Kiwis in flight: Island of fun in the Maldives
Club Med has always been a bit of an enigma to me. Is it for young or older people, partying or relaxing? And most importantly - for those of us with hyperactive tastebuds - can you really eat and drink all you want?
At Club Med Kani, the resort chain's luxury Maldives getaway, I quickly found out the latter was true. It should really be called Club Overfed; between three restaurants, beach nibbles, a complimentary minibar, crepe stands, evening canapes and buffets that could feed a small country – you have no chance of going hungry.
Most resorts in the Maldives put relaxation and romance at the heart of what they do. And while Kani has elements of that, it's really all about family fun, which isn't that common in the Maldives.
Is it right for you? Here's a quick guide to the Maldives' island of fun:
* Club Med: An honest guide for sceptics
* Join the Club in the Maldives
* Maldives: A to Z of things you (probably) don't know
WHAT IS CLUB MED KANI?
Club Med Kani is one of the biggest resorts in the Maldives, about 30 minutes speedboat from the country's airport.
The resort is as idyllic as the pictures look, with crystal clear turquoise waters surrounding a one kilometre long island lined with coconut trees. It's also family-oriented, allowing children as young as 4 to stay.
CAN I GET AN OVERWATER BUNGALOW WITH THAT?
You certainly can - there are 75! They fan out in a spectacular giant palm shaped formation at the end of the island, which is off-limits to the rest of the guests.
The rooms have a luxury Bali-bungalow type feel, and best of all you're able jump straight off your own pontoon into the glistening ocean.
At the centre of the palm is a lounge exclusively set aside for overwater guests. There you'll find a bartender ready to mix almost any drink imaginable, with canapes to match.
A RESORT OF WATERSPORTS AND ACTIVITIES
The golden rule at Club Med is if it doesn't have a motor - it's free. We soaked up hours of the day having a go at sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding. If you prefer terra firma, there's volleyball, soccer, badminton, table tennis and even zumba classes.
The lagoon around the island has somewhat lacklustre snorkelling by Maldives standards, but that's compensated with a free snorkelling trip to a nearby reef with fantastic fish life.
ENOUGH WATERSPORTS, I'M HUNGRY.
One of the great things about Club Med is the all-inclusive nature. Eat and drink whenever you want, as much as you want.
The buffet, with dishes from all around the world, is just as much a feast for the eyes as the stomach. There's another a la carte restaurant for those who want a change from the buffet, and a snack cafe open until late if you're too busy relaxing and miss dinner.
The kitchen and wait staff are some of the nicest you'll meet. I fell in love with their chocolate ciabatta loaf, full of molten white chocolate. After we left the island for a neighbouring one, three hot loafs were sent in a private boat for us enjoy for dessert that night. Now that's service.
One of the best things about Club Med is not having to worry about the cost of food. If you stay at other resorts, without an all-inclusive package, you are hostage to massive meal prices (for good reason, the Maldives is remote and most of the food is air freighted into the country, then shipped on small boats out to the islands). You don't need to worry about any of that at Club Med.
There are two all-inclusive bars on the island, and even a golf–turned-drinks buggy that drives up and down the beach so you don't need to move more than a few metres for a top-up.
If you're into dance parties, the island holds one every evening. But if that's not your thing, grab a drink and lie in a hammock overlooking the Indian Ocean to watch the sunset.
DINNER ON THE BEACH
Every Friday the entire buffet restaurant is moved out on the beach, and when you're feeding 250 people, it's a herculean task.
The atmosphere is breathtaking. The once pitch-black beach is transformed with carnival-style lighting, and bordered by chefs tending to massive outdoor barbecues.
GET THERE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE
The clock is ticking. Estimates vary, but even "mid-level" global warming forecasts put around 70 per cent of the country underwater by 2100.
The Maldives really is too special to be confined to the history books – yet the next few generations could be the last to experience it. Make sure you're one of them.
Club Med Kani offers a 7 night all-inclusive package starting from $2290 person, in a Club Room (that's on the island). If you fancy overwater luxury, 7 nights starts from $3975 per person.
Last year Brook Sabin and his partner Radha Engling quit their jobs and sold everything to travel. They started a blog onflightmode.com and are now full-time travellers, making a living selling travel photos and video all around the world. Each week Kiwis in flight will take you on their adventures.
The writer was hosted by Club Med Kani