Best of the Maldives: Graveyard – Filitheyo

Filitheyo - graveyard

  

“Darkness falls across the land
The midnite hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'awl's neighbourhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom”

– Vincent Price, Thriller

Happy Halloween! Most resorts will be dressing up a bit for Halloween today with special activities for the kiddies and some extra colourful festivities for the adults. But if you want something a bit more than some orange and black crepe paper, then Filitheyo features its very own “spooktacular” mystery graveyard…

“When the island was being cleared for the construction of the resort, a graveyard marked by approximately 30 headstones was discovered about 25m inland from the south-west shore. The origins of those buried and the reason for their burial on the island is unknown.”

  

Best of the Maldives: Vinotherapie – Velassaru

Velassaru - Vinotherapie

  

Alcohol, at its most generic hydroxyl chemical functional group level, has a couple of properties which make it for popular for stirring the senses. First, it is volatile. This enhances aromas as it evaporates quickly. Second, it bonds to both water and fat, making it a great catalyst to bringing out the flavours in food. It seems creative applications have been conjured up to excited nearly every sense – the spectacle of sight, the aroma of smell, the titillation of taste. And Velassaru gives you the opportunity to experience the epidermal emollience of its “Vinotherapie” spa treatment…

“The Spa at Velassaru, Maldives offers couples the chance to experience sensual bliss through a full body scrub, wrap and a massage, with its newly launched wine therapy – Vinotherapie. This indulgent treatment uses red and white wine as its main ingredients and is followed by a specially prepared candlelit bath to enjoy, complimented with a delicious bottle of wine. This three-hour sensual therapy allows couples to enjoy serene and rejuvenating moments together to rekindle intimacy and romance at only USD 640 per couple.”

A cheeky little number for your cheeks.

Best of the Maldives: Vodka Shisha – Hideaway Beach

Hideaway Beach - vodka shisha

Another Middle Eastern taste treat in the Maldives is the increasingly prevalent shisha pipes. Most hookah essences are herbal or fruit, but Hideaway Beach adds its own distinctive “Vodka Shisha” made with Stoly Vodka ($67)…

“To make it, instead of the usual water in the pipe we put apple juice and two shots of vodka. You can use any flavour tobacco, but we recommend double apple. The juice and vodka just give the smoke an even smoother, more mellow flavour”

Best of the Maldives: Turkish Drinks – Ayada

Ayada - Raki

  

A toast to Turkey…Today is Turkey Republic Day. And the epicentre of all things Turkish in the Maldives, Ayada, no surprise, offers up a delectable array of Ottoman offerings.

You can raise a glass of Turkish Wine which includes such vintages as Villa Doluca Shiraz, Cotes D’Avanos (see below). And for afters it stocks three different varieties of “Raki” (a digestif sort of like French Pastis or Greek Ouzo) that is served in a somewhat elaborate and traditional way…

“The resort stocks the top two brands in Turkey, Yeni Rak? and Tekirda?, with both the Gold and Ala offerings. Our Raki is served traditionally, mixed with a little chilled still water in a glass slipped into a copper well surrounded by crushed ice to keep the beverage perfectly chilled (reference picture attached). We also have available ?algam, purple carrot juice which has been fermented for several weeks in wooden barrels along with cracked bulgur wheat and salt, certainly an acquired taste, that is often times served alongside Raki as a perfect accompaniment alongside a plate of freshly cut fruits.”

?erefe!

  

Ayada - Turkish wine

7 Out-Standing Maldives Water Villas

Gili Lankanfushi water villas

 

The Maldives are renowned for diminutive islands (a plot of sand and a palm tree). But at some resorts, the “island” has diminished to nothing at all. Don’t worry…it’s not the often reported “sinking of the Maldives”. It’s just resorts bringing their guests closer to the alluring seascape and more remote from the rest of the world.

Gili Lankanfushi (above) was the one who started it all with their lagoon villas (and dedicated boats to ferry guests to and from their villas). And it still commands the destination topping, paragon of the concept, their Private Reserve.

Jumeirah then took the concept to a whole new level by making a stand-alone neighbourhood of water villas.

Now a small collection of room types not so much “marooned” as “maritime”. I excluded the “yachts” even the semi-permanent moored one (eg. The Rania Experience, Huvafenfushi’s Dhoni Suites) because it’s not quite the same even though they too are places to stay out in the middle of the water.

Thanks – again – Paola (who prompted the list and initiated the research).

  

1. Gili LankanfushiCrusoe Residence [above]

2. VelaaRomantic Pool Residence

Velaa - Romantic Pool Residence

 

3. Jumeirah DhevanafushiOcean Pearls

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi - Ocean Pearls

 

4. Jumeirah VittaveliOcean Suite with Pool

Jumeirah Vittaveli - Ocean Suite with Pool

  

5. MedhufushiLagoon Suite

Medhufushi - Lagoon Suite

 

6. Angsana VelavaruIn Ocean Pool Villa

Angsana Velavaru - In Ocean Pool Villa

 

7. MeeruHoneymoon Suites

Meeru - Honeymoon Suites

Best of the Maldives: Sunset Villas – Atmosphere Kanifushi

Atmosphere Kanifushi - water villa sunset

 

 

One resort who appreciates “Sunset Villas” is Atmosphere Kanifushi. There is no choosing between sunrise and sunset at this resort…because ALL the villas have been built westward facing. All four of their room types are designated “Sunset”.

In all fairness, the standard “Beach Villas”, the left most villas numbered “12” on the resort map below, are really “north” facing. In fact, all of the villas are really NNW facing if you want to be precise. North by Northwest should give you a fine view of the sunset on the western horizon in most cases. But one visitor did report to me that at certain times of the year, the sunset was really hard to see (and that would certainly be the case for the westernmost “Beach Villas”. So if you are draw to this sunset orientation of Kanifushi, you might want to veer toward the villas on the eastern most end of the island.

Westward ho!

 

Atmosphere Kanifushi - large map

 

Atmosphere Kanifushi - Google map

How Much Does a Sunset Cost?

Maldives resort sunset premium table

 

$200…Your own privately enjoyed sunset will cost you $200 (that’s per sunset).

If there is one thing that rivals snorkelling as the “main event” in the Maldives, it is the sunsets. Time for bats to start stirring overhead, servers to bring out the pin coladas, and gadget guys to grab their SLRs and get as many additions to their Flickr account as they can manage (while their female companions “enjoy” the sunset alone with their cosmopolitans…and the bats).

Sunset facing rooms are so much more in demand than any other side that most resorts have now instigated entirely different room categories for westward facing villas. In fact, sometimes the designation is as simple as “Sunrise Beach Villa” and “Sunset Beach Villa”.

So with Maldives Complete’s uniquely comprehensive database of resort room types, we can filter out such room types at resorts that have explicitly differentiated between “Sunrise” and “Sunset” variants. Comparing just how much of a price differential there is, we can estimate ‘how much does a sunset cost?

In some cases a direct comparison is possible, but in others it is more complex. With the sunset side being more desirable, sometimes resorts have put more appealing larger rooms on that side. So at the very least, for an apples-to-apples comparison, I would need to do price-per square metre. Some resorts go so far as to significantly upgrade the sunset category so when I spotted that I removed them from the sample.

On average, a sunset costs about $200 per night. Now this total includes a range of resort from value 4-stars to some super-premium 5-star+ properties. I came up with 18 room comparisons in my sample. The specifics varies a fair amount…

  • Most Expensive Sunset ($) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru,
  • Most Expensive Sunset ($/sqm) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, $4.76.
  • Most Expense Sunset (%) – Vilu Reef, +47%
  • Least Expensive Sunset ($) – Ayada, -$71 (but smaller room). Vadoo is the cheapest “same size” room at a $28 premium.
  • Least Expensive Sunset ($/sqm) – Jumeirah Vittaveli , -$0.38 (actually has a cheaper cost per square meter for their sunset room…the room costs more than the sunrise equivalent, but it is even bigger in size).
  • Least Expensive Sunset (%) – Jumeirah Vittaveli , -4%.

[NOTE – Prices indicated are based on research within the past year and represent the approximate cost for a Bed & Breakfast rate in US Dollars in mid-February. Prices do vary considerably with special offers, availability, etc]

The Maldives isn’t the only place in the world where sunlight is valued. In fact, much of the Western world has contrived the system of “Day Light Savings” time (which takes place today in the UK and next week in the USA). Its name implies like it is some sort of very short-term solar layaway plan. Unfortunately, you just borrow one hour from the beginning of the day and have to pay it back later that same day.

The notion was devised to help the farmers maximise daylight that they worked the fields in the summer. Maldives resorts do the same thing. Basically trying to optimise the “main event” sunsets around mealtimes. “Resort time” is usually different to “Male time” (despite being on the same longitude) and some further random variations added on. So in the Maldives every day is “Day Light Savings” time. And maybe Maldives sunshine is a bit more precious so every second saved is a good thing. Still, it can be a bit confusing and even frustrating especially if you are island hoppers like us (and others it seems from the brilliant movie parody trailer below)…

 

Daylight Savings movie trailer

Best of the Maldives: Asian Massage – Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - asian spa

United Nations Day today. Celebrating the diversity of cultures as well as the ambitions of that global organisation to enhance health and welfare around the world.

When we first starting visiting the Maldives, a spa was actually a rarity. My first massage there was from an Australian masseuse they had contracted in and gave her a remote villa garden and massage table. Now the spas are some of the most elaborate parts of the resorts and many of the properties incorporate ‘Spa’ right into the name. With all these choices have come many variations on the theme. Anantara has tapped its Thai roots for more Thai oriented treatments. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru has an aruvedic theme.

But the veritable United Nations of spa treatments are to be found at the Sun Siyam Irufushi. The brochure describes “Personalized Spa Experiences – Guests can create their own spa journey.”

Of the 147 different treatments offered The Spa by Thalgo, it features 9 different massages from traditional Asian cultures including:

  • MALDIVES – Maldivian Massage
  • PHILIPPINES – Filipino Hilot Massage
  • INDIA – Crystal Healing Ritual
  • CHINA – Restoring Yin-Yang Therapy
  • JAPAN – Shiatsu Massage
  • THAILAND – Thai Massage
  • INDONESIA – Balinese Massage
  • SOUTH PACIFIC – Aroma Island Massage
  • ASIA – Oriental Back Massage (fusion of oriental techniques)

When we visited, I was especially impressed by the Thai Massage room (see photo above). A spacious area with not only a proper Thai matt, but also two elegant ropes for the therapist to use for balance while walking on your back. I am a devotee of Thai Massage (aka. “Lazy Yoga”) and this was the finest treatment room (not over the water) for that discipline that I’ve visited.

Best of the Maldives: Triathlon – Kurumba

Kurumba - Triathlon

 

Also flying around the hazardous cobbles of Male, nearly as death defying as the Red Bull skateboarding crew, is the Kurumba triathlon team. The only resort team in this the Maldives’ second ever triathlon, Thinvaru Triathlon.

Team Kurumba broke up the event by discipling with each member completing a different leg/discipline…

  • Swimming: Recreation Manager, Aishath Rizuna
  • Cycling: General Manager, Jason Kruse
  • Running: Fleet Manager, Shameem Mohamed

Each team member prepared extensively, but the big event was full of challenges and not just the obvious multi-disciplinary, cardio-pulmonary ones.

Rizu is always in the water and the swimming leg was held in a protected part of the ocean by Male. Nonetheless, it was Rizu’s very first competitive swim (and she’s not a big fan over wearing goggles).

Jason rides on a home cycle trainer 4-5 times a week, but quickly discover that IRL is a bit different. First of all, this non-native had to just find his way around one of the smallest capital cities in the world (Shameem had to take Jason for a motorbike ride around the course the day before the event so that he would not get lost). And on the day, the roads weren’t actually closed for the event. So Jason and other cyclists had to dodge cars, motorbikes and anything else that wandered onto the streets. All racing full speed along some pretty rough and cobbled surfaces. “Risky to say the least,” Jason noted.

Shameen runs 5-6 times per week for health and fitness. And he had to face perhaps the most bizarre hazard of all as he was confronted by a steady barrage of people on motorbikes coming up to photograph (pap life).

Jason summarised the event saying, “Really interesting with the road surface and that the roads were not closed…Bit of extreme cycling and running. Personally, I loved the well set out transition with the shoes, for the mountain bike with the colourful spokie dokiesWe also really liked that many different people at different fitness levels gave it a try. From Maldives fastest swimmer and runner, to some competitors who were there just to try and finish.

But Team Kurumba didn’t just finish, but came in with an impressive 9th place overall team finish.

The next event is being planned for Hulemale in May 2016. Yay Kurumba.

Best of the Maldives: Skateboarding – Hotel Jen

Skateboarding - Red Bull 1

 

 

 

 

Sadly, no hoverbords yet in this ‘Back to the Future’ era. Not even at the most exclusive billionaire hang outs in the Maldives. But the Maldives does have some kicking “boarding” spots that would charge up even Marty McFly.

The Red Bull (initial) video did include some footage of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, but most of it is shot in downtown Male with several pass-bys in front of Hotel Jen.

As it happens, Male features a well rated (at least by these world class pros) skateboarding bowl (see below).

Maldives gives you wings!

 

Skateboarding - Red Bull 2