When most of us think of the Maldives, our imaginations conjure images of romance. We picture honeymooners walking hand-in-hand along abandoned, turquoise-rimmed beaches and toasting their love with tropical cocktails at sunset.
While this stereotype is still alive and well in the destination, one five-star resort is challenging the status quo by providing luxury to another demographic: families.
At Vakkaru Maldives, having kids in tow doesn’t equate to a compromise in style, comfort or space. In fact, the island has been created with imaginative intention as a wonderland of adventure and activity for travellers big and small.
Located in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Baa Atoll, Vakkaru combines adult indulgence (think overwater spa, wine cellar and gourmet dining) with childhood splendour and unrivalled natural beauty.
Rooms that promote togetherness
The child-friendly and chic resort is home to 113 villas and suites that are inspired by the rich traditions of the locale. Design elements fuse local Maldivian architecture with the finest natural elements in a contemporary style; and the result is warm, welcoming spaces that encourage guests to connect with each other and the environment around them.
Families can choose to be surrounded by lush coconut palms on the sandy shores of the island or suspended over the dazzling lagoon. Regardless of their decision, parents concerned about the potentially treacherous combination of small children and ample bodies of water can breathe easily, as all rooms have been thoughtfully planned to prevent accidents.
With their impressive size – including spacious decks and lavish private pools – exquisite amenities and intelligent guest room connectivity, the rooms at Vakkaru promise families exclusivity, comfort and luxury.
A kids club that transcends the basics
For the youngest Vakkaru guests, the Parrotfish Club provides extensive kids’ club facilities, including tailored itineraries and certified team members to look after and entertain children aged between three and 12 years.
The concept here is to create a miniature replication of mum and dad’s resort experience for youngsters. Children’s dining options and cooking classes are just some of the activities available; while the outdoor exploration space features a kid’s pool surrounded by tiny sun loungers (similar to those adults can be seen reclining on by the main pool).
Indoor arts, craft, play and activity areas have been designed to capture the imagination of little ones and keep them entertained while their parents enjoy some much-needed down time.
A veritable teenage haven
Where the resort really shines – and differentiates itself from competing resorts in the Maldives – is its focus on the teenage family market. There’s no risk of ‘island fever’ at Vakkaru, thanks to its teenage haven, the Coconut Club.
An expansive space in the middle of the island that’s open 24/7, the Coconut Club is obligingly equipped with everything older kids could possible want to ward off boredom including pool, table tennis and foosball tables; board games; gaming consoles (accessible with parental permission); a library and quiet reading area; and tea-and-coffee-making facilities. Plus, as all bookings at Vakkaru come complete with a personal butler, kids are free to order snacks and drinks to the Coconut Club if they don’t feel like leaving their new-found sanctuary.
Promising both teenage guests and their parents an unrivalled sense of freedom – a rare and wonderful thing in today’s worry-laden world – the Coconut Club also offers a roster of scheduled activities for social teens including table tennis tournaments, pool competitions and games of beach volleyball.
A trip that will make a splash
The resort’s onsite water sports and activities centre, Splash, boasts the most comprehensive program in the Maldives for marine lovers. Every kind of aqua escapade imaginable, from thrilling jet ski tours to kite surfing lessons, is available for intrepid guests.
Home to a PADI-accredited scuba diving school, Splash famously offers a young divers introductory program for children as young as eight. There’s also the option to learn more about the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve’s underwater wonderland on a snorkelling tour, manta trip, or guided house reef snorkel to the unique ‘blue hole’ within Vakkaru’s lagoon.
Alternatively, guests can choose from a host of non-motorised water sports; or embark on a traditional Maldivian fishing tour, sunset dolphin cruise or guided expedition with the resort’s marine biologist.
Families that enjoy activities together, stay together
Whether they choose to mount their beach cruisers and explore the island via bicycle, or challenge each other to a round of tennis or badminton at the resort’s meticulously-kept sports fields, there are plenty of opportunities for families to engage in meaningful activities together.
In an effort to preserve the country’s phenomenal natural heritage and raise awareness about ocean preservation, Vakkaru hosts regular marine biology presentations and monthly reef clean-ups. The resort also invites team members and guests to participate in coral planting, using a specially-designed frame to attach fragmented corals and regenerate the health of surrounding marine ecosystems.
For travellers who want to learn more about the destination’s history, Thulhaadhoo Island is a short boat ride from Vakkaru. The local island is well known for being the only place Maldivians are still practising the country’s traditional way of lacquering artefacts, which was historically used to supply the country’s noble families.
Culinary pleasure for all ages
There are five dining outlets on the island – including a South East Asian restaurant, a poolside cabana, and a relaxed Italian piazza – so even the fussiest eaters won’t go hungry at Vakkaru. The produce is as fresh as the offering is expansive, and the variety ensures all members of the family are satiated.
Vakkaru’s Organic Farm is a beautiful, expansive garden where most of the produce for the resort’s restaurants and bars is grown, and it also serves as an experiential dining option. On a ‘Farm to Table Experience’, guests will be taken on a personal tour of the garden by the Chef and Head Gardener and will learn more about the array of organic vegetables, fruits and herbs that go into their meals. Afterwards, a sensory cooking class is available by personal arrangement.
Personalised destination dining experiences – such as sunset picnics on an abandoned stretch of beach or lunch aboard a dhoni while exploring surrounding islands – are also available upon request.