Many people ask us why we chose to take our children halfway around the world. Well, the Maldives is probably one of our top three favorite destinations in the world. That’s saying a lot since there are so many places we enjoy and so many more we have left to visit. We love water activities and beautiful fine-sand beaches, and the Maldives is the ultimate water paradise. My husband and I both surf (well, I’m very much a beginner, but I try!), so it is a great destination for us.
Why We Chose Anantara?
The first time we visited the Maldives was on our honeymoon. We took a 7-day cruise on the Four Seasons Explorer, which was just incredible, and we stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, which was equally fabulous. However, the surfing in that area is a little too advanced for me, so we decided to try the Anantara resorts when we returned for our 2-year anniversary, and we went again two years after that. We enjoyed the fact that it is made up of a cluster of three resorts—Anantara Dhigu,Anantara Veli, and Naladhu—and your clients can take a boat from one to the other. You can visit the other islands for a larger variety of activities and restaurants, and when you return to your island, it doesn’t feel like a huge resort. The staff is very warm and friendly, and they go out of their way to make your stay special and unique. In fact, after our second time to Anantara resorts in the Maldives, we decided that everything about our vacation there was perfect, except for the fact that we couldn’t share it with our children. That’s when we decided to bring them with us for our next visit, and this decision changed our travel life as we knew it. The next time we visited Anantara Dhigu was August 2017 with our children. It was our first international vacation as a family of five, and the inspiration for us to change our lives—to spend more time together exploring the world as a family.
The rooms are very nicely appointed, and the beds are ridiculously comfortable. You even have a choice of pillows for the ultimate bedding experience. The housekeeping staff, or “room boys,” do a great job of keeping things tidy and have a special attention to detail when servicing the rooms. We have stayed in an overwater suite, and an overwater pool suite, but chose to stay in a sunset beach villa the last time around because of the children being so young. All the accommodation options are great, though, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. With the beach villa you have your own private outdoor lounging area and direct beach access, which is great when traveling with little ones. They provide a large terra cotta pot of fresh water with a ladle in both the front and back entrance to your room for cleaning sandy feet before entering your room. Needless to say, this simple pot of water provided hours of entertainment for our 10-month-old son.
The resort provides high-quality amenities for both adults and children, including bath products, dental care products, and a beach bag souvenir for the children.
The food at Anantara is amazing, with quite a variety for a small island. There is a breakfast buffet at both Veli and Dhigu with options galore. The resort’s Thai restaurant, Ban Huraa, serves very authentic and delicious Thai food in the most amazing setting—it’s a stand-alone building at the end of a pier, so it makes for beautiful sunset views, where you can watch baby black-tip reef sharks feeding at dusk. Another one of our favorites is Oragami, a Japanese restaurant that has the most amazing teppanyaki you will ever have. This was a hit with the kids; I think we ate there three out of our nine nights at their request.
Children under 12 eat free everywhere except in-villa dining or take out, which is a great perk. Although it would be better if in-villa dining was included for those nights when you want to have a sitter to watch the children while you have a date night.
The hotel’s activity list leaves nothing to be desired, and with complimentary non-motorized water sports, you can definitely have a great time for not a lot of money. We’ve done paddle-boarding, snorkeling, and kayaking in the lagoons surrounding the resort islands. In terms of paid activities, the choices are endless as well: You can charter a private yacht or a traditional Maldivian dhoni to island hop, visiting gorgeous uninhabited islands; you can even choose to take a day trip to swim with whale sharks or snorkel with mantas. There also planned activities you can join, such as a sunset dolphin cruise, where you can watch the acrobatic spinner dolphins perform. We chose to do a private snorkeling excursion to a local reef, followed by deep-sea fishing on our way back to the resort. My husband and I also experienced the world-class diving in the area, where we saw several different species of sharks, including the elusive leopard shark.
The Kids’ Club
The kids’ club (what they call the Dhoni club) is also good fun for the children (they take children ages 3-12). They went there every day for a few hours while we surfed, and the hotel arranged for a babysitter to watch our 2-year old daughter, Abby, and our son Tristan at the kids’ club. The ladies that run the kids’ club and the babysitting are very nice. Our kids asked to go to the Dhoni club every morning from the moment they woke up, so obviously they enjoyed it.
Oh, the spas…they are heavenly. There are two spas that service the three Anantara resorts, one in the heart of Veli island and an overwater spa on Dhigu. We’ve had treatments at both locations, and we very much prefer the overwater spa—it’s just so unique, with six overwater treatment suites and two open-air salas over the water for the Thai massage. Recommend your clients request a treatment at one of the open-air salas over the water at dusk or later (so that the sun has set and it’s cooler). With the ocean breeze, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it’s otherworldly.
Overall, we had a great time visiting the Maldives as a family for the first time. We very easily found balance between adult time and family time due to the wonderfully organized kids’ club and babysitting services. Our days were filled with as much or as little as we desired. Even our pickiest eaters ate well during our time there, thanks to the great variety of restaurants and food choices. And my husband and I were able to have a couple of date nights, including a divine Thai massage that is comparable to Thai massages we have experienced in Thailand.
For more information on the Maldives, go to visitmaldives.com. For more information on the Anantara resorts, visit anantara.com. Looking for clients interested in traveling to Ubud with the family, we’ve got the scoop here.
This story originally appeared in worldstompers.com, a family travel website created to inspire families with kids to expand their idea of adventures. You can follow the adventures of the Bazavilvazo family @worldstompers on Instagram and The Worldstompers on Facebook.