I picked the Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa Maldives for the accommodation layout. The Centara Grand Resort in the Maldives has excellent accommodation for larger families.
Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa, Maldives
The Centara Grand is a small island resort with one buffet restaurant, 2 a la carte restaurants (one Thai, one Italian), two bars and a Club Lounge should you choose to go for the VIP option. The resort has a kids club catering for ages 4-9 years with different activities everyday, and extra activities for rainy days. The island itself is small. It only takes about 5 minutes to walk all the way around it and I t has it’s own 24 hour medical centre and fire station. The island is accessible by sea plane and take around 25 minutes to reach from Male airport.
Sea life at Centara Grand Island Resort
The Centara Grand Resort and Spa has a house reef. You can borrow snorkelling gear from the watersports centre but beware they have a hefty deposit. Take care of your kit! Snorkelling around the island was like hanging out with the cast of Finding Nemo! Dory was everywhere! Black tipped reef sharks would regularly visit our little lagoon area in front of our villa and we saw large Nurse sharks (or perhaps they were Tawny Nurse sharks) further out at sea. If you are lucky you can spot turtles around the island too.
Around 6 pm each evening it was time for ‘Fish Feeding’. This involved staff throwing fish into the sea off the decking at the pool bar attracting nurse sharks, sting rays and octopuses. It was incredible to see such large fish in the wild, right at your feet. The rays were at least 1 meter in diameter, often more and the sharks at least 2 meters. Watching the fish feeding was an experience not to be missed.
Snorkelling and excursions
There are a range of snorkelling trips available. We went on the whale shark excursion. It’s a 4 hour trip out on a boat in search of the giant shark. Sadly we didn’t see the whale shark on our trip. Others in our group did but we just weren’t lucky enough or quick enough to see it. We got very close apparently but just as we got in some SCUBA divers appeared and scared it away. The sharks spook easily it seems and will quickly drop down into the depths of the Indian Ocean if anyone gets too near. It was an incredibly exciting day and we finished with a snorkel at the reef well known for turtles which the kids thought was great.
There are plenty of water sports and excursions available from the Centara Grand including PADI dive lessons. The girls loved going out on the ‘Fun Boat’, a 2 seater sofa-style lilo that gets dragged along by a speedboat. A little like the banana boat ride which was also an option if you have a group of 6 to go out.
The resort also offers a Manta Ray Snorkelling trip, a Sunset fishing trip (which we were booked to do but it got rained off) and a more generic snorkelling trip.
Eating at the Centara Grand Island Resort
The food at the Centara Grand Resort is excellent. At the time we went there was a huge Indian influence in the food (which we love!). When we chatted with one of the Sous Chefs he explained that there had been a higher proportion of guests from India during the pandemic as there weren’t many places who would let visitors in from India. In response to this group of clientele the hotel had increased it’s provisions of Indian food. I think it’s great how they respond to the guests they have visiting.
As a side note: They had also hired more Indian staff. A minimum of 40% of the staff have to be from the Maldives. The other staff can come from all over the world. There is a big Thai influence with Centara being a Thai brand. Having said that, most of the staff we chatted to were from the Maldives.
Back to the food!
The buffet restaurant had two sections; one side was Indian Ocean inspired and the other was more Western. Both were very varied and good quality food. There was a big selection of salads, fruits and desserts too. The children’s area was less exciting, usually serving just one option each meal time. If there was nothing in the main buffet my kids would eat there was usually chicken nuggets, fish fingers or pasta in the Children’s buffet that they would eat.
The Thai Restaurant
The Thai restaurant is a la carte. It was fantastic. For a Thai hotel chain I would expect nothing less of the Thai cuisine and I wasn’t disappointed. The Thai restaurant is slightly inland so doesn’t catch the breeze. You might feel warm here on a humid night. We struggled with the baby getting very hot one evening just before a storm hit and they kindly let us use the small 10 person private dining room. This is the only air conditioned dining space on the island.
The Italian Restaurant
The second a la carte restaurant, the Italian restaurant was surprisingly good. I didn’t expect so much of this place because we’re so far from Europe but everything from the breads to start, to the Tiramisu to finish was utterly delicious. We loved the location of this restaurant, being out over the water meant there was always a cool breeze and the fish swimming beneath us lit up by the jetty lights were quite a sight.
For the most part the children always found food they enjoyed. It only became a challenge when all the dishes were spicey. Which did happen from time to time. Much like Sri Lanka and Southern India, most of the food in the Maldives has a good dose of chilli!
Both a la carte restaurants at the Centara Grand Resort, Maldives had good children’s menus. We were really impressed with the way they made the Thai meals especially child-friendly.
The accommodation at Centara Grand Island Resort
We stayed in the two bedroom beach villas with private pool and I have to say, they are excellent for a larger family. Spread over two floors the parents get a double bed on the top floor with their own bathroom, Max’s cot was up here with us. Downstairs provides a large living area with a sofa, another, larger bathroom with an outdoor bath tub and the children’s bedroom with twin beds. The majority of the families we chatted to that were staying in these villas were families of 5. The space was excellent for a family with 3 children.
The room is equipped with life jackets for when you go out to sea and all the usual toiletries you find in a high-end resort. You’ll also find slippers, flip flops and dressing gowns in your wardrobe.
The villas are right on the beach. Each has a private decking area with sun loungers, a large plunge pool (which was the perfect size for my two kids to play in with inflatables) and then a step down onto the white sandy beach.
There are family-friendly overwater villas available at the resort but after spending some time in the resort I decided I actually prefer the beach villas for a family. While the overwater villas look cool there are many benefits to having a villa on the beach. Especially with a baby in tow. I could sit in the comfort of the air conditioned villa, feeding the baby and see my older children playing on the beach. When the baby wanted to nap in the room rather than the buggy we could all hang out at the villa pool and I didn’t feel like I was missing any of my holiday having to sit in a hotel room when everyone else was at the pool.
In-villa dining was an option and one morning we chose to have breakfast delivered to our room which we enjoyed on our private deck. This was such a luxury! They also fifer a Floating Breakfast but we decided that after taking a highly Instagrammable photo we would probably take the tray out if the water anyway. Who wants to eat and swim hey? It didn’t seem worth the $100USD upgrade price tag.
The Spa at Centara Grand, Maldives
The Cenvaree Spa is a Thai-style spa offering a range of treatments. I opted to try the 90 minute Traditional Maldivian Massage. This massage uses firm pressure, a little bit of mobilisation similar to a Thai massage and hot, herbal compresses. It wouldn’t feel good on sunburnt skin but other wise I highly recommend the treatment.
The spa itself it very calming, with a beautiful Tree of Life in the centre and treatment rooms in a circle around the tree.
Should you go All Inclusive at Centara Grand Resort and Spa, Maldives?
You can stay at the Centara Grand Maldives on any board basis from Bed and breakfast right up to Grand All Inclusive. I always recommend going AI when visiting the Maldives as the island share so remote and food is very expensive. The Centara Grand offers an upgraded GRAND AI package which is the one that we booked. I loved this option because for a small amount more we got unlimited use of the a la carte restaurants and bar food, we got spa credit which covered the cost of mine and Rich’s 90 minute treatments and we had 3 excursions included as well. I didn’t notice until the last day of the holiday that we could have gotten laundry done within our package as well. I was gutted that I didn’t realise in time. It’s always a luxury to have someone else help you with the laundry!
At the end of our week away the only thing to pay for on our bill was a $40 USD windsurfing lesson for Rich.
Kids facilities at the Centara Grand Island Resort
The kids club caters to children age 4- 9 years. So my oldest only just fell into this category. There’s an extensive timetable of activities with a different theme each day. On rainy days there’s an extra list of activities so your little ones really can’t get bored.
For older children there are games consoles in the villas and there is the games room and E Zone above the pool bar.
For non-swimming little ones, there is a small, shallow ‘children’s pool’ at the end of the main infinity pool.
On the whole I think the Maldives are a really child-friendly destination. Click here to read my detailed review of travelling to the Maldives with kids, I covered everything you need to know before deciding whether to book you Maldives family holiday.
Centara Grand Island in Review
Overall we had an excellent holiday at the Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa, Maldives. The girls really didn’t want to come home. None of us did! I do think that perhaps the pandemic and lower numbers of visitors has had a small impact on the hotel. There was nothing particularly wrong with the property but the odd squeaky shower door, and rattling air conditioning unit made me wonder if investments into the usual maintenance hadn’t been as high as it might have been pre-pandemic. But this really didn’t have an impact of our enjoyment of the hotel. We had a fabulous holiday there.