Best of the Maldives: Artificial Thatch – Dhawa Ihuru

Dhawa Ihuru - thatch 1

One of the classic tick-boxes for a Maldivian resort are the archetypal thatched roof villas. While styling contemporary designs have proliferated across the destination with dramatic aesthetic allure, many still want that ‘authentic’ vibe of a Robinson Crusoe hut on a tropical island. A major challenge to catering for this preference is that palm thatch roofs are very expensive to build and maintain. Dhawa Ihuru has outfitted its buildings with Palmex artificial thatch which not only keeps costs down (do the property can be more affordable), but is also itself an eco-friendly solution being produced in a sustainable way and reducing the demand on harvesting palm trees as Palmex describes:

  • Product waste in all our plants is diverted from final disposal and sent to be recycled in other plastic manufacturing processes. Our packaging is kept to an absolute minimum for shipping and is made of Palmex production waste. We have also undergone a third-party verification process with Vertima Inc. and Athena Sustainable Materials Institute where Palmex International Inc. products and our entire supply chain were assessed. We received the Validated Eco-Declaration® Certification summarizing verified environmental claim.

Frankly, we didn’t even notice that they are artificial until it was pointed out to us and we had a look very close

Dhawa Ihuru - thatch 2

Best of the Maldives: Coconut Palm Art Lessons – Sun Siyam Iru Veli

From our very first visit a quarter century ago received all sorts of aboriginal origami creations from staff, but during our visit to Sun Siyam Iru Veli Samaha and Nuhaz actually taught me how to these palm frond are made. They explained that they grew up honing their palm folding skills. Especially, during Eid is a traditional time for youngsters to show off their skills by fashioning the most elaborate designs.  Bodu mas are especially popular during this festive holiday. The first item that Samaha made was a “watch” and a “rose” when she was 8 years old and wrote on it with a needle. She taught me how to make the rose during our tutorial and it came out pretty good if I do say so. The resort also offers these lessons to the younger generation of guests at the resort kids club.

Best of the Maldives: Bathing Tanks – Cora Cora

Cora Cora - bathing wells

The Maldives features all sorts of pools across the resorts – infinity pools, glass bottom pools, jacuzzi pools, exercise pools…you name it. But Cora Cora ’s ancient bathing pools are the most intriguing of the lot. They were excavated carefully by the resort after some construction revealed their presence buried under years of sand piled on top of them:

  • “The Maldivian name for bathing tanks is ‘vevu’. These tanks were discovered in 2011 in the thick wooded area of Maamagili revealing complex ancient structures far remove from the modern history of the Maldives. Mature trees, decayed roots and several tonned of mud and sand were methodically removed to unearth the structure beneath. These bathing tank, widespread throughout the Indian subcontinent were also commonly found in the Maldives until the 1940s.”

  Cora Cora - bathing tank 2

Best of the Maldives: Reception Pool – Ozen Maadhoo

OZEN Maadhoo - reception pool

It’s all about the water. The alluring azure ocean, the idyllic infinity pools…the Maldivian experience is defined by intimacy with ubiquitous water. So it was especially apropos to be welcomed at OZEN Maadhoo by an expansive water feature which set this aesthetic tone right from our arrival.

This post has prompted me to add a tag for “Reception” to assemble all of the posts about great reception features that welcome guests.

World Travel Market London 2023

WTM 2023 2

As the days get colder, wetter and shorter, one of my favourite days of the year in the UK is my annual visit to the World Travel Market in London where I hang out at the Maldives destination stand all for a bit of a surrogate Maldivian experience. The Maldivians staffing the exhibit surrounded by Maldives imagery provides just enough of a sense of the Maldives itself to take some of the sting out of encroaching winter. And the video tunnel of swimming whale sharks and mantas provided an extra touch of virtual reality to the escapist experience (video at bottom).

And this year’s stand was the biggest one yet. Check out the photo below which shows the entire length as everything in the picture is the booth. I spoke to countless resort reps including Madifushi Private Islannd, Robinson, Pullman Maamuta, Hilton Amingiri, Kuda Villingili, Amilla, Fiyavalhu Westin, Heritance Araah, South Palm, Ihuru. Riu Palace/Atoll, Brennia Kottafaru, Alia Kothifaru, Oaga.

I got media kits to fill out Resort and Room profiles for the site s well as discovered a number of great “Best of the Maldives” features to post about in the coming weeks. Two of the notable chats included:

  • Havodda – a BIG question these days is “where is the best coral?” It’s difficult for even veterans like myself to answer because all of our coral experience pre-2016 (with the COTS and El Nino double whammy on top of increased ocean temps and construction disturbance) is pretty much moot. My recent research has been pointing to Gaafu Alifu/Gaafu Dhaalu as one of the brightest spots for coral based both on reports, but also on the topology that this atoll is very wide open with fewer outer shelf reefs so there is more flow of cooler open-ocean water. Chatting about this with some folks, they also noted that the Gaafus are the deepest atolls which also contribute to cooler (more coral-friendly) waters there and they confirmed that this atoll probably does have the best coral
  • NOOE – They are just getting going, but he said that the new website will be up in a matter of days with lots of details. In the meantime, here is their Google Drive with lots of documents about the property – https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17qEnmvX8ITrirWi13DjrAl-h_LpopZVe.

WTM 2023 1

Best of the Maldives: Room Gallery – Oaga

Oaga - room gallery

More resorts feature more artistry from local creatives, and some bring these pieces into the villas, but Oaga features a veritable museum of distinctive art in its Veyoge Gallery Pool Villa room category. And if you are looking for an inspired memento of your ‘night at the museum’, you can purchase the pieces displayed. And even if you don’t buy one, your stay benefits the local artists who graced your space:

  • “Suvāsthi Gallery Art: Revel in the art exhibited on the wall, part of our in-house art collection from Maldivian artists. All the displayed art is acquirable via our Suvāsthi Retail Gallery. Fun fact: For each night spent in this villa, an allocation will be made to the contributing artist community.”

Best of the Maldives: Drift Wood – Baglioni

Baglioni - drift wood b

Driftwood is alluring in its own right. The original tree shaped and coloured by months at sea. So Baglioni’s reception centerpiece – an expansive piece of driftwood is as captivating as it is apropos. The behemoth was washed up on the shores of the island with the 2004 Tsunami.

The tsunami had a transformative impact on the Maldives. Not just their geography and so the losses suffered in human life and property, but also in the very politics of the nation. So many resources were required for the reconstruction effort that the Maldives had to turn to global funders who put as a requirement for their aid and loans and number of radical reforms in the government and economy. Many resorts feature memorials to this dramatic part of their history several of this I’ve featured here, so I have added a “Tsunami” tag to assemble them all

Baglioni - drift wood a

Best of the Maldives: Jellyfish Sculpture – Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani - jellyfish

Happy Halloween! While resorts are adorning their properties with spooky décor for the occasion, Soneva Jani’s main restaurant is permanently bedecked with a hauntingly alluring mobile of ghostly jellyfish. This post is the latest instalment in its catalogue of suspended sea life sculptures so I’ve added the handy “Mobile” tag for them.

Best of the Maldives: Soundtrack – Patina

Patina - soundtrack

Whenever we want to provide a great experience for an event or party, one of the cornerstone ingredients is a playlist to suit the guests and vibe. For example, being Halloween weekend, we are playing our Bruce’s Halloween Playlist for at our social gatherings. Patina teamed up with musicology experts MAV for an eclectic soundtrack at each communal venue of the resort. In addition, they produced a collection of curated Spotify playlists on the resort’s dedicated app to evoke to languid and refreshing vibe of the Maldives.