Best of the Maldives: Floral Drink – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - floral drink


Today Japan marks “Beloved Wives Day” when men shout out their love for their wives. But actions speak even louder than words no matter what the volume. So, if I want to demonstrate my adoration for Lori, I would book her into a Dusit Thani spa treatment. She loves a bit of pampering, but Dusit distinguishes itself for my wife with their floral drinks. My wife enjoys flavours like rose and lavender (Santa brought her those flavour chocs). Dusit’s spa serves a drink made from the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) flower (photo above) which is one of the few floral drinks that I have actually enjoyed myself (not a big fan usually).


Best of the Maldives: Largest Coral Frame – Kurumba

Kurumba - frame

Kurumba is the unsung hero of Maldives house reefs. It has always been one of my favourite house reefs. We have snorkelled it many times and *every* time see so many critters especially of the infamous “Snorkel Safari Big 5”. We also spot many distinctive smaller creatures (like the baby Zebra Eel my wife watched for ages).

One of the primary reasons why it is underrated is its relatively weaker coral growth. But this past month, the resort embarked on a *big* Reefscaping project to help rejuvenate the coral to be as vibrant as the marine animals. In fact, they laid down the biggest coral frame in the country to date…

“A team of volunteers joined forces with Kurumba staff on Wednesday (December 17) to rescue corals from a land reclamation project and help create the largest coral frames in the Maldives. Thanks to the efforts of the team two massive 20ft coral frames packed with transplanted coral have been created on the house reef at Kurumba. The two adjacent frames are the largest of their kind in the Maldives and together form a new 40ft-long coral garden.”

Kurumba puts the “Big” into “Big 5”.

Kurumba - frame 2

Kurumba - frame 3

Best of the Maldives: Beach Boxing – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah beach boxercise


Happy Boxing Day!

The meaning of “Boxing Day”, a uniquely British celebration the day after Christmas, is packed with urban mythology to rival any QI question. Rumoured origins include reference to the “boxes” (ie. gifts) given to servants and other service providers (eg. postmen) as well special gifts given to the poor in “Alms Boxes”. It definitely has nothing to do with pugilistic contests (notwithstanding a few bust-ups breaking out among families getting together and fed up from the holiday stress). But if you want to celebrate the day in eponymous style in the super-heavyweight sunshine of the Maldives, then sign up for a session of Beach Boxing at the One & Only Reethi Rah.

Resort Trainer Lindley (see photo above) runs half of all training classes and programmes outside. In the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” department, I hear people fret that there is nothing to do in the Maldives, and then conversely I hear people moan that they don’t want to be stuck in the gym on their holiday. Beach Boxing is lets you have your cake and eat (speaking of which, I think I just pop to the kitchen to finish that last bit of Christmas pudding).

Best of the Maldives: Christmas Lights – Ayada

Ayada - Christmas lights 1


Our many different cultures notwithstanding, there's something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can't help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It's an inspiring time of the year.” – Marlo Thomas

Christmas lights are such a part of the season that you can actually see them from space. And if you point your satellite window to the Indian Ocean, the bright spot will be Ayada shining out from the Gaafu Alifu atoll…

“Ayada Maldives gears up for its third festive season as it announces this year’s festive program. Running from 20th December through to the 2nd January 2015, the program invites its guests to enjoy a daily round of activities, fine dining and some seasonal fun such as festive-themed movie night in the swimming pool, an afternoon tea party with Santa as the guest of honor, and of course a daily choice of specialty spa treatments at the luxurious AySpa. ‘At Ayada Maldives we’re focusing on making this holiday time fun for everyone,’ says general manager Zafer Agacan. ‘The theme for this year is ‘festival of lights’ and accordingly different areas of the luxury resort’s spacious island are being lit up with creative designs such as shooting stars, baubles, frangipani flowers and a Maldivian dhoni that looks like it’s about to sail down a small hill’.”

Lights are such a big part of the Christmas holiday tradition. Tree lights. House lights. Regent Street lights have become a red carpet affair. Rudolph (with his nose so bright!).  On our own house, we have a lighted nutcracker, two light boxes (flashing “Peace on Earth” and “Joy to the World” in different colours) and a string of vintage coloured bulbs. Lights dripping everywhere.

Last year, we went home to North Carolina for Christmas and one of the highlights (pun absolutely intended) was going to the Tanglewood Festival of Lights (an event so popular we packed a yuletide picnic to eat in the minibus while we queued on the road for several hours waiting to get in).

I’m intrigued by the “specialty spa treatments” Ayada mentions. There is no specific list, so I am thinking – Frank-incense, Cold-agen treatments, Claus-metic make-over, elf-ential oils, midnight mass-age, North Poultice, refleXmasology, and a Christmas wrap.

Putting the “Spa” in your Christmas “Spa-rkle”!


Ayada Christmas lights 2


Ayada Christmas lights 3

Best of the Maldives: Australian – Amilla Fushi

Amilla Fushi kangaroo

G’day Amilla Fushi! The latest addition (opening today) to the Maldives slate is the resort beaut in the Baa atoll with a fair dinkum Oz flavour. In fact, in the anticipation of its development, a bonzer furphy hit the net that owner Tom McLoughlin was even importing a few joeys. One of the Maldives Complete’s barmy army (thanks Verena) did come up with the above snap of the only ridgy-didge boomer on the island.

With bottler down under barbie-master Luke Mangan you can expect big mobs of corker tucker that you can wash down with your favourite amber liquid or dead dingos donger cab sav.

A going off from the sparrows fart to arvo barbie time.


10 Water Villa Accessories

Gili Lankanfushi water villas

On the heels of the Maldives Complete index, I think it’s time for another Buzzfeed-inspired listicle. A Christmas list for every self-respecting Maldive water villa. Not surprisingly, the “Water Villa only” pioneer Gili Lankanfushi dominates the list with 3 mentions.

Pimp my water villa!


1. SLIDEGili Lankanfushi: Yes pleeeeeease!

Gili Lankanfushi slide

2. HAMMOCK One and Only Reethi Rah: The most expansive of the over water “floating” nets.

One and Only Reethi Rah hammock

3. INDOOR/OUTDOOR POOLHuvafenfushi: Great for the inner cat person (“I want to be outside, no inside, no outside…”)

Huvafenfushi indoor outdoor pool

4. DINING GAZEBOVelaa: Your own over water dining room.

Velaa dining gazebo

5. JETTYAngsana Velavaru: Strolling along the jetties provide a front row “dry” seat to the maritime spectacles of the Maldives and Velavaru gives you your very own private one.

Angsana Velavaru jetty

6. PRIVATE BEACHVelaa: Surf and turf Maldives villa style.

Velaa water villa beach

7. PRIVATE OCEANGili Lankanfushi: Private back areas in beach villas give you privacy, but in a water villa any passing boat can see you on your deck or swimming off it. But Gili offers your own private enclosed swimming area (mind you, it does become a bit less private at low tide when the water level drops).

Gili Lankanfushi private ocean





8. GLASS FLOORJumeirah Vittaveli: When being 10 feet from the water view trigger withdrawal pangs.

Jumeirah Vittaveli water villa deck glass floor


9. BOAT Gili Lankanfushi:  Your own private transport to your own villa island.

Gili Lankanfushi water villa boat


10. GLASS DINING TABLESix Senses Laamu: Best placemat ever.

Six Sense Laamu glass table


Best of the Maldives: Asian Fusion Dessert – Ayada

Ayada - coconut milk and water chestnut dessert

One of my all time favourite coconut delicacies is the “Tub Kim Krob” served at Ayada’s Kai restaurant. Kai serves gourmet Asian fusion food to rival Anatara’s memorable Geckos. Tub kim krob is the simplest of dishes – basically coconut milk and water chestnut – and yet so divinely moreish. I struggle to find Asian desserts that I really savour (especially if you eliminate all the mango concoctions). But this dish I could eat again and again. And I wasn’t alone. Ayada Sales and Marketing Director Niclas Prokop had joined us and like most resort management accompanying us for dinner was pretty indifferent to what he had to eat (I’m sure he’s had everything on the menu many times). Except when it came to dessert. Then, there was no hesitation and he immediately put in an order for the tub kim krob. And the other staff with us echoed his request. So I definitely had to try some myself.

More like “YUM tim krob”!

Best of the Maldives: Coconut Chocolate – Gangehi

Gangehi coconut chocs

It turns out that an alternative to “iron” for a sixth anniversary gift is sugar. One of the sweetest treats I have found in the Maldives is Gangehi’s hand-made Coconut Chocolates. They are like prestige versions of Bounty bars. When I was young, we always had Whitman Sampler “box of chocs” at special celebrations. And you always want to avoid the coconut one. But coconut can be an acquired exotic taste and now it is one of my favourites.


Best of the Maldives: Toasters – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - toaster

The traditional 6th anniversary gift is iron. And probably the most stereotypical gift is the ubiquitous toaster. Mind you, if I received the retro red Dualit model, I wouldn’t complain. It features in the Huvafenfushi villas with kitchens lending a distinctive counter colour to a handy option for a light bite.

A toast to 6 years of Maldives Complete!

Maldives Complete-ly by the Numbers 3

Maldives Complete numbers

Maldives Complete’s sexennial…6 years on and even more complete than ever. Well, a 0.1% more complete (from 98.4% last year to 98.5% this year). The challenge is the new resorts coming online. While I am able to track down missing material for some longer standing resorts, new resorts opening presents a whole new slate of things I need to find for a complete profile.

I am once again marking the milestone in true business review fashion with a look at a Harpers Index sampling of stats which tell its progress…

  • Resort Numbers – Despite a surge of newly announced resorts, the number of active resorts has stayed stable with as many resorts going out of commission for refurb as came on line.
  • Room Types – Big surge in .
  • Best of the Maldives – Resort with most Best Of’s Published – One & Only Reethi Rah 30 (2013 = LUX Maldives 30). Resort with most Best Of’s Drafted – Soneva Fushi 69 (2013 = One & Only Reethi Rah 55).
  • Visitors – The top search terms are specific names of resorts (“Kurumba” – especially “day trip to Kurumba” and “Amilla Fushi” top the list), but topical searches have once again risen to the top such as “bed decoration” and “best house reef in the Maldives”.

This year has not seen any particularly significant new features or addtions to the site. I have focused on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for once to make it easier for people to find the website. I get lots of emails of people saying “Thank goodness I finally found your website.” The money at stake for expensive Maldives holidays mean that lots of travel sites invest heavily to appear at the top of search results crowding out smaller sites like Maldives Complete with less money to spend on such techniques. I’ve cleaned up a few fundamentals like proper tagging and the like, but the biggest impact on ranking are inbound links. So if ay fans of the site out there want to help out, if they can arrange any links to, that would be the most gratefully received contribution. I’ve also cleaned up a few cosmetic details (cross-browser font compatibility especially on Mac browsers has been a headache).

As it happens, I have a number of exciting bigger developments in the works for 2015…

  • Turtle Database collaboration with MarineSavers at Four Seasons.
  • Dive Site Database
  • Snorkel Safari Treasure Hunt (!)