I may not be a Victoria Secret model, but Medhufushi give me my own paradise photoshoot perch. Now’s the time we are putting together our holiday greeting card with photos from the year’s high points (which every Maldives trip tops). No need to be clamouring over palm trees for that tropical shot when you have a convenient seat-sized one handy. Appropriate for swimsuits or evening wear.
When you first start diving, the big bold animals are the most alluring – sleek sharks, hovering turtles, soaring mantas. Over time, you start to get more enchanted by the more elusive creatures – tiny nudibranchs, camouflaged stone fish, hidden octopi. The dive becomes more of a treasure hunt than a safari.
One of the classic, masters of disguise is the leaf fish. If your bucket list includes one of these elusive creatures, then one treasure map is provide by Alexander Von Mende who points us to Mafzoo Giri in the Gaafu Alifu atoll: “You will find a large coral block at around 15m that hosts no less than six residing leaf fish behind a dizzying wall of glass fish.” And if you want the most convenient access, the closest resort is Ayada.
Black Friday and the American Christmas shopping season has started. Thanksgiving yesterday serves as sort of a starting pistol for the Yankee yuletide season. While there are plenty of impatient transgressions, it’s generally considered a bit of poor form to decorate, play carols or otherwise engage in Krimbo merriment until after sleeping off an excess of poultry consumption.
EVERYONE comes home for Thanksgiving. More so than for Christmas. Hence the term “Homecoming” (as in “Homecoming Queen”) which is the big, local school football game where everyone gathers to see friends who have also returned and to build up an appetite while the turkey is cooking at home. As a result, the Friday after (Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday) is nearly always taken off from work. So you have a house full of relatives and a day off. What to do that everyone will enjoy? A trip to the Mall to start Christmas shopping! Also, it’s helpful that everyone is around to help find things everyone wants, check sizing, etc. Hence the near hallowed tradition of “Black Friday” emerged as savvy stores scrambled to grab as much of this early spend from the Christmas fund as possible. Their promotions and marketing just stoked the mania even further till you get the consumer madness we see today.
If you are looking for a present for me, one of the nicest items we saw this summer was Finolhu’s signature ice bucket with a powder blue explorer-chic design. It evokes Alviero Martini’s “Premiere Classe” fashion line (that Lori and I have several pieces of). The resort also features tissue boxes, toiletry boxes and other items and amenities, but the ice bucket is for sale at the shake shack for $200. Dear Santa…
It’s not just the fashionistas, but also the fashion itself that needs a good wash. With the sun-drenched sweat, salt-water spray, and copiously applied suntan lotion, clothes are lucky to last a full day in the tropical conditions. Then you have a variety of outfits from snorkelling swimwear (suit and rashguards), lounge-by-the-pool wear, to some breezy comfort clothes for drinks and dinner time.
Most resorts do offer laundry services, but that can start to add up in costs. You can hand wash some underwear in the sink with some hand soap, but it’s a faff, takes forever to dry and doesn’t come out fluffy fresh. It sounds silly but one thing that we missed the most on our longest stay (17 days) was a washing machine to do some laundry. If only we were at Club Med Kani, they offer a complimentary laundry facility with washers, dryers and ironing all at your convenience.
Innie, outie and innie/outie. Dual indoor and outdoor showers have become pretty much table stakes at the five-star properties. A few of the higher end properties have introduced the drench waterfall showers. But Amilla Fushi and Finolhu not only feature the drench showers, but also have a triple shower combo with outdoor showers on both the front and back decks.
I’ve always wondered why the Maldives resorts didn’t use more Maldivian artists for room décor. I’ve come across so many impressive talents in my decades of Maldives visits. Their renditions of the Maldivian vignettes are as personal as they are authentic. But my favourite of all resort artwork are the commissioned room paintings for the Summer Island resort revamp.
When I entered my the first room on my resort tour this July, I was stunned by the abstract painting over the bed (see below). It had captured the paradise parfait of colour that define the vistas from any point on any island. White sand, turquoise lagoon, azure ocean, green island, robin’s egg blue sky. This distinctive striation inspired my own graphic design in the header to this blog (see top of page). Also, you can see it in the header picture of the Maldives Complete Facebook page.
Every room has its own unique piece. And the “Do Not Disturb” signs for the door were similar crafted. All the work was done by an in house artist.
Mastery in the master bedrooms.
The Maldives keeps developing and getting better and so, we hope, does Maldives Complete. The latest refinement injects an extra bit of authentic Maldivian style and flair to the site with the contributions of up-and-coming artist Aima Musthafa (see photo below) who has redesigned its logo and design palette.
I’ve admired Aima’s work since I first discovered her in the “Cool Women” piece. I’m honoured to have been her very first customer and proud owner of her triptych “Raalhu Girl” (“Raalu” means “wave” in Dhivehi). After going abroad for some art and design studies, she has returned to her home shores to ply her creative brush and was recently was showcased in Kandima’s artist collective.
The Maldives Complete brief was to infuse the look with colour and culture of the Maldives it represented. I wanted to add the Dhivehi words for “Maldives Complete – “Furihama Dhivehi Raajje”. So Aima selected a font that would work well in both languages capturing the dynamic fluidity of the Dhivehi characters.
Part of what drives to me to this hobby is the escapism of immersing myself into the Laccadive world even though I am hunkered down five thousand miles away in damp, chilly England. I’ve always crafted the site to be saturated with local imagery so using it would be like a digital visit to this paradise. I have always used a collection of colours that evokes the vibrant tropical and aquatic tapestry of the destination. Aima formalised this palette some colours more carefully aligned in tone and complementarity (see her notes below). She then blended the native colours into a design similarly melding familiar shapes and forms. The result is a striking new emblem for all complete Maldives appreciation.
The new logo has also been an opportunity for a general cosmetic tidy-up to the site as I had to touch so may main pages. I have aligned some of the graphical elements more precisely and used Aima’s colour palette in place across the pages.
In many places, being “close to the airport” is seen as a negative. The new Mercure Maldives Kooddoo actually boast its aeronautical geography with its press releases announcing: “Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort is the first ever water villa resort built on an airport island in Maldives.”
Kooddoo is an airports like Heathrow with jumbo jets roaring in and rattling the rafters every 30 seconds. Instead it gets one or two flights a day from relatively small planes. The infrequency makes it more of an event than a disturbance (“De plane, de plane!” – Tatoo, Fantasy Island). On the positive side, it makes for an incredibly convenient outside-Kaafu transfer. For most distant resorts, you can either take a seaplane that will land at your resort but many consider very loud inside and too small and cramped for some people’s liking (not to mention expensive). Or you can take small jet planes to an increasing number of mini-airports around the country, but then you still have one more transfer by speedboat to finally get to your resort. At Kooddoo, you have the comfort and cost-savings of a conventional flight and when you touch down, you are just a short buggy ride to your villa.
At the WTM, each country invests all sorts of creativity and panache into their booths to stand out from the crowd as agents and operators mull what trips to send their clients on. But no Excursion Desk in the Maldives, where you go to decide what trips you want to go to during your stay, have the flair of Finolhu’s pink microbus. All part of the resort’s retro chic vibe.