Over two decades I have been to countless “Maldivian Nights” at resort restaurants, but none so extensive as Makunudu’s lavish and authentic spread. Sometimes “Maldivian Night” is primarily little more than a bunch of reef fish curry. But Makunudu’s included all sort of delicacies and ingredients (the photos here provide a sample of the cuisine on offer). My favourite had to be the Fried Tapioca Chips which I had never sampled in all my years visiting despite being a huge tapioca fan.
If you want to not just wear, but infuse yourself with the blossoming fruit of paradise, then Vakkaru’s Signature Journey at Merana Spa will immerse you in the soothing and regenerative oils of the coconut in nearly every manner imaginable…
· “Our signature treatment at the overwater Merana Spa is a 150-minute immersive full-body journey inspired by the finest natural healing and moisturising elements of the coconut. Treatment includes a 15-minute coconut haircare experience, followed by a coconut and sugar body scrub, milk bath with coconut-based nourishments served during your bath and finally, this unique ritual includes a body massage with steamed coconut shell to leave you feeling relaxed, balanced and rejuvenated.”
This cuckoo for coconuts extravagance actually harkens back to the island’s heritage as a coconut plantation with over 1400 coconut trees before it was made into a resort.
Today the world famous Chelsea Flower Show opens to showcase bouquets and borders of the most exquisite blossoms, but in the Maldives the year round fashionistas feature their own floral displays…
- Eem Nizam and Amaan Nizam (Maldives) – Hideaway Beach [ABOVE]
- Ilona Korinets (Russia) – Medhufushi
- Pamela Reif (Germany) – Velaa
- Hawwa Riyaaza (Maldives)
- Arinka Nazarova (Russia) – Holiday Island
- Alena Omovych (Russia) – Furaveri
- Ketya (Ukraine) – Holiday Island
- Darya Mir (OAE) – Ayada
- Dyna Sarahah (Maldives) – Hulhumale
- Deanna Sallao (Philippines) – Kurumba
- Fatima Almomen (Kuwait) – One & Only Reethi Rah
- Cici Z (Hong Kong) – Bandos
- Oksana Domoratskaya (Singapore) – One & Only Reethi Rah
- Jasmine Rodriguez (USA) – Sheraton Full Moon
- Chloe Lloyd (United Kingdom) – LUX Maldives
- Aala Ahmed (Maldives)
- Dumitrita Butucea (Romania) – Kurumba
- Amarni Skaf (Australia) – Anantara Dhigu
- Barbara Fumagalli (Italy) – Ayada
- Nikolett Németh (Hungary) – Kurumba
- Tatiana Kotova (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
- Adelina Pestritu (Romania) – Sun Island
- Nina Ros (Hong Kong) – Paradise Island
- Sailor Moona (China) – NIYAMA
- Kimi Lein (Germany) – Kuredu
- Delfi Ferrari (Indonesia) – Ayada
- Anastasia Barashkova (Russia) – Constance Halaveli
- Vanessa Dickten (Germany) – Bandos
- Taylor Mega (Italy) – NIYAMA
- Brooke Hogan (Australia) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
- Jenny Jenkins (United Kingdom) – Kurumba
- Belle Lucia (Australia) – LUX South Ari Atoll
- Myra Rali (Italy) – LUX South Ari Atoll
- Mirela Nicoleta (United Kingdom) – Atmosphere Kanifushi
- Olga Estupinan (USA) – LUX South Ari Atoll
- Katya Klep (Russia) – Royal Island
- Marina Chernyshova (Russia) – Maafushi
- Mima (Serbia) – Royal Island
- Alexis Ren (USA) – Ayada
- Alessandra Ambrosio (Brazil) – Shangri–La Vilingili
- Valeriya Samchileeva (Ukraine) – Olhuveli
- Nataliia Degtiarova (Ukraine) JA Manafaru
Taking inspiration from the Maldives is a range maker of jewellery inspired by the tapestry of dappled colours both twinkling across its gentle waters, adorning the schools of tropical fish underwater, and filtering through the canopy of swaying palm trees. Ritika Ravi is part of the St. Regis Vommuli family herself and her visits there sparked her design
- “Ritika Ravi’s jewellery line gives precious stones like polki and sapphires a contemporary, sea-inspired makeover Cartier’s perennial favourite, the stackable rings, meets Gucci’s enamelled and bejewelled ones, but with an Indian aesthetic, in Ritika Ravi’s Ivar Jewellery. The inaugural collection, 10.18, is a combination of gems with white and rose gold, ‘inspired by a vacation to the Maldives’. Ravi used polki (uncut diamonds) and sapphires from Sri Lanka to mimic the crystal clear waters and the many shades of blue of the sea surrounding the tropical island… While she largely retails online, her only brick-and-mortar store is, quite fittingly, at her family-owned The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort.”
Prices range from $300 – $400 and can be bought at her online shop at Ivar Jewellery.
This latest example of “Maldives Inspired Design” has in turn inspired me to add a tag for it.
The Netflix series “Our Planet” is the latest in the David Attenborough wildlife adventures with an increasing emphasis on its fragility and need for preservation. Soneva Fushi introduces a slate of its own budding guides to the natural world of its own little plot of sand in the middle of the ocean with its Change-Maker series and the efforts they are undertaking to preserve this little corner of our planet…
- “Films that highlight how we’re recognising and tackling some of the issues greater than ourselves; told by the Change-Makers of Soneva. These amazing individuals represent everything we stand for – recognising that it’s their role to be part of the positive change we want our planet to see. From Ellie Butler, Soneva Jani’s Marine Biologist tackling ocean plastic to Chef Kevin Fawkes, who creates dishes beyond our wildest imagination with ingredients from our organic garden.”
What is a complete guide to the Maldives without including the underwater wonderland that surrounds every resort? Which is why I introduced features like the Snorkel Spotter and the Dive Site database (over 1800 Maldives dive sites and counting).
I have a particular aesthetic fondness for the colourful dive site charts used to brief dives. Some are slick computer generated cartography while others are rough, smudged sketches. They all have their individual charm and story to tell about the aquatic world you are about to explore. But having curated hundreds of these diagrams, I spotted what has to be my all-time favourite on Instagram last week depicting Maamigili
in South Ari Atoll. I actually had a dive chart for that site in that database (see below), but it was nothing like the oeuvre of the Indico’s Secret dive crew (above).
Oftentimes, the charts focus on depth changes, key positional markers and the occasional resident marine life. This version was all about the latter. A whale shark to be specific. Let’s be absolutely clear here…when you are diving Maamigili, you have one thing, and one thing only in your mind and sights – spotting a whale shark. So rather than faffing around with lots of irrelevant topological features, the dive master simply drew ‘this is what we are jumping in the water for…good luck spotting’.
Inventive electronic gizmos to help you see go to new depths at the Six Senses Laamu reefs where they have introduced underwater ultrasound. No, not another bizarre underwater activity designed for babymooners, but a thoroughly innovative technology to research the gestation of baby mantra rays.
- “The Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) at Six Senses Laamu…facilitated introductions between the creators of the world’s first non-invasive underwater ultrasound scanner and provided a site for field testing…Two years ago, MUI brought together some of the great minds in veterinary technology and challenged them to create a device that could ultrasound scan Laamu’s resident population of reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi). ‘MUI aims to be a marine conservation visionary,” says Marteyne van Well, Six Senses Laamu general manager, ‘One of the ways we’re leading conservation efforts in the Maldives is by providing a platform for discussions on, and the field testing of, this world-first technology.’..IMV Imaging’s Duo-Scan:Go Oceanic is the first ever technology to allow contactless scanning of wild marine animals at depths of up to 98.5 feet (30 meters), while also being portable (the dive rig weighs less than 4.5 pounds (2 kilograms). The aim of bringing this technology to Laamu was to scan wild pregnant reef manta rays in order to study gestation and embryonic development…Laamu is home to 125 reef manta rays, which display courtship behavior during two annual courtship periods: May-June and October-November. Each year the Manta Trust has identified between one and 11 pregnancies…Manta Trust researchers have been field testing the Duo-Scan:Go Oceanic in Laamu for the past year and a half. Over this period, they successfully developed approach methods and obtained ultrasound scans of wild pregnant and non-pregnant reef manta rays.”
Cocoon’s distinctive “design resort” has filled its island with its own tree centrepieces with more contemporary aesthetic in its innovative new artistic lighting installation.
- “The resort has been furnished in a tasteful contemporary Italian style by leading design company, Lago. The project is inspired by Tomaso Schiaffino, Art Director of Bellaria Design, an individual who focuses on innovation and unique design. ‘Tree of Light’ is made up of real lighting installations that took 2 years to design due to its sophistication. Each model requires 85 custom parts and the lastest-gen LEDs.”
If you are into the arboreal aesthetic, especially the indigenous palm thatch vibe, then you will find it pervasive at Makunudu. Not only are the villas covered in the traditional thatch, but virtually everything on the island that have any type of cover – trash bins, air conditioning units, lamps, swings. Even the partitions are made of palm thatch.
I’ve often described the Maldives as that iconic plot of sand in the middle of the ocean with a palm tree on it. At Vakkaru, you can dine at your very own homage to this icon at its banquet table at its Isoletta restaurant complete with its very own arboreal canopy (thanks Paola).