Best of the Maldives: Spa Vista – Adaaran Vadoo

Vadoo spa vista 1

The vogue thing in the Maldives is the underwater features, but I am an unabashed fan of the over water views as well. Waaaay over water. The sea plane rides and any place that provides a broader perspective on the distinctive aquatic landscape.

You can drink with a view, dine with a view, and workout with a view. And you can even relax with a view at Adaaran Vadoo Prestige’s spa right at the window looking out over the ocean from a rare (in the Maldives) 3rd story.

Vadoo spa vista 2

Best of the Maldives: Buffet Vista – Hulhule

Hulhule Buffet


Everyday is an air show in the Maldives. One of the most exciting parts of a trip there is the arrival. When your plane first touches the edges of the sprawling archipelago you are treated to an other-worldly vision of a blue kaleidoscope. Always do whatever you can to get a window seat for flights in and out of Male airport.

This view was formally recognized this week by the website who surveyed their members for the ‘Top 10 Airport Approaches in the World’ and Male came in #5…

"It is an Island Airport, on its own island..The airport is surrounded by deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees…approaching over the Maldivian Atolls where you often see turtles and dolphins on approach."

The airport touchdown isn’t the only thing at Hulhule with a great vista. The Hulhule Hotel features its restaurant buffet on its 4th floor with the best mealtime vistas in the Maldives. Most buffets are relegated to the interior of the island without even a glimpse of the ocean, but at Hulhule the entire expanse of blueness is spread before you as copiously as the delectable items before you with big picture windows on both sides of the room.

Sometimes there are less attractive tankers in bay, other times some of the glitziest yachts. One of the sights, obviously, is the Male airport, so the restaurant also would have made a great grandstand for this week’s airshow.

Enjoy the approach yourself with some of the videos on YouTube

Male airport

Best of the Maldives: Vodka – W Retreat

W Retreat vodka


Today is the Red Bull Air Race over Hulhumale capping off yesterday’s Red Bull Air Show (see photo below)

The classic, near iconic, Red Bull cocktail is the ‘Vodka Red Bull’. And if you are looking for the best place for vodka, the barn storming winner is without doubt the W Retreat. Specifically, it’s night club ’15 Below’ which prides itself on its dozens of varieties of vodka on offer in its vodka wall (see photo above).

Their most unusual vodka is Roberto Cavalli from Italy. Their most popular vodka cocktail is ‘Kiwi Spring’.

Right up there with the Ice Bar at the Ice Hotel as one of the best vodka bars in the world.

Check out series of videos from the event on YouTube.


Red Bull Air Show

Best of the Maldives: Sand-Between-Toes Dining: Velassaru

Velassaru beach dining

Dining on the beach is pretty standard now, but dining ‘in’ the beach? There are ‘beach chairs’ and then there are ‘beach’-chairs. As in ‘made out of beach’. And I don’t mean ‘beech’.

If you like getting down for dinner, then Velassaru takes ‘sand between your toes’ dining to a whole new level. A level down into the sand for sand between your toes, legs, and anything else.

I’ve always been a big aficionado of beach dining in the Maldives and have been frustrated when resorts sequestered guests off into to cinder block dining halls for meals.

Best of the Maldives: Low Bed – Adaaran Vadoo

Vadoo bed

Time to get down.

The latest bed instalment is not the biggest, nor the best, but the ‘lowest’. In keeping with its Japanese heritage and ambience, the Vadoo beds rest on the ground. Not like your typical ‘Beds-R-Us’ foldable futons though, these beds are as plush and thick.

I had my bed on the floor growing up. It was especially convenient for collapsing into (perhaps a very serious concern for some people). Also, great for subclinophobics (fear of things under the bed).

Vadoo is not unique with this bed style, but Vadoo is best quality I have come across with its quality of mattress, bedding and stylishly design black lacquer frame.

Best of the Maldives: Beds – W Retreat

W Retreat lunch bed

There’s biggest, and there’s best. And at the W Retreat, beds are as much of a pervasive obsession as their service and music.

Beds are everywhere. Their pool-side restaurant/bar serves you lunch on a bed (see photo above). Later in the day, you can go to their over-water bar, ‘Sip’, for a sundowner on an array of king sized mattresses with pillows to stretch out on. Even after dinner, a night cap at the night club 15 Below offers seats that are more bed than chair in design (see photo below). Beds are on the beach and in reception. The upstairs decks of the villas have swinging beds.

And to cater for all of this lounging, the W have created these little serving tables (see in both photos) which handily hold your drink, food, etc. what ever way you want to make yourself comfortable.

Of course, they also have them in the bedrooms. Lovely ones. Top of the line ‘super kings’ with down mattress covers and down pillows (the softest we have come upon) a luxuriously high thread count (400 TC) bed linen.

For a destination where most of the landscape is horizontal, the W does more than just about anywhere to get you horizontal.


W Retreat 15 Degrees bed

Best of the Maldives: Widest Beds – Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi beds


Of course, another way for the whole family to relax is a bit of cuddle therapy. But, as my wife and I learned when we had young kids, as sweet as it is when the little ones jump onto the bed in the morning for a start-the-day hug, it does call for a bigger bed. And in the Maldives, there are no bigger beds than Jumeirah Dhevanafushi’s Ocean Revive and Island Revive beds. At 3 metres wide (2 metres long) they are the biggest I have come across anywhere. A UK ‘super-King’ is only 2 metres wide (and 1.83 metres long). In fact, the biggest commercially sold bed in the world is the ‘California King’ which is only 2.13 metres wide.

Thanks again Adrian.

Best of the Maldives: Family Spa – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli spa

Congratulations to Jumeirah Vittaveli who officially opens today with a gala ceremony. Their announcement described…

“Receiving its first guests on the 10th December, the ultra luxury resort catering for couples, families and small groups is the second Jumeirah property to open in the Maldives this year.”

Pleased to hear about their Michelin-starred Executive Chef Kai Boeddinghaus. I think for any resort aspiring to ‘ultra luxury’ status, Michelin distinction is a pre-requisite. But what stood out for me as I explored their revamp of the place was their embrace of families. This emphasis warmed my nostalgia recollection of the island which I visited over a decade ago on my first trip to the Maldives and my family discovered ‘house reefs’ there (where we were staying at Laguna Beach now Velassaru didn’t have much of one)

Half of the text in the Vittaveli opening announcement talked about special offerings and features designed for children of all ages and families holidaying together. And my favourite was their ‘Aila Time’ concept at their Talise Spa

“Even Talise spa has introduced special treatment programmes for families. ‘Aaila’ is the Maldivian word for family, ‘Aila Time’ invites families to enjoy an awakening of a personal reconnection, whilst the ila ‘beyond’ journey educates young adults aged between 12 and 16 about the joy of spa, preparing them for a lifetime of wellbeing.”

A few other resorts, like Conrad Rangali’s ‘Ice Cream Spa’, have special kids offerings at their spas, but this is the first ‘family’ treatment concept I have come across. There have certainly been plenty of times in our family’s history when we could use some family therapy. And our periodic adventures at the Maldives definitely go down in our collective memories as one of our times for ‘reconnection’ walking, snorkelling, discovering, star-gazing, and game-playing together.

Though it does bug me that Jumeirah has no proper pictures of the spa on their web site. Big pet peeve of mine when resorts use useless generic, close-up, still-life, arty-farty photos on their website instead of showing us the product.

Welcome to the neighbourhood Jumeirah family!

Best of the Maldives: Dining Times – Palm Beach

Palm Beach sushi

Also considering dubbing this distinction ‘Best for Grazing’.

Lots of top resorts offer all sorts of custom services, but even there the meals are most often confined to specific serving times. When we are plotting our holiday days, we do often pivot around meal times. Getting up early enough for breakfast before an excursion, fitting in a bite for lunch, leaving the bar before the buffet closes.

If such dining schedule constraints weigh on you, then Palm Beach is the resort to consider. They have the longest standard serving times of any resort I have come across.

  • Breakfast 8:00 – 1:00 (!)
  • Lunch 1:00 – 2:30
  • Tea 4:30 – 7:00 (crepes, cookies, cakes)
  • Appetizers 7:45 – 8:40 (Italian antipasti, sushi – see photo above at sushi station)
  • Dinner 8:30 – 10:00

Only 2 hours and 45 minutes when food not available during the day. Inclusive that is. You can always order a la carte from a number of places throughout the day. The generosity of serving times reminded me of cruise boats who have mastered this approach for year offering food pretty much non-stop throughout the day.

Fancy a bite? No problem.

Best of the Maldives: Custom Breakfast – W Retreat

W Retreat breakfast 2

The ultra-5-stars will do anything for you at the drop of a hat and W Retreat is certainly right up there with obsessive service. But usually, breakfast is a fairly self-service situation at most resorts with a smorgasbord of morning delights on offer to provide more than enough choice for most people to craft their own well suited breakfast. Some things are prepared to order especially the ubiquitous ‘Egg Station’ and often a ‘Pancake Station’ (which will do waffles too).

But the W Retreat has taken the preparation stations to a whole new level at their breakfasts where everything is made to order custom to your requirements. I certainly pushed the Egg Station to limits I hadn’t yet experienced at a resort getting myself fresh Egg Benedict (with freshly made, not pre-prepared, Hollandaise Sauce). For beverages, I had a custom made Fruit Smoothie with fruits I hand picked from their literal cornucopia. For the Japanese visitors, the popular breakfast item of Miso soup was custom prepared (not sitting simmering in a big vat) and you can choose your own spices and added ingredients to include (see photo above).

But the quintessence of personalisation is their coffee mugs. They offer a vast assortment of unique, colourful mugs (see below). When you choose one, that mug becomes YOUR mug for the entire stay. They keep track of whose mugs is whose and serve you in your OWN personal mug.

W Retreat mugs