Best of the Maldives: Adults Only – Komandoo

Komandoo - adults only

 

 

For some, the appeal of the Maldives is its idyllic tranquillity and the idea of squealing kids running around cuts right through the heart of their paradise fantasy. For those, Komandoo now offers the Maldives’ first ‘adults only’ resort ith the highest minimum age of any resort…

Their website specifies

“Children below 18 years not allowed on the island. Children above 18 years staying at the resort will be charged as an adult.”

Some might say that limiting your customers is bad business, but ‘Seth-urday’ marketing maven Seth Godin argues the contrary. One of his great insights is about being ‘remarkable’ with ‘Purple Cows’ which make your product stand out. He argues that people need to be bold an brave to establish these distinctions even if it means alienating potential customers. This differentiation is a big challenge for Maldives resorts which number over 100 and yet all share the same turquoise waters and resplendent sunsets. A big motivation for my work on the ‘Best of the Maldives’ was to help prospective visitors identify differentiators that mattered to them in order to help winnow down this overwhelming selection of paradise. And if avoiding kids is one of those priorities, then Komandoo is the place for you.

Best of the Maldives: Viral Cameo – Conrad Rangali

Conrad Rangali Where the Hell is Matt

 

 

A real international and cultural treat perfectly timed to ring in the London 2012 Olympics with the Maldives featured with bodu beru dancing on a white sand beach by a tranquil lagoon next to a horizontal palm tree. Classic.

Conrad Maldives Rangali gets the honours of hosting the cameo here. I haven’t provided the time mark of the Maldives appearance in the video because everyone should watch the entire thing.

Best of the Maldives: Seahorses – Kuredu

Kuredu sea grass

The Queen has been such a supporter of of all of the June Jubilee activities including rocking out at the Buckingham Palace Concert which is probably not her dream Saturday night out. Rather, one’s favourite day in June is most definitely Ladies Day at Ascot today such is her love of all things horses. And ‘horses’ in the Maldives are a bit fabled and mystical creatures themselves…sea horses that is.

It indeed exciting to see the big game of snorkel safaris (and diving). But sometimes it is just as exciting and curious to uncover the tiny creatures. A baby manta, nudibranches, leaf fish. Perhaps the most enchanting and illusive is the Sea Horse.

Sea Horses are indigenous around the world including the Indian Ocean, mostly prominently Hippocampus borboniensis, dubbed ‘Réunion seahorse’ for its prevalence in this Maldive neighbour. I have asked many a dive master and no one has ever recalled seeing one or hearing reports of any. In fact, the TripAdvisor Forum on the Maldives posed this question last year and none of the Maldives veterans and experts had ever heard of a sea horse sighting.

Part of the issue is that sea horses live in sea grass which is not that common in the sand-bottomed lagoons and reefs prevalent in the Maldives. One resort which does feature sea grass is Kuredu (see photo above) and, lo and behold, they have reported sighting sea horses a few years ago. So if you want to start a holy grail hunt for these unicorns of the shallows, then start at Kuredu. Still, a bit of a long shot…or ‘dark horse’ if you will.

 

Seahorse

Best of the Maldives: Loyalty Reward – W Retreat

W Retreat Starwood Preferred Guest

 

 

If your hotel loyalty endures as long as a Soneva house reef, then sign up for W Retreat’s Starwood Preferred Guest Program. I do a fair amount of business travel and have frequent stay points piled up for most hotel chains. And yet, when I have tried in the past to use these points for discounts or bonuses for a Maldives resort I have found that deep in the gotcha fine print that seems to pervade loyalty programmes that the Maldives properties were excluded. Often loyalty programmes try to pay off benefits with surplus inventory in low periods and for well run and popular resorts in the Maldives there simply isn’t much surplus.

Starwood is an big exception to this tendency. They embrace reward guests. In fact, on average 25% of their guest are members of the SPG programme. We have several friends who have gone there because of the Starwood points and though that it was the best hotel reward ever.  Mind you, a stay at the W Retreat will burn a few points, 95,000 for a beach villa, but the fact that so many people manage that is a testament to the generosity of the programme in giving out points as well as the popularity of the Starwood hotels to welcome so many stays.

Even better than a chocolate on the pillow.

Best of the Maldives: Longest House Reef – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi house reef

 

 

If instead of endless diving, you want to do endless house reef snorkelling, then Soneva Fushi is your best bet. It has the longest house reef in the Maldives and a fine one at that. Over a kilometre and a half (nearly a mile long) of aquatic scenery. And when you finish that you have the same on the other side.

Marathon snorkelling!

Best of the Maldives: Dive Package – Palm Beach

Palm Beach dive centre

 

If you want a sweet package for diving, then Palm Beach still harkens back to an age of simple accommodations at rock bottom prices so all of one’s money can go on dives, dives, dives and more dives. It takes me back to the original dive resorts like Biyadhoo (before it was taken over by Jumeirah to be converted to Vittaveli) it was a Spartan place for divers on a budget to come, buy a beer, eat some fish curry, sleep in rooms with no TV, AC, phone or just about anything.

Palm Beach really leads the way with bargains. Like their exceptional Ful Board offering, they also have a package called ‘Dive Club’ which is almost like a Diving All Inclusive. They include special budget rooms in the interior and slightly smaller with very simple fixtures and fittings. But clean and neat and perfectly comfortable. But the real winner is that the room package includes *unlimited diving*! Dive Club is not advertised on their website so you need to email reservations for details and pricing.

 

Palm Beach dive units

Best of the Maldives: Chocolate Art – Sheraton Full Moon

Sheraton Full Moon chocolate scene

 

Another natural aphrodisiac and a romantic way to start any date is chocolate. And Sheraton Full Moon has concocted an elaborate confection with a sub-aquatic theme. The picture above says it all.

Only made with chocolates…Created by our Pastry Chef for one of our loyal divers at Euro-Divers

I reminded me of one of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dishes at the world famous Fat Duck restaurant called ‘Sound of the Sea’ (“[eaten] while listening to to waves crash through an ipod located in a giant sea shell. The dish was presented on a two tier wooden and glass board and was topped with sashimi of brilliantly fresh tuna, halibut and mackerel on top of 'sand' made out of spiced tapioca and a shellfish foam”). The Full Moon has confined itself to one main ingredient – chocolate!

Best of the Maldives: Coral Romance – Kuramathi

Venus solar eclipse

It’s that time of year again when the coral polyps become all twitter-pated with this week’s full moon (corals reproduce during the full moon in the summer). Coincidentally, Venus – the Roman goddess of Love – passed in front of the fiery Sun today to stoke even more astronomically romance into the mix.

If you want to celebrate this season of micro-organism orgasmics, then Kuramathi offers a ‘Coral Romance’ excursion

“For ultimate relaxation, tranquillity and some pampering, take a trip to the heavenly island of Kandholhudhu, reached 45 minutes by speedboat. Surrounded by a stunning beach, this small and lush island boasts one of the most beautiful house reefs in the Maldives.”

Romance from the heavens above to the ocean depths below.