Can you have an Island Getaway with your kids?


Can you have an Island Getaway with your kids?

Yes, and you can do it very cheaply if they fit into your suitcase and are good at being quiet.

I jest! I jest. Luggage restrictions are so tight these days that it would actually cost more to pop your kid into your Samsonite than pay for his or her seat. (Also, where will all of your vacation Crocs go?)

It’s a valid question.

Last year we went to the Maldives – a destination typically thought of as being a Honeymoon destination, a lover’s paradise, a rekindle-the-flame getaway, and the perfect place to renew your vows or propose.

In short: couples, not multiples.

But while the bulk of resorts in the Maldives are perfectly and expertly crafted to exclusively accommodate couples, featuring the kind of luxurious over-water bures that would give any parent a heart attack, extremely sophisticated fine dining, and not a single Pixar offering on the in-house movie menu, what you may not know is that many resorts and islands in the Maldives, (an increasing number, in fact) understand that some families like each other enough to want to holiday together, and it can be terrifically bonding and the genesis of life-long memories.

And it’s no longer just the super swanky 5-star resorts, either: from nannies, to kids clubs, kids-only pools, and healthy, fresh menus for children, if you do your research, you’ll discover you can take the family to the Maldives, and if you’re clever, still thieve a respectable amount of couple time, too. (Bandos and Kurumba are among the better-priced resorts with kids clubs.)

Don’t be afraid

We went with our toddler son, and you bet your bananas I thrashed Google with, ‘can you take a baby/toddler to the Maldives’ searches beforehand. I wasn’t convinced that blending island life with my carefully planned routine and nap schedule and the fact that he couldn’t walk or swim yet would make for the most relaxing holiday. Also, the food! I would need to pack a week of food for him, just in case food was tricky over there. Also: would we need a pram? Would they have cots and high chairs and would we be annoying all the gorgeous honeymooners by having a squealy little 13-month old splashing in the pool?

But I needn’t have worried. We were far from the first people to shimmy to the Maldives with a wee one, and by ensuring we chose a resort with a kids club, babysitting service, plenty of cots and high chairs, and an assurance that baby food could be prepared by the chef upon request, (we stayed at the outstanding One&Only Reethi Rah, see my review here) I felt a lot calmer boarding that flight. (And pretty bloody relaxed when I re-boarded a week later.)

For one, I did not know that toddlers and babies are hailed as royalty in the Maldives. We could not walk into breakfast without a rush of adoring staff singing our boy songs and bringing him little flowers to smell and play with and making funny faces, lunch and afternoon tea were no different. It was so genuine and delightful.

Kids Club

It goes without saying (but certainly not writing or reading, apparently) that a resort with a kids club is a must if you are heading to an island resort. Kids love it, parents love it; everyone wins because everyone gets the holiday they want: a plethora of activities (including cooking and snorkeling) and fun for the kids, plenty of books and rosé and diving for the oldies. (Not all at once, ideally.)

Because our son was under four, he had to have a babysitter or one of us in the kids club with him, (this age is two at some resorts) but we loved taking him in there to splash around in the kids pool, (shaded beautifully and very shallow and safe) or play with all of the rad toys (it was like a day care centre in terms of toys and things to do, spanning from babies to teens), or squiz at the fish in the aquarium. The staff were warm and engaging and stimulating. He became quite attached to them. (I tried not to be offended when he didn’t want to kiss me or get back on my bike and head home for his nap.) And the babysitting was CHEAP. Well, in comparison to everything else in the Maldives, which is widely known to sit somewhere between expensive and ludicrous.

But oh, the babysitting was worth the money. Always is. Why fly halfway around the world to skimp on spending alone time with your partner when you’re both happy and relaxed and literally in paradise? I can’t advocate it enough. It meant we could dress up in our tropical finery and enjoy one of the 389 restaurants on the island every couple of nights, and just be gently sunburned lovers just enjoying a cocktail without a care or a dirty nappy in the world, instead of creeping around in our villa when our son went down at 7pm. Plus, if we wanted a massage, or to just do something parents never get to do: nap/swim/read for a few hours in the afternoon, we could.

Splurge on space

Obviously when you are on holiday, space is at a premium, your children don’t have their own room to babble and wail and snort in as you rest soundly at the other end of the hallway. And while an extra room would be wonderful, well, that can blow your costs out enormously. We’ve travelled all over the world with our boy, since he was three months old, and our system is to pop the cot in the bathroom, or even any enormous walk-in wardrobes, (I’m talking room-size) available just so that we have some, any division of room. Then we make it as dark as possible with black sheets over windows and so on. (See my baby-packing post here.) Yes, the evenings can be tricky when young kids go to sleep and need a dark, quiet room, but we rely on a white noise app on our iPad near his cot, having a balcony, and some cracking TV shows on our laptop we could watch in bed quietly as we ate room service ice cream.

I really believe in family holidays. Whether it’s camping or road tripping or an island stay, holidays act as the crucial paragraph breaks in life. They allow bonding and force relaxation, and they’re the chapters of your life you will really remember, as opposed to all the day-to-day stuff that whooshes by. (Also: THE PHOTOGRAPHS. Dear God the photographs.)

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Zoe Foster Blake

About the Author Zoe Foster Blake

Zoe Foster Blake is the kind of traveller who pays attention to the toiletries in hotels, but don't judge her on that. Judge her on the ridiculous size of her suitcase, instead. Zoe is the founder of all-natural skin care line, Go-To, a long-time beauty editor, the author of six books, and a columnist for Sunday Style and Cosmopolitan magazines. She has been to the Greek Islands far too many times, lives between Melbourne, Sydney and Queenstown, and has a PDF she emails to friends heading to NYC on all the places they "must eat." She gets sad if there are no overseas adventures on her horizon, and not even her delicious new baby boy has stopped her and her husband from seeing the world/finding the best massage/eating too much gelato.