Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Fashion Design – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - Funoas

Who puts the “fun” into “Funoas”? Kandolhu has introduced the “Funoas” range of swimwear which you can buy at the resort. Her designs based on the distinctive and colourful sea life of the Maldives are truly inspired. We caught up the Maldivian born Funoas designer Sumii Haleem for her first exclusive interview:

Q: Where are you from in the Maldives?
A: I was born and raised in Male’, Maldives. My mother is from Henveiru district and my father is from Maafannu district.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: I am currently living in Perth, Australia.

Q: What brought you there?
A: Education brought me here to Perth. Back then, when I finished high school, there were no universities in Maldives. Anyone who wanted to get a tertiary level education, had to go overseas. So my parents decided to move to Australia so my little sister and I could have a chance at a quality education. Ever since then I have been moving back and forth between Maldives and Australia.

Q: What inspired your career in art?
A: I have always been fascinated by nature and science and have always used art as a way of expressing this fascination. I also grew up around my aunt who was a seamstress. So it was a combination of curiosity and exposure to designing clothes, that started my career in art.

Q: What was the first piece you sold?
A: The first piece of artwork that I ever sold was in 2012, an abstract ink on paper drawing called “The City Never Sleeps”. It was on Society6 that I sold this print. I felt ecstatic, that someone had actually bought my artwork!

Q: How did you move into fashion?
A: Initially, I started printing my artwork on t-shirts, mugs, laptop and phone covers on Society6. I got a lot of positive response from friends and with their encouragement decided to start my own clothing line. At the time I started working on Funoas, I had also just started scuba diving and was blown away by the beauty and the vulnerability of our coral reefs. I wanted my brand to be an environmentally conscious one, so I could use clothing and fashion to create awareness about issues faced by Maldives, such as climate change, global warming and sea level rise.

Q: What’s your biggest selling item?
A: My best selling item is the Thaana printed clothes. Thaana is the unique writing system of Maldivian language, Dhivehi. I created this piece because I thought Dhivehi is a unique language spoken by a minority of world’s people and the scripture is also visually so unique and eye catching. So I think this print is very sentimental to Maldivians, especially those that live away from home, like myself.

Q: Who are your favourite designers?
A: My art is influenced by people from different walks of life, nature and scientific concepts so it is difficult to narrow it down to only designers. Some of the people that influence my work include Ashish Gupta, Adam Manik, Hassan Manik, Aishath Shafeeg, Moosa Mamdhuh, Ahmed Shafeeg, Maya Arulpragasam, Karl Lagerfeld, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Nicola Tesla, David Attenborough,Fibonacci, Neil Degrassi Tyson, Scuba divers and all underwater photographers, just to name a few.

Q: If someone gave you $1 million to invest in your business, what would you invest it in?
A: If I had a million dollars I would invest it on building Funoas to become an internationally recognised brand that creates quality clothing, 100% ethically and eco-consciously. I would concentrate on creating our products solely from recycled polyester, which is something I am currently looking into for my future collections. Once Funoas is a well established clothing brand, I would love to be able to work with local Maldivian environmentalists, marine researchers and climate change advocates to study more about our own marine ecosystems and bring a positive change to Maldives’ growing environmental crises. I believe this is a social responsibility.

Funoas suit
Manta crop-top

Funoas suit 2
Nudibranch two-piece

Funoas suit 3
Oriental sweet lips

Funoas suit 4
Thaana printed swim shorts

Best of the Maldives: Cardboard Furniture – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - card board chair

World Design Day today. Increasingly, Maldives resorts are looking to stylish design to distinguish their properties so there is vibrant portfolio of creativity found across the destination.

Today’s feature evoked my recent trip to the famous Design Museum in Denmark. One of their most famous exports exhibited is the Danish chair. A further geo-personal connection living as we do near High Wycombe, home of the Wycombe Wanderers, known affectionately as the Chairboys (we can see their training ground from our house).

The exhibit featured a wide array of quirky and inventive styles, but one that caught my eye was Gehry’s cardboard creations (see photo at bottom)…

  • “The architect and designer Frank Gehry has been working with cheap and everyday y materials in new and untraditional ways on a small and large scale. In 1987, he created the very sculptural cardboard chair while working as an architect on a cardboard model. He wanted to experiment with the material and discovered that it was possible to transform huge piles of cardboard into sculptures. Little by little it turned into a chair and became one of the icons of the 20th century. And then it is sustainable.”

And you can find such museum quality pieces at in the Maldives as well. Huvafenfushi’s CUBE villa comes with its own similarly inspired chair with a name as fun as its sinuous shape – “The Vitra Wiggle”. It is accompanied by a set of cleverly nested tables as well.

Huvafenfushi - CUBE cardboard chair and tables

Huvafenfushi - card board chair and tables CUBE

Design Museum

Birds of Paradise

Audobon Day header

National Audubon Day today honors American painter John James Audubon who prolifically and colourfully depicted countless birds in their natural environments. While known more for its aquatic than avian creatures, the Maldives do feature a number of distinctive winged beauties. Leaving aside the “flying fox” bats (not really birds…and I’ve yet to find a picture of someone posing with one), the most common photographic subjects are…

  • Heron – Ubiquitous residents usually the first feathered friend visitors make on a resort.
  • Parrot – Really domesticated pets that have been brought to the resorts but seem to fit right into the tropical paradise aesthetic.
  • Tern – Flocks that tend to congregate on the extended sand spits where they can fish for sardines and other tiny fish.

Here is the Maldives Complete exhibition of birds of paradise…

  1. Maria Glass (Russia) – OZEN
    Maria Glass (Russia) - OZEN
  2. Diana Nabieva (Russia) – Veligandu
    Diana Nabieva (Russia) - Veligandu
  3. Pauline (France) – Malahini Kuda Bandos
    Pauline (France) - Malahini Kuda Bandos
  4. KiNo No Noo (United Kingdom) – Conrad Rangali
    KiNo No Noo (United Kingdom) - Conrad Rangali
  5. Papic Sanja (Panama) – Hideaway Beach
    Papic Sanja (Panama) – Hideaway Beach
  6. Daniela Lopez Osorio (Columbia) – Bandos
    Daniela Lopez Osorio (Columbia) – Bandos
  7. Larissa (Romania) – Sun Island
    Larissa (Romania) – Sun Island
  8. Eem Nizam (Maldives) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Eem Nizam (Maldives) – Sun Siyam Irufushi - 2
  9. Luchiya Stefanova (Bulgaria) – AaaVeee
    Luchiya Stefanova (Bulgaria) - AaaVeee
  10. Ravshana Kurkova (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
    Ravshana Kurkova (Russia) - Conrad Rangali
  11. Precious Angellyn Sanchez (Philippines) – Paradise Island
    Precious Angellyn Sanchez (Philippines) – Paradise Island
  12. Sylvia Wu (Taiwan) – Maafushi
    Silvia Wu (Taiwan) – Olhuveli
  13. Vik Voynikova (Russia) – Anantara Dhigu
    Vik Voynikova (Russia) – Maafushi
  14. Sweet Dreams Shangri-La Vilingili
    Sweet Dreams (Shangri-La Vilingili)
  15. Valentina Vignali (Italy) – Baros
    Valentina Vignali (Italy) – Baros
  16. Lisa Olsson (Sweden) – Rihiveli
    Lisa Olsson (Sweden) – Rihiveli
  17. Viki Odintcova (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
    Viki Odintcova (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah


Baris Bozkurt (Germany) – Robinson Club

Yes, I just made up that word.  Fashionista guys with six-pack abs posting on Instagram.  Just as drawn to the idyllic background of the Maldives as the fashionista princesses.  Here’s a collection of the Maldives Complete Top Twenty distinctively ship shape gents…

  1. Baris Bozkurt (Germany) – Robinson Club [ABOVE]
  2. Alikhan Dzhioev (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Alikhan Dzhioev (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
  3. Robin Walczak (Germany) – Fihalhohi
    Robin Walczak (Germany) - Fihalhohi
  4. Chabanov Diliaver (Finland) – Furaveri
    Chabanov Diliaver (Finland) – Furaveri
  5. Jemmy Tjan (Indonesia) – Hudhuranfushi
    Jemmy Tjan (Indonesia) - Hudhuranfushi
  6. Peter Bar (Czech) – Sun Island
    Peter Bar (Czech) – Sun Island
  7. Ryan Libbey (United Kingdom) – Atmosphere Kanifushi
    Ryan Libbey (United Kingdom) – Atmosphere Kanifushi
  8. Vladmir Stepin (Finland) – Furaveri
    Vladmir Stepin (Finland) – Furaveri
  9. Martin Mester (Czech) – Halaveli
    Martin Mester (Czech) – Halaveli
  10. Sebastian Stuehmer (Germany) – Filitheyo
    Sebastian Stuehmer (Germany) – Filitheyo
  11. Mark Robberds (Australia) – Six Senses Laamu
    Mark Robberds (Australia) – Six Senses Laamu
  12. Adam (Australia) – Taj Exotica
    Adam (Australia) – Taj Exotica
  13. Jimmy Naraine (United Kingdom) – Ranveli
    Jimmy Naraine (United Kingdom) – Ranveli
  14. Daniel Tuan (Taiwan) – Amilla Fushi
    Daniel Tuan (Taiwan) – Amilla Fushi
  15. Lloyd Stevens (Zimbabwe) – Veligandu
    Lloyd Stevens (Zimbabwe) – Veligandu
  16. Markus Parkin (United Kingdom) – Sheraton Full Moon
    Markus Parkin (United Kingdom) – Sheraton Full Moon
  17. Kit Mah (Malaysia) – Club Med Kani
    Kit Mah (Malaysia) – Club Med Kani
  18. Shandi Lim (Indonesia) – Vadoo
    Shandi Lim (Indonesia) – Vadoo
  19. Viktor Halldén (Sweden) – Centara Ras Fushi
    Viktor Halldén (Sweden) – Centara Ras Fushi
  20. Alex Feo (Russia) – Amilla Fushi
    Alex Feo (Russia) – Amilla Fushi

Best of the Maldives: Curious Shape – Nalandhoo

Nalandhoo - aerial

Earth Day today. A time to appreciate the diverse and curious planet we call home. In the Maldives, Not all the earthen mounds of islands are round dots. Some extend across elongated table reefs on the edges of the atolls. And some like Nalandhoo (not to be confused with Anatara’s Naladu) in Shaviyani atoll have a totally unique shape viewed from Google Earth(thanks Paola)…

Nalandhoo is particularly supportive to Earth Day today as its own emblematic exposure to environmental impacts especially of rising and shifting seas…

  • “The smallness of the [Shaviyani] atoll indicates to the islands’ vulnerability to environmental impacts. Hence the Nalandhoo is one of the island in Shaviyani atoll with its own unique beauty”

Nalandhoo  - vista

16 Dhoni Inspirations

Centara Ras Fushi - dhoni swing

The traditional dhoni has been the life blood for the scattered Maldivian archipelago pumping people and goods across its waters for centuries. In modern times, the dhoni also provides cultural inspiration to all manner of décor and items on the Maldives resorts.

The term “dhoni” is not only essential to Maldives life since its earliest history, but has even entered the global lexicon as one of two Dhivehi words that have made it into the English language (the other is even more characteristic of the very essence of the Maldives).

I have added a “Dhoni” tag to keep track of all the nautically inspired resort features now.

1. Boat SwingCentara Ras Fushi [ABOVE]

2. Boat VillaHuvafenfushi
Huvafenfushi - dhoni boat suit

3. LoungePark Hyatt Hadahaa
Maafushivaru - dhoni lounge

4. Room ServiceConstance Moofushi
Constance Moofushi - dhoni room service

5. FountainPark Hyatt Hadahaa
Park Hyatt Hadahaa - dhoni fountain

6. BuffetLily Beach
Lily Beach - dhoni - buffet

7. BarCanareef
Canareef - dhoni bar

8. Housekeeping Coco Bodu Hithi
Coco Bodu Hithi - dhoni housekeeping

9. PlanterAaaVeee
AaaVeee - dhoni planter

10. RestaurantMillaidhoo
Millaidhoo - dhoni - restaurant

11. Kids ClubAnantara Dhigu
Anantara Dhigu - dhoni kids club

12. Dining TableJA Manafaru
JA Manafaru - dhoni dining table

13. ReceptionSun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - reception

14. SeatingAyada
Ayada - dhoni seating

15. LoungingTaj Exotica
Taj Exotica - dhoni lounging

16. Water VillaCocoa Island
Cocoa Island - dhoni water villa

Best of the Maldives: Historical Cruising – Velaa

Velaa - boat

If you want to live the maritime heritage of the Maldivian dhoni with all the conveniences and luxuries of this modern day paradise destination, then Velaa offers a distinctive dhoni crusing yacht, “Baththeli Anna”.

  • Baththeli Anna, the prncess of the Southern Seas. Designed to ensure the utmost comfort for her guests, Anna is a beautiful custom built Maldivian baththeli (“baththeli” – boat on Dhivehi language). This luxurious, uniquely designed traditional sailboat was laid down in April of 2012. Then crafted under the supervision of the Master Boat Builder, Matias Luhmann, himself alongside the proficient team of Gladonia Maldives Pvt Ltd. The idea of its elegant lines and comfortable spaces was conceived by the boat design, Philippe Laurella, French at birth, but Maldivian in Spirit.”

One of my biggest pastimes is the sport of rowing. The carbon-fiber sculls are the state-of-the-art, but I’m afraid that I’m still smitten by the aesthetic romance of a boat sculpted out of wood.


  • Length – 76 feet
  • Weight – 45 ton
  • Overnight guest capacity – 3
  • Day touring guest capacity – 8
  • Maximum speed – 12 knots.
  • 2 Hour, 4 person Sunset Dolphin Cruise – $1,695
  • 5 hour, 2 person Desert Island Dinner Cruise – $7,440
  • 2.5 hour, 4 person Luxury Private Snorkel Trip – $1,895
  • 8 hour, 4 person Charter Cruise – $5,495

With this post, I’ve added a new “Cruising” tag as the highest end resorts seem to be extended their super-premium arms race into a naval battle of yachts.

Velaa - dhoni 2

Velaa - dhoni 1

Velaa - dhoni 3

Best of the Maldives: Historical Artifacts – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili - dhoni relic

World Heritage Day celebrates the sites and monuments around the world which capture and preserve bits of the local history. Shangri-La Villingili has so many such relics that they have assembled a little guide history tour of their island. It starts with the dhoni displayed (see photo above) near the entrance to the resort:

  • This Maldivian dhoni was shipwrecked on the Villingili island reef during stormy weather in the late 1940s.”

But Villignili also shared the RAF heritage of the Addu atoll as an extension to the neighbouring Gan outpost. Garrison. The historical buildings include a RAF building (see photo directly below) as well as a defensive pill box (see photo bottom):

  • “Administrative building of the 1st Royal Marine Coast Defense Regiment manning the shore batteries on Villingili Island, ca. 1942. In August 1941, the netlayer HMS Guardian landed Royal Navy construction crews on Addu Atoll in the Maldives Islands to begin work on a secret naval base for Britain’s eastern fleet. The British eastern fleet had left more of its base facilities in Singapore, including dry docks and repair sheds In the event of Singapore’s loss, it was to fall back on Trincomalee on Ceylon’s eastern coast. The British fleet commander wanted an alternative base somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Addu Atoll, which became known as ‘Port T.’ The 1st Royal Marine Coast Defense Regiment was dispatched to secure the atoll.”

Shangri-La Villingili - RAF history

Shangri-La Villingili - pill box

Easter Mum Day Bunnies


Easter Monday provides that magic 4-day weekend for extra-long plan time. And the Maldives has extra colourful fashionista mums who have not only graced their shores, but also the other iconic bunny’s pages, Playboy. A dozen egg-cellent painted beauties…

  1. Jayde Nicole (USA) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
    Jayde Nicole (USA) – Anantara Dhigu
  2. Eva Padberg (Germany) – Soneva Fushi
    Eva Padberg (Germany) – Soneva Fushi
  3. Natalia Siwiec (Poland) – Kurumba
    Natalia Siwiec (Poland) – Kurumba 2
  4. Jessica Jane Clement (United Kingdom) – W Retreat
    Jessica Jane Clement (United Kingdom) - W Retreat
  5. Janni Honscheid (Germany ) – Cokes Surf Camp
    Coke Sruf Camp - Janni Honscheid surf
  6. Joana Plankl (Germany) – Meedhupparu
    Joanna Plankl (Germany) – Meedhupparu
  7. Lela Ceterova (Czech)
    Lela Ceterova (Czech) – Constance Halaveli
  8. Sherra Michelle (USA) – Park Hyatt Hadahaa
    Sherra Michelle (USA) - Park Hyatt Hadahaa
  9. Monikica Adamin (OAE) – Paradise Island
    Monika Adamin (OAE) – Paradise Island
  10. Silvi Bodi (Germany) – Kandooma
    Kandooma - Silvi Bodi underwater
  11. Xenia Deli (Moldova) – NIYAMA
    NIYMA - Xenia Deli
  12. Jammie Leong (Canada) – Meeru
    Jammie Leong (Canada) – Meeru