Valentine's Day with kids
What to do with your kids in London on Valentine's Day. ...
What to do with your kids in London on Valentine's Day. ...
Holidays don't get better than the Maldives! A typical honeymoon destination, the Maldives has become in the last few years the barefoot luxury playground of families with kids. Shallow warm lagoons, fabulous resorts with great kids clubs, and the best snorkelling and sealife all make this a fabulous destination for your and the little ones. Herewith, the How’s and Options from the Zenbabytravel team, the experts on making the trip with your family.
1. Distance to Male - seaplane or not? Taking a further seaplane certainly pays off in terms of pristine beaches and coral reefs. But of course it adds up to an already rather long journey. 10 hours direct BA flight Gatwick - Male, 11 hours flight back is not quite negligible with 2 small kids. The Angsana team welcomed us though seamlessly, there's a dedicated lounge with refreshments, shower and changing area, balcony where one can observe the seaplanes landing and very comfy sofas. Coffeed, juiced and outfits changed, we were ready for the most scenic seaplane we ever took. The kids loved the small plane and the views were out of this world. On both occasions, Trans Maldivian was incredibly smooth landing and taking off. Our 20-month-old fell asleep after 10 minutes while we continued gazing outside at the splendid atolls in 100 shades of blue. On the seaplane back we also had a bonus stopover at the St Regis to refuel. More atolls out of this world for 40 minutes - you simply cannot beat the gorgeous view!
2. Board basis: breakfast only, half board or all inclusive? After one week on a breakfast basis and 5 days on all inclusive, my other half and I fully agree breakfast only suits us best. Ordering a frugal lunch on our patio - pizza for the kids and calamari and beer for us - is best after a busy morning with snorkelling safari and playing on the beach. The little one would nap thereafter, the 4 year old would read and 3 of us will take it easy. Buffet dinners also not for us - the kids are too small to wait until 7:30pm and have patience for us to wine and dine until 9pm at the table of a busy restaurant. The happy hours at Angsan
suited us perfectly: at 5pm we would start with cocktails, the kids would still run around on the beach, 6pm they would have their dinners in a very relaxed and casual beach bar environment. Occasionally we joined them for food but mostly we preferred to order in 8pm once the kids were deep asleep. We also had a night out with the kids babysat at the gorgeous Azzuro by the water villas. It was the most memorable evening out of our 12 days, exquisite food, impeccable service and out of this world views.
3. Beach or water bungalow? Own pool or not? We tested all the options for 12 days. The best choice for a family like ours with 2 small cheeky monkeys was the beach bungalow with our own pool. The Angsana setting was perfect - the most pristine beach just in front of our villa, sunchairs and tables. In the back with the privacy of our villa the swimming pool, beds, outdoor and indoor showers, and garden. We spent the nights stargazing once the kids were in bed, sipping wine and listening to chill out music. Bliss! At Vilu Reef we tested the beach bungalow - the kids missed the pool and we missed the privacy of our pool and garden. We also tested last night Vilu Reef water villa - stunning and great fun for our 4 year old but definitely too stressful for us to let the monkeys loose on the outside deck / close to the sea. An option better suited in a few years time!
4. Kidsclub. Is there a kids club? Does it have good facilities? Most importantly, are the staff good with children? At Angsana Velavaru the head of the kids club was just amazing, fun and dedicated. It was a pleasure to drop the kids and actually impossible to get our 4 year old out of there! At Sun Aqua Vilu Reef our 4 year old and his friends were spoiled every day with Xmas presents (!!!) but often we found them just left with the television. If this is important for you, best to research it before before booking.
5. How do you book it? Package flight, hotel and transfers or separately? BA or Kuoni sales are always a one great stop for us and certainly a no brainer for the resort selection. We preferred though to book
flights and hotels separately, which proved a proper headache with Sun Aqua Vilu Reef. We ended up paying 3 times via 2 different travel operators and eventually directly - the Vilu Reef booking system and some interactions were quite appalling. Never in 20+ years of extensive travelling had we experienced anything like this! But we had a good reason to persist; we joined friends and their kids for Xmas!
6. Key facilities? Marine lab, water sports activities, diving club, vicinity? Being advanced divers, for us the Diving Club is a must. Complimentary water sports also a bonus - we spent over a week out of 12 days stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkelling.
7. Last but not least is this a brand or a hotel worth spending money with? Ethical travel and sustainable luxury are contemporary game changers. Spending small fortunes on family holidays and talking through with my kids made me so much more aware that I need those resorts to be sustain able and ethical.
Here is a gorgeous shot that we took at sunset at Sun Aqua Villu Reef. My friends on facebook confessed it must be the pictre of the year. Sadly, I agree but for very different reasons. Zoom in and one will see how garbage is deposited on the neighbouring island. It's relatively ok packed and when questioned, Vilu Reef personnel said it is just temporarily stored there and thereafter sent for recycling. I am not entirely sure though and having travelled next to that island on few occasions, have not seen much sign of relief or collection.
At the other ènd of the spectrum - Banyan tree with their Green Imperative - you can see them in action embracing the environment and empowering their people: marine lab, turtle programme protection, and corral rehabilitation are all in evidence. I believe we all have a duty to support sustainable luxury and ethical travel.
We discovered the Maldives 10 years ago and we truly believe it is a God-sent gift that we should protect fiercely. It is an eye opener and soul enchanter. It's stunning, rich in sealife and idyllic - if heaven was a place on Earth, this would be it! May we protect it and may our kids get to see more of it in the future!
The Zenbabytravel team.