15 November 2018Last updated


5 family holidays with a twist

From restoring coral reefs in Borneo to soaking up the culture in Shanghai, these inspiring getaways will satisfy everybody’s thirst for adventure

By Faye Bartle
14 Jun 2016 | 12:28 pm
  • Cheval Blanc Randheli Resort


Bond in the Maldives

Just a 40-minute seaplane journey north of the capital, Malé, Cheval Blanc Randheli on Noonu Atoll is your go-to resort for a family-friendly island escape.

There are a number of experiences on offer designed especially to enhance wellbeing and bring families together through activities such as daily sporting sessions. Competitive types can bond by taking part in the Family Mini Olympic Games, which challenges participants to everything from a tug-of-war to running races along the sand.

Adults can follow up with an indulgent spa treatment, while children can pick from a number of dedicated options designed to educate them about wellness.

There are lots more fun ways to create memories, including private in-kitchen cooking lessons from the resort’s top chefs.

Novel concepts such as the dough-throwing competition and Father/Son Barbecue Stand-off will inspire creativity while promoting healthy food choices.

Family fishing excursions, jet skiing adventures, crab hunting and al fresco movie nights are also on offer. Plus, if you need some extra downtime, there are fun, supervised clubs for children aged three to 12 and a separate hangout for teens.

NEED TO KNOW Prices start from around Dh6,000 a night with experiences arranged upon request. Visit


Enjoy a culture boost in Shanghai

Famous for its multicultural flair and awe-inspiring skyline, Shanghai is positively buzzing at this time of year. If you hurry, you can make the annual Dragon Boat Festival on June 9, offering visitors the chance to experience all the drama of the Suzhou Creek races. If you’re inspired to try your hand at paddling, you can get stuck in at The Shanglong Dragonboat Club. No trip to Shanghai would be complete without tasting the traditional zongzi – a pyramid-shaped parcel of sticky rice with meat or sweet red bean wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves. It can be found at wet markets during the lead-up to the festival.

For a more modern dose of culture, you can enjoy the art of cinema at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival taking place from June 11 to 16.

While it’s not strictly high-brow, kids will be super-excited to visit the hotly anticipated Shanghai Disney Resort, set to open on June 16. Located in Chuansha New Town of Pudong, the park’s attractions include the world’s tallest Enchanted Storybook Castle and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train, with live performances of The Lion King and Mickey’s Storybook Express.

A great base from which to explore is the five-star Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, located on the banks of the Huangpu River.

NEED TO KNOW Guests can book two nights and get one night free from June 5 to September 5, 2016, with rates starting from around Dh1,000. Visit


Be more active in Morocco

If you haven’t yet explored Morocco’s beautiful coastline, then a trip to Paradis Plage makes a brilliant introduction. It’s a beautiful setting for an active family holiday in the sun, offering access to 10km of sandy beach, with private surfing lessons for all ages and abilities.

Little ones can enjoy sports and art activities thanks to the kids’ club, while the grown-ups can ramp up their healthy holiday credentials with a beachside yoga class or circuit training on the sand. Mountain biking, paddle boarding and kayaking are also available, while the evenings are best saved for unwinding over an authentic Moroccan dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

NEED TO KNOW A seven-night stay starts from around Dh5,500 per person and includes breakfast, return flights and transfers. Available through Health and Fitness Travel; visit for more information.


Conserve marine life in Borneo

Budding marine biologists can help preserve endangered species while staying in a five-star villa perched over the South China Sea at Gayana Eco Resort in Borneo.

The one-day experience sees guests teaming up with the resort’s resident marine biologists at the Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) for a hands-on coral reef restoration exercise.

MERC visitor activities include transferring replanted coral fragments to the underwater Coral Garden, collecting coral fragments in the sea and attaching them to a bio-rock structure, snorkelling around the house reef with an underwater camera, and taking a kayak trip into the mangroves.

Guests can even become proud foster parents to a giant clam and ensure it gets reinstated into its natural habitat.

Located within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park, Gayana Eco Resort offers lots more family friendly activities besides. There’s even a PADI-certified dive centre that caters to divers of all skill levels. Unwind in the Solace Spa and choose from a variety of yummy dining experiences, such as Macac restaurant, which specialises in delicious Asian food with a Malaysian twist.

NEED TO KNOW From around Dh800 per night, per room (based on two adults and one child). Visit


Get back to nature in France

Fancy taking the kids on a nature walk through groomed lawns lined with lush flower beds and along woodland tracks complete with ancient trees? Kistinic Gatehouse and Parc, a small but perfectly formed 19th-century chateau in Brittany, France, offers all this and more, thanks to its 15 hectares of lush parkland. Located just 3km from the heart of historic Quimper in Southern Finistère, the gorgeous property has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and is available to rent on a self-catering basis.

Guests can enjoy access to the stunning infinity swimming pool – gated for security – and there’s a children’s play area with swings and a slide, as well as a spiral maze to navigate on the lawn. Animal lovers will be able to spot deer, rabbits, red squirrels, badgers, owls and foxes roaming the grounds and thrill-seekers can enjoy the zip line that’ll whizz you through the trees at high speed. There’s also a mountain biking and jogging track, while golf can be set up on the lawn.

NEED TO KNOW Prices start from around Dh5,200 for a week (sleeping six people in the gatehouse). Visit

By Faye Bartle

By Faye Bartle