With a fab kids’ club, overwater villas, and heaps of dining options, Niyama in the Maldives ticked all the boxes for this mama of four!
The Maldives have become a very popular destination for both couples and families. We travelled with our four kids (ages 7, 5, 3 and 18 months) and usually keep our travel plans simple. On this occasion, we wanted a resort with plenty of kids’ activities so that my husband and I could have some much-needed rest. That’s how we chose Niyama, who pride themselves on having the best Kids’ Club in the Maldives.
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We booked our flights on Singapore Airlines and stayed a night at Hotel Jen Malé as our flight from Singapore arrived late into Malé. Hotel Jen is the only hotel that has connecting rooms for large families.
There is an earlier flight that arrives at 11.50am operated by SilkAir, which easily connects to Niyama via seaplane (priced at US$560 per adult, and US$280 for kids 11 and under). To save costs, we took the domestic flight to the newly opened Dhaalu Airport (US$360 per adult, and US$180 for kids) followed by a 10-minute speedboat transfer to Niyama.
We stayed 2 nights in a Family Beach Suite and 4 nights in the 1-Bedroom Overwater Villa. Both were big enough for my family, as both living rooms were converted into a bedroom for my kids.
What I like about the Family Beach Suite was its direct access to the beach, and the proximity of the Kids’ Club on the Play island. The Kids’ club brought the kids for lunch at Blu restaurant and it was only about a 2-minute walk from the villa. I thought it was also safer for my toddler, who got excited seeing water. I had to watch him all the time when we were at the overwater villa.
The One-bedroom overwater villa was plush and spacious; the pool was long enough to do mini laps and during low tide we could take a walk down in the ocean. However, it was at the far end of Chill island, and the buggy usually took a while to arrive. We learned how to arrange pickup timings with our Thakuru (dedicated butler) beforehand. While bicycles with an attached child seat were provided, they were unsuitable for our family of 6. I fed this back to management and was informed they would bring in children bicycles and have carts behind bicycles.
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What my kids were most excited was the in-room popcorn machine and homemade ice cream that were refilled daily. Baby amenities like a sterilizer, bathtub, potty, and toiletries were also available. Kids even get their own flip-flops.
There was plenty to do at Niyama and even with 6 days, I found my stay too short. My kids spent most of their time in the kids’ club and the highlight of their activities was the dolphin boat trip and snorkelling. There were, however, a lot of caterpillar-like creepy crawlies on the island and my 3-year-old son refused to walk and insisted on being carried quite often.
The Games Room offered all kinds of board games, pool table, table tennis, dart board, carom and video games. This facility was a great place for children and adults of all ages to hang out.
There was also a Badminton and Tennis Court which we decided to use on our last day. The playing equipment and bottled water were provided at each court.
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Our children also enjoyed the two big swimming pools in front of Blu and Epicure Restaurant, and a shallow pool at Blu Restaurant. The experience would have have been even better if floats were available for younger kids.
We were on the half-board dining option, with breakfast and dinner included and kids eating for free. Daily breakfast started at 7:30am, which was kind of late by our standards. Given the time difference, my kids were up and about at 6am. Food quality at Niyama was fantastic, and I enjoyed the variety of food options throughout our stay. Dinner started at 6:30pm at all restaurants, but my children would typically be quite hungry by then. An all-day dining restaurant would be helpful; although the buffet restaurant Blu advertises itself as all-day dining, it closes at 6 and we were told the kitchen closes with the last order at 4:30pm!
It was chaotic when we had our dinner at The Edge (a fine dining restaurant). Lesson learnt: Children are unable to sit through fine dining meals. The Edge is an overwater restaurant located about 300m from Chill Island. The food took a while to be served; the kids were impatient and all over the place. They were only looking forward to the short boat ride back to the main island.
We were particularly impressed with the service at The Nest, which serves Asian-Thai Cuisine. The food was awesome and the portions were just right. My youngest fell asleep in my arms and one of the staff saw that I was using only one hand to have my dinner. He combined two chairs and it became a makeshift bed. I haven’t had both hands for dinner in a long time!
Buffets on most nights at Blu and Epicure were a delight. Seafood was a must every day. While the variety was almost overwhelming, one would have to have kids that sleep late (or go to bed early) to really enjoy every single dish. Another option would be to engage after-hours child-minding service from the Kids Club.
One thing I liked was being able to order rice porridge or noodles my kids; these items weren’t available on the kids’ menu, which was largely western food. For parents with kids who are fussy with their food, being able to request for customised complimentary kids’ meals is a great option to have.
Overall, it was a really great trip from start to finish. I wish I could have more time on the island, and am considering a return trip in the future.