I was slightly alarmed when our children were the only young ones on the whole plane from Singapore to Male. I had an idea there wouldn't be many kids, given the limited accommodation options - even Club Med said they weren't really for children! A number of friends had questioned our decision to go to the Maldives, generally asking me what the kids would do there, or assuming we weren’t taking the kids with us. The purpose of the trip was for my husband, a lapsed diver, to reignite his passion and dive one of the worlds best dive destinations before it was too late. What the kids and I would do was hang at the beach and pool.
It is known as a honeymoon destination and it did take a lot of work to find accommodation that met our requirements – no seaplane transport (blew our budget), a resort that (a) accepted children, (b) could accommodate more than 1 child, and (c) had adjoining rooms, not two separate bungalows. We had the choice of three resorts, and one was shut for renovations. So we chose to stay at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort and Spa, mainly because it was low rise, and the other resort was a tall hotel style accommodation.
We got a great deal through our travel agent that included half board. On arrival, I was slightly disappointed to discover that one of the two restaurants covered in our half board dinner package was a buffet, however, our first night was Arabian night and the standard of food on offer was exceptional. Also, a lot of the food was cooked to order, rather than cooked early and left sitting in the bain-marie for an hour. The buffet had a different theme each night so you weren't faced with the same food each evening. Happy to say, while the kids adored the buffet, the adults at least weren’t suffering either.
Our rooms were on the beach and had a beautiful outlook (allowing me to take the three year old out to the beach at 6am when she woke, and allowing the others to sleep in.) I could also watch the older kids swim and snorkel from our deck, while our youngest had an afternoon sleep.
There is a kids club, where your little angels can be dropped on the way to the Spa but the under fours must be supervised by a parent or babysitter. As a result, I spent a bit of time there, escaping the midday sun. My three year old adored it - she painted coral, played in the playground and fed exotic fish in the ocean while my older boys played the Wii. The spa has couples treatments as well as the normal array of facials, massages and so on. It’s a beautiful set up around a pond with birdlife, and the treatment rooms are little bungalows.
The resort is predominately honeymooners and divers, however the staff in the restaurants never once made us feel unwelcome. When we hurried out of the sensational fine dining restaurant because our three year old was getting loud, the waiter seemed genuinely surprised we weren't staying for dessert.
All restaurants had a very cheap kids menu, however when at the a-la-carte (on half board) the kids could also order off the adult menu (which suited our 11 year old). The resort had themed beach dinners, and we did the Stars and Sand night, where they dug tables and chairs into the sand and built bonfires and had a 'fine dining' experience under the stars. It was absolutely amazing. They didn't charge for our three year old and the kids were 50% off, so it was really good value for the five of us. This dinner had live music and was so beautiful and opulent, it almost brought tears to my eyes. It was a beautiful setting and had an air of romance that seduced even the children, who were awed throughout the experience.
At lunch we often ate at the bar, where the kids would play chess on a different table while my husband and I could relax and enjoy each others company. Each night at sunset there is shark feeding at the bar and the kids could either play on the sand or watch the feeding while my husband and I lay on the daybeds nearby – for a brief half hour we were honeymooners again.
The kids were also only charged 50% for the excursions and water sports, and they also had good value packages of different water sports for two people. The older kids had some sort of activity every day on the package - canoeing, knee boarding, tubing, snorkelling etc. The charges for diving was much less than I'd been led to believe by people who had been diving at other resorts in the Maldives, and my husband got six dives for the same price as if he'd gone diving here. At no point did I feel we were being over charged, which was what I had expected, as you are more or less a captive market. I was pleasantly surprised. The dive centre is a Padi certified one so you can learn to dive and they even had children courses.
I would recommend this hotel to any family considering a trip to the Maldives. The half board package through the travel agent is great value and includes transfers from the airport (normally $100 per person). I found the website didn't really do it justice, nor did the brochure. The Maldives, while normally a honeymoon destination can also be a magnificent and enjoyable holiday for families. My kids loved it, and my husband and I enjoyed some vague reminders of that time before children when we revelled in each others company.
Just because you are travelling with kids, doesn’t mean you have to make the trip about them. Children will love where ever you go, so don’t rule out the exotic or romantic destinations. Plan carefully and the world is still your oyster.
Bio: Lydia C. Lee is still trying to work out what to do with her one wild and precious life. She currently is a haphazard blogger. Read more atholidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au