The Maldives is better known as a destination for honeymooners, but there’s plenty of fun to be had here for families, too — travelers just have to look a little harder. Kids’ clubs are relatively rare, especially among luxury resorts, but they do exist — as do kiddy pools and kid-friendly villas. We sent our expert hotel investigators to uncover the best of the best.
While both Soneva Fushi and Gili Lankanfushi resorts have some of the Maldives highest prices, there is one major difference: All of the rooms are Gili Lankanfushi are overwater, while all the rooms here are on the beach. This is also part of the reason Soneva Fushi is kid-friendlier than Gili, as overwater villas can pose safety issues for wee ones; Soneva Fushi also offers a kids' club and paid babysitting service. Kids staying at Soneva Fushi can also go on picnics, watch movies at the main bar on rainy days, or compete in swimming competitions at a free kids' club (for children four and up). At the Den, the new kids' club opening in 2015, there will be a mocktails bar, lego room, a pirate ship, two kids' pools, and even a zip-line, among other fun kid-friendly offerings. Families can also go on dolphin cruises together or partake in cooking classes.
Family-friendly highlights here include a beautiful beachfront infinity pool with shallow kids’ section, free kids' club (Camp Safari), daily kids’ activities, free non-motorized water sports (snorkels, kayaks, peddle boats), and a game room offering snooker, billiards, foosball, table tennis, and air hockey. Centara is one of the few resorts in the Maldives that will accommodate families with children in overwater villas (many properties err on the side of caution and make overwater villas adult-only for safety reasons). Their Deluxe Family Water Villas sleep up to five guests and have kid-friendly perks like bunk beds, Playstation game consoles, and locks to stop toddlers from crawling off the overwater patios. Paid babysitting service is also available, and many families enjoy excursions such as snorkeling tours and sunset fishing.
At Dusit Thani, the free Baan Sanook kids' club with a playground is available for children ages three to 11. It offers supervised activities such as face painting, treasure hunts, crab racing, and pirate hat making. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. There are also Two-Bedroom Family Beach Villas available with private pools. Free water sports gear includes snorkels, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards, and the house reef is excellent. Just note that there is no dedicated kiddy pool.
Kanahura sees a number of repeat guests from Europe, Russia, and China, making for a diverse mix, and appeals to families as well as couples, thanks to the kids' club, kid-friendly restaurant menus, and kid-friendly pool. The water sports area has a bar serving ice cream during the day (pistachio, chocolate, or strawberry) that is popular with younger guests. Near the resort's hub, there is an outdoor pool with deep areas for adults and shallow areas for kids. The supervised kids' club for ages four to 11 (children ages two and three can attend with a parent or babysitter) offers activities such as beach sports and pirate games. Kids' club members get welcome and parting gifts, and in-room amenities such as baby cots, bottle sterilizers, and high chairs can be provided.
At Kurumba Maldives, supervised activities at the Majaa Kids' Club include painting, puzzles, and movies, as well as a few outdoor activities such as fish feeding. It is open seven days a week for children four through 12. Deluxe Pool Villas have room for an extra cot for a child, while Garden Pool Villas can fit two single beds for children; both also come with (as the names suggest) private plunge pools.
There is a lot for families at the upscale Kihaad: An attractive beachfront pool features a shallow kids’ section, a kids' club with a playground is available for children up to 12, and a game room has darts, foosball, billiards, and mahjong (a Chinese domino game). The kids' club isn't supervised and babysitting service is for a fee. The daily fish and string ray feedings are also fun for little ones. The Family Junior Suites have separate living rooms which can fit up to two single beds for children; they're private, but lack water views.
Gili Lankanfushi may be on of the Maldives' top luxury resorts, but it's not its very best for families, as all of the rooms are overwater villas (which may pose some safety concerns for small children). That being said, the personal butlers assigned to each villa are on hand to entertain kids so that parents can get some time to themselves -- they'll often whisk the kids away for activities such as snorkeling and pizza making. There is no dedicated kids' club, though.
The draws at Bandos Island Resort are the excellent dive center and the kids' club. The Kokko Club Kids' facilities include a large outdoor playground and indoor nursery, and are free for kids three to 12. Babysitting services are available (for a fee) for kids up to 12 years old. In the rooms, an extra bed can be delivered for kids at no extra charge. A swim-up bar separates the main freshwater pool (popular with older kids) from the shallow kiddy pool.
Reopened in 2009 as a five-pearl property, Lily Beach Resort & Spa is a romantic and family-friendly spot with a true all-inclusive plan that covers meals, drinks, and activities. The stylish and spacious rooms have outdoor bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, outdoor decks with direct ocean or beach access, and amenities from suntan lotion and aloe vera to stocked minibars to large flat-screen TVs. Family-friendly features include a kids' buffet, pool, and activity club. Active guests can make use of the land and water sports available, while couples have plenty of romantic options and privacy. The only downside is the narrow beach.
Just a 20-minute boat ride from the airport, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is a five-pearl luxury property with both a village-like vibe and yet a feeling personal space. The small island is home to 176 rooms, an oceanside spa, contemporary fitness center with tennis court, dive center, free non-motorized water sports, a kids' club and pool, lagoon-style pool, and several bars and restaurants. With its close proximity to Male, this is an ideal upscale resort (with all-inclusive options) for anyone who wants to mix in a visit or two to the capital city or just stretch the hours of their vacation as far as possible.
The 184-room Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa is a luxury resort on its own private island with gorgeously landscaped, intimate grounds. Rooms are spacious and handsome, with decor that ranges from bright and playful to sober and chic. There are also Water Villas that are suspended over the sea. The resort has multiple pools, restaurants, sports fields, a spa (and much more) scattered throughout, and there are dedicated adults-only areas. With a reef on site and all-inclusive options, it's a romantic, tranquil choice for families and couples. Guests also considering the resort's Veligandu sister property should note that Vilamendhoo is usually less expensive and packs in more family features.