Celebrity Tourism

Oh, baby… we’ve found the joyzone! Ronan Keating and family – including tot Cooper – enjoy a mind-blowing break to the magical Maldives

  • For the Irishman’s first ‘hot’ Christmas, former Boyzone star, Ronan Keating took his family to the Maldives
  • He and his wife also took their four children along, with ages ranging from 18 to just a few months old
  • But the star shouldn’t have worried about his kids’ first ‘non-traditional’ sunny Christmas – they loved it! 

Going back to a place you have really enjoyed can be a bit of a risk. Can you recreate those happy memories you have?

We first went to the Maldives four years ago and loved it. This time we made things more challenging by deciding to return over the Christmas break.

This was my first ‘hot’ Christmas.

 

Pure bliss: From their arrival by seaplane until departure, Ronan and his family had a wonderful time at Anantara Kihavah

My wife Storm is from Australia, so when she was growing up, December 25 was a day spent on the beach or playing cricket on the lawn.

I, meanwhile, grew up in Ireland, so I’m used to wet, cold and damp days. If we were really lucky, we had snow.

As we were taking four children – my three older ones, Jack, 18, Missy, 16, and Ali, 12 – and our baby Cooper, who was born last April, I was a little anxious.

How would a non-traditional Christmas in the sun appeal to them?

Fortunately, from the moment we arrived at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, they loved it.

We were delighted to discover that we even had a Christmas tree in our room – with gifts underneath it.

It was the children’s first trip to the Maldives, and for anybody who travels there for the first time, the journey is a thrill in itself.

Santa arrived – on a banana-boat!

After we arrived in the capital Male, we were led towards the seaplane base for the half hour flight to Kihavah Huravalhi.

We flew over glorious desert islands before landing on a beautiful turquoise lagoon.

When we got off the seaplane and stepped on to the pristine white sand, the staff were waiting, singing welcome songs, clapping and beating drums – it was magical.

Garlands were hung around our necks and we were handed glasses of fruit punch. We suddenly felt very cosseted.

We have lift-off: Ronan with wife Storm and baby Cooper in the Maldives

Say hello: Ronan Keating's baby Cooper was enthralled by the tropical fish

We have lift-off: Ronan with wife Storm and baby Cooper in the Maldives (left); Cooper enthralled by tropical fish (right)

Next came the excitement of being taken to our villa – we had an over-water one which was fantastic.

In the bathroom, there was a glass floor, which made for an interesting, if slightly unnerving, experience.

On the way to the villa, we were able to see uninhabited islands surrounded by reefs which we were told are home to turtles, eels and beautiful coral formations.

Anantara forms part of the Baa Atoll, which is home to baby sharks, stingrays and every fish you can imagine. It meant the snorkelling was exceptional.

Storm and I really only enjoy holidays if we are sure the children are having a good time. We needn’t have worried here as the staff worked tirelessly to make certain everybody was happy.

The food was phenomenal, the service extraordinary, the weather brilliant, the sea perfect. We were floating on air.

And any anxieties about Christmas were swept away when Father Christmas arrived at the resort on a banana-boat!

At Anantara, they take dining to new levels. At Sea, an underwater restaurant, you dine in a fish tank with a twist: you’re inside the tank and the fish are outside looking in at you.

One of its attractions is the world’s first underwater wine cellar. Wine with depth, you might say.

But when we were at Sea, we couldn’t bring ourselves to order the fish – in the circumstances, it would have been wrong somehow.

We liked Fire, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, while Salt, an Asian fusion restaurant, was also superb.

All the children loved the food on offer and couldn’t have been happier at meal times.

Peaceful: The view from one of Anantara Kihavah's over-water villas is absolutely exquisite at any time of day

Peaceful: The view from one of Anantara Kihavah’s over-water villas is absolutely exquisite at any time of day

The new Sky Bar, with its own DJ, was very cool place and it features an observatory. We could have sat there all night looking through the telescope at the stars.

My fears that the children – particularly the older ones – would be bored by staying on a small island were soon dismissed.

There was something going on all the time and lots of other children were there, so they were never short of people to hook up with for a game of beach volleyball, for example.

One day we all went on a boat trip which allowed us to snorkel out on the reef – we were right among the turtles.

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