We spent a couple of years deciding where in the world would be the ultimate magical place to celebrate my 40th birthday and finally settled on the Maldives.  We could not narrow down the best resort to stay at so we decided to stay at all four of the most luxurious family-friendly resorts. We travelled with our four children, two girls who are 16 and 13 and two boys who are 9 and 3.

We flew from Sydney to the Maldives via Singapore in business class on Singapore Air, which is a great airline to travel with children. They provided little fleecy socks for the children as well as activity packs and a children’s TV channel and there was plenty of French champagne provided for Mum and Dad!

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Upon arrival at Male International Airport (which is a small older-style airport) we were greeted by staff from our first resort Gili Lankanfushi. This resort is frequently awarded best resort in the world by various publications and over the days ahead we would learn why, there’s something really special about that resort.  Gili is a short 30 minute speed-boat ride from the airport and when we boarded the boat we were each given a cloth bag with “no news no shoes” printed on it and we put our shoes in the bag and didn’t wear any shoes for the entire duration of our time at Gili! Even the staff did not wear shoes! It really puts you into serious relaxation mode from the start.

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We stayed in an overwater villa Residence attached to a jetty with the most incredible outlook of water all shades of blue. We used gorgeous bamboo bicycles to get around the island, they had bikes ready in appropriate sizes for all our children (they have ones with training wheels for the little kids) and our toddler would sit in a padded basket on the back of a tricycle ridden by his Dad. Our little man loved travelling around this way!

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The villa was enormous, bigger than most houses I’ve seen and was made from all wood and glass. We had an amazing deck with sunbeds and stairs down into the warm aqua water.  The villa had an upstairs deck as well with the most incredible views and a daybed that the staff would make up into a proper bed if you wanted to sleep under the stars.  We had a bedroom for us parents that had a smaller bed where we put our littlest boy.  All rooms had a lock with a key so if you were worried about an overwater villa with little children you can lock each door and keep the key with you and know that the children could not get into the water at night.

This resort does not have a kids club but there’s a lot for kids to do. Our little boys spent the days hunting for hermit crabs (which are everywhere and very cute), playing with the toys on the beach (supplied by Gili), swimming in the beautiful pool and watching kids movies under starlight at the impressive outdoor cinema (complete with daybeds, chocolate fountain and caramel popcorn!).

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The food at Gili was probably the best we had in the Maldives, it is a real foodie heaven.  There is something really special about Gili Lankanfushi that captures your heart, the service is incredible and our Mr Friday even said to us, “Anything you want we can arrange”.  It’s just that sort of place – the reason they are named the best resort in the world.

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With tears in our eyes we left Gili Lankanfushi on a seaplane. It was a 30 minute journey to the Baa Atoll where our next resort was situated. The Four Seasons Landaa Giravaaru is a beautiful modern resort with an incredible powder-white sandbank close by so the waters glow a bright blue all day long as they are very shallow.  This resort is perfect for families and children are so well catered for. Upon arrival at reception the Manager presented our boys with a backpack full of little toys and a “Mission impossible” book for our older child to go around the resort completing missions. If complete then the child receives a prize of a motorized activity! Our boy completed the missions (which are not easy and it took some time with the help of Dad!) but it was worth it as in the end he received 30 minutes on the underwater sea-bob.

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The children’s meals were very fresh, healthy, served with vegetables and were a good portion size. Every time we ordered a drink for the kids it would arrive in a plastic cup with a lid and straw so it’s very easy for little fingers to handle and there’s no worries for parents the children might spill or break something.  Our favourite restaurant was Blu which we ate lunch at every day. Blu is a glamorous open air restaurant right near the amazing beach and had a swimming pool attached. We would order the kids lunch while they had a swim in the pool and we could easily call them when the food arrived.  Blu beach was where you would find us every day as it is a divine powdery white sand beach with calm clear shallow aqua water that is perfect for children.  As soon as you arrive at the sunloungers on the beach you are brought iced water and cold towels.  Throughout the day we were also brought a small complimentary treat – one day it was fruit on skewers, another day it was a shot of sorbet and one time it was caramelised coconut (which was absolutely divine too!).  There were a variety of sunscreens available complimentary including SPF50+ for babies at a central stand so you could reapply freely. Travelling with four children, for us this was a great touch as it saved us from bringing loads of sunscreen from home.

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We had two overwater villas at the Four Seasons, a sunrise and a sunset one opposite each other.  These villas were beautiful, very modern with clean lines and very, very comfortable beds! The bathrooms had a luxurious overflow bath looking out to the ocean and a glass floor so you could see the fishes below. There are children’s bathrobes and slippers and fun marine designs on the children’s bedding. Each day our boys were surprised with a new small plush toy on their bed and my little boy still sleeps with his favourites now we are home, the Manta Ray and the Shark.  The boys were also given fantastic yummy treats in the room on arrival and again throughout our stay.

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Each morning our boys spent time at the kids club. It was well designed with a children’s pool with waterfall, adorable mini sunloungers, a pirate ship climbing toy and slide and some swings.  Our boys made tie-dye T-Shirts which they still love and there were also outdoor activities such as snorkeling included in the complimentary kids club.  There is a turtle sanctuary at the Four Seasons where guests can go and visit the large turtles who have been rescued and are being rehabilitated. In fact on a sandbank tour one day we found a turtle tangled in nets and it was brought to the Marine Centre for a health check and to be tagged and released. The turtle was named after our family and we were able to go to a nearby island to release it with staff so that was a real highlight of our trip. Another thing my children enjoyed was the daily 10pm shark and stingray feeding. A lot of sharks and rays come in for a feed and it’s very cool to get so close to them as they feast.  The staff at the Four Seasons were so warm and lovely and referred to us by name at all times and it’s so family friendly that we will definitely be going back.

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Our next resort was Soneva Fushi, a 30 minute speedboat ride away from The Four Seasons.  We only had 2 days at Soneva but we would have loved to stay longer.  Soneva has the best kids club we have seen anywhere in the world. The kids club has recently been overhauled and reopened and it has to be seen to be believed. It has a great pool with long waterslide, toddler wading area and a swim up bar for the children!  The kids club has a room for lego (which is amazing actually!) and a music room complete with drum kit and DJ turntables.  There is a musical in-floor piano that you step on the keys and it makes music and also fibre-optic lights in the ceiling light up in time, very cool! There is a cosy sleeping room and also a library and a cinema room with comfy loungers throughout. The kids club also included banana boat riding, which was great because other resorts charge for this fun activity.  The resort has an outdoor cinema and the children watched a movie one night with a kid-friendly dinner buffet right next to it. This allowed the parents to have a separate dinner without the children, which is nice every now and then.

We had a 3 bedroom villa with a pool at this resort and it was absolutely enormous.  It had its own kitchen and study, both which we didn’t need to use but it gives you an idea of the scale of the villa!  We had our smallest boy on a bed in our enormous bedroom and our other son had his own room (with en-suite shower which he felt very grown up having!) and our girls shared a large bedroom.  One of the bathrooms in our villa was outdoors and the most amazing and unique bathroom we have ever seen. It was huge and the walls had water streaming down them as a calm beautiful water feature and the water collected in a shallow pool which had a sunken bath in it and stepping stones across it to reach the shower surrounded by pebbles and foliage. It was really something else!

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The resort has a glass blowing factory and we were treated to champagne and nibbles whilst we watch the men in action blowing glass and explaining the process as they did so, it was really fascinating.  The lunches here are buffet and incredible – so much choice and all healthy fresh food. The most attractive thing about this resort for my children, however, was the gelato room, which served complimentary gelato all day long!  There were about 30 flavours and as long as the kids ate their breakfast they could go straight to the gelato room!  There is also a chocolate room serving chocolate delicacies complimentary all day. It’s a good thing we only had two days here in the end with all that gelato!

We left Soneva Fushi via a seaplane to go to our final resort in our Maldives Odyssey One&Only Reethi Rah.  We again had 2 water villas which were very large and luxuriously fitted out.  Interestingly at various time of the day we had a life-guard stationed outside the water villas, that would be a reassuring feature for parents who were worried about tsmall children in the water villas.  The boys went to the kids club here of a morning which again had it’s own wading pool with small slide. Unfortunately we had a few windy days that meant we couldn’t try out all of the activities on offer, which were very extensive.  We did take a paddle-boat out which was fun and the children jumped off it for a swim in the warm aqua water. The Beach Club had a great atmosphere with beautiful four posted daybeds draped in sheer white fabric, a house DJ played great music all day and the drinks were served cold! In the water in front of the beach club there were giant floating inflatables such as a climbing frame, trampoline and water slide.  Needless to say the children all had great fun on those!  There was also a new rock-climbing wall that the children enjoyed (and the husband!) even our little guy managed to climb quite high!

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We hired a jet-ski and my husband took each of the little boys on it out for a ride, my 9 year old says that was the highlight of his stay here.  We were incredibly lucky to see huge graceful Manta Rays swim by our villa two mornings on our way to breakfast.

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It was with a very heavy heart that we started the long journey home from the Maldives after the most amazing three weeks of our lives.  It is a place we will definitely return to, as it’s the ultimate in family-friendly luxury.  We recommend you add the Maldives to your bucket-list if it’s not on there already.

Emma Lambert

Emma Lambert

Sydney mother of four and frequent jet setter Emma Lambert knows a thing or two about family travel. With two girls aged 16 and 14 and two boys 9 and 4, she enjoys travelling to beautiful places that also provide their children with culture and an education. Emma’s Instagram @luxefamilytravel is a beautiful mix of lust-worthy destinations and all things family travel. Through their travels they show how there’s no need to sacrifice luxury when travelling with your family.

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