Having never been to the Maldives, I was extremely excited for our first family trip and it didn’t disappoint.
We returned home feeling completely rejuvenated and relaxed. From the mesmerizing colour of the water to the mouth-watering local cuisine, everything oozed luxury. For the first part of our trip, we stayed at The Residence, an exclusive and secluded retreat of unparalleled beauty in Falhumaafushi, a pristine island located in Huvadhoo Atoll one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world.
After a 10-hour flight with our little boy, we were greeted by a representative from the Residence who took our luggage away for us and escorted us to the air-conditioned lounge. The hotel is located 242 miles south of Male International Airport, so after a cold drink, we boarded the scenic 55-minute flight to Kooddoo airport. This was then followed by a short mini-bus ride and speedboat direct to the resort.
We had booked a beach villa with pool – we preferred this option to the water villas because of our little boy's safety, plus it meant that he could enjoy the beach, exploring the sand for shells and crabs while we relaxed on by our private pool. The rooms are extremely clean, with simple white tiles floors and Bali-styled teak furniture. The room had a spacious bathroom with a large bathtub, an indoor and outdoor shower and a living room and bedroom which both opened out onto the large terrace. Each room is assigned a hotel representative who is on hand for any of your needs, from booking restaurants or the spa to arranging a delivery of new beach towels.
My little boy was bursting to get in our private pool, so after unpacking we spent the rest of the afternoon on the terrace, enjoying the warm weather and adjusting our body clocks. There are three ways to get around the island, walk, call for a buggy or cycle - which was our preferred option. We had been given a bike with a child seat on the back, which our little boy just loved.
The first evening we enjoyed dinner at the Dining Room, where we opted for the buffet. Each evening there was a different theme from a variety of world, Asian and Indian ocean cuisine. I very much enjoyed ordering from the ‘live’ stations, where fresh fish and meat was cooked in front of my eyes, and fused with beautiful Asian flavours. Other evenings we enjoyed dining at The Falhumaa restaurant, where before you eat they teach you a spiritual hand cleansing ritual and tell you all about the Falhumaa Legend, before ordering. This restaurant is located out in the sea, a few minutes walk down a low-lit jetty - it makes for a very romantic walk under the stars. The hotel also has special evenings at the beach-bar, including BBQ and Lobster Pot.
The Residence has carved a real reputation for exceptional service, with an excess of glowing reviews on TripAdvisor a testament to the staff’s warmth and passion and this definitely rung true. All the staff that you passed as you went about your day, had a smile and many put their hand over their heart which was a lovely gesture.
One of the main focal points of the hotel is the incredible swimming pool that blends seamlessly into its ocean backdrop and comes complete with a sunken beach bar, which is partially submerged in water. As well as enjoying the pool as a family in the day, this was a great spot for cocktails before dinner. There are plenty of large sunbeds around the pool and on the beach, including some which could fit a family of four!
As my little boy is under 3, he ate for free which was great and it was so lovely seeing him enjoy fresh local fish. The staff organised for him to have dinner each day on the beach around 5 o’clock before the restaurants even opened, which meant that we could watch the sunset before taking him back for a bath. I was worried that Maldives wasn’t going to be such a great place for kids, but there is so much for do for children including a kids club from the ages of 3 to 12 years which has a timetable of activities. Our little boy was actually the only child on the island when we were there, so they were happy to entertain him in the kids club while we enjoyed some time snorkelling and soaking up the sun. He loved being at the kids club, where he did arts and crafts, played with the toys, watched kids films and made a lot of mess! I felt comfortable leaving him and he constantly asked to go to ‘Alma’s’ house, which was the lady looking after him. He was made to feel very special on the island and even had handmade cookies delivered before bed.
The residence is also home to the first and only Spa by Clarins in the Maldives and offers an array of holistic treatments, pampering massages and hair services. The spa was a 5-minute walk from our room, located on the quiet side of the island out on its own pier. All the treatment rooms have sea-facing views and the therapists are experienced and professional. The resort also offers many activities for those who want to be a little more active than we were, including many water activities from paddle boarding and diving to island hopping to jet ski excursions.
I would definitely recommend this hotel to those with children who are looking to enjoy a 5-star experience, on a beautiful island. Travelling with children doesn’t mean you need to give up those luxury retreats or never have that dream holiday. The Residence is a stunning hotel, set on a beautiful Island, it will always hold very special memories for us.
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