Author Topic: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR  (Read 11658 times)

Offline israshot

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #60 on: May 05, 2020, 07:09:36 PM »
did you email the manager about the overwater villa?
Yes, but it's not relevant anymore.
I'll explain in the next installment.

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #61 on: May 06, 2020, 12:32:45 AM »
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi:



Since I'm the first one to review this hotel in this forum, I will also cover the booking process and other helpful information.
We booked 2 of our 3 nights long in advance (almost a year earlier). Not long after we booked, the hotel didn't have any availability for the month of January and February until a month before our arrival when I could've booked more nights before or after the stay. When the cancellation window comes closer, more room will be available since people are freeing up their reservations (even on peak seasons).
I began to email the hotel long in advance, first for the price mistake of the boat transfer and then to ask them an upgrade to an overwater villa.
From the 1 bedroom villas, the hotel has 3 categories, Beach, Reef (entrance from the ground and the other half Overwater), and the Overwater villa. We originally booked the base room which used to be the beach villa but since the hotel experienced a high demand for the beach villa after they had many families coming, the hotel changed the base room to be the Reef>Overwater>Beach. Because we had a reservation for the Beach Villa, we had basically the choice between the 3 of them. Beginning of 2020, the hotel changed the base room also for points redemption and it's possible to book directly an overwater villa with points (called ocean villa). Though, it's easier to find the 'Reef Villa' with points than the 'Ocean villa'.
The rate for the standard room award is 120k HH points with the 5th night free, or a free weekend night certificate.
We decided to spend more time at the Conrad USM than in the Maldives mainly because of the Kosher meals at the Conrad and also because we didn't want to be too long in an overwater villa with a toddler.

Arrival pier:


The Hotel was always very responsive to our emails and easy to communicate with. Before our arrival we already booked most of our activities and asked them for a Kosher wine bottle too. Like at the Conrad, I preloaded money to my portfolio before our arrival, they were sending me payment links without any question asked (I loaded $2000 prior arrival and $750 at the hotel, (my total cost price was $1220)).
As mentioned before, I asked the hotel to stay on the south side of the island in the 100's.

As you can see on the map, the Overwater villas are 101-145 (south), and 701-737 (north).
On the North side, there are Villas on both sides of the bridge, more crowded. It's also windier and the water is colder. There's also more boat traffic and at night there are lights from Male visible. Besides the reef next to the Dive center that is located on the north side of the resort, the snorkeling next to the 700's villas is less comfortable (more rocks and more shallow).
That's the reason that I waited for a room to be ready on the south side, although it was late and I almost gave up because DW and the baby just wanted to sleep... (they weren't the ones reading FlyerTalk for months... ).

When we came to the room, our butler showed us the room and explained to us how everything works. The room is controlled from an iPad, for the lighting, AC, fan, room service, etc. He also gave us a phone with his number to call him every time we need something.


Floorplan:


Room tour:




Outside deck:









you can make a party with 15 ppl seating/lounging!

Bathroom:




Outside Shower:


In the closet room:


The most comfortable slippers!


And this silk bathrobe...OMG! (I wanted to pay full price to bring one home but they were short in supply... If someone is going there one day, and they have enough of them... I'll QP you )


When we arrived on Sunday night we gave them our frozen meals to keep them in the freezer. The hotel charges $20++ per meal per person to heat up the food (we paid $12 for our meals from Awafi), and they don't provide microwaves in the room. I would've paid this price if the meals were decent, but my brother, that eats at Awafi's kitchen daily, told me that the chicken is dry and it will not be worth it. (I wanted to bring Pom meals but figured that it would be a bit complicated to schlep them for a week). We brought with us a pot and a burner and had rice, couscous and tons of snacks. We ate very well in Thailand but in the Maldives, it was at the minimum level.
(The hotel told me before that they can get meals from Australia but a week before they notified me that it will not be doable). Don't worry, we ate properly and we weren't hungry.
-Side note; any price mentioned here is before the service charge and taxes, there's 23% to add on top of it, as explained here.
Every morning we went to breakfast, they have a large variety of fruits, vegetables and juices. Anything that is not there can be asked and brought on-demand. They also have cereals with Kosher symbols, they brought me the boxes so I can check them. (Breakfast is free for Gold and Diamond HH members).
On our first day, they also brought us a Kosher wine bottle that I enjoyed a lot during the stay. I had confirmed with them for it before but they gave it to other Jewish guests without having to ask.





And the baby basket amenities.


There are bikes in the resort to move around and they now put the room number on the bike to ensure that no one mistakes others' for theirs, they even have bikes for children.


And for her too:


Our experience with the buggies was that they were slow to come (10-15 minutes) although the hotel was at half occupancy. If there's a certain time you know in advance that you'll need one, they are reliable to come on time. We used our 2 bikes all the time to go everywhere in the resort and I had the child with me on a baby carrier. We actually loved biking on the island on the firm sand and the creaking noise passing the wooden bridge. Passing by staff members greeting you with their right hand on their chest and a big smile that makes you feel so welcome... Since we were on the far end of the island we had to bike a lot to go to breakfast or to Peacock Alley for Happy hour, but for us, it was a real pleasure.

The lovely greeting, every time a guess passes them:


The occupancy at the hotel was pretty low, on our 2nd day they told me that it's at 40% only. The main reason is because the country banned Chinese visitors although it was right after the Chinese new year.
There are about 120 rooms/Villas in the resort so only 45 were occupied and 3 of them by Jewish couples (DDFrs too, more of that later). I wrote about it on the forum and @Dan reported it on DDMS (with some exaggeration... ;).
The hotel set the time one hour ahead of Male so the guests can enjoy one more hour of light during the day. When you're on an isolated island, it doesn't really matter what time it is...

During the day they prepared our bed for the 'special occasion'...

Although we were a bit upset on Sunday night that it took time to get our room, when we woke up Monday morning we were just thrilled to be there. This was the highlight of our trip and we waited so long for it. The villa was so perfect and everything smelt like a million $$. We were also glad that we booked that night although we were so tired. (truth is that I didn't sleep much during our 72 hours stay, I was in intensive adrenaline, I really felt like a dream ;D).

The first thing I wanted to do that morning (after a good Espresso and davening) was to go in the water, I brought with me a special guest...




And of course the huge swimming pool too:


Before going to breakfast, my daughter decided to drop her shoe to the water... Thanks to the huge skimmer net, found in one of the closet outside, we got it back.


Breakfast table:

The breakfast is served at the Tasting table, after the 500's Villas, (pretty much the opposite side of the island from our Villa).

After Breakfast, we went to the water sport (next to the 300's) to book the JetSki for the next day and we also took a paddleboat in the lagoon.


Right next to the water sport there's the kids' club. They get usually between 15 to 30 kids at a time but when we were there there was only the chef's daughter playing with her nanny. They have an indoor and outdoor space. The outdoor space is full of water games with slides and kids can have lots of fun there. Kids older than 4 can be left there at any time during the day for free. Younger than 4, parents can be with them or there's a babysitting option of $25++ /H. The babysitting fee is the same if it's in the Villa (We used this service too) or if it is in the kid's club. The staff in the kids club are from different countries, they all speak perfect English and are sooo nice! (Like all the staff actually, but even nicer, and very professional).




Early afternoon, after the baby had her nap we were seating at the main beach area of the hotel and then I got the so-much-waited email from Expert Flyer notifying me that there's available seats on the (long) last leg of our trip. We booked with AC but at the time of booking there was only 1 seat on Eva Air for J. I took the risk to book it hoping that they will open up award space. I was tracking the space availability and saw that there were many vacant seats on J 6 days out so I knew they will open up. When I got the email, it was the last drop to make this trip perfect. I waited for 7 AM EST and called AC to move that leg to J. (Other guests looking at me were probably raising an eyebrow why I jumped out of my lounger looking at my phone with so much Chayus...)

Main pool area:






I went snorkeling a few times next to the Villa, there are fish there, it's not rocky and very accessible. Since I went to 2 snorkeling next to the Dive center with a guide and a special camera, the next 2 days, I'll share these pictures on the next installments.

For sunset, we went to Amber (next to the Spa, on the west side). It was so calm and peaceful, no one was there.






Offline tavster

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #62 on: June 01, 2020, 01:03:48 PM »

DDFrs too, more of that later
@israshot is there a last installment coming??  ;)

Offline israshot

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #63 on: June 01, 2020, 01:22:40 PM »
@israshot is there a last installment coming??  ;)
Sure! When I'll have some time for it...

Offline Dan

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #64 on: June 28, 2020, 01:26:12 AM »
Sure! When I'll have some time for it...
Bump, just catching up now.
What an incredible TR this is!!!
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline Dan

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #65 on: July 14, 2020, 11:54:28 PM »
Bump :)
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline Danlover111

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Offline tavster

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Offline israshot

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #68 on: July 15, 2020, 01:33:00 PM »
Ok guys you won. I'm very busy during the summer/country season but I'll find the time hopefully.

Offline myb821

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #69 on: August 20, 2020, 12:41:06 PM »
@israshot very interested in part 2......

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #70 on: August 20, 2020, 12:55:42 PM »
Like at the Conrad, I preloaded money to my portfolio before our arrival, they were sending me payment links without any question asked (I loaded $2000 prior arrival and $750 at the hotel, (my total cost price was $1220)).

I got that but you said you only paid 1220 for $2750 I was wondering how you got it so discounted.

Offline israshot

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #71 on: August 20, 2020, 01:03:45 PM »
I got that but you said you only paid 1220 for $2750 I was wondering how you got it so discounted.
Sellers were selling at this price in 2019.

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #72 on: August 20, 2020, 11:07:57 PM »
The water club run by Ocean provides the snorkeling gears for each villa, we called on our first day to get them deliver and they were with us during the whole stay. The hotel offers also two items to press for free for Diamond members upon arrival.

Every day, between 4 to 5 PM, they have complimentary drinks at Peacock alley for Diamond members. On the 1st day, they brought us a platter of fruits, and I could've ordered any drink from the complimentary menu as much as I wanted. Not many people were there the first day, and there was a couple from Cuba playing music. I met the 1st day, at the happy hour drinks, an American couple from Texas, they were the only Americans there, and we chatted about Hilton points, safety at the hotel and FlyerTalk blog. There was there a young waiter from Vietnam that kept bringing us drinks, he was extremely friendly with us, and we saw him another few times during the stay.



Since there are lots of restaurants with different cuisines, and not all of them are open the same day, the staff from various dining venues will also work in other bars/restaurants during the days they are closed. Locals will not serve or prepare drinks usually since it's forbidden by law. Hotels in the Maldives must bring foreign workers for this job.
On Monday night, when we arrived at our villa from Amber, we met our butler Shiam that was waiting for us to arrive. He told us that the next day (Tuesday) there would not be electricity nor water running in the whole resorts between 12-5 Pm... We were shocked and upset to hear that our luxury hotel will run into such problems. He explained that this is maintenance they must do; otherwise, the hotel will not be able to function appropriately in the future. To compensate us, the hotel will set up unlimited free food and drinks at the main pool for all the guests. I told him that this would not make us happier since we can't eat the food, and maybe they can compensate with a credit towards our room folio for activities that we will spend anyway at the hotel. He told me that he will speak with his manager to see what he can offer.
The good thing about coming to the Maldives from another Asian country is that you don't have any jetlag. I wasn't able to sleep correctly though; I was in an adrenaline mood full of excitement for the total 72 hours we were there. I slept only 3-4 hours each night and wasn't tired during the day. It was a long-prepared vacation that not only didn't disappoint but made me feel the happiest person on earth. I was able to upload a lot of content to my IG stories during the nights only because I didn't have time for it during the day.

Tuesday morning we planned to do some water sports. We dropped our daughter at the Kid's club where a designated BBsitter took care of her. As mentioned before, children younger than 4 need to be with their parents at the kid's club or pay the BBsiting fees. We wanted to book two activities at the water sport . The first one was Jet Ski, and I was thinking going for the Seabob. They explained to me that the seabob is only in the resort's lagoon, and if I want to go into the ocean with it, I need to rent the speedboat on top of it. They were so desperate for some business that they were ready to give me 50% off on the speedboat price, but it was still not worth it for me. They told us that this is the high season, and right after the chineese new-year, and were expecting to be very busy but because of the Chinese ban in the Maldives they didn't have many booking for that week (and they got the same feedback from Ocean's employees at other resorts they operate).
We decided to do the Jet Ski in the morning and Night snorkeling that night. We went for an hour guided Jet Ski ($350++), the guide in the first Jet, and me and DW in the second. We first went to a small sandbank right outside the resort to take some pictures, and the went for a fast drive in the deep ocean. It wasn't my first time on a Jet Ski, but it's not like Jetskiing on the beach/shore at all. When the sea was utterly dark blue, which means deep water, the water was rough and it was a fun drive. The water kept changing color every other mile. We passed through lagoons, 'buried islands' and other resorts. At one point, our guide told us that the resort in construction in our right would be the Ritz Carlton.



At one point, when I was going a bit too fast, I made a wrong turn to the right, and we have swept away with the wave. We fell to the water and I lost my Go Pro mounted to my head. DW and I weren't injured and besides the Go Pro lost, it was a fun experience. (My Jetty renters insurance refunded me the Go Pro a month later). After an hour, we arrived back at the resort exhausted and went to pick up our daughter on our way to the villa and catch the last shower before the blackout. It was really nice to ride a Jet Ski with my wife in the middle of the ocean, something I was waiting to do for a long time and was on the top of my 'to-do' list.

Shiyam called me on the way and let me know that the hotel would like to offer us the Spa booked for the next day, to compensate us for the blackout, (a $440++ value, +30 minutes for free for Diamond members). We already had a reservation made two weeks prior to arrival for the Spa, so the offer for the free Spa was really appreciated.

Earlier at breakfast, I spotted a guy with a cap wondering around the fruits and juices, I knew he deserves a Sholom Aleichem, so I went to say 'Hi'. @shauly wasn't embarrassed to see a bearded Jew with his kippa in a small island with less than 50 guests, and was even smiling at me 8). We chatted a bit, and he told me that he has some CY milk and salami in his room, and since he's leaving that day, he will be happy to give them to me. So after we got our shower before the 'Sof Zman', I took my bike to go to his Villa. From Villa 129 to 713, I needed to cross the whole resort, but biking on the island was my favorite activity.

I took pictures of the resort on my way there.













Terra.




Stella Maris Villa.


Halfway there, next to the arrival pier, I met Camille, @shauly's Buttler, we spoke in French about the hotel, the Maldives, Kosher food and more. @shauly was all packed and ready to go in his (dark) villa, without AC, and waiting for his buggy. He gave more food than I could've eaten, but he probably felt good not to throw it away...

After our daughter's nap, we went to the main pool area where everyone was supposed to be for their free food and drinks. It's funny that all the guests together looked like a small family as there weren’t many guests in the hotel in general. Se sat at the pool and took drinks and fruits.





All the guests were in a good mood, and that was the most important. I don't know what and if the hotel offered to everyone, but they for sure did an excellent job of fixing the issue they had. At one point, I saw another DDF'er sitting not far from us, but he wasn't in the mood of a L'chaim together, so I didn’t bother him and went to chat with the elderly couple from Texas. After an hour there, they came to announce that power was back! It was only 4 PM and the all episode wasn't bad at all. We had a good time that afternoon and a free Spa treatment scheduled for the next day.

We went back to our Villa and got ready for a family photo shoot. The photoshoot itself + 1 printed picture is free, but you need to pay to get the pictures. We weren't sure if we'll buy later the photos depending on how they will come out. We ended up paying for 30 pictures the next day, (but only because it came out cheap for me thanks to the Aspire credits). As much as family's pictures on a tropical island look lovely, a lot of hard work needs to be put in it to keep the child happy and entertained, especially when it's boiling hot. The photographer was patient and got us really nice pictures.













At 8:30, we had our night snorkeling booked ($90++/PP). A BBsiter came to our villa, the same one our daughter had in the morning, a lovely lady from the Philippines. She was taking care so nicely of our daughter, and we were able to leave the Villa peacefully.



When we arrived at the diving center, it was closed and no one was there. I called Shiyam so he can find out why no one was there. After 20 minutes, 2 persons from the diving center arrived and they apologized for the misunderstanding. It turned out that she didn't understand that morning at the water sports center that we confirmed the night snorkeling. Haru is from Japan and her English isn't perfect, but she apologized and promised that we’d have a good time. As goodwill, her manager offered us the underwater camera for free, and she offered to take the pictures herself. They also took off an hour and a half of BBsitting from our bill.
Snorkeling at night is very different than during the day, you will not see much fish because your flashlight is focusing only on one spot, but you can see other fish that come out only at night. The experience is also different and more interesting. We got our snorkeling gears and a diving flashlight. We stayed in the water for longer than an hour and we saw a lot of fish. The best part was the turtle that came towards us, and our guide captured it so well. She told me later that she would like to be a National Geographic photographer for marine life; she does have stunning pictures on her Instagram page.

All the following pictures are from our snorkeling guide.






















Offline myb821

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #73 on: August 21, 2020, 06:55:24 AM »
Amazing!

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Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« Reply #74 on: August 21, 2020, 11:01:04 AM »
Great TR - thanks for taking the time