The dining life of a special diet scanning the menus for codes like “V” for “Vegetarian” (or it is “Vegan”?). I was at a restaurant and they had a leaf icon for “vegan” and a carrot icon for “vegetarian” (go figure). Then there is all of the interrogating the server for the options. Amilla Maldives has eliminated this confusion by providing special menus printed with all the options for “Your Way” of eating, including:
Looking at the “better half” issues at the halfway point of International Women’s Month. Some women find their satisfaction in the workplace and some find it in the household. Some women find it from both. And for some, the home is the workplace. Such is the case with resort spouses. Juggling the two spaces can be a real challenge. Not to mention juggling the roles of worker and wife. Mind you, increasing numbers of men also face these dilemmas, but historically, it has been the women who were more torn between both. Amilla Maldives Victoria Kruse’s own juggling of so many roles, managing the blurred lines of home and work on a resort, and pioneering initiatives in the Maldives make her a role model for women looking at resort careers or co-careers with their husbands.
My father was a clergyman and so I observed the role that my mother played as “Minister’s Wife” which was also a “job” in its own right even though she did have her own career. The congregation had certain expectations about the presence and contribution of the minister’s spouse. So I grew up with a first-hand view of this informal business-marriage partnership.
The resort couple I have known the longest in the Maldives is Jason and Victoria Kruse. They are (along with atoll neighbours Sonu and Eva Shivdasani) one of the most prominent resort leadership couples in the Maldives. I’ve already profiled Jason’s extensive and distinguished career in the Maldives, but I have long wanted to do a similar profile on Victoria. Her contributions at Kurumba and then Amilla have been noteworthy and growing in prominence with every year of her service. When we last visited Amilla, we noticed that Victoria’s activity and role was beyond full-time and pervasively wearing so many hats. So she was happy to share an exclusive Maldives Complete interview about this experience:
How did you and Jason meet? Jason and I were introduced through mutual friends at a BBQ in Bali. Jason was a managing a hotel there and I had a fashion label back then. We each tell a different version of the story of course!
How did you decide to take an active resort role at the resort? It depends how you define active role really. At Casa del Mar in Langkawi I interacted with the guests but that was all. At Kurumba, Jason asked me to “help out” with the resort boutique as it was in bad shape. From that I started a retail consultancy business for resorts and was involved in the Kurumba boutique plus I also helped out with design things. At Six Senses Fiji, I was a consultant to the owners for the wellness area and store and as happens during opening I was called on to help with other things. In fact, Amilla is the first property I have had an official role working for the resort itself!
What is your current role at Amilla? Director of Sustainability and Wellness (also responsible for Events) – however over the past three years I have acted as the F&B manager, Executive Chef and Director of Sales not to mention purchasing and more. It is hard to define exactly as I also welcome and farewell guests and spend time speaking to guests at each meal period.
What is a biggest challenge to couples working together on a resort? Honestly it is the attitude of owners and management companies that do not accept that management couples can work. Most big companies and many traditional owners are very against it or ban it completely. For me it makes sense in a remote destination.
What would be one tip you would give to couples working together at a resort? Define responsibilities with yourselves and then everyone else.
How do you keep a boundary between resort life and home life? Umm we don’t!
What resort initiative that you led are you most pleased with? Wellness Your Way. This was a hard one to get everyone onside with, especially the previous culinary team. Winning Wellness Cuisines of the Year in 2021 with Destination Deluxe was a vindication enough but now seeing so many guests booking Amilla because of the WYW menus is amazing.
If you have one piece of advice for a woman who wants to succeed in resort leadership, what would it be? Don’t lose your femininity to fit in with the “boys” but use it to connect with people.
If you have one piece of advice for a woman who wants to join their husband on a resort posting, what would it be? Have clearly defined roles and try to set up your house as a non-work environment (just to be clear I have totally failed on this one).
What if anything do you wish you had done differently ten years ago or more? Stood up for myself and secured a clear job.
Ten years from now, what do you think you will regret doing too much of or too little of? Allowing too much working stress and too little do things outside of work.
We marvel at our daughter’s vegan discipline as that culinary lifestyle seems so limited. It seems all pulse and veggie stews. But Amilla Maldives features gourmet vegan “seafood” that would tempt us omnivores. The ingredients are based on a soy and meal recipe which with creates both the flavours and feel of range of seafood specialties.
If your Valentine proposal on the deserted island was a success, then the next step is to plan the big day. No need for expensive wedding planners with their own concepts as you can create the wedding of your dreams at Amilla Maldives with their DIY wedding offering:
“The traditional wedding vows have been rescripted to work with only the couple taking turns to speak, and a permanent wedding arch has been created on the beach, complete with a phone stand, in case the couple wishes to record or live stream the special occasion. The wedding vows are also there for the couple to refer to. They have been carved into wooden panels. In case a few guests are in attendance, six wooden benches have been placed on the beach too… The concept was conceived in response to a growing number of requests from guests at Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences for boutique weddings with no guests or only a handful of guests in attendance. This trend is part of a broader global trend for small destination weddings in privacy.”
My sister Sharyl is an interior designer who has pioneered the DIY concept in her field. Instead of coming in and necessarily spelling out the entire design (which some people do prefer), she provides the option to be their “design coach” and guide clients through the design process themselves. I especially liked this concept as we redid our house years ago and got frustrated by designers dictating their ideas and us clients having less hands on to molding this expression of ourselves.
Sort of “Finally Seen” from way back to my 3rd “Haven’t Seen Yet” post where I highlighted the American delicacy of “Lobster Mac and Cheese”. This popular dish combines one of the most classic luxury ingredients, lobster, with one of the most basic homespun dishes, mac and cheese. I still haven’t found it in the Maldives, but I did enjoy the next best thing at Amilla Maldives – Crab Mac & Cheese. Same concept, but with a different luxury crustacean. And just as delicious as many lobster mac & cheeses I have enjoyed.
One of the first words people think of to describe the destination of the Maldives is “natural”. And (short of going full grass thatch hut), the most natural material is wood. I have a bit of a soft-spot for wood. Our house is filled with burr-wood furniture and natural grain finishes. I had a tradition of giving my godson a wood gift every Christmas. Amilla Maldives imbues this [natural] aesthetic with an extensive collection of wood items in each villa – desk accessories, cocktail utensils, room instructions. And to remember your trip, your own complementary luggage tags (see above). We’ve been using them for the past year and not only are they stylish, but they are also especially sturdy with their wire cable attachment.
One of the motivations for pouring myself into Maldives Complete is that when we do visit, we feel more like members of the community than just passing visitors. Another special touch by Amilla Maldives to make all guests feel that way the moment they step onto the island are their personalised “license plates” on the buggies to their rooms. This extra personal gesture has inspired me to add a new tag for “Customisation”.
If you want that personal touch of a homemade gift, then not only does Amilla Maldives host bath bomb making instruction at its Jaavu Spa, but it also generously has shared it bath bomb making secrets in a YouTube video available to all.
For all those budding Cousteaus out there, Amilla Maldives offers Junior Marine Biologist Course. In the same way some people wonder why resorts have fitness centres (“who wants to do workouts on holiday?”), you might wonder, what kids want to do schoolwork on holiday. Well, me for one. When I was a tyke (about 9 years old), I used to go away to Camp Belknap in New Hampshire for a fortnight. While other kids signed up for archery, swimming and baseball, I signed up for the nature activities. They taught you flowers, trees, animals, star constellations (which has come in handy one many a star-filled Maldives night). I thoroughly enjoyed walking around exploring the outdoor beauty and learning all about it.
Amilla’s course features a daily 1-hour activity that include a Marine Walk, Mini Marine Bio Programme – comprehensive learning about the ocean. Over 6 days (each day a different topic). It builds. Ocean, plankton, coral reef, parrot fish, sea turtles and sharks. The sessions included showing selected TED talks and National Geographic clips, but the focus is on engaging with the children with puzzles, book creation and other activities to implement the material they have learned:
Monday: 17:00 – 17:30 – Marine Walk (different topics, such as the sea turtle nest, the origin of maldivian islands, some curiosities about Maldives etc.)
Thursday: 10:00 – 11.00 – Introduction to Snorkeling (a short presentation followed by a snorkeling session. Location: Spa Jetty or Dive Centre Jetty, depending on the weather and current conditions). VERY IMPORTANT: Please note that equipment (life jackets, fins, mask) will not be provided, so please make sure they come with equipment and they wear a rash vest. FYI: 10 slots available (for the moment). Only 5 years and above can participate. If younger than 5, they can come accompanied underwater with parents.
Sunday: 10:00 – 11:00 – Marine Biology Presentation and Q&A
The Mini Marine Bio Program is tailored to those kids who are keen to receive a comprehensive learning about the underwater world and its creatures. The program is run 6/7 days, 1 hour a day. Each session is about a different topic:
Sunday: Facts about seas and oceans @15:00 – 16:00
Monday: The plankton and its importance for our lives @10:00 – 11:00
Tuesday: All about coral reefs @11:00 – 12:00
Wednesday: Parrotfish (How to keep a balanced and healthy ecosystem) @16:00 – 17:00
Thursday: Lets discover the sea turtles @15:00 – 16:00
Friday: Sharks and their amazing world @10:00 – 11:00
At the end of the program, participants receive a certificate plus Amilla’s marine badges (see photos at top and bottom)