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Family fun and romantic retreat – this Maldivian island is ideal any time of the year

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Published Time: 12.02.2024 - 14:40:17 Modified Time: 12.02.2024 - 14:40:17

Its spa, adults-only pool and free stays for under-15s with their parents make Sun Siyam Iru Fushi ideal for family or romantic escapes ’ve rarely felt more relaxed in a spa

Its spa, adults-only pool and free stays for under-15s with their parents make Sun Siyam Iru Fushi ideal for family or romantic escapes


’ve rarely felt more relaxed in a spa. The setting alone is guaranteed to help you unwind: reached via a reflexology path that exerts pressure on your bare feet, the sprawling Balinese-style Spa by Thalgo France is tucked away amid verdant vegetation, its treatment rooms curled around a calming spa garden where pebbled pathways wind between trickling waterways.

The 140 treatments on offer incorporate the best from East and West, with everything from acupuncture to ayurveda, and a range of Thalgo therapies based on anti-ageing and soothing marine ingredients.

But it wasn’t just my consultation with an ayurvedic doctor and the subsequent massage with poultices that left me in a state of bliss – I was even more chilled out because I knew that my son was busy enjoying a one-to-one tennis lesson.

We were on Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, one of five properties in the Maldives from family-owned local company Sun Siyam Resorts, which reopened Sun Siyam Pasikudah in Sri Lanka at the end of 2023 after a refurbishment.

In the Maldives, while Sun Siyam Iru Veli and Sun Siyam Vilu Reef are perfect for couples, Sun Siyam Olhuveli is more for families and groups, and the all-singing all-dancing Siyam World works for anyone looking for lots of activities, while Iru Fushi has all the ingredients for either a family-friendly holiday or an adults-only winter-sun escape.

A 45-minute scenic seaplane flight from the capital of Malé, the island resort is bursting full of vegetation, with bougainvillaea, banyan trees and coconut palms – you can even plant your own tree as part of their sustainability programme. On land, it has a kids’ club and family pool, tennis and badminton courts, as well as a games room where my son repeatedly beat me at snooker.

But it’s in the translucent waters lapping its powder-white beaches that it really comes into its own, with a plethora of water sports, some of which are quite unusual. I’ll always remember the grin on my son’s face as he mastered the rudiments of flyboarding, rising out of the sea as water jets propelled him several metres into the air.

Ours was a magical trip. By day we explored the underwater world, snorkelling in the family-friendly Nemo’s Garden as well as just outside our over-water villa to spot black-tipped sharks, needle fish and unicorn fish (you can also take specialised snorkelling expeditions).

From the glass pane in the villa floor, we watched fish flashing by. A one-bed villa with a private pool, it had an extra bed in the sitting room, but there are also two- and three-bedroom properties dotted around the island.

One evening we took a dolphin cruise before sunset, where spinner dolphins seemed to delight in racing the boat, rising up and flipping in impressive barrel rolls before circling back to the bow. Back on land, once darkness fell, we enjoyed The Truman Show at the cinema under the stars, munching popcorn as we watched.

Not that you need to eat more given the range of cuisines on offer. It takes just half an hour to circumnavigate a resort that contains 15 restaurants and bars. Better still, kids under 15 stay and eat free on the same meal plan as their parents, whether you opt for bed and breakfast, half board, full board or an all-inclusive stay.

We found the latter option generous, with four a la carte restaurants included, from Indian to Italian. It’s worth paying extra for the Teppanyaki restaurant on the beach, where the chef puts on quite a show as he creates a series of sizzling plates.

There’s also a very good feet-in-the-sand buffet, where this sashimi and sushi fan was delighted to find the freshest of seafood not just at lunch but also at breakfast.

The buffet has a separate family area, so adults travelling on their own can enjoy dinner undisturbed. For the ultimate romantic meal, you can book a table on the sand, dining to the soundtrack of the waves. Or indulge your inner gourmand at a wine cellar dinner, with courses paired to fine wines from around the world.

Champagne and sparkling wines are on offer at the Bubble Lounge, while the appealingly named No Mistake Bar is the place for cocktails (try the rum-and-pineapple based ‘I’m Sorry’, its signature drink). You can even take a mixology class there.

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