“Jump! Now!” bellows the voice of the boat captain over the roaring engine. It’s a bright Wednesday morning in the Maldives when we finally spot a whale shark after hours of cruising. I had just about managed to settle my stomach on the choppy ocean when I saw my boat mates jump in the water, manoeuvring their snorkelling gear to swim alongside the magnificent creature. The adrenaline-fueled energy at the site is incredible. My nerves settle finally when I am back at my splendidly calm over-water villa. Sprawled near the plunge pool, listening to the song-like ocean waves, I wonder about the unreal experience I just had. I find myself slipping into a tranquil state, my limbs turning into jelly on the lounge chair. Such is the dichotomy of emotions that Conrad Maldives Rangali Islands (CMRI) offers.
The twin-island property is rich with tropical greenery, pearl white sands and unparalleled access to the Indian Ocean. My gracious host Rachelle Hill, Director of Marketing and Communications shows us around; the property features 151 villas and suites spanning three distinct locations sprinkled across the islands of Rangali-Finolhu Island, targeted toward families, and Rangali Island, an adults-only island with complete privacy and seclusion, Rachelle explained.
A haven for a picky eater like me, the resort features twelve distinctive restaurants with various cuisines and locations to suit your fancy. This includes the world’s first undersea restaurant Ithaa. It sits five meters below the surface of the Indian Ocean and delights with a 180-degree panoramic view of the vibrant coral gardens surrounding it. The resort also offers an extensive wine list; the bottles are housed in the region’s first underground wine cellar that’s built two meters underground Executive Chef Christian Pedersen, who is as playful with his anecdotes as his food experiments, displays showmanship with the extensive menus he curated for the restaurants. The garden supplies the resort’s twelve restaurants and team member cafeteria with herbs.
Authentic barefoot luxury is how Evghenia Popazoglo, Director of Operations, describes time spent at CMRI. The revitalised spaces and services are harmoniously intertwined with the natural habitat. The concept of mental and physical wellness is deeply embedded in the experience, which was made pretty clear on the spa day. Set out over the ocean, the Overwater Spa is the first spa in the Maldives to feature glass-floored treatment rooms. I found my worries melting away on the table during a rejuvenating facial with quality ingredients that focus on skin healing and care. A lively dinner conversation with Ida Widiaptini, Director of Spa, revealed their vision of infusing indulgent luxury with a customised approach to spa and beauty treatments.
In addition to locally sourced ingredients, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is also committed to other forms of sustainability tasks. Natalia Souza Samper, Marine Biologist of Ocean Group Maldives at Conrad Maldives, gave us a deep insight into the coral regeneration program to protect the reefs surrounding the resort. Launched in 2017, the program features active participation from guests in the coral plantation activity. The Conrad team also contributes to the local Maldivian community with their com- munity outreach programs. Close proximity to 42 dive sites and private diving excursions by speedboat opens up the rich flora and fauna of the ocean to guests. Snorkelling at the resort’s house reef situated just 50 meters from the beach is an afternoon I’ve spent like no other.
The property is also home to The Muraka, the world’s first undersea residence. It is a unique three-bedroom, two-level residence with the master bedroom submerged over sixteen feet below sea level. This architectural marvel lives and thrives among the natural landscape of oceanic life. Between a sunset dolphin cruise and a barbecue dinner by the shore, I found myself syncing up with the ocean too! For a first time international traveller, my days at the CMRI felt like a home away from home. From Naeem carting me around the twin islands in a buggy to massage therapist Karma allowing me to carefully connect with my body and senses, the team at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island takes care of you in a way that goes beyond hospitality.
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