If there is one night to party, it is New Year’s Eve. And if there is one resort to party at, it is Rihiveli Beach.
There is always a party on there. The next one is their ‘White Beach Party’ on 22nd May (see below). They are advertised on their resort Facebook page and they also send out a newsletter to keep posted. These events are not just some slap on affair to fill out the social calendar for the punters. But rather anticipated events that are part of their ebullient ‘Vive la paradis’ ethos. In fact, they mostly draw local ex-pats and others, but all are welcome. And given their French proclivities, a bottle of champagne shouldn’t be hard to come by.
Bonne Année 2011!
Sir Alan is not the only one appointing new apprentices. Four Seasons, both Landaa Giraavaru and Kuda Huraa properties, sponsor an ambitious programme of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certified apprenticeships
39 Maldivians are enrolled in the Class of 2011 aged 16-20 years with O-Level certifications. The programme was founded in in 2009 by Armando Kraenzlin, GM Landa Giraavaru who commented…
“Apprentices are paid a stipend and given room and board while in the programme. Instructors come from the management team, as well as from out side the resort. For instance, the Boat Mechanics module is taught by someone from Maritime College in Colombo, and is intense hand-on course. Other topics outside of operations include English and Math. Regular resort employees are mixed in with the apprentices so that the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration so critical to Four Seasons has an opportunity to flourish and grow. The programme works: one 2003 graduate is now an assistant department head, a position that would have seemed unattainable at one time.”
When I visited in November, a number of staff at both resorts proudly commented about the programme unsolicited. My wife and I remember that when we first came over a decade ago, many staff at resorts were from far away countries and only got to see their families a few times a year. But, the folks we spoke to in November recounted going home nearly every week on their days off and spending time with family having picnics, and playing beach football with friends. But to top it off, Landaa Giraavaru also sponsors a couple of work experience student/researchers in marine biology and its top class research and visitor centre.
‘Boxing Day’ is not the traditional day for an annual pugilistic derby in the UK and elsewhere that celebrates it today. It is the day when gifts were traditionally given to servants and tradesmen. Often ‘Christmas boxes’ of gifts or money.
So it seemed like an appropriate day to celebrate the outstanding service legend across the Maldives. Especially, the super premium Maldives resorts have set higher and higher bars for outstanding service with many now providing personalised butler services. We were introduced to these services during our stays at Adaaran Vadoo and Adaaran Hudhuranfushi. But the resort to best, from my research, is Huvafenfushi. A common highlight of the various reviews is the impeccable service there. But perhaps what tilts it for me is their impressive recognition for ‘Best Service’ on Conde Nast’s elite ‘Gold List’ a few years back in 2007 which when it was last awarded.
Last chance for Christmas shopping today!
We traditionally spend our family Christmas Eve going into the big metropolis of London for a bit of last minute shopping. Picking up stocking stuffers, treats for Christmas day and meal, and just soaking up the Yuletide atmosphere. Actually, it is a great day for shopping because the crowds are tapering off. Many folks are now travelling to far flung families or getting their homes ready. We found this out when one year, in a particularly frenetic advent, we had not made it by for the kids to see Santa. So we went into Harrods (between Selfridges the two best grottoes in London) and were delighted and astonished to find that the often 2-3 hour queue was only 30 minutes on Christmas Eve.
If you have left your Maldivian Christmas shopping to the last minute, the Harrods of the Maldives has to be Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s gift shop. While many boutiques are little more than closets stuffed with conventional stuff you find at the airport, Landaa’s is 35 metres long packed with high quality and extensive variety product.
Best of all, Landaa’s gift shop sold some of the best t-shirts we have found in the Maldives. Poor (or worse yet, no) t-shirts is a real pet peeve of mine when I travel (as I note in my recent tour wrap up). The Fours Seasons shirts were high quality cotton, enticing colours (white is boring) and subtle but classy embroidered graphic.
Merry Christmas everyone! May Santa bring you lots of Maldive holiday vouchers!
The best Christmas presents are the ones you make yourself. And perhaps consummate eye for artistry in the Maldives, Sakis Papadopoulos, has spotted Shangri-La Villingili’s artist programme this month featuring Gregory Burns that will inspire any artist to colourful creations…
“Shangri-La’s Villingili Maldives will fulfil all Artists wishes from December 10th until December 28th. The resort will host the famous American Painter Gregory Burns. Worldwide acclaimed, Gregory Burns is also known to be a multi-medal-winning athlete at the Paralympic Games. Painter since he was 6 years old, his work is exposed in UK, Europe, Asia, Australia and USA. During his stay at Shangri-La’s Villingili, he will conduct many Painting Workshops as well as an exhibition of his paintings from Villingili on Christmas Day.”
Pulling an inner tube behind a speed boat. Pretty basic fun and the staple of our annual coastal visits to my wife’s family’s home in Wilmington, North Carolina. Kind of lazy, easy, laugh-out-loud water fun.
Then they put handles on the inner tubes…made them a bit bigger…added a few other tweaks. Now the inflatable innovation is rampant. Just walk by a Redix and you can witness the colourful variety of water fun you can now have in the wake of a motor boat.
But I have never seen so many varieties of inflatable contraptions as the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru water centre stocks. The manager Hussain Zahid (pictured above) showed me no less than 18 different varieties. Gyro (it spins around). Granstand (you stand up) and something called 'Ray Boat' that I have never seen in all my years of water adventure. All shapes, size and colours for all sorts of rides.
The number one reason people don’t go to the Maldives…the perception that there is nothing to do. And within that the myth, the number one ‘thing to do’ that is a ‘show stopper’ for many couples…no golf.
Well, you might not find a Jack Nicholas designed 36-hole links in the country, but if it is a deal breaker then there are some fine possibilities. I’ve already highlighted Kuredu’s 6-hole ‘Executive’ course. But for those who want a bit more whack in their holiday week, then Meeru offers a driving range. 100 balls for $10 and that includes complementary use of clubs. The resort also has a spiffy 9-hole chip-and-putt course to boot. Fore!
Maldives Complete, Seven Holidays and Mondo Maldive. That’s the Maldive aficionado’s list of top online websites about resorts. That’s what the fans say and that’s where I would point people to.
Maldives Complete’s mission was always about being comprehensive. Having all the desired info and pictures (and not a lot of redundant and extraneous bits like pictures of fish and sunsets) has been Maldive Complete’s mission from the outset. The only other website that has a similar degree of completeness if Mondo Maldives. Mondo features 108 resorts (compared to Maldives Complete’s 122 though we include a number of resorts that are offline and being built).
Now Mondo Maldives have taken that thoroughness to the print world. From my very first trip, the definitive book on Maldives resorts was always Adrian Neville’s ‘Resorts of the Maldives’. The book had the largest array of resorts as well as a balanced and candid narrative. On my most recent trip, I spied ‘Mondo Maldives’ – the book in the airport gift shop. Knowing the quality website, I took a look and was super impressed. The book was a true encyclopaedia of information on the resorts (it is advertised on their home page, but it doesn’t appear in their shop when you click on it).
Mondo’s is based in Italy and the whole site is available in Italian with the core parts being available in an English version as well. Unfortunately, its rich ‘Forum’ on its site is all Italian.
One of my friends at Microsoft (and former teammate), Steve Clayton, has the jobs title of ‘Story Teller’. He has made a career out of telling stories for richly illustrating the intricate tapestry of Microsoft technology. The Naladhu resort brings stories to its own guest offering a storytelling evening. Not just reading Dr. Suess, but executed with so much style and panache I suspect the adults would want to go along as well (I know that I would). They host it in a coconut grove (I love it when the resorts do more activities out in the natural surroundings) and they explore the folklore of Maldives. The trips to local village islands are always popular excursions and I know that many visitors are keen to seek out a bit ‘culture’ on their trip. If so, Naladhu offers a colourful portrayal…
“Did you know that the Maldives has an oral literary tradition that extends back almost 1,000 years? A rich history of sailors, pirates, seafaring princes, sultans and British colonial governors? A language unlike any on Earth? A must on the itinerary of any guest to Naladhu is a storytelling evening in our island’s coconut grove with Ahmed Didi, the Island Chief. A native to our very island for – well, longer than anyone really knows! – Ahmed is a lively character with a richly detailed memory filled with island tales from his own lifetime and generations beyond. He shares his love of this island nation and its rich folkloric tradition in casual (yet dramatic!) stories. Naladhu is proud preserve Maldivian culture and share it with our guests during this unique evening back in time.”
There’s pool seating and then there’s POOL seating!
I’ve already done a post on the stunning Pool Seating of the Traders Hotel (nee Holiday Inn Male). On my recent tour, I noted how the resorts we really upping their game in this regard. King-sized luxury mattresses under four-posted canopies. But the Atoll Paradise website caught my eye with what is most certainly the most perfect ‘POOL’ seating. The pictures say it all. Hat tip to TripAdvisor destination expert ICN05 for identifying the sub-aquatic lounger as Reethi Rah’s.