Best of the Maldives: Wood Decor – Kandooma

Kandooma wood decor

Kandooma has employed nature as its artist for their creative wood motif (starting with its Coconut Husk inspired reception and restaurant) for an artistic touch throughout the main area of the resort. Burl wood is a particular favourite material of mine (we have a burr wood piano, and doll cabinet) and it is used throughout the imparting a natural whimsy to the décor.

Totally gnarly, dude!

Kandooma wood decor 2

Best of the Maldives: Artist – Reethi Rah

Reethi Rah Christopher Hogan

From make up brushes to paint brushes, the One & Only Reethi Rah hosts its own ‘Artist in Residence’ Christopher Hogan started this month

  • “Guests can fully unwind by taking part in art therapy with renowned Australian artist Christopher Hogan while holidaying on the white beaches of The Maldives. Christopher will be One&Only Reethi Rah’s artist in residence 1 February – 28 April 2012. Known for compositions reflecting the beauty found in wildlife, such as fish skin patterns and the colour palettes of marine life, Christopher’s unique and distinctive style is stimulating to the eye. In particular, his creation of the ‘Reef Series’ propelled Christopher into international recognition. In harmony with the setting of One&Only Reethi Rah, the artist will take inspiration from his time on the island and produce new works as well as guide aspirational artists staying at the resort. Guests can book our special INSPIRATION package which includes luxury accommodations and 3 art classes with Christopher Hogan.”

Christopher has done a range of murals around the resort, especially for the Kid’s Club, as a part of his ‘Reef Series’ (see photo below).

Reethi Rah Reef Series Kids Club

Best of the Maldives: Make-Up Table – Velassaru

Velassaru make up counter

The award for “Best Make Up” might have gone to ‘The Iron Lady’ last night, but the Best of the Maldives Award for ‘Best Make-up Table’ goes to Velassaru. All too often the ‘make up table’ is stuck away in some alcove or hallway typically between the bathroom and bedroom. Sometimes it is in the bathroom itself, but often facing the wall in order to face the mirror. Velassaru’s waterv villas positioned the make up table front and centre by one of the prominent windows in the room. Now getting ready for the day or evening is not a chore relegated some corner of the room, but a truly delightful setting. Velassaru makes becoming breathtaking a breathtaking task itself.

Best of the Maldives: Disabled Access – Kurumba

Kurumba walkways

For moving around beyond the water’s edge, most resorts have buggies for helping to move baggage and helping guests, but can also be very useful transport for disabled and mobility challenged. Nonetheless, sometimes disabled people prefer to get around on their own devices whether it is a wheelchair, crutches, walking stick or other mode of movement. They can be independent and enjoy soaking up the surroundings as they make their way around the resort with a bit more intimacy than a buggy escort. For those seeking such a handicapped accessible resort, the Kurumba is real designed literally from the ground up to support such guests…

  • Paved Walkways – Kurumba has an extensive paved walkway (see photo above) which connects every part of the island. While this feature might be a turn off for those who prefer the more natural, sand-in-the-toes lay of the land, it is a great benefit to anyone handicapped who had to negotiate around the tropical island. Furthermore, every place we saw, the walkway nicely joined the main structures and buildings with ramping. (These walkways might also come in handy for fashionistas who insist on wearing high heels around a resort which might be considered its own form of perverse handicap).
  • Available Carts – Kurumba also has several electric golf carts which people can call on for transport from place to place on the resort if needed (though most able-bodied people rarely use them since the island is only medium sized).
  • Proximity to Male – The proximity to Male is one final benefit for people whose handicaps derive from elderly age. It reduced further travel time for those who have already endured a long haul flight. Also, being close to Male means being close to the country’s largest medical facility. This consideration may be of particular interest to elderly concerned about venturing too far out into such a remote destination.

Kurumba even produced a Kurumba Guide for Disabled Persons to further assist guests with various mobility and other challenges which outlines its whole range of support.

I posted this suggestion to TA a while back and got the following endorsement from Trip Advisor Destination Expert nefertari2Uk…

“Agree with Bruce, Kurumba is excellent for wheelchairs as there are concrete paths all around, ramps as well large showers in some room categories where you can even take your wheelchair if necessary. Some of the rooms have small steps but the carpenters also put ramps up as well. Definitely one of the best for wheelchairs in my opinion and although not your typical Maldivian island, the service is excellent as is the food and service.”

As it happens, on my recent visit, I met a ‘wheelie’ staying at Kurumba, Mitzy Wells and got to speak to her about her experience. Mitzy uses a wheelchair since and accident a year ago and found Kurumba very accommodating. She is mobile with a walking stick, but gets tired readily especially on the hot days. She applauded not only the high number of ramps and pervasive paved pathways, but the extra efforts of Kurumba. They had a ramp at the ready for her bungalow (see photo below). They didn’t just shift it into place, but they actually nailed it in secure for the duration of her stay. She did note that the paved pathways had cambered edges which a wheelchair user needs to watch out for because getting a wheel too close to the edge can precipitate a spill. But overall she was delighted to be a Kurumba.

Kurumba wheel chair access

Best of the Maldives: Wheelchair – Baros

Baros beach wheelchair

Nighttime arrivals aren’t the only difficult and awkward movements in the Maldives. For many disabled or mobility challenged guests, the ubiquitous sand only makes footing and moving around problematic. Not at Baros though where the resort offers the latest in beach mobility. The Daily Mail covered it in its piece “Meals by moonlight, diving with sharks and rolling on Beach Wheels in the mazy Maldives

“My eyes also fell on another device that looked as if it had been lifted from a Nasa lunar project. Beach Wheels was an aquatic wheelchair, an Australian invention with huge tyres that allowed someone like me to glide smoothly over the sand or be dumped neatly into the sea.”

How people use the beach wheel chair? 

“Disabled guests who asks for the wheel chair are provided with our Beach wheel chair. It has big air filled wheels and therefore is easy to manoeuvre on sand, even on the most soft one. One person has always to be there to push the chair.”

What people have said about it?

“People are really happy about it, as it is incredible convenient for them. We offer it also sometimes to guest, who have problems to walk or are injured – they are really impressed by this service.”

Anything surprise you about its use when you got it?

“Not really surprising but interestingly – even if it was not built for that usage – guests tell us, that they feel like being able to float in the water. It is made of very strong material like fibre glass, and therefore does not rust at all.”

Best of the Maldives: Late Night Arrivals – Conrad Maldives Rangali

Conrad Maldives Rangali - flyme transfers

When you are coming in from all over the world, you can’t always hit the web of intra-atoll transfers just right. Sometimes people arrive in the evening (well, you can’t have every flight arrive in the middle of the day) and that can create problems for transfers with sometimes people having to spend the night near the airport until transferring the following day. Conrad Maldives Rangali has enhanced its transfer offerings, though, to avoid this problem…

“We’re pleased to announce that to make evening arrivals more convenient for international travellers, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has partnered Maldivian domestic airline Flyme! to launch night-time transfers from Male International Airport to an airport on Maamigili Island, near the resort. The new domestic flights are priced at US$466 for each adult and US$232 for each child. Guests will travel in comfort throughout the 17-minute flight and 20-minute speedboat ride to the luxurious resort. ‘The new domestic flight transfers are designed to eliminate the need for guests arriving from international flights to spend a night in Male, allowing them to arrive at the resort on the same evening,’ said Carsten Schieck, general manager, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Guests are welcomed upon arrival at Male International Airport and ushered to the domestic terminal where they await their transfer in comfort in a private lounge while the resort’s representatives assist with check in and luggage weighing. Guests can relax and board the aircraft at their convenience before takeoff, while still be assured of the best seats in the carrier and receive VIP in-flight service from the cabin crew. Arrival at Maamigili domestic airport is equally streamlined where guests will be greeted and have their luggage taken care of by the resort’s representatives while they are whisked away under a starry sky in the warm night air to the resort to find their villa and personal island host waiting to welcome them.”

Flyme! also has the coolest Maldives Flash animation on its homepage!

FlyMe animation

Best of Maldives Online: Most Languages – Velassaru

Velassaru website languages

Today is UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day which seemed an appropriate occasion for a shout out to Velassaru for their language rich and diverse web site. Their 8 supported languages far surpasses any others I have come across…

  1. English
  2. French
  3. German
  4. Russian
  5. Spanish
  6. Italian
  7. Korean
  8. Japanese

Oddly, no Chinese which is the very first language that I translated my website into. With Velassaru’s extensive shallow lagoon, one would think it would be an attractive option for swimming-challenged Chinese.

Best of the Maldives: Cheese – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi cheese

Some people opt for a cheese plate over pudding. In which case, Soneva Gili’s sister property, Soneva Fushi, features an extravagant cheese collection as part of its stunning wine cellar. Its 7000+ bottle collection ranks among the best in the Maldives in its own right, but the cheese is truly distinctive. I was alerted to it by a friend and Soneva Fushi regular, Mark Richardson, who raved about the cheese smorgasbourg. Contacting Soneva, their Sales and Marketing Executive Aishath Ali gave me the details…

“At any given time we have at least 30 to 40 different cheeses in house. We get our cheese from a very well respected Cheese Affineur in Belgium. The best Port we have though is a fantastic find – 1937 Colheita from Royal Oporto. We have weekly wine and cheese tastings in our underground wine cellar where we pair ‘Natural’ wines with some of Europe’s most unique artisanal cheeses.”

Selections include Soumaintrain fermier, Roqueforte Artisenale, Livarot, Perail Brebis, Lanres fermier, Maroille Ferme Blanche, Blue des Causses A.O.C., L’Ami du Chambertin, Manchego, Swiss Gruyer Haut Alpage, Reypenaar.

Say ‘cheese’! At Soneva Fushi, that will definitely put a smile on your face.

Best of the Maldives: Dessert Menu – W Retreat

W Retreat desserts

Shocking as it may seem, not everyone wants chocolate for dessert. If you want as much variety in your flavours (and then even more variety in how those flavours are presented), then the restaurant Fish (which has a clever double pier design so twice as many tables are water side) at the W Retreat is the place to go. The pastry chef Sanjit Gupta (see above) has concocted a broad array of taste collections…

  • Strawberry – marinated strawberries, lavender ice cream, vanilla crumble
  • Mango – Swedish toast, grilled mango, mango sabayon, mango sorbet
  • Passion Fruit – passion fruit parfait, passion fruit toast, passion fruit syrup
  • Chocolate – bitter chocolate sorbet, white chocolate coulis, bitter chocolate mud cake
  • Coconut – coconut cheese cake, candied coconut, coconut sorbet, coconut milk jelly
  • Rum – classic rum baba, rum raisin ice cream, lime rum syrup
  • Caramel – walnut nougat, banana parfait, molasses ice cream, toasted brioche
  • Carrot – orange carrot soup, carrot spaghetti, apple dumpling, orange zested yogurt sorbet

Even with the portfolio option to hedge your bets, still choosing is a challenge. They are priced at $18. Sanjit is adding new items regularly and was experimenting with White and Black sesame when we were there.  My personal favourite flavours are cherry and cinnamon so I would love to see what he would do with those.

Best of the Maldives: Chocolate – Soneva Gili

Soneva Fushi Chocolate Cave 1

Happy Valentines Day!

A meal out in a romantic venue. A box of chocolates. How about a meal of chocolate?? In paradise.

Soneva Gili has an Underground Chocolate Cave.  A chocolate lair!

“Our unique underground wine cellar, showcasing more than six hundred varieties of wine from more than thirty regions around the world, has recently had a truly unique experience added. In addition to our artisanal cheese and deli room, you may now also experience our handmade, gourmet chocolate cave. Our Executive pastry chef has created a chocolate menu using only the finest chocolate, with some very interesting and unusual flavours… Have you ever tried liquid milk chocolate with earl grey tea and mango, or dark chocolate with chilli? What about chocolate truffles flavoured with coconut and coriander, passion fruit and caramel, orange and cardamom, to name but a few…?

A fuller list is provided below, but to extend taste sensations, Soneva Gili also couples bottled treats with the boxed ones…

“To further the experience even more, our Sommelier would be delighted to create a fantastic chocolate and wine pairing which may be enjoyed before or after dinner. Wine and chocolate are natural companions; they both have very complex flavours and matching these flavours is half the fun! ‘Sip the wine, let it fill your mouth, note the wines complexity and which flavours come to mind. Now take a small bite of the chocolate, let it sit on your tongue, when it just begins to melt sip the wine again and swirl together with the chocolate.’”

  • For dark and bitter chocolate – Full bodied reds (eg. 2006 Shiraz Coriole, McLaran Vale, Australia, 2006 The Chocolate Block, Franschoek, South Africa0
  • For dark and bitter sweet chocolate – Sweet fortified (eg. Starboard Batch 88, Quady’s, Madera, California USA, Pedro Ximénez, San Emilio, Lustau, Andalusia, Spain)
  • For milk chocolate – Lighter, fresher (eg. 2007 Viognier, Kumkani, Stellenbosch, South Africa)

A sample of the confections includes…

  • Sambuca chocolate
  • Lemongrass chocolate
  • Passion fruit caramel
  • Coconut coriander
  • Fennel seed chocolate
  • Mango ginger
  • Malibu chocolate
  • Cardamom chocolate
  • Cinnamon apple
  • Irish coffee
  • Orange chocolate
  • Green tea chocolate
  • Whisky caramel
  • Star anise
  • Yoghurt lassi
  • Chilli chocolate
  • Mint chocolate
  • Hazelnut chocolate
  • Roasted almond
  • Rum & raisin
  • Calvados chocolate
  • Olive oil chocolate
  • Goats cheese
  • Salted caramel

Travelscore Magazine’s blog has a great comprehensive review of the place (where the pictures are from).

Soneva Fushi Chocolate Cave 2