Chef’s gardens have become fairly commonplace at Maldives resorts, but how many properties have “garden islands” of their very own? Not just one but two islands. Serving the chefs at the two nearby (within in sight) sister resort islands Sun Siyam Iru Veli and Sun Siyam Vilu Reef. The expansive scale means that Sun Siyam not only can reduce the carbon footprint of even more of their ingredients, but they can cultivate a wider range and larger quantity of food for the kitchens than the typical herb collection in chef’s gardens.
Some people ask why people want pools in the Maldives when there is some much delightful water surrounding the entire property. One advantage is that a pool provides a swimming area more protected from currents. Well, Ailafushi’s island is sculpted with a channel dissecting it with a circular “pool” right in the centre. It not only offers a natural bathing spot for the aquatically minded, but also an alluring water feature for the landlubbers. More and more new islands have been built with terrforming, but this shows that you can craft the water-scape as well.
In the arena of numerical bragging rights, sometime you have to be quite explicit about your category. Kuda Villingili boasts the “longest pool” in the Maldives.
- “Take a dive in the cool waters of the resort’s swimming pool, one of the longest in the Maldives that stretches 150-metres, surrounded by lush nature.”
But at 150 metres, it didn’t seem to meet Sirru Fen Fushi’s 200 metre (!) long one. BUT, SFF’s is divided into two equal pools adjacent to each other, so KV is correct that they have the longest continuous pool in the destination (compared to SFF’s two 100m long pools).
Ideal for triathletes and swimmers who don’t like tumble turns.
Soneva Jani’s “completely by the numbers” is especially impressive even by Maldivian standards as shared in the article “New Chapter Opens for Asia’s Soneva Hotels With a More Than $200 Million Investment”. The piece shared the Average Revenue Per room for the property:
- “According to Shivdasani, Soneva’s top 100 clients account for 40 to 50 percent of revenues. They arrive in private jets and spend between $100,000 and $1 million. Soneva Jani rakes in an eye-watering average rate of $3,500 and an average occupancy of 70 percent, making it the RevPAR (revenue per available room) leader in Asia.”
A decade and a half of Maldives Complete. While other Maldives websites have come and gone (eg. pioneering guide writer Adrian Neville’s Seven Holidays), Maldives Complete has remained a steadfast resource about the growing collection of Maldives resorts. But we keep visiting (reaching the 20 visit mark this summer), expanding our resort coverage (116 resorts now visited), and adding to the enormous trove of photos and data about the resorts.
The functionality of the site has remained largely constant for the past few years. Explorations into new content, like the Snorkel Spotter, and Instagram listicles, were intriguing experiments but didn’t seem to attract that much extra traffic or engagement. The pace of posting has stayed relatively steady a one every three days on average (I plan for every other day, which is generally a good rhythm for this type of material, but often end up skipping days due to scheduling conflicts).
Twitter – or “X” – has pretty much fallen by the wayside with its slow rot. The most active social media for me is Facebook which has steadily grown in Followers (3,600 at last count). TripAdvisor Forum remains a vibrant community where I try to contribute regularly. The profile of the contributors and the nature of the enquiries has changed considerably over the 15 years. When I started, the TA Forum was dominated by discussions (and recommendations) of small, “traditional” (ie. thatched villas), mid-market properties. Now the majority of new constructions have contemporary styling. I would say that 70% of the TA Forum posts were mid-market, 20% were budget, and 10% were premium properties. Today, I would say that 60% is premium, 30% is midmarket and 10% is budget. When I started contributing to the Forum, I was often the only one sharing info on the premium properties, but now I am often one of relative few sharing on the budget ones.
The whole “Guest House” scene has really taken off and I regularly get asked if I am going to add a database and some posts on this segment. Unfortunately, I have too little experience (ie. none) to write about them authoritatively, and there are way too many (836 at last count compared to approximately 170 resorts) to document them comprehensively with my limited resources.
Looking forward to year 16 with a little help from all the followers and supporters out there.
Perhaps the most Maldivian cultural fusion is Islam and the Maldives. A longstanding and tightly integral part of its heritage, and yet none of its resorts focused on this connection to cater for the special preferences of Muslim guests. Noting this omission was one of my second ever “What I Haven’t Seen” pieces. There were plans for an Islamic resort, Gaakoshibee, in Shaviyani Atoll but it never came to light. The newly launched Fiyavalhu finally has come to the destination with a keen Islamic sensitivity. Some examples include:
- All plunge pool segregated in enclosed back areas for privacy
- No alcohol served (but an extensive range of mocktails) – “Our creative Mixologists will prepare drinks of your preference from the seasonal fruits and vegetables… Fresh coconuts and other non-alcoholic drinks, snacks or special bites will be available.”
- On site mosque open to guests.
The resort is open to all and it hardly makes mention of its special features which could likely appeal to a wide range of customers.
Probably the two most popular cuisines in the Maldives – Italian and Maldivian – have been fused by head chef Victor Zanitto of Sun Siyam Iru Veli. Victor has spent 6 years in the Maldives and has explored the local cooking extensively. He says that the fusion is a natural marriage of tastes and flavours. He says that Maldivians love thin pizza with tandoori chicken, and Italians are crazy about raw fish. He has worked how to make the most of limited ingredients, ie reef fish and coconut, and he noted that even ingredients like Sri Lankan tomatoes better than those from Italy. We enjoyed the Piedmont delicacy of panna cotta made with tropical mango.
Plenty of reasons to treat your children to a break from Mom and Dad, and Mom and Dad can benefit too with some time together. One of those times is a romantic meal together, but how do the children get fed. Well, Ailafushi’s kids club features its own kids restaurant serving up pizza and pasta as well as sweets like cakes and cookies.
The most natural and aquatic “walls” to any Maldives resort space is Soneva Jani’s “Cave Bar” in its Den kids club. The pool bar especially designed for teens is secluded behind one of the two pool waterfalls. The other leads to the Cave Bar, an evening hangout for teens, complete with a DJ booth, and dance floor.
This feature has prompted me to add two new site Tags: “Teenager” (activities for which are in increasing demand with the rise in family holidayers at the destination) and “Waterfall” (I do appreciate water features).
The most natural roof in the Maldives has to be the Ritz Carlton Maldives teletubbyesque “Ritz Kids” kids club. Its living turf dome provides a rare hill-like impression for its youngster haven. Its circular portal opens to an extensive playground of activities and features (see below) all protectively coddled in this knoll-y corral.