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Melissa – A family holiday to Club Med Kani, Maldives

Melissa George

I recently stayed at Club Med Kani, Maldives for a multi-generation family holiday. All in all – we LOVED it!

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

We flew Melbourne/Singapore/Male. They are still the most polished airline, in my opinion.

We were aboard the A380 on the long haul flights. Nice, wide seat with good recline (even in the last row!!). Great service. Food pretty good and great packs given to the kids.

We had a 4 hour transit in Singapore in both directions and it was actually fine. I can highly recommend WOLFGANG PUCK’S THE KITCHEN CAFÉ for any transit meals – excellent quality and great coffee, too!

We made the most of the Singapore Airlines  initiative of all transit pax being give SGD$20.00 to spend within the airport (retail online, not food and beverage).

Singapore to Male we were on a small Silk Air plane. No in-flight entertainment on board so passengers need to download an app and you can then access movies etc on your own device whilst in flight.

This worked fine for us and we were advised to download the app before boarding the aircraft.

CLUB MED KANI

What can I say but WOW! The Island is only a short (20/25 min) speedboat ride from the airport.

It’s just so beautiful and the welcome from all the G-O’s is wonderful. Club Med staff are called “GOs”, or Gentils Organisateurs (Gracious/Nice Organizers). Everyone gets a bracelet on arrival that also opens your room so no need to carry anything around if you don’t want to.

Rooms are relatively basic but about 90% of them have direct beach views/access so you can book a lead-in with confidence as it’s a great product.

The food was of a pretty good standard throughout – we ate at all the outlets. The drinks were also great – if anything, bar tenders were more generous than anything and I definitely didn’t feel like they were watered down In any way. It’s great having this already included!

The Kids Club was relatively small but so well done. They offered a wide variety of activities from Masterchef classes, treasure hunts, sandcastle building comps, movie nights, funfairs and being part of the nightly show. It was great for my boys to get to know kids from different countries and cultures.

Our favourite theme nights were white night where they set up all the table on the beach and have a band playing and a water fountain etc. And then glow night where we had faces painted in glowing paint and there was a really fun dance party.

Activities included are varied as well. There are 2 snorkel trips a day (included) for an hour each in the morning and afternoon. They visit all different sites in the immediate area via boat. You do have to pass a (simple) swimming test to participate.

They also have diving, SUP’s, catamaran’s, kayaks, beach volleyball, badminton, botche, soccer pitch etc so always something going on.

There is a good surfbreak accessible from the Island but make I recommend booties are taken as the coral is SHARP (My husband learned that the hard way!!).

The only thing we paid for the whole trip was a massage. A 50 min foot and leg massage USD$110.00 – not cheap but pretty standard for luxury resorts.

And we also paid for private dining with lobster and champagne on the beach for a special  birthday celebration (USD$125.00/head).

Even a couple of doctor visits were included.

All in all – we LOVED it! It’s a great value Maldives property for everyone – families/kids/couples. The G-O’s really make the experience – they really are amazing!!

Our catch-cry for the whole time we were away was “HOW GOOD IS THIS?!!!”

Melissa George

I began my career in the travel industry in 2005. In my time I have travelled to nearly every continent: Asia including Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China; USA & Canada; South Pacific including Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu; Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and Europe. My favourite destinations are New York City or Cape Town; both vibrant, chic, modern cities with lots to do and yummy food to eat! I also specialise in family travel, recently returning from my own multi-generation holiday at Club Med Kani, Maldives!

melissa@destinationhq.com.au

 

Stuart – A weekend in Lisbon

Stuart Ingram

I just had the weekend in Lisbon. I would recommend 4 nights here as lots to see and do and it’s incredibly cheap! And the egg tarts are amazing and cheap (6 for 5 Euro). 

I flew Thai Airways to London and connected to TAP Air Portugal.

Very seamless as both operate in terminal 2 so couldn’t have been easier or faster.

Very impressed with Thai Airways Economy class on the A380 they use to London, Paris & Frankfurt.  Believe it is amongst the best economy class for sure.

You can combine Lisbon with Porto and the beaches too.

The people in Portugal are lovely and it’s a very cost effective way to spend a week in Europe or more.

Suggested touring:

  • Lisbon walking tour with Urban Adventures
  • Sintra day trip
  • Fatima

I stayed at Avenida Palace which is number 6 on Trip Advisor.

  • location couldn’t be better as you are right on the square
  • best egg tart shop 150m away
  • heaps of cheap good food in the immediate vicinity
  • can be in the old or new town in 5 minutes
  • taxis are super cheap here ($11 euro from the airport or airport city taxi was 20 euro one way)

 

Sophie & Janelle – Anantara Maldives & Niyama Private Island Maldives

Our experience in the Maldives really lived up to our expectations. The water is next level amazing! All we can say is WOW! And if you haven’t been, you need to get there!!

Janelle & Sophie

ANANTARA MALDIVES

A 35 min speedboat from Male Airport will take you to Anantara Dhigu.  It is then also connected to both Anatara Veli (Adults only) & Naladhu Private Villas.

Anantara Dhigu is a small intimate island.

Beach villa: The beach villas have recently been refurbished, they are lovely!! They all have direct access to the beach. The beach is stunning and perfect for swimming in. You could easily spend an entire day on the beach and in the water! Some of the beach villas have private pools. If you are happy to pay the extra then you should go the plunge pool option.

Overwater bungalow: Wow! Just wow!! These are incredible. Perfect for a first time traveller to the Maldives. 

Anantara Dhigu is a great family option for younger families (a kids club is also available). We think families with teenagers would run out of things to do on a longer stay.

We loved the breakfast and had dinner at their signature restaurant Salt, Fire Grill which was delicious!!

  • Dolphin cruise (1hr) –  ($80USD per person). Certainly worth it! We saw so many dolphins!
  • The day spa on Dhigu is also incredible!!!!

Anantara Veli (adults only)

  • Connected to Dhigu by a small boat.
  • Veli is a great alternative if you want to get away from children. Veli guests can still enjoy Dhigu and adult guests from Dhigu can still go across to Veli.
  • Veli also has the overwater bungalows and beach bungalows, however we preferred the bungalows at Dhigu.
  • You can eat on both islands, which is good as the islands are small so you can mix it up. Veli had a really lovely feel and good ambiance.

Naddhu Private Island Villas (connected by to Veli by a private bridge)

  • These are huge! The villas are amazing, very very private. These are for the families or couples who literally do not want to see ANYONE. All villas have their own plunge pools and direct access to the beach, they also come with their own butler. No over water villas on this Island. Naddhu guests can go to Veli & Dhigu at any time, however Veli & Dhigu guests cannot go to Naddhu Villas.

It is a good option if you are wanting a very private stay – you literally do not need to leave the villa if you don’t want!

Anantara Dhigu in general was small and felt like a true island resort experience. Beaches are beautiful and the resort had a relaxed, homely atmosphere.

NIYAMA PRIVATE ISLAND

  • 35 min sea plane from Male.
  • There is also a domestic airport 5 minutes away by speedboat. Great option if you are uneasy on a seaplane.
  • 2 connected islands (CHILL & PLAY)

Deluxe Overwater villa:

  • Private pool, stunning bathroom! The toilet and shower are open to the elements and not ideal when it’s raining and windy
  • Rooms are spacious and certainly have the wow factor. All Villas come with their own butler and each person gets a bike to get around
  • Butlers take around in buggies if you don’t want ride your bike. They top up your fridge with free homemade ice-cream daily

Beach Bungalows:

  • Direct access to the beach and some with private pools.
  • Amazing outdoor bathrooms! I imagine it would be like showering in the jungle. Beach is great and swimmable.

Family villa:

  • Family villa has a separate family room attached – FITS A  FAMILY OF 5!!

Kids Club

  • Niyama is really catering towards the families. 
  • Kids club up to 11 yo. They also have a program for 12mth- 2years aprox 20usd per hour, capped at $100usd per day.
  • Teenagers have a ‘chill’ area with xbox, pool table, darts, movies.

Activities

  • Free snorkelling, paddle-boards & Kayaks. 
  • Surf break! There is a surf break off the island. You can go to ‘Surf Shack’ and have a drink while watching people surf. This part of the island feels more like Sorrento back beach than the Maldives. Which is pretty cool. Not what you expect when you go to the Maldives.
  • Resort is large, it was at 90% capacity and didn’t feel it.

Dining

  • Food was AMAZING!!
  • Tribal – African Cuisine, with a full Africa theme (even served by Africans) Best ribs I’ve ever had!!
  • Nest – Asian Cuisine. Nest is built into the trees. It is one of the most amazing restaurants I’ve been to. You are literally eating in the jungle, unfortunately pictures wouldn’t work as it was too dark. The food was delish too!!
  • Edge – Fine dining. Built on a pontoon. Also has an underwater restaurant and night club. We liked the other two better.
  • Breakfast – was good (but we preferred Anantara Dhigu)

Would highly recommend a ½ board option. If we were paying for our dinners they would have exceed $300usd per dinner (not including wine). We really stress the importance of a ½ board option.

RECAP Anantara Dhigu & Niyama

Dighu has a lovely relaxed feel. Small but didn’t feel too small. Good food & service. Overwater bungalows were amazing. Perfect for couples or young families. Perfect for a 5-7 night stay.

Niyama is a completely different concept. Bigger with more activities and restaurant options. Would be perfect for a 7 night stay. Catering to teenagers aswell as young families.

Beach villa Vs Overwater villa

Overwater villa is perfect for a first timer who really want that full experience. However in my opinion I think a beach villa is just as good. Its so nice to be able to walk out of your villa onto the stunning beach. So if your budget doesn’t stretch to  an overwater option, I would book a beach villa experience with confidence.

Sri Lankan Airlines

  • On way over we had the old A330. Like other reviews from my colleagues, the seats are uncomfortable.
  • On the way home we had the new A330. Seats were MUCH better! The plane also has WIFI and allows international roaming on your phone.
  • Entertainment was lacking and food was ok
  • Service was great

Maldives seasons:

Best time to travel:

  • December-March

Monsoon:

  • May – October

We had one day of rain ALL DAY, although we were happy to hangout in our villa, I can imagine if you had a week of rain it might ruin your experience.

Click to read more on when to go to the Maldives

Our experience in the Maldives really lived up to our expectations. The water is next level amazing! All I can say is WOW! And if you haven’t been, you need to get there!!!

Sophie Anderson

I began my career at 2010 after discovering my passion for travel while living and working in Canada for 2 years. Since then I have travelled to the USA, Mexico, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Fiji, Croatia, Italy and New Zealand. I love to experience new things, learn about different cultures and, of course, taste food from around the world. Africa is also one of my favourite destinations I‘ve been to. I’m a Ski Expert and have travelled to Club Med Ski resorts in both France and Japan.

sophie@destinationhq.com.au


Janelle King


My love for travel developed from growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore – my Dad was based there as a pilot. I started working as a travel agent in the 1990’s and travelled extensively through Europe, and more recently through Asia with my young family. A family highlight was 4 weeks in America including Disneyworld and New York. My favourite cities are New York, Prague & Paris. My most amazing trips have been on safari in Kenya and visiting the amazing palaces in Russia. I travelled to Myanmar this year on a luxury cruise and tour which was amazing. My bucket list would be The Kimberley & Patagonia in Chile.

janelle@destinationhq.com.au

Niyama Overwater Villa

Maldives: When to go

Located at the equator, Maldives has two monsoonal seasons, the dry season during northeast monsoon and wet season or southwest monsoon. Generally, the weather in Maldives is dry and temperatures remain the same throughout the year whether it’s wet or dry season. You can expect 23°Cs to 31°Cs all year long which makes it a great place to visit for anyone looking forward to warm and beautiful beach weather.

The islands experience an equal split of 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night all year. During the day, there is an average of 8 hours of bright sunshine; perfect for long days on the beach.

January-April Weather

During the early months of the year, you can expect fantastic hot temperatures in Maldives with clear blue skies and minimal rain making it one of the best times to visit the country. This is especially true if you are looking forward to snorkelling or diving because waters tend to be very calm during this time of year.

May-September Weather

During this time, weather in Maldives gets wet and humid as this is the monsoon season. But despite that, it is still considered to be a period to travel to the islands. Since the islands are low-lying, rain clouds usually blow over quickly and rainfall does not last long.

October-December Weather

Once October rolls in, hot and dry weather comes back in Maldives. You can expect long days of sunshine and high temperatures during this time. Because of this, the islands are popular holiday destination during Christmas.

Overall, weather in Maldives are in beach season all year round. Even during the monsoon or wet season, you can still get to enjoy warm days on the beach with minimal disturbance.

If you are planning a trip to Maldives, we can offer you great packages with our Maldives Travel Specialists that fit your taste.

Source: Maldives Travel Connections

Kirilly: Spain

I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Spain 3 times over the last year and I have fallen in love with the destination.  So much diversity to the north & south that each trip has been just that little bit different.

In particular I love the Andalucía area – Seville my favourite spot to spend exploring the little alley ways, plazas and cobblestone streets.  Amazing food to try and the best ice-cream in the world… in my opinion!!  It has a stunning cathedral and Alcazar which cannot be missed.  From here you can also explore other surrounding cities such as Cordoba with its stunning alley ways & Mezquita, Granada – home to the famous Alhambra Palace (the most visited tourist attraction in Spain) or Jerez which has a beautiful quaint old Spanish town.  While you are down south you can also explore the beautiful coastal areas of the Costa de Sol and visit Marbella or Malaga which have some beautiful beaches to enjoy a sangria or two watching some amazing sunsets.

You cannot also go to Spain without experiencing Madrid – Spain’s capital and largest city.  There is so much to see and do there, it has excellent restaurants, bars and nightlife.  It is a perfect stop for any art lover with an array of choices to explore such as the Prado Museum or Reina Sofia. This is a great city to walk and explore and its ok to get a little lost along the way!  Madrid is a huge city and you can spend days here but also good to consider travelling outside the city itself too – Toledo is just an hour away by train which is a stunning medieval city full of such charm.  Another favourite of mine is Segovia, also about an hour by train from Madrid which is so beautiful.  The city is surrounded by a 2000 year old aqueduct and is home to a beautiful castle high on a hill which was used as the inspiration for the famous Walt Disney iconic castle.

Barcelona is such a different city to Madrid with its unique Catalan culture and distinctive architecture much influence by Gaudi.  It is home to the famous La Sagrada Familia, which is considered to be Gaudi’s masterpiece, still under construction.  It has an amazing Gothic Quarter to explore, one of Europe’s best preserved actually.  A stroll down Las Ramblas to experience more of Barcelona or even visit out to some of the beach areas.  Again this city is quite sprawled out but also easy to get around and see by foot, train and bus.  From Barcelona you can also visit  Montserrat which is home to the Benedictine Monastery which is truly stunning and some of the most spectacular mountain views of the Cataluña area.  You can do mountain walks here with breathtaking views.  Many people visit here also to see the Black Madonna and theSanta Maria de Montserrat Abbey.

I cannot forget about San Sebastian – many people come here for its beautiful beach.. which is usually packed with sunbathers during the summer months but also people that love food and drink!  It has winding streets full of bars & restaurants in the old town which are amazing and houses many Michelin Star restaurants.  The city specials in seafood and is huge on its pintos (tapas) culture which is said to be the best in Spain, San Sebastian actually frequently tops lists of the world’s best places to eat. Close by you also have Bilbao, home of the famous Guggenheim Museum, another city worth a visit.  I could talk about Spain for hours, there are many other cities I have seen and loved – another being Santiago de Compostela a famous pilgrimage site in north-west of Spain  it was destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the 10th century, it was completely rebuilt in the following century. With its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings, the Old Town of Santiago is one of the world’s most beautiful urban areas to be found in Europe. It’s a fascinating place to be, just to sit and see the hundreds of people make this walk in to the city from far and wide.

Spain is amazing with so much to offer, places to explore, food to sample whether it is paella or a glass of sangria, it will not disappoint you!