The plan was to travel to the Maldives. We had researched flights, resorts, and activities, and we were willing to swallow the extreme cost of such a lavish holiday. The girls couldn’t wait to holiday at a “beach” location (something we’ve never done as a family) and we were thrilled at the idea of staying in one place for the entire duration of our vacation. No checking public transit routes?! WOO HOO! No walking around with a stroller, trying to juggle both a coffee, a roaming child, and a city map?! SIGN ME UP! No worrying about what to do and where to go each and every day? SOUNDS LIKE HEAVEN! In traveling to the Maldives, it was as though the trip was figured out already. The destination was THE BEACH. The activity was THE BEACH. And if we looked out our hotel window, we would automatically see THE BEACH. It was perfect.
But then we had a slight hiccup in scheduling and I had one of those “WAIT A MINUTE!” moments that drives Phil crazy. However, after hearing me out, Phil was on board with my idea to move from one beach location to another. A few hours later, we were booked to stay for five nights at The Shangri-la in Oman! (Side note: YOU GOTTA CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE. Your bucket list is about to get one hotel longer!)
From Kuwait, Muscat is only a two hour flight away. When you have two little ones in tow, this is the IDEAL flight scenario. We booked with Kuwait Airways because the flight times lined up well with our own travel preferences (ah-hem, NOT AT ABSURD HOURS) and because the overall journey worked well with the checking in and out times of the resort.
Upon arrival, we were lucky to be greeted by our Omani friend, Haitham, who transferred us to the resort itself. The airport and the resort are only about a 30 minute, EXTRA-BEAUTIFUL, ride apart.
The resort is actually made up of three different hotels: Al Waha, Al Bandar, and Al Husn (adults only). We chose to stay at “Al Waha”, the hotel dedicated to young families like us! It was the perfect choice and we benefited not only from the hotel amenities, but also from being surrounded by kids and parents navigating the same ages and stages of LIFE. (“Seriously, though. I’m so glad your kid is pretending to be a cat right now. Mine was just doing that on the restaurant floor…”)
Equally as amazing, the hotel staff were kid experts and super understanding when it came to things like REALLY-DIRTY-WINDOWS-REQUIRING-DAILY-CLEANING. “It’s normal, ma’am,” they assured me. “I tried to stop them,” I assured them. “They are kids, ma’am,” they reminded me. OKEE DOKEE. #AHotelFullOfSaints
We stayed in a sea view room, which is a real treat when you have a balcony to enjoy it from! The girls loved listening to the waves, telling us about things they saw on the beach (“THERE’S A HORSE, MOM!!!!”), and watching swimmers float their way down the lazy river below. There was a patio set for us to have snacks and a solid place to quickly dry our water shoes or store the ants we’d collected in the grass.
Our room had two double beds, which we pushed together and made into one giant family bed. Juliet loved to lounge in this cozy space and the two of us often snuck inside for snuggles while Nory and Phil kept swimming at the pool. Jet also took advantage of the massive bathtub, the nighttime lights (dim and perfectly placed!), Disney Junior on tv, and the
coffee playdough table. It’s safe to say that the person who spent the most time in the room absolutely loved it ;)
THE KIDS CLUB:
One of the best parts of the stay was the “Kids Club” located by the restaurant and pool area. Nory loved this place because, being age four, she was able to stay there “by herself”. What this really means is we would sign her in, leaving our location (beach/restaurant/room) and she would play happily with other kids and the Kids Club staff until she was ready to return to us. Then, the staff would either call our room our track us down and Nory would come in for a running hug and lots of stories. She loved playing with the Lego because it was sorted by color and she was able to make castles that were ALL PINK!
Juliet could also attend Kids Club, as long as one of us stayed with her. We took advantage of this too, because an air-conditioned room full of new toys is always a good idea mid-afternoon. Juliet is more cautious by nature, but she enjoyed the stacking activities, puzzles, and balls the best.
Sometimes, the girls would attend scheduled activities at Kids Club. Fish feeding, puppet making, seashell painting, finger painting, and henna were all part of the weekly itinerary.
Phil and I chose to purchase the half-board meal plan, eating breakfast at the “Samba” restaurant, snacking our way through the afternoon, then heading back to the restaurant (right when the buffet started at 6 p.m.!!) for dinner. There was a great selection of food (which changed daily!) and we left with full tummies every visit. FOR REAL! Despite Phil’s hatred for tomatoes and onions, despite my gluten-free diet, despite Juliet being a picky two year old….WE ATE! And WE ATE LOTS!
Although we all loved the chocolate fountain, the fresh fruit, and the varied choices…..we were impressed by the “kids area” the most.
Here, kids were able to get plastic plates and cutlery, then fill their own plates with foods that are, perhaps, more familiar – like simple raw veggies, noodles with tomato sauce, chicken breasts, and french fries. Nory enjoyed the independence that went along with this area and we all benefited from the plastic feature as Juliet whipped a plate across the restaurant in a moment of rage. (But nobody cared, because plate-whipping is BASICALLY a norm in this family hotel.)
Being the extrovert that she is, the restaurant (or the cafe as Nory called it) was one of Nory’s favourite things to do. Every morning we would wake up and go down just the two of us, letting Daddy and Juliet sleep a bit longer. We would chat and eat and make friends with kids at nearby tables. It was our thing.
Room service was another discovery Nory had this trip. She was blown away that you could choose the food you wanted and that it would arrive to your room on a fancy trolley. We might have created a monster. #OurBad
I have the best husband ever. He took the kids one afternoon so that I could experience the most luxurious hot stone massage EVER. It was a two hour affair that I am STILL DREAMING ABOUT and because I remain speechless, I encourage you to GO. JUST GO.
Also, I LOVE YOU PHIL. XOXO
When it came to cooling off, the kids had many options. There was a big pool, a “baby pool”, the beach, the lazy river, and a splash pad. Although we tried them all, we spent most of our time at either the splash pad or the baby pool. Nory was a fish in the baby pool and we did a lot of “watching this” whenever she was inside it. She even invited strangers to “watch this”, which was perfect because I’m sure they weren’t “watching ENOUGH of THIS” with their own children. HA!
But back to the splash pad for a second. There isn’t a splash pad in the world that is as beautiful as this one. There’s just NO WAY. Whoever designed the resort deserves a HIGH-FIVE – for both putting the splash pad in this place and for putting a “real live pirate ship!!!” beside it ;)
At the Al Bandar Hotel, there were more things for families to discover. A quick complimentary shuttle away, and we were able to enjoy some air-conditioned, “adventure” time! At Adventure Zone, there were small slides, medium slides, HORRIFYING SLIDES (go Nory!!), a ball pit, and lots to climb on. It was the perfect escape from water play, especially with the small cafe located nearby. Oh to SIP ON A HOT COFFEE WHILE YOUR KIDS GO WILD! #DreamsDoComeTrue
In this same area, there was a trampoline park that we hope to explore next visit!
YEP. We’re already talking about a NEXT VISIT! Besides its beauty, convenience, and amenities, what I liked most was the way the staff interacted with our family. The employees were kind – greeting all of us (big and little kids, alike!) and getting down to eye level with the girls to inquire about their day. The Kids Club staff remembered their names and had huge smiles every time we went knocking. It was a real haven for parents of young children, where no mess was ever a problem and no request was ever too much. I am so grateful we had the chance to relax and play at the Shangri-La over spring break!