The Royal couple of WIlliam and Katherine are now married and the honeymoon beckons. No word yet on the destination, but the Maldives are one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations. With everywhere being such romantically tropical paradise, how does one choose the most quintessentially romantic spot. There are lots of criteria to consider, but if the ultimate chill-out after the manic wedding build-up is called for, then I know of no more romantic spa treatment than Kuramathi’s couple’s massage.
The couples massage experience is a fairly standard offering across the Maldives. Throw two tables in a room instead of just one and, voila, a treat you share ‘together’ rather than queing up after each other or retiring to separate quarters.
But Kuramathi have gone that creative step further. After your resplendent couple’s massage, the two of you are taken to another treatment room where a gigantic bathtub is filled with a bubbles, sprinkled with flower petals and accompanied by not only glasses of sparkling wine, but also a chocolate fountain with tropical fruits. The couple are then given the key to the room so they can lock the door from the inside and they can enjoy a further hour at the spa in sumptuous privacy.
Friends of ours recently returned from their honeymoon, which we had helped them to research, and told us all about their magical afternoon at the spa. Genius.
Bed decoration has been a delightful service in many tropical resorts and it seems particularly popular in the Maldives. You often feel a tinge of sadness to leave the outdoor paradise for your indoor lodging, but arriving to such an artistic treat is like a bit of paradise indoors.
I’ve already featured a piece on bed decoration after culling through hundred of examples where a Meeru example came out the most exquisite. But now I’m alerted to a whole new genre of bed decoration pioneered by Kuramathi with stunning impact – towel sculpture. Check out the charming examples above from Vicky Kafala.
Kuramathi is no slouch in the bed decorating department either as the photo below testifies. I think they have taken this whole tradition beyond simple decorating to an art form in its own right.
For some cutting edge hotel room ‘bed art’, check out MSNBC’s report on the creations of Bert Kreischer, host of the Travel Channel's "Bert the Conqueror" television show.
Happy Earth Day 2011!
Maldives have always been on the vanguard of promoting the thoughtful stewardship of the planet. In the spirit of the day, I thought I would highlight Seamarc who has been pioneering ‘reefscaping’ and ‘coral regeneration’ projects across the Maldives. Resorts using their reef grafting frames include Kandooma, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Beach House at Manafaru, Island Hideaway at Dhonakulhi, Reethi Rah, and Four Seasons Kuda Huraa,
“Seamarc’s unique propagation techniques; whereby broken or threatened corals are harvested, attached to portable Coral Trays and put back into the warm Maldivian waters, mean that branching corals grow faster, rapidly creating new and replenishing old habitats. The project also provides alternative employment to residents of nearby B. Fulhadhoo Island who build the structures.”
The illustration above comes from my friend and social media pioneer Hugh MacLeod. I especially like his tagline about ‘changing lives’. The more we do that for the better, the easier it will be to get everyone to agree to some difficult decisions to take care of our planet.
Happy Birthday Your Majesty! And thank you for the very kind mention on your special day of ‘Piero’ (the company I manage) as an exemplar of British innovation. My day job is stewardship of a small software developer that provides sport broadcast graphical tools called Piero and today Her Majesty The Queen announced that we had been awarded The 2011 Queen’s Award for Innovation.
On a far less majestic scale, if I had to give out an award for Innovation in general to Maldive resorts, it would go to Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. They not only innovate with a range of creative touches (many of which I haven’t had the opportunity to post yet), but they also must be the most technology rich resort. They have embraced ‘reefscaping’ more extensively than any other. Their Marine Discovery Center sponsors and conducts research in innovation for marine bio-sustainability.
A brilliant example of both service innovation and using technology is their ‘Manta On-Call’ service. One of the givens to nature is it unpredictability and that is especially true with many of its most beguiling and intriguing creatures. While it is part of the territory that there is no guarantee what you might see when you venture into the wild (as we learned on our Hammerhead excursion while visiting Kuramathi’s not-so-eponymous Hammerhead Point that day), it is nonetheless frustrating when you have so little time during your visit. While the lovely water and general aquatic flora and fauna always provide excellent consolation, it can be a bit disappointing heading out on a number of excursions hoping to see something as dramatic as manta rays but come back unsuccessful. To help increase the chances of seeing mantas, Landaa has a service called ‘Manta On-Call’. The reception gives you your own mobile phone and keeps in touch with the dive trips and snorkel excursions throughout the day. If a group of mantas is spotted, they telephone you wherever you are on the island and arrange an excursion to take you out so you can see them as soon as feasible.
Hat’s off to Landaa, congratulations to Piero, and Happy Birthday to Her Majesty the Queen.
Ooohhh…sore feet. Whether it yesterday’s marathon or tenderness from overly hot sand, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru has the pedi-treatment for you.
Their Blu restaurant is a lovely place with a rustic, understated elegance fashioned from unpolished concrete and distressed wood. To extend the soothing comfort of its Italian delicacies, it also offers diner in the pool. Many resorts have ‘pool-side’ bars, but Landaa is the first ‘pool-in’ dining. I thought that the sensation of warm sand between my toes during dinner was distinctive, but warm water soaking my feet while a crisp Sauvignon soaks my palette is sublime.
Landaa’s piscinary gourmet uniqueness may be somewhat short-lived, however, as the upcoming Ayada resort has a published designs which show even more extensive catering to this no-shoes style of dining.
A final note to add an inspiring follow up to my post-script of the last post. Mark Deakin not only completed the London Marathon, but started a new life marathon at the same time as he stopped at the Tower Bridge to propose to his girlfriend, Ilona. So Landaa’s pool dining can not only soothe Mark’s weary feet, but also provide the perfectly romantic celebration to their new life together. Maybe this post should be ‘Best Post-Marathon Marriage Proposal Romantic Dinner’.
The epic London Marathon takes place tomorrow so which resort is the best place for entrants to get their training in. Once you have carbo-loaded at Kuramathi, head to Shangri-La Vilingili for your training runs. Most Maldive islands would have you running laps being little larger than your typical running track in circumference anyway. Vilingili has 3 jogging trails for a total of a four kilometre route. A luxuriously long patch of ground in the terrain challenged Maldives.
Soneva Fushi also offers ‘hidden’ jogging trails and is a much larger island, but Villingili offers an eight-minute speedboat ride away ‘a 17-kilometre road, which is the longest in the Maldives’ which connects 5 neighbouring islands.
Good luck to my friend Mark Deakin who will be one of the 6000+ runners and he is raising money for the Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital if you want to lend support.
The Lynn family enjoying one of Kurumba’s many dining delights.
Perhaps this post could also be called ‘Best for Americans’. Americans love choice and Americans love food. Living the UK for two decades, people ask what I miss from the States. There is not much at this point, both because I have grown fond of the UK’s own offerings and because the UK has more and more stuff from America. The one answer I always respond with is ‘choice’. USA is the land where places like Starbucks pioneered the triple-shot, skinny, extra-hot latte with a hazelnut and cinnamon as a form of a ‘cup of coffee’. In our local Waitrose store, they offer 3 types of cake mix…in America, there is a cake mix aisle. As it happens, this week I in the apotheosis of dining choice…Las Vegas. I woke up the other night from jet lag at 3:00 am and felt a bit peckish and I had 3 restaurants that were open to choose from…without leaving my hotel.
If you want that kind of decadent dining variety, then the unsurprising winner is the resort I found to have the ‘Most Choices’ overall – Kurumba. When it comes to dining, they have 10 options
which is the most culinary variety you will find in the Maldives…
- Al Qasr – Arabic/Lebanese
- La Cucina– Italian
- Hamakaze – Japanese
- Kurumba Mahal – Indian
- Ming Court – Chinese
- Ocean Grill – seafood
- Kurumba Cafe – variety
- Pizza Piazza – poolside pizza (brick oven baked)
- Vihamana – buffet restaurant for breakfast and meal plan meals
- Beach Bar – lunches served a la carte and buffet
Also, the resort offers room service which offers an impressive selection of dishes from each of the restaurants. See my blog post on ‘Meal Plan’.
Kuramathi also has 10 restaurants, but they don’t have the diversity of styles and menus as a couple of the restaurants are just different areas serving the same fare.
Games rooms are plentiful enough and ‘no shoes’ experience is plentiful enough, but the two together is a real treat that Reethi Beach has done best.
Games rooms are usually they are housed in an air conditioned building in the main area. Another very practical reason why games rooms tend to be solid floors is the matter of levelling the pool/snooker table. But I played on it and they seemed to a figured out how to get it all level.
Also, the ‘no shoes’ experience of the basic Maldives, for a while, seemed like a bit of a declining treasure as more upscale venues developed more conventional dining restaurants with solid floors. I think now the resorts are starting to realise that their is a certain priceless allure to soft, warm sand between your toes no matter where you go including diner or post-prandial play-time (that said, there is a balancing act of catering to a jet-setting posh segment that want to wear their Manolo Blahniks around the island).
Reethi Beach is certainly one of the ‘old school’ resorts with the feel of traditional Maldives with friendly, collegial atmosphere, simple and natural landscaping, and of course the ‘no shoes’ experience throughout. The games room also includes a Foosball table and Ping Pong table. A final bonus point for Reethi Beeth was the blue felt on the pool table. It really captured that aquatic Maldivian aesthetic.
Anantara Kihava’s crown as the new kid on the block didn’t last long as Six Senses Laamu opened last weekend. SSLL has a lounge called ‘Ice’ which specialises in the sins of the sweet tooth.
“Ice is for all those with a sweet tooth. From the crepe bar and cocoa kitchen to the 40 flavored ice creams, the choices are endless. With daily cooking clinics, just leave room for the tasting.”
Even the ice cream icon Baskin and Robbins only had 31 flavours. And a ‘Cocoa Kitchen’. Yum.
Congratulations to us!
Maldives Complete was awarded one of their top 10 awards for ‘Best Maldives Blogs’.
Here is how they describe the award process…
“The nominees are chosen by our team of travel experts that go out to scour the internet for the best blogs they can find. That select group is then short-listed via a rigorous selection process, taking in factors like how informative the blog is, the overall writing style, the actual blog appearance and how well that blog performs in its given category when compared and contrasted to other, similar blogs.”
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this honour through their comments, suggested topics, and helpful information and photos I have used in the posts.