The resort Joali is not just the “art” resort, but is also the “state of the art” resort. Fancy electronics and fixtures are not unusual in the high end Maldives properties. But nonetheless, sometimes the more swish switches are actually difficult to figure out what each one does. Sometimes when Lori and I want to turn off or on a specific light, we find ourselves embarking on a mini-treasure hunt trying different switches till we land on the right one. That is why we were de-lighted to see Joali’s controls. The wall fixtures were explicitly labelled. And if that wasn’t clear enough, they also provide an in-room ipad console which controls every device in the villa.
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.
Travel Trade Maldives featured an interview with Spa and Wellness Manager, Laura Pagano, who developed the concept:
- “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.
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.
- “You can live your fantasea of becoming a mermaid too! At Pullman Maldives we like to think outside the box and create unique experiences, that’s why our super talented Diving Center team has created this exclusive opportunity to learn how to become a mermaid while you’re on vacation with us.”
No contracts with sea witches are required either.
The Maldives’ shallow atolls might make for spectacular lagoons and particularly accessible snorkelling, but they were nightmarish obstacle courses for the seafaring trading ships of plying the East-West trade centuries ago. While the wooden vessels have long since rotted away, more modern ones have hit these lurking reefs plenty of times in recent years. In fact, enough to fill a book, “Shipwrecks of the Maldives” by Peter Collings. Not only is it full of dozens of wrecks that I wasn’t aware of (despite having nearly 2000 site in the Dive Site database), but most of them are meticulously researched about their history and background.
I was fortunate to catch up with author Peter Collings who provided a bit more background on his work for Maldives Complete:
- What got you into wreck diving? – During the early expeditions in southern Egypt (1995), I brought together divers from all agencies-with a common goal to explore new locations looking for shipwrecks and unearthing their stories. Endorsed by the Red Sea Association, it soon became an international club which included divers from all walks of life with very useful skill sets, and non divers within the archival services of the world. It became the leading body of wreck research, and still is, in Egypt. To date the team have located, identified and surveyed 34 of the wrecks dived in Egyptian waters.
- When did you first visit the Maldives? – 1995.
- How long did the book take to write? – Three weeks.
- Are there any aspects of wrecks in the Maldives that are a bit different to wrecks in other parts of the world? – Most wrecks there are deliberately sunk for tourists.
The book is available as an ebook PDF here.