The Muraka, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
A 30-minute seaplane ride from the Maldivian capital of Malé lies Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.
The jewel in its crown is undoubtedly The Muraka: the world’s first-ever underwater villa, where guests can sleep six metres below the Indian Ocean in a giant, glass-encased suite. Lying in bed while watching the reef’s kaleidoscopic sea life is like nothing else; kids can count angelfish as they brush their teeth or spot parrot fish from the Aesop-stocked rain shower.
Sleeping up to nine guests, this over- and underwater villa has its own infinity pool, 24-hour butler, and private chef. While celebrities may choose to spend their entire holiday there without seeing another soul, we loved exploring island life, too.
The resort itself is idyllic, its restaurants exceptional, and its two-island offering nothing short of genius; Rangalifinolhu has a more relaxed, family-friendly vibe, while Rangali is geared towards adults. There’s a mixture of overwater and beachfront villas – plus, you can move freely between the two islands, meaning even those with kids who want some child-free time can still bliss out in the adults-only infinity pool on stilts or check into the glass-bottomed Mandhoo spa.
Children are spoilt for choice, too; there’s the Manjaa Kids Club as well as “pirate tours”, treasure hunts, water sports and the chance to snorkel with turtles and whale sharks. Lunch in the resort’s underwater restaurant is also a must.
As for the service? Stefano, the resort’s general manager, has successfully cultivated a pitch-perfect approach that is culturally sensitive and nothing short of faultless. Everyone from the waiters and the groundsmen, to the sommeliers and the dive team, are second to none.
They think of everything and always seem to appear with a fresh mango lolly or an iced, jasmine-scented flannel just when you need one.
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To resort or not to resort? That is the question when it comes to family holidays. As someone whose personal preference pre-children was always for boutique holidays that took me off the beaten track, booking an all-inclusive resort was not a decision I took lightly.
Set over 55 acres that encompass both dense forest and beautiful beaches, this resort is huge: there are seven hotels (two of which, Le Dune and Pineta, give boutique hotels a run for their money), 14 bars, 21 restaurants, and, arguably most importantly, two gelato huts.
Each and every amenity is designed with families in mind, but in that chic-yet-stealth Italian way that doesn’t make you feel as though you have sold out entirely.
On site, there is an interactive vegetable garden, a fully-fledged water park, and a supervised nursery complete with a wendy house village for children to role play as firefighters, chefs or TV presenters. With the resort being as large as it is, you are encouraged to get around on bikes, which can be kitted out with a child’s seat on the back, making something as simple as going to breakfast a fun activity.
Older kids have plenty to occupy themselves with, too, thanks to a go-karting track, bowling alley, water sports centre, and state-of-the-art sports academy that boasts football, basketball, rugby, boxing, fencing, dance and tennis facilities. With bespoke programmes running for most of the year, it’s like camp, but one where teenagers can still have dinner with their parents at the end of the day (should they wish to, of course).
And, after all that, what’s left is a heavenly holiday for parents. There’s the luxury of respite, safe in the knowledge that your children are being well taken care of – and the impressively big Thalasso spa that has six different types of therapeutic thermal water pools and a comprehensive treatment menu.
The best touch though? The children’s restaurant that serves kid-friendly meals at kid-friendly times, meaning that small people can be fed and watered at their usual hours – leaving you free to adopt a more continental schedule. Ticking all the boxes, once you’ve experienced a holiday like this, it’s hard to turn back.
Resort holidays – they’re the way forward. There, I said it.
Positioned on Marbella’s famed Golden Mile, flanked by the Sierra Blanca mountains, the legendary old-world Marbella Club has been remade into one of Spain’s chicest, top-tier hotels, which totally nails the concept of a 5-star family beach holiday.
The wellness programme is as advanced as most destination spas, with a daily agenda of pilates, aerial yoga, energy healing and meditation as well as special programmes designed to target adrenal burnout, insomnia, weight loss and fitness.
Inclusive babysitting allows for ample grown-up time in the evening, too.
The Kids Club itself is a whopping 5,000-square-metre utopia, complete with arts, crafts, music, dance, gardening, cookery, and even baby sensory classes. Parents who like to travel light can pre-order almost everything they could possibly need for babies and toddlers – from sterilisers, nappies, and play pens to monitors and black-out blinds.
There are also bikes with trailers on the back for those wanting to explore.
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