Best of the Maldives: Wristband Keys – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - wristband key

One of the top joys of the Maldives – throw on your swimsuit, grab your snorkeling gear and head out to the house reef.

Oh wait, don’t forget the villa key. Now where to put it (swimsuits don’t really have many secure pockets). Instead of the typical credit-card style proximity keys, NIYAMA has key band for guests. It’s completely waterproof so they can wear it in the pool, on the housereef or wherever.  (thanks again Paola)

Particularly good for people who wouldn’t remember their own head if it wasn’t attached to them.

Best of the Maldives Online: Interactive Dive Map – Dive Board

Dive Board

Another site making use of Google’s array of online mapping tools is the Dive Board website. It calls itself the “the largest online logbook” providing a database of dive sites around the world. Users can register and log their own dives on the website. Each dive site has a short profile including such information as Dives logged, Longitude and Latitude, and pictures.

But the real power of the site is how is has integrated with Google Maps complete with drill down functionality. At a “high” level, you can scan an entire atoll and it will show you some markers for individual dive sites. But in areas with lots of diving, it will have a coloured circle and a number both indicated the number of dive sites in that sub-area. If you then zoom in, the map will display further discrete dive sites, or even more circles indicating where you need to drill down further in order to distinguish the sites’ specific location. I love the elegance of this solution. You get high level scan-ability as well as drill-down detail. This capability was one of the great benefits of the Microsoft Deep Zoom technology that I exploited for the British Admiralty Maps (unfortunately, the Deep Zoom control only works in Internet Explorer now that Chrome has dropped support for Silverlight technology).

I appreciate the importance of drilling down in making the Maldives Complete Dive Site database. That part of Maldives Complete also works with a basic amount of drill down. There is a top level overview of all the Maldives allowing a user to choose their atoll (most people stay within a certain atoll when visiting a diving. The Atoll view which shows all of the sites in an atoll. You can squeeze them into a PC screen-sized map half the time, but the other half, denser sections of the atoll require a sub-area drill-down map.

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Best of the Maldives: Street View – Club Med Finolhu Villas

Club Med Finolhu Villas - street view

Club Med Finolhu provides a state-of-the-art virtual buggy to tour you around their new property. A number of resort feature “virtual tours”, but many are a bit clunky image stitching. Finolhu Villas uses the popular Google Street View technology. I’m still waiting for a Google Street View of a house reef though (see #17)!


Best of the Maldives: Fashion Pop-Up – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah fashion buggy

The latest Australian fashion extends beyond its globetrotting digerati. “Pop ups” are the big new trend especially in London dining. One & Only Reethi Rah has introduced a pop-up store featuring down-under designer Camilla Franks…

“From November 2015 to April 2016, One & Only Reethi Rah guests can browse through a stunning pop-up store at NEO Beach by Australian designer Camilla Franks. Camilla is well-known for her colourful, vibrant and lively collections which combine intricate craftsmanship, prints and detail to create truly individualistic designs. The 2015 season has already seen One & Only launch its own fashion label, partner with the world-renowned fashion house Missoni to release a bespoke capsule collection and launch a Melissa Odabash pop-up store at One & Reethi Rah. A breathtaking aquamarine Issa dress will also be available at exclusively One & Only resorts including One & Only Reethi Rah this year.”

I especially like the Camilla Frank styled buggy decorated as a part of the offer. So you can pop over to the pop up with a pop art buggy!

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Kids Swing – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - Maldivian kids swing

Here’s a little bit of Maldivian culture for the little ones. I love checking out the resort kids clubs whether they have all manner of items shrunk down to tyke size. You will find these Maldivian classic seats throughout the Maldives, but Dusit Thani’s “Baan Sanook” kids club was the only place I’ve seen a tiny tyke version adapted for the little ones.


Best of the Maldives: Local Village – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - village

Maldives National Day today. A time to celebrate Maldivian culture and heritage. At JA Manafaru resort, they celebrate it every day of their year with their own “Kakuni Village” exhibition on the island. Many guests are interested what life was like for residents of this exotic place on Earth (before modern civilisation brought its more globally homogenous concrete and plaster)

The display features several reconstructed Maldivian homes…

A typical traditional house in the Maldives is built here with thatched coconut or palm branches forming the roof of the house which is called BodrugeIt is now very rare to find a house with the badhige (kitchen) as a separate annexure to the dwelling.”

Among other examples of traditional fittings and décor, the village includes…

  • House (bodruge)
  • Gazebo (holhuashi)
  • Outdoor bathing (gifili)
  • Kitchen (badhige)

JA Manafaru - village 2

JA Manafaru - village 4

JA Manafaru - village 3

JA Manafaru - village 5

JA Manafaru - house sign

Best of the Maldives: Photographic Gallery – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - gallery 1

A sense-ational week this week – Smell, Taste, Touch. So how about something for the eyes. If you want something as entrancing as a cabernet’s bouquet, as exquisite as artful nectar, and as soothing as a warm bath, the Huvafenfushi’s newly launched art gallery offers an indulgence of visual delights. The exhibition features both iconic shots of the Maldives, but also a collection of dazzling destination portraits from around the world…

“Per Aquum gallery on the Maldivian island of Huaven Fushi has become the first photography gallery in the world to only be accessible by speedboat or seaplane. Each visitor to the exclusive gallery is greeted at one of the private jettys with a cocktail and are then guided through exclusive prints, only available on the island. Photographer Paul Reiffer had been shooting for the island owners when he saw an opportunity to create a unique exhibition. The 35 year-old said: ‘We’ve done it in part because it’s quirky. If you look at it from a commercial view it’s a stupid idea but we wanted to do something a bit different and it completely works.”

This post has prompted me to add a “Photography” tag for all posts literally focused on the fine art of the camera.

Huvafenfushi - galler 2

Best of the Maldives: Olfactory Wine Tasting – Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - Le Nez du Vin

Think your nose knows the notes? Then sniff out Sun Siyam Irufushi’s olfactory oenology offering.

The “Le Nez du Vin” kits by Jean Lenoir provide a collection of the most prevalent aromas, or “notes,” in wines including “fruity” ones like pineapple and cherry, or “spicy” ones like vanilla and pepper (see list below). The resort sommelier introduces the diners to the pure essence and then serves up a wine where that fragrance features prominently. I think all but the most oenological among us have had that frustration of being told that the wine’s bouquet features “liquorice and geranium” and all we can smell is, well…wine.

For the intermediate class, check out Wine Folly’s “33 of The Most Bizarre Flavors Found in Wine” (includes a few you can sample in Le Nez like liquorice and violet). Actually, here are some of the tasting notes for Cheval Blanc’s (the resort and the chateau) 1947…”The huge nose of fruitcake, chocolate, leather, coffee, and Asian spices is mind-boggling.”

Sun Siyam Irufushi - tastng notes

Best of the Maldives: Bottle of Wine – Cheval Blanc Randheli

Cheval Blanc Randheli - Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947

If you want to wet your whistle instead of your toes, then just across the Noonu atoll, the latest entry in the super luxury properties offers possibly the most sought after liquid refreshment in the world.

In the arms race of the deluxe 5+ stars, the resort wine collection is one of the big guns in the bragging battles. If the under-water rooms are ‘aircraft carriers’ in this tropical superposher rivalry, the wine collections are the ‘nuclear submarines’. Cheval Blanc Randheli’s megaton payload of luxury was not just one, but 6 bottles of what many consider to be the finest bottle of wine in the world – the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc.

In general, I try to the keep the “Best of the Maldives” categories quite narrowly defined (eg. best clothes hangers, longest left-handed surf break). Esoteric delineations are more easily unique or distinguished. The bigger the category, the more the competition and making it harder determine the stand out selection. Especially, when the bar is raised so high in the epicentre of luxury that is the Maldives. But I will go out on a limb on this one and say, Cheval Blanc Randheli has the best bottle of wine in the Maldives.

Okay, to quote Carl Sagan, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. And the story to these bottles is truly extraordinary …

  1. Cost – Sheer price is one crude but effective determinant of exclusivity. And one bottle costs as much as a luxury car…for sale on Fine and Rare Wines for a $100,000 (yes, count the zeros). That’s nearly $7,000 a glass or $650 a sip.  By comparison, One & Only Reethi Rah’s esteemed ‘new world’ Screaming Eagle seems a relative bargain at a mere snip of $3,000.
  2. Critics – Though there is no easier way to start an interminable argument than to put a few wine critics in the same room, few dispute the 1947’s elite pedigree. A Slate piece on the wine minces no words in the title of its story on this classic vintage “The Greatest Wine on the Planet”. The author dubs it “the most celebrated wine of the 20th century.” And the subtitle of “How the ’47 Cheval Blanc, a defective wine from an aberrant year, got so good” adds even more colourful backstory to this legendary wine (and a story I am particularly partial to with my other blog on “Embracing Failure”).
  3. Culture – The wine was immortalised in that Disney classic of culinary genius, “Ratatouille”. The pretentious restaurant critic Anton Ego requests this very bottle (see second 48 in the clip below – unfortunately, Italian was the only version I could find on the web of this scene).
  4. Cognomen – And well, what a bit of eponymous serendipity! Not only does the resort share the name of the famous Bordeaux chateau, but the resort’s “signature gastronomic” restaurant is named after the vintage itself – “Le 1947”. If not the best bottle of the wine in the Maldives, undoubtedly the best “house brand” bottle!

Mike Steinberger of Slate writes, “It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies, a wine that even the most jaded aficionados will travel thousands of miles to taste.” And those ‘thousands of miles’ arrive at “Le 1947” in the Maldives.

Cheval Blanc Randheli - Le 1947 restaurant

Cheval Blanc Randheli - Chateau Cheval Blac 1ere Grand Cru Classe