#BucketList. No not a trip the Maldives (that bucket is overflowing now). But getting my picture taken with the legendary Bunyamin Ahmed. Being Friends on Facebook, I anticipated the encounter with my own twist on his iconic pose (see below).
The meeting was the sunniest part of a very inclement arrival. Rain was pelting down on Male airport so hard that the Turkish Airlines flight had to divert and wait for it to settle. But like most rainstorms in the Maldives, this was just passing through. In fact, when we passed the airport into the adjacent South Male atoll, the weather was quite sunny. The pilot took a 15 minute loop and tried again for a much smoother landing that we would have had otherwise.
Thus begins Maldives Complete’s 9th annual tour of resorts (our 15 visit to the Maldives overall).
Off to the Maldives again today! Despite being our 9thtour of islands (after this trip we will have stayed at over 90 resort which as far as we can tell is still the most of any one in the world) and our 15th visit there overall, we still are looking forward to seeing so many things that we have not yet seen there in our two decades of visiting. In anticipation, here is my bi-annual list of “Things I Haven’t Seen In the Maldives…Yet (But Probably Should)…
Underwater Concert – Especially for one of the resorts with an underwater restaurant [ABOVE].
Underwater Easter Egg Hunt – Shangri-La Villingilli advertised it in their newsletter, but I’m not sure they ended up doing it as I can find nothing about it on the web and they are not responding to my enquiries. An inspired concept where guest would get different prizes based on the colour of the eggs they discovered like a bottle of champagne or a free spa treatment.
Watermelon Cocktails – One of our favorite items at any Maldives meal is it ripe and juicy watermelon. Now watermelon cocktails are becoming popular so I’d be surprised not to see them at resorts soon.
Floating Mansion Boat – Slick modernistic design, luxury yachts, and spacious mansion-sized villas all a becoming de rigeur in the super premium properties. So only a matter of time when someone puts them all together.
Rooftop Pools – Always a big fan of a bit of an elevated vista especially in this country of such low lying landscape (thanks Paola).
Float Pools – I’ve seen lots of floats in pools, but this is the first time I’ve seen a pool in floats.
Whale Shark Floats – Of all the dozens of floats that launch onto the Maldives lagoons every day for an Instagram snap, how have one (or both) of these whale shark float not migrated there??
Clear Bottom Inflatable Boat – Any clear-bottom boat is a winner in the Maldives to provide a means to observe the subaquatic sensations. This one is particularly stable and safe for the less comfortable swimmers (though only supervised as winds and currents could easily push such an inflatable into the open ocean).
Flexible Wooden Loungers – One of the give-aways to the true quality (regardless of how they have graded themselves) of a property is the quality of the loungers. At the bottom of the scale are the cheap, white, plastic jobs. The more sophisticated resorts have fancier adjustable, wheeled, cushioned wooden loungers. But the crème-de-la-crème looks to me to be this flexible design.
Gyrotonic – We got introduced to this yoga, dance, pilates fusion by our friend Dean in Boston.
Waterfall Table – I love innovative water features and I love creative dining tables. So you can imagine how much I love this creation…
National Tattoo Day today. And the swimsuit attire is a great opportunity to show off all of one’s artistic body ink. If I had a tattoo, I might have to incorporate an Maldives island into it, but if you are short of ideas, then this group of fashionistas has a bounty-ful gallery of possibilities…
The very first resort attribute I tracked was whether a property had a pool or not. Despite being surrounded by mill pond aquamarine lagoons, the kids still enjoyed the sand-free and salt-free water of a pool. Hence I created a spreadsheet so I could keep track of which resorts had pools. Back in the 90s, less than half of the resorts had a pool. Now it is rare for a resort not to have pool and many of the rooms have their own private pools. And it’s not just the kids who love them. The adult crowd of fashionistas love a good dip in the pool as todays’ National Swimming Pool Day collection shows:
Viki Odintcova (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah [ABOVE and BOTTOM Cocoon]
Happy Birthday to Seth Godin. Seth is of my inspirations to the wide range of blogging that I do, the most prominent of which is Maldives Complete here. These days you can’t swing a palm frond without hitting a blogger (especially in the Maldives), but when I started in 2009, the whole medium was quite novel. Seth was one of the first to embrace and extoll the platform and provided lots of tip and insights both explicitly and through example of his own work.
“This is post 7,000” – “The secret to writing a daily blog is to write every day. And to queue it up and blog it. There is no other secret…The discipline of sharing something daily is priceless. Sometimes there are typos. I hope that they’re rare and I try to fix them. Over time, the blog adds up. People remember a blog post a year after I wrote it. Or they begin a practice, take an action, make a connection, something that grows over time. The blog resonates with people in so many fields, it’s thrilling to see how it can provoke positive action. It’s true that I’d write this blog even if no one read it, but I want to thank you for reading it, for being here day after day. It’s more fun that way.”
“Susdat” – “Writer’s block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady. More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don’t feel like it, when you believe it’s not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up. Show up, sit down and type.”
“Gaztelugatxe” – “There’s an island off the coast of Spain that houses a church. The church has 230 steps to the top, and it’s said that it’s worth the climb. What a great expression. Gaztelugatxe can now mean, ‘it’s a lot of steps, but worth it.’ The opposite of fast and easy but worthless.”
The first two posts referenced above talk about ‘daily practice’ and while I may not post every day, I would say that I do something on Maldives Complete every day – respond to emails, update date, investigate leads, research pieces, etc. His thoughts help to express the answer to the 2nd most frequently asked question that I get (the first being “What is the best resort”), and that is “Why do you do Maldives Complete?”.
The biggest sporting event in terms of live spectators starts today. No, not the World Cup (which is biggest sporting event in the world in terms of television viewers). The Tour de France. And the near daily “Tour de Maldives” has a comparably large peloton. Though nearly all Maldives resorts don’t have paved surfaces for proper road cycling. But they do have jetties which it turns out is just as popular a Kodak photo spot as any for the Team Fashionista…
Even with nearly 100 stays in the Maldives, my knowledge of the destination pales in comparison of the travel community whose aggregate experience is many orders of magnitude larger. A while back I did some crude attempts data mining the great store of insight in TripAdvisor reviews and Forum about the resorts most frequently suggested by Destination Experts as well as the resorts most frequently asked about. Those posts are a bit out of date now, but it was still a curious exercise. Now DE’s Stu and Nikki have done their own investigation into the stars of the family properties in the Maldives. They measured the number of reviews that were tagged as “Family” stays as an indicator of popularity for various resorts in the family segment. The results can be found above (with a link to the original document). Not surprisingly, the bottom group is comprised largely of the “Adults Only” (or “Children Restricted”) resorts.
Happy Birthday USA! Americans today will be celebrating with hot dogs, fireworks and of course a parade of stars and stripes. In the Maldives, the old Red, White and Blue is paraded by the fashionista regiment all year round…