Okay, I know what you’re thinking – overwater bungalows and kids are probably the most unlikely combination since shower radios (because really, what better place to dance than a slick surface next to a glass door?). But on the off-chance that your kids are a) swimmers of the ‘just qualified for the Olympic squad’ variety, or b) too frightened by your stealth parent ninja moves to even turn in their sleep, then you may want to consider taking a trip to the Maldives, home to over 80 luxurious overwater properties.
While some are still unapologetically anti-familia, many more are actively chasing the kiddy-wink market, adding sophisticated kids clubs, nanny services, children’s menus and family package deals to reel us in. Here’s our pick of some of the best:
It’s got the luxury villas – some with private plunge pools, and it’s got the facilities, but the thing that really makes this resort a winner with young families is its location – only a 35-minute speedboat ride away from Malé International Airport. When you’ve been flying some 14 hours to get Male in the first place, the last thing you want to do is get a seaplane transfer, which is often the case for many of the outer resorts.
Kids can take part in a wide range of water sports including snorkelling, surfing, island hopping, or just sipping mocktails in the resort’s infinity pool, but most of them will just want to pack their bags and move into the colourful Dhoni Kidz Club. Featuring an outdoor tree house and indoor club house, kids aged three to 11 are welcome to join all the daily activities and events while you head off to enjoy the nearby reefs.
Or you know, you could just get some much-needed ‘me time’ in this lovely spa.
Parents of kids younger than three are welcome to join in the fun, but why do that when you also have the option of hiring a babysitter for $15 an hour per child? ($20 per child per hour from 10pm to midnight, and $25 per child per hour from midnight onwards).
Kids under six dine free at the resort and prices start from $AUD803 for a sunrise overwater bungalow a night. Discounts of 25% available if you book at least 45 days in advance.
They often say a picture is worth a thousand words, and while I often think that’s just an excuse thrown about by writers too lazy to write anything imaginative, I’m going to have to agree when it comes to these photos.
This is Ithaa Undersea restaurant, the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant plonked 16 feet below sea level. One of the resort’s 11 restaurants and bars (including an underground wine cellar with 20,000 bottles of fine wine), it’s a quaint little spot where you can dine with on contemporary European cuisine with your family, and say ‘suck it’ to the finned creatures above as you eat their relatives.
And this, is Conrad’s Over-Water Spa, which sits on stilts some 50 metres off Rangali Island. The thatched-roof spa has four treatment rooms – three with glass floors offering mesmerising views of the spectacular coral reef below. If you have something against fish gaping at your thighs as you melt under the soothing touch of a magical maseusse, you also have the option of the Spa Retreat, which is like a resort within a resort and includes a separate ice-cream inspired spa treatment menu for children aged three to 16.
That’s just one of the many options available for kids on this two-island resort located a 30-minute seaplane away from away from Male. It also has a kids club for those between three to 12, various activities such as Cinema Under the Stars, where they can watch the latest movies from the comfort of a seaside beanbag, plus children’s menus, baby sitting facilities and baby equipment at the ready.
Prices start from $AUS1100 per night for a King Beach Villa and early bird discounts are available (saving up to 30% off).
When a property calls itself a seven-star property, two thoughts go through your mind: what on Earth happened to six-star properties? Did we just jump from five to seven and miss six altogether? And what exactly does a seven-star property get me? Will George Clooney lookalikes feed me strawberries dipped in cream while my children disappear into a machine and come back with a chip inserted into their frontal lobes to keep them on their best behaviour for the rest of their lives? Not exactly, but wow, it’s worth a look.
Ayada is the new resort on the block and, located along a pristine reef within the southern rim of the Gaafa Dhaalu Atoll in the southern Maldives, it’s easily one of the most impressive. Yes, it boasts a wide range of activities in line with what a seven-star property should offer such as 24-hour butlers to cater for your every whim, a 3500 square metre spa facility compete with Turkish hamam, dive centre, shopping arcade, yoga studio, and (bizarrely) three jogging tracks, but it’s what they offer children that wins me over.
Families have the choice of either the beach villas or the ocean villas and while this particular post is about accommodation of the overwater kind, it would be remiss of me not to mention the interconnecting beach villas which are perfect for larger families or for two families holidaying together.
Ayada’s mighty fine kids club is available for little ones aged between four and 12 and has its own pool, nanny room, stage and playground area (complete with jungle gym), and it offers mini gourmands a daily menu tailored to ‘meet the requirements for active children’. Activities include supervised snorkelling, cooking lessons, T-shirt painting and so much more.
A babysitting service is also offered at $US20 per hour, per child, and as the resort is located so far from Male, you’ll be pleased to know it also has a clinic with a doctor on call 24 hours a day. Sometimes, it’s those little things that can make all the difference.
Prices start from $AUD1095 per night.
This stunning property located in South Ari Atoll (around 25 minutes from Male by seaplane) has long been a favourite with dive enthusiasts and why not? How many resorts do you know that have their own sunken shipwreck on-site, as well as easy access to some of the best dive sites in the Maldives.
And if you’re a dive enthusiast with a young family? Even better, because Centara is hands-down one of the best properties for children. First of all, it has its own children’s pool, which is win/win in anyone’s language, as well as the all-important onsite medical facilities. But I’m loving the separate entertainment zones for children based on their age groups. Camp Safari is for kids aged four to nine, engaging them with endless activities art and craft to supervised water sports. The best part? Completion of each activity is awarded with a sticker and if they collect enough of them, they will receive a special prize. Is that incentive to stay away from the parental units or what?
Teens who are, let’s face it, often quite sullen and downright depressing (yes, even in the Maldives) may just raise a smile at Centara’s E-Zone sanctuary. Offering the best and latest in entertainment, they are designed to offer them a safe space to let out all that angst. Playstations, Xbox 360s and Nintendo Wii should assist with the injustice of having to holiday with the family yet again.
Other facilities include a variety of dining and drinking options with nightly entertainment, three pools, Spa Cenvaree and a multitude of activities – many of them pristine turquoise lagoon-orientated.
Prices start from $AUS844 per night for a Beach Suite.
There are many things this resort would like you know about its location and property: It’s located in the North Ari Atoll and home to 86 luxe villas many of them with their own plunge pool. It has three scenic restaurants, a spa and a wealth of activities, but when you’re the mother of a baby yourself, the only thing you want to scream from the mountaintops is: IT’S THE PLACE TO GO IF YOU’RE TRAVELLING WITH A BABY.
First up, it has a baby concierge service, meaning you can pre-arrange various baby items to be made available to you during your stay free of charge such as sterilisers, floaties, strollers, beach toys and nappy bins. Other items such as nappies, night lights and various bath products can be popped on your bill. If baby has progressed onto solids, he or she will be thrilled to know that a special baby menu is on the house -served with baby-friendly cutlery, place mats and a healthy dose of patience.
Older kids are in luck too. The Constance Kids Club is available for kids aged four to 11 and includes a swimming pool, a club house play area, computer stations, arts and crafts, theme days to create pizzas or make ice-creams, and it also has an ‘imagination space’ for the four to six group which features playhouses, kitchenettes, tool workshops and even some four-wheel drive rides.
Prices start from $AUD1405 for a water villa with private plunge pool.
Have you taken the family to the Maldives? What do you think was the best resort and why?