“Yellow Exploration”, 2020

Yellow Exploration 1

If I can’t get the Maldives, I’ll bring the Maldives to me. And if I can’t find an obvious thing in the Maldives (#20), I get go get that too.

My partner in paradise, Lori, and I celebrated our 35th anniversary last week. The traditional gift for that semi-decennial milestone is coral. Every year we are in the Maldives in July celebrating our anniversary there, and this year, with the coronavirus issues, was the one year, coral year, that we had to stay home. Still such obstacles did not stymie Lori. She immediately admired Stephanie Kilgast’s work that I highlighted a couple of weeks about in my latest instalment of the “Haven’t Seen Yet” series.

She chose the piece “Yellow Exploration (Octopus) – 2020”. Her card to me read: “The piece reminds me of the joy I felt while watching that little octopus from the within the underwater restaurant at You & Me in 2019.” She went on to talk about the corals’ resilience and hardiness, and the octopus’s intelligence and magic all of which our adventuresome marriage shared.

Yellow Exploration 2

Maldives Mask

Maldives Mask 2

The fashion accessory of the season if not the entire 2020 year is the now must-have (in more ways than one) face mask. While some decry this ostensible inconvenience, I think it is a whole new opportunity to rock some stylish fashion.

My friend Sylvia is making these in her back room. They come with a nose clip and an inner pocket to insert a filter if you want extra protection. I found this material at my local haberdashery, so naturally I commissioned an Indian Ocean one with the Maldives Islands front and center.  Lori opted for a Wrasse-inspired designed (see bottom).

Email me if you would like Sylvia to make one for you. She is doing so to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis).

Maldives Mask 3

Maldives mask

Maldives mask 4

Guesthouses and Liveaboards Budget Options

Guesthouses and Liveaboards

A whole category of Maldives offerings that I’ve not yet seen are the guesthouses and liveaboard/yacht options. I have researched them quite a bit. And Hotellier Maldives asked me to share a few perspective from my investigation for people considering these alteratives. The result is the recently published article “Bunking with the Billionaires on a Budget – Part 2”.

  • Some guest houses cost as little as $50/night. For certain types of travellers, being on an inhabited island has added dividends of being able to explore and interact with the local community and experience their island life. But these offerings also have a number of constraints that you should be aware of and do limit their appeal to some visitors.”
  • “Liveaboards have long been a cheap option for divers to bunk while going from dive site to dive site. But in the Maldives, the cruising options have gotten quite sophisticated and expansive. You can find quite well appointed bedrooms in lovely vessels serving delicious food. Some boats even offer spa services onboard.”

Haven’t Seen Yet – 16

Havent Seen Yet - dolphine fruit cup

How fun is that above? (thanks Cori)

Missing our annual trip to the Maldives is not fun though.  SO I guess we will just have to continue to wallow in digital vicariousness.

Usually, this time of year we are in the Maldives on our annual research tour. I don’t think I’ve ever missed them more (especially sitting here looking out the window at the dreary rain in my woolly jumper). Right now I would be scouring the resort islands for new and distinctive features I still haven’t seen in my two decades of visits. And at the end, I would traditionally issue by bi-annual “Haven’t Seen Yet” update. Well, I may not be able to see more things yet, but I certainly have found a number of things that should be there:

  1. Aquatic Geode – These blue agate slices are simply so reminiscent of the Maldives tapestry of blues. Our daughter bought me a set of them to use as drink coasters, but they are simply lovely décor in their own right.
    Havent Seen Yet - blue geode slice
      
  2. Geode Towel – Love the colours and design. The tapestry of blue depicted on a pool-side tapestry.
    Havent Seen Yet - geode towel
      
  3. Beach Towel Cover – Clever way to make a beach towel better and hard loungers better.
    Havent Seen Yet - beach lounger cover
      
  4. Blue Tang Cloth – I came across this fabric looking for some material to have a custom COVID19 face mask sewn for me. Resorts could produce all manner of items for the resort or the gift boutique like face masks, sarongs, shirts, etc.
    Havent Seen Yet - blue tang cloth
      
  5. Colour Changing Swim Shorts – To impersonate a colour-camo-changing octopus, you can get your own pair of swim trucks which change colour when they get wet.

      

  6. Claudio Lugli Tropical Fish Shirt – I love these shirts, but unfortunately their tropical fish line is out of stock now. Maybe some resort can convince them to do another run.
    Havent Seen Yet - tropical fish shirt
        
  7. Whale Shark Legging and Top – NuWave’s leggings and top are great to not just see the whale shark in, but to *be* the whale shark.
    Havent Seen Yet - whale shark leggings
      
  8. Sharkasm T-Shirt – Loving it. No, seriously.
    Havent Seen Yet - sharkasm
      
  9. Silver Shark Bracelet – From the same makers as the Sharkasm shirt (Ocean Dose) is a charming rope bracelet with a shark charm (and available in 6 different colours).
    Havent Seen Yet - silver shark bracelet
       
  10. Shark Slippers – Wing-Tipped reef shark for the fishy cushy fashion statement.
    Havent een Yet - shark slippers
      
  11. Whale Shark Plush Toy – I love the whale size of this cuddly toy. Unfortunate about the “blow hole” painted on the top of the head (“whale sharks” are “sharks” not “whales” and so they don’t have blow holes).
    Havent Seen Yet - whale shark plush toy
       
  12. Ocean Sole – An exceptionally charming and innovative up-cycling company at its Indian Ocean neighbor Kenya. They gather up hundreds of discarded plastic flip-flops on the beaches and transform them into stunning, playful figures.
    Havent Seen Yet - ocean sole
       
  13. Shark Wine Goblets – For the more adult galeophiles to hold and savour…
    Havent Seen Yet - shark glasses
       
  14. Motorized Pool Lounger – Many pool loungers come with cup holders for your drink but not the self-propulsion to return you especially to the swim-up bar for a re-fill.



       

  15. Kayak Sail – Something to catch those gentle ocean breezes and make an outing even more lazy.
    Havent Seen Yet - paddleboard sail
       
  16. Water Boggan – Or less someone else do the work of pulling your around on the water on a matt that you can lie on, stand on or do jumping jacks on.

          
  17. Red Shark Bikes – Or less lazy, if your prefer. A step up from the previous ocean bikes noted way back in my second instalment.

       
  18. Exo-Lung – Could be ideal for house reef exploration.

       
  19. Coral Crochet – Or resorts can commission a gorgeous crocheted version of their reef for the reception. Check out the brilliant TED (2009) talk by Margaret Wertheim on “The beautiful math of coral” – “The frilly crenulated forms that you see in corals, and kelps, and sponges and nudibranchs, is a form of geometry known as hyperbolic geometry. And the only way that mathematicians know how to model this structure is with crochet.”
    Havent Seen Yet - coral crochet2
        
  20. Stephanie Kilgast Art – French artist Stephanie Kilgast is inspired by a range of natural delights especially corals and some other undersea creatures.
    Havent Seen Yet - gilcart art
      
  21. Sea Urchin Hats – After noticing his urchins carrying rocks, shells and even hermit crabs around aquarium, a Colorado aquarium enthusiast Wilson Souza started making them custom hats. Subsequent studies by marine biologist hypothesize that sea urchins don these hats (or shells other things they come across) for much the same reason humans do – UV protection from sunlight.
    Havent Seen Yet - sea urchin hats
      
  22. Golsa Golchini Art – Italian artist Golsa Golchini has a few pieces just right for the Maldives.
    Havent Seen Yet - golsha art
      
  23. Pool Roof – Not a “Roof Pool”, but a roof made out of a pool.
    Havent Seen Yet - roof pool
      
  24. Natural Pools – Like this one from Soneva, but Soneva Kiri (thanks Paola)
    Havent Seen Yet - natural pools
       
  25. In-Water Dining

    Bora Bora takes “in water” dining a step beyond a few tables temporarily immersed in the shallows.
    Havent Seen Yet - in water dining elaborate

      

  26. Tipping Breakdowns – Guests are always frustrated to know whether (a) they are tipping enough (they don’t want to offend or hurt any staff), or (b) they are tipping too much (this trip has already cost us a lot). It is complicated by the addition of mandatory service charges to all bills. In principle, this should relieve the headache as some “service” has already been provided for the staff, and I suspect that ad hoc tipping dropped considerably when that change was implemented. But still, there is an enduring sense that this service charge is just a basic amount and that additional bonus gifts are both welcome and done by a number of guests.  I think was would be very helpful is if a resort shared the profile of tipping with the TripAdvisor Forum. Something along the lines of:

    As you know, all Maldives resort bill include an amount billed for service charge which is shared among the staff. Because this amount is provided by law, we reassure guests that they are not in any way obliged to leave further gratuities. And yet, many guests want to leave further gratuities. And their generosity is frustrated to an additional degree because there is no guidance as to what is “minimum”, “average” and “exceptional”. In other countries, there are more accepted conventions. For example, in the UK, a 12% tip is considered a minimum, 15% is average and more than 15% is generous. Also, since there is no convention, people don’t have an idea of just how prevalent certain gratuity practices are. As a result, I am told that it would be helpful to share “what other people are doing”. This in not in any way intended as a prescription of what “you should be doing”. It is just information that get asked for regularly.
    · XX% leave no extra gratuities at all.
    · XX% leave very modest gestures of appreciation (for example, $10 or less to an individual staff member covering the whole stay).
    · XX% leave generous extra gifts (for example, $10 to $50 per staff member covering the whole stay).
    · XX% leave crazy generous gifts (for example, more than $50 per staff member covering the whole stay).I think this information will both help guests’ peace of mind and maybe even boost gratuity given at the resort. Those who are really tight will have solace in reading “Ah, ok, I’m not alone as XX% people also don’t give tips so it’s not just me.” But others will self-select and think “Ah, I want to be one of those “generous extra gift” people so I am going to leave that amount.
          

  27. Max Benjamin “Maldives” Diffuser – Gift from Lori from Christmas. Stocking these in the boutique makes a lot of scents!.
    Havent Seen Yet - maldives diffusers
        
  28. Electric Seaplane – Ok, which eco-minded resort is going to be the first to boast one of these babies??
    Havent Seen Yet - electric sea plane
        
  29. Mango Shaved Ice – Famous Taiwanese dessert whose tropical fruit and frozen temperature seem like a perfect treat for the Maldives.
    Havent Seen Yet - mango shaved ice
        

Phat Tatts


National Tattoo Day today. Fashionistas in the Maldives often come with quite a bit of colour in their complexions before they hit the sun. The tropical backdrop provides a striking frame and the skimpy swimsuits provide an effective place to show off their best ink…


  1. Lexy (Germany)
    You & Me [ABOVE]
  2. Nadiuno (Moldova) – Riu Palace


     

  3. Shawnna Sharmaynne (USA) – Conrad Rangali


      

  4. Nastya Motrii (Russia) – Bandos


      

  5. Sara Mecchi (Italy) – Fun Island


      

  6. Mareike Lerch (Germany) – Kuredu


        

  7. Alyona (USA) – Paradise Island

          
         

  8. Natashita (Germany) – Embudu


  9. Miss Monyy (Thailand) – Anantara Dhigu


         

  10. Marika Fomina (Russia) – Velassaru


        

  11. Tiffy Hollywood (USA) – Movenpick Kuredhivaru


       

  12. Maurizia Cancellieri (Italy)


        

  13. Giulia Maria Cinci (Italy) – Malahini Kuda Bandos


        

  14. Dafina Zeqiri (Italy) – You and Me


      

  15. Nutty (Thailand) – Club Med Kani


      

  16. Lily Black (Italy) – Thudufushi


       

  17. Anna Sladkaya (Russia) – Cocoon


       

  18. Felicia Aveklew (Sweden) – Dhiffushi


        

  19. Ksusha Krasivchik (Russia) – W Maldives


        

  20. Daggy Ritz (Germany) – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu


        

  21. Rony Labelle (Venezuela) – LUX North Male Atoll


       

  22. Muriel Bassi (Spain) – Samara


        

  23. Zoe Cristofoli (Italy) – Emerald


       

  24. Fairy Pai (Taiwan) – Club Med Kani


        

  25. Laura Sagrado (Mexico)  – Kudafushi


      

  26. Hanna (Ukraine) – Sun Island


      

  27. Francesca del Taglia (Italy) – Fulidhoo


        

  28. Julia Krasnoyarsk (Russia) – Adaaran Hudhuran Fushi


       

  29. Sofi Sugar (Russia) – Vilu Reef


       

  30. Mariana Gasques (Brazil) – Sun Siyam Irufushi


       

  31. Stefanie Morela (Germany) – Cinnamon Ellaidhoo


        

  32. Viki Fox (Russia) – Kandima


        

  33. Ilona Chernetskaya (Ukraine) – Bandos


       

  34. Adzia (Poland) – Nilandhoo


        

  35. Eva Saetherr (Norway) – Sun Island


        

  36. Anna Grachevskaya (Russia) – Paradise Island


       

  37. Katrin (Russia) – Sun Island


       

  38. Oleksandra Likhtben (Ukraine) – Fehendhoo


       

  39. Sophie (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi


       

  40. Aneta Kożusznik (Slovakia) – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu


       

  41. Monya (Poland) – Carpe Diem

       
       

  42. Daisy (Austria) – Kuredu

        
      

  43. TubTim Ruby Mallika (Thailand) – Club Med Finolhu Villas

       
       

  44. Jade Tattoo (Australia) – NIYAMA


       

  45. Teta- Maria (United Kingdom) – Amilla Fushi


        

  46. Natalie Iashchuk (Russia) – LUX South Ari Atoll


        

  47. Irina Moroziuk (Ukraine) – Sun Aqua Vilu Reef


      

  48. Raissa Castro Tuchler (Brazil) – Centara Ras Fushi


      

  49. Rita Ora (United Kingdom) – Amilla Fushi


        

  50. Virginia (Dhiffushi)


       

  51. Jodie Stark (United Kingdom) – Kandima


        

  52. Olivia Bowen (United Kingdom) – Velassaru


       

  53. Mary Jane (Australia) – NIYAMA


         

  54. Diva (Ukraine) – Anantara Kihavah Villas


         

  55. Olesya Temofeeva (Russia) – Amari Havodda


        

  56. Teneile Napoli (Australia) – NIYAMA


         

  57. Tatyana Ponomareva (Russia) – Furaveri


         

  58. Bantik Boy (Russia) – OZEN by Atmosphere


         

  59. Chiara Biasi (Italy) – Maayafushi


        

  60. Laura Fremiot (Italy) – Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa


       
       




Bunking with the Billionaires on a Budget

Hotellier Maldives 1

  • If your room is a bit faded and worn, then step outside and you can enjoy the same gorgeous sunset that the millionaires in the fancy resort across the water are paying ten times as much to enjoy.”

Once again, I was invited to share my Maldives expertise with the readers of Hotelier Maldives, the leading industry publication for Maldives resorts. I covered a pretty comprehensive response to the 3rd most frequently asked question posed to me: “How can I afford to go to the Maldives?”

The article titled “Bunking with the Billionaires on a Budget” recommended:

  1. Ignore the Reviews.
  2. Go Half-Board.
  3. Brave the Six-Week Game.
  4. Go Garden.
  5. Brave New Openings.
  6. Use Loyalty Points.
  7. Inhabited Island Resorts.
  8. Avoid Seaplanes.
  • Remember you are going to the Maldives for its unique landscape, dazzling waters, lush tropical paradise, and underwater adventure and these are the same if you are in a luxury resort or a more basic property.”

Hotellier Maldives 2

Best of the Maldives: Light Therapy Shower – LUX North Male Atoll

LUX North Male Atoll - light therapy 2

Fourth of July and the day to paint the town Red, White and Blue (for American Independence Day). Or you can simply bathe in red, white and blue (and purple and green) light therapy at LUX North Male Atoll’s “Me” spa’s light therapy shower. A stream of different combinations of different coloured lights illuminate under the stream of water. And if the different wavelengths don’t do it for you, then maybe the disco vibe will at least put you in a good mood.

  

Best of the Maldives: Towel Folding Video – Coco Palm

Coco Collection - turtle making video

World Oceans Day today. While travelling to the ocean to see turtles might still be limited, the Coco Collection has shared a way to bring them right into your own home during lockdown.

I’ve regularly featured striking towel creations, but now Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Bodu Hithi have shared an instructional video so you can create these creatures yourself. They’ve started with a quite elaborate turtle construction.

Happy home schooling!

Best of the Maldives: Reef Friendly Sunscreens – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - sun screen

Environment Day today to celebrate appreciating, respecting and care for the environment around us. Sometimes the smallest of things can have big impacts over enough people and time. On example is sunscreen which we slather on to protect us from the tropical sun. But when we take a dip in the ocean to cool off, the salty water washes a lot of its chemicals off our body and onto the coral reefs we swim amongst.

Gili Lankanfushi is now only selling reef-friendly sunscreen in its boutique for its guests to remove this extra burden on our coral friends:

  • A key ingredient in more than 3,500 sun protection products is oxybenzone…Annually four to six thousand tonnes of these chemicals enter our ocean through wastewater effluent, and by swimmers slathered up with sunscreen. Acting like an oil slick, the chemicals settle on marine life and the reefs become suffocated.”

Also, Grand Park Koddhipparu have made a similar announcement, but I was unable to get additional details.

Gili Lankanfushi - sunscreen 2