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Conrad Rangali Island

I have just returned from 5 days at the stunning yet unassuming Conrad Rangali Island, Maldives.


I had heard a lot about this property over the years but I went with no expectations at all as every time I visit the Maldives I always go with an open mind. Yes every resort is stunning as its surrounded by crystal blue ocean and white powdery beaches so they are all beautiful, however some resorts can hook you on service, dining options, a unique selling point, great marine life and house reefs, dive sites and of course the rooms. I am going to break my review down into segments as I honestly believe The Conrad Maldives offers all this and more – there’s no surprise that most of its guests are repeaters as they have the instant feeling of being back at home every time they step on the island.



Just a 30 minute sea plane from Male International Airport, you arrive at Conrad Rangali, Maldives jetty which connects to two islands. Rangalifinolhu Island is more for families and is the heart of the resort or you can stay in the adult only hideaway on Rangali Island.


Rangalifinolhu is home to a mix of water villas and beach villas, the spa, the shopping boulevard, dive centre and water sports centre plus a mixture of the dining experiences. Plus you will find a large swimming pool next to the beach.


Rangali Island is more of a quieter island, home to just water villas, a couple of restaurants and bars plus the infinity pool. This would be a perfect island to host a small wedding with 50 rooms you could even take it privately. This island will now close until the 1st November as all the water villas are being renovated and they are building a new over water spa which is going to add an exciting new element to a fantastic location.


To get from one island to another you can take the Dhoni boat, which takes a couple of minutes otherwise simply enjoy the walk. One day I went via paddleboard, which was fun!!





Rangalifinolhu Island offers 1 and 2 bedroom water villas with and without a private swimming pool. The two bedrooms are very spacious with a large bathroom in the centre separating the rooms and a living area. The beach villas are available in 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms.

The deluxe 1 bedroom villa is stunning and extremely spacious for a family with young children. They include a large outdoor relaxing area with day bed and rattan swing plus an outdoor shower which is accessible from the bathroom..

The bathroom includes all modern amenities such as a powerful rain shower and an intelligent toilet!!!  From the bedroom you can access the pool and private beach.


You can watch the room tour here: https://youtu.be/_oJgAt2PgVM


The 2 bedroom beach villa is the same layout except in place of the relaxing area by the out door shower, this has been designed into another bedroom– again great for families but not ideal for 2 couples. They also have interconnecting beach villas too.


As I mentioned before, Rangali Island will actually be closed until  1st November as all the water villas are being renovated. I have seen the mock up rooms and they are lovely and will offer 1 and 2 bedroom villas with and without pool. There will also be 2 three bedroom water villas with pools that are very spacious and private as they sit on the edge of a private jetty.



THE MURAKA – The world’s first undersea residence


This has to be the most modern and unique 3 bedroom, two level luxury residence in the world, let alone the Maldives! One of the bedrooms is submerged under the sea offering the best seat to watch your own underwater theater and a truly unique visual experience.


As you walk down the jetty towards The Muraka which is located out into the sea away from the island this incredible modern white building starts to take form.


As you enter its open plan with floor to ceiling windows around the entire back of the residence. The living space with a large dining area and kitchen bar brings the out doors in with sliding doors which open up onto a large deck with a huge comfortable seating area, infinity swimming pool and lots of space to jump directly into the ocean.

On the first floor is a king bedroom with an incredibly large bathroom with a stunning bath perfectly placed to offer the most delightful views of the ocean. There’s a twin bedroom perfect for kids, a gym and for large families traveling with staff there’s a separate wing for them to relax and feel comfortable.


To get to the master bedroom you can take the spiral staircase or the elevator which takes you below sea level. Once the lift doors open you walk directly into the master bedroom which provides 180 degree curved acrylic dome from floor to ceiling windows offering the most incredible front row seat to an under water theatre.

As I lay on the bed I was in awe of what was in front of me. The small sharks and schools of fish would swim past along with the odd large fish who looked like he was staring right at you.

At the far end of the roof there are two comfortable chairs facing outwards and the opposite end of the room is a walk in wardrobe and a wash room with double sinks, complete with Aesop products. Being in this room there’s wasn’t one moment that you don’t have a view of the marine life, it’s truly an incredible experience.  The hardest decision to make while staying in The Muraka is which seat to sit on and what view to admire.


You can watch my room tour here: https://youtu.be/jG-eglLPus0





For the size of this island there is so much choice for dining along with unique experiences. There are 12 world class restaurants all serving totally different cuisines, from an authentic Chinese restaurant by acclaimed chef Jeremy Leung, an underground wine cellar, an underwater restaurant, Teppanyaki table on the beach and more.  I’m not one for dining at the same restaurant every night , so this really is a foodies paradise.  You also have a choice of two breakfast restaurants to also shake things up!


ITHAA underwater restaurant. A fine dining experience 5 meters under the sea with 180 degree panoramic views. Relax with a glass in hand as you watch the marine life swimming past you as the sunlight reflects on the coral.


Lunch is a 4 course fine dining delight and dinner is 6 courses all being specially designed to leave you feeling light and satisfied.  It’s a small restaurant approx. 14 people at a time and you can book it exclusively for breakfast/lunch and dinner.

Chef cooked us a wonderful array of dishes for lunch – mine were all served without fish and shell fish:


Dill infused salmon

Beet, caper mayo, pistachio


Foie gras touchon

Pecan granola, poached rhubarb, fried shallots


Miso & truffle marinated black cod OR Wagyu beef

Green pea, edamame bean, snow pea, crisp noodles, onion sauce


Yuzu set mousse

Passion fruit, pineapple and butter milk




Ufaa is an innovative Chinese culinary concept by celebrity chef Jeremy Leung that showcases authentic experiences which highlight the iconic flavours from the distinctive cultures and provinces across China. The restaurant presents various dining options including fresh hand- made noodles and dim sum, premium hotpot with Chef Leung’s signature broth and top quality produce.


This was one of my favorites as it sits on stilts in the lagoon, this open-air over-water restaurant is the best kept dining secret on the island. The menu has been specially prepared to energize, nourish, detoxify, relax and fortify the body utilizing organic produce, some grown on the island grounds and imported from around the world. The chefs cooking techniques pay special attention to specific tastes, temperature, level of moisture and density as they all affect the mind and body in different ways.


Located two meters underground and featuring up to 20,000 bottles of wine and up to1,400 labels – the most in the Maldives, The Wine Cellar is the setting for degustation dinners hosted by the island’s head chef and chief sommelier, who skillfully match a five-course menu with up to eight hand-picked wines. 12 guests sit at the purposely-designed table with the chief sommelier and are guided on an interactive journey through the old and new world wine regions, presented on personal video screens. The menu changes each time, allowing chef to show- case the best seasonal ingredients available.


Home to over 100 of the world’s best cheeses which have been carefully selected by the Cheese Master, The Cheese and Wine Bar, is the Maldives’ one and only purposely designed cheese and wine bar. The Cheese and Wine Bar plays host to informal wine and cheese tastings as well as regular fondue and tapas evenings. Guests will feel the subtle texture of black volcanic sand imported from New Zealand between their toes as they are welcomed, whether for a cheese platter for dinner or simply a glass of wine, before or after dinner.

VILU Restaurant and Bar

Vilu Restaurant is dedicated to the art of food and wine pairing. Located on the edge of the lagoon, Vilu is an open air restaurant that showcases the resort’s extensive wine selection that has been expertly matched to the contemporary Mediterranean inspired cuisine on offer.


Located on the beach, Koko Grill Restaurant is an intimate and lively dining experience. Watch flames dance on the open teppenkayi grill as chef prepares up to 10 courses of Japanese cuisine under the stars.


              Sits on the edge of the main pool, the sand-floored bar provides extensive lunch and dinner menus alongside contemporary cocktails, regular live music and events. Open for lunch and dinner from 10 am until late.


An open-air tented lounge on the beach, located on Rangali Island. For adults only, The Quiet Zone features comfy daybeds, a fully stocked bar and a lunch and dinner men


             The resort’s only buffet restaurant with eight show kitchens featuring Asian, Italian, Japanese, Indian, a Grill, the Deli, a bakery and desserts, Atoll market provides a culinary tour of the world under one roof. Open for breakfast and dinner.


Enjoy an unforgettable occasion with a bountiful seafood feast featuring lobsters and shell fish caught off the resort’s shores, accompanied by Champagne and served in an idyllic beach setting. Advance reservations are essential.


Set on stilts 50-metres out to sea above a coral reef, the open-air restaurant showcases the country’s fresh seafood and imported meats prepared simply alongside a carefully crafted wine list.





I have been to the Maldives 8 times and never have I seen so many Manta Rays so close by. Every evening they would come swimming close to the jetty as they are attracted by the lights. They would elegantly glide through the water turning upside down with their mouths wide open to feed on plankton. I watched in awe of how majestic and giant these creatures are.

Another amazing creature you can also spot close to the resort is the Whale Shark the largest fish in the ocean. The whale shark which is a shark not a whale is easy to spot not just from its size but also as part of its body is covered in white spots. They are totally harmless hence why snorkelers and divers can swim next to them as they swim slowly opening their large mouth to feed on plankton.  

Boat trips are available every day in order to swim with the whale sharks. We went out one morning and unfortunately for me, we didn’t see any, which I was gutted about as at many other resorts in the Maldives people can wait for hours to see these beautiful creatures and here they are so close to us but that day they must have been swimming too deep for us to find. I will be going back to the resort to try my luck next time. However we did see many spinner dolphins putting on a display spinning next to the boat even the babies were performing.

There are also 42 dive sites close to the resort so dive lovers have enough options to keep them busy for weeks.

Along with the underwater restaurant and The Muraka private residence were you can watch sting rays and black tip sharks darting past the windows this island is the closest I have got to seeing so much marine life without getting wet.


The team on the island are very protective of the sea life around the resort and with good reason. They are always on hand to answer any questions and they politely ask people to refrain from trying to feed the Manta Rays and other sea life.





Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is home to two unique spa experiences, The Spa Retreat on Rangalifinolhu Island and The Over-Water Spa on Rangali Island.

100 meters off of the tip of Rangalifinolhu Island, The Spa Retreat offers a holistic and locally inspired experience which is aimed at relaxing the mind, body and soul.  

The overwater spa on Rangali Island comprises of four thatched-roof treatment rooms set on stilts over the Indian Ocean. Three of these treatment rooms have glass floors, providing entrancing views of the coral reef below, whilst a secluded serenity deck with open-air Jacuzzi provides the perfect finale to the spa rituals on offer.


MAJAA Explorers Hub


Majaa Explorers Hub offers children a fun filled entertainment schedule packed with activities and themed daily programs. Little explorer favorites include the Pirate Cruises, Coral Education and Little Chef Workshops.

They are also developing a teenagers clubs for days when you just need to be out of the sun and chill.

Kids aged 10+ can learn how to snorkel and dive with their experienced PADI accredited dive team.

The island offers every water sport you can think of and all non motorized activities like paddle boarding, kayaking and pedalos are complimentary.


I have to be honest I haven’t been to a resort in the Maldives where the service wasn’t excellent and the staff were not polite and friendly. I spent a lot of time with the management team and I was surprised how all staff addressed each other by their names – that’s a lot of peoples names to remember!!



If you’re a diver this is the resort for you!

If you’re a foodie this is the culinary experience you have been waiting for!



The Conrad Maldives website is currently being updated, so don’t let it put you off as it gives a false reflection of the property, have a look at my photos below and visit their Instagram page @conrad_maldives


Before arriving on the island why not download the MARUHABA App which includes all the restaurants menus, island map, activities etc. See the QR code below.


Maldives’ regulars who have not tried the Conrad need to put this resort next on their list while for Maldives newbies this resort is literally the best way to experience all the different wonders that make Maldives truly magical! 

Watch our full video on this link: https://youtu.be/uDnpKpGo6G0

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Blog post

Stunning Sri Lanka

The last year has been a tough year for the world over, with so much sadness and loss and for people who have not been able to see their loved ones.

In Dubai we are fortunate to live in a country that was proactive from the start and one of the first countries to offer the Covid 19 vaccine. I am lucky to be fully vaccinated now which offers that extra layer of protection and reassurance. However on a personal note my business, being in travel has sadly struggled as the travel industry took a massive hit, but the good news is that since August 2020 bookings started to come in when air corridors opened and more people felt comfortable to travel, especially to destinations such as Maldives and Seychelles.


Many people are in desperate need of a little escapism so when my partners at Resplendent Ceylon asked me to arrange a ladies trip to Sri Lanka I jumped at the opportunity. I have visited Sri Lanka 5 times before as a couple and with my family and I have a deep respect and admiration for the Sri Lankan people who have over the years shown such resiliency and strength and I for one will always support the country especially as tourism is a significant part of the country’s economy.

It always surprises me why Sri Lanka is under rated as a holiday destination, but I do hope reading this article will encourage many of my readers to visit this magical place, with its diverse experiences from tropical beaches, jungle safari and vast green mountain regions that one can enjoy while staying in luxury properties.


Resplendent Ceylon comprises of three unique properties and is a member of luxury hospitality brand Relais & Chateaux and I'm happy to say that I have experienced all three of their Sri Lankan hotels each so diverse in their location yet their unique signature style and service binds them together and stands out.



Wild Coast Tented Lodge rests on a secluded beach on the edge of Yala National Park offering a raw safari experience while staying in luxury cocoons that blend in with the coastal environment.


Cape Weligama sits on a cliff edge 40 meters above the Indian Ocean with large villas set in private clusters set in beautifully manicured gardens.


Ceylon Tea Trails is the world’s first tea bungalow resort, perched at an altitude of 1250 meters in Sri Lanka’s panoramic Ceylon tea region.


You can find my review of Wild Coast Tented lodge here:




For this ladies trip we visited Cape Weligama and Ceylon Tea Trails for a week's worth of total relaxation and grounding.


Arriving in Sri Lanka during a pandemic could make you feel seriously anxious but let me reassure you that the Sri Lankan government have done such an amazing job protecting its people resulting in a death toll of only approx. 400 to date with most of the capital Colombo already vaccinated. In Feb 2021 Sri Lanka finally opened its borders to international guests.

All tourists have to apply for a visit visa (website below) and you must include a hotel reservation number from a Grade 1 government listed resort within the application. A negative PCR test is required 96 hours before entering the country and during a 7 days stay you will requested to take 2 PCR tests on the property and in 14 days you will require to have three.


Walking through the airport was rather quiet but one thing that was visible was that all staff where wearing PCP clothing and all suit cases were sanitized.

Our first resort was Cape Weligama which was a three hour drive, however the quicker option is taking the sea plane to any of the three Resplendent properties but sadly they were not operating during our stay due to lack of tourists.


Arriving at Cape Weligama brought back memories of when I was there with my family in 2019. The perfectly manicured grounds welcome you the moment you walk towards your room. 39 villas are set in small clusters within 12 stunning manicured grounds all with their own swimming pool. For one bedrooms the villas are extremely generous in size with huge bathrooms including free standing oval shaped baths. The suites come with a living room which can be made into additional beds for families.  You will notice throughout all Resplendent properties the bathrooms are beautiful providing baths that are uniquely positioned in order to provide you with stunning views.


The adults only crescent shaped infinity pool is what dreams are literally made off.  The views go on for miles where the blue pool water meets the ocean which meets the sky. To get to the beach 40 meters below you have to walk through the trees and down the side of the cliff where you will find a couple of hidden look out spots which offer beautiful views and little pieces of serenity.

Wherever in the property that you decide to take the weight of your feet to relax, the resort offers so many great viewing spots, remember if you visit the spa their viewing deck is awesome!


On our first evening the hotel had laid out a cliff top dining experience as the sun was setting, sitting with a glass in my hand, the cool air breeze, the sky changing in colour and views that went on for miles, simply reminded me just how the little things in life can be the most magical to which we have to be grateful for.



The next morning we woke early to go whale watching on a private yacht that was arranged by the hotel which had been government approved. This was a new experience for me which I was excited for, however it just wasn’t our day as a few hours at sea and not one whale had graced us with his presence. And believe me my head was close to the water more than I cared to have liked – catch my drift!!!


That night we ate in the main restaurant enjoying a wonderful spread of Sri Lankan cuisine.  Even though there is a menu on hand, nothing is too much to ask for – in fact the chief chef loved requests and was more than happy to show off his wonderful culinary skills. Being a member of Relais & Chateaux, food is a huge part of the hospitality experience and I find that Sri Lankan food is so clean and fresh, not leaving you bloated and uncomfortable.


The next day we were heading to Ceylon Tea Trails which is a 5 hour drive or again this is where you can enjoy the sea plane. I would highly recommend booking this, not just to cut down the transit time but to see Sri Lanka from a birds eye view.


To break up the journey we visited Udawalawe Elephant Transfer Home located within Udawalawe National park. The Elephant Transit Home is associated with the Born Free Foundation. This is home to over 100 orphaned or sick elephants who are fed and cared for until they are strong enough to be returned to the wild. The centre allows you to visit at the feeding times of 06:00, 09:00, 12:00, 15:00 and 18:00. From behind a barrier you can watch the elephants ambling along behind a keeper, where they will be fed milk through plastic hoses. It was so sweet watching the babies run as fast as they can while trumpeting to get their milk.  The first three baby elephants that came running out reminded me of my three kids at home running to be first in the kitchen – it was so sweet to watch. (And No I still wasn’t missing them!)


The remainder of the journey up to Ceylon Tea region is through narrow roads winding up the mountain, with views that just kept getting better and better. On one side you could spot the hard working female tea pickers plucking away in the tea plantations which are contoured along the slopes. The ladies are wearing brightly coloured sacks on their backs in order to store the ‘two leaves and a bud” which are later taken to the factories to be dried. (I will explain the meaning of two leaves and a bud in a minute!)


We finally see the sign for ‘Tientsin Bungalow’  which was going to be our home over the next 5 days. We drive up the narrow path and as we eagerly jump out the car we are instantly entered into an English country garden. It’s so beautiful and reminded me of the UK countryside with the most stunning colonial bungalow in the middle of the lawn. The sun was starting to set and within minutes the sky had changed to a beautiful pink and purple colour. Before arriving I thought I knew what to expect but I can honestly say it wasn’t what was right in front of me – what I was seeing was no less than utter, exuisite natural beauty.


We are welcomed by a team of staff (again all wearing pcp clothing) standing on the terrace next to a table which was laid out with late afternoon tea and drinks. We are invited to explore our home, which was exclusively ours with 6 bedrooms, and shared large living room, dining room and a snooker table room.


With jazz music softly playing in the living room and drinks on ice you automatically felt at home, but where was I exactly, this wasn’t what I had pictured, yet from the moment I walked into the property, I knew I was going to enjoy my stay.

The interior is designed with a colonial charm with each bedroom having a four poster bed, a fire place with logs ready to light and two grand chairs in front of it. The Resplendent signature style was so prevalent in the bathrooms with the free standing sleigh baths perfectly positioned next to glass doors or large windows which would open up into your own private garden showcasing the tea plantations and mountain region beautifully.


Back outside within the grounds is a large swimming pool and Jacuzzi, tennis courts and even a private garden for croquet.


Your days at Ceylon Tea Trails are simply designed for relaxation, socializing and dining. The Chief Chef takes great pride in providing a culinary experience as he will make anything your heart desires with three courses for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Booking at the Ceylon Tea Trails is an all inclusive experience which includes alcoholic drinks, afternoon teas etc. Even though I didn’t seem to stop eating I never felt bloated or uncomfortable which I put down to the food being so clean, organic and fresh.

Dining can be set up anywhere within the grounds so we enjoyed a picnic in the garden, breakfast at the pool and dinner on the terrace.


Ceylon Tea Trails comprises of 5 bungalows which are spread out across the valley:

Castleragh Bungalow – Built in the 1925 at an altitude of 1,120 meters- 5 bedrooms


Dunkeld Bungalow – Built in 1925 at an altitude of 1,230 meters – 5 bedrooms


Norwood Bungalow – Built in 1950 at an altitude of 1270 meters – 6 bedrooms


Summerville Bungalow- Built in 1923 at an altitude of 1118 meters – 5 bedrooms


Tientsin Bungalow - Built in 1988 at an altitude of 1320 meters – 6 bedrooms


You can enjoy mountain biking, kayaking and wonderful hikes and trails which you can start from any of the properties' front doors. 


We enjoyed an early morning hike in the tea plantations with our guide who explained more about the tea pickers and collecting “two leaves and a bud”.

Sri Lanka is one of only a few countries where tea is still plucked by hand, from bushes planted along the contours of the slopes. A highly skilled workforce, predominantly women, moves along rows of bushes, stripping two leaves and a bud from each plant and often covering over 10k a day. The leaves are immediately carried to the nearby factories where they are dried, processed and packed into crates ready for transportation.


Due to the current restrictions we couldn’t visit the tea factory so Bernard who I believe has 53 years experience in tea gave us a tea demonstration at the bungalow.

Dilamh Tea is sold all over the world and was founded in 1988 by Mr Merrill J Fernando which he named the brand after his two sons, with one of the sons, Malik Fernando owning the Resplendent Brand – so tea really does run through the family's veins.


We wanted to visit Dunkeld Bungalow as the view was very different over looking the reservoir with an infinity pool. It was great to see another option of bungalow even though they all differ in size and the grounds/views all have the same feel and signature Resplendent touch.


This is a property I would highly recommend to families or a group of friends. It’s a place where you can take life at your own pace, enjoy each others company, be at one with nature adding as much activities as you like and even more so with the current pandemic, it’s the perfect venue to social distance offering total privacy.


I would like to thank the entire team at Resplendent for their wonderful hospitality and excellent service. Until next time!!


Watch the video of our stay: https://youtu.be/Te0guZInGng


Sri Lankan Airlines currently flies twice a week – Saturdays and Tuesdays from Dubai Terminal 3

To apply for your visa visit click here: https://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/center.jsp?locale=en_US


You must include in the visa application a reservation number provided by your hotel booking

A negative PCR test required 96 hours before travel

For the respective protocols, You can also visit 



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Personalized Pin Board Maps

Newly Launched!


At Unique Family Travels, we are strong believers in the visual aspect of travel, where your sense of touch, smell and sight are enhanced by the places you visit. We wanted to recreate that travel magic and have it present in your every day life.

We have created a personalized world map which the entire family can enjoy, allowing you a visual aspect to your memories, an educational point of view for the children and also enlightening the traveller within for destinations in the future.


Whether you’re an avid traveller or a curious soul, these maps are the perfect way to ignite the travel bug and start planning where to visit around the world. It’s also a fun way to keep track of who’s winning the ‘most traveled’ gold medal!


Available in sizes A1 or A0 these personalized uniquely designed maps are framed and set against a board so you can use the coloured pins that come with it to pin yours and your families’ travels:


•Where You’ve Travelled too

•Where You’ve Travelled as a family

•Where to Next!

•Bucketlist Adventures!


You can find out more by visiting our Instagram page @uniquefamilymaps

Order it, give it a prominent place on the walls of your home and let the family travel discussions begin!...


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Countries Without Quarantine

Itching to travel but not sure where you can go without having to quarantine? See our list of countries below which have opened their international boarders to tourists without having to quarantine as long as you present a negative Covid certificate on arrival.

London – currently on lockdown


The new laws which were put into place in Jan 2021 states that all entries to the UK must show a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before. This also applies for Scotland.


Hotel Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2019/09/12/langham-london/




There are no entry restrictions, but many regions (including Lisbon and Porto) have strict regulations.




All arrivals into Maldives must be able to present a Covid-19 PCR negative certificate, taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Island hopping, or visiting more than one resort, which was previously banned, has also been permitted again. There are rules in place though for island hopping: tourists must apply for permission from the Ministry of Tourism at least 48 hours prior to their date of travel, and can only travel from a resort that has not recorded a single case of coronavirus in the last 28 days. The resort must also carry out exit screenings and temperature checks for travellers for contact trace purposes. Installing the contact tracing app “TraceEkee” is encouraged for all tourists.


Resort Recommendation by yacht: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2021/01/07/velassaru-maldives/


Resort Recommendation by sea plane: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2021/01/11/the-nautilus-maldives/





A negative COVID-19 certificate is required for all travelers arriving, transiting or departing from Rwanda.


Lodge Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2019/07/12/bisate-lodge/




Botswana is opened its boarders for International tourists. You must present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test result, conducted within 72 hours of departure.


Safari Lodge Recommendation:  http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2020/01/06/jao-botswana/




Uganda has resumed international flights permitting arrivals from across the globe under new guidelines. The air and land borders in Uganda are now open for visitors, provided that they can provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and arrivals can expect temperature screenings on arrival, but no mandatory quarantine. Uganda requires all outbound passengers to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test, taken within 120 hours of departure. 


Luxury lodge recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2021/01/20/luxury-lodge-in-uganda/





Travellers must get tested for Covid-19 before arrival, and must be able to present a PCR test certificate by a recognised facility. The test must be taken within 48 hours from the date of departure. Safari adventures have resumed.


Safari Lodge Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2021/01/11/safari-zimbabwe/




The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon and Jordan are exempt from quarantining on arrival. Arrivals must present a Covid negative certificate, taken within 96 hours and fill out a travel health form for contact tracing purposes. Those travelling to Kenya can also expect health screenings at the airport. 

Safari Lodge Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2021/01/11/ol-donyo-lodge-kenya/


Zanzibar has resumed business as normal after the reopening of airports for international travellers across Tanzania. All travelers to Zanzibar should hold medical health insurance, adhere to guidelines outlined by the Zanzibar health authorities and undergo screening when entering the country.

Resort Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2021/01/11/zanzibar-white-sands/


Travellers from the UAE are permitted to enter Seychelles and present a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours but will have to stay within the hotel property for the first 5 days of their stay.

Resort Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2019/08/06/six-senses-zil-pasyon/



Croatia is one of the few European countries permitting entry for non-EU residents. Tourists from all destinations are permitted to travel to Croatia, but those that do from outside of EU/EEA/UK must present a Covid-19 negative certificate taken no more than 48 hours prior to departure.





Like its Croatian neighbour, Montenegro is one of a small number of countries in Europe that's opened its borders for international arrivals. Aside from countries within the EU/Schengen Area, the country has compiled a list of green countries, from which arrivals don't need to self quarantine. This list includes Jordan and the UAE. 


Hotel Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2019/04/01/the-chedi-montenegro/




Despite having recorded one of the highest tallies of coronavirus cases globally, Brazil resumed international flights in 2020, permitting tourists from all countries provided that they carry international health insurance. 




UAE residents are permitted to travel to Greece quarantine-free. Arrivals from some countries - including Spain and the UAE - must produce a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their flight. Twenty four hours before entering Greece, visitors must complete a passenger locator form (PLF) where they will provide their contact details in the country. Random testing will take place at the airport.


Hotel Recommendation: http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2021/01/11/iconic-santorini/



The below countries have a quarantine period on arrival:






Sri Lanka




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3 bedroom tent

MYSK Kingfisher Retreat

What if I told you there was a hidden, untouched gem less than 2 hours drive from Dubai, nestled in an eco-conservation area and facing the ocean on the coast of Sharjah where you can totally disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life and submerge yourself in peace and tranquility.

Well I’m excited to introduce you to MYSK Kingfisher Retreat where I have just spent the weekend with my family. We went in having no expectations but were blown away by what we experienced and left in awe by the UAE always managing to create fascinating new hotel properties.


You normally arrive to the resort via a quick boat ride across the EPA – Environmental Protection Area of mangroves filled with fish and large turtles. However with building work within the area we were escorted to the main lobby via a golf buggy driven by a very professional and friendly Harris who provided us with a very warm and informative welcome.


From the travel posts I’ve written over the past, you know by now I am a sucker for excellent service especially at luxury resorts – I’m certainly not high maintenance but I just know by now what differentiates that special, unique excellence from the rest and I’m pleased to say the welcome and check in experience we received at Kingfisher Lodge ticks all the boxes of luxury.


Entering the lobby which is the largest tent on the property and also contains the main dining area, you are immediately greeted by the beautiful interior and soft furnishing - blues, creams and soft beiges are the pantone colors of the resort with large lantern lighting, beach wood furniture and decorative cushions that are karate chopped in the middle to perfection – if you’re a fan of “Mcgee Interior Studio” you will know what I am talking about and I’m sure Shea McGee would give the interior design and layout at Kingfisher Retreat 10/10


The outside wooden terrace has views of the mountains and beach, with two sunken fire-pits, a large water feature and day beds around that perfectly catch the surrounding environments and reflect the vibe of the resort beautifully.  



We were given a 3-bedroom tent which at 344sqm is extremely spacious. Let me walk you through it….

There’s a separate large guest double bedroom to one side of the main tent with a large bathroom. Walking into the main tent it opens up into a living room with doors that open up onto the terrace facing the beach. To the left and right of the living room are bedrooms. One had twin beds, very spacious with a large bathroom, which includes 2 sinks, shower and bath. The layout is unique utilizing the space well and also providing privacy. The other bedroom is the master bedroom with a large double bed in the middle of the room and another large bathroom with the same layout as the twin bedroom. Again the resorts pantone colors go throughout the tent which offers a cozy and warm vibe bringing the outdoor environment inside. I also love all the round mirrors, which are featured throughout the tent.  Top marks for unlimited water, tea, coffee and fruit baskets.


The ocean facing terrace has two sun loungers and a seating area with a large plunge pool – sadly the pool wasn’t heated which is a shame as this would have been perfect especially as the weather was warm in the day and super cold in the evening so a temperature controlled pool would have been wonderful.


There are 20 villas in total with 1,2 and 3 bedroom options.


I actually find it difficult to find any fault with the villas/tents, however if I had to be picky, I would say that they should include a beautiful skin care brand and fragrance in the bathroom. Being a retreat and the most beautifully designed bathrooms –a lavender or eucalyptus aroma with relaxing bath salts and skin care line available would provide a little personal sanctuary and relaxation….



I was super impressed with the resort providing a lot of bikes and making them available for guests of all ages – they were all fat bikes (fat tire bikes) – which means perfect for off roading – highly functional and ideal for riding on the beach. If you happen to spend your stay in villa 20 – you will need your bike to go to reception as it’s a long walk. The kids enjoyed cycling and riding onto the beach – a little effort required to ride them as they are super heavy but provide a lot of fun!



The food was spot on, excellent, well presented, yummy and very tasty – what more can I say? I guess for a boutique property the food should be perfect but it wasn’t just the menu choice it was the way it was served. Let me explain more, lunch was a la carte and had a wide variety on offer. Dinner is served outside in candlelight close to the two large fire pits either facing the beach or the mountain range under a canopy of stars. The dinner menu starter were shared platters – Arabic mezze, rocca salad with mushroom, cherry tomatoes, crispy parmesan and a buffalo mozzarella salad. For main there was a choice of Grill beef medallion with mushroom risotto, chicken butter with rice, hammour with mash and veg or a veg pasta dish then sharing deserts. The kids could eat from the a la carte menu and for desert they had a popcorn and ice cream stand. The following morning for breakfast, everyone was presented with their menus and a pencil to tick what they would like to eat, including how you would like your egg cooked, your milk of choice etc Breakfast initially came with sharing platters of Arabic breakfast mezza, fruit platter, cheese platter, pastry basket, French toast and pancakes.

For a full board option, you will never go hungry at Kingfisher Retreat. A special shout out to the service staff who were impeccable and the Chef who should be proud of his exemplary talent.



A raw, soft and completely untouched sand beach that goes on for miles. In fact hubby ran early one morning down the beach and reached the Oman border! The beach is simply beautiful – one end is filled with hermit crabs which the kids enjoyed playing with and racing! On one part of the beach close to the reception is an instagramable swing and day beds.



A host of standard hotel activities are available ranging from water to land such as diving, kayak excursions, stand-up paddle boarding etc and then more resort specific activities such as nature walks all along the Watchtowers trek, cycling across Kalba, culture museums and visiting Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre or Kalba Bird of Prey Centre.

For a more relaxed experience you can enjoy the resort spa.


Covid measures

In today’s environment, this is to be expected as all staff and all guests adhered to wearing a mask at all times and F&B staff also wore gloves. Sanitizers were around but I would have liked to have seen more, especially in the villas.



30 minutes from the hotel is Al Rabi Hiking Trail, Khorfakkan, which is a great family hike

Read the full post here… http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2020/11/01/adventures-in-the-uae/


Little touches go a long way

The kids were all given a cute stuffed turtle and everyone is provided with a property map that includes images and info on all the animals in the area such as gazelles and red foxes, to the different types of crabs, fish, turtles and rays. If you’re a keen bird spotter then you’re in luck with over 35 different birds including the KINGFISHER.

And for the plant lovers there are all kinds of shrubs and plants including Aloe Vera plants – it is a eco-friendly paradise and conservationists will fall in love with this place.


MYSK Kingfisher Retreat is untouched and I’m not surprised if it becomes one of the UAE bestsellers in the coming months. It has all the attributes and the potential to become a true gem, and not hidden anymore. I highly recommend my readers and clients to get booking and head to the Sharjah coastline for some genuine, authentic luxurious fun.


For more information please visit their website: https://myskhotels.com/en/


Or contact us directly for unique rates. @uniquefamilytravel


Watch our video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhiaMxo_254



Family Friendly Couple

Longbeach Campground

When I was asked to work with Visit Ras Al Khamiah I really wanted to experience every hidden gem that RAK has to offer and OH Boy did I find one.

LongBeach Campground is certainly the coolest glamping experience I have ever had – and my kids were in their element.


With accommodation for all budgets, couples and families, LongBeach Campground really does tick all the boxes. The accommodation ranges from authentic deluxe tents, authentic family tents, a sunset terrace suite, safari suite tents and the panoramic dome tents (bubble) each one perfectly spaced out facing the beach.


We had a panoramic dome tent which was extremely comfortable equipped with a double bed and bunk beds (great mattress – very comfy!) a bathroom with shower, a seating area offering the panoramic views and on the terrace a hot tub, not to mention an AC and coffee making facilities – I mean what more do you need in life?!


The kids were super excited as this was a whole new experience for them. My husband and I felt really comfortable letting them run off and do their own thing (staying together as a trio) after all there were so many kids around and the place is secure – plus we could over look a lot of the area from our tent terrace.


Let me just quickly highlight that I was extremerly impressed by the covid safety regulations that had been put in place – every staff member wore a mask at all times with F&B staff wearing gloves too. Guests were asked to wear a mask when walking around the property. Sanitizer was on every table, in the tents and at all activity stations.


When the kids weren’t jumping into the hot tub they were in the sea paddle boarding, kayaking, playing on the beach or meeting new friends. They would come back to the tent to get dry/changed and off they went again to the petting zoo, junior chef class, pottery making, sewing and archery. There were even more activities for younger children such as egg hunting and sand castle building.


There is an infinity pool on the property but this got quiet busy so we gave it a miss, but with so much space and fresh air and our own hot tub the kids didn’t mind.


When you stay at Longbeach its on a half board basis which includes breakfast and dinner. The restaurant is on the beach with round banquet tables socially distanced apart. It’s a buffet style set up with the staff serving each person. There is so much choice available and from 7pm – 10pm its unlimited premium beverages!


Every evening at 8.45pm staff walk around calling people to join them to roast marshmallows on the open fire and then popcorn and movie night at the floating cinema.


I understand why this property is always fully booked, it’s a great family stay where parents can relax as the children are kept constantly entertained. As a destination RAK provides activities to experience be it in the mountains, on the beach or the desert.


I would highly recommend taking a trip up Jebel Jais mountain, the views are incredible and you can pre book a table at 1484 by Puro for brealfast/lunch or dinner. If you’re an adrenalin junkie why not try the longest zip line in the world with speeds of 120kph head first like a bullet or the Jais Sky Tour which zips from platform to platform covering a distance of 5km via a series of 7 zip lines.


To book your stay at LongBeach Campground which is managed by Bin Majid Hotels, visit:



To pre book breakfast, lunch or dinner at 1484 by Puro visit:



To book a zip lining experience visit



To find out more about where to stay and activities in RAK please visit:






Family Friendly Couple

Bear Grylls Explorers Camp

I’m sure most of you have heard of Bear Grylls as he’s one of the most recognized names for adventure and survival. His celebrity status is not just for adults as his popular interactive Netflix TV show called  “You Vs Wild’ has been a great hit with the younger generation and its essential viewing for my kids.


Halfway up the majestic Jebel Jais mountain in Ras Al Khamiah the newly opened Bear Grylls Explorers Camp offers an amazing extreme survival program for kids and adults – this recent new attraction will certainly makes RAK the regions adventure capital.

The camp is run by Bear’s own team of highly trained instructors and experts in the field of outdoor survival. The programs have been designed by Bear Grylls and developed by the local team based on his unique survival experiences and his dynamic methods and techniques that are loved all over the world.


With thanks to Visit Ras Al Khamiah and the Bear Grylls team I surprised my kids who are 7,7 and 8 years old to test out the younger kids survival course, with Jake being their supremely capable and super friendly instructor. As huge lovers of nature and being outdoorsy and adventurous they were super excited for this new adventure (they were hoping that Bear may just show up!).


Jake started off by explaining the four main tenets and priorities of survival – the acronym







After the kids applied some military style make up to help get in the mood we started a small walk into the wadi.


First assignment: Protection

With a sheet of tarpaulin the kids had to attach it to a tree with ropes to provide shelter from all types of weather including in our case the strong Arabian sun.


Second assignment: Rescue

Create a fire to not only keep you warm but to signal for rescue – the kids were given a flint and steel sheet to create a spark onto cotton wool, also wire wool and a battery, Vaseline on cotton wool to help ignite the spark even quicker. We were surprised how quickly the kids got it. Then a proper fire was made with sticks and once finished we were taught how to safely put it out.

Each part was managed expertly by Jake and safety was always a priority (even masks and social distancing were adhered at all times).


Third assignment - Water

Jake had prepared water bottles to showcase how to filter unclean water, using a piece of tshirt, sand, rocks, palm fibers and charcoal.

We then played a game as a family carrying water from the river to our camp from one bucket to another while trying not to spill the precious water and me having to deal with really competitive husband and children!


All of the above showcased how to Improvise – Overcome and Adapt.


The kids loved it throughout, engaging with excitement, asking questions, listening to instructions and enjoying the moments.


The final challenge was back at base camp for the final priority of survival – Food


Firstly they were taught how to make bread – simply adding a little water to flour, rolling it onto a stick and cooking it on the fire – not the yummiest!

I was then in awe as I watched 2 out of the three kids crunch their way through a handful of meal worms – I mean I struggle to get them to eat veg, but give them meal worms and there’s no complaining!


Overall after 2 hours the kids had completed the course and thoroughly enjoyed it – so much so they gave it a 10/10


It’s a great family activity and I personally thought it was a great way to see how the children listened to instructors and put their own skills into action.


The adults courses are both physically and mentally challenging from survival skills to abseiling and navigating difficult terrains.


Check out their website for more information on all the courses (team building, families, overnight stays etc) along with prices https://www.beargryllscamp.ae/



Tip: To enjoy a full day at Jebal Jais, have lunch at 1484 by Puro restaurant which is officially the highest restaurant in the UAE at the top of the mountain. The food is excellent and the views are incredible.


For adults and older kids check out the e- bikes which are near the top of the mountain in one of the parking lots - a genius idea and hassle free, offering an easier way to tackle the mountain – an ingenious way to show that a RAK adventure is for everyone…


A fun loving and adventurous family can easily spend a weekend on Jebel Jais mountain creating a smorgasbord of active memories.  


To find out more about Things to do in RAK, listen to my podcast interview with RAK Tourism CEO Raki Phillips: 



Special thanks again to Visit Ras Al Khaimah.

For more information on things to do in RAK, please visit  



Family Friendly Couple

Adventures In The UAE

If you follow my personal Instagram account @daniwilsonnaqvi -  you will see that my family and I love to go on adventures and having had to stay in Dubai all summer due to the pandemic – we really had to embrace more than ever our adventurous side and not let the Dubai heat stop us from exploring.

After being in “lockdown” all we wanted to do was be outdoors, try to get some fresh air and exercise. Any other year and we would have been traveling from late June, however due to the big C, in March I cancelled all our trips – (if I’m honest I personally had a lot planned – more than we did as a family so I was gutted) but its out of our control so we decided we were going to make the most of being in the UAE.


So let me share with you some of our UAE adventures. Living by my new motto - don’t let the weather stop you from making plans, in this new era, we have to learn to simply pivot and adjust to the new norm.


1. Kite Beach Centre UAQ


Transported to Tulum the minute you step on the beach.


Just over an hour from Dubai, Kite Beach Centre UAQ is the perfect laid back rustic beach vibe that you’re going to find in the UAE.


Expect wooden duplex cabanas, crystal clear water, wooden swings in the ocean and an array of water sports.  Plus good news for dog owners – you can take your dogs too!

There’s a great café serving a selection of F&B.


The cabanas are pretty cool and a perfect way to stay out of the sun. Designed in a duplex style the top level is a seating area offering great views and the deck level comes with seating, a hammock and a shower.



Entrance during the week is AED 25 per person and weekends AED 50 per person

Cabanas rental during the week AED 250 and weekends AED 350

Cabana cost is additional to the entrance fee

Book via their Whatsapp - +971 55 5073060


2. Hatta Wadi’s


Just before you arrive at Hatta Dam there’s a small bridge and a narrow ravine which offers freezing cold running water. In the early morning heat and humidity these pools were not only refreshing to play in but so much fun for the kids. Obviously an adult should be with the kids at all times as the water runs fast and getting in and out can be slippery but its really a lot of fun.

Then back in the car and up to the Dam. If you’re there early enough you can take out of the kayaks or paddle boats – yes its hot and yes its sweaty as there is no shade but its something different and so picturesque.


Then I highly recommended popping over to Hatta Fort Hotel for a pool day and lunch. Entrance fee for pool is AED 90 Adults AED 45 children


And now that its cooler there’s so much fun to be had at the hotel from archery, zip lining and wall climbing. Check out their website




3. Hiking Wadi Shawka, RAQ


My husband found this hidden gem a couple of years ago when he would go trail running for his training and has been insisting the kids try it. Its approx. 1.15 mins from Dubai and is easy to find via Google Maps.


Wadi Shawka is a popular hiking destination in Ras-al-Khaimah and is considered to be an exploration hike because the trail offers an all-in-one experience like off-road drives, pool dips, natural springs, greenery and the mountains.

The hike is marked out but there’s lots of lose rocks so be careful. Along the way you will find lots of areas to take a break and check out the view of the Dam and mountains and take in the fresh air. Due to the heat the kids and I haven’t been to the top yet but we will now that the weather is cooler.


Keep an eye out for the mountain goats, donkeys and the odd camel. Make sure you take lots of refreshments as there’s nowhere in the area to get anything.


You will see a lot of people at the foot of the mountains next to the natural springs camping – unfortunately I’m a glamper not a camper so I haven’t experienced this!


If you like off-roading and wild mountains you can have a lot of fun!



4. Al Rabi Hiking Trail, Khorfakkan


We hadn’t been to this spot before and wanted to climb early morning before it got to hot. It’s approx. 1.5 hours from Dubai. With clear sign posts to the foot of the trail is a great kid friendly hike, but do keep a watchful eye out as parts do get steep with loose rocks. It took us over an hour to get to the top – we were rushing due to the heat and the view from the top didn’t disappoint - its awesome overlooking the sea and the city.  It’s a great way to get the kids back into nature and of course good exercise.


We will go back in the winter and take our time doing the hike and maybe even have a picnic – but I’m not carrying it!!


5. Paddle Boarding, Dubai


We actually have our own mega paddleboard, which we keep, in our garden and often we put it on the roof of the car and drive to the beach. Our favorite spot is right next to Four Seasons Hotel as this part of the beach has been corned off for kayaking/paddle boarding etc


During the summer we would be at the beach by 7am, the water would be calm and the beach was quiet which was perfect for the kids to practice.


If you don’t have your own board, not to worry as you can book a paddle boarding session at @Ignitesuface located at RIVA Beach Club on the Palm.

Call +97152 2495311


Newly opened in RAK:

The Bear Grylls Explorers Camp is located in Jebel Jais, the ideal location for challenging adventurers with its stunning mountainous terrain. Find out more



Check out all the outdoor adventures in RAK from mountain trekking to the world’s longest Zip Line on https://visitrasalkhaimah.com/

Family Friendly Couple

Soneva Fushi Water Retreats

Soneva Fushi’s new Water Retreats are soon to be ready to welcome guests, adding yet another facet to the original barefoot luxury resort. Guests can expect innovative designs and some new changes to the iconic Water Retreat designs that can be found at Soneva Jani. Reached by a gently curving jetty near Dolphin Beach, at the opposite end of the island to the Out of the Blue dining destination, the eight Water Retreats have been designed to ensure the utmost privacy for guests, as well as to make the most of the picture-perfect ocean vistas.  

The 1 Bedroom Water Retreats (584 sqm./6,286 sqft.) and 2 Bedroom Water Retreats (857 sqm./9,224 sqft.) are the largest one- and two-bedroom overwater villas in the world. The spacious interiors and exterior living spaces give guests more to love, as well as making them perfect for families. As each of the rooms in the Water Retreats can be sealed off, the doors out onto the deck can be locked, and the children’s room is located at the back of the master bedroom, they are child-friendly and suitable for young Soneva guests of all ages. The 1 and 2 Bedroom Water Retreats, all have water slides, will open their doors to guests on September 25, 2020. 



With a choice of either sunrise or sunset views, the villas feature a large al fresco deck, which includes plush sun loungers, a sunken seating area and catamaran nets. Choose between swimming in the ocean or the private pool, while a curving 19-metre slide plunges into the waves from the upper floor. Both villa types feature an expansive upper level with a dining sala, as well as Soneva’s signature outdoor bathroom with direct access to the sea. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the spacious dining and living areas with natural light, while a fully-fitted pantry with wine fridge and minibar provide gourmet snacks and drinks. Flanked by an en-suite bathroom, dressing room and children’s sleeping area, the master bedroom suite features a king-sized bed for the ultimate in comfort. In the two-bedroom villa, a second guest bedroom also includes a king-sized bed, en-suite bathroom and dressing room. 


For more information and exclusive rates please contact us directly.

Family Friendly Couple

Private Jet Reservations

If you are looking for a full turnkey luxury travel  that INCLUDES private jet travel, then Unique Family Travels can assist.

We have partnered with a Private Jet company who specialize in GCC and global travel routes. In the post covid-19 world, luxury private flights with airport transfers are becoming a necessity for the discerning traveller

Our services are tailor-made for individuals, families or large groups who wish to have the option of making private jet services a necessary requirement of their travel plans.




About Us

As an avid traveler, pre and post my three children, and a lover of boutique hotels, I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, stay at unique properties and take adventures off the beaten track.

I've been lucky to see and enjoy so much that I think now is the perfect time to share my travel experiences, so I have created Unique Family Travel - a company where my team and I can develop bespoke, wonderful and unique travel experiences for you and your family. I can guarantee our experiences aren't available on the likes of large booking websites as we take you on a tailored journey which caters to your specific needs.

Each destination and journey should be a timeless memory, created for you and your family and captured in fantastic memories to keep forever. We can help with this simply because that's how I would do it for myself, my family and friends!

Do get in touch with us, drop us a line and lets get you going on your next amazing, unique travel experience.

Happy Travels

Love Dani

PS. All photos on this site are taken by me, mostly on my iphone :)

Get in touch and let's start planning your dream holiday

+97150 6882308


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