Kanuhura is a sentimental island for my family. It was the first Maldives trip we took as a family 8-years ago when our eldest was just a few months old. This summer we returned with our 4 children aged 8, 6, 5 and 3 years to experience their newly renovated ‘Gypset’ island.
Kanuhura, located in Lhaviyani Atoll, was Maldives first-5 star hotel twenty years ago, formerly a One & Only property before it was sold to the Sun Resorts, a Mauritian based company. The island has much natural beauty with large coral reefs surrounding the islands, with two further mini islands that can be reached by a 5-minute boat ride for lunches and picnics. Kanuhura is famous for its repeat guests whose elite loyal following are discerning guests seeking discreet luxury.
Twenty-years after the island’s inauguration, Kanuhura has just finished a US$42 million makeover reducing the number of villas from 96 villas to 80 villas in a bid to accommodate larger families like us. The concept has updated itself to appeal to the ‘Gypsetters’; those seeking a mixture of luxurious nomadic lifestyle with uncompromising jetset glamour. The island’s new-look gives the feeling of space, arrival and tranquility. The colour schemes brings the interiors into the present millennium with a decor that exudes a sense of calm to match the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. Everything is aesthetically pleasing with a warm bohemium touch, and visually pleasing to today’s instagram-mer.
We travelled with our family of 6 plus our family au pair. With 3 adults and 4 children, we stayed in two villas. A two-bedroom beach villa and a 1 double-room bedroom villa. However, for our next trip back, we will travel without help and stay in the two bedroom villa with our family of 6 that is practically laid out with plenty of storage room. In the double villa, the hotel had configured three single beds into the room, whilst our youngest slept in a cot in our 1-bedroom villa with my husband and me.
Their extremely popular three-bedroom suites was not available during our visit but we had the opportunity to inspect the suite and loved it. This will be very much in demand, and practical when our children are older.
The villas are uniformed in interiors but differ on size and configuration, and the bathrooms slightly vary when comparing beach and water villas. Each villa has their own walk in wardrobe, that is practically laid out with doors to close to hide any mess. All bathrooms are outside with a bath under the roof, and it is an unique experience to shower under the stars on clear evenings.
With the recent renovations, I was a little concerned that the furnishings would not withstand the tornado of 4 children, and was pleasantly surprised to find that everything was built so beautifully (every angle is perfect for instagram) but also so resilient and practical for children.
The rooms are extremely well-serviced from having our own butler, to cleaning services after sandy afternoons on the beach with the children, with an efficient laundry service for the family.
Activities and Kids Club
We were blown away by the new concepts the island has created for families from visits to a properly NGO-managed turtle hatchery on a neighbouring local island, to island hopping for lunch at Drift where the children spent endless effort to seek out every assortment of hermit crabs (a restaurant that existed 8 years ago that has brought back amazing memories), to cooking classes as family. The Kids’ Club has since moved location to a more central area within the hub of the island. This means it is an easy drop off and it is easy for the Kids’ Club staff and children to locate mums and dads. The Kids club is very well-organised with a large timetable of activities that take place all over the island, and it is managed by a warm and friendly team who interact well with the children. The club has a water play area, climbing frames, board games, and each week there are activities from spa treatments (painting nails and hair braiding for girls) to pirate adventures to cupcake decoration. My children loved spending every afternoon relaxing there with the Kids’ Club team.
There is also a Games room for rainy days with a fuse ball table and ping pong tables that are suitable children 5 years and over. The children prayed for it to rain everyday so they had an excuse to go into the Games room. It was a hit with kids of all ages.
Kanuhura offers a wide range of sporting activities from snorkelling, diving, stand up paddle boarding, jet skiing, wake boarding, windsurfing, sailing, and much more. The swimming pool overlooks the beach and is popular spot for families during the day. The kids went sailing and jet skiing, and then Luca my eldest did the bubble maker in the protected reefs with a qualified instructor. Some water sports are complimentary but most motorised activities will include a fee.
My husband and I love the Maldives because of our love for diving. The El Nino hit the Maldives hard but we were delighted to see that the diving sites surrounding Kanuhura were recovering, and it was amazing to see walls of corals alive in some parts, and huge amounts of turtles nesting in the walls. There are several dive sites, and a superb dive master, James, with his team with over 8 years experience on the island. They are extremely professional and you definitely feel safe in their care. We have been diving all over the Maldives, and we now remember why we love this property because the diving is superb.
There is an array of dining options from Bottega, an Italian restaurant with delicious pastas and pizzas, to the outstanding Chef’s Herb Garden set literally in a garden, to the Deli, the local coffee shop that sits in a unique English styled lawn that serves super sandwiches, cookies and juices if you are feeling peckish during the day, to Veli, a superb Indian restaurant perfect for dinner under the stars.
It is hard to choose favourites but often we had lunch at the Cowry Club, the main restaurant that is engulfed by the pool. It was practical to have lunch whilst the kids jumped in and out of the pool. We also loved A Mano for breakfast every morning as most mornings, when it wasn’t raining, we had a beautiful breakfast on the beach. The buffet spread is immense from pancakes, gluten free breads, salads, to curries, eggs etc.
At Veli, the Asian restaurant, we will look forward to returning as they were just launching their teppanyaki tables. Perfect for date nights or dinner with the family. Fabulous sushi, noodles and curries.
Every restaurant is willing to cater to the whims of all little fussy eaters, and even at Veli and Bottega, they will make chicken nuggets and pizza if they prefer it to the main menu.
Spa & Gym
There is nothing more amazing after endless travel with 4 children to be whisked immediately into the spa for a little R&R removing every travel stress spots. The therapists are extremely well-trained and qualified, and it is such a tranquil space to escape to.
During our time there, the hotel was just receiving its shipment of brand new gym equipment – all the latest that is available on the market. They have a great team of dedicated trainers and instructors, and the views are pool and sea facing – perfect mindful views.
Highly recommended for families
#Robinson Crusoe island picnic – get an island to yourselves all afternoon
#Fishing trip on the local boats
#Turtle sanctuary trip
#Do bring mosquito spray or patches. We experienced very few mosquitos but nevertheless it is always safer with young children to have.
#Do try and request for a villa close to the Kids Club if that helps
#Bring plenty of sunblock as the sun is strong out there for little ones.
#Choose halfboard as this makes it very practical if you are travelling with children.
#Pack resort casual with a few resort chic for date nights. Leave the heels at home.