More to the Maldives

Famous for romantic getaways and honeymoons, the Maldives is gaining popularity as a family destination

Better known for decades among island destinations for romantic getaways and honeymoons, the Maldives has recently been attracting families quite successfully.

According to Abdulla Ghiyas, president of the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO), one in three visitors to the destination is part of a family group.

Family bookings for RIU’s resorts in the Maldives peak during the July, August and December European school holidays

“The family travel segment is a growing feature of the Maldives,” he added.

He noted that most new resorts in the destination have child-friendly and childcare facilities, while older villas have been refurbished to cater to this segment.

RIU, for instance, offers two resorts in the Maldives that promise luxury getaways that are also welcoming for the little ones. Guests can enjoy a premium vacation at the all-inclusive Hotel Riu Palace Maldivas, located on the private island of Kedhigandu. Over a convenient footbridge on the neighbouring island of Maafushi stands sister resort Hotel Riu Atoll, where there is the RiuLand kids’ club and children’s pool. Children have access to a daily programme of activities and entertainment.

Petra Gauthey, director of business development Asia with Riu Hotels & Resorts, added that special guest programmes are also designed for celebratory seasons, such as Christmas, while customised activities such as barbecue parties, cocktails and excursions can be arranged by the resort’s staff.

Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi, another prime example of a resort that puts families at the centre, offers activities for guests of all ages.

“While parents enjoy a relaxing spa treatment or beachfront cocktail at Onu Onu Bar, children are invited to a yoga class, specially designed for little guests, or learn to paint a coconut at our Art Studio,” said general manager Marshall Orton.

Mohamed Khaleel, CEO of both Pulse Resorts and Manta Air, said the Maldives is evolving – it is no longer just an ultra-rich and honeymoon paradise.

His companies are, therefore, moving with the times to market different products now. “We can cater to a market range of US$100 to US$20,000 per night,” he said.

Confident that the family travel segment will continue to grow for the Maldives, Minor International will launch Avani+ Fares Maldives Resort in 1Q2023 – a product that is very much geared towards families, revealed group CEO, Dilip Rajakariar.

The Maldives’ move to lure families is necessary, opined Ghiyas, as room inventory has expanded and properties have to offer more to grow bookings. Reliance on traditional honeymooners and high-end travellers alone will no longer cut it, he opined. – Additional reporting by Karen Yue

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