When we were first considering going to the Maldives two decades ago, our friends described their trip and how they were on their resort island and saw another even smaller island across the water. They waded out a bit further to get a better look and before long they hade waded all the way across the lagoon to it (Rihiveli Beach). This one anecdote stuck in my mind more than others and seemed to capture the plot-of-sand-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean vibe more than any other illustration of the Maldives.
Since, then I’ve been on the constant lookout for miniscule islands as a part of the distinctive Maldivian aesthetic. With this post, I’ve even introduced a tag for it, “Mini Island”. The latest is this little sandbank with a touch of greenery and a small thatched cabana at The Residence Dhigurah. With the jetty passing so near, it might just be the closest of the detached mini-isles (thanks Francisco – long time fan of the original “mini island” at Rihiveli).
With the help of MIT, the Maldives are looking for some “homegrown” islands themselves. A study taking place at Taj Exotica, is investigating ways for islands to build themselves: “MIT’s bold plan to save the Maldives–and the world”. Ocean currents notoriously strip shorelines and sandbars taking their material away. The “Growing Islands” Self-Assembly Lab is looking at ways to turn that ocean force to advantage, but instead to get it to deposit sands onto the islands to build them up.
People often ask about the most authentic Maldivian island. A number of resorts are inspired by Maldivian tradition and local aesthetic, but by and large the resorts are enclaves of landlubber creature comforts shipped in. In fact, even the famous water villas were a concept imported from Bali. But “Nature’s Paradise” resort, AaaVeee, is really the ultimate “Maldives paradise” for sheer indigenous authenticity. Most everything on the island was made on the island, by islanders from materials from the islands.
For example, the stools in the bar are carved from a single coconut tree trunk (see photo above). And I have already written about their distinctly traditional Maldivian “koari” throughout the island (see photo below) and even its tradition breaking local snorkel guide.
Fashionista foreigners are the only style icons gracing the Maldives fashion-scape. Next Top Model has arrived in the country with the grand final hosted by resort Hudhuranfushi. Maldives Insider reported on the gala event which was dominated by beauty originating from these islands renowned for beauty with not just models, but also local designers displaying their style and flair:
“The top 10 contestants awed judges and invitees at the grand finale held at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi resort. Jamsheedha along with Dheena Aboobakur, Nadhuha Amir, Mariyam Malsa Hassan, Hanan Mohamed Rasheed, Bunaanath Yoosuf, Aminath Saina Ahmed, Fathimath Mirusha, Hawwa Inasha Gayyoom and Khadhyjath Shafeega wore beachwear by local designer Wimla and evening wear by Azu, while Yumna Rushdhee’s YR Collection of jewellery also made an appearance. The 19-year-old Jamsheedha, whose dream is to become a pilot, won the local edition of Top Model of the World franchise, securing the chance to represent the Maldives at the grand finale of Top Model of the World 2018 to be held in Grenada in September.”
Design is about creating a feeling with ingredients. Some might consider a carpet at a Maldives resort an unnecessary extravagance. The typically stone floors feel cooler to the touch in the hot climate so why spring the expense for something so seemingly extraneous. Well, it’s all part of the Velaa vibe which is possibly the most homey of any resort we have been too. Which is not surprising since the very genesis of the resort was as the resort owner’s private vacation home that eventually grew to a resort in its own right.
Most hotel properties try to get by with spartan décor to cut costs. This approach is why do many hotel rooms seem to sterile and uninviting even if they are done with panache and style. Velaa’s villas feel like someone’s home you are visiting. Only at a home would you put so much care into adding so many details which I’ve highlighted before. The rugs are not cheap industry bulk buys, but really elegant orientals that add a distinctive touch of style as well as warmth.
As the football season winds down caped by Liverpool’s win last night, more and more footie stars are heading to the Maldives for some post-season recuperative therapy. Bunyamin’s legendary feed is packed recently with star players invading paradise over the past week.
If they start to miss kicking around the ball, then the most idyllic venue would be Kandima’s seaside pitch. Kind of evokes the luxurious coastal cachet of AC Monaco’s Stade Louis II (while the infrastructure is undoubtedly more modest, one could argue that the scenery is even better). Yes, most of the players are resident staff, but guests are always welcome to join in. Most of the time, these football grounds are sequestered in the interior of the island in the staff area. But Kandima has kindly situated its pitch right by the beach. So for the spectators, if the match gets boring (like most of last nights Champions League final), they can always gaze out on the picturesque ocean. Of maybe, amble over to the adjacent badminton court with the same seaside positioning some racquet fun.
Everyone will be clamouring for the best seat in the house (or pub) to watch the culmination of the football season with the Tottenham vs. Man City Champions League game today (though it will be tough to match the excitement of the semis which got them both here). Fortunately, at Hurawalhi, all the guests are treated to a fine view of the periodic staff matches. Unlike most resorts, the pitch is not segregated in the back out of sight in a sequestered staff area, but front and (literally) center (of the fitness facilities) that makes it all the more encouraging for guests to join in or watch. And the grounds themselves are as high standard as the 5-star property itself with state of the art flood lit astro turf.