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June 15, 2024

The Perfect Family Itinerary at InterContinental Maldives Resort

InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort has an exceptional kids club called Planet Trekkers.

By Theodora Halstead

I am a cautious (read: anxious) parent. My daughter is a pandemic lockdown kid and, as a result, has only been on an airplane once in her life — as I’ve, for my sins, left her behind on every vacation I’ve taken since she was born. Now that she’s a bit older I’m trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and travel with her in tow. But… it’s still going to take a pretty special place, run by pretty special people, to persuade me to travel over 5,000 miles, on three airplanes, to a place with a five-hour time difference, with a four-year-old who has a 20-minute attention span. Enter: the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort.

The first thing any self-respecting parent will ask when choosing a vacation is: Does it have a kids club? The second is: Does it look fun enough to lure my child into being left there by themselves without having a tantrum? InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort has an exceptional kids club called Planet Trekkers.

The team there really understands children and what makes them tick — as soon as we stepped off the boat that ferried us from the seaplane to the resort, a representative from Planet Trekkers was there to greet us and, more importantly, to give my daughter a bag with a coloring activity book in it. And with that, she was sold on the whole concept.

[See also: The Most Exclusive Hotels in the Maldives]

InterContinental is the only resort on the island of Maamunagau / ©IHG

We visited during the Easter break — and the resort had organized all sorts of amazing, thoughtful and age-appropriate activities linked to the holiday. The beginning of our stay coincided with the end of an Easter residency with specialist pied piper kids’ entertainment team Sharky & George. I remember Sharky & George from our university days when they were starting out, but they’ve certainly come a long way since then, and they organize parties for anyone who is anyone — including, allegedly, the future King of England. But no matter what time of year you visit, here, children are a cherished part of the itinerary rather than an afterthought.

Day 1-2

Start your day with a 7am power yoga session or sun salutations with personal trainer Mett and wellness mentor Seema Rana. The fitness center and yoga studio are on the south side of the island, so grab your bike (no matter where you leave it, it magically makes its way back to your villa each night) and head over for a morning stretch and sweat.

Breakfast at Café Umi each morning, where continental classics meet Asian delights — if they’re serving the baklava croissants, grab one and relax while gazing out over the bright turquoise expanse of the Indian Ocean.

[See also: The Top Wellness Hotel Suites in the World]

Planet Trekkers kids club
Planet Trekkers, a cool oasis of air-conditioned heaven / ©IHG

Take your little one to Planet Trekkers. The Maldivian temperature averages about 80° Fahrenheit, which is perfect for lounging poolside, but for kids it can be exhausting. Planet Trekkers is a cool oasis of air-conditioned heaven, giving the kids a perfect respite from the heat. It has a large outdoor water play area with a paddling-height pool, waterslide, fountains and an outdoor ‘pirate ship,’ which the kids can go into at set times during more inclement parts of the day.

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Kids aged four and over may be left unattended, and smaller ones must be accompanied by a parent or nanny. Inside, there is an extensive fancy dress-up collection, puzzles, toys, books, games and films. At one point, when I tried to collect my daughter for afternoon tea, she shooed me away; she was enjoying a presentation about marine biology.

Every afternoon between 3pm and 5pm there is a traditional afternoon tea at The Collective. Shelter from the heat of the sun with a cool glass of fizz alongside scones, cakes, sweet treats and sandwiches.

Day 3

After breakfast, take a quick dip in your private pool overlooking the ocean, before heading back to the center of the island for a cooking lesson at The Collective with one of the knowledgeable chefs. The Collective is where you’ll usually find pizza and afternoon tea, but today it’s transformed into an aromatic haven of Asian culinary possibilities. We cooked a delicious Maldivian tuna curry with local chili peppers that packed a serious punch but was nicely complemented by coconut milk, ginger and pandan. It was served with delicious breads and rice and a much-needed cool glass of wine.

[See also: Elite Traveler Reveals Top 50 Family Hotel Suites]

restaurant family meals
The Collective serves pizza and afternoon tea, but is also where family cooking classes are held / ©IHG

Burn off your lunch with an afternoon of water sports. The on-site Marine Center has a variety of toys — paddleboards, canoes, jet skis and pedal boats are all available, and of course snorkeling equipment. Even though we’re no strangers to snorkeling, we took a guided snorkel tour of the house reef one afternoon; I highly recommend it, as it gave us some tips and tricks for when we took our daughter out. It ensured her first snorkeling experience went straight to the action, and we knew exactly where to go to see the best fish, what areas to avoid and the likely direction of the currents we’d face.

Dinner at Café Umi is a playful affair. You can sit in swings (which keeps the kids entertained), and while you wait for your food the little ones can also run around the beach, hunt for geckos, loll in the hammock and play table tennis — all within sight of your table. The food at Umi is exceptional, more so because it isn’t even seen as the island’s premier dining spot. Enjoy mouthwateringly fresh sushi, an abundance of tuna dishes (super local), tacos, tempura, curries and ramen, or go inside and dine from the teppanyaki grill.

Day 4

There are plenty of adults-only spots at Maamunagau, so honeymooners and adults traveling sans kids won’t be disappointed. The Retreat is adults-only, perched overlooking the lagoon, and is where — once we’d dropped our daughter off at the kids club — we set up for the day.

There is a serene library, private cabanas and a gin station where you can find all sorts of botanical delights and an extensive cocktail list. Long lunches are served here, so settle in and soak up the calm beach club vibes as you gaze out over the infinity pool. If it happens to rain while you’re on the island, you’ll immediately be sent a wet weather itinerary by your curator. And whether you opt for a sushi-making class, aerial yoga or a snuggly movie session, the weather won’t put a damper on any of your fun.

overwater villa
Overwater residences are perfect for larger families with older children / ©IHG
Beach villas are available for younger families / ©IHG

Following a quick cocktail at the adjacent traditional dhoni-shaped cocktail bar, dine at The Fish Market. Select your fish from the lobster tank or fish market and choose how it is prepared. Or, go à la carte and sample from an extensive menu of Maldivian delights including dumplings, tuna tartare, nasi goreng, pad thai and massaman curry.

The head sommelier on the island, Dinesh Periyasamy, has crafted an extensive wine list packed with old favorites and some up-and-coming delights that you may not have heard of. He’s also invested in some fantastic organic options if that floats your boat.

Day 5

Continue the aquatic theme with a dolphin cruise. After 20 minutes of a refreshingly speedy trip, the expert crew positioned us in the midst of a spinner dolphin pod, which then followed us, porpoising alongside the boat. We also saw bottlenose dolphins and spent the next two hours surrounded by these enchantingly playful animals.

Dine at The Lighthouse, the signature restaurant on the island. Start your meal by climbing to the top of the lighthouse to marvel at the stunning 360° views across the water. We sat on the terrace overlooking the ocean — which, from 7pm onwards, had a cooling breeze and gave us front-row seats to the stunning Maldivian sunset.

The Lighthouse is the resort’s signature restaurant / ©IHG

The Lighthouse hosts chef residences across the course of the year; during our stay it was home to Marianne Lumb of MasterChef: The Professionals and Great British Menu TV fame. Lumb put on a sumptuous five-course tasting menu full of fresh, light dishes that really showcased her passion for French fine dining, with influences from the Asian locale. Start with tomato consommé and bluefin tuna mille feuille before sampling wagyu tenderloin and a palate-cleansing watermelon dish, finishing with a cloudlike morsel of coconut soufflé.

Day 6

While the little ones are busy at Planet Trekkers — look out for the timetable of activities such as coconut painting, bear building, magic shows and jewelry crafting — head out onto the water again to snorkel with the elusive manta rays. I say elusive, but we saw four different rays at four different dive sites during our two-hour trip — each time clambering back into the boat once they swam off. But the ease of our sightings really is unique to this part of the world: Manta rays are listed as vulnerable, and it’s a pretty special experience to see them at all.

Maamunagau is home to juvenile manta breeding grounds and, each year in March, it hosts a Manta Retreat where guests can spend time with the in-house Manta Trust team and enjoy expert-led workshops and educational presentations, as well as guided snorkeling expeditions and scientific research trips.

Maamunagau is home to juvenile manta breeding grounds / ©IHG

After the exertion of snorkeling, visit the award-winning AVI Spa. With six treatment huts overlooking the sea, you can’t help but relax when you’re in such a calm space; listening to the water lapping on the beach. AVI hosts a wide range of treatments geared towards modern-day ailments — there are treatments to help you detox, to sleep well, to boost your metabolism and to de-stress.

The resort embodies quiet, comfortable luxury, and it’s not fussy or pretentious — which is perfect, because you’re not worrying about your kid dropping something or a tableful of noise over dinner. But at the same time, it’s thoughtful; the staff are exceptional, and it’s elevated enough that you don’t feel you’re compromising due to the fact you’re holidaying as a family.

One of the real focuses of Maamunagau is setting the scene for first-time experiences for parents and children to share: the first time your child goes snorkeling and sees a brightly colored parrot fish; the first time your child sees dolphins, sharks and manta rays; the first time your child is confident enough to march into a kids club by themselves.

spa room
The treatment hut at AVI Spa / ©IHG

Three-bedroom Royal Beachfront Residence from $9,100 per night. Contact, +960 658 0500,

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This article appears in the 03 Jun 2024 issue of the New Statesman, Summer 2024

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