The bad news is that today’s Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. The good news is that you don’t have to wait as long for the gorgeous tropical sunsets. Not that it makes that much difference near the Equator where day lengths don’t vary as much. Nonetheless, this solar milestone seemed a fitting time to share my favourite set of sunset snaps I’ve found throughout the year…
The “traditional” Maldives villa is an earth tone thatch and most of the villas we’ve visited years ago were typically a darker wood. But in recent years, white exteriors have become more popular. First, the exterior walls were painted white. An eco-friendly form of air conditioning to help keep the lodging cooler. Today, doing a quick survey of water villas, the majority have white exteriors. With the timely “White Christmas” theme, I’ve decided to present just the whitest of white villas, those whose coral sand coloured exterior extends all the way up to the tippy top of the rooftop.
May all your Christmases be white…especially over the water of a Maldives lagoon.
“Silver and gold
Silver and gold
Everyone wishes for silver and gold
How do you measure its worth?
Just by the pleasure it gives here on Earth” – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special
The sea and stars aren’t the only things that sparkle in the Maldives as the fashionistas have their own parade of Silver and Gold…
- Albina (Russia) – Holiday Island [VIDEO ABOVE]
- Aleona Lynx (Russia) – AaaVeee
- Yana Mamma (Russia) – Soneva Fushi
- Karina Leyman (Russia)
- Anna Ewers (Germany) – Soneva Fushi
- Victoria Demidova (Russia) – Milaidhoo
- Yulia Rybakova (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
- Araks Laertovna (Italy) – Sun Island
- Liliana Montoya (USA) – AaaVeee
- Mary Muravieva (Russia) – Meedhupparu
- Moni Malibu (USA) – W Maldives
- Lindsey van der Hoeven (Netherlands) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
- Karolina Wozniak (Poland) – AaaVeee
- Katerina Kaka (Russia) – Anantara Dhigu
- Any Salceanu (Italy) – Paradise Island
- Janine Wiggert (Germany) – Constance Halaveli
- Anna Trestain (OAE) – Angsana Velavaru
- Lera Bukinaa (Russia) – Centara Ras Fushi
- Rose Huntington-Whiteley (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
- Little Miss Doctor Girl (Australia) – Hurawalhi
- Justina Mikalauskaitė (Lithuania) – Finolhu
- Karen (USA) – Fihalhohi
- Jesse K. (Australia) – Finolhu
- Belle Lucia (Australia) – LUX South Ari Atoll
- Ferne McCann (United Kingdom) – LUX South Ari Atoll
- Milana Koroleva (Russia) – Cheval Blanc Randheli
- Elnaz Golrokh (Iran) – Ayada
- Arisha Gz (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
- Maria Romanova (Russia) – Velaa
- Drea Vergara (Columbia) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
- Uliana Berdysheva (Russia) – Sun Island
- Olesya Malinskaya (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
- Regina Ponfilova (Russia) – NIYAMA
- Ellie Sax (United Kingdom) – The Residence
- Katrina Kaif (India) – Shangri-La Vilingili
- Pauline Montecarlo (Monte Carlo)
- Shiralee Coleman (Australia) – Constance Moofushi
- Emma Lapin (Serbia) – Sun Island
- Natallia Yakimchyk (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
- Natalia Siwiec (Poland) – Kurumba
- Duo Diamonds (Russia) – The Rania Experience
- Sonakshi Sinha (India) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
- Patricia Panigoro (Indonesia) – Velaa – Prestige Asia
- Hester Winkel (Netherlands) – Sun Siyam Irufushi [VIDEO BELOW]
“Silver and gold
Silver and gold
Means so much more when I see
Silver and gold decorations
On every Christmas tree” – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special
“Silver and Gold” is one of the musical gems of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special. The Maldives features its own rich vein of these precious colours in the teeming schools of Yellow Striped Snappers. One of the biggest schools you find and one of the most popular aquatic tapestries to post. Here is a yuletidal collection of some of my favorites…
One of my favourite artistic crafts is reminiscent of a sort of tropical Tanenbaum adorned with colourful bass instead of baubles. It is the Rihiveli Beach repeater totem recognition. Situated at the cross roads of the paths which criss-cross the tiny island, is a totem pole covered with decorated fish that include names and dates of the guests’ milestone visits.
- After 4 visits – Fish added to totem pole
- After 15 visits – Fish can be put anywhere you like on the island (like on a tree – see photo below)
The record repeater for the resort is 55.
With this post, I’m adding the new tag “Repeater” for such recognitions and celebrations.
For a heartfelt gift, you can make your own. Especially at one of the many Christmas workshops that are traditional this time of year. My church’s annual workshop was where I learned half my craft skills (straw stars, clove oranges, yuletide wreaths). A number of resorts offer various artistic studios (pottery, painting, glass making), but Finolhu have one of the most comprehensive that I have seen with a wide variety of media. The also have a festive Christmas workshop schedule (including ceramics) for all those budding Santa’s elves who prefer the sunny tropics to the frozen Arctic.
The traditional anniversary gift for 9 years is pottery. Actually, I received this “gift” of a post scoop from leading contributor Paola a while back. She spotted it at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and wrote, ““The ashtray is carved in a kind of faux-stone. This way the ashes are protected from the wind.” It also has sort of a Flintstones caveman-chic vibe about it. Twelve shopping days to Christmas (not to be confused with the “Twelve Days of Christmas”) so also a possible gift inspiration.
I also do Maldives Complete to ferret out new discoveries. Some people seek out and collect quirky and distinctive commemorative plates or garden gnomes. I collect distinctive features in the Maldives. Every time I find or someone forwards me something I haven’t seen, I get a buzz similar to a train spotter seeing a 66779 Evening Star.
It’s now become a semi-annual tradition (after my anniversary date in December and before our Maldives departure in July) to share the latest compilation. This group of 24 brings the total to 285. I’ve actually had to start a spreadsheet to keep track of all the “Haven’t Seens” so far (to help me make sure I’m not repeating myself). Of those, 24 have since appeared (with actually a number of resorts telling me that my piece inspired them to acquire or add the feature). They fall in to the following main and secondary groupings…
- Activity: Water Activity, Entertainment, Romance, Mermaid, Kids
- Infrastructure: Villa, Shopping, Digital, Seat, Décor, Glow, Spa, Artistry, Gadget, Eco, Service
- Food: Dining, Frozen, Drink, Lobster, Coconut
- Water: In Water, Underwater, Soak, Pool, Boat
Here’s the latest selection which happen to add up to an Advent Calendar’s worth with 24 treats…
- Drone Spotting – For Mantas and Whale Sharks. The dive boats waste so much time going back and forth between known haunts. Boat captains shared sightings information, but a drone would easily spot these creatures and give the search a broader perspective. Much like the African safaris which use helicopters (and increasingly drones) to spot wildlife movements. [ABOVE]
- Underwater Topology Table – Great for diving briefings (for a house reef dive) or for just bringing the underwater landscape to view.
- Lego Model – Maps are one thing for a birdseye perspective of the property, but a Lego model of a resort would be particularly cool especially for a child-friendly property. A Lego model that included a model of the house reef would be pretty amazing.
- Lego Set – The Maldives are sort of the caricature of deserted tiny islands of pirate folklore. When our kids were little, we used to set up treasure hunts for them around the island, and a number of resorts now offer the same. For the young crowd, this Lego set seems the perfect memento for a gift shop.
- Pirate Brio Train Set – For an even more upscale block model set, BRIO is the classic. While the notion of trains in the Maldives might be a bit far-fetched, not much more imagination required than pirate treasure I suspect…
- Stick-On Soles – For protecting against the occasionally sharp shards of coral in the sands without the annoying flip-flop tan lines.
- Underwater Light Show – Empty lagoon a bit boring without the dramatic drop-off and marine life of a house reef drop-off? Why not bring it to life with an underwater light show? Laser shows are a staple at big events like galas and concerts. A chance for a light artist to explore creations projecting lasers into or under the water.
- Pool Disco Light – Or for a more modest light show especially for a poolside disco (eg. W Maldives, Finolhu), these look like a bit of aquatic fun.
- Ocean Wave Projector – Instead of lighting in the water, you could bring the water in with light. Might be good for resorts that have spa that aren’t overwater.
- Reef Engineering for Surfing – The east reef of Meemu is an extraordinarily long stretch. But the waves break unevenly because the underlying reef which causes them is uneven. I was wondering if you could “even” it out a bit with some Reefscaping to create the longest surf break in the world.
- Surf Dock – Another bit of surf engineering this time on top of the water is surf dock which makes access to the breaks that much easier. Maldives surfing is known for its long, gentle breaks which are great for beginners and I suspect a surf dock would cater to them that much more.
- Floating Beach – Or your overwater engineering could simply help you to chill out swaying and bobbing with the ocean, while being dry and stable on firm platform (Hillside Beach Club, Fethiye Turkey).
- Water Go-Kart – For a bit more speedy bobbing around the water, how about an electric water go-kart?
- Jet Pad – A bit faster bobbing about the ocean…
- Water Car – Even faster?
- Jet Capsule Yacht – How about this transfer shuttle?
- Fishing Camera – A luxury techno-yacht calls for some luxury gadgetry for some deep sea fishing.
- Mask with GoPro Mount – See for yourself where the fish are and bag snaps.
- Wallpaper LED TV – Watch your underwater videos still still in the water. Coincidentally and curiously advertised on this photoshopped Instagram pic in the Maldives (their marketeers must have had the same idea I did).
- Shared Cocktails – For a location renowned for honeymooners, a bit surprised this hasn’t cropped up.
- Lobster Tempura – Lots of Asian fusion in the Maldives and lots of the ultimate luxury seafood – lobster – but not yet the classic tempura preparation. I had this dish at Circus in London and it was quite tasty.
- Coconut Sugar – A less processed for of sugar, many people consider it to be a healthy alternative to cane sugar with more nutrients. Made from the sap of the coconut palm flower, it seems like an opportune venture for some Maldivian entrepreneur.
- Salad Station – Salad Bars, yes. But a station where a chef freshly cuts and prepares your salad to order, no. Inspiration from Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye, Turkey.
- Disabled Staff – Pararowing. Have any resorts recruited disabled individuals and supported their adaptive needs?
- Jet Pad – A bit faster bobbing about the ocean…
If you work at something fun, then you will never have to work. That is part of the spirit of why I do Maldives Complete (still the second most frequently asked question about the website). I value keeping my creative edge sharp in much the same way that I enjoy keeping my physical fitness up. The problem is that tedious gym sessions can be a painful and boring way to workout. Which is why I enjoy activities like ballroom and Latin dancing, basketball, and rowing all of which provide an engaging and enjoyable way to keep the [fitness] up. Similarly, my hobby of Maldives Complete pays considerable dividends in my professional life. Here a few pieces of advice which resonate with me and illustrate this concept of life-long exercise of the creativity muscle…
- “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- “Employees who did something creative after work – like knitting, drawing or even playing a video game that required creative thinking – were more likely to be helpful and creative problem solvers on the job, according to new research from San Francisco State University.” – CNN
- “#5 – Make Writing a Practice – A common first mistake is thinking you’re not a writer. That it’s a domain reserved solely for people with ‘creative’ in their title. Nonsense. If your job depends on articulating ideas, you need to write. Not to mention, you need to write with clarity, with simplicity and, at times, unfettered imagination.” – Doug Kleeman, “20 Ways to Become A Better Strategist”
Another year of Maldives fandom completed. The 9th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website.
The Resort Profile data is inching forward in completeness with Resort Profiles up to 98.9%. The primary issue causing remaining holes has been the addition of new resorts at new atolls, like Raa and Thaa, where I have less dive site information so Dive Charts and Dive Maps are missing from the profiles. The completeness of the Room Type profiles dropped a tad with a record number of new resort launches (room type material is hard to obtain and takes longer to collect).
This is probably the first year that I have not added a major feature or component to the site. So maybe not just the Profile data, but the even the functionality of the site is growing more “Complete”.
All that said, the site hasn’t stood still. In addition to the ongoing research, responding, updating, and other refining and polishing, I made a few significant changes:
- New Logo – The look of the website got refresh a bit with its new logo by Maldivian artist and designer Aima Musthafa. The new branding added an local Dhivehi dimension. In the process, Aima provided some superb input as we cleaned up the look a bit with her more coherent colour palette. She has proposed some more dramatic change to the home page which I am working on (stay tuned).
- Name Meaning – I actually cleared down a number of unused fields in the database, but I did add a fun one which took a fair amount of research populate further extended the Dhivehi dimension of the site – “Name Meaning”. And I learned a bit more Dhivehi in the process.
The Fashionista features keep growing in popularity and are fuelled by even more Instragramming than ever providing lots of shard photos to curate for the Maldives aficionado crowd. Below is sort of a ‘leader board’ of the top social media fashionistas to visit the destination…