Author Topic: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip  (Read 18162 times)

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2016, 10:11:20 PM »
Great report, really enjoying it.. keep it up!

Thanks.  Hope to finish next segment soon... 

i now understand why some TRs can take forever to finish...

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2016, 10:19:24 PM »
Yay pics! Great job, keep going!

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2016, 10:32:16 PM »
impressive lounge. never seen those lockers before.
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline Denverite

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2016, 10:44:24 PM »
impressive lounge. never seen those lockers before.

+1. Always been hesitant to go through IST but that lounge looks amazing.

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2016, 06:11:28 PM »
Part IV

After an hour or so of exploring the impressive TK lounge, we were about ready for our 2am departure to MLE.  Truth be told, I was sorta anxious to finally depart IST given the instability of the prior month or so.  Walking through the terminal, you would never in a million years know what happened in the prior month or two.  The boarding process had already begun at the gate when we arrived.  We bypassed the main line and headed towards the J-priority line to quickly boarded the A333.  Without boring anyone with the details, the A333 business section has seats arranged in a 2-2-2 format.  We were seating in 4J and 4K in the second to last row.  The lie flat seats had a pretty large footwell that offered more than enough space for my feet.  Since we had been up for 15 hours or so, we were mostly interested in sleeping, despite the 13 or 14 inch IFE system that had a huge movie selection.


TK A333 Business Class
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


TK A333 Business Class
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Leaving IST...
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Leaving IST...
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

We fell asleep within 10 or 15 minutes of take-off and enjoyed some much needed rest.  We woke up a couple of hours before landing and were served breakfast (Star-K from kosher caterer in IST).  Wasn't much to write home about but was definitely filling.


Airshow - Approaching MLE...
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Landing at MLE is a unique experience that I imagine has been discussed before on DDF.  Ibrahim Nasir airport is tiny, has one runway and no taxiways.  Airplanes land, taxi to the end of the runway and make a U-turn to taxi down the same runway to get to the terminal.  As J passengers, we deplaned first down the mobile stairs into the terminal.  Before departing IST, we were provided with fast-track immigration cards that allowed us to use the special fast-track line.  Immigration took no more than 5 minutes, a couple of passport stamps later we were waiting for our luggage to emerge  from the primitive looking baggage carousel.  While waiting, it was hard not to notice the list of items that are prohibited from import into the country.  Those items include alcohol, pork and pork-related items, porn, materials contrary to Islam, etc.  Outside of my talis, tefillin, siddur and and random sefer I wasn't too worried.  But given others' experiences, I knew that even those items were harmless.  After about 15 or 20 minutes, our luggage finally emerged.  We gathered our bags and proceeded through customs to the arrival hall. 

As we proceeded through customs, an official-looking officer motioned to us and pointed to the secondary inspection line.  Throngs of people are passing through and we were singled out for some odd reason.  I got mega nervous - not because of my talis etc, but because of our cooler and frozen pom meals.  I didn't want to have to begin explaining why we needed to bring in our own food and open up a mega can of worms.  That said, the officer was not the least bit interested in our cooler (which incidentally looks kinda like a square duffel bag).  He wanted to inspect our Samsonite hard suitcase.  I'm thinking to myself, what could we possibly have in our suitcase that could get us into trouble.  I was baffled.  They only scanned the suitcase and when it emerged from the xray scanner, they made me open it on the table for everyone to see.  They rifled through our suitcase and found..... a bottle of grape juice that I had packed in a ziploc surrounded by our clothes.  After several minutes inspecting the bottle, he let us through.  The only thing I can imagine is that when the bags were removed from the planes cargo hold, they were scanned and any bags requiring secondary inspection were tagged with a red sticker (subsequent review of our suitcase showed a red sticker).  As we were about to leave baggage claim, the officer saw the sticker and motioned for us to the secondary inspection station... 

With that said, we were immediately met by two Conrad reps as soon as we entered the arrival hall.  They led us to a quiet corner and introduced themselves.  They asked for our passports to expedite the seaplane transfer and took our luggage to the seaplane desk.  They emerged a few minutes later, returned our passports and said that our luggage was a bit overweight.  We'd have to pay an overweight fee of ~$50 - no big deal really.  They then escorted us to a waiting van that would take us to the Conrad lounge until our seaplane ride was ready.  We were joined in the van by a single guy that turned out to the the Conrad's in-house revenue manager returning from some time off in Male.  While I don't have pictures of the lounge, it's a great respite after such a long journey.  The staff all recognize that pretty much everyone has had a long trip and they try to accommodate everyone's needs, from drinks to food to a free massage!!  It felt like the lounge was at 70% capacity - a ton of Asians there with what looked like their extended families.  We were offered a 15 minute complementary massage that we took advantage of.  Felt great, especially after the long trip.  In addition, the spa staff on-hand said that if we were to book a spa appointment at the Retreat Spa or Overwater Spa now, they would include a facial at no extra charge.  Not a hard sell at all but still good to know.

An hour or so later, our names were called as the seaplane transfer was about ready.  We boarded the same shuttle for the five minute drive to the seaplane terminal where we were directed to a room that was showing a pre-flight safety video.  15 minutes or so later, we were finally escorted outside to the waiting seaplane...


TMA Seaplane
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

It was our first time on a seaplane and the experience did not disappoint.  While the flight was incredible, it wasn't worth the $1100 we paid for it but alas...


TMA Seaplane
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Views from the Seaplane...


MLE Airport
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Male, Maldives (TMA Seaplane)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

After reading up a bit on Male, it is apparently one of the most densely populated places on the planet, with 150,000 people living in 6 square kilometers... crazy.


Seaplane Pic
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

More to come on our Conrad arrival, accommodations etc...


Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2016, 06:59:37 PM »
Nice installment! Thanks for the pics of TK J.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2016, 07:30:26 PM »
Nice write up so far. Glad you enjoyd DKF in Venice. Nice to see that some of the things I write in my TRs get used.  ;) Looking forward to the rest.

Offline ual902

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2016, 08:11:22 PM »
WOW nice report, keep going, I always wondered what type of crowds travel to the resorts of MLE, besides the free loader crowd!

Offline Denverite

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2016, 10:45:24 PM »
Awesome installment, with very useful info that actually I haven't seen on DDF before.  Can't wait for the rest!

Offline HBERG

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2016, 08:25:04 AM »
WOW nice report, keep going, I always wondered what type of crowds travel to the resorts of MLE, besides the free loader crowd!
Mostly Asians Russians and Europeans too far for Americans

Offline E-MAN

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2016, 05:28:19 PM »
Wow! Can't wait for the rest. Thanks for such an enjoyable read.

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2016, 06:40:42 PM »
Wow! Can't wait for the rest. Thanks for such an enjoyable read.
No problem... look forward to completing it soon...

Online moisheyb

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2016, 03:42:10 AM »
Wow epic sounding so far

Offline AJK

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2016, 12:21:22 AM »
Great stuff. Love these reports that make reminiscing so fun.

Glad it worked out for you.
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Denverite

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2016, 09:57:32 PM »
No problem... look forward to completing it soon...

Any Koach to give us another installment?  :P

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2016, 11:43:46 PM »
Part V

Our seaplane took off around 2:00pm or so...



... and arrived at the Conrad at about 3:30pm.  While the flight was only 30 minutes, Conrad operates on "island time" which is an hour later than Male.  The landing was awesome.



Took about 2 minutes to taxi to the seaplane platform where we were greeted by Conrad's host, hostesses and some general staff.  We noticed that our luggage was already waiting for us upon arrival - they must have sent it in advance on an earlier seaplane.  We were quickly escorted into an air conditioned room near the jetty where we were offered ices, cold water, and cold towels - super refreshing after the hot seaplane ride.

Our hostess, Stephanie, walked us over to the main reception area where she checked us in.  She advised us that we were confirmed for a Beach Villa and noted our request for an upgrade.  She said the resort was operating at capacity (~300 ppl) but she would keep an eye out for any cancellations and/or openings.  She also introduced us to one of the chefs at the resort who took our Pom meals and food schedule.  He committed to defrosting the meals in advance, heating them up and serving them to us at our venue of choice (at no additional cost).  He felt really bad that we couldn't enjoy any of their restaurants or fresh foods.  We asked him about the procuring a new skillet, spatula, cutting knife, cutting board, silverware and plates, all of which he indicated were not a problem and he would have them ready for us the next morning.  Stephanie then showed us to our room - one of the newly renovated beach villas.



Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

We were no more than 15 feet from the beach.

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Hot water kettle, fully stocked nespresso machine along with several bottles of water (that would be restocked 2 or 3 times daily).

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Outdoor bathtub.

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Outdoor shower.

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Indoor double sink vanity.

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Lots of closet space.

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Big room...

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Sitting area.

Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali Beach Villa
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

After relaxing for a bit in our villa, we started hearing screaming and crying kids, from what seemed like both of our neighbors (on either side).  It was a bit annoying but we figured that we'd deal with it and they'd quiet down.  At about 5pm or so, we decided to stroll over to the Vilu restaurant where Diamond and Gold HHonors guests were invited for some drinks.  As a HHonors Diamond (thank you status match), we visiting Vilu each night to enjoy some drinks and good company.  We ended up meeting eli5757 at the Happy Hour and had what was probably the first DO in the Maldives (it sounds like there may be a few in the coming year at the St. Regis...)

At Vilu, we bumped into the Conrad's general manager, Lyle Lewis.  Lyle is a really nice guy from Australia (I think) who came out of retirement to run the Conrad Rangali.  He's been there for two years.  We mentioned to him in passing that our villa was sandwiched between two families with loud kids.  He took an immediate interest and made a few calls.  While he couldn't do anything for us that evening, he did say we would be switched out to a new villa the next day.  In exchange for having to dealing with our situation that evening, he said we could have dinner at Vilu or Mandhoo on him.  That wasn't going to do us much good, or so we thought... more on that later.


Conrad Footbridge (Seaplane platform in the distance)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali Sunset
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Rasheed from in-room dining brought our dinner to the room at about 8pm, just after this beautiful sunset.

We went to breakfast at the Atoll restaurant Friday morning bringing with us some pastries, rugulach and small tetrapak of shelf-stable milk for coffee.  I took a walk around the breakfast buffet and saw some pretty impressive shehechiyanu-type fruits (dragonfruit, starfuit and prickly fruit with black seeds) along with some other basic fruits.  They also carried cereals from what appeared to be Australia along with Chobani yogurts.  We had the Autralian kosher app on our phones and were able to check some of the foods.  The cereals appeared to be kosher (but wasn't totally sure) and the Chobani's were definitely fine.  Our chef eventually came out and inquired if we wanted omelettes for breakfast and we agreed to try it out.  He then brought out the skillet and other utensils (which he proudly took out of their respective new boxes and plastics) along with his cutting board and proceeded to dice some vegetables for us in one of the adjacent outdoor kitchens.  I cracked the eggs and inspected them.  We provided him with olive oil spray which we brought with us, and then he mysteriously asked me if I wanted to light the flame, which I of course obliged.  And then we had fresh eggs for breakfast that morning and every subsequent morning (except for Shabbos of course).  We even brought our own cheese for the omelettes.  The chef (and staff) knew much more about kashrus than we expected.  After some discussions with the GM several days later, we learned that the kitchen staff had met before our arrival to discuss our needs.  He also said that they've been seeing more and more kosher guests and were becoming accustomed to everyone's needs.  [I debated including this level of detail on the food situation out of fear that it could somehow be abused and cause a chillul Hashem.  Am hoping that it won't be ruined for future guests.  If people feel otherwise, I'd be happy to modify/remove this paragraph.]

That said, we spent most of Friday relaxing on the beach, strolling the resort and taking in all the sights and sounds the place had to offer.


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Exploring the island further, we heard some strange sounds coming from a loudspeaker.  We eventually came to the source of these sounds...  There was no minyan there...  We eventually found out that the Mosque was primarily used by Conrad's employees of the Muslim faith.


Conrad Rangali: Mosque
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Bad shot of the Quiet Zone infinity pool...


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Vilu

Conrad Rangali
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

More on our Premier Water Villa upgrade, snorkeling pics etc. to come...

Offline tageed-lee

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #36 on: August 25, 2016, 12:21:23 AM »
Amazing installment!!

Offline Denverite

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #37 on: August 25, 2016, 01:54:53 AM »
Amazing installment!!

+1 and Wow, wow, wow!  I still can't believe you scored an upgrade to a Premier Villa!  That fact that they were so prepared to help you have kosher food, knew you needed to light the flame and offered to do so is also truly amazing. We're leaving in a little over a week and I promise to try to be extra grateful to them for all their efforts to provide kosher food for us so they'll keep doing it!

Offline LoLo

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #38 on: August 25, 2016, 01:59:02 AM »

Online moisheyb

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #39 on: August 25, 2016, 09:12:19 AM »
Ha they really are an amazing staff! Just left the hotel now and thanks for the shop rite ou cooking spray!