Best of the Maldives: Budget Views – Adaaran Club Rannalhi

Club Rannalhi - duplex villa

If you can’t build out, then build up. Given the limitations of real estate in the Maldives, I always wondered why there weren’t more multi-story buildings there. The higher levels also have the added benefits of providing a vantage point over the mottled maritime mosaic that surrounds every island.

But an increasing number of Presidential villas and palatial super-premiums do come in multi-story in recent years. In fact, I would hazard that a second floor is almost becoming standard fare in the super luxe category.

Still, you don’t need an elevated budget to get an elevated view. A number of value-priced resorts also offer upper level rooms in the form of duplexes (eg. Bandos, Club Med Kani, Kandooma). And if you really want not just a room, but a whole resort, “with a view, then the entire Club Rannalhi has an lofty vibe to the whole property. Everything two stories it seems – reception, dive centre, spa, rooms, some of the new water villas. Even the theatre has raked seating.

Boost your holiday at Club Rannalhi.

Club Rannalhi - duplex water villa

Best of the Maldives: Tallest Main Room – Velaa

Velaa - tallest main room

I guess you could say that Velaa’s Private Residence would have the ‘second’ highest ceiling (that is after Soneva Jani’s infinitely high one). But in the universe of conventionally topped villas, Velaa’s Private Residence headroom is galaxy-sized in its own right. The vaulted ceiling extends three stories up forming a cathedral-like nave quite possibly the largest indoor space on a Malidves resort. The second floor balcony lines one side giving another perspective on this vast lagoon of room volume.

Velaa - main residence room balcony

Best of the Maldives: Retractable Roof – Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani - roof 1

With the latest resort launched from Soneva (that’s Sonu&Eva), I’m expecting the new Soneva Jani property to open up all sorts of new possibilities. And it has literally *opened up* the universe to its guest with a stellar feature (which happened to be on my latest Haven’t Seen post #22) – a retractable roof:

Each master bedroom will feature a retractable roof. Guests will sleep under the stars at a touch of the button, as the roof slides back to reveal the night sky.”

Soneva Fushi is the run-away leader of “Best of the Maldives” innovations and distinctions (77 compared to runner-up One & Only Reethi Rah’s 63) so I am expecting all sorts of delights to fill their latest creation. But the one that most captivates me is that all villas feature a retractable roof for stargazing!

Lori and I have fallen asleep countless times under the Maldives starscape. But eventually, you have to move inside from the hard, narrow deck loungers or sandy blanket. Now you can drift to sleep under starlight in the comfort of your villa bed.  Last summer, we had a blast driving around Italy in a sporty convertible.  Now you can snooze in the Maldives in your own stylish convertible.

Raise the roof and have some fun” – All Night Long, Lionel Richie

Soneva Jani - roof 3

Soneva Jani - roof 2

Best of the Maldives: Underwater Scooter – Furaveri

Furaveri - underwater scooter

Well, here’s one thing I finally HAVE seen. Since first calling it out over 3 years ago. Furaveri’s underwater scooter

We are pleased to offer the only Underwater Scooter service in the Maldives based in the most popular local island destination – Maafushi island…Underwater Scooter is creater to provide the scuba diving experience to virtually anyone without any of the rigours required by the typical diving experience. Just sitting in breathing environment and traveling at speeds of up to 2 km/hour, the rider can experience new and exciting underwater vistas.”

Haven’t Seen Yet – Part X

Seven years…and yet, I still come across so many things I haven’t seen yet in the Maldives. With 22 sleeps to Christmas, here is a Santa List for every resort…

1. EXTREME WATERMELON CARVING – Despite some pretty amazing renditions, I still don’t feel we have hit peak watermelon in the Maldives. [ABOVE]

2. SPA SALT BED – Came upon one of these during our visit to Urbino, Italy. Massage treatment is done on a bed of salt. Allegedly, especially good for skin and respiratory ailments.
Not Seen - Salt spa bed

3. RECOVERY RETREATS – Spas have traditionally been loathe to treat cancer patients because there has been thinking that the ‘treatments’ could actually facilitate the spread of the illness. As it turns out, no clinical evidence exists to support this notion. On the contrary, many doctors are recommending spa treatments to help patients cope with the stress and discomfort of their chemo and other medical treatments. And I know from personal friends facing “big C” challenge, that there is nothing like staring your mortality in the face to inspire some carpe diem and move your bucket list items (like visiting paradise) higher in your personal priorities.
Not Seen - spa

4. LIVING PHOTOGRAPHS – “Cinemagraphs”, which many have referred to as “living photographs”, are a new way to show image and video in one. The new technique – in which one element of the image moves continuously, much like a video, while the rest of the image remains static – is making waves in advertisements and social media because it allows people to connect longer with what they are looking at”.

5. BUTTER COFFEE – The latest craze in coffee decadence with a health-benefit twist. Supposedly a good ‘treatment’ for sleep deprivation (for those long-haul red-eye flights to the Maldives.
Not Seen - butter coffee

6. SUGAR-FREE COCKTAILS – A delights for weight watchers and diabetics, but also the trendy thing in “Healthy Hedonism”.
Not Seen - health headonism

7. SHARK FIN ICE – “Shark Fin Soup”…bad! But “Shark Fin Ice”…brilliant.
Not Seen - Shark Ice

8. SLIDING-SEAT ROWING CATAMARAN – I’ve previous reflected on the fun of having a scull in the Maldives. Even an ocean-going skiff (like they now have at Hulhumale and Gaafu Dhaalu). This ocean going rowing cat seems like an even more stable, low maintenance option for a similar outing.
Not Seen - catamaran

9. PEEK THROUGH SUP – What SUP?? Why isn’t this in the Maldives? Every resort now has the trendy paddleboard. Great activity for the calm atoll waters. But with the added bonus of facilitated portal into the aquatic wonderland below.
Not Seen - see through SUP

10. SEE-THROUGH SUP – Actually, now that we are talking about it…
Not Seen - See Through SUP 2

11. INFLATABLE BOAT PLANE – Yep. For a bit higher vista (admittedly, it would likely be difficult to get a two-person version so a trained resort staff member could pilot it).

12. SELF –PROPELLED AQUANAUT SUIT – Another Hammacher-Schlemmer gem…
Not Seen - aquanaut suit

13. MERMAID TOWEL – Anything mermaid deserves a place on the shelves of the resort gift shops.
Not Seen - mermaid towel

14. MERMAID BLANKETS – Maybe a bit warm for the toasty temps of the Maldives, but still an irresistible item for a Maldive gift shop.
Not Seen - mermaid blanket

15. RECYCLED BAG SHOES – Actually made from plastic bag refuse from the Maldives, some gift shop should have these in stock.
Not Seen - recycled baf shoes

16. DRONE FISHING – For the aspiring fishermen with less stable sea legs.

17. ‘JAWS’ CINEMATIC COURAGE CHALLENGE – Lots of resorts have cozy outdoor cinemas on the beach now. How about moving those ‘seats’ a bit further out into the lagoon?? Sort of an extra “immersive” dimension to the cinematic experience. And if a wrasse comes up to nibble on your sunburnt toes, then this
Not Seen - Jaws challenge

18. SHARK CHAIR – This needs to at least be in some Kids Club.
Not Seen - shark chair

19. SHARK PUMPS – And when you aren’t putting your feet up…
Not Seen - shark shoes

20. ALL GLASS FLOOR VILLA – There are some pretty big glass floors in the Maldives, but I don’t think we have reach peak floor yet either.
Not Seen - glass floor

21. UNDERWATER LOUNGE – In all fairness, the “underwater lounges” in the Maldives are really lounges that are just under water. They are not lounges that are *UNDER* water.  Smile

22. CONVERTIBLE OUTDOOR SLEEPING – The dazzling skies, clear of light and air pollution, are one of the natural treats of the Maldives. Our family loves to sit on the beach after a resort dinner ad just stare up at all the stars. The downside is getting yourself up of the ground as you drift away more and more in your relaxed state. A villa lounger can be an improvement, especially if you grab a large beach towel to cuddle under in the cool night sea air. But this solution seems the most alluring of all. (thanks Paola)
Not Seen - convertible bedroom

Curiosity About Why Do I Do It?

Curiosity

“Curiosity, in fact, turns out to be a quiet superpower that all of us have.”

So just why do I keep going. Still, the second most frequently asked question I get after 7 years. Another reason to add to the list of motivations – curiosity. Curious about what’s new, how different resorts are positioning themselves, how the destination is evolving, what I shouldn’t miss on my next visit.

It turns out that there are a number of different types of curiosity as Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman describe in their article “Six Kinds of Curiosity – And How You Can Use Them to Change Your Life” (thanks Steve)

  1. Curiosity is the key to understanding people’s personalities and motivations.
  2. Curiosity is a vital storytelling tool—and storytelling is the best way to engage and persuade other people, in your work life and your personal life.
  3. Curiosity is a fantastic source of courage.
  4. Curiosity is the best, most under-used management tool—a great way to create engagement in your fellow works, but also a great way to transmit values and priorities.
  5. Curiosity is the spark for creativity and innovation, the best long-term investment you can make.
  6. Curiosity is the best way to stay connected to those who are most important to you.

I hope Maldives Complete continues to inspire and feed your curiosity about this corner of paradise on the planet for years to come.

“How sad that anyone reaches a point in life where they lose the gift of curiosity and stop learning. That is the day they stop growing and begin dying in the world” – Rev. Patrick O’Neill.

Maldives Complete-ly by the Numbers 4

Completely by the number 2016

Another year for Maldives Complete! Lucky 7 in total and what a year it has been. While the traffic stays level (possibly maxed out my niche), the content has spiked up in quantity and quality more than just about any year since its launch. To underscore the leap of the year, I’ve segregated out the annual change for a number of the site stats in the tables above.

A few numbers that stand out…

  • % Complete on Resort Profiles – Completeness was blunted by lack of Dive Charts for new resorts in new atolls – Raa, Thaa and Dhaalu, but still inched closer by a sliver to just a whisker under 99%.
  • % Complete on Room Profiles – Good to finally get to the >80% level in this area I added a few years ago.
  •  # Posts – Nearly doubled this year to practically daily posting compared to recent years where the pace was more like every other day.  Resorts and website fans are sending me lots of stuff making my job a lot easier.
  • Resort Profile Photos – The resort pix leapt up by much more than previous years with the addition of “Arrival Jetty” and “Model” to the  profiles.

The Instagram revolution barrels along. Now by far the dominant social media platform for Maldives posts. Twitter has waned into near insignificance. Facebook is solid, but more so for personal posts than celebrity ones. Since I added the fashionista dimension, I’ve posted 1,025. And the fashionista database has another 1,721 in its troves. If you’re curious (I was), the top fashioinistas to hit the Laccadive shores are a listed by social medium below (dominated by USA and India).

From what we can determine, polling various industry experts and Maldives aficionados, Lori and I have stayed in more Maldives resorts than any one on the planet. We certainly have snorkelled more house reefs than anyone (we make a point to snorkel every house reef, where it is possible to snorkel including some lagoons). We stay at about 10 resorts each year, but last year, the net new active resorts open has increased by 8 so we are struggling to keep up!

Maldives Complete fashion leaderboard

Advent-Sure

Unidentified santa hat

Time to set out the Advent Calendars for the big Christmas countdown. Maldives Complete brings its second annual fashion advent calendar to mark the “sleeps” till Santa arrives…Painting the Maldives Christmas Town red…

  1. Olga Scheglovaov (Bosnia) – Ranveli
    Olga Scheglovaov (Bosnia) – Ranveli
  2. Natalia Siwiec (Poland) – Kurumba 3
    Natalia Siwiec (Poland) – Kurumba 3
  3. Katie Yudina (OAE) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Katie Yudina (OAE) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
  4. Alessandra Ambrosio (Brazil) – Shangri-La Vilingili
    Alessandra Ambrosio (Brazil) - Shangri-La Vilingili
  5. Esther Heesch (Germany) – Amilla Fushi
    Esther Heesch (Germany) - Amilla Fushi
  6. Natallia Yakimchyk (Poland) – Anantara Kihavah Villas
    Natallia Yakimchyk (Poland) – Anantara Kihavah Villas
  7. Alana Kay (USA) – Anantara Dhigu
    Alana Kay (USA) – Anantara Dhigu
  8. Minerva Raneezo (Thailand) – Club Med Finolhu Villas
    Minerva Raneezo (Thailand) – Club Med Finolhu Villas
  9. Lizzie Cundy (United Kingdom) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Lizzie Cundy (United Kingdom) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
  10. Rami Kanj (Brazil) – Conrad Rangali
    Rami Kanj (Brazil) – Conrad Rangali
  11. Michea Crawford (Canada) – Velassaru
    Michea Crawford (Canada) – Velassaru
  12. Kristine Purvinska (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Kristine Purvinska (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
  13. Dayane Mello (Brazil) – Palm Beach
    Dayane Mello (Brazil) – Palm Beach
  14. Clarice Lanta-Lilly Armstrong (United Kingdom) – Huvafenfushi
    Clarice Lanta-Lilly Armstrong (United Kingdom) – Huvafenfushi
  15. Jessieann Lachowski (Canada) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Jessieann Lachowski (Canada) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  16. Olesya Litviniuc (Russia) – Velassaru
    Olesya Litviniuc (Russia) – Velassaru
  17. Alyona Shnypko (Ukraine) – NIYAMA -2
    Alyona Shnypko (Ukraine) - NIYAMA
  18. Oxana K (Russia) – NIYAMA
    Oxana K (Russia) – NIYAMA
  19. Raica Oliveira (Brazil) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Raica Oliveira (Brazil) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

  20. Raquel Mattar de Faria (Brazil) – Cheval Blanc Randheli
    Raquel Mattar de Faria (Cheval Blanc Randheli) – Ayada
  21. K Katerinochka (Russia) – Sun Island
    K Katerinochka (Russia) – Sun Island
  22. Diana Penty (Russia) – Four Seasons Landaa GiraavaruErkezhan Talgatbekova (Russia) – Coco Bodu Hithi - 2
  23. Chris Piggy (China) – NIYAMA
    Chris Piggy (China) – NIYAMA
  24. Elisabeth Adelantes (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
    Elisabeth Adelantes (Russia) – Conrad Rangali

     

Best of the Maldives: Largest Fans – Anantara Kihavah Villas

Anantarah Kihavah Villas - fan 2

I might be one of the world’s biggest fans *of* the Maldives, but I am not the biggest fan *in* the Maldives. That distinction would go to Anantara Kihavah Villas’ appropriately dubbed “Big Ass Fan” [sic] in its Salt restaurant (“Element” model)…

“Big Ass Fans gently and silently move air throughout dining rooms to ensure customers are consistently comfortable—without fluttering napkins or distracting from table conversation. Big Ass Fans work hand-in-hand with AC systems to provide an additional 10°F (5.6°C) cooling effect and evenly distribute conditioned air throughout the space. Because of the perceived cooling felt by air movement, managers can utilize the energy-efficient fans to maintain occupant comfort with a higher AC set point, saving money without sacrificing comfort.”

Lori growing up in the South (USA), we are big fan fans.  We have ceiling fans in everyone of our bedrooms.  Even on not-so-hot days, they simply stir the air a bit giving it a bit of movement and freshness.

If the nearly 20 blades weren’t enough, the kitchen also largest extraction fan I’ve ever seen (see picture below) as well towering over 30 feet high.

Anantara Kihavah Villas - extraction fan

Anantara Kihavah Villas - fan 1