Teenage Kicks: how one Maldives resort is keeping up with Gen Z

Last updated 19th July 2023

Conrad Rangali in the Maldives has been around for decades, and the needs of its young guests have inevitably changed. Lucy Thackray recently visited to find out how this luxury resort managed to keeps up with teens.


Conrad Rangali, Maldives

Conrad Rangali is all about kids doing what they want, all day long

A breeze ripples in through the palm trees, causing a jet ski to quiver in the bay. It catches the scent of sticky-fingered chicken satay, the choice of two older kids lounging close to my table, their feet in the sand as chillout music plays over subtle speakers. They look to be about 12 and 14. A waiter arrives with drinks; another coconut smoothie and a virgin mojito. “Did you like this kids’ club a little better than the other one?” their mum asks. “Yeah,” says the younger brother, mouth full of smoothie. “They have video games and TV and stuff.”

Only a teenager could come on holiday in the Maldives and be most delighted by the latest PlayStation offering; but then again, these islands are all about doing what you want all day long. For parents that might be a trip to an overwater spa, fish flitting past as you gaze down through glass floors during your massage; for over 12s, it may well be a digital smackdown at the new teens’ club here at the Conrad Rangali resort.

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Teen Club, Conrad Rangali, Maldives

Rangali-Finolhu is the family island at this twin-island resort

Part of a bigger kids’ club complex, the resort’s new Furaavaru Club is found on Rangali-Finolhu island: the larger, family-friendly main island at this twin-island resort. It’s better described as a clubhouse. Big, squishy beanbags fill shaded rooms inspired by Maldivian sea life and off-set with graffitied white walls. Ping-pong and air hockey tables sit ready for tournaments. There’s table football as well as PlayStations, a karaoke machine and an outdoor area – handy for impromptu kick-abouts or tie-dying T-shirts.

Down the corridor, budding chefs can take cooking or mixology classes in a glossy kitchen with counters for all heights and friendly chefs on hand. Then out on the Indian Ocean, there are stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and banana boats.


Rangali-Finolhu Island is made for families © Justin Nicholas

If kids and teens are happy, everyone’s happy

But one of the most sought-after things to do here isn’t even an advertised teen activity.

As your kids get to know the friendly Conrad staff, it won’t be long before you hear whispers of The Football Pitch. That’s right, there’s a full-size, floodlit turf pitch over on the “staff island”. And, occasionally the staff-team invites lucky soccer-loving youngsters over to compete in a staff v guests match.

“The team members have watched our guests’ kids grow up,” says general manager Carla Puverel. “Some of them have been with us for 20 years. And when you sit down to dinner, the first question is always, ‘What do you want to drink, and who’s your team?’”

Carla has been with the resort since 2020. “If kids and teenagers are happy, everyone’s happy,” she says. “The Conrad relies on guests revisiting and some families have returned more than a dozen times. Their kids have grown up with the resort, so we’ve got to keep it relevant for them, so they see a difference every time they come.”


Teen guest diving with sea turtles, Conrad Rangali

The Ocean Centre has extra appeal for eco-conscious kids

For many eco-conscious kids, the biggest difference will be the Ocean Centre. Here, resident marine biologist Filipa Lopes has versions of her talks on whale sharks and coral restoration for all ages, although none are ever patronising or toned-down and her passion is infectious and jokes free-flowing. She runs youth sessions three times a week, many with a conservation slant and there are also diving lessons for kids eight and over.


Twin island Conrad Rangali, Maldives

The new Conrad Rangali teen club is at the heart of family holidays

The new teens’ club isn’t a stopgap for parents to dump kids, Carla insists. Instead it’s at the heart of their holiday, if they want it to be.

On arrival, kids get their own goodie bag with passport to stamp and an age-appropriate agenda for the week, so they can tick off marine biology sessions, group sports and activities, outdoor movie nights or cooking sessions.

On the family-friendly Rangali-Finolhu, there’s an entire spa and several restaurants designed to make children feel comfortable. Parents and kids can head to the Spa Retreat for a joint pampering session. There’s no “getting in the way” or having to awkwardly fit into grown-up settings. On this side of the resort, anything goes.


Beach Villa bedroom, Conrad Rangali, Maldives

Conrad Rangali gives over 14s the independence of their own flats

Parents of teens will win most holiday points for booking one of the newly converted beach villas, designed with them in mind. Set behind the ‘couples’ villas, most family versions have their own palm-shrouded private garden and pool. Steps lead up to a separate air-conditioned unit with twin beds and a bathroom. So parents and teens have their own private space and separate entrances. The 14-18 crowd loves having their own “flat” for the week, says Carla. “That’s another thing that’s changed the dynamic of the resort. It gives them a sense of privacy, space, trust ‒ and gives the parents leeway as well.”


Swimming with whale sharks, Conrad Rangali

Seeing whale sharks beats staring at screens hands down

While privacy is key, being sociable has never been more important than at this moment in time. And there’s something about the back-to-basics beach life, of having nature on your doorstep, that brings screen-focused kids out of their shells.

“If it’s a family with teenagers, the first dinner everyone’s got an iPad or phone in front of them,” Carla observes. “The second breakfast, maybe there’s one. By lunchtime, they’ve been put down.”


Though this is a luxury resort, restaurants here are emphatically unstuffy. There’s sand around your feet even under thatched “indoor” pavilions at Atoll. While at overwater Mandhoo, you can watch stingrays and blacktip sharks swish by between courses.

Going out on a boat in the hopes of seeing one of the area’s most gigantic and awe-inspiring residents, the whale shark, is one of the most profound moments of family bonding. Though family nights at the lobster beach barbecue and live-music-backed Maldivian night are no less popular, says Carla. She sees many families coming for their last holiday before a teen goes to university, or the first break where younger teens want a little independence. It’s easy to see how a range of options and environments fits those shifts in family dynamics, offering as much or as little “together time” as everyone needs. And, if in doubt, you can always catch up at dinner.

How to plan Conrad Rangali Maldives

How to get there

Direct UK flights to the Maldives take from 10 hours

Where to stay

Conrad Rangali Maldives, two-bedroom beach villas, B&B, from £1,326 per night (2 adults, 2 children)

Take a look at Conrad Rangali Maldives