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travelmom13 Jan 28th, 2008 10:02 AM

Maldives: One and Only or Hilton (Conrad)
Has anyone stayed at both the Hilton(Conrad) and One and Only Reethi Rah? Between the two which would you stay at? Price is not a factor.

Looking for best beach, best snorkeling, best rooms (beach villa), best service, best food, best activities...

Help? :)

travelmom13 Jan 28th, 2008 05:49 PM


Cicerone Jan 28th, 2008 08:06 PM

There is no question that the One and Only is a much nicer hotel. However, in terms of beach and snorkeling, IMO you are better off at the Conrad. The beach at the One and Only is actually man-made. It's still quite pretty, but it means that there is little snorkeling off the beach and the water is cloudier than you will see at other resorts. You have to go to a house reef 10-15 minutes by boat to snorkel. I have not seen the house reef so can't comment on it. But remember that the One and Only is quite close to Male, which is very developed, so I am not sure how great the house reef will be compared to what you could find right out your door at the Conrad. I also think you will find better variety of reefs around the island near the Conrad, as again, this area is much less developed, and if you want to dive, this area is better too. Don't get me wrong, the One and Only is really lovely and is without doubt a better <i> hotel </i> than the Conrad, but to move bag and baggage for 2 nights if you think you are going to be a better beach and/or snorkeling may turn out to be a disappointment to you. On the other hand, the Conrad will tend toward more families, and the One and Only more toward couples and honeymooners, don't know which would be more attractive to you.

At the Conrad, I personally would not move between hotel rooms, esp for only 2 nights in the water villa. I have to say I am not a huge fan of the overwater villa concept (which surprised me I thought I would be). I really prefer to be on the beach and be able to walk out on the beach, esp in the Maldives which has the great soft sand. There is also something about the contrast between the white white sand and the water color that you don't get in the water villas. Also, if the water villas don't have plunge pools but the beach villas do, I think you would prefer the beach villas for that reason as well. Also, many water villas are set up so that there is not much privacy between them, and can be noisy, I have not seen the Conrad's so can't say for sure. Perhaps I have stayed in the wrong kinds of villas (Four Seasons and the W) but that was just my impression.

travelmom13 Jan 29th, 2008 12:06 AM

Very good insight always. We are kinda of leaning towards what you are staying of just staying at Conrad. Do you think we will be sick of the island being there 7 days?

Cicerone Jan 29th, 2008 12:39 AM

Well, there is nothing to do but snorkel, dive, lay on the beach, eat great food, read books, take spa treatments, order up drinks from the beach attendants and generally weep at the beauty of the place. But sometimes you gotta do that....Other than Male (not really worth it) and Gan (actually has a lot of charm but it's all the way south, several hours by air) there is no chance for culture. But there really is nothing wrong with doing nothing on vacation at least once in a while. And they have the internet and TV, in-room DVDs, etc if you really have to, they also have gyms and pools for workouts. Many hotels offer yoga and other group activities, have kayaks and other water equipment and have snorkeling masters to take you out, there really isn't a lack of stuff to do. I have never stayed 7 days at a stretch, but I can't imagine being bored. I think at about day 3-4 you will really hit your relaxed stride.

I was also going to say that you should seriously consider taking the money you are saving by <u> not </u> staying at the One and Only and making an overnight or longer trip on a nice private boat. If the Conrad does not have one, they can certainly find one for you but get in touch with them now so you can look at options in terms of size, age, range, etc. This will give you a chance to get to even more remote places, deserted islands etc. There is nothing like your own private yacht, IMO, for a real vacation. It is the <i> ultimate </i> &quot;water villa&quot;....Comes with a cook and staff, OK maybe 2-3 people tops but hey, the answer to everything you want to do is &quot;yes Madame&quot;. You can drop anchor where you want and explore. Dinner barefoot on the beach at sunset, you get the idea. This IMO is the best way to really see the beauty of the islands and get in some good snorkeling/diving. There are occasional occupied islands where you can drop by as well and visit a school, etc that would be completely off the tourist path. This would be a cultural opportunity. (Some English may be lacking, but you will get the idea.)

I also just compared the beach villas to the water villas at the Conrad, and note that the beach villas do have private plunge pools which IMO are a very nice feature. The water villas do not seem to have them. The other thing the beach villas seem to have which the water villas don't are outdoor showers, which are great, esp at night when there are stars and great breezes. (I'm a big outdoor shower person, I have a beach house in the US.) You might want to confirm this with Conrad, because it is not totally clear form the descriptions that there are no outdoor showers at the water villas, but that seems to be the case. (There may be a small shower near the steps to rinse off when you get up out of the sea, but you would not want to use this for a shower without your bathing suit, as they are not private, i.e. anyone going by in a kayak or snorkeling can see you.) It may be worth saving money to stay in the best beach villa available, and also take a private boat rather than moving for 2 night to a more expensive water villa. For example, the King Deluxe Beach villa is about <u> twice </u> the size of the King Deluxe Water villa but costs about US$500 <i> less </i> per night from what I can see (one other drawback of water villas is that they tend to be smaller for the money). For 7 days a larger room might be more appreciated. The US$500 could go toward the yacht (which cost more like the water villa prices plus a bit).....

Ericka Jan 29th, 2008 04:19 AM

I think I remember reading that the original One &amp; Only (not Reethi Rah) has very good snorkeling on-site. Worth further research...

And to further Cicerone's recommendations for a boat, the Four Seasons Explorer has 3 and 5 night journeys through the islands that would appeal to your desire to snorkel (and possibly dive???)

travelmom13 Jan 30th, 2008 05:51 PM

LOVE the idea of the boat. I looked intot the FS Explorer a month of so ago and it was already booked. I will FOR SURE look into this option.
As for the Water Villa Deluxe Beach Villa...we are getting the same rate for both. My brother in law works at the Hilton in US and got us a great family rate. So we thought we'd do a beach villa for 3 days and water villa or 3 days to get a feel for both. I will look into the outdoor shower on the water villa. I LOVE outdoor showers as does my husband.

Any good leads on the boat option? I will contact the Hilton for a start.

I checked into the snorkeling at O and O and they said no good snorkeling right at the hotel, but the boat takes you out to a good reef.

What great info!! Thanks a ton!

Has anyone done the spa at the Hilton? Is it worth it?

What about the underwater restaraunt? You pay a ton of $$$, btu it is unique. Is it worth it?

Cicerone Jan 31st, 2008 07:43 PM

I will ask around for current boat reccos from colleagues in Male, I do think that the Hilton is your best option as they would know the operator and the boat. Anyone I recommend to you is just a stranger's word (nice as I am....). I last did a boat trip there about 5 years ago, so I am not even sure that operator is still in business, but will check.

I have been to the underwater restaurant. I think the food was very good (Hilton always has good food IMO), so it's not a case where the destination is better than the food. The whole thing is a little weird, but interesting. I love eating outdoors, so being underwater just isn't as attractive an option to me when you are in a place like the Maldives when you can eat outdoors all the time, but you have a week so what the heck. The hotel has a great wine cellar that you should not miss, IMO, there is a little informal bar with great cheeses, and a formal restaurant. It's like a little bit of France hidden underground in the Maldives.

travelmom13 Jan 31st, 2008 10:43 PM

This is such great information! I am going to call the Hilton tonight about the boat charter. Any leads you can give me would be helpful as well.

Thanks a million!!

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