We have a holiday home in Cornwall near the beach, so our kids love the water. But we wanted to treat ourselves this year. We felt the kids were old enough now to really enjoy islands such as the Maldives, plus handle the international flight.
So in February, I took my three daughters — Maddie, seven, Amelie, five, and Brooke, four — and my wife with me on assignment. This was our first long-distance luxury holiday abroad, and we stayed at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru.
From the moment they arrived on the island and were greeted by the team, each was given little backpacks filled with bits, which was a really nice touch. The rooms were gorgeous — not that they spent much time in them, wanting to get out as soon as it was light and then so tired by bedtime, asleep as soon as they lay down.
The girls surfed for the first time (as did I, on my own) and learned about coral reef restoration. They even earned a certificate for their restoration efforts, which made a big impression. Now they have it hanging in their bedrooms.
The details at Four Seasons were amazing: while the girls were getting a spa treatment, for example, they could peer through the massage table and glass-bottom floor to watch clown fish swimming by. They never ceased to be amazed by the colour of the sea, and all the different species of fish that were all around us; even from our room they watched octopus and stingray pass by.
The Kids For All Seasons club meant my wife and I could also scuba dive and get some time to ourselves, which is hard to come by, as any parent will tell you. Staff on the islands really look after the families and make the little ones feel welcome and pampered — be it by the beautiful pools or at the amazing restaurants in the evening.
I have travelled the world as a photographer, and now taking my family on holiday, perhaps I expect a great deal in terms of quality. But adding to that, I also want my kids to feel special — and if they are happy, we are happy.
Neale Haynes is a British celebrity, reportage and portrait photographer. His editorial work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Time, Esquire, Men’s Health and The Sunday Times. Commercially, his clients include National Geographic, Nike, Puma, Virgin, Jaguar and Calvin Klein. Neale’s ever-growing portfolio keeps him active; he has traveled to 100-plus countries on assignments. Based in London, he enjoys surfing, snowboarding and time with his family.
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