Recognizing their industry partners, Velaa hosted a reception last week at the hip Mayfair venue MNKY House inviting operators, travel writers and travel agents from the area with whom they have been working (including Maldives Complete).
General Manager Mr. Michal Smejc spoke about Velaa’s personal connection to the property. The owner is his brother and the family treat it as a home that they share with guests who want to visit. He outlined their constant process on re-examining what could be improved and making constant re-investment into the island touching on some of the recent enhancements and planned refinements.
Perhaps the most striking testimony to their attention to detail and authenticity were the refreshments served during the evening. I had just assumed that they would be hiring in some caterers for a few tasty canapés, but they actually flew into London their Executive Chef Gaushan de Silva a number of their sous chefs from the resort itself to share their treats with the guests personally.
One of these delicacies was worthy of a “Best of the Maldives” itself – Mini Lobster and Langoustine Burger with Thermidor Aioli and Fried Quail Egg. Sort of a bit-sized lobster egg benedict with bonus flavours. As regular readers will know, I am an aficionado of both lobster and benedict (and Velaa has already distinguished itself with the latter).
Cocoon’s resident artists are the guests themselves. The villa rooms feature superb framed photographs taken around the island. It turns out that they are snaps taken by guest during their stay and posted on Instagram. Cocoon identifies the best ones (sort of the same spirit of how I curate the “Fashion” series here). The resort contacts the Instagramming guest and requests permission and includes a credit to their feed on the photo itself. New pictures are posted to the walls every six months.
Aima Musko and I got way back. When I had just started Maldives Complete and she had just started her career in art. She’s helped me with the website (doing the new logo this past year) and I guess you could say that I helped her as her first customer. I knew that she had been a part of the featured artist series at Kandima, but I hadn’t realised that she had stayed on as an artist-in-residence at the resort until we visited there in July. She caught me up on all the latest and greatest in her artistic exploits as well as her exciting plans for the future. And here in a Maldives Complete exclusive, she is sharing a bit of her creative life on the island of Kandima…
- Which atoll are you from?
G.Dh. Fiyoari (Huvadhoo Atoll) but have always lived in Malè
- What art training have you had?
- Visual Arts in High School at Mahindra United World College of India and Foundation in Visual Communications at The One Academy in Malaysia.
- What is your big frustration as an artist?
- Other than getting easily frustrated as a perfectionist, being limited and restricted as to what can be exhibited here.
- What was the first painting you ever sold (tell us your side of the story)?
- While working at Transparency Maldives in 2011, I was asked to be the artist on a video that was celebrating women and had to make a painting for it. The video “Salhi Anhenun” (Cool Women) was uploaded to YouTube and after a few days I was contacted by the production team saying that they had someone interested in purchasing my painting. I met Bruce at a Cafe in Malè and since that day, I’m so happy to know that my painting has been hanging in his house all the way in UK for the past 7 years!
- What artists have influenced you?
- With Social Media like Instagram, I’m following various artists from all over the world with different mediums and techniques and have been continuously influenced by their styles. However I would say visiting the Art Exhibitions in Malè when I was younger and seeing the works of Artists from Maldives (Afu, Ika and Eagan to name a few) really left a lasting impression on me. Having creative friends and drawing together in school, working in different creative fields.. I’m constantly inspired and influenced.
- What is the biggest misconception about art that you face?
That good art is how realistic you can draw. Also that if you are an artist, you will be good in every aspect of art and the mediums.
- If you could buy one piece of art in the world (money is no object, it could be millions), which one would it be?
A painting by Ika of a Blue lady holding a cigarette that I saw in a house I visited with a friend about a decade ago. It just always stuck with me and I would love to own it for the impact it had on me. The second would be “The Kiss” by Gustavo Klimt.
You can check out her personal online gallery here.
Kurumba reminds us why the Maldives is so chock full of creative and distinctive touches. The destination has turned the simple ritual of decorating a bed (with today’s post I have added the tag “Bed Decorating”) with a few petals into a work of art. Their homage to World Tourism Day is crafting the palm fronds into striking creations evoking the Victorian art of silhouette cutting (thanks Mo).
Hurawalhi has an adjacent island which is has kept quite discrete for the purposes of being discreet (see top right of photo above). Not only is it a very convenient get-away for a private picnic excursion, but also you can use it for your own private drone photoshoot. In fact, you HAVE to use it for an drone photography that you want to do during your stay as drones are prohibited from the resort island itself. This rule was established to protect the privacy and peace (buzzing) of the guests. But the sand bank accommodation is a considerate alternative being offering for people who want to craft their aerial montages (and the Maldives do look quite stunning from above).
If you want to get away from the resort island at OBLU Sangeli, just walk down the jetty. A few resorts join islands with jetties (Anantara Dhigu/Veli, Conrad Rangali), but Sangeli joins their two islands with the water villa jetty. If you are staying in one of the overwater bungalows, then you can choose which island you want to visit.
Possibly the most off site management off-site in the world. Team leaders have been long taking their teams away from the hubbub of the office to escape distractions and reset the mind sets. But what do you do when your workplace is a remote island in a remote part of the world. Well, get even more remote. Like a sand bank in the middle of the ocean. Or the rooftop of a dhoni sailing along that ocean. This how General Manager Raffaele Solferino of Grand Park Kodhipparu gets his resort team’s focused:
- “Among the activities we do at Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives to motivate colleagues and enhance our living together, once per week we do what we call out of the office briefing and we tour departments, facilities and live guest’s experience ourselves to better engage with all what we do and what we want deliver. In today sharing era we do not share only the figures, tools and techniques, but we aim to share our free time on the Island, our living together develops a lifestyle we want share with our guests with dedicated team functioning as best advisor on how to fully enjoy the potential of the Island and the Maldives. The impact is straight on guest and employees satisfaction producing better level of guest’s loyalty and staff retention. The Maldives offer a huge amount of opportunities and inspiring experiences development where the creativity and passion plays a role, putting on offer to customers unique experiences where ‘Making Moments in Time’ is our motto. It’s not always about figures, but the way you want deliver the excellence, a notable fashion house founder once he said: the profit is a consequence of a well done job with passion, quality and creativity. I am still following his vision as inspiration and try my best to influence the team I am leading to deliver a ‘Loving Hospitality’ in line with the company I represent on the market place. Soon we are entering the Environmental Management System where I will be involve directly together with our Marine and Land Biologist, as this is part of my engagement with Maldives and the global Environmental concerns, Therefore we will enter officially the Sustainable tourism practice as a way to look ahead and to the future.”
They say some of the bet ideas come hanging out at the bar. With Kodhipparu, that bar happens to be a sand bar. When I was a senior manager at Microsoft, I had a bit of a reputation for pushing the envelope of adventurous off-sites, but nothing I ever did there compares with Kodhipparu’s retreats. Inspired inspiration.
Talk Like A Pirate Day! Maybe one of the best celebrations on the calendar of esoteric days. The remote tropical patches of sand that are the Maldives are something out of a Robert Lewis Stevenson novel. And there is no bigger pirate treasure for active apprentice pirates than Kandima’s towering galleon at its “Kandiland” kids club. The clipper ship complex comes complete with sun-screen netting, water cannons as well as a rabbit warren of climbing walls and slides.
Shiver me timbers!