Illustrating Sporty Swimsuits

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI cover

While While the Maldives might have competition for being the top photoshoot destination in the world, there is definitely one top photoshoot in the world…the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The 2016 issue which hit the stands yesterday now so hotly anticipated that they have developed a television show to launch it. Famous SI Swimsuit models include Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Elle MacPherson, Kathy Ireland, Paulina Porizkova, Anna Kournikova, Kate Upton and Beyonce.

And two of the most famous today – partly for their own reality TV shows – shot their issues in the Maldives. Tyra Banks was on the ascendency to becoming her “Americ’a Top Model” with the 1998 edition shot at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. Her previous year’s cover was historic as she was the first black American to grace the cover of the blockbuster annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. That year also introduced “America’s Got Talent” Heidi Klum as 1998’s cover girl.

The next Maldives issue was 2010 shot at Anantara Veli and Dhigu featuring Christine Teigen, Bar Refaeli, Dominique Piek and Brooklyn Decker.

While the USA Swimsuit Edition is the main event, SI South Africa has also been drawn to these neighbouring picturesque Laccadive shores. SI South Africa produced a swimsuit calendar featuring Joelle Kayembe at Bandos, as well as Lee Ann Liebenberg and Liza Botha back at Anantara.

Here are 10 true “10s” from the SI Swimsuit collection…

 

1. Tyra Banks (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Tyra Banks
2. Brooklyn Decker (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Brooklyn Decker
3. Lee Ann Liebenberg (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Lee Ann Liebenberg
4. Bar Refaeli (Israel) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Bar Refaeli
5. Beri Smither (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Beri Smither
6. Joelle Kayembe (South Africa) – Bandos: 2008
Bandos - Joelle Kayembe
7. Christine Teigen (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Christine Teigen
8. Liza Botha (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Liza Botha
9. Dominique Piek (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2010
Anantara Veli - Dominique Piek
10. Heidi Klum (Germany) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI inside

 

And if the pin-ups are not enough, Sports Illustrated has kindly posted a whole collection of videos taken from the shoots so you can enjoy the backdrop of the Maldives with this assortment of aesthetic additions.

Best of the Maldives: Largest Round Tub – Zitahli Kudafunafaru

Zitahli Kudafunafaru - tub

If size does matter to you, then the Zitahli Kudafunafaru tub is the soak for you. Not just wide, but deep. At nearly 2 metres, I am not a small guy and I could barely keep my head above water. It was like a little indoor swimming pool (small children could do laps in this pool).

It’s all part of the Kudafunafaru expansiveness. The villas a quite substantial for their relatively modest 4.5 rack rates (the resort is in the top 5 for lowest cost per square metre in the 4.5 star category). Like a giant ceramic caldron to simmer away whatever the stresses remain after a day of lounging in the Maldivian sun.

15 Romantic Suds

Atmosphere Kanifushi - tub

Happy Valentines Day sweethearts everywhere.  But especially in that global hotbed of romantic paradise, the Maldives

Get your clothes off for a hot and steamy, sensual delight, with a touch of perfume, bubbly, and flower petals. Yes, a romantic bubble bath. Here’s a not-so-dirty dozen of the best in the Maldives…

I’ve also added a “Maldives Tub Art” board to the Maldives Complete Pinterest so I can add more sexy suds as I find them.

I©Maldives
 

1. Atmosphere Kanifushi [above]

2. Cheval Blanc Randheli
Cheval Blanc Randeli tub

3. Vakarufalhi
Vakarufalhi - tub

4. Coco Bodu Hithi (thanks Paola)
Coco Bodu Hithi - tub

5. One & Only Reethi Rah
One & Only Reethi Rah - tub

6. Centara Ras Fushi
Centara Ras Fushi - tub

7. Kuramathi
Kuramathi - tub

8. Anantara Kihavah
Anantara Kihavah Villas - tub

9. Amilla Fushi
Amilla Fushi - tub

10.  Centara Grand
Centara Grand - tub

11. Loama Maamagili
Loama Maamagili - tub

12. Sun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - tub

13. Hideaway Beach
Hideaway Beach - tub

14. Zitahli Kudafunafaru
Zitahli Kudafunafaru - tub decor

15. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
image

Best of the Maldives: Brioche French Toast – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - brioche French Toast

Who put the “French” in French toast?

I’m always surprised there is not more brioche served in the Maldives at the high end resorts. It is a truly elegant bread. A staple with the delicacy of foie gras. And often the way the trendy London gourmet burger bistros decadently dress up their ground beef in order to charge $30 for it.

Or for breakfast – well, any time really, slathered with Nutella. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s breakfast features a brioche French toast garnished with candied orange peel. More “Pain Doré” than “Pain Perdu” (Both are the French words for “French Toast – I guess they don’t call it “Our Toast”. “Pain Doré” translates to “Golden Bread” while “Pain Perdu”, the more prevalent name, means “Lost Bread” referring the dishes ability to resurrect old or stale bread). Maybe just a little dollop of Nutella…

A bit of research found that Gili Lankanfushi also serves brioche French toast, but I will give this nosh nod to Landaa for their mouth watering treat tweet.

Best of the Maldives: Unexpected Breakfast Item – Velaa

Velaa - breakfast octopus

In my day, we had fantastical feasts when I lived in the palace.” – Ursula, The Sea Witch

I’ve seen a lot of fare offered up on the smorgasbord that is the Maldives buffets. But first time I encountered fresh, octopus sashimi (or as our young son called it “Sea Witch” from Ariel) was at Velaa’s expansive breakfast banquet. Fantastical.

Witch food are you eating for breakfast??

Best of the Maldives: Breakfast Sashimi Bar – Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - sashimi bar 1

If you want to celebrate today’s national day of the land of the Rising Sun straight from the rise of the sun, then Sun Siyam Irufushi offers a fresh a Sashimi Bar at its breakfast buffet. Our Japan blogging son Chase (chip off the old block) would have loved this option. He savours Japanese culture, adores sushi and sashimi, and ordered it the most often when we visited the Maldives as a family. The profusion of fresh fish in the neighbourhood make this culinary favourite a treat the whole day long.

建国記念の日

Sun Siyam Irufushi - sashimi bar 2

Best of the Maldives: Pancake Characters – LUX Maldives

LUX Maldives - pancake whale shark

The Maldives is full of colour and that includes colourful individuals. At LUX Maldives, you can get these characters on your plate, and I don’t mean in a Sebastian “Under da’ Sea” way. Their pâtissier du pancake Rahmat has taken griddle art to a new level of virtuosity. To celebrate yesterday’s Pancake Day, his portraits included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (directly below) and Iron Man (next photo down). At bottom you can see him working on Flipper. But, especially being LUX, the big star of the show was Whale Shark (see above).

Flippin’ fine fritter critters!

LUX Maldives - pancake Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

 

LUX Maldives - pancake Ironman

 

LUX Maldives - pancake dolphin

Best of the Maldives: Watermelon Carving – Komandoo

Komandoo - Watermelon carving

Happy Year of the Monkey! Chinese will be celebrating all the new year all around the world with feasts and parties. And exquisite decorations and artistry like Komandoo’s carved watermelon. Particularly appropriate with its lucky red hue. Red is considered the most auspicious of colours as children are given New Year’s gift in red envelopes, the streets are decorated with red lanterns, and diamond-shaped paper cut-outs are done with red paper.

It turns out there are also a bunch things the Chinese won’t be doing, that are considered bad luck at this time, like taking medicine (first day), eating porridge, washing hair and using sharp objects.

The Chinese celebrate with all sorts of traditions from the well-known fireworks and dragon dances, to less familiar reunion dinners and new year paintings. To fit it all in, they have 16 days of celebrations. And some will slip away for a few days holiday. And the favourite destination in the world for the Chinese is the Maldives according to a recent survey – “Maldives tops list of Chinese tourists’ favorite island spots”. Another “Best in the World” for the Maldives…”Best in the World for Chinese Tourists”.

恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財

Best of the Maldives: Private Dining Decks – Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Bodu Hithi - Aqua restaurant

It’s not just the aroma of the soup, it’s the atmosphere. And one of my most enjoyable bowls was served at Coco Bodu Hithi’sAqua” fusion restaurant because of its garnish of sea sounds and sights.

For starters (literally), it and the rest of the meal was served on our own private deck. Such a set up was something I mused about way back in 2011. It makes meal time a sort of microcosm of the whole tiny island experience – dining nestled in an intimate nook surrounded by water (and there were these particularly peculiar fish circling the platform which had us reaching for our fish guides, though we still couldn’t figure out what they were).

Aqua has 360 degree water for 4 decks and then another 5 decks for 2 couples each with a 90 degree corner seat. An overwater restaurant tables are table stakes for a 5-star in the Maldives and most 4 stars have them too. But the broader platform designs mean that on a few early birds secure the coveted front row waterside seats.

The soup in question was an exquisite chilled fruit soup and seafood chowder. The Indonesian Chef Nyoman (possibly the only female head chef in the Maldives and certainly the first one I had met) had us try her special tuna Carpaccio which is prepared differently than you normally get it in Europe. But the highlight was Indonesian prawn dish, “Udanag Balado”.

Aqua is also one of the fewer places which request smart casual dress. It’s the first time I’ve had to wear long trousers to a meal in the Maldives, but it does lend an air of sophistication to the evening.

Private dining on high on the seas.

Best of the Maldives: Soups – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - soup

Soup always my first dish at a gourmet restaurant.

I shy away from the basic grilled, broiled and fried because I can do that at home. When I go out, I want some that takes more prep than I typically have time to invest. I favour the interesting casseroles and sauces, but the quintessence are the soups. Furthermore, their delectable broths are live savoury wines with heat instead of alcohol bringing a complex bouquet of flavours alive.

The tropical Maldives is really the setting for the piping hot stodgy side of the soup spectrum, but there are still plenty of possibilities especially among the chilled varieties. Lobster bisque and gazpacho are fairly common classics found in most of the 5-star resorts. But Dusit Thani not only had the most extensive array of soups on their menu, but they were all Michelin-star gourmet quality…

  • Iced Tomato Consommé
  • Veloute of White Bean
  • Seafood Bisque
  • Chilled Avocado Soup
  • Peking Duck Consommé.

In honour of Homemade Soup Day today, I am adding a “Soup” tag to the blog.

Dusit Thani - soup 2