Each Villa has there own umbrella and beach chairs.

 

Conrad Maldives Beach Villa Beach

 

Beach Villa Thoughts

 I’m glad we got to experience the standard Beach Villa and happy we lucked out with the best location. 

The 1600 SF villa was amazing even with the few quarky things such as only having an outdoor shower and the extremely low sink in the bathroom. 

The air conditioning was amazingly cool but I didn’t like how close the neighbors were.  There were a few times you could easily hear the neighbors on their patio even when you had the glass doors closed. 

I can only compare this to the Park Hyatt Maldives standard beach villa and can say I like the Park Hyatt better because they were free standing villas not shared with any neighbors. 

 

 

Water Villa

 Unlike the Park Hyatt Maldives were you have to pay to upgrade to an overwater villa, Hilton Conrad includes their Water Villa as an award with 95,000 points or a free weekend night certificate.

So after two nights in the beach villa, we moved for six nights to an overwater villa.

The standard Water Villas are grouped together with typically six villas sharing a walkway from the island.

Conrad Maldives Water Villas Walkway

 

While fairly close together, the villas are all freestanding and don’t share any walls unlike the Beach Villas  We were assigned Villa 305.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305

 

Entering the door into the main living area.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Main Area

 

The bathroom and closet were located directly to the right of the entrance.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Closet

 

The Water Villas contained everything (shower, tub, toilet) indoors in a single area.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Bathroom

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Shower

 

Tub with an ocean view.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Tub

 

The main area included a couch looking towards the ocean, a mini bar, along with a desk and another chair.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Bed

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Mini Bar

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Sitting Area

 

I loved the glass floor at the desk area.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Desk

 

The outdoor deck area included a plunge pool along with a table with chairs and two loungers with an umbrella.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Outdoor Deck

 

And of course had steps down directly to the ocean.

 

Conrad Maldives Water Villa 305 Outdoor Deck Stairs

Water Villa Thoughts

The only negative thing I could say about this Water Villa was the water was rough and choppy so we didn’t spend much time in the water.  I’m not sure if it is always rough or we just had a bad current/weather.  The Water Villas on the opposite side of the quiet island seem to be in much calmer water.

The air conditioning was also very cool even with this being a freestanding structure exposed to the sun.  We barely ever saw any neighbors and never heard them.  

It’s amazing that a 900 SF overwater villa can be book with points only.  I would choice this water villa over the beach villa anytime.

Upgrade Options

The Conrad reached out to me approximately 2.5 months prior to our trip to coordinate the sea plane transfer.  In the email they specifically stated:

Due to the very special nature of the accommodations at Conrad Maldives, we are unable to offer complimentary upgraded accommodations.

 

They also recommended upgrading to a higher category for all or part of your stay and state they offer a discount on upgrade charges.

This FlyerTalk thread gives a good range of what others paid for upgrades.  I had read that upgrading to the Superior Water Villa is only ~$50 and well worth the upgrade.

I responded to the Conrad’s email asking what the discounted upgraded rates were and was quoted the following:

Upgrade from Beach Villa to Deluxe Beach Villa US$350.00 per night + 10% Service Charge + 12% TGST

Upgrade from Water Villa to Deluxe Water Villa US$385.00 per night + 10% Service Charge + 12% TGST

Upgrade from Water Villa to Premier Water Villa US$875.00 per night + 10% Service Charge + 12% TGST

After accounting for the service charge and tax, it would be almost $500/night to upgrade to a Deluxe Water Villa.  Unfortunately they were sold out of the less expensive ‘Super Water Villa’.

We declined any paid upgrades.

Then halfway through our stay we were surprised to be contacted with a complimentary upgrade to either a Deluxe Beach Villa or a Grand Water Villa.  We were very grateful to accept the Grand Water Villa upgrade.

Confused by all the different villa types?  Here is the official Conrad Maldives brochure that describes each in detail.

Considering their initial email stated they are unable to offer complimentary upgrades, I’m not sure why we received it.  Maybe because we are the highest level Diamond member just from holding the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card?

 

 

Grand Water Villa

Our complimentary upgrade Grand Water Villa #420 was the second to last Villa on the long overway walkway back off of the main island.

A full 6 1/2 minutes to walk the entire length!

The villa was actually two separate villas connect by a hallway, it was HUGE!

There was a couch and small table along with a desk near the entry door.

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Entryway

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Entryway

 

The first section was the living area (and could have easily be turned into a 2nd bedroom).  

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Living Area

 

The minibar was also located in the main living area along with a TV and hallway to bathroom.

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Living Area

 

Right off the main living area was the huge deck with hot tub and staircase to the ocean.  The water was very calm here – we saw black tipped sharks, an octopus, along with lots of fish.

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Deck

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Deck

 

The bathroom was between the living area and the bedroom.  You could also access the tub and shower area directly from the deck.   They were technically indoors but you could open all of the windows surrounding the tub to give you the ‘outdoor’ feel.

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Tub / Shower

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Tub / Shower

 

This is the amazing bathroom area!

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Bathroom

 

The closet and toilet were also located in the bathroom.

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Closet

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Toilet

 

A hallway led to the separate bedroom.

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Hallway to Bedroom

 

The large bedroom had icy cold air conditioning and an amazing view.

 

Conrad Maldives Grand Water Villa Bedroom

 

Grand Water Villa Thoughts

Absolutely amazing!  There are really no other words to describe it.  I would stay here again in a heartbeat. 

We actually felt bad leaving the villa during the day, we felt like we should have stayed in the villa the entire time to enjoy it.

If money was not object, I would book this villa again.  I personally was happy with the standard water villa but would think about upgrading to this the last 2-3 nights of our stay if I were to go again.   Or maybe just take our chances and hope for a complimentary upgrade again.

Diamond Benefits

Having Diamond (or at least Gold) status with Hilton is an absolute must.  In the welcome email, the Conrad outline

·         Hilton Honors rewards stay is based on 02 people, Room Only basis.  

·         Complimentary breakfast for cardholder and one guest per day in the same room either in Atoll Market or Vilu restaurant.

·         One bottle of Sparkling wine upon arrival. Chocolate & Fruit amenities upon arrival.

·         Hilton Honors Happy Hour for two guests in the same villa from 1630-1730 at Vilu Bar (subject to change, please check with our Concierge team upon arrival).

 

 

It’s so easy to get Hilton’s top tier Diamond status just by holding the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card.

We really enjoyed the included breakfast.  There were two restaurants where you could enjoy breakfast – one on each island.

The quiet island featured a partial buffet type along with ordering items a la carte.  We tried this once but preferred the larger full buffet on the main island which included omelette station, waffle/crepe/pancake station, asian food station, along with a fresh juice bar.  Even when we stayed on the quiet island, we would head across the bridge to the Atoll Market breakfast.

 

Conrad Maldives Atoll Market Breakfast

 

Conrad Maldives Atoll Market Breakfast

 

On arrival we received the sparkling wine, chocolate, and fruit plate.

 

Conrad Maldives Diamond Welcome Amenity

 

Finally the daily happy hour at Vilu Restaurant on the quiet island was great (and much better than the Park Hyatt Maldives single drink).  Every day at 5pm was Diamond happy hour on the deck of Vilu Restaurant.

The cocktails / wine / beer were free flowing for at least a full hour (it started at 5pm).  They also passed our canapes each day during happy hour.  Rays even swam by the deck one day right next to the beach.

Conrad Maldives Diamond Happy Hour

 

Do It Yourself

As I mentioned above this 8 night stay only cost 380,000 Hilton points and 3 free weekend night certificates.  You can easily collect enough points to replicate this trip with 2-3 credit card welcome offers depending on the current offers.

I would absolutely get the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card for the Diamond status and the free night certificate when you are approved.

Thanks if you use any of the links below to sign up for a Hilton credit card!

 

 

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire

Hands down, the Hilton Honors Aspire card may the best premium card available.  Before getting into the benefits of the card, you should know that it is currently offering   150,000 bonus points after you spend $4000 in the first 3 months of account opening. 

First this card offers a $250 airline fee credit which is just as good as cash.  Next it offers a free weekend night certificate when you are approved for the card and a free night each year when you renew.  This certificate is good at ANY Hilton property. 

It also gives you another $250 Hilton Resort credit each year - just use your card at a Hilton Resort property and get up to $250 credited back to your account.  And finally it gives you Hilton's top Diamond status which gets you extra points, upgrades, and my favorite - breakfast during your Hilton stay.

The card's annual fee is only $450.  Learn more and apply here.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass

The second best Hilton card (in my humble opinion) is the Surpass.  Before getting into the benefits of the card, you should know that it is currently offering 125,000 bonus points after you spend $2000 in the first 3 months of account opening. 

This card also gives you Hilton Gold status which is one step below the highest Diamond status.  Gold status still gets you free breakfast.  If you spend $40,000 in a calendar year you will earn Diamond status.

In addition to earning 12X points at Hilton, it earns 6X points at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.  It earns 3X points everywhere else.  This card also does not charge you foreign transaction fees.

You can also earn a free weekend night certificate after you spend $15,000 in a year.

The card's annual fee is $95.  Learn more and apply here.

 

Hilton Honors American Express

The no annual fee Hilton card is simply known as the Hilton Honors Card.  It is currently offering a 100,000 bonus points after you spend $1000 in the first 3 months of account opening which is really a great offer for a no annual fee card. 

In addition to earning 7X points at Hilton, it earns 5X points at US restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations.  It earns 3X points everywhere else.  This card also does not charge you foreign transaction fees and gives you Hilton Silver status (which doesn't get you much).

You can also earn a free weekend night certificate after you spend $15,000 in a year.

The card has no annual fee.  Learn more and apply here.

 

Hilton Honors American Express Business

The business version of the American Express Hilton Honors card is currently offering a 125,000 bonus points after you spend $3000 in the first 3 months of account opening which is really a great offer for a no annual fee card. 

Holding this card also gives you free Gold Status and 10 free airport lounge visits per year with a Priority Pass Select membership.

In addition to earning 12X points at Hilton, it earns 6X points on select business and travel purchases and 3X points everywhere else.  This card also does not charge you foreign transaction fees and gives you Hilton Silver status (which doesn't get you much).

You can also earn a free weekend night certificate after you spend $15,000 in a year.  And earn a second free night certificate when you spend an additional $45,000 in the same year.

The card has no annual fee.  Learn more and apply here.

 

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