Best of the Maldives: Canoe – W Retreat

W Resort Molokini glass bottomed canoe

Many people worry that indolent isolation of the Maldives would be just too boring for them, but many resorts have rather robust water centres with everything from water skiing to parasailing. A lot of the offerings are quite standard – canoes, windsurfers, catamarans, banana floats. But the best boat we at Maldives Complete have come across is the W Retreat’s ‘Molokini’ glass bottomed canoe. A new dimension to paddling around the lagoon and probably the closest one can get to snorkelling without actually snorkelling

Best of the Maldives – 100th Post Special

Kurumba

Choice, Experienced, Diversity, Handicap Access, Room Types, Loyalty Programme, Dining Choice

Kuredu

Golf, Wreck Dive, Turtles, Online Forum, Water Sports Centre, Longest Beach

Soneva Fushi

Voluntouring, Cinematic, Geek Activity, 2010 Calendar, Eco-Friendly, History

Huvafen Fushi

Hip Entertainment, 2010 Eclipse, Spa, Wine, Buoyant, Service

Shangri-La

Biking, Dining Experience, Elevation, Running, Lacustrine

Holiday Inn Male

View, Pool Seating, Short Stay, Toilet

Diva

Romantic, Classroom, Whale Sharks, Marine Reserve

Kandooma

Seating, Reefscaping, Library, Hot Drinks

Reethi Rah

Celebrity Watching, Li-Lo, Shoe Boutique

Anantara Dhigu

Seasonings, Cover Story, Readers Choice

This piece is the 100th Maldives Complete post. When the site was inaugurated, I added a blog to the web site to provide a way to dynamically update and cover the more qualitative aspects of the resorts that could not be accommodated in the core database profiles. I included some special pieces that covered a few interesting stories, factoids and useful info, but quickly the blog gravitated to the vehicle to regularly recognize the resorts’ uniques and superlatives in a very broad and even quirky range of categories featured in the ‘Best of the Maldives’.

I’ve decided to celebrate the 100th post milestone with a bit of a retrospective review of the Best of the Best. The recognitions themselves are highly unscientific in the first place (though most of the feedback is that they are pretty spot on) so the aggregate tally will be even more so.

Another caveat is that while a number of ‘Best Ofs’ have been published, nearly as many remain unpublished. I continue researching them and posting them on a regular schedule, but have decided not to rush things or overwhelm the growing readership with too many too often.

This wealth of material has led to my next project which is to adapt all of it into a ‘Best of the Maldives’ guide book which has been spurred by interest and support from a number of corners.

Soneva Fushi tops the list with 5 published superlatives in total (including 1 I haven’t published yet), but Kurumba tops the overall list with 7 overall (including 5 not yet published). There is huge bias in this stat not because I have any particular affinity for Kurumba, but because I recently stayed there and was able to uncover all sorts of gems and special aspects that even Kurumba hadn’t appreciated that it had (eg. exceptional handicap access).

As a result, to help balance the score and to similarly ferret out all sorts of other unsung gems, I am currently planning my next trip to the Maldives in July to cover as many resorts as I can to get more research for both the site and the book.

All those with 3 or more awards so far are listed above.

Best of the Maldives: Largest Island – Equator Village

Gan Island

One of the defining characteristic of the Maldives are their miniscule islands, but if such diminutive scale is too claustrophobic for you, then maybe you want to consider the other end of the spectrum. The largest resort island (the second largest island in the whole country after Hithado in the same atoll) in the Maldive archipelago is Gan at 2,256 square km. That compares to an average across all the resort islands of about 200k square metres.

Gan’ s resort is Equator Village. Gan also has an extensive history which includes a British naval base established there in World War II and an ancient Buddhist temple.

Best of the Maldives: Japanese – Vadoo

Vadoo Japanese Experience

 

If Zen is your thing, then Vadoo might just be another resort to consider. Vadoo has developed an entire Japanese experience including Ryokan style water villas designed and services by Japanese, Japanese Tea ceremony, and a traditional Japanese ‘Kaiseki’ dinner served at the restaurant or in room.

“The tea ceremony is a very special event in Japanese culture. The host spends days going over every detail to make sure that the ceremony will be perfect. There are various styles of tea ceremonies and it is recognized that every human encounter is a singular occasion, and so every aspect of the tea ceremony is savored. The ceremony takes place in a room called the chashitsu.”

Best of the Maldives: Zen – Cocoa Island

Cocoa Island Zen

Today’s post is inspired by author and blogger Adrian Neville who is currently on a tour of the Maldives and tweeting about it as he goes. Earlier this week, he stopped by Cocoa Island. His tweets went…

SevenMaldives: Cocoa is the Zen resort of the Maldives.”

SevenMaldives: Cocoa: less is more when perfectly tended like a zen garden – interiors, landcape and cuisine. so so calm

Master Adrian’s enlightened opinion is good enough for me.

Best of the Maldives: Tub – Dhonakulhi

Island Hideaway Tub 1

  

One popular feature that I do adore is the al fresco bathing. It is not an uncommon luxury feature of tropical resort, but they are typically secluded to a sheltered back garden. But if you want the experience with elegance, style, comfort and a view, the Island Hideaway at Dhonakulhi has really nailed it with their Hideaway Water Suite. The tub is perched right on the best view of the ocean.

It reminded me of our stay at Londolozi Game Lodge in South Africa where the designers had smartly put the elegant tub by a big window overlooking the river down below. You could watch the elephants bathing while you had your own scrub.

And if you can’t or don’t want to spring for the posh Water Suite, you still can partake of a lagoon-vista’ed soak at their Mandara Spa (see below).

Dhonakulhi Island Hideaway Mandara Spa

Best of the Maldives: Online Community – Kuredu

Kuredu Forum

 

While TripAdvisor is the granddaddy of the general travel community/forums, many resorts are setting up their own online communities on their websites just focused on their resorts. Some of these have scant posts and interactions (and one in particular falls afoul of poor attitude by the administrator), but one resort online community stands out as vibrant, easy to use and friendly – Kuredu.

Best of the Maldives: Experienced – Kurumba

Kurumba reception


This week happens to be my birthday (yay!…thanks), and actually, this it also marks the year-and-a-half milestone for Maldives Complete itself. In fact, the 100th post is just a few weeks away (this one is #95). Many people think that folks of my vintage start to dread their birthdays, but actually I am finding that I enjoy them more and more. There is a certain charm and dignity to the wisdom of the ages and the experience of a lifetime.

And speaking of ‘experiences of a lifetime’ brings me right back to the subject at hand…Maldives resorts. As it happens the resort with the biggest bragging rights on time tempered experience and the most birthdays to its name is where our family celebrated our own holidays this year – Kurumba.

Kurumba is the very first resort to ever open in the Maldives. Active since 1972 when Maldives was sort of a hidden gem for a select in-the-know divers and sailors, the resort has built a longstanding reputation and infrastructure which has served some of the most illustrious names including US Presidents George Bush Snr. and Bill Clinton. It has had its share of facelifts and tummy-tucks (complete renovation in 2003) so it still maintains a freshness amidst its grandeur of seniority.

Best of the Maldives: Most Exclusive – Dhoni Island

Dhoni Island Island

Two qualities describing the Maldives go hand in hand – tiny and exclusive. So what is the smallest and most exclusive of them all?

According to my most effective investigator on the Maldives, Francis, Dhoni Island squeaks in…

Rania of course is only bookable by one person but i think you can have 24 people there… Dhoni Island only 12 max and most of the time some of those will be on the Dhoni at night so I would say Dhoni probably has least people on it and it is a small island too…..”

Best of the Maldives: Recommended All Inclusive – Athuruga

Athuruga All Inclusive

An example of the kinds of questions that TripAdvsior Forum and its experts can help you with was a topic that comes up regularly – ‘All Inclusive’ packages. Many guests are drawn to the notion of all-inclusive so they can truly relax without worrying how much more in ‘extras’ they are going to rack up at the end of their already wallet-biting holiday. But what is included in ‘AI’ packages varies dramatically. Typically, they do include drinks, but some resorts have only a limited selection of drinks available to AI guests and all other drinks are extra. Some activities are included and others are not in places.

According to Spammie, one of the top all-time Maldives destination experts, Athuruga is the premier offering when it comes to ‘all inclusive’

to my knowledge, there are only two resorts that will give you “real AI” – without the dreaded exclusions that mount up to a big bill at the end – as their base standard. the newly refurbished Athuruga and its sister island Thudufushi , which is due to close for refurbishment over this summer. depending on when you are planning to go, Athuruga is your only choice.”