The first principle to saving the planet is personal responsibility and no resort fosters more than Medhufushi with their inspired guest “contract” of “behaviour rules”. When I coached rowing at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, the programme introduced a very similar contract for all the athletes to sign. It put down on paper important responsibilities and forced everyone to give it more than a fleeting consideration as they were putting their signatures on it.
One of the biggest obstacles to a more sustainable lifestyle is people simply not knowing the adverse impacts some seemingly innocuous activity can have. One of the most prominent examples is STANDING ON THE CORAL. To the uninformed, lots of coral can appear like simply underwater rocks. But despite their stony exoskeleton, they are indeed living animals (not even plants) and standing on them hurts them and can kill them.
Even if you aren’t checking into Medhufushi, their guest rules is a handy guide to do’s and don’ts anywhere in the Maldives:
Dear guest, please acknowledge the following rules. It is for your own safety and enjoyment, and they will help Medhufushi Resort to preserve its natural beauty. Any failure in following these guidelines will incur in a fine of 300 USD.
- Do not touch or chase the animals, including marine creatures such as sngrays, turtles and crabs.
- Do not feed the animals, including fish and sharks. (There is a fish feeding session organized by the hotel for all guests at 21:00hrs every evening)
- It is not permied to catch, kill and eat animals.
- Do not pick up coral or shells. Do not damage them.
- Do not cook any kind of food in the room ‐ kindly contact the Front Desk for any special requests.
- During snorkeling excursion, please, Do not stand or walk on the coral ‐ it is a delicate living creature that takes several hundreds of years to grow and it is the very foundaon of the beauty.
- There is no lifeguard on duty, snorkeling and swimming is at your own risk. Please make sure you are using the proper safety equipment.
- Each accompanying parent is deemed responsible for the safety and behavior of their children.
Earth Day today. Time to give back to the planet that gives us all so much. In the Maldives, probably the biggest initiative to strengthen the planet are the reef building initiatives to restore coral stressed by rising sea temperatures as well as outbreaks of COTS. Dozens of resorts invest in these reef regeneration projects, but I’ve never seen so many different approaches than Summer Island.
I’ve already written about their submerged Underwater Objects as well as their Coral Pops. They have also built a series of artificial reefs, the most recent being 15m x 2m x 4m constructed out of limestone rocks. Their latest innovation is a series of Coral Ropes. These serve as a coral nursery to incubate coral growth. Less than 2.5% die, and the ones that live are transplanted to the new artificial reefs:
- “Three pipes are completely winded in rope (needed over 500 meters) and 2 in fishing nets that were removed from the surrounding reefs. The plateau is hovering (we placed buoys inside the pipes) and it’s 6 meters long & 2 meters wide. The pipes are full of Durban dancing shrimps, Bruun’s cleaning partner shrimps and banded boxer shrimps. In between the ropes we already fixed a lot of coral fragments that are all alive AND growing ! Basically a home for a lot of life and we made it hovering so that if there were any crowns of thorns, the corals won’t be eaten by these damn creatures ! Underneath are limestone rocks where lion fish and octopii are hiding.”
Viki Odintcova, Irina Dreyt and Galina Dub all Instagramming from Reethi Rah last month
“Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas Voted Most Instagrammable Hotel in the World” according to Luxury Travel Advisor. That the Maldives tops is the world in photo blogging is no surprise. Nor is the selection of Kihavah in the online poll. It’s one of my favourites and its sparkling white necklace of talcum soft beach plus the combination of upper deck elevation at its “Sky” bar and the undersea perspective of its “Sea” restaurant provide a wealth of Kodak Photo Spots to selfie from.
But opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate especially online ones. All sorts of biases and skews come into play. So a more interesting question is “What is the most Instagrammed resort?” At least in the Maldives, the Maldives Complete fashionista database has some pretty comprehensive information applicable to this question. Tracking the top fashionshoot models, travel bloggers and celebrities and their Instagram posts for two years now, I have some pretty solid data about which resort attracts the posts with the most Followers.
There are two different parameters we can look at with the data available:
- Most Instagrammers – One & Only Reethi Rah: Which resorts have attracted the most Instagrammers (prominent ones which are usually over 10,000 Followers as a cut off). Reethi Rah maintains its long established distinction as a top haven for celebrity guests. It rises above the others in that it is the only resort to have a top 5 spot in both “Instagrammers” and “Instagram Followers” (#4).
- Most Instagram Followers – Velaa: Which resorts have attracted the most aggregate Instagram Followers (based on the Instagrammers who have posted from there). Velaa snatches the top spot primarily on the strength of Jennifer Lopez’ 69m Followers. But even without JLo, Velaa would still command a medal position 3rd place. Given that Velaa (and Cheval Blanc Randheli) make a top 5 with a very modest number of Instagrammers in total indicates that they are a lure for the big hitters.
Today is the UK Blog Awards. Maldives Complete overlooked unfortunately, but at least my comrades are starting to rise to prominence. Male travel bloggers are nowhere near the order of magnitude of number of popularity of the female ones, but I am starting to see a distinct rise in the numbers. When I first started covering the fashionista set nearly two years ago, I could only find a handful of men bloggers visiting the Maldives. Today I can share 4 times that number. It’s still quite paltry compared to the hundreds of women posting from paradise regularly. Still, the award for Most Improved Presence has to go Men Blogging in the Maldives…
- Sebastian Maximiliano (Canada) – Soneva Fushi
- The Benefit (Australia) – Club Med Kani
- Diego El Glaoui (France) – Shangri-La Villingili
- Marco Ferrero (Italy) – Cocoon
- Gonzalo Gastón Sánchez (Spain) – Four Season Landaa Giraavaru
- Bobsky Siquian (Philippines) – Paradise Island
- Marco Nardone (United Kingdom) – Dhigali
- Sergio Filho (Brazil) – Adaraan Hudhuranfushi
- Hugo Rosas (Sweden) – Kuredu
- Tom Tom (Netherlands) – Kandima
- Ahmad Jad (Jordan) – One & Only Reethi Rah
- Federico Antonetti (Italy) – Centara Grand
- Jamie Smedley (United Kingdom) – LUX South Ari Atoll
- Antonio Savarese (Italy) – Sun Aqua Vilu Reef
- Raffaele Schiazzano (Italy) – Sun Island
- Aymerick (Spain) – Shangri-La Villingili
- Vladislav Steshenko (Russia) – Plumeria
- Mikael Daez (Philippines) – Maafushi
- Giorgio Merlino (USA) – Kandima
- Rudi Fontana (Brazil) – NIYAMA
- Kevin Trieu (Vietnam) – Six Senses Laamu
- Johnathon Sauer (Australia) – Park Hyatt Hadahaa
- Benny Hancock (United Kingdom) – Ayada
- Miguel Torres (Spain) – Paradise Island
- Kyle Reinneck (USA)
- Kris DM (Philippines) – Velassaru
- Mariano Di Vaio (Italy) – Furaveri
- Marcel Ben-Hassen (Germany) – Finolhu
- Roman Kuznetsov (Russia) – Bodufolhudhoo
- Elias El-Indari (OAE) – Dusit Thani
- Dimash Adilet (Switzerland) – Conrad Rangali
- Chico (Peru) – Vadoo
- Mr Gordon (United Kingdom) – Hurawalhi
- Charlie Irons (United Kingdom) – Park Hyatt Hadahaa
- Will Marcano (France) – Guraidhoo
- Jay Alvarrez (USA) – LUX South Ari Atoll
- Francesco Terzo (Italy) – Robinson Club
- Luca Capassoni (Italy) – Alimatha
- Pagoa Larena (Spain) – Chaaya Hakura Huraa
- Mohamed Riffath (Maldives) – Taj Coral Reef
Planted in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there is never any shortage of subcontinent inspired dishes on the Maldives buffets especially the ubiquitous curry. Reef fish is the obviously the more local staple. But I have never seen such variety in curry variety than I did at Medhufushi. Each night they had no less than 3 different curries. Our first night was beetroot curry, cucumber curry and chicken curry.
I am the Egg Man. Well, the “Eggs Benedict” Man. And if I keep eating rich eggs benedict for breakfast, I will soon be the walrus too. Eggs Benedict Day today (yes, seriously, there is a day for this) and a chance to call out the ultimate luxury breakfast for the ultimate luxury destination – eggs benedict. I’ve had eggs benedict at fine hotels around the world. Velaa shows how little accents can turn something conventional to something exceptional with a special touch. In their case, a sliver of black truffle on top. I have had this breakfast dish at some of the finest hotels around the world, and this one was the most impressive (not even accounting for the bonus of eating it with warm sand between my toes, the sun low over the mill pond still ocean and the palms trees swaying languidly overhead).
In honor of this eggs-ellent day, I’ve added the tag “Eggs” to the site.
Fashion photoshoots are not just the preserve of guests to the Maldives. The Maldives has a wealth of native beauty that extends beyond the paradise backdrop to the very front of the lens. The programme, Top Model, is coming to the Maldives, to showcase some of its brightest faces. It is a sandy catwalk trailblazed by the doyenne of Dhivehi beauty Raudha Aathif (above), the Maldives’ most accomplished model who was tragically murdered as a student in Bangladesh. Maldives Complete had the privilege of getting to know Raudha briefly for one of her few interviews.
But this tiny country has many worthy faces to follow in her footsteps. You can find many on the “Portraits from the Maldives” Instagram feed which is a gallery of elegant and striking portraiture of mostly Maldivian women. Here are perfect ten of other I have come across during my online Maldives research…
- Raudha Aathif (Maldives) – Coco Bodu Hithi [ABOVE]
- Aala Ahmed (Maldives)
- Angie Aminath Fazleena Abbas – Velaa
- Bathool Ahmed
- Eem Nizam – Vilu Reef
- Fathmath Rasha Abdul Haleem – Maafushi
- Juu Juway
- Mariyam Azza – Shangri-La Vilingili
- Reea Arif – Shangri-La Villingili
Last year, I added a new field to the Maldives Complete resort database, “Name Meaning” in Dhivehi, but I thought I would share a synopsis of all of them for Dhivehi Language Day today.
First of all, not all resorts have Dhivehi names. The non-native monikers tend to fall in one of these three categories…
- Brand Name – eg. Ayada, Conrad, Centara Grand, Dusit Thani, LUX, Robinson Club The Residence, W,
- English Names – Tend to be the older resorts, eg. Cocoon, Cocoa, Taj Coral Reef, Equator Village, Taj Exotica, Full Moon, Fun Island, Hideaway Beach, Holiday Island, Lily Beach, Paradise Island, Palm Beach, Royal, Safari Island, Summer Island, Sun Island
- Unknown – Despite some fairly extensive research and enquiries, a number of resorts are simply named after the islands that they are on whose Dhivehi meaning has long been lost, eg. Amari Havodda, Dhigali, Filitheyo, Gangehi, Hurawalhi, Komandoo, Kooddoo, Kuramathi, Kuredu, Maafushivaru, Milaidhoo, Vilamendhoo, Vilu Reef (if anyone does know the etymology of these names, please let me know!)
In my research, my favourite response was from the Assistant Director of Marketing Communications & Social Media at Atmosphere Kanifushi…
- · “Fushi is from a variety of names specifically given to islands depending on their type/formation (eg: fushi, gili, finolhu, dhoo). Fushi is associated with larger islands, with vegetation (as Kanifushi is). The word Kani, is of old Maldivian terminology – there are other islands such as Kanifinolhu etc. its specific meaning varies in context, typically associated with water vapor-like droplets/ salt mist – we assume this may have been because Kanifushi is situated on the edge of Lhaviyani Atoll so waves crash on the Atoll Reef on the islands South-East side and caused quite a bit of salty mist sprayed throughout the day over the island – which however is not apparent at the moment as a resort, but may have been in the past. There is no exact literal meaning of older island names however – especially considering the island has been around for quite some time, however was never fully inhabited by any communities.” – Ali Abdulla
Like the infamous adage that Eskimos have dozens of words for “snow” and the Chinese have a similar lot for “rice”, no surprise that the Maldivians have a multitude of words for subtly different “islands”.
The Maldives Complete list of Dihvehi resort names…
- Amilla Fushi – Island Home
- Anantara Dhigu – Tall
- Anantara Veli – Sand
- Atmosphere Kanifushi – Sea Mist Island
- Centara Ras Fushi – Royal Island
- Cinnamon Dhonveli – Fair Sand
- Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa – Reef Over Water
- Club Med Kani – Large Island
- Constance Moofushi – Root Island
- Dhigufaru – Long Reef
- Embudhoo – Island of ‘Ximenia Americana’ (a plant)
- Finolhu – Sandbank
- Four Seasons Kuda Huraa – Small Island
- Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru – Parrotfish Shifting Sands
- Fushifaru – Reef Island
- Gili Lankanfushi – Small Island in a Lagoon
- Huvafen Fushi – Dream Island
- Iru Fushi – Sun Island
- Kandima – (Boat) Channel
- Kandolhu – (flower found on the island)
- Kanuhura – Corner Island
- Kihaa – Young Coconut
- Kudafushi – Little Island
- Kurumba – Coconut
- Medhu Fushi – Middle Island
- Meedhupparu -“island that someone saw”
- Meeru – Delicious
- Mirihi – Yellow Maldivian Flower
- Nika – Banyan Tree
- NIYAMA – Bon Voyage
- Olhuveli – (type of sand formation)
- Reethi Beach – Beautiful Beach
- Reethi Rah – Beautiful Island
- Rihiveli Beach – Silver Sand
- Soneva Fushi – Island
- Soneva Jani – Wisdom
- Thudu Fushi – The Point Island
- Vakarufalhi – Plank of a Coconut Tree
- Velaa – Turtle
- Velavaru – Turtle Island
- Veligandu – Sandbank