Rugs are rare in Maldives resorts to begin with (Velaa is about the only resort I’ve visited where they feature very prominently), but special distinction to OZEN Reserve Bolifushi for not only displaying one, but doing so in a distinctive way on a distinctive features – the glass floor. Not only does it frame one of the iconic design elements of luxury water villas – the glass floor – but it also conveniently provides a soft surface to sit on if you just want to recline on the floor and watch the sea life through this aerial portal. I also love the simple fish quilted into it.
“Why do I do it” remains the second most frequently asked question about Maldives Complete. When people, especially in industry, discover the site you can see their minds whirring looking for the hitch and trying to figure out where I get my return. As I have discussed numerous times, the site is one big expensive hobby whose many dividends are non-monetary. One I wanted to write about today was the dividend of ‘writing’ itself. And not surprisingly, some of the best articulation come from one of my favourite writers, Seth Godin:
- “And a huge advantage of having a daily blog is that the software is always open, waiting for you to write something. Your story doesn’t have to be a book, it is simply your chance to make a difference.” – “A Place to Write”
- “Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts.” – “The most important blog post”
Finally, I came across this inspired passage from Huit Denim’s company newsletter (thanks Steve) which reflected similar dividends from the process of writing (I especially like the “gym for your mind”).
Writing is thinking.
Writing is a gymnasium for ideas.
Write to learn how to make a good talk great.
Write to learn how to make the complex simple.
Write to learn how to convey a big idea in the fewest words.
Write to learn how to separate the important details of your argument from the noise.
Clear thinking is a genuine superpower.
And here is the best thing, with practice, you get better at it.
The keyboard is a gym for your mind.
Happy 13th Anniversary to Maldives Complete! The past year was a good-news and bad-news year. The good news was that travel has crawled back from the depth of the pandemic. Since my last year’s annual review, we have been to the Maldives twice. The bad news is that such progress has been fitful and often frustrating. Our 2020 trip had to be postponed from its original plan of November to a narrow pre-Christmas window at the last minute when the UK government imposed a late autumn lock-down. Our 2021 trip was optimistically scheduled for our tradition period of July, but had to be shifted to November when the surge of the Delta variant put the Maldives onto the “Red list”. Even then, when we finally got to the Maldives last month, our original itinerary was thrown up in the air when one of our resorts was hit with “monitoring” (when a resort identifies a case of COVID on the island which then imposes major constraints on inter-island movement from that island).
The fits-and-starts nature of the year meant that the Complete-ness of Maldives Complete dipped due to surge of new properties. Also, my research was constrained by COVID (no WTM, limited tours) resulting in the lowest post rate for over a decade. The good news is that our recent trip included Amilla Maldives and Soneva Jani which we both packed with distinctions to add to the 2022 slate for “Best of the Maldives”. Still, the site continued to move forward with new highs in the material and we look forward to resuming more regular service in 2022.
Not all enchanting water creatures in the Maldives are under the water. Soneva Jani has a dazzling display of creatures on the water.
The air above the Maldives is regularly filled with both the colourful plumage of various tropical birds as well as their distinctive songs composing the melody line of uniquely Laccadive soundscape. The songsters are often hidden in the lush foliage, but Soneva Jani has the best place in the Maldives to see not only the water fowl varieties, but also a range of other birds drawn to its expansive mangrove lakes.
Such an avian attraction would be distinctive on its own, but Soneva has gone ahead and made this nature preserve a special feature with an inspired bird blind. First of all, the blind allows guests to get a good view of the flocks of ducks, terns, koels, herons, etc. without disturbing them. Then, for an even better look, the resort has set out a pair of binoculars at the blind for guests to use. And if you do spot a feathered friend that you want to know more about, they have posted an array of laminated bird identification posters (with 80 different birds) for reference. On top of all that, the blind is constructed with characteristic flair with the “wood scrap” aesthetic used at the Crab Shack and elsewhere.
Our butler Aysha told us that she has seen birds there that she has never seen growing up in the Maldives. And while we were there, we spotted a dramatic Glossy Ibis (see photo at bottom).
Maybe this distinction should be “Cutest Bird Resident”. Amilla Maldives not only features a micro-flock of the rare Long Tailed Tropicbirds (more colourfully named “Dhandi’fulhu” in Dhivehi), but the resort island is also a nesting spot for them. We enjoyed watching them darting around the skies with their flowing tail feathers like some sort of mini-Banshee from “Avatar”. Special thanks Khateeb Shaba and Marine Biologist Chiara who captured these pictures of the latest arrival along with proud mom strutting her own tail feathers.