I came across a nifty piece in National Geographic “Five Unmissable Dishes That Define the Maldives”. I’ve sampled 3 of them, but Kulhi Boakibaa, not yet. But if I wanted to, I would head to Riu Atoll where their chef Aritha Fernando not only serves it, but even shares his recipe for you to try at home – “Cooking with love in the Maldives with RIU”:
- “This is a very special dish for our chef, who usually prepares this for her family and she says she has chosen to tell us how to prepare this dish that she is proud to cook on a regular basis for our guests “because it is the perfect blend of traditional Maldivian food and a dash of love. This is not just any old dish but rather one that she learnt from her mother who would cook it for her and her siblings when they were young and it was only once she became a chef that she managed to discover its secret ingredient: a sprinkling of love.”
Part of the adventure in an exotic destination like the Maldives is sampling some of the unfamiliar fare. Not just different recipes, but also different, often home grown, ingredients. Our visit to Soneva Jani featured many less familiar (but not unknown) fruits on their breakfast buffet (like dragon fruit, jackfruit, fresh figs), but it was the first time we came upon a mangosteen (see photo). It is a bit like a lychee and very tasty on some yogurt.
In this increasingly digital world, books are becoming rarer and rarer. Guide books are replaced by travel sites, identification guides are replaced by apps. Kuramathi’s own publication “Plants of the Maldives” exemplifies so many aspects of what makes a hard copy an especially enjoyable. It’s not just a source of information, but a superbly well-designed publication packed with gorgeously artistic drawing. The book format makes perusing the leaves about leaves leisurely and satisfying:
- “The resort island served as an insightful base where most of the featured flora are found thriving in several nature appreciation sites such as the 300-year-old Banyan Tree, the Botanic Walk, a route where guests can observe diverse tropical vegetation, the Nature Trail, an untouched Maldivian forest in the heart of the island, and the Hydroponic Garden where most of the fresh produce served in the buffet restaurants are grown and harvested. ‘The publication is a credible knowledge tool added to the extensive activities of the resort. The book captures information on 65 plants, that constitute our biodiversity and are used in our food, culture, and traditions,’ said Dr Aminath.”
It is an aesthetically satisfying memento of this paradise where the land life often seems to get second billing to the legendary aquatic life around it, but the tropical lushness of its flora is just as much a part of this dreamlike destination (and perhaps long overdue, I have now added the tag of “Plants” to the blog).
Mother Language Day today. If you want to delve into Dhivehi for a taste of local culture, it’s often fun to do it with a partner to both learn with as well as to practice with. SAii Lagoon’s Le Be Well spa offers a “Dhivehi for Couples” experience”:
- “Love, after all, is one of the classic motivations for picking up a new language. When you learn a new language with your partner, it’s a bonding understand one of the most rewarding aspects of you try to communicate with them in their own language – Dhivehi, while fostering an appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the Maldivians.”
You might wonder what would be the use of a relatively obscure language aside from impressing Maldivian staff on your resort visits? One possibility is to have your own personal code back home to converse in. We always remember meeting good friends for dinner years ago who we knew would try to pay for the meal and we wanted to pay. During the meal, they had a chat in Chinese which they said was just a family matter, but it turns out it was them scheming how to get the bill. Another example of such a shared secret language is the “Divine” language in the film “The Fifth Element”. Writer/Director Luc Besson invented the 400-word language for the character Leeloo (played by Milla Jovovich) to speak. Only Beeson and Jovovich learned the language and practiced it regularly to help it become natural for Jovovich. They ended up getting married after the film’s release so maybe a private shared language does have romantic effect.
Could Dhivehi be your language of love?
If your Valentine proposal on the deserted island was a success, then the next step is to plan the big day. No need for expensive wedding planners with their own concepts as you can create the wedding of your dreams at Amilla Maldives with their DIY wedding offering:
- “The traditional wedding vows have been rescripted to work with only the couple taking turns to speak, and a permanent wedding arch has been created on the beach, complete with a phone stand, in case the couple wishes to record or live stream the special occasion. The wedding vows are also there for the couple to refer to. They have been carved into wooden panels. In case a few guests are in attendance, six wooden benches have been placed on the beach too… The concept was conceived in response to a growing number of requests from guests at Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences for boutique weddings with no guests or only a handful of guests in attendance. This trend is part of a broader global trend for small destination weddings in privacy.”
My sister Sharyl is an interior designer who has pioneered the DIY concept in her field. Instead of coming in and necessarily spelling out the entire design (which some people do prefer), she provides the option to be their “design coach” and guide clients through the design process themselves. I especially liked this concept as we redid our house years ago and got frustrated by designers dictating their ideas and us clients having less hands on to molding this expression of ourselves.
Make your own special day truly your own.
The biggest heart in the Maldives would be an island shaped like one. I have been on the hunt for such a mystical land mass ever since #15 of my 7th Haven’t Seen Yet series. I did another Valentines post on the “Most Heart Shaped” islands “in the Maldives”, but only one was real and that one wasn’t really that heart-shaped. But now OBLU Select Lobigili features not just such a romantic plot of sand, but it also has the archetypal palm tree.
If you want to put the “forever yours” into your Valentine, then OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli features a romantic heart wish tree. I ♥ Maldives.
Happy Valentines! Instead of showering your beloved with gifts and tokens of love, why not let her bathe in decadent luxury to soak in all your adoration. And instead of sipping champagne, Velaa is providing a special immersive Valentines experience were you can *be* the glass of champagne:
- “The romantic package’s pièce de résistance is all about sparkling wine. The interlude will quite literally bathe you in bubbly. That’s because the package comes with a bonkers couples bath filled with no less than 600 liters of Delamotte Champagne.”
Rates for the package start at $200,000 for the first night and $12,000 per additional night.
One of the first pieces of information I gathered for the resort database was maps of all the resorts. Back then, few resorts had websites and I had to scan paper copies I had collected. I’ve always had a special fondness for maps and have highlighted some of the more creative renditions. When I added a Room Type database, similarly, Floor Plans were a key piece of information. OZEN Maadhoo has applied some striking technical wizardry to its versions of these plan with complete 3D virtual models of their villas. That real gives you feel for where you are going to be staying.
With its cultural culinary connections to the Indian subcontinent, it has never been difficult to find plenty of great vegetarian food, but veganism is growing in popularity and the removal of dairy ingredients (milk, eggs) considerably narrows one food options further. At least for a period, vegans (and “vegan curious”) at W Maldives can sample cow/chicken-friendly fare
- “W Maldives has launched a vegan pop-up menu by celebrity Chef Priyanka Naik that will be available for its guests till October 2023. The initiative in collaboration with Chef Priyanka, a prominent champion of sustainable cooking, will boost the resort’s culinary offerings. The Go W-egan menu was introduced on the occasion of World Vegan Day, a day that invites global communities to embark on conscious gastronomical journeys.”