Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 6: Velaa

Velaa - tour

This is the resort I’ve dreamed about. Anyone who says they have seen it all in the Maldives, hasn’t been to Velaa.

I’ve been writing “Things I Haven’t Seen Yet in the Maldives” for four years where I highlight those things that could work great in the Maldives, but one has introduced them…yet. My very first edition, I lamented the lack of the classic affluent pastime – golf. Velaa hasn’t just featured it, but has created one of the best equipped short courses in the world. I’ve also since wondered when someone would bring the Hotel Jen vista experience to a resort island. Velaa’s “Tavaru” (Dhivehi for “Tower”) is just as sensational an overhead perspective on the Maldives waters as are the much vaunted super-luxury underwater restaurants and spas beneath the surface. And just last week, on my 8th edition of “Haven’t Seen”, I noted the adrenalin ride of Jet Surfing only to find one at the Velaa water sports center.

“Velaa” means “Turtle” in Dhivehi. The name is more than a label, but rather a pervasive theme that imbues the entire resort. The whole island is constructed to evoke the image of a turtle. The round Fushivelavaru island forms the body, various jetties the fins and the water villas are arranged to form a turtle’s head with two huts placed in the center to form the turtle’s eyes. The resort’s logo is a subtle thematic design used throughout the property representing the pattern of a turtle’s shell. Rooms are adorned with black-and-white art prints of hawksbills. But the best highlight is that Velaa itself is a breeding island for turtles which their resident Marine Biologists Tess and Dee work to support. And just when we set foot on the island, several hatchlings emerged and scampered to the sea and a new life ahead (here’s the video!).

It’s not just about dazzling with some “wow” features as Velaa gets all the fundamentals impeccably right. Gourmet food on offer from their menu developed by Michelin starred chef Adeline Grattard. Another expansive Noonu beach (one of the largest in the Maldives) of powder soft white sand. Relatively rare high speed Internet (it’s surprising how many 5-stars have impossibly sluggish connection). And on the more human side of high quality service, our waiter Shiyax (pronounced “Shiyaz”) was one of the most pro-active meal advisors I have had at a restaurant. He really engaged with us with insight and ideas (I wish London waiters were as helpful). Finally, the superpower rivalries of the superpremium resorts, overwater spas are the equivalent of aircraft carriers in the flotilla of luxury. To be a proper superpower, you need to have one and Velaa’s is truly Nimitz class. Its two-story spa relaxation area is available to all the guests free of charge with some truly distinctive features (a few of whom I’ve already written about).

Throughout the resort, Velaa has an unmatched obsession for decorative detail. Someone really went around and decided what would make every nook and cranny consummately inviting. The Velaa villas seem like properly elegant homes that would appear as a showcase in Home Design. Instead of a single obligatory piece of artwork to fill a void on a wall, they have a many pieces throughout the room artfully arranged. In fact, their stylish décor is a cut above from top to bottom. They have colourful arrangements set up in high spaces (like over the closets…who else has decorations on top of tall closets?) and down to the floors’ lovely carpets. Most resorts really opt for a stark Spartan aesthetic. They may be going for a minimalist chic, but you know they are also channelling accountant conservatism.

All those sumptuous accessories don’t come cheap. It’s what a cool $275m buys you (yes, look at that number again…here it is written out – $275,000,000). That’s what Velaa invested not counting the island lease. With 47 villas, it’s like you are renting a $7m house for the week (and that’s not including the service/operational costs).

The Maldive’s latest big budget blockbuster, Velaa, not only stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the super de-luxe titans of the Maldives resort business, but may in many ways is setting new bars. It is for people for whom NV, off-the-peg, and turning right on an airplane is not a consideration. Velaa is less for people who prefer the finer things in life and more for the people who prefer the finest things in life.


Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 5: Zitahli Kudafunafaru

Zitalhi Kudafunafaru - tour

Sometimes good things do come in big packages. Big resort, big villas, big common areas, big house reef, big (well, gargantuan) beach. The key thing that is not big about Zitahli Kdafunafaru is the price.

Actually, the island itself is moderately sized (250m x 750m). And a massive chunk of that is its expansive soft, white sand beach (Fun fact – the sand bank at the tip of the island “wags like a tail” as the monsoon currents shift its position around).

The resort can keep the individual scale generous because it has built a relative modest number of 50 villas on the island. A serious 5-star property that ticks all the boxes of well-appointed comfort and service, but a contender for one of the best value 5-stars in the Maldives (Kudafunafaru has 2 of the best 10 prices per square foot among 5 star properties).

In many respects, Kudafunafaru is the answer to many UK Maldives veterans’ lamentations. I read countless complaints about Maldives crowded dive sites, noisy motorised water sports, small beaches, unaffordable prices and fussily posh styling. Kudafunafaru doesn’t have any of that. What it does have is the 6th lowest guest population density of a dedicated resort island in the Maldives. In fact, it’s remote location, low guest population density and lack of motorised waters ports makes it a contender for one of the quietest and the most peaceful resort in the Maldives.

The voluminous scale doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. We’ve not seen table coral this big since Bandos. The house reef extends for a long way, but it really does require either a strong snorkeler or guided assistance as it is quite a ways out and in relatively deep water. Or you can go even further out and sample one of the dozens of untouched dive sites of the Noonu atoll with their Werner Lau dive master, Julie. We asked for Ribbon Eels and she delivered Ribbon Eels. Four in fact – 3 juveniles and a blue male with a yellow stripe (QI feature to follow on this amazing creature).

Kudafunafaru makes a big impression on everything but your wallet.

Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 4: Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Bodu Hithi snorkeling

Stick to the classics and you can never go wrong.” – Alexa Chung

More Mayfair than Soho. More Connaught than Crazy Bear. More Corrigans than Balthazar. Coco Bodu Hithi skirts the trendy chic in favour of timeless elegance. It’s the kind of boutique property that Rick Steves would feature for its character and good value.

An example of their subtle style is the tiles used extensively in their décor (eg. pool, bathroom). At first glance, I was unsure about the tiles (natural stone and brushed concrete being the new trendy materials), but on closer inspection I realised just how exquisite they were. Very inviting colours tinged with subtle streaks of gold in each. We admired them so much, we are considering looking for something similar for our next house renovation.

I’ve long paid homage to the creative Room Art that so many resorts treat their guests to and Coco Bodu Hithi adorned our bed with a gallery worthy piece. Coco’s artistry extends from the bedroom to the breakfast table in such a notable way that it inspired me to add a new Album of “Food Art” to the Maldives Complete Pinterest. The ingenious Maldives flag in tri-colour pancake batter was featured for this week’s Maldives Independence Day post.

Indeed, an essential ingredient to classic luxury is gourmet fare. Some of our most memorable food we have eaten in the Maldives was at their sister resort Coco Palm Dhoni Kholu way back in 2004 (mango chicken salad, mmmm). Bodu Hithi didn’t disappoint. Every menu (we ate at 3 different restaurants) featured a range of not just well prepared food, but delectable recipes that brought them to life.

Coco Bodu Hithi is an impeccable 5-star classic.

[photo of Lori and I above shot by marine biologist Chiara during house reef snorkel]

Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 3: JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - tour

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that there is nothing to do in the Maldives. If they do, send them to JA Manafaru. It’s like a no boredom zone in paradise.

They have a wide range of the typical activities from water sports to tennis, fitness, etc. They have live entertainment…every night! Most typically, they have live singers come in, but the resort is so committed to the entertainment experience, they have their very own Boduberu group comprised of staff members. Boduberu animations are pretty conventional fare in the Maldives, but Manafaru’s had a bit different vibe. With familiar faces singing and beating, the guests seemed a bit more comfortable joining in and soon the dance floor was packed with guests giving this traditional dance a go.

The highlight of their entertainment on tap is their expansively equipped games area called the “Chill Zone”. Every form of pastime is there including foosball, pool, a luxury mahjong table, ping pong, board games. They also have a state-of-the-art cinema for watching films (for a late night chill or a “plan B” for those rare rainy days).

The classic activity in the Maldives is exploring the underwater wonders. The house reef is not that accessible, but the resort runs many excursions to exceptional, untouched sites. But the headline excursions are the dive trips. The head of their dive school, Bea, literally wrote the book on Haa Alifu diving. She set up shop even before the construction on Manafaru had started and explored most of the virgin dive sites herself and with her team. (I’ll be adding dozens more dive charts for the area when I get home thanks to her Sun Diving centre.) Some of the “worth the trip” features are Nasfaru’s Ribbon Moray, Kurolhi Thila’s Albino Moray and Becky’s Caves soft coral wall.

Of course, if you choose to “do nothing”, you can “do” that too. In fact, the resort’s answer to Hideaway’s “double housereef” is Manafaru’s own “double beach”. The first is one of the top beaches in the Maldives (judged by size, extent around the island, softness of sand, and depth of sand). But across the lagoon is an uninhabited island called Medhafushi, which also sports its own stunning chunky necklace of bright white sand. And on the inside of the island, they have an equally extensive spa compound (that is definitely one of the largest in the Maldives), for more pampered “doing nothing”.

Happy Maldives 50th Anniversary

Maldives independence - Coco Bodu Hithi flag raising


Great to be able to spend the Maldives semicentennial in the Maldives itself. So many come to the Maldives to celebrate their own milestone special occasions (coincidentally, Lori and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary ourselves tomorrow), it’s apropos for everyone to raise a cheer the Maldives’ own golden anniversary.

Or more traditionally, raise a flag. En route here, the Male airport was festooned with flags heralding the event. We are actually at Coco Bodu Hithi (tour report to follow) and they have organised an entire day of celebration starting with a flag raising ceremony with the staff at sunrise (see picture above) and concluding with a sunset soiree by the beach. The resort is also covered in Maldives flags at the entry and on all of the tables (see below).

We “toasted” the occasion with a custom Maldives Flag pancake crafted by their incredibly inventive pancake station (definite “Best of the Maldives” to follow) pictured below.


Maldives independence - welcome


Maldives independence - pancake


Maldives independence - flags

Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 2: Hideaway Beach

Island Hideaway - tour

And in this corner, challenging for the title of Best Maldives Resort in the 5-Star weight class, wearing the black-and-white brand colours – Hideaway Beach. Not the best resort in the Maldives. Not the “best” of the super-premium “5+” stars (sometimes referred to by the apocryphal “6 star” designation). But the best of the classic “5-star” category. That is what Hideaway is aiming for and based on my investigation, it makes a serious run at the title.

Like a fighter who wants to win the Heavyweight title. Not bulk up to win the Super Heavyweight one. Hideaway focuses on luxurious touches that are top class, not over-the-top. That raise eyebrows, but don’t make you roll your eyes. That cater to the taste of millionaires, not billionaires.

My visit also allowed me to connect with the third TripAdvisor Destination Expert (well, DE-emeritus) during one of our visitsKat Anthony. A 13-year veteran of Maldives management and one of the most respected authorities on Maldives resorts in the world. Kat is one of the first big name transfers in a Hideaway dream team that Carsten Sheick is assembling to take Hideaway to the top of the 5-star league table. They are in the middle of an ambitious programme to take the already superb Hideaway to knockout levels while still keeping it squarely in the 5-star class (eg. no underwater squash courts, no gold leaf adorned haute cuisine,).

I couldn’t fault Hideaway in any way and that is part of their focus. Getting all of the fundamentals impeccably right. And then adding a few fun, creative and thoughtful touches to spice the experience with distinction.

Another defining characteristic of the resort is “big”. It is a big island – 1,000 meters by 300 meters. Usually bigger islands are found on atoll plateaus which make for a weak or distant housereef, but Hideaway has as rich and accessible housereef as you will find on any inner-atoll classic poka-dot island. It’s just that there is a lot more of it. In fact, Hideaway has so much housereef that it is the only resort to boast a “double house reef” (details to follow).

The scale of the island has also translated to the scale of the accommodation. All of the villas are suites with living areas. This layout makes them great for families. Both for family games and hanging out, but also for extra sleeping accommodation if needed for children. In fact, their Hideway Palace was for a long time the largest single villa “complex” in the Maldives (though Soneva Fushi’s recent goliaths have surpassed it). Mind you, the price for the Palace is a not so crazy with a peak season rack rate of just over $4,000 USD which when you consider that it can house 12 people makes the price a sane ~$330 person (in fact, Hideaway Beach has 4 of the top 10 “Lowest Cost Per Square Foot” positions of the 5-star Maldives properties and the Hideaway Palace sits t #8). So if you want to unleash your inner Philip Green by having a large bunch of friends or family for a getaway to tropical paradise, you could rent out this “room”. Kat tells me that it is a great “party” villa (though the term “villa” sort of undersells it…it is really more of a “compound”).

If you are a work-hard-play-hard kind of person who has earned the treat of one of the world’s special experiences like a trip to the Maldives, and you value the finer things in life, but also value your hard earned money enough to not go splashing it around on extravagant excess, then Hideaway should be on your shortlist.

Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 1: J Resort Alidhoo

J Resort Alidhoo - tour

After last year’s visit to the Maldives’ southernmost (big) atoll, Gaafu Alifu / Gaafu Dhaalu (Addoo aka Seenu is further south, across the Equator even, but it is quite small), this year we’re first off to the other extreme to its northernmost big atoll Haa Alifu. Hanimadhoo (an island which has a small runway for prop-planes) is so far up north, it is just one hour’s plane ride from India. After this tour, we will have visited 63 resorts in total and we will have literally visited Maldives top to bottom.

I am looking forward to this tour with a bit extra anticipation simply because many of the resorts in this area are really less well known. They are less talked about on TripAdvisor. For example, our first resort J Resort Alidhoo has 2 reviews and 15 TA Maldives Forum mentions (versus 1,267 and 2,497 respectively for a popular favourite like Kurumba). So the basic research side of the trip should be most helpful.

Our first stop was the very little known J Resort Alidhoo as it has mostly catered to the Chinese market in recent years. But there are some aspects to the resort that could appeal very strongly to the European market. The resort is in transition at the moment, but that means a chance to pick up a real deal. Everyone is looking for a modestly priced island. Especially, if they want to bring the family which ratchets up the bill even more. The Alidhoo rooms are big and well appointed. They are very reminiscent in scale and layout to W Retreat (in fact the same designer worked on both) but with simpler, more modest finishes. On top of the faded cosmetic wear, some of the infrastructure needs a revamp and the resort is even having some operational issues (eg. the bar was not well stocked). 

But if you can look past these foibles, then you have a delightful gem of a Maldivian island with an accessible housereef, in an relatively off-the-beaten track atoll, with commodious accommodation for less than a cheap hotel and a Spaghetti House meal in London. Their current off-season Full Board rate is $208 per night for the Beach Villa and an astonishing $308 per night for the water villa. And the resort is happy to add extra beds to add up to three children.

The meals are classic fresh reef fish and fresh tropical fruit. How bad can it be? And, the main restaurant looks over the expansive infinity pool which looks over the ocean. It produces an inviting raked amphitheater effect focusing on the star attraction – Maldives azure vista.

We always say that you could stay in a cardboard box on a Maldivian island and it would still be one of the most thrilling and sumptuous holidays of your life. J Resort Alidhoo is far from perfect, and it has plans in the works for a revamp.  In the meantime, it offers so much for its incredibly modest price. A real bargain opportunity for the patient and forgiving.

Maldives Tour 2015 Take Off

Turkish Airlines - landing screen

Our 14th trip to the Maldives and my 6th Tour and before I’ve even arrived I have experienced a few “firsts”…

  • 1st Transfer Flight to Maldives –When I first started visiting the Maldives, the tour operator flights on Monarch Airways stopped in Bahrain for refuelling, but you stayed on the same plane. In recent years, I’ve always flown direct usually on the trusty BA2043 (though one year I tried the Sri Lankan Airways direct flight).
  • 1st Time in Turkey – Transfer in Istanbul had me set foot on Turkey for the first time in my life (though I can’t really tick it off my country list since I didn’t officially “enter”).
  • 1st Time on Turkish Airways – I travel quite a bit for both business and pleasure using a range of carriers (I favour BA for the miles and perks of my Silver status, but I readily choose a more convenient or better priced option), I had never used Turkish Airways. Generally quite impressed (see below).
  • 1st Full Atoll Itinerary – I typically focus my Tours on a particular atoll for the mere sake of logistics. It’s easier to speedboat to the next resort across the water than jockeying seaplane transfers through Male. Despite my efforts, I have in the past always missed off a resort or two. But this year’s trip to Haa Alifu and Noonu hits all the active resorts there.

With BA’s recent service reduction to Male for half the year, I was forced to succumb to the dreaded stop-over flight. The transfer was Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. One would think that with Istanbul/Constantinople’s heritage as the gateway between Occident and Orient an airway hub would be a prime opportunity for Turkey to reassert its position at the center of the Eastern Hemisphere.

And it appears that they are certainly thinking along these lines. The airport is quite an extensive place, but what really sets it apart is its crossroads role. We arrived late in the evening around 11:00 pm. In every airport I have ever been to (and I have been to a fair few), this sort of hour is when the airport is pretty much closing up. The stores and restaurants are shuttered, the terminals empties, the lights dimmed, the janitorial staff buffing floors as the final arrivals filter in. At Istanbul airport, midnight might as well as be noon. The place was packed with passengers all in transit to their ultimate destination (so packed that Lori and I struggled to find a free seat to sit down). Destinations all over Europe and Asia listed on the Departures board showed a regular stream of flights taking off throughout the wee hours of the morning. .

Turkish Airways mostly impressed me, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. First the good news…

  • Price – Not a huge differentiator as our tickets were maybe £100 cheaper than the alternatives, but they were the cheapest.
  • Selection – Turkish Airways had by far the most flight options for us. This helped considerably to craft just the right itinerary which accommodated our schedules on departure and arrivals to a tee.
  • Timing – Most east-to-west long haul flights are pleasant day-time affairs as chasing the sun keeps the whole journey confined to a single day. But most west-to-east long hauls entail an overnight. That is where stop-overs (especially with changes) can cause problems. When we first used to fly charters to the Maldives, they would depart London very late and stop in Bahrain at about 5:00 in the morning. You were just getting to peak bleariness when you had to drag your bleary-eyed self off the plane while they refuelled to wander around a duty free and modest café. The Male itinerary left late afternoon (giving us a full morning to ourselves to sort final personal details out at home) and arrived in Istanbul in less than a 3 hours (a hop short enough to not really get uncomfortable). And then you could disembark and stretch your legs a bit before boarding for the red-eye portion of the trip.
  • Hub – As noted above, all the stores and restaurants were open with some decent choices including international standards like Burger King and Sbarro.
  • Courtesy Pack – Choppard badged courtesy kit with little slippers and the obligatory toothbrush kit and eye mask (see picture below)
  • Take-Off/Landing Video – This fun feature brings a bit of spectacle to take-offs and landings to or from any airport, but in the Maldives the vista is all the more spectacular cruising into one of the most beautiful airport approaches in the world.
  • Internet – In flight Internet for a very reasonable 1 hour for $10 USD and 24 hours for $15.
  • Big Bathrooms – Not really sure what benefit this is unless you just find the typical airline water closet a bit claustrophobic, but TA has the biggest bathrooms I have seen.
  • Dinner – Quite a tasty meal. I’m a bit tired of the chicken curry / stewed beef / cheese pasta selection on most long hauls. So the poached salmon and mashed potatoes was a fine little treat with credible accompaniments (including chocolate mousse which I think all airlines should default to for their go-to dessert. It’s hard to screw it up and who doesn’t like chocolate whip?).
  • Entertainment – Substantial high resolution screens (about iPad sized) with a good range of shows, games and other things on demand.
  • Tea – The hottest tea I have had on an airplane (and it tasted lovely). It makes me wonder even more by British Airways, the flagship carrier for the land of the cuppa, has to serve such tepid dishwater.

But Turkish Airlines also had a few disappointments…

  • Orderliness – The boarding queue was just short of a Ryanair scrum for a Malaga flight on mid-term break. The blatant disregard for order and rules came to peak as dozens of passengers stood up from their plane seats while it was still taxing in from the runway. Not a few feet from the terminal, but virtually as soon as the plane touched the ground. Unfortunately, Turkish Airways didn’t do much to manage the chaos and just let the throng rule.
  • Hub – Yes, I know I listed this one as a “positive” also (I’ll give it its due credit for a few assets). Despite its scale, Istanbul airport is just two cartons of live chickens short of a third world airport. The toilets are the worst of any major airport I have been to. It’s cramped, overcrowded, and ill-equipped. Happy to get on the plane to Male.
  • Breakfast – The “Turkish Pastry” was, well, interesting even to my eclectic palate, but the “scrambled eggs” were, hmmm, ridiculous. I had to look on the menu card to see what this yellowy runny foam was. Some exotic middle eastern delicacy? No, probably powdered eggs hardly cooked. Probably the worst item of food I have ever been served on a plane (and that includes my travels on Air Afrique in the 80s!).

Descending on the magical, otherworldly paradise of the Maldives is always a treat (enhanced this trip by the Turkish Airways nose camera). Ibrahim Nassim Airport itself continues to develop and expand. The latest welcome addition is a Wellness spa right at the entrance so you can have one final indulgent treatment before boarding your plane (we had a delay in our domestic transfer and took the opportunity to have some foot massages)

?yi Yolculuklar!


[POSTSCRIPT] If you are in the Maldives relaxation/spa frame of mind, Istanbul airport does offer a few options for that prelude or postlude treatment.  Unfortunately, none of them are listed on the airport’s directory of “Services”

  • TAV Airport Hotel has a spa offering massage treatments (opens 8:00 am)
  • Tuina Spa is located by Gate 215 offering chair back/neck/shoulder massage, foot massage and “aqua massage” all for $2 per minute (make sure you get the older women who are more expert)
  • Massage Chairs (4) are located by Gate 300 (coin-op).


Turkish Airlines - complementary bag

36 TIHSYINTM (Things I Haven’t Seen Yet in the Maldives) #8

Wedding paddleboarding


“Wedding Paddleboarding”. I guess that’s something coming to the new resort The Patina Thanburudhoo (according to the picture taken from its placeholder home page above).

I’m packing my final items for our 6th Maldives tour starting in just 2 more “sleeps” (details on next post). I’m always on the lookout for things I haven’t seen yet in the 55 other resorts I have visited not to mention the countless hours of research, emailing, chatting, etc.

One marketplace as competitive as Maldives resorts is a sector of London pubs. Buzzfeed recently ran a listicle that featured bold steps various establishments are taking to make themselves stand out from the crowd and echoed many a “Best Of the Maldives” post.

Here is the latest instalment for resorts looking for that “remarkable” feature worthy of the Maldives…

  1. Glow PathPhotoluminescence is a relatively rare and spectacular sight which went a bit viral over the past year. Resorts can actually offer a nightly star-like glow (in their own shade of blue) and help guests find their find in the night time darkness.
    Glow rocks
  2. Glow-Table – For a touch of non-bio luminescence closer to home, how about a colourful glow table (I’m admittedly drawn to this creative innovation due to my fondness for the wild and rugged look of burr wood).
    Glow table
  3. Glowing Toilet Seats – For an even more practical application of glow, something to help you find late night relief without disturbing the slumber of your partner by turning the bathroom light on (especially for some villas where the bathrooms are more integrated into the villa whole or there is just a glass division).
    Glow toilet seat
  4. Underwater Pool Stool – For more grounded water seating (with a bit of its own luminescence) try the instant pool-side bar.
    Underwater glowing pool stool
  5. Rafts – Multi-purpose and sturdy air rafts could even serve as a floating bar or just your own little plot of paradise if the diminutive Maldivian island wasn’t small enough for you.
    Turbo rafts
  6. Pool Poof – Some people prefer to hog their own massive space to lie down. These Brookstone models come in more stylishly sedate colours to appease the lilo cynics).
    Lilo poofs
  7. Side-by-Side Lounger – But if you are on a more amicable basis with your companion, you might prefer the more intimate and friendly float…
    Duo lilo
  8. Hydro Hot Tub – Instead of your lounger in the water, how about water in your lounger?? Hottub + Hammock. Best combo since peanut butter and chocolate.

    Jacuzzi hammock
  9. 2-Person Rocking Chair – Perhaps you prefer a drier seat to waft along to the sea breezes together. Two things the Maldives are famous for – indolence and romance. Enjoy both, literally, together.Duo rocker
  10. Swing Seat – Or you could rock alone in a simple hammock-seat. The design is actually very reminiscent of the traditional Maldivian swing seat, but a bit more comfortable and stylish.Hammock seat
  11. Sofa Swing – Or you could stretch out in something a bit more plush and roomy…Sofa hammock
  12. Zero Gravity Hammock Chair – Take it one step further – Chair + Umbrella + Hammock. Three great relaxation classics in one.
    Zero gravity hammock chair
  13. Portable Hammock – Something simpler to be able to move around like your beach chair.
    Portable hammock
  14. Science Sleep – If all those comfy seats don’t relax you enough during the day, then how about a technologically enhanced night sleep? The maker With Things describes “It Tracks your nights [monitoring your heart rate and breathing]; understands your sleep. Sleep and nap programs. Wakes you up with a scientifically validated light & sound program at the best time of your sleep cycle.”
    Techno sleep enhancer
  15. Tranquillity Pod – A sort of brute force version of Velaa’s “spa pod” with built-in massaging.
    Tranquliity pod
  16. Specialised Pillows – A few decadent resorts now have pillow menus that allow you to choose your own pillow. But these options are fairly standard variations of fabric, softness and size. How about some *really* specialised pillows like the one below (the ones below are for people who sleep on their sides).
    Side pillow 2  Side pillow 1
  17. Night Surfing – If for whatever reason you just can’t sleep (maybe too much pool napping during the day), then how about some Night Surfing. The Maldives is most famous for snorkelling and a number of resorts offer night snorkelling excursions. But it is also getting to be a world renowned destination for surfing, so…
    Night surfing
  18. Wave Skiing – Another surf-hybrid, a cross between kayaking and surfing with specially designed boat.
    Wave skiing
  19. Surf Kayaking – More of a kayak, but designed to ride the waves.
    Surf kayaking
  20. Foil Surfing – Or on the more extreme side, your own personal hydro-foil.
    Foil surfing
  21. Jet Surfing – Something for those intra-atoll islands without the great surf breaks. This one has LUX Maldives written all over it…
    Jet surfing
  22. Para-Inflatable – Inflatable rides are everywhere and many resorts offer parasailing, so what’s not to like…
  23. Flying Underwater Wheelchair – Or you could fly…underwater. The sand and water can be a bit of an extra obstacle for the disabled, though many resorts have added a number of special facilities catering to their special requirements. None so spectacular as Sue Austin’s “flying underwater wheelchair” (yes, re-read that even though you did read it right the first time) which brings the whole “main event” of the Maldives dazzling reefs to life in the most dramatic way (looking at you Kurumba).
    Underwater flying wheelchair
  24. Swim With a Mermaid – Nearly as magical, Cheval Blanc’s sister resort at St. Barth features a “swim with mermaids” where “on a snorkelling expedition in Flamands Bay…the instructor gives the signal for Amaryllis the mermaid to appear for a game of hide-and-seek (…an expert freediver in a scaly fin suit).
    Mermaid hide-and-seek
  25. Geo-Caching – Some prefer seeking out magical treasures on land and a number of resorts offer a range of clever treasure hunts for children, but popular geo-caching is provide a treasure hunt for adults and kids alike.
  26. Locks of Love – Not only a surging trend in a number of cities, but also a gap in the romance market with dismantling of the Pont des Arts in Paris. One could treat the locks with the same substance Reefscapers uses on its reef frames and make the symbol of your love the basis for an eternal and vibrant reef. You would attach a coral regeneration fragment to it and lock it onto a chain link (also appropriately treated) set in the ocean.
    Locks of love
  27. Pool Petals – I’ve obviously had the bed petals and even bath petals, but how about pool petals?
    Pool petals
  28. Rock Pool – Pools have rock “Features”, but I haven’t seen an entire pool done in a natural motif replicating the feel of a fresh water mini-lagoon like this one at Sofitel in Tahiti for a more natural aesthetic.
    Rocky pool
  29. In-Pool CinemaSoneva Fushi pioneered the outdoor cinema which now features at a number of resorts, but this inflatable screen lets the audience combine Hollywood hits with floating in the pool.
    Inflatable cinema
  30. Lagoon Bar – I’ve featured a few in-water experiences, but Seacrets in Ocean City, Maryland shows just how far you can go with this concept.
    Lagoon bar
  31. Chill Glass – A step beyond just a “chilled” glass, but a glass that keeps your drink extra cold for extra long. As someone for whom one criterion of the perfect pina colada is how cold it is, this innovation helps guarantee a flawless freeze.
    Chill glass
  32. Frozen Cocktails – I’ve already proposed frozen juice pops, but why aren’t these there (thanks Gareth)??
    Frozen cocktails
  33. Snow Cones – A summer heat wave staple that could turn into a tropical treat with exotic fruit juices (looking at you Velaa).
    Snow cone
  34. Children’s Tasting Menu – The Michelin-starred Das Tue in Berlin features an 8-course tasting menu specifically for children “with the option to pair each course with organic grape juices (“To match the gutsiness of the gnocci with sage and Iberico ham, the sommelier suggests a cheeky Portugierer rose with hints of raspberries…” I’ve long advocated the appeal of the Maldives for families with children and this idea lets them taste a bit of gourmand gastronomy.

    Childrens tasting menu
  35. Floating Water Villas – Okay, Maldives…one word…”when?”
    Floating water villas


Best of the Maldives: Marine Biologist – Verena Wiesbauer

Verena Weisbauer

When I first started coming to the Maldives, a few marine biologists kicked around the atolls usually on their own initiative maybe working on some research project. Now, every self-respecting top-fight resort has its own staff “MB” to provide presentations to guests, offer expert tours of the marine life on outings and also to support the resort’s eco-friendly initiatives to keep the reef and island healthy and vibrant.

I’ve meet dozens at this point, but one really stands out – Verena Wiesbauer. We first met her when he gave one of the best presentations on Maldives marine life at Kurumba a number of years ago. . She works as part of the “Eco-Islanders Maldives” organisation that helps resorts with a number of environmentally friendly initiatives especially around reef preservation. She’s the only Maldives MB I know of who is a published author on the Maldives. I’ve already featured her book, “Trees and Flowers of a Tropical Paradise” in one of the “QI – Maldives edition” series posts. In fact, she is a veritable “Maldives QI Elf” being by far the most prominent contributor to the quirky facts of that Maldives Complete series of posts.

In fact, in general, she is the most active MB contributor to Maldives Complete. She is always promptly responsive to questions I have and regularly offers up fun and useful information. Of course, she came into her own when I launched the “Dive Site Complete” feature. I have received material and information from many MBs across the country, but Verena has provided more support and material than everyone else combined (including the comprehensive list of the MPAs).