Best of the Maldives: Coral Reef Gardener – Coco Plam Dhuni Kolhu

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu - coral garden

Mari-time, Mar-itime…How does your garden grow? With help from a lucky aquatic gardener at Coco Palm Dhuniu Kolhu. The resort is advertising for a “coral reef gardener” to work for a three placement:

  • · “A lucky winner will be flown out to the luxurious Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu resort in September, where they will help the Marine Educator with managing and fostering coral growth in the surrounding house reefs…applicants must submit a link to a 2-3-minute video and a 500-word cover letter explaining why they think they would be a good fit for the role. Applicants do not need to have previous experience, but they must be over the age of 18 years, be a competent open water swimmer and keen to gain experience in this field.”

Working in an octopus’ garden has 12 May deadline for application.

Best of the Maldives: Cold Brew Coffees – Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani - cold brew coffee

One doesn’t typically think about a “cold brew” first thing in the morning to start your day. But cold brew coffee is a made by using time rather than heat to coax the coffee flavour out of the beans. Using cold water can take between 18 and 24 hours, in fact! The result is a brew which is a bit lighter, more floral, less acidic and more caffeinated than hot brewed coffee.

Soneva Jani not only offers cold brew, but actually has a collection of cold brew concoctions:

  • Tropical Pandan Brew – fresh banana, coconut milk, cold brew pandan coffee
  • Sparkling Brew – cold brew esperesso, homhade hibiscus syrup, top with tonic
  • Tumeric Latte – cardamon, cinnamon, honey, coconut milk, turmeric, top with espresso
  • Lemon Grass Cold Brew – homemade lemon gress syrup, top with cold brew coffee

· Cold Brew Latte – cold brew coffee, top with milk

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Breakfast – Amilla

Amilla - Maldivian breakfast

Amilla not only sends you off to dreamland in style, but welcomes you back to the land of your dreams with equal distinction. In particular, it has completed mastered the “Indian Ocean” breakfast vittles’.

The heart here is Maldivian Mashuni. A light pancake, fresh tuna, chillies and coconut morning delicacy of the Maldives. Lori is a particular afficionado and has it at every resort that serves it (which is pretty much every resort). She declared that Amilla’s was definitely up there as one of the top execution.

Then, we move to another breakfast buffet standard – the breakfast curry. In most places, I’ve tried this dish out of curiosity and I do like a curry, but in more cases they just seem like re-heated leftovers from the previous dinner layout. Amilla’s version is light, fresh rendition which really suits the early hour and was especially tasty.

And to complete the Laccadive trifecta, they also serve a Sri Lankan Pani Pol Egg Hopper. A charmingly local (well, nearby) variation on the your morning eggs.

Best of the Maldives: Sleep Pillow Treats – Amilla

Amilla - Sleep pillow treats

International Pillow Day today. Just the time to settle in for an extra special slumber. And to help you on your way, Amilla treats its guest to sleep pillow goodies. Each take pillow chockies to a new level made with ingredients meant to facilitate your dozing. Each one includes its own message with a sleep tip, eg. “Increase your exposure to natural light to help readjust your sleeping patterns.”. They include:

  • Tart Cherry Chocolate – Tart cherry juice has been proven to increase the body’s levels of melatonin, a natural hormone which helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
  • Roselle Macaroon – Roselle, a type of hibiscus, has many nutritional and medicinal values. This natural antioxidant may help reduce blood pressure and aid in the digestion of complex carbohydrates.
  • Coconut Turmeric Shots – Coconut can help regulate sleep hormones and provides lauric acid, linked to more restful sleep, while turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Sweet dreams!

Best of the Maldives: Horses – Siyam World

Siyam World - horse riding

The big advantage to being big in the Maldives is that you can introduce a wider, and more creative range of activities. The newly launched Siyam World has not only introduced an exciting collection of features (many of which will be featured here on the “Best of the Maldives” in coming weeks), but perhaps the most ambitious is the introduction of a horse ranch:

  • “One of the Maldives’ largest natural island resorts at 54 hectares – more than 25 percent larger than Aintree racecourse – Siyam World had ample space in which to purpose-build the new 15,000sqm ranch. With dedicated stabling and large fenced paddocks and fields, the fully-equipped ranch is now the proud home of four beautiful, rare breed Indian horses – meaning Siyam World guests can saddle up and start living the dream of galloping along the island’s breath-taking beaches with the wind in their hair… Noor, a six-year-old full white mare; Jasmine, a six-year-old white and grey mare; Habibi, a five-year-old black stallion with white spots; and five-year-old full brown mare Kanbulo – meaning ‘sweetheart’ in Dhivehi – are all rare Marwari breed horses from the Jodhpur region of Rajasthan, India…The horses are happily settled at the Siyam World Horse Ranch, built specifically to ensure their safety and comfort. No expense has been spared in integrating them into island life, including stabling with stalls; feed and tack rooms; water troughs; dedicated storage areas for hay and bedding; abundant fenced paddocks and fields where the horses can gambol freely; and a full array of maintenance equipment. Experienced hostlers have been employed for each horse, overseen by a specially trained equestrian vet – permanently based on-island, and on call at all times. Regular checks by the Ministry of Fishery & Agriculture provide ongoing additional independent oversight of the animals’ welfare.”

Some folks have questioned whether horses are truly authentic to the Maldives. Well, the Maldives resort experience long ago stopped being purely indigenous with the introduction of the now ubiquitous water villas (concept imported from Bali). Since then, the Maldivians have crafted a range of updated interpretations of their marine wonderland and tropical paradise to appeal to a range of guests. The Maldives is big enough (with 1900 islands) to accommodate a range of tastes and preferences for different fun-in-the-sun holidays.

A few have raised concern over the welfare of the horses. Some tourism horses riding (eg. notably the city horse-drawn carriages) are indeed often mistreated, but actually part of the inspiration for the offering is Mr. Siyam’s personal affection for horses so he has kitted out facilities for them as top standard as the resort overall. Someone raised a concern over having horses in such a hot climate without appreciating that many breeds are indigenous to hot, sandy areas. Most famously the Arabian horse. The resort has selected breeds who native to hot climates so they feel right at home in their surroundings.

And if you are speaking of iconic images, right up there would be riding a horse along the water’s edge. So much so that it was the climax of the famous Old Spice “Smell Like a Man, Man” advertisement presenting a catalogue of romantic fantasy culminates with the protagonist on a horse on a tropical beach.

“I’m on a horse.”

Siyam World - Im on a Horse

Siyam World - horses

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Siyam World London Visit

Siyam World London launch
(photo of Siyam PR Angie Sloan with Lori and myself courtesy of Dafydd Jones)

Our virtual Maldives excursion carried on with a transfer cross-town to the Century Club where Siyam World celebrated its UK launch.  Deepak Booneady, Commercial Vice President Siyam Resorts, shared updates of all the resorts in the Siyam collection, ie. Olhuveli, Vilu Reef, Iruveli.

But the star of the evening was the newly inaugurated Siyam World. He shared the fascinating odyssey of the founder Ahmed Siyam Mohamed who started as a butler at one of the first resorts back in the 80s, parlayed his understanding of the business and his guests’ interests into a travel agency which then grew into being a resort company itself. Booneady described Siyam’s ethos reflecting this heritage with great people making great experiences for guests.

The expansive island affords an expansive vison of amenities an activities while still preserving plenty of wide open space and tranquil areas. The property boasts quite a number of firsts in the Maldives to stay tuned for “Best of the Maldives” additions.

  

Amilla in London

Amilla - london launch

One of my many motivations for doing Maldives Complete is to be transported away from cold and less sunny England immersing myself in all things Maldivian for a several hours a week. While my escapism is usually digital, this week I was treated to some real bits of the Maldives live here in London. Amilla hosted an industry event to update its UK partners and friends on the latest and greatest at the resort.

Amilla announced its acceptance into the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection among other enhancements and new features. It wasn’t just press release and presentation, but an actual taste of Amilla hosted at Michelin-trained Kirk Haworth’s “Plates” restaurant whose ethos of sustainable, healthy and yet decadently sumptuous culinary creations fit right into the Amilla vibe. So much so that Haworth was hosted by Amilla earlier in the year and is scheduled for a return residence in the coming months. We were treated to such Maldives-worthy delicacies as “carrot & yuzu bellini crumpet, smoked carrot, seaweed caviar, champagne jelly” and “BBQ potato with sea lettuce, aioli, pickled shallots, nori powder” and “organic cocao and lion’s mane sponge, whipped coconut, hibiscus sherbert.” And all of the dishes were accompanied by rainbow (white, red, rose and orange) of locally produced organic wines.

Other featured Amilla residencies joining the festivities included style guru Kat Farmer (see photo) who recently hoted a fashion show with a Maldivian designer there. And the parting gift was an herbal bath tea from Amilla’s own garden. But the quintessential touch of the Maldives itself were the leadership team which personifies appreciating, investing in and sharing the Maldives – Jason and Victoria Kruse.

Best of the Maldives: Sustainability La – Sirru Fen Fushi

Fairmont - Sustainability Lab

The investment in sustainability by Maldives resorts keeps building to new highs, and Sirru Fen Fushi has recently introduced an ambitious Sustainability Lab to provide a range of activities and services for the island, its guests and the environment:

  • “Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, a private island in the remote Shaviyani atoll, has unveiled the latest in a series of pioneering environmental projects – the Sustainability Lab – the first of its kind in the archipelago. A hub of eco-education, the Sustainability Lab will turn plastic waste into bespoke souvenirs and unique products, educate guests and empower local communities. With the launch of our Sustainability Lab project, we aspire to be as close to zero waste as we can using current and future technology improvements to allow us to find better ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle our waste, whilst inspiring others globally to help secure a better future for our oceans and communities.”

Best of the Maldives: Largest Coral Regeneration – Soneva Fushi

Soneva - reef regeneration

The big focus for Soneva Fushi’s marine biologists is big indeed…the world largest coral nursery:

  • Partnership with Coralive and Ark2030 aims to propagate 50,000 coral fragments every year. Soneva has launched an ambitious programme to restore coral reef systems and create a coral hub for the Maldives. A partnership between the Soneva Foundation, the Swiss environmental organisation Coralive and the global ecosystem restoration organisation Ark2030, the project aims to protect and regenerate this vital marine habitat, which has been decimated by rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, El Niño events and ocean pollution…’When finished, the coral farm at Soneva Fushi will be 1 hectare in size – one of the largest coral farms in the world – and in the ensuing years it is our goal to cultivate 1 hectare of coral each year at each of our resorts. This is the scale that is needed to have a meaningful impact and it also represents a huge opportunity for the Maldives to become a global leader in an activity that will likely have considerable future demand,’ said Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and Co-Founder of Soneva’.”