Travel to the Hilton Conrad Maldives Tips & Tricks

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Today’s Trip Report comes from long-time reader, Harmony Hudgens who is located in Texas. She is an avid member of the Basic Travel 101 Facebook group and has been using points and miles for luxury trips. This Trip Report is an amazing overview of how to travel to the Conrad Maldives in an overwater bungalow on points and miles with just three basic cards- two American Airlines cards and Hilton Honors! Read on to find out how they booked and how you can too.


Hi, we are Brad and Harmony Hudgens from Dallas, TX. We have been together since 2006, (although, we have known each other since high school) married in 2011. We love to travel and have been to 6 of the 7 continents and to over 30 countries! Some of our favorites include – Peru, Africa, Japan, and Thailand!

I actually “met” Dave through a FB photo comment I made on a FB page called “A Room with a View”. I had posted a photo of Brad and I at the Skylodge Adventure Suites in Peru and Dave commented on how cool it was and how much he wanted to stay there! It kinda went from there and he invited me to your FB group! 

Conrad Maldives

Brad and I went to the Maldives to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary. The trip was originally scheduled for June 2020 – but, well – we all know what happened there lol! 2020 technically would have been only our 9th wedding anniversary – so maybe God had a plan here 🙂

Flights: How did you get to Conrad Maldives?

Qatar Airways – DFW-DOHA-MLE (see below for points breakdown) – Got lucky with all four flights being Q-Suite equipped! NOW THAT’S HOW TO TRAVEL!! The Qatar Q-Suite experience is INCREDIBLE and the service is TOP NOTCH! Pre-flight drinks offered before take-off. And the lay-flat seats….OMG! The food is so incredibly yummy as well – and you can eat at any time you want! Plus, you get free access to the Al Mourjan Business Lounge at the Doha Airport (awesome drinks, food, reclining seats to sleep, and SHOWERS!) and the Qatar Lounge at the DFW Airport (opens at 4 PM). We ended up at the American Airlines Admirals Club, Terminal D because we were there before 4 PM to check into our flight. Free access for business/first class flying passengers on AA and One World Partners.

Flights from the Maldives to Conrad Maldives

Transmaldivian Airways – MLE-Conrad Hotel (about ~$590/pp RT including taxes/fees). There was no way to points/miles for this part of the trip. However, you could use a credit card that offers cashback or allows you to use points to help offset the cost when paying your bill. An example would be the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Just be sure to pay for it separately on the card that offers you this perk when you check out at the hotel. Regardless of cost – the experience and views are incredible! It’s about a 30 min ride to the hotel assuming you don’t have to stop off at any other hotels to drop off other guests. We got lucky and our hotel was the first stop.

Also when you arrive at the MLE airport and are greeted by the Conrad Hotel folks, they will take you to a Hilton only lounge to wait on your seaplane transfer. Free drinks (non-alcoholic), snacks and Wi-Fi, as well as comfortable seating. Be advised, some of the amenities listed (like massages & buffet) are not being offered due to COVID restrictions.

Hotel: Conrad Maldives

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island – Hilton Hotel (see below for points breakdown). I am a Diamond member and we were upgraded to the Grand Water Villa #416 (I originally only booked the Standard OW Bungalow @ 95k/pts per night).

Editor Note: You can easily earn the Hilton Honors Diamond Status with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card!

Hilton Honors Bonus Points
once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. All information about Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by basictravelcouple.com
Hilton Honors Bonus Points
once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. All information about Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by basictravelcouple.com

$450 Annual Fee


We really loved the underwater restaurant Ithaa!! However, it’s NOT cheap, especially for dinner (set menu; about $390/pp with taxes/fees NOT including drinks!). But the dinner was really amazing and such a culinary treat! The chef came out and explained every dish of the 7-course meal! This was a dinner we wanted to do to celebrate our anniversary, so we took the $$$ hit. 🙂 The restaurant currently has 6 tables for 2. It may have been more pre-COVID but I didn’t confirm.

If you want to experience it but don’t want to pay the high price tag, may I suggest going during the viewing hour from 11-12PM. It’s only $85/pp and comes with some light snacks and a glass of champagne. You can also use 25k Hilton points (per person) through the Hilton Experiences website and “wash” that $85!

We also loved our dining experience at Uffa – delicious Chinese food!!

Other experiences that you can do and pay with points through Hilton Experiences include:

Other items of note:

  • Free Happy Hour from 4-5 PM for Hilton Gold/Diamond members – the champagne is good! Set up right outside Uffa on the beach.
  • 50% off Happy Hour at Rangali Beach Bar from 5-6 PM (excludes bottled wine and champagne)
  • Mixed drinks will run you about $19-28 per drink and beers about $12-14, so definitely take advantage of the HH!
  • Sparkling/still water will run you $15/ea. The hotel does provide you with 4 large glass bottles of water in your room – so bring a water bottle to save $$ here!
  • Sparkling/still water will run you $15/ea. The hotel does provide you with 4 large glass bottles of water in your room – so bring a water bottle to save $$ here!
  • Free daily breakfast at Vilu – the eggs benedict is amazing! Brad also really loved the breakfast noodles. Don’t pass up the french toast either! This is also an opportunity to meet George, the hotel’s resident bird!
  • Free non-motorized water sports – great snorkeling reef right off the hotels beach
  • Free photography session! Sign up at the Dive Center. You get 5 free complimentary photos. Add’l photos are only $20/ea. This was something that wasn’t disclosed to us upon arrival (not sure if that was just an oversight) and we just happened upon it when picking up some snorkeling gear!

Points & Miles: 

How many points did you use? 

  • 140k AA miles/pp for the Qatar Flights plus around $100/pp in taxes & fees  
  • 380k Hilton points for the 5 nights (5th night free when paying with all points)
  • 100k Hilton points for the couples massage
  • 50k Hilton points for the cooking class

What credit cards did you use to get those points? 

Bonus Hilton Honors Points
and 1 Free Night Reward once you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Bonus Hilton Honors Points
and 1 Free Night Reward once you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee.

Details of the trip: 

What kind of activities did you do while there? 

  • We are not divers but there was a cool dive experience you could do with the whale sharks – $200/pp
  • Snorkeled, drank all the lovey drinks (the Gin & Tonic and Froze were my favorites!)
  • Sunset cruise ($160/pp)
  • Ate at all the restaurants except the Sunset Grill (no open reservations for the nights we wanted)
  • Swam at the pool and in our spa on the deck of our room
  • Discovered the island by walking around the beachfront
  • Spa day massage 

2 of the experiences we wanted to do were not available due to COVID 🙁

  • Island Hopping – Discover more about island life and Maldivian culture in this speedboat excursion to the nearby islands, where you will also have the opportunity to stop for a snorkel at some beautiful reefs and enjoy a picnic lunch somewhere special.
  • Local Island Tour – Immerse yourself in the traditions and culture of the Maldives as we guide you through the Maldivian way of life at one of our neighboring local islands.

What are the Dos and Dont’s of the area?

  • Part of the resort is currently under construction so they did ask us to stay clear of that area for our safety.
  • If you make a reservation at a restaurant with a set menu – do not miss it! You will be charged the full amount of the dinner for a “no show”. You can easily cancel your reservation a day in advance if needed through the front desk or your butler if you have one.
  • Tipping
    • If you are staying in one of the Grand Villas, it’s quite a walk to the main island, and it is really hot outside. The hotel offers buggy’s – simply call from your room and they will pick you up (or take you back – just ask the front desk/bar/restaurant to call one for you). Brad and I tipped our drivers $2 per ride. It is not required but I know they appreciated it.
    • We also tipped the maid staff $5 daily – just leave it on the bed if you wish to do so.
    • The tabs for food and drinks include a 12% gov tax and a 10% service charge already. The service charge does cover the tip however you can always leave a little more for great service. We typically left an add’l $10 per bill.

What is your favorite piece of travel advice?

  • Don’t “over-plan” your trip itinerary! Let the trip and experiences (and sometimes the weather) speak to you! We have had some of our best travel experiences and met some of the coolest people going off the beaten path.
  • Only pack a carry on if possible! No one likes lost or delayed luggage!

If you could change one thing about the trip, what would it be?

Honestly, nothing. It was a great trip and an incredible experience. The weather held out for the first 4 days (88-90 degrees – HUMID!) and was beautiful. The rain came on day 5 but it was still nice, just relaxed in our beautiful room with a good book.

Conclusion: Basic Breakdown 

The Conrad Maldives was an incredible experience and would have cost thousands of dollars more if we didn’t utilize points and miles. Using the Basic Travel Method, we each opened 3 credit cards to cover the majority of our expenses which enabled us to splurge in other places (like food and drinks).

I’d love to hear in the comments below or over in our 7,800+ Member Basic Travel Facebook Group!

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