The Maldives is making waves as a family-friendly holiday destination.
Recognised as a paradisal honeymoon destination, the island nation of the Maldives is more than just powder white sand and crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. The collection of 1,200 islands spread across 26 atolls represent a holiday destination offering high-end luxury, outdoor adventure and relaxation in the heart of the Indian ocean.
FACT recently spent three days at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa on the North Malé Atoll, but rather than relaxing on the sandy shores and within the swimming pools’ pristine waters. We took to the waves for snorkelling adventures, as well as planting our feet firmly on land for culinary experiences. You see, the Maldives is about more than just romance and offers plenty of options for keeping the entire family occupied.
Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa has the distinct advantage of being one of the closest resorts to Velana International Airport. With the speedboat transfer taking less than ten minutes, there’s no need to burden yourself with seaplanes and domestic flights. The island represents a slice of paradise with its reef fringed waters, palm flanked beaches and memorable Maldivian sunsets. We were more than delighted to play the role of castaways, albeit with a somewhat luxurious slant, while exploring the elongated island.
Offering several accommodation options and a total of 176-room rooms, suites, cottages and bungalows, the resort’s inventory meets the picture-postcard expectation of the Maldives. While many would opt to stay in an over-water villa, the practicalities when considering a family stay make the cottages a much more viable option. With direct access to the ocean via an exclusive patch of the private beach, our cottage with a beach view was generously sized. The ideal island retreat, these open-plan cottages encompasses a spacious master bedroom featuring a comfortable king-sized bed, writing area, relaxing couch and flat-screen television. However, the pièce de résistance is the outdoor garden en-suite equipped with an al fresco rain shower and an expansive bathtub.
Leading to the palm flanked beach and surrounded by lush vegetation, the cottage’s outdoor patio area blends seamlessly into the surrounding jungle where fruit pats flap overhead and lizards dart in search of shade. A pair of sun loungers on a raised dais complete the picture of privacy, meaning parents can look on as youngsters enjoy the sand, affording glimpses of the turquoise ocean through the shaded tree-line, where warm shallow waters are filled with blacktip reef sharks and skittish crabs.
Characterised by pretty thatched roofs, each cottage has been constructed using traditional Maldivian materials, which add a rustic simplicity to the charming castaway feel. Yet, a sense of luxury prevails with guests needs easily catered for in a setting that you’ll ikely not want to leave during your stay in paradise.
Bespoke Dining Experiences
Seven restaurants and bespoke culinary experiences encourage guests to partake in a gastronomic journey around the island during their stay. Dining options include authentic Thai cuisine at Baan Thai, a traditional mix of North and South Indian dishes at Masala Hut and a weekly Maldivian night featuring local delicacies and traditional dancing at Anchorage Bar. It was the fine-dining seafood specialities at Sea Salt that impress the most, dining on a private deck beneath swaying palm trees as sharks filled the lagoon. The resort also offers a memorable lunch where guests eat within the water, and dishes are presented via a private butler service, as well as the option to picnic on a secluded sandbank away from other guests. The privacy of these bespoke dining experiences are ideal, given the pandemic and offer respite from the busy breakfast service at all-day-dining restaurant Feast.
Activities & Adventure
Situated at the sandy island’s far end lies the water-sports centre, where complimentary paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkelling equipment can be used to navigate the crystal clear waters of the lagoon. Motorised water-sports such as jet-skiing are offered at an additional fee. The dive centre is a hub of activity and frequented by most visitors to the island for PADI certification and excursions, while a trip to the nearby Kurumba reef has us snorkelling with nurse sharks, octopus and amidst coral caverns teeming with colourful fish.
Back on dry land, there’s a fully-supervised kids club and the opportunity for educational fun. Visitors to Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa are actively encouraged to sponsor a coral reef by partaking in a reef restoration project with an onsite conservation organisation, Reefscapers. The process involves attaching 41 corals to a frame before planting it in the water to help rejuvenate the resorts reefs.
Separate adults and children’s swimming pools and a 24-hour fitness centre ensure that the entire family stay active, should they wish. While The Shine Spa, located on a private island accessed via a boardwalk, is a haven for tranquillity with its signature wellness treatments taking inspiration from east to west.
While the Maldives was one of the first to re-open borders in light of the global pandemic, the country is also leading the way in offering visitors a safe travel experience. With each luxury resort set on its own private island, the Maldives provides guests with not only a sense of unrestrained luxury but a holiday opportunity that revolves around privacy and self-imposed isolation. There is currently no quarantine and in-resort PCR testing is offered across the islands,
The beauty of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is the family-centric focus, in addition to the convenience and accessibility. With so many resorts vying for holidaymakers’ attention, the ease of transit is a make or break decision when it comes to choosing a resort. Combine this with the beautifully appointed accommodations, a wealth of activities and eclectic dining options and it’s a no brainer.