Best of the Maldives: Dancing– Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - band

After a day of snorkelling, diving, exploring and soaking up the sun, Lori and I are usually ready to collapse under the stars after dinner. A number of resorts will feature entertainment in the evening and in many cases, the DJ or Boduberu is just too uninspiring to get us up onto our weary feet. And even if we can do, many of the resort bars and lounges have limited dance floor designed more for gentle swaying and bopping around the handbags. Lori and I both study ballroom and Latin dancing and we hadn’t found a resort where the music extended to such diverse genres and offered the room for really stretching out our heel leads and cha-cha-cha’s. Until we visited Sun Siyam Irufushi.

Their main bar, The Water’s Edge, boasts a 20m diameter dance floor with plenty of room to stretch out your dancing legs. Especially, since we had it to ourselves (well, until our ice breaking spurred several other couples to join in the romantic fun).

But the key to good dancing is good music and that’s what really got us going. The music led by Philippine duo “Intonation Band” (though I think they also go by the name “Desperado”). Not just a gigging band ushered in for the evening, but residents of Irufushi for 2 years. The duo consists of Henri and Rodelle (see photo above) who both play a range of instruments.

It’s not just the range of sounds, but the selection of songs. They will play virtually any request for you. They have an iPad app which allows them to download music and lyrics for an extensive library of favourites. We were able to get a cha-cha-cha, rumba, tango, waltz, even some jazz tunes (today is Jazz Day, by the way). The band was able to not just sight read the music very adeptly, but also sing along as well. The finale was Cat Stevens’ “How Can I Tell You” which is Lori’s “our song” (played at our wedding, etc.). Hard to imagine a more romantic finish to the evening dancing under the stars to your favourite song played live, in your favourite part of the world with your favourite person. Bravissimi!

 

Jet-Set Jetty Jetés

Maldives ballet
Mariinsky Ballet Company special “floating” performance at NIYAMA

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon.” ― Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat

International Dance Day today. The shores of the Maldives have been an international dance floor for dancers of all genres – ballet, ballroom, aerial, ribbon, belly dancing, acrobatic, ribbon dancing, pole dancing. Sometimes they come for work, sometimes for fun, sometimes for both. The Maldives Complete troupe of twenty includes a bit of everything.

Keeeeep dancing! (says Bruce)

  1. Katerina Chebykina (Russia) – NIYAMA
    Katerina Chebykina (Russia) - NIYAMA
  2. Danielle Muir (Australia) – Alimatha
    Danielle Muir (Australia) - Alimatha
  3. Ea Nitsche Holm (Hong Kong) – Anantara Kihavah
    Ea Nitsche Holm (Hong Kong) – Anantara Kihavah
  4. Anastasia Volochkova (Russia) – Velassaru
    Anastasia Volochkova (Russia) - Velassaru
  5. Clarice Lanta-Lilly Armstrong (United Kingdom) – Huvafenfushi
    Clarice Lanta-Lilly Armstrong (United Kingdom) – Huvafenfushi
  6. Zina Martynovich (Russia) – Kurumba
    Zina Martynovich (Russia) – Kurumba
  7. Yi Hongjing (China) – Alimatha
    Yi Hongjing (China) – Alimatha
  8. Jenia Shtefan (Russia) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Jenia Shtefan (Russia) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  9. Jade Marissa Tinkler (United Kingdom) – Amilla Fushi
    Jade Marissa Tinkler (United Kingdom) – Amilla Fushi
  10. Sukki Singapora (Singpore) – Finolhu
    Sukki Singapora (Singpore) - Finolhu
  11. Lowri Thomas (United Kingdom) – One & Only Reethi Rah
    Lowri Thomas (United Kingdom) - One & Only Reethi Rah
  12. Sarah Fareou (France)
    Sarah Fareou (France) 2
  13. Amanda Jayne (United Kingdom) – Finolhu
    Amanda Jayne (United Kingdom) - Finolhu
  14. Oksana Bondareva (Russia) – NIYAMA
    Oksana Bondareva (Russia) - NIYAMA
  15. Tara Bhavnani (Canada) – Gili Lankanfushi
    Tara Bhavnani (Canada) - Gili Lankanfushi
  16. Hannah Villasis (Philippines) – Meeru
    Hannah Villasis (Philippines) – Meeru
  17. Karen Clifton (USA) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Karen Clifton (USA) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
  18. Erika Lemay (Canada) – Thudufushi
    Erika Lemay (Canada) – Thudufushi
  19. Maiama Khateli (Netherlands) – Canareef
    Maiama Khateli (Netherlands) – Canareef
  20. Valentina Marconi (Italy) – Fenfushi
    Valentina Marconi (Italy) – Fenfushi

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Fashion Design – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - Funoas

Who puts the “fun” into “Funoas”? Kandolhu has introduced the “Funoas” range of swimwear which you can buy at the resort. Her designs based on the distinctive and colourful sea life of the Maldives are truly inspired. We caught up the Maldivian born Funoas designer Sumii Haleem for her first exclusive interview:

Q: Where are you from in the Maldives?
A: I was born and raised in Male’, Maldives. My mother is from Henveiru district and my father is from Maafannu district.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: I am currently living in Perth, Australia.

Q: What brought you there?
A: Education brought me here to Perth. Back then, when I finished high school, there were no universities in Maldives. Anyone who wanted to get a tertiary level education, had to go overseas. So my parents decided to move to Australia so my little sister and I could have a chance at a quality education. Ever since then I have been moving back and forth between Maldives and Australia.

Q: What inspired your career in art?
A: I have always been fascinated by nature and science and have always used art as a way of expressing this fascination. I also grew up around my aunt who was a seamstress. So it was a combination of curiosity and exposure to designing clothes, that started my career in art.

Q: What was the first piece you sold?
A: The first piece of artwork that I ever sold was in 2012, an abstract ink on paper drawing called “The City Never Sleeps”. It was on Society6 that I sold this print. I felt ecstatic, that someone had actually bought my artwork!

Q: How did you move into fashion?
A: Initially, I started printing my artwork on t-shirts, mugs, laptop and phone covers on Society6. I got a lot of positive response from friends and with their encouragement decided to start my own clothing line. At the time I started working on Funoas, I had also just started scuba diving and was blown away by the beauty and the vulnerability of our coral reefs. I wanted my brand to be an environmentally conscious one, so I could use clothing and fashion to create awareness about issues faced by Maldives, such as climate change, global warming and sea level rise.

Q: What’s your biggest selling item?
A: My best selling item is the Thaana printed clothes. Thaana is the unique writing system of Maldivian language, Dhivehi. I created this piece because I thought Dhivehi is a unique language spoken by a minority of world’s people and the scripture is also visually so unique and eye catching. So I think this print is very sentimental to Maldivians, especially those that live away from home, like myself.

Q: Who are your favourite designers?
A: My art is influenced by people from different walks of life, nature and scientific concepts so it is difficult to narrow it down to only designers. Some of the people that influence my work include Ashish Gupta, Adam Manik, Hassan Manik, Aishath Shafeeg, Moosa Mamdhuh, Ahmed Shafeeg, Maya Arulpragasam, Karl Lagerfeld, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Nicola Tesla, David Attenborough,Fibonacci, Neil Degrassi Tyson, Scuba divers and all underwater photographers, just to name a few.

Q: If someone gave you $1 million to invest in your business, what would you invest it in?
A: If I had a million dollars I would invest it on building Funoas to become an internationally recognised brand that creates quality clothing, 100% ethically and eco-consciously. I would concentrate on creating our products solely from recycled polyester, which is something I am currently looking into for my future collections. Once Funoas is a well established clothing brand, I would love to be able to work with local Maldivian environmentalists, marine researchers and climate change advocates to study more about our own marine ecosystems and bring a positive change to Maldives’ growing environmental crises. I believe this is a social responsibility.

Funoas suit
Manta crop-top

Funoas suit 2
Nudibranch two-piece

Funoas suit 3
Oriental sweet lips

Funoas suit 4
Thaana printed swim shorts

Best of the Maldives: Cardboard Furniture – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - card board chair

World Design Day today. Increasingly, Maldives resorts are looking to stylish design to distinguish their properties so there is vibrant portfolio of creativity found across the destination.

Today’s feature evoked my recent trip to the famous Design Museum in Denmark. One of their most famous exports exhibited is the Danish chair. A further geo-personal connection living as we do near High Wycombe, home of the Wycombe Wanderers, known affectionately as the Chairboys (we can see their training ground from our house).

The exhibit featured a wide array of quirky and inventive styles, but one that caught my eye was Gehry’s cardboard creations (see photo at bottom)…

  • “The architect and designer Frank Gehry has been working with cheap and everyday y materials in new and untraditional ways on a small and large scale. In 1987, he created the very sculptural cardboard chair while working as an architect on a cardboard model. He wanted to experiment with the material and discovered that it was possible to transform huge piles of cardboard into sculptures. Little by little it turned into a chair and became one of the icons of the 20th century. And then it is sustainable.”

And you can find such museum quality pieces at in the Maldives as well. Huvafenfushi’s CUBE villa comes with its own similarly inspired chair with a name as fun as its sinuous shape – “The Vitra Wiggle”. It is accompanied by a set of cleverly nested tables as well.

Huvafenfushi - CUBE cardboard chair and tables

Huvafenfushi - card board chair and tables CUBE

Design Museum

Birds of Paradise

Audobon Day header

National Audubon Day today honors American painter John James Audubon who prolifically and colourfully depicted countless birds in their natural environments. While known more for its aquatic than avian creatures, the Maldives do feature a number of distinctive winged beauties. Leaving aside the “flying fox” bats (not really birds…and I’ve yet to find a picture of someone posing with one), the most common photographic subjects are…

  • Heron – Ubiquitous residents usually the first feathered friend visitors make on a resort.
  • Parrot – Really domesticated pets that have been brought to the resorts but seem to fit right into the tropical paradise aesthetic.
  • Tern – Flocks that tend to congregate on the extended sand spits where they can fish for sardines and other tiny fish.

Here is the Maldives Complete exhibition of birds of paradise…

  1. Maria Glass (Russia) – OZEN
    Maria Glass (Russia) - OZEN
  2. Diana Nabieva (Russia) – Veligandu
    Diana Nabieva (Russia) - Veligandu
  3. Pauline (France) – Malahini Kuda Bandos
    Pauline (France) - Malahini Kuda Bandos
  4. KiNo No Noo (United Kingdom) – Conrad Rangali
    KiNo No Noo (United Kingdom) - Conrad Rangali
  5. Papic Sanja (Panama) – Hideaway Beach
    Papic Sanja (Panama) – Hideaway Beach
  6. Daniela Lopez Osorio (Columbia) – Bandos
    Daniela Lopez Osorio (Columbia) – Bandos
  7. Larissa (Romania) – Sun Island
    Larissa (Romania) – Sun Island
  8. Eem Nizam (Maldives) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Eem Nizam (Maldives) – Sun Siyam Irufushi - 2
  9. Luchiya Stefanova (Bulgaria) – AaaVeee
    Luchiya Stefanova (Bulgaria) - AaaVeee
  10. Ravshana Kurkova (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
    Ravshana Kurkova (Russia) - Conrad Rangali
  11. Precious Angellyn Sanchez (Philippines) – Paradise Island
    Precious Angellyn Sanchez (Philippines) – Paradise Island
  12. Sylvia Wu (Taiwan) – Maafushi
    Silvia Wu (Taiwan) – Olhuveli
  13. Vik Voynikova (Russia) – Anantara Dhigu
    Vik Voynikova (Russia) – Maafushi
  14. Sweet Dreams Shangri-La Vilingili
    Sweet Dreams (Shangri-La Vilingili)
  15. Valentina Vignali (Italy) – Baros
    Valentina Vignali (Italy) – Baros
  16. Lisa Olsson (Sweden) – Rihiveli
    Lisa Olsson (Sweden) – Rihiveli
  17. Viki Odintcova (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
    Viki Odintcova (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah

Fitnessistos

Baris Bozkurt (Germany) – Robinson Club

Yes, I just made up that word.  Fashionista guys with six-pack abs posting on Instagram.  Just as drawn to the idyllic background of the Maldives as the fashionista princesses.  Here’s a collection of the Maldives Complete Top Twenty distinctively ship shape gents…

  1. Baris Bozkurt (Germany) – Robinson Club [ABOVE]
  2. Alikhan Dzhioev (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Alikhan Dzhioev (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
  3. Robin Walczak (Germany) – Fihalhohi
    Robin Walczak (Germany) - Fihalhohi
  4. Chabanov Diliaver (Finland) – Furaveri
    Chabanov Diliaver (Finland) – Furaveri
  5. Jemmy Tjan (Indonesia) – Hudhuranfushi
    Jemmy Tjan (Indonesia) - Hudhuranfushi
  6. Peter Bar (Czech) – Sun Island
    Peter Bar (Czech) – Sun Island
  7. Ryan Libbey (United Kingdom) – Atmosphere Kanifushi
    Ryan Libbey (United Kingdom) – Atmosphere Kanifushi
  8. Vladmir Stepin (Finland) – Furaveri
    Vladmir Stepin (Finland) – Furaveri
  9. Martin Mester (Czech) – Halaveli
    Martin Mester (Czech) – Halaveli
  10. Sebastian Stuehmer (Germany) – Filitheyo
    Sebastian Stuehmer (Germany) – Filitheyo
  11. Mark Robberds (Australia) – Six Senses Laamu
    Mark Robberds (Australia) – Six Senses Laamu
  12. Adam (Australia) – Taj Exotica
    Adam (Australia) – Taj Exotica
  13. Jimmy Naraine (United Kingdom) – Ranveli
    Jimmy Naraine (United Kingdom) – Ranveli
  14. Daniel Tuan (Taiwan) – Amilla Fushi
    Daniel Tuan (Taiwan) – Amilla Fushi
  15. Lloyd Stevens (Zimbabwe) – Veligandu
    Lloyd Stevens (Zimbabwe) – Veligandu
  16. Markus Parkin (United Kingdom) – Sheraton Full Moon
    Markus Parkin (United Kingdom) – Sheraton Full Moon
  17. Kit Mah (Malaysia) – Club Med Kani
    Kit Mah (Malaysia) – Club Med Kani
  18. Shandi Lim (Indonesia) – Vadoo
    Shandi Lim (Indonesia) – Vadoo
  19. Viktor Halldén (Sweden) – Centara Ras Fushi
    Viktor Halldén (Sweden) – Centara Ras Fushi
  20. Alex Feo (Russia) – Amilla Fushi
    Alex Feo (Russia) – Amilla Fushi

Best of the Maldives: Curious Shape – Nalandhoo

Nalandhoo - aerial

Earth Day today. A time to appreciate the diverse and curious planet we call home. In the Maldives, Not all the earthen mounds of islands are round dots. Some extend across elongated table reefs on the edges of the atolls. And some like Nalandhoo (not to be confused with Anatara’s Naladu) in Shaviyani atoll have a totally unique shape viewed from Google Earth(thanks Paola)…

Nalandhoo is particularly supportive to Earth Day today as its own emblematic exposure to environmental impacts especially of rising and shifting seas…

  • “The smallness of the [Shaviyani] atoll indicates to the islands’ vulnerability to environmental impacts. Hence the Nalandhoo is one of the island in Shaviyani atoll with its own unique beauty”

Nalandhoo  - vista

17 Dhoni Inspirations

Centara Ras Fushi - dhoni swing

The traditional dhoni has been the life blood for the scattered Maldivian archipelago pumping people and goods across its waters for centuries. In modern times, the dhoni also provides cultural inspiration to all manner of décor and items on the Maldives resorts.

The term “dhoni” is not only essential to Maldives life since its earliest history, but has even entered the global lexicon as one of two Dhivehi words that have made it into the English language (the other is even more characteristic of the very essence of the Maldives).

I have added a “Dhoni” tag to keep track of all the nautically inspired resort features now.

1. Boat SwingCentara Ras Fushi [ABOVE]

2. Boat VillaHuvafenfushi
Huvafenfushi - dhoni boat suit

3. LoungePark Hyatt Hadahaa
Maafushivaru - dhoni lounge

4. Room ServiceConstance Moofushi
Constance Moofushi - dhoni room service

5. FountainPark Hyatt Hadahaa
Park Hyatt Hadahaa - dhoni fountain

6. BuffetLily Beach
Lily Beach - dhoni - buffet

7. BarCanareef
Canareef - dhoni bar

8. Housekeeping Coco Bodu Hithi
Coco Bodu Hithi - dhoni housekeeping

9. PlanterAaaVeee
AaaVeee - dhoni planter

10. Bar – Jumeirah Vittaveli

11. RestaurantMillaidhoo
Millaidhoo - dhoni - restaurant

12. Kids ClubAnantara Dhigu
Anantara Dhigu - dhoni kids club

13. Dining TableJA Manafaru
JA Manafaru - dhoni dining table

14. ReceptionSun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - reception

15. SeatingAyada
Ayada - dhoni seating

16. LoungingTaj Exotica
Taj Exotica - dhoni lounging

17. Water VillaCocoa Island
Cocoa Island - dhoni water villa

Best of the Maldives: Historical Cruising – Velaa

Velaa - boat

If you want to live the maritime heritage of the Maldivian dhoni with all the conveniences and luxuries of this modern day paradise destination, then Velaa offers a distinctive dhoni crusing yacht, “Baththeli Anna”.

  • Baththeli Anna, the prncess of the Southern Seas. Designed to ensure the utmost comfort for her guests, Anna is a beautiful custom built Maldivian baththeli (“baththeli” – boat on Dhivehi language). This luxurious, uniquely designed traditional sailboat was laid down in April of 2012. Then crafted under the supervision of the Master Boat Builder, Matias Luhmann, himself alongside the proficient team of Gladonia Maldives Pvt Ltd. The idea of its elegant lines and comfortable spaces was conceived by the boat design, Philippe Laurella, French at birth, but Maldivian in Spirit.”

One of my biggest pastimes is the sport of rowing. The carbon-fiber sculls are the state-of-the-art, but I’m afraid that I’m still smitten by the aesthetic romance of a boat sculpted out of wood.

Specifications:

  • Length – 76 feet
  • Weight – 45 ton
  • Overnight guest capacity – 3
  • Day touring guest capacity – 8
  • Maximum speed – 12 knots.
  • 2 Hour, 4 person Sunset Dolphin Cruise – $1,695
  • 5 hour, 2 person Desert Island Dinner Cruise – $7,440
  • 2.5 hour, 4 person Luxury Private Snorkel Trip – $1,895
  • 8 hour, 4 person Charter Cruise – $5,495

With this post, I’ve added a new “Cruising” tag as the highest end resorts seem to be extended their super-premium arms race into a naval battle of yachts.

Velaa - dhoni 2

Velaa - dhoni 1

Velaa - dhoni 3