Best of the Maldives: Tapas – Velassaru

Velassaru tapas


Today is the anniversary of Columbus sailing the ocean blue to discover the “New World” which Spain celebrates as its “Fiesta Nacional de España”. Another “new” the Spaniards have brought the world is spin on bite-sized “nouvelle” cuisine – tapas. It seems like everything in the trendiest restaurants is a tasting menu these days. I’m a big fan of this foodie fashion as a I would much prefer a smorgasbord of tastes than a smothering of serving size. And at Maldives resorts, the ubiquitous buffets do provide a DIY sampling opportunity. But if you want the a true Spanish tapas experience, then you must paseo over to Velassaru who offer a special tapas menu at their Chill Bar restaurant.


Best of the Maldives: Buffet – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi buffet 1

Soneva Fushi turns the buffet into a smorgasbord.

Buffets are one of the resort world’s staples. They can be a simplified logistics way to cater to large numbers and diverse tastes without a massive outlay of service staff or preparation staff. As such, the focus tends to be on diversity and efficiency than gastronomic excellence. Of course, there are exceptions – Bellagio in Las Vegas, Porcao in Rio de Janeiro, Queen Mary all over the place. Soneva is one of those exceptional buffets.

No quality seems to have been spared in the sheer quantity of delectable offerings. The sushi is better than most places in London (I love the fish egg garnish and the pieces weren’t dry as can be the case with many pre-prepared sushi offerings).

Part of Soneva’s secret is taking the notion of a “station” to a whole new level with specialty “rooms” catering to special foods. There a cheese room, cereal/bread & pastry room and of course its infamous ice cream room.

Soneva themselves describe their culinary cornucopia…

“We aim to anticipate our guests’ desires. In the words of Oscar Wilde, ‘Nothing succeeds like excess.’ In that spirit we have gone delightfully overboard for you at the culinary heart of our island. Mihiree Mitha means ‘Here it is’, and almost any dish you crave is here. The day begins with a bounty of just-baked goodies, two dozen imported cheeses, eggs any way you like, a treasure chest of homemade jams and fresh fruits… luscious mango, papaya, passion fruits. For lunch or dinner, choose from the freshest sushi and sashimi, organic salads, wood-fired pizzas, grilled fish, delectable tandoori. For a sweet finish, more than 60 homemade ice creams and sorbets await, including unexpected flavours like honeycomb and rosemary, piña colada and chocolate-lemongrass.”

Soneva Fushi buffet pizza oven

Best of the Maldives: Gift Shop – Kurumba

Kurumba - gift shop

Gift shops in the Maldives are usually of two extremes – very basic, not too impressive souvenirs (coconut shell turtles), snacks (Pringles and Tobblerones) and toiletries or over-the-top luxury fashion and jewellery. Resorts that (a) don’t exploit the opportunity for effective cross-sell, and (b) don’t equip better for the things I might actually want to buy are a bit of a pet peeve for me. I’ve found a few fine establishments, but more often than not I am left wanting.

The one resort retailer that does stand out is Kurumba’s Nala boutique. Every visit, we find something there to buy. Our latest visit, it was not just one, but two items that we had failed to find during our entire 10 resort tour. Lori had misplaced her USB cable to attach her GoPro to her computer. Needed for both charging the camera and downloading the photos, we had been borrowing these little chords (of which we have about a dozen kicking about in our cable drawer at home) throughout our trip, but for the life of us could not find one to buy. Until we arrived at Kurumba which had one for sale. On top of that, this trip was Lori’s first go at her new GoPro and the incompetent dive shop in North Carolina which sold it to her (as well as the very expensive underwater light) neglected to advise her to get a basic $30 red filter for enhancing underwater shooting. Those too were nowhere to be found…until we came to Nala which has a whole line of GoPro accessories.

It’s not just the practical, gadgetry where Nala excels, but fashion too. I’ve already penned a post about their signature burkini. Lori has bought a number of wraps and tops there, and the only jewellery I ever bought in the Maldives was at Nala (a pair of lovely round enamel earrings with the Maldives azures and turquoises).

You can also find some properly distinctive mementos and gifts to bring home. One of my favourites is the line of coconut products. Coconut is the zeitgeist of Kurumba, and as I have written, Kurumba even produces its own coconut oil which it uses in everything from cooking to the toiletries at your villa. And if you want to bring home a bit of Maldives essence, then you can purchase these same products and even the coconut oil itself at the shop.

Most gift shops are pedestrian “phone it in” affairs, but Kurumba’s is an entrepreneurial inspiration by the manager Victoria Kruse (see above…wife of the resort GM). She scrutinizes the fashion range, introduces inventive products like the burkini and the resort-made coconut oil and makes sure that it caters to what people really need and want.

Best of the Maldives: Cool Character-ature – Huvafenfushi


It seems like every possible moment of a holiday is captured by the ubiquitous digi-gadgets snapping every possible permutation of sunset, seascape and romantic pose. For a more stylish and creative worth-a-thousand-words memento, Huvafenfushi has introduced celebrity portraiture. Feature last week in the Sunday Times, they describe…

“The award-winning artist Jasmin Khexri – whose cool fictional character Irma doles out fashion and beauty advice in Vogue, Tatler and Marie Claire – will be in residence at the resort in October. Kherzi will draw portraits in her distinctive style which giving sitters creative tips on how to bring a bit of Irma’s World into their lives. A session costs £360.”


Huvafenfushi - Irma style