“The South Ari Atoll hotel is working to eliminate all plastics on the property by January 2020, which isn’t an easy feat considering the resort encompasses two islands, 11 restaurants and bars, and two spas. You won’t find individual butter or Nutella packets in the morning buffet; instead, the hotel buys the products in bulk and has a machine portion them out. Mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner have been replaced with large refillable dispensers in the bathroom. Plastic straws have been ditched in favor of biodegradable ones. And more changes are afoot: the Conrad will swap out plastic keycards for wooden alternatives, metal water bottles will be given out to guests and recyclable boxed water will accompany those heading out on excursions.”
This bold initiative is just one of so many cropping up in the Maldives that I’ve now added a “Plastic” tag on the blog for all the posts about plastic reduction initiatives.
A multitudinous school of freedivers took to the Maldives’ water near Baros to set a new world record for group freediving. The MMPRC reported:
“Maldives goes on Guiness World Record for the most people freediving simultaneously, with 520 participants on Tuesday, 1 October 2019. The small island nation renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and luxury hospitality broke the world record previously held by Italy; ‘La Scuola del Mare 2’ (Verona), in Torri del Benaco, Verona with 280 people.”
For the biggest banquet under one roof (and even out from the roof) Olhuveli’s main restaurant seats a glutinous 600 guests. The island only has 164 rooms (so approximately 350 guests at any time), but some staff eat there and the extra capacity gives diners more choices about where they want to eat. For example, they might want to enjoy the extensive outdoor deck seating on a lovely evening or afternoon. But if the squalls are passing through, they might prefer the cover of inside area. Plenty of choice on seating and an equally expansive range of buffet options and stations.
For a banquet of choice across the island, Sun Siyam Irufushi offers 14 different dining outlets as well as range of destination dining (room service, beach dinners). This smorgasbord of culinary collection eclipses the previous high water mark held by Kurumba (10). Their website has a page about each dining venue that includes a video tour of every one.
For a full on Maldivian banquet, Maldivian cuisine fused with even more Maldivian cuisine (and a touch of Sri Lankan accompaniment for good measure), steel your belly for Heritance Aarah’s 13 course Laccadive extravaganza at its Ambula restaurant:
“13-course journey in contemporary Sri Lankan and Maldivian fare at Ambula, dining on curried garlic lobster kottu, oxtail broth and seared tuna thiyal, accompanied by a delicious Colombard wine.” (CondeNast Traveller)
A fusion closer to the Maldivian home is Soneva Fushi’s “Tastemaker” who combines Laccadive flavours with a range of Asian flavours drawn from his travels in the region:
“Maldivian born and bred, Chef Sobah is considered one of the pioneers of his islands’ rich culinary heritage. As a child, his family’s main source of income was from fishing, and he would help his parents sun-dry and smoke the daily catch. Today, Chef Sobah draws upon the traditional techniques of Maldivian cooking in his Soneva Fushi restaurant, Sobah’s, the first restaurant in the Maldives to offer authentic Maldivian fare with a contemporary twist.”
I’ve added a tag for “Fusion” with this post as so many of the top properties are distinguishing their fare with the flai of inventive combination.
Fusion is a fun way to blend diverse flavours and culinary traditions for exciting new tastes, but LUX North Male Atoll’s INTI restaurant is probably the most diverse combo we have come across – Japanese and Peruvian.
Before you think someone just threw a couple of darts at a map, it turns out that Japan and Peru have a longstanding cultural connection. Peru was the first Latin American country to have diplomatic relations with Japan in 1873. At the end of Peru’s War of the Pacific in 1884, the Chinese worker population had been greatly reduced and there was big demand for farming labour. Then when the First Sino-Japanese War ended in 1895, the Japanese economy was crippled and young farmers started looking overseas for opportunities. Rumours of gold, mild climate, rich soil and similar seafood cuisine added to the allure and influx.
LUX describes the establishment: “Savour octopus with black olive mayo, Tiradito breads and smoky guacamole – or take in a five-course fresh fish Cerviche tasting. Sip on an iced Peruvian beer, warm sake or Pisco sour as the smells and sounds of Peru and Japan stir the sensory feast.” We enjoyed a sumptuous meal which did meld the delicate traditions of Japanese sushi with bolder flavoured ingredients like the purple maki (see above).
The name “INTI” is the name of the Inca sun god. The décor of the dining area is a collection of suns – fusing the icon of sun god, “Land of the Rising Sun” and, of course, the Maldives’ own sun-infused splendour (where modern day sun worshippers flock).
If you want to get dressed up for Japan Day today, then Joali provides elegant his and hers kimonos in every room. Accompanied by matching rattan Japanese sandals, they were designed South African designer Admore.