In recognition of Red Nose Day for Comic Relief, I call out Four Season’s Landaa Giraavaru’s own colouring comic book. The activity book is just one of the many examples of Landaa’s exquisite attention to detail one finds across the resort. Just one of the many fun activities at their kids centre.
To do my small bit, for every comment to today’s post that includes a (clean) joke about a tropical island, I will make a £1 donation to Comic Relief (up to £100).
One of my friends at Microsoft (and former teammate), Steve Clayton, has the jobs title of ‘Story Teller’. He has made a career out of telling stories for richly illustrating the intricate tapestry of Microsoft technology. The Naladhu resort brings stories to its own guest offering a storytelling evening. Not just reading Dr. Suess, but executed with so much style and panache I suspect the adults would want to go along as well (I know that I would). They host it in a coconut grove (I love it when the resorts do more activities out in the natural surroundings) and they explore the folklore of Maldives. The trips to local village islands are always popular excursions and I know that many visitors are keen to seek out a bit ‘culture’ on their trip. If so, Naladhu offers a colourful portrayal…
“Did you know that the Maldives has an oral literary tradition that extends back almost 1,000 years? A rich history of sailors, pirates, seafaring princes, sultans and British colonial governors? A language unlike any on Earth? A must on the itinerary of any guest to Naladhu is a storytelling evening in our island’s coconut grove with Ahmed Didi, the Island Chief. A native to our very island for – well, longer than anyone really knows! – Ahmed is a lively character with a richly detailed memory filled with island tales from his own lifetime and generations beyond. He shares his love of this island nation and its rich folkloric tradition in casual (yet dramatic!) stories. Naladhu is proud preserve Maldivian culture and share it with our guests during this unique evening back in time.”
On the other end of the spectrum from <child-free Dhoni Island is child-embracing Diva resort. While places like Sheraton Full Moon have a great kids club, or a special feature like Conrad Rangali’s ‘Kid’s Spa’, I have not come across any resort that has thought through the ‘Family Experience’ from welcome to nite-nite time the way that Diva has.
- “Diva has further enhanced its already unrivalled family facilities – including no fewer than 18 interconnecting rooms and three interconnecting water villas – by adding a host of new services, facilities and activities designed especially for families. Younger children are treated as guests in their own right from the moment they land at Diva, from being greeted in reception with a soft toy and fruit ‘mocktail’ to the personalised welcome letter and basket of sweets from The Nest that awaits in their villa. Equipped with indoor and outdoor play areas; soft ‘sleep’ room; special dining area; and TV and video games room, The Nest is a dedicated, supervised club for guests aged three – 12 years. An imaginative range of fun, educational activities include traditional Maldivian arts and crafts such as shell necklace making, palm weaving, Bodu Beru dancing and Henna painting; the Young Mixologist certificate, where kids learn to mix their favourite juices to make the perfect drink; and the Young Environmentalist programme, in which they explore the island’s tropical flora, herb gardens and orchid nursery and learn to respect and care for nature. Kids as young as eight eager to get their first glimpse of the Maldives’ kaleidoscopic underwater seascapes are welcome at Diva’s PADI-certified dive centre, which offers ‘Bubblemakers’ and ‘Discover Scuba’ introductory lessons, with special children’s diving equipment provided.”
As I have mentioned before, my original inspiration for Maldives Complete was going to be a web site called ‘Maldives for Families’. So Diva’s inspired touches warmed my heart. The Diva enhancements are not just special touches catering for the younger crowd, but actually well-thought out touches just as welcome to Mom and Dad…interconnecting rooms extra nappies, bottle sterilizers.
As I mentioned way back at the outset of Maldives Complete, I had originally thought that I might build a website called ‘Maldives for Families’ out of the conviction that this destination was so superbly suited for adults and children alike. Little did I know that online, especially at Trip Advisor, there is a massive debate between this school of thought and the view that the Maldives is no place for children. So of the ‘anti-children’ views try to argue based on patronising forced logic (eg. long-haul flights not suitable for children who are going to kick seats and cry, loud and obnoxious children will spoil my idyllic holiday that I paid thousands for, specialised medical treatment is not immediately at hand). I always speak out in support of children being welcome, but in the end I appreciate ‘to each his own’.
To support people finding just the right resort for them, I’ve added a field to the Maldives Complete database which delineates the resorts into one of 5 categories about how ‘Child Friendly’ they are…
- Children restricted
- Children discouraged
- No information
- Children special facilities
- ‘Best Of’ child offerings
So you can filter in the Resort Finder on ‘Children Welcome’ I have also added a note box to the resort Profile which provides additional detail about the restrictions, facilities and ‘Best Of’ offerings. Finally, for further reference. Trip Advisor also has a handy FAQ on the topic.
Speaking of the kiddies, many resorts now feature ‘kids clubs’ with a range of activities and child minding to tend to the specific interests of the younger set for families who want to come to this paradise all together, but have slightly different sentiments as to what makes a great vacation day.
Full Moon resort has recently completely a major renovation under the new auspices of its Sheraton owner which includes a big investment on an ‘Adventure Club’ for children. Anyone who was familiar with the old resort and especially anyone with children should check out the new refurb…
“The launch of the Sheraton Adventure Club further proves that Sheraton Maldives is the ideal location for families. Parents can enroll children, ages 4-12, free of charge. There, the children have a fun-filled day of activities including beach games, scavenger hunts, coconut bowling and more! The Sheraton Adventure Club also teaches the children about the local Maldivian culture through traditional music & dance or mini lessons on Dhivehi, the Maldivian language. Children can also entertain themselves by climbing the jungle gym, discovering the hidden cave, or playing sports games on the Nintendo Wii. There are various schedules from 09.00 – 17.00 daily, so parents can rest assured that their children are in the caring hands of the fully trained staff.”
When I first considered doing a web site devoted to the Maldives, I had thought about focusing it on families (‘Maldives for Families’). While a renowned diving and honeymoon destination, it was less thought of as a place for kids. In fact, some a few resorts do specifically exclude children in an effort to maintain even greater calm and tranquillity for their guests and more resorts do not allow them in the water bungalows out of safety considerations. Nonetheless, the placid waters (little current in the lagoons, shallow water), the tiny size (hard for a child to roam out of earshot) and general charming and helpful nature of the staff do make it a wonderful destination for children.
And for those that want their kids to have more than the beach side fun and to enjoy the luxuriant pampering of their elders, Conrad Hilton Rangali has just the package which won the ‘Best Children’s Spa Menu in Asia’ award in 2009.
“Aren’t kids meant to be grubby?…It’s the big new spa thing – teeny treatments. Jolly Beach in Antigua has introduced a range for six-year-olds and up: there’s a massage, facial and manicure combo called Little Princess Day, and a boys-only package of scrubs and pedicures titled For the Little Man (careful, lads – if anyone at school finds out, you’re dead meat). All that’s trumped by the Conrad Rangali Island in the Maldives. It’s opened an Ice Cream Spa for kids, with a Super Sundae Supreme body scrub and a Princess Me facial. Big drawback: the stuff’s not edible. Chiz, as that unwashed urchin Molesworth used to say.”
The Maldives are not just the best place on earth for indolent repose. As this blog has highlighted many times, there are loads of productive and educational pursuits that one can get up to in this idyllic setting, eg. helping the environment, reefscaping, art. I know that our own children learned all sort of marine biology during our trips there in what was a dream classroom of an underwater showcase.
Now Diva resorts is initiating a programme to bring the educational side to a whole school in the UK in what has to be not just the best classroom experience in the Maldives, but probably the best school exchange in the world (‘Carlsberg doesn’t do school exchange trips, but if it did…’). While most British kids are poking around the pebbles in Cornwall this Easter break, Maldives Traveller reports on what the Brockhill School students will be doing…
“The kids, from Brock Hill School in Kent, arrive in the Maldives on April 14, marking the launch of a new school exchange programme with Dhigurah Island School in South Ari Atoll. The luxury resort, Diva Maldives, has generously agreed to sponsor the British children’s subsistence costs, by providing free transfers, food and accommodation.”
“The seven lucky GCSE Biology students, accompanied by two teachers, will get the chance to explore the beautiful South Ari Atoll area, as well as attend classes at the local school. They will help to survey the coral reefs, led by experts from the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP), and take part in shark monitoring projects. As well as this, there will be plenty of opportunities for barbeques on local beaches, fishing and visiting the Ari Atoll Cultural Centre. The centre features three different types of traditional Maldivian housing style, as well as cultural artefacts and exhibits from the Maldives’ rich history.”
Maldives is a great destination for families with children, but one common question is what about the very youngest. The consensus at TripAdvisor’s Maldives Forum is that Bandos is the top resort for babies.
- “Quite a number of people have said, truthfully and helpfully, that Bandos is about the only ‘baby friendly’ hotel in the Maldives.”
Some debate the advisability of bringing extremely young children to a place as remote as the Maldives with less extensive care on hand. One of the benefits to Bandos is its proximity (8 km) to the main island of Male where the most extensive medical care, full hospital and airport are all located in case of an emergency.
- “At Bandos we think of making your holiday as hassle free as possible, and for those families travelling with young children the Child Care Centre and Kids Club will prove to be a blessing. Now you can enjoy your holiday comfortable in the knowledge that your children are in the capable care of our professional child minders and baby sitters. The facilities are free of charge and the staff of Kids Club provides baby-sitting services free of charge, for children between 8 months to 12 years, between 0900hrs to 1700hrs, although a small charge is levied after 1700hrs. The Kids Club is equipped with a nursery full of toys and a large playground outside so that even your children would be guaranteed an enjoyable holiday experience.”
Isley in the Maldives
Isley and Chase in the Maldives
(our children, Isley and Chase, fish watching including ‘wading with the sharks’ – harmless, mini-black tipped reef sharks – on the right)
I had originally thought of creating a web site on the Maldives called ‘Maldives for Families’. It is renowned as a top diving and honeymoon destination, but we found it distinctively suitable for children.
The first and foremost appeal is safety. You never really have to worry about them running off or for that matter being absconded because the islands are so small and there is little traffic on an off. If you lose sight of them, you know that they can’t be far because there is not far to go. In fact, in many islands, no one is ever more than shouting distance away.
Of course, the circumpresent water is always a potential danger, but of all fun in the sun beach destinations the Maldives are about as safe as you get. Their unique archipelago topology means than most islands are surrounded by shallow calm lagoons, often protected several metres offshore by a coral reef. This means that there is often very little current and swimming in the ocean is like swimming in a paddling pool (or your own personal aquarium when you consider all of the colourful fish around – always a delight for the children).
Despite the charms of the beach for children, one recommendation I always make to families of all ages is to select a resort with a pool (Resort Finder allows you to filter for Pools). After a while, the salt and sand get aggravating for children and the cleaner more confined pool makes for a crucially refreshing change of pace.
For a fine piece on other aspects to vacationing in the Maldives with children, check out the Sunday Times article “The Maldives: now for children too”.