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RETURN TO THE MALDIVES

Filed Under: Luxury Family Hotel Review, Winter Escapes

Posted on 31st Jul 2013

Deborah visits LUX* Maldives with her family … prepare to be envious!

“The last time my husband and I visited the Maldives was in 2006 when our eldest daughter was a baby and holidays didn’t revolve around kids clubs, kids menus and short haul flights. At that time, we made a promise to each other that whatever happened we would try to make it back to our favourite place in the world for our 40th birthdays.

Fast forward 6 years…..and with our girls now aged 6 & 4, we started planning. To take the kids or not? Maybe we were a little crazy, hell, even a little reckless, but we decided to take the kids.

We identified LUX*Maldives as the perfect option for us, for reasons which I will explain further below and we began the exciting countdown to our 2 week holiday.

The outbound direct flight was a night flight. Perfect. The kids were shattered by the time we got onto the plane and slept pretty much the whole way, meaning that they were alert and excited enough to enjoy the scenic and spectacular seaplane transfer from Male to the island of LUX.

The check in was seamless. We had already done all of our form filling at the LUX arrival lounge in Male whilst waiting for our seaplane (and stuffing our faces with the complimentary snacks and drinks) so it meant we didn’t waste a minute on arrival and were shown straight to our rooms.

We had booked 2 interconnecting Beach Pavilions. These are effectively a whole beach villa, divided down the middle to make two bedrooms. They are each very spacious and have their own open air bathrooms and direct access onto the beach. I liked the idea of being able to close the door on my girls at night and having our own space. It is also possible to take a beach villa with 2 children and all share the one room. It’s the same amount of space and slightly more luxurious but without the shut off. There are also gorgeous over-water villas but not recommended for those with young children.

I don’t know whether the kids appreciated quite how lucky they were to be staying in such a wonderful place but I do know that they were incredibly excited to have their “own ocean” right outside the door. And my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine whilst watching the sunset on our own piece of beach every night. What a treat.

I had requested a DVD player in the room and had packed plenty to keep the girls occupied but I needn’t have bothered. We were barely in the room, and when we were, we all went straight to bed, exhausted from our daily adventures. There is so much to do.

The kids club was very well used by our girls. It’s a wonderful space: airy, colourful and spacious both inside and out. Every day, there was a varied and exciting timetable including shell necklace making, cookery, banana boat rides, fish and shark feeding, coconut painting, cool-down swims to name but a few. The club is conveniently located next to one of the main restaurants and very close to one of two large pools. So my husband and I were able to relax by the pool and pop quickly to check on the kids. There were lots of other children in the resort when we were there and the girls made lots of friends. Although you need to sign in and out, there was no need to book places which was great as it meant they could dip in and out of activities as they fancied.

Being open until 9pm the girls could have supper there with their friends if they wanted. We had pre-booked a few nights of babysitting and were allocated the same babysitter, Aisha, throughout our stay. Aisha worked at the kids club, so on the nights she was babysitting, the girls would go to her when they were ready.

The water sports centre was also one of our favourite places. Twice a day, there are complimentary boat trips to the house reef for snorkelling. There aren’t many places in the world where you can swim with such incredibly beautiful and brightly coloured fish and I was glad to be able to share it with my children. We even spotted a turtle swimming past us. They weren’t great with a mask and snorkel (the kids not the turtles!) so we just used goggles which worked fine.

We did a couple of donut rides, some water-skiing and took a pedalo out for a ride around the island. I also took a jet ski out in my quest to find and swim with Manta Rays. I didn’t see them on that trip although we did see them on one of our other boat trips – dozens of them, huge and graceful, dancing on top of the ocean.

Thanks to the aforementioned kids club, my husband and I got lots of “us” time and used this opportunity to try out the spa. I’d recommend booking an overwater treatment room as you can watch the fish through the glass bottomed floor whilst having a massage. We had a deep tissue massage (so wonderful that we booked another) and I tried some reflexology. Heavenly.

Being at the resort for 2 weeks meant lots of opportunity for diving. I managed 5 whilst I was there. The shallow dives offered brightly coloured corals, lots of exotic fish and plenty of nurse sharks and turtles. The deeper dives afforded me the opportunity to swim with the rare and magnificent Whale Shark. An incredible treat and the highlight of my holiday. There aren’t many places in the world to see the Whale Shark and LUX is fortunate enough to be in the “hotspot”. And if you want to learn more about the Whale Shark or any other sea creature, you can do so at the Marine Biology Centre where resident experts are available to chat endlessly with you.

There are lots of excursions available at LUX. It’s almost impossible to do all of them unless you’re there for a month! We did Sunset Fishing (the girls managed to catch a tiny fish but to them it was the biggest in the world), and a Sunset cruise. We also took a trip to a neighbouring island to meet some of the locals and see first-hand, village life. Given the nature of the Maldives and the fact that each hotel is on its own island, it was great to get a perspective of where we were and educate the children that not everyone in the Maldives lives in a luxury hotel. We saw the local school and some houses, the mosque and tried some local delicacies in the café and bought some gifts for a fraction of the price of Male international airport.

We had booked an all-inclusive meal plan and I’d highly recommend this for anyone travelling with children. Aside from the bonus of not having to fork out for every ice cream and drink, all restaurants have a generous and diverse all-inclusive menu and wine list. The kids menu is the same in all of the restaurants and at the kids club, but is quite varied and offers plenty of healthy options. The chefs were adaptable too and took note of fussy demands. My girls’ favourite was the fish fingers made with local reef fish. The kids can eat from the adult menu if they prefer or from the huge buffet offering. One night we took the girls to Umami, the Japanese and Teppanyaki restaurant. Aside from loving the show, we got them to try sushi. My youngest didn’t like it too much but we were then able to order her something familiar from the kids menu which came very quickly.

Our favourite restaurant was East, which as its name suggests is Asian influenced. The sushi night was superb. We also loved Allegria although did find that on the second visit we were struggling for choice. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, so even though we were there for 2 weeks, we felt there was enough choice.

LUX has recently undergone a rebranding exercise. A new General Manager (he was formerly at the Conrad and Per Aquum, the people behind Huvafen Fushi) has made some big changes. I felt that the resort was run incredibly well and efficiently. The General Manager was seen regularly around the resort chatting to guests and checking on the bars and restaurants. The staff could not do enough for us and everyone I spoke to felt the same way. The service was faultless at every outlet and everyone makes a huge fuss of children. I didn’t have to get off my sun lounger once for a drink although I did have to get up plenty to take the kids to the loo!

We hired bikes to get us around the island. I’d recommend doing this. They have them for kids too (with stabilisers if necessary). The island is very big and although they have buggies on constant loop, there can sometimes be a bit of a wait.

We chatted to lots of other families and I was surprised by how many were returning guests and this time, were staying for 3 or 4 weeks. Proof indeed that you really can’t spend too long in paradise.

I could write forever about our experiences and how much there is to do (I haven’t even mentioned the outdoor cinema on the beach, the sting ray and baby shark feeding, the Teddy Tennis, the Yoga….) but suffice to say, it was the holiday of a lifetime we were looking for and I’ll live off the memories for the next 40 years (at least).”

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