Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
The Maldives is the exotic paradise I’ve always imagined with palm trees, white sand beaches, and water the color of a Tiffany box.
What is often perceived as an ideal honeymoon destination or couple escape proved to be one of our most memorable family holidays to date. I mean, why wouldn’t you take your kids to paradise?
Four Seasons greeting
Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa
They had me at hello. We were greeted at Kuda Huraa, the first resort we visited, by a warm and friendly staff offering us cool, tropical drinks. As soon as we checked in, a kids’ club staff member came over and welcomed the girls to the resort and presented them each with a beach bag with games, a t-shirt and the thing that would ingratiate my children to them for life – a stuffed animal.
We were taken to our room on one of the golf carts that zip around the island and which would prove to be a source of much amusement during our stay at both Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru.
When we opened the door to our room, my 9-year-old daughter inquired, “How many stars does this place have? 5? Or maybe 6?!”
How many indeed … the disappointment I felt when I learned that we couldn’t stay in the water villas (the houses on stilts in the water) with children quickly dissipated when I saw our luxurious accommodations.
Personalized treats for kids are always a hit
While my older daughter was busy soaking up the fabulous surroundings, my 7-year-old was much more impressed with the sweet welcome treat waiting for them, all personalized and smiling. Fortunately, there was still time for them to go to the kids’ club to bounce off some of that sugary goodness.
The spacious beach bungalow at Kuda Huraa came with its own garden and plunge pool that looked out onto a semi-private beach. Inside there was more than enough room for the four of us, even with the additional beds added for the girls.
There was also a spacious walk-in closet, and the thing I look forward to most in a hotel, a magnificent bathroom. It was one of those open plan deals, with nooks and corners instead of doors; in addition to a large shower with a rainfall showerhead, there was a shower outside! It was completely closed in and private (remember, this is a family-friendly resort), so no worries for those of us who are a little modest or might be concerned about our little one seeing a bit more of paradise than we intended.
The Kuda Mas (“little fish” in Dhivehi) Kids Club was a big hit with my daughters. They spent their days at the club looking for stingrays and sharks, going on lizard walks and discovered that several fish from “Finding Nemo”, including “Gill” (Moorish Idol), “Dory” (Powder-blue Surgeonfish) and of course, “Nemo” (Maldivian Clownfish) could be found in the waters around the resort.
Hermit crab hunting
Daily fish feedings on the pier would attract not only fish, but also baby sharks hoping to catch some of the chunks of meat the kids would toss into the water. But lizards, baby sharks, stingrays, even Nemo himself could not compete with the hermit crabs the kids in the club would hunt for then pit against each other in the daily hermit crab races.
The lukewarm waters surrounding the Maldives are teeming with marine life, and consistently have great visibility; this is one of the reasons the Maldives one of the world’s top diving destinations. My husband took advantage of this and did his open water dive while in The Maldives, completing his diving certification.
Although the girls and I didn’t dive, we snorkeled with schools of fish and were able to get close up views of the colorful coral and a variety of fish.
Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru
We left Kuda Huraa, taking a seaplane the short distance to the other Four Seasons Resort, Landaa Giraavaru. The soundtrack for the short ride was a series of gasps and sighs as we enjoyed a birds-eye view of the islands. A cheerful staff again greeted us, offering delicious tropical drinks, this time served in a coconut. Our accommodations were just as amazing – another beach bungalow with a patio and private beach – keeping us in the lavish style we’d become accustomed to at Kuda Huraa.
The girls quickly made their way to the kids club, making new friends who they hoped enjoyed hermit crab hunting and racing. But our time at Landaa Giraavaru was also spent at The Marine Discovery Center (MDC) whose goal is to educate visitors about the local marine ecosystem and the efforts to conserve it through interactive exhibitions, lectures and environmental projects.
One of the projects is the preservation of the green turtles. These threatened creatures return to the beaches of Landaa Giraavaru every 2-3 years to nest. It was at the Marine Discovery Center that we met Sasha, the baby turtle who’d been recently rescued by a member of the hotel staff and April, the giant turtle had lost a fin and was at MDC for rehabilitation.
Rubin family coral frame for Reefscapers
Another project is the reef propagation effort, Reefscapers. Reefscapers is one of the most successful coral propagation projects in the world and we had the opportunity to participate in the project by building a coral frame during our stay at Landaa. This was a great opportunity to “walk the talk” and a fun and educational way to practice what we preach about the importance of taking care of the environment.
Building the frame involved attaching pieces of coral fragments onto a specially designed frame, with the hopes of boosting existing reef habitats and encouraging the growth of new ones.
After we finished building the coral frame, it was time to plant it. We carried it over to the jetty and gently tossed it into the shallow water where it stayed for a couple of days until biologists took it to deeper water.
A few weeks after our return from the Maldives, we got word that April the giant turtle had been released back into the ocean. Remembering what she’d learned about turtles returning to Landaa Giraavaru every so often to nest, my 9 year-old suggested that we should return in a couple of years with the hopes of being reunited with our friend April. I am so there.
Editorial Note: We were invited by Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru to participate in the Reefscapers project. Photo Credit: Four Seasons for hotel photos. Monique Rubin for family and Reefscaper photos