Today Earth is celebrating Earth Day to appreciate the special blessing that is this spinning ball of rock and water. Its fragility as a home to humanity and millions of other species has becoming increasingly clearer in recent years and more people are looking for ways to live in harmony with the planet rather than conquering new frontiers. I’ve always described the Maldives as “that iconic plot of sand with a palm tree on it”. The palm tree is very much symbol of marooned life floating in the ocean and palms are indeed the centrepiece of the island ecosystem. And if one island exemplifies and nurtures this Arecaceae appreciation, it is AaaVeee.
There must be more palms trees per square foot than any island I have ever been to. The resort goes to considerable lengths to keep and foster even more. Many of the buildings were simply built around the trees with their trunks sticking through holes in the roof. The main bar has 5 palm trees piercing the rooftop rather than removing them.
In fact, the palm trees themselves do their bit as well. Nazeeh showed me a few seedling “twins” on the island (two trees growing out of a single pod). And the island features a very curious specimen which refuses to shed its fronds when they die (see photo at bottom) creating quite a striking collection of old fronds.
Maldives has always been a celebrity magnet from movie stars to world champion athletes, but there very definition of the term celebrity might just go to recent visitor Kim Kardashian. I’ve covered the top Instagrammers invading this tropical paradise using the Follower count. But the resort marketing directors will be quick to point out that it is all about engagement. And that metric starts with “Likes”. When I consider posts for inclusions in my various “Fashion” collections, popularity is a consideration (ie. a borderline photo with an amazing number of Likes might get included). A few hundred likes is pretty typical for a fine shot even among the more popular fashionistas. Four-figures raises an eyebrow, 5-figures is quite amazing and anything beyond that is quite jaw dropping.
So what it the most popular Instagram post from the Maldives of all time? From what I can determine in my pretty extensive research, it is Kim Kardashian’s “shallow wallow” (a class Maldives pose) Conrad Maldives at with a stratospheric 3,323,466 Likes
The next closest (the only other 7-figure post) I have seen is Kriti Sanon’s (19.2 million Followers) post with 1,289,564 Likes.
Possibly one of the most unexpected “best ofs” in my decade of writing about the Maldives, Jumeirah Vittaveli’s ice rink, just got a bit more so. The resort has opened an ice skating museum! It feature memorabilia from the career of Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko. Maldives Insider covered the opening…
- “Jumeirah Vittaveli has announced plans to open an ice skating museum at the resort’s ice skating rink in honour of Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko. Plushenko will honour Jumeirah Vittaveli with a performance for the first anniversary of the opening of Ice Ice Maybe…, the first eco-friendly artificial ice rink in the destination…Plushenko inaugurated the ice rink on March 20, 2018, and is returning this year for the anniversary celebrations of the ice rink, as well as to launch an Olympic gold medal winner ice skating museum at the ice rink. The museum will showcase costumes and skates from Pushenko’s famous gold medal winning performances.”
For those who don’t think there are cultural activities in the Maldives, I’ve added a new “Museum” tag to the blog (though I wouldn’t go expecting the Smithsonian).
Epicurean extravagance doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a chauffeured odyssey, but can be as simple as an ever so slightly decadent ice cream cone. Well, really decadent in Kuramathi’s case…
- “Savour our new ice cream cup selections and customized cones at The Palm in #Kuramathi #Maldives. With less #sugar, you can now have healthier ice cream and enjoy them (almost) guilt-free.”
”Guilt free”? Who’s feeling guilty?
The ever escalating arms-race for the biggest payload of opulence has tended focus on the venue, namely an underwater room. But Jumeirah Vittaveli’s latest foray onto the battlefield of epicurean extravagance demonstrates that you can have an aircraft carrier scale lavishness of experience even without the subaquatic dining table. This Is Insider reports the details…
- “Those opting for the experience will be picked up from their home by a butler and whisked off to the closest airport to board a private jet bound for the Maldives. A private catamaran will then take you to the resort. Then, on whatever day you choose, a private seaplane will take you to Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous’ [see photo above] island pop-up HIDE restaurant for an exclusive meal. Afterwards, you get to unwind on a private yacht. The experience includes a five-night stay in one of the resort’s new Private Ocean Retreats, which come equipped with winding slides.”
And with a price tag of $50,000, it might just be the most expensive meal “out” in the world. So if the spouse says they don’t particularly fancy cooking tonight, be careful saying “anything you like, honey”.
One of the newest properties, Kudadoo, continues to introduce new features I’ve not seen including a bit drier salty hangout, the Lonu Immersion…
- · “Our Lonu Cave is lined with mineral-rich Himalayan salt that’s more than 1,000 years old and renowned for its healing qualities. Spending time in the salt chamber, breathing in the world’s most healing salt air is the natural way to clear sinuses, your lungs, and ease muscles, before surrendering to the Himalyan salt stone therapy, ensuring you feel completely cleansed and rested.”
Seems to me time to introduce the “Salt” tag for all the spicy offerings amidst this saltwater paradise.
At the other end of the vertical spectrum is Fushifaru’s underwater swing amidst the scuba bubbles on the house reef. Just a stunning a view and breath-taking in quite a different way.
Amilla Fushi has combined two of my recent distinctions – bubble deck and villa tower – for a doubly distinctive bubble tower. The resort describes this new feature as follows…
- “The bubble tent concept is being elevated to a whole new level in the Maldives this year, as luxury resort trendsetter Amilla Fushi debuts its new Skyhouse with Bubble accommodation –tranquil treetop eyries with their own private transparent Bubble, breathtakingly suspended 12 metres up between a canopy of lush palms and the vast Maldivian skies…Encircled by swaying palms, and measuring 4 metres in diameter, the Bubble’s interior will feature custom-fitted wooden floors, a rotating daybed, telescope, Bang & Olufsen soundsystem and bespoke furnishings. A removable cover provides solar protection during the day – and come nightfall, unfettered views of the star-studded heavens above…Conceived and custom-designed by Eye In The Sky, the transparent inflatable Bubbles are constructed with super-strong, high tech polyester fabric using exclusive Précontraint Serge Ferrari® technology. UV-protected, fully waterproof and climate-controlled, the Bubbles create an inspiring environment where guests can enjoy a uniquely immersive, closer-to-nature experience – without compromising on high-spec design and luxurious creature comforts.”
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To get as close to somewhere over the rainbow as possible (and other celestial sights), Soneva Fushi sets a new highwater, well high in the air, mark for an open vista platform. Recently completed its latest villa, the five-bedroom Villa 37. The 11 metre tall viewing tower, reached by a winding staircase encircles a dining table called the Moonlight Table at the summit. This viewing tower is now the tallest point on the island and the ideal spot to take in the panoramic views, sunrises, sunsets, dining experiences and stargazing.