Various martial arts provide not just a form of fitness to train the body, but also a discipline which trains the mind as well as a provide a range of skills for self-defence. One is particularly timely for the global “Black Lives Matter” movement which has been catalysed by police violence to minorities in recent times. All sorts of political pundits and advocates have weighed in with their analyses, but I was particularly impressed with Sam Harris’ proposition that a large part of the problem is due to inadequate training of officers. In this recent “Making Sense” podcast, “Police Training & Police Misconduct” he talks to Rener Gracie is a third-generation member of the legendary Gracie Family credited with creating the self-defense system known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu about how the discipline can transform policing.
The art is perhaps also appropriate in the destination of the Maldives where the citizens are of a smaller stature. BFF is distinctive in its ability for a smaller person to neturalise a larger adversary. Jiu-jitsu came to international prominence in martial arts circles when Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Royce Gracie (Rener’s uncle) won 3 of the first 4 Ultimate Fighting Championships fighting against mostly larger opponents proficient in other fighting styles. BJJ has since become an core aspect o Mixed Martial Arts.
I had never heard of Brazilian Ju-jitsu (or “BJJ”) until I visited Hard Rock Maldives last year and saw “The Red Mat” facility. It is a training area specifically for the BJJ training they have brought to the resort. It was introduced to Hard Rock by its General Manager Tolga Unan who studied the discipline in China. Offering daily jiu-jitsu sessions for staff and guests, Hard Rock is the first 5-star jiu-jitsu resort in the world. All resort instructors are purple belts. If you’re a member of a jiu-jitsu Certified Training Center, then Hard Rock has a special discount package offer.
For a scent that is not just reminiscent of the Maldives experience, but evokes your Maldives experience, Amilla’s Javvu spa features its own “Alchemy Bar”. There you can concoct your own magic potions to conjure up the golden moments from your visit. You are guided by a recipe book that shares its properties and other information about it (see sheet on “Moringa” below). Many of the ingredients are grown right on the island.
“It’s an interactive laboratory where we teach our guests to make their beauty potions and bath products, so it brings a special touch to their experience. During lockdown, the first thing we made was a bath sachet from herbs like lemongrass and neem growing on the island, then we started making our own sea-salt. Then from the dried herbs we realised we could make powders. From there realised can make face masks, teas and more – the possibilities are endless. There were only seven of us ladies working on the island, so we used to have our own girls’ nights with our own homemade face masks, moisturisers, hair masks etc. We even made our own deodorant because we were running out of it in the shop! It’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used, I swear. I’ve been using it since my garden work and it really works, nobody was running away from me!”
The sense of smell is supposed to be the most evocative of all our senses for memory and emotion. The Maldives itself will provide an olfactory smorgasbord from salty sea breeze to tropical coconutty delights. LUX North Male sought to distil and bottle these scent sensations by enlisting “world renowned aromatherapist” Shirley Page to develop a special range of essential oils for the resort. Page had a residency at LUX for three months where she refined the collection testing the oils for the Maldives conditions and alignment with feel. The end results are provided to all guests in their rooms. Also, the spa offers a range of signature treatments using these oils perfumed with the essence of the Maldives.
“The Maldives have long been the crossroads of the world, where cultures meet, and where explorers, traders and pioneers from a myriad of different cultures have weighed anchor and helped to define the extraordinary culture and heritage of the islands. This unique attraction space, covering 500 square metres, uses stunning designs and interactive displays to explore the Maldives rich history, marine biodiversity and how local arts and crafts have shaped the islands’ unique cultural identity. This unforgettable educational experience works closely with the local community to promote their way of life and showcase the handicrafts of this remarkable island nation.”
The exhibit is a proper professional museum with slick presentation and exhibits of everything above and below the water. We received a tour of this interactive and artistic gallery by its manager Iyran. It is so packed with educational displays that even local Maldivian school children visit it.
If you do find yourself staying for an extended period or are just looking for some other project to embrace in the final months of lockdown, then why not learn the local language of the Maldives, Dhivehi? I reached out to the stars of this fun and helpful vlog, Kate and Hambe, who gave Maldives Complete an exclusive interview about their project:
What prompted you to make the Dhivehi lesson video? – I personally couldn’t find a strong source for learning Dhivehi online, so I thought, why not create online lessons with both a fluent Dhivehi speaker and non-Dhivehi speaker? I thought this would ease the learning and through bite-sized and theme-focused lessons that are around 5 minutes each, we hope to provide a quick and fun learning experience!
What’s your favourite Dhivehi word or phrase?– I like the phrase “iru ossey manzaru varah reethi” which means “the sunset is very beautiful”.
Can Kate read Dhivehi too?– I am learning how to read, it takes more time and practice. We would potentially start writing lessons in the future too.
Are there any special sounds in the Dhivehi language (that might be a bit unfamiliar to a new speaker)? – Not that I can think of. Most of the syllables / vowels are the same sound and it is quite a basic language with little complications.
What do you do for your day jobs? – Hambe and Kate are both working as freelancers, in the aim of putting aside enough time for Maldives Secrets to truly blossom as tourism starts to pick up in the Maldives over the next few months. Hambe is a musician and Kate works in Marketing and by being based in Hulhumale, they have the flexibility of being able to travel easily to all islands in the Maldives.
What are your top 3 tips for choosing a guesthouse? / What is your top tip for choosing a guesthouse? – The Island: When choosing a guesthouse, it’s important to understand the island you’ll be staying on. With thousands of islands in the Maldives, it may seem challenging to pick the right one… but trust me, there is definitely a local island that will suit your needs. Head to Dhigurah for the once in a lifetime experience of swimming with whale sharks, or explore the lush agricultural farms of Thoddhoo… Or go to the eco-friendly paradise of Hanimadhoo in the very north of The Maldives and do yoga every morning on the beach. These experiences are tailored to the island you’ll be staying on… so pick wisely!
How well do people who run guesthouses speak English? – Usually very well, Maldivians in general tend to have a good level of English as it is a requirement to learn it at school.
What are the most useful phrases when staying at a guesthouse or visiting a local island?
What type of food would you like?: Koaccheh kaan beynumi?
I want to try Maldivian food: Aharen kaan beynumi dhivehi keun
No spice: Miroos naala
A little spice: Kuda kuda koh kulhikoh
A lot of spice: Varah kulhikoh
Can we have the bill?: Bill genes dheebah?
Where are the toilets?: Koba fahana?
Food is great: Varah meeru
I need some water: Aharen fen fodheh beynun
Thank you for the service: Varah bodah shukuriyyaa
While yesterday’s long awaiting press conference by the British government on the COVID lockdown roadmap didn’t provide a clear reassurance that foreign travel will resume in May, the overall gist was extremely positive. The Prime Minister said he remained “hopeful” about sticking to the roadmap, but also admonished everyone to not “underestimate the challenges”. A further update is expected next week and much speculation exists around a return to the “traffic light” system of different protocols for different countries. Fortunately, the Maldives is one of the destinations that meet the criteria for the “green” travel corridor with its high penetration of vaccination and low/declining incidence of COVID.
If you want to play it extra safe for fear of the rules changing mid-holiday or some other eventuality hitting which might frustrate your timely return, then Sun Siyam has introduced a quarantine guarantee at its Olhuveli and Iru Veli resorts. Maldives Insider resports:
“Sun Siyam Resorts, the luxury Maldivian hotel and resort brand, has introduced a first-of-its-kind offer at two of its resorts: free quarantine for Indians staying at Sun Siyam Olhuveli and Sun Siyam Iru Veli. The offer, available for stays in March and April, will enable Indian travellers to visit the two resorts without having to worry about extra costs involved in mandatory quarantine if they test positive for Covid-19. Most airlines and destinations require a negative PCR test result, so tourists have to undergo testing before their departure from the Maldives. If they test positive, they have to quarantine for 14 days. In cases where guests test positive for Covid-19 during their stay at Sun Siyam Olhuveli or Sun Siyam Iru Veli, they don’t have to worry about paying for their quarantine; the resort will cover accommodation and other necessary expenses for the entire duration of government-mandated quarantine.”
The Nautilus is the only resort to offer all guests a “CIP” (Commercially Important Person) arrival provide welcoming right at their parked private chartered jet or international commercial flight at Male airport. These guests also get to relax in the VIP lounge while immigration and baggage are organised avoiding the queues at the immigration hall.
Maldives resort Oprefooshi has combined the top two reasons to visit this bucket list destination – honeymoons and snorkeling – into a single, once-in-a-lifetime experience: Snorkel Wedding.
Couples are provided with a Snorkel-Guide/Wedding-Officiant. Unlike underwater weddings (which have been conducted at various resort), snorkeling allows the bride and groom to share their vows by actually speaking to each other (while treading water). Why have a seaside wedding when you could be *in* the sea?? And you don’t require special training and certification to opt for this nautical nuptials (in fact, if you are a weak swimmer, the property has a special wedding dress with buoyancy aids sewn into the garment (which also add a special buxom look for your wedding photos).