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.
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).
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.”
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:
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.
Geode Towel – Love the colours and design. The tapestry of blue depicted on a pool-side tapestry.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Shark Slippers – Wing-Tipped reef shark for the fishy cushy fashion statement.
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).
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.
Exo-Lung – Could be ideal for house reef exploration.
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.”
Stephanie Kilgast Art – French artist Stephanie Kilgast is inspired by a range of natural delights especially corals and some other undersea creatures.
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.
Golsa Golchini Art – Italian artist Golsa Golchini has a few pieces just right for the Maldives.
Pool Roof– Not a “Roof Pool”, but a roof made out of a pool.
Natural Pools– Like this one from Soneva, but Soneva Kiri (thanks Paola)
Bora Bora takes “in water” dining a step beyond a few tables temporarily immersed in the shallows.
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.
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…
Shark Awareness Day today! And what better way to appreciate all things than from inside the belly of the beast. Or at least a swing fashioned to look like one of these majestic creatures courtesy of LUX South Ari Atoll.
“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?”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.