The Maldives with Kids – Part Two
My son and I LOVED Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives last year. In my blog post I called it our favorite resort in the world. But it was only the two of us – my wife and daughters missed out. So when I discovered that my kids were getting out of school for Christmas break on December 14th, I saw an opportunity to zip around the world to the Maldives for some overwater relaxation, and still be home by Christmas. Crazy? Yes. There is no quick way to get to the Maldives. But when it comes to travel planning I’m definitely crazy. I booked in May, and we departed after school on December 14th.
I thought about revising last year’s post, but decided to do a new post instead with details from this trip – fairly different considering that we had new ages represented, it was at a different time of year, and we required two villas.
California to the Maldives for Christmas Break
It took us four flights to reach Six Senses Laamu: Santa Barbara to San Francisco and San Francisco to Singapore on United, Singapore to Malé on Silk Air, and Malé to Kadhdhoo on Maldivian Air. Door to door the journey took 33 hours, including 24 hours or so actually flying. The best part of the trip is the boat ride from the Kadhdhoo airport to Six Senses Laamu, where you take off your shoes, have a lemonade and know that you made it without any issues. Time to relax!
We booked separate tickets for the trip – Santa Barbara to Singapore, and then Singapore to Malé (Six Senses handles the Maldivian flights). We took carry-ons only so that we wouldn’t have to pick up our bags in Singapore and re-check them, which could have been tough if our inbound flight was late. And it’s easy to pack light for a tropical island – especially one where you don’t wear shoes.
Six Senses Laamu Villas
Six Senses Laamu has overwater villas and beach villas. The overwater villas only sleep two – or three by turning the sofa into a bed. The beach villas sleep up to six, so they work better for families. We wanted to be overwater though! That’s part of the fun of traveling to the Maldives. So we opted for two overwater villas and were assigned 47 and 48 on Jetty B.
Last year my son and I had villa 14 on Jetty A. It worked great for the two of us. It was towards the end of Jetty A, but he was confident on a bicycle (there are no guardrails on the jetties) and we had a blast constantly riding to and from the island. 47 and 48 on Jetty B were absolutely perfect for our family, though, since my 8-year-old wasn’t confident riding overwater for several days, and Jetty B is a lot shorter than Jetty A. My son and I took 47 and the girls were in 48. We constantly went back and forth – on foot, on bicycle and through the water.
Last year I commented that four nights wasn’t long enough. So we booked six nights this time and…it still wasn’t long enough! And we didn’t even do much. In two trips we still haven’t gone snorkeling. And we didn’t do any of the offered excursions. We cycled a lot. We relaxed a lot. We swam a lot – mostly at our villas, but also at the pool. We played Frisbee, Giant Jenga, ping pong, corn hole, volleyball and football on the beach. We played chess and the kids sketched at the villa. And the days flew by. If we had had two more nights we still likely wouldn’t have done anything major. But it’s an absolutely perfect place to relax and stare at the water and do nothing!
We were on the half-board plan – so breakfast and dinner were included every day, and we were on our own for lunch.
Breakfast is at Longitude. We loved breakfast, and were there right when they opened every day, getting the same table every day but one. They have pretty much anything you could possibly want, and then some. There are even fifteen types of honey! If there wasn’t mango out, they would cut one up and bring it to the table. The kids loved the waffles, fruit and Greek yogurt.
Somehow last year my son and I missed the meat/cheese/sushi room? So I ate twice the breakfast sushi this trip to make up for it! Plus the Maldivian items were amazing – think lots of tuna and curry.
And the hammocks by the tables were always a huge hit. The kids could relax or look for fish while we had a second cappuccino/espresso. Or we were fine with them heading back to the villas on their own.
For lunch we alternated between Sip Sip and Chill Bar, and we ordered room service once, since the room service menu is different than the restaurant menus.
Last year my son and I had drinks every sunset at Chill Bar. We did that half our evenings this time – simply because the kids didn’t want to leave the beach the other nights. Once again we loved sitting out on the hammocks and watching the sun go down, and there were multiple dolphin sightings as well.
For dinner our GEM (Guest Experience Maker) Ali made dinner reservations for us in advance at Zen (Asian) one night and at Leaf (Six Senses’ signature restaurant) one night. We ate at Chill Bar two nights, and at Longitude the other two nights (for its special barbecue and Mediterranean nights). All meals were excellent, although Leaf remains our favorite.
Six Senses Laamu Bicycles – The Perfect Resort Transportation
Our favorite element at Six Senses Laamu last year was the bicycles. Every villa comes with bikes (kid-sized for kids) and they’re your transportation your entire stay.
Our 8-year-old daughter hadn’t ridden a lot in the past – in California we live on a hill and have a gravel driveway. She was nervous not only about riding on the overwater jetties, but also on the island paths. So she started out with training wheels, had those removed after half a day, stuck to riding on the island for the next two days, and then was finally confident enough to ride on the jetty the last three days of our stay. She never came close to going over the edge, and she felt great about her accomplishment. I would guess she’ll never be nervous about riding again.
Last year we made a mental note that the Six Senses bicycles always seemed to work well, while the bikes at the other Maldives resort we stayed at kept breaking down. This time we noticed why: there’s bike maintenance going on when you park and head off to eat! We saw Six Senses employees checking tire pressures, pedals, brakes and lights constantly, and most guests have no idea that it even goes on. It makes all the difference though.
And one night early in our stay our kids were falling asleep at dinner jet lagged, so a GEM drove us back to our villas in a golf cart. We figured we would walk to breakfast the next morning and then retrieve our bikes afterward, but in the middle of the night all of our bikes were returned to our villas. Such a nice touch.
There are 42 flavors of homemade ice cream at the ice cream parlor, and it’s all free. Last year my son and I headed over often. We were there even more this trip. The kids would sometimes ride their bikes over without us (the parents), and we stopped by after most meals. The flavors had changed since last year. Our current favorites: sour sop; blood orange; pomegranate; chocolate sorbet; white peach; and lychee/basil. But everything is good.
As mentioned above, we were at the beach often. We borrowed a football from the resort and left it at the beach every day, and my son would kick it around every time we passed by, and every afternoon for a good hour before sunset. Staff members stopped by a few times to kick the ball with him and teach him new skills. And then they invited him to play in their daily employee match in the host village.
Our final afternoon we headed to the host village at 5pm. The employees’ skill level is incredible. Our son was definitely out of his element, but he warmed up with the teams and he played half the game on defense, getting involved in the action from time to time. So nice that they included him. And it motivated him to up his game before our next visit!
The population of the Maldives is 100% Muslim, and tropical islands aren’t normally associated with Christmas anyway, but Six Senses Laamu did a great job of decorating just enough for Christmas that we were aware that it was coming up, without changing the feel of the resort. They crafted a Christmas tree out of recycled coconut husks, decorated the kids club and put a Santa outfit on the garden scarecrow. And their Christmas lights were scheduled to go on the night that we departed – the 22nd. We took a Santa hat for some photo ops, but otherwise it was nice having an island mentality, and not a Christmas mentality, after a month of Christmas music and shopping reminders at home!
A 13th Birthday
My daughter’s 13th birthday happened to fall on our travel day to the Maldives. Not ideal, but United made an announcement when we landed in Singapore, and Six Senses Laamu had a cake waiting for her.
The Manager’s Reception
There’s a manager’s reception on the beach every Friday night. We missed it last year, but luckily our stay included a Friday this time. We loved the reception. There was a musical/drumming performance, a lot of food, drinks for kids and adults, and a naming ceremony for two recently-discovered manta rays. A fun evening.
Six Senses resorts are known for their sustainability initiatives, and it’s truly inspiring to visit and see how little single-use plastic is used (really just plastic wrap in the kitchens), and how everything possible is recycled. Plus they grow everything that they can on the island. We took the Back of the House tour and were extremely impressed at everything going on that guests never see. I highly recommend taking the tour!
I loved returning to Six Senses Laamu – still my favorite resort in the world. My 11-year-old and 8-year-old loved it as well – especially the bicycles, ice cream, swimming and overwater villa experience. My 13-year-old liked Laamu, but said that she would have preferred to stay home for her birthday. My wife really liked the stay, but felt like the timing just before Christmas was awkward – going from a Christmas mentality to an island mentality and then getting back on the 24th and immediately having to switch to Christmas mode again.
This was a LONG way to go for a six-night stay. We experienced a little jet lag heading over, but a lot coming home. It took a good week and a half once we returned to get back on California time. On Christmas Day we were all wide awake early, and opened presents at 3am. I wrote up my thoughts on jet lag immediately after this trip!
My kids are great travelers, so the time on planes and in airports wasn’t a big deal.
We visited right before the resort’s prices peaked for Christmas. Our villas were roughly $800/night each plus taxes when I booked. I received a small media discount. The half-board dining option is currently $136/day for adults and $68/day for kids. I paid for all of that in advance. And then our bill at checkout was an additional $1,596, including six days of lunches and drinks and $450 in tips for our GEM and room steward. Transfers (flight/boat) between Malé and Six Senses Laamu are $590 for adults and $455 for kids.
The least-expensive time to visit is May-September, with 2019 rates starting at $547/night (with a five-night discount). Always check out hotels.com/venture too, if you have a Capital One Venture card. You effectively get 20% back by booking there. Of course you want to compare the rate there to the rate at Six Senses’ website.