All the photos in this post taken by NHYM 2015. Pool at Anantara – it is this beautiful.
I was recently asked – again – by two different mums about where to go in the Maldives with a family so thought I would go ahead and write up a post specifically focused on child-friendly hotels. I do have an obsession with the Maldives and going there has become part of my ‘annual rejuvenation programme’ (when I said this to a friend of mine, she rolled her eyes and told me never to repeat these words to anyone else because I sounded like a Monkey’s Ass, but hey, I have a big mouth, here I go again. I just can’t help it).
White sands? Tick. Clear, translucent waters? Tick. Bright blue skies and sunshine? Tick. NHYM 2015.
We all associate the Maldives with exorbitant prices, but I have found some reasonable prices if you are willing to go during medium/low season. For those who haven’t booked your May half-term holidays, there are great deals to the Maldives with some flights to Male cheaper than flights within Europe. And don’t worry too much about the ‘rainy season.’ I once went to the Maldives in May and apart from a few hours of Monsoon rain, there was plenty of sunshine (unless you are really, really unlucky and that, I can’t help you with).
Beach on a neighbouring island from Anantara Dhigu. NHYM 2015.
The Maldives is no longer a faraway paradise for honeymooners, but has become a top destination for families for the shallow, warm lagoons, the superior service and hotels and the Ab-Fan Kids Clubs. It’s a 10 hour direct flight with British Airways, it is a safe haven (where I once lost my toddler who was brought back to me safely by Mr. Friday on his island buggy), with an abundance of sunshine and smiling faces. The Kids Clubs include every possible activity from marine biology lessons to Astronomy courses, via DJ booths, shark feeding and turtle petting…
Top 10 Luxury Family Friendly Hotels in the Maldives:
The ‘Adults-Only’ pool at Reethi Rah. The kids’ pool is set back in the shade, so children can spend hours in it without sun damage! NHYM 2015.
1. The One & Only Reethi Rah
Best for: Teenagers
The One & Only, which provides some of the best people-watching (hello Naomi! On a treadmill next to me…) and is one of the top luxury hotels in the Maldives, also excels in the child department. It has food menus for kids, at least 3 different kids clubs and activities for all ages. It especially has a programme designed for teenagers with movie nights, football tournaments, rock climbing, golf simulation, PADI Diving Bubblemaker and a smoothie bar (oh and mani -pedis, but not sure that’s one to brag about). Teenagers will somehow migrate together here, make new friends (and boy/girlfriends). When I was there, one teen ended up in his mother’s best friend’s daughters bed which caused a World War rift between the two mums…Need I say more? A teenager’s paradise… There is a beautiful spa and great, great diving. For New Year’s, you better be a VIP or you don’t stand a chance. The villas are huge and the ‘packing up’ service at the end of the trip was Mr.X’s favourite thing ever (they pack up all your clothes while you spend an extra hour at the beach).
By Seaboat – or private plane should you want to.
2. The Four Seasons Kudaa Huraa
Best for: The Four Seasons service and the amazing lobster
In the Maldives, you just need to show up with your babies. No need to lug baby puree, sterilisers, nappies or anything that takes up too much space in your suitcase, they have everything you could ever need. The Four Seasons, as usual, provides its usual exemplary service, including a lovely Kids Club with arts & crafts, a marine life turtle touch tank, fish feeding and island scavenger hunts. The beach huts are lovely and can easily fit a family of four. We found the food to be particularly good, with all-you-can-eat fresh lobsters on a half board meal plan. If you can’t afford One & Only every year, this one’s a good alternative. One couple I know comes back year after year, requesting the exact same room each time, they love it that much.
Glass bottom boat kayaking organised by the Kids Club. NHYM 2015.
3. Anantara Dhigu
Best for: Value for Money
Anantara is part of a luxury Thai chain, which has beautiful hotels around the world. As with most Thai hotels, the service is exquisite and the design is sleek and sophisticated, while not charging out of the world prices. There are three interconnecting islands to suit all needs, but Anantara Dhigu is the child-friendly one. The Kids club is housed in a beautiful Dhoni, a traditional Maldivian boat, which is air conditioned ideal on really hot days. Some of the top kids’ activities we found were the open air movie night with kids sprawled on beanbags munching popcorn while watching ‘Surf’s Up’ under the stars, and the glass bottom kayak trip in the lagoon to discover the marine life. The only downside is the food at some of the restaurants didn’t live up to our expectations, but we loved the Thai restaurant (we could have gone there every night) and the Teppanyaki on a neighbouring island. On the last day there, my daughter asked ‘Can we live in the Maldives?’
Sand, light blue water, deeper water, more light blue water, more sand. NHYM 2015.
5. Conrad Rangali
Best for: The Underwater restaurant experience
The Conrad was one of the first hotels to bring in the underwater restaurant concept, which I thought was rather cool (of course, others have called it a bit tacky, but to each their own opinions). It is 30 minutes away by seaplane, so it worth noting that you may need to wait at the airport for your seaplane and that it will hotel-hop: it will drop other customers at other hotels as well. The Majaa kids club focusses on Maldivian culture which is rather lovely, by teaching Maldivian Bodubero dancing, Maldivian language, island hopping and pirate dhoni sailing.
By Seaplane 30 minutes
This is the jetty you arrive on and are welcomed to the land of bliss. NHYM 2015.
Best for: All inclusive
For those who don’t want to have to worry about bills and wallets during the holiday, LUX* offers a great all inclusive holiday with multiple restaurant options. There is a great kids club where you can drop your child from 9am to 7 pm, and also Studio17 for teens. But be realistic, it is not in the same league as the One & Only so don’t expect the same level when going there: a friend who had previously been to the One & Only then went to LUX* said when I asked how his trip was: ‘It’s the same sand, sun and sea…’ But all my other ‘down-to-earth-friends who have been there have had a great experience: there are marine biologists on hand to teach the little ones about sea life and marine conservation, which is pretty much as 5 stars Kids Club as it can get.
Thatched beach hut, Anantara. Comes in all sizes… NHYM 2015.
6. Constance Halaveli
Best for: 10 Family Beach Villas
With Family Villas measuring 358 sqm with a gated garden, a private plunge pool and fully equipped with pushchairs, sterilisers and cots, there’s nothing more you could need for your bubs. Nearby, the Constance Kids Club for 4-11 years old has a children’s pool, an outdoor space and playhouse, with an emphasis on cooking activities to make pizzas, ice cream and smoothies.
Hammock in the ocean. NHYM 2015.
Best for: the Under 3s kids club
With a brand new kids club in a Manta Ray shaped club and an under 3s kids club, children of any age will be looked after professionals. Children are split into 4 age groups and have activities tailored to their specific age group. There are themed days such as Jungle Safari, Pirates and Princesses and Circus days. There is even an amphitheatre for the older thespians. For the adults, there is the first underwater music club, Subsix to keep you grooving, art events and plenty more to stay entertained.
40 minutes by seaplane
This really does exist. NHYM 2015.
Best for: Faraway location
Due to its remote location, Kanuhura has some of the best diving spots around with unexploited waters that some of the other resorts closer to Male don’t have and you won’t have to worry about planes flying over the island or of the pollution other islands may have. It is quite a large island with 100 villas, but feels very private. The kids club runs from 9am to 10pm in 3 slots: 9am -12pm, 2-5pm, 7-10pm, meaning that you can leave your older children at the Kids Club while you have a romantic dinner. Tempting isn’t it?
40 minutes by seaplane
Naladhu Private Pool, a neighbouring island of Anantara. NHYM 2015.
9. Cheval Blanc Randheli
Best for: Over the top luxury & design hotel
I wasn’t sure whether to add this hotel since it is a little too modern and pristine for my liking, but I thought I would include it for those who love designs and brands. Coming from LVMH properties, it of course comes with its own fancy LVMH shop and with people like ‘alchemists’ to create your perfect stay. But, I have to give it to them that their kids club looks great, with a lovely kids’ swimming pool and slide and Le Paddock, the teenagers multimedia room. The astronomy session for the teens sold me, as the star gazing in the Maldives is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s very expensive, but if you can afford it, you might as well give it a go.
40 minutes by private seaplane
Anantara pool, my daily spot. NHYM 2015.
Just to prove I really was there. And for those who are still trying to figure out whose toes these belong to.
10. Soneva Fushi
Best for: Barefoot luxury
More my style, Soneva Fushi is known for it’s motto ‘No News, No shoes,’ so you can put your mobile phones away, throw away your shoes and stay away from modern life for an entire week. The decor blends in with its natural surrounding and it is pure bliss. What’s exciting for 2015, and why it is included in this list, is that they are creating a new Kids Club this year promising 2 swimming pools, a mocktail bar, a lego room, a dressing area, a cinema, a tunnel, an organic garden and for the teens a zip line and DJ corner. I don’t think there’s anything else you could ask for as a child or a teen, and it’s creeping up my list as my no 1 next family friendly holiday destination, all fresh with a kids club.
30 minutes by seaplane