A relatively new addition to the Maldives is the Ritz Carlton Fari Islands which opened in June 2021. Its so far become one of our favourite resorts in the Maldives to go with our kids.
After a long flight and feeling the weight of it, especially after travelling with two small children, it was a relief to see the Ritz Carlton team waiting for us at the arrivals hall. We were warmly greeted by Lana, who led us to their luxurious air-conditioned speed boat. The process was pretty instant - in under 15 minutes we were on our way to the Fari Islands and it felt like we could finally relax.
The speedboat was a serene 45-minute journey with an interior that felt similar to a lounge where one could relax with some refreshments whilst soaking up the view. As we arrived, we were instantly greeted by the Ritz Carlton team (including the Kids Club team) and offered light refreshments, hand towels and kids backpacks full of useful goodies before being whisked away with our Aris Meeha personal butler, Dima. The entire experience up until then was seamless and superbly coordinated. No time was spent waiting around which is what you’d want after a long-haul flight. The start of this Ritz Carlton service really set the tone for the rest of our stay.
Guests at the Ritz Carlton can expect to have their own dedicated Aris Meeha - a personal butler always behind the scenes to make the stay entirely easy and carefree. Always anticipating your needs, they work hard to coordinate your stay so that you can be left to enjoy the time that you deserve. Our Aris Meeha, Dima gave us a tour of the island before making our way to our room which was conveniently located near the Kids Club. Although check-in is normally at 3pm we were made an exception as the team knew we had kids and just arrived from a long-haul flight. They also didn’t want us to wait a few hours before settling into the villa, knowing that we were exhausted. So it was around 11 that morning that we managed to settle comfortably into our Beach Pool Villa, and upon entering we were caught by its simplistic luxury that it emanated. Perhaps knowing that this was the last project of architectural master Kerry Hill, made the feeling more profound. The most unique feature of the villa, we found, was the layout and the interior aesthetic. You have the king sized bed directly facing the gorgeous infinity pool and oceanfront and then a large bathtub stylishly positioned on the left side of the bed which made it very distinct. To the right hand side a single bed was set up for our five year old which means that the room can accommodate either three adults or two adults and two children (under the age of twelve). Behind the bedroom which is separated by a wall (and two sliding doors on opposite ends of the bed) is the large bathroom/vanity area. There are double sinks, a separate toilet and rain shower which leads out to another outdoor rain shower for when you need a rinse before or after a dip in the ocean or the pool. The wardrobe area was another smart feature allowing three large suitcases to be placed on it for ease. A men’s and women’s beautifully crafted sun hat were provided in the wardrobe for guests to use and take home. The layout is connective with a flow that lets one area effortlessly lead to another. Another highlight was the floor to ceiling windows that opened all the way to the ends of the room which meant that you’re completely with the beach if you want to be. It was a great way for our kids to play while we were able to lie in bed keeping a watchful eye on them.
We would without a doubt say this is the ideal villa if travelling with smaller children as it's certainly comfortable enough to accommodate them. It is also the ideal space that as a parent, you won’t feel the need to worry if your child ends up roaming around to other parts of the room. With a cot and high-chair provided, guests can easily prop their children in them and let them enjoy the panoramic views and ocean-filled air whilst parents can lie in bed keeping a watchful eye. The fact that the villa felt so privatised made the stay that more tranquil because there was no one to judge you when and if your kids start throwing a fit. If you felt like it, you could easily stay in your villa for an entire day without needing to step out simply because the luxury abode has pretty much anything you’d need. If you’re peckish, there are complimentary snacks in the Honour Bar (mini bar) as well as complimentary glass bottled waters refilled on site. Finished snacks get refilled daily which is such a treat. There’s also generously sized toiletries courtesy of Bamford and full-sized baby Bamford toiletries. Parents, no need to bring your baby shampoo and soap (unless of course they've got sensitive skin).
The Kids Club
By the second day we got to explore the resort to full capacity and we’re so certain families will love coming here. The Kids Club was a standout success for us, it really occupied our kids for the full three nights and it would occupy them had we stayed longer. It is a little heaven for children (and adults) with so many things to do and so many corners to explore in this hobbit-like enclave. Our 1-year old couldn’t get enough of the fully stocked wooden kitchen area and our 5-year old wouldn't notice the time of day at the smartly designed kids pool. Normally afraid of the water, our 5-year old was fascinated with the kids pool - an inviting space with a mini fountain and water slide, what could be more fun? Needless to say the kids pool is an excellent feature and one that we really appreciated. Activities run daily with something to do every few hours. We signed our son up for activities like junior tennis, sandcastle making, hide-and-seek, fish-watching (where they take kids around the island on one of their buggies) and a mixologist class with their Head Mixologist (non-alcoholic of course). Even though there weren’t many kids around they still resumed the activities for a good length of time. The Kids Club wouldn't be what it is without its dedicated team so full of enthusiasm and care you feel you can really rely on them during your stay. Parents tend to leave their children (if they’re confident enough to) at the club so that they can go about enjoying their own downtime. It’s ultimately a win-win situation. We highly recommend the Kids Club at the Ritz Carlton Fari Islands for its caretakers and its children-led activities in a really beautiful and well-thought out space with high-quality wooden toys for children of any age. The level of standard and quality is incomparable and we would come back just for the Kids Club. We witnessed the sheer dedication ourselves when a 20-month old became so attached to one of the caretakers after only two days. This says a lot about the connection the children have with the team who are so enthusiastic about each child that enters this magical world in the Maldives.
The Culinary Experience
The rest of the days had us exploring the culinary options which were sumptuous and culturally varied. Summer Pavilion serves modern Chinese cuisine and was the first restaurant we had dinner at. Offering dishes such as a selection of dim sums, roasted duck, black pepper beef and king crab fried rice (which we highly recommend by the way), guests won’t be disappointed. We were served their set menu to be treated like tapas, to share each dish as it came. The portion was definitely generous for two people and it’s a great menu to go for if you want to have a taste of different things. Ours started with an assorted dim sum platter (Shanghai soup dumplings, scallop and prawn shumai for example), stir fried rib-eye black pepper beef, steamed Chilean sea bass and our favourite, the king crab fried rice. The food came quickly and we were pleased to know that they could also prepare mashed potato for our one year old who wasn't completely on solids yet. These are some of the things you can request which the hotel will be more than happy to do.
There’s also Locando, serving a buffet breakfast daily from 7am-11am and offers exceptional pastries, cold cuts, yoghurts, and a variety of fresh fruits and salads. One can order a variety of hot breakfast dishes from their menu which we did. The eggs can be made any way you like and judging by the open kitchen, scrambled eggs seemed to be a popular choice. The selection of smoothies and fruit juices was another bonus particularly on days where you would rather save your appetite for the afternoons or evenings - a green juice is the way to go. For lunch there’s the Eau Bar serving a casual beach dining option that starts service at noon. The menu is Japanese-inspired fusion serving a mix of seafood, sushi and meats. The seared beef nigiri is a winner and something guests should order. The Eau bar is also the location for the Defining Moment’ ritual, where from Friday to Wednesday at 7pm, an intimate ceremony of lighting the ring of fire, happens. The ring resembles the concept of Fari Islands which encompasses connectivity, uniformity and the flow of nature. It is this concept that brings together the entire Ritz Carlton experience in the Maldives and you’ll feel it instantly when you’re here. Aside from that, The Eau Bar is also where the main pool is located so it's fitting that this is also the place to wind down with a drink in hand, catch up on some light reading or bask in the stunning sunset views. It’s very much an adult-like atmosphere but children are obviously welcomed.
Our final night at the resort was one for the books as we spotted dolphins up close for an entire hour. We took up the Dolphin Cruise experience aboard the resort’s Dhoni (a traditional boat built with coconut palm timber) and it was just magical. The team onboard work tirelessly to spot these beautiful creatures and one has to appreciate their efforts especially when the dolphins have been located and they’re manoeuvring the Dhoni ever so carefully so as not to interrupt them. Being able to see the dolphins dance and swim so close to the Dhoni was an amazing experience to have and it certainly gave the children something they could cherish for many years to come. There are plenty of ocean adventures to do at the Ritz Carlton Fari Islands such as turtle and shark snorkelling and even traditional hand-line fishing which is an activity its General Manager is most fond of.
The Sustainability aspect
Embracing connectivity and exceptional hospitality are central themes at the resort. It starts with the guest and ends with the guest, ultimately. Perhaps it’s the last thing on a guests mind but as the resort puts environmental impact at the forefront of its development we thought it worth mentioning. For example, It is one of the only resorts in the Maldives that operates drones just to observe the coral climate with a goal of creating a coral reef planting project which they say, aims to cover 20,000 square metres. Before development of the sand bank, marine experts were brought on board to extensively study the oceanographic conditions in order to minimise impact to the coral reef and therefore working very carefully to avoid spawning time. What we admired was the fact that most of the construction of the resort was built off-site. Even timber, which is the primary material used at the resort, was imported from sustainable forests in Europe. The vegetation that you see were mostly adopted trees that otherwise would have been chopped or burnt down for land clearance. The more visible signs of sustainability is their no-plastic policy, so you’ll notice refillable bottled waters throughout your stay as well as refillable toiletries (i.e. Bamford refilling centre) on site.
Three nights did not suffice as we’re sure there was more for us to explore. With plenty of dining options, kids and adult activities, we would probably say a week would be the most ideal to really get the most of your stay. It is also having that day or two to relax and do nothing. Overall, The Ritz Carlton Fari Islands exceeded our expectations. It has been such a bliss to experience and is becoming one of our most favourite places to holiday. We loved the team especially - everyone felt genuine to us and every smile and greeting did not go unnoticed. We felt our kids were in tremendously good care and that our needs were anticipated and attended to without delay. If we were to recommend the resort to anyone we would say come for the exceptional service, the beautiful Kerry Hill designed villas, the kids club and the integrated dining and retail options that you have at the Ritz, Patina and the Marina.
As a guest, you feel absolutely welcomed and special. If there was a benchmark for customer service, it’s here at the Ritz. No matter where you go, you’ll always be greeted by all the staff around the island. Staff that will stop in their tracks just to offer a hello, a reminder that you’re special and that you deserve to be here.
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