Best of the Maldives: Chicken Residence – Amilla

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While all the other resorts are competing on the best amenities (like specialised dietary preferences) and comfortable lodging for their guests, Amilla is putting the same attention to care and comfort to their…chickens. The marketing team has even gotten in on the project with alluring branding for the compound dubbed “Cluckingham Palace” (the top rooster dons the royal moniker of “Sir Clucks-A-Lot”)

The project is more than just a galliphile consideration, but also means that vegans can enjoy eggs on the island. Most vegans shun eggs because of the conditions under which they are produced. Some vegan friends keep chickens as pets so they can give them a comfortable life and enjoy their eggs in return. Ostensibly, “free range” eggs should have this same acceptability, but often the regulatory standard of “free” is lower than the vegans’. But if you have any questions or concerns or just curiosity, guests are welcome to tour the Palace. It’s so ornithologically appealing that quite a number of non-chicken birds frequent it as well.

Amilla even hired a poultry nutritionist who created 8 page guide to what scraps can be given to the chickens by the kitchen, including:

  • Raw green potato peels — Potatoes are members of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae). Green Potato peels, especially when they turn green from exposure to the sunlight, contain the alkaloid solanine, which is toxic. Sweet potatoes and sweet potato skins belong to a different plant family and do not contain solanine. They are safe to feed to your chickens.
  • Avocado skins and pits — These contain persin, a fungicidal toxin, that can be fatal to chickens.
  • Raw meat — Feeding chickens raw meat can lead to cannibalism.
  • Broccoli: Yes. Broccoli is safe to feed to your chickens. It is high in numerous vitamins and low in fat; mine prefer it cooked. You can give it to them in a suet cage to keep them pecking all day.
  • Tomatoes: Yes. Chickens love tomatoes! Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, K & B9, fiber, potassium and antioxidants. Chickens cannot eat the plant, leaves or flowers they are poisonous as they contain solanine.
  • Strawberries: Yes. Strawberries are a favorite treat; they are high in trace elements and vitamins A, C & B9. Also contains an anti-inflammatory component called quercetin.
  • Peanuts: No. We are erring on the side of caution here. Peanuts can be bad for some small birds and mammals, there’s no reliable information on chickens. When in doubt: don’t feed it to them!
  • Oats: Yes. They can eat raw or cooked oats. Some research indicates that oats fed to pullets helps to reduce feather picking. Oats contain vitamins and minerals also some protein.
  • Miscellaneous —chickens also enjoy shrimp tails, unsweetened yogurt and spaghetti. One customer told us they serve pumpkin to their chickens because it is a natural dewormer.

Amilla certainly cares for its peeps!

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Best of the Maldives: Foraging Lunch Adventure – Amilla

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One of my favourite tropical island activities with the kids when they were young was setting up treasure hunts around the resort island where the “treasure” was a box of sweeties. Various resorts have introduced their hunts for children, but Amilla has a sort of a treasure hunt with much healthier fare. A virtual walk through their “Foraging Lunch” was shared in their description:

  • “This new eco-adventure sees guests led by staff including the Chef, the Landscaping Supervisor, and the Sustainability and Wellness Mentor, Victoria Kruse, through the lush island to gather edible plants including indigenous varieties such as ‘kulha fila’ (Maldivian rocket). This fun and educational interactive tour highlights the island’s indigenous and island-grown herbs, vegetables and fruit. It culminates in a feast using the freshly-plucked ingredients…Starting out on the Sunrise Beach at the southeastern end of the spacious private island resort, the guests were guided to Amilla’s jungle-clad grove known as The Plantation, where local varieties of small, sweet bananas are cultivated, as well as chillies (a Maldivian staple), lemongrass and passionfruit. Then it was on to the resort’s new Hydroponics Garden, where they discovered a wide array of homegrown greens, before moving on to the UN (short for ‘UNdo the Harm’) where the Amilla Islanders make their own cold-pressed coconut oil from the island’s bountiful supply of coconut trees. Amilla’s chicken coop, Cluckingham Palace, was the next port of call, to see if the pampered chickens there had any fresh eggs to offer…The next destination was the vast area of natural jungle that covers over 70 percent of the island. From this area, the group collected dry coconuts for coconut milk and young coconuts to make ‘mudi kashi’ (the flesh of young coconuts), with a little help from Amilla’s skillful tree climbers. They also helped harvest some wild breadfruit from 15 metres up in the jungle canopy…Finally, the group circled back to Amilla’s beautiful Mystique Garden, where the hungry team collected even more salad greens as well as sugarcane and the traditional Maldivian staples of aubergines, okra, and sweet potatoes.”

Also, helpful survival training for if you ever get marooned on a desert island. Bear Gryll’s paradise edition.

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Best of the Maldives: Screwpine Colada – Amilla Fushi

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If there’s two things I enjoy in the Maldives it is exotic flavours of local ingredient and the traditional cocktail of a Pina Colada. Now, Amilla has added another screw pine concoction mashing up these two into a Screw Pine Colada:

  • “Enjoy a Maldivian twist to your usual pina colada with the fresh flavours of our home-grown products. Our rum-based coladas are made with fresh screw pine juice and coconut water from our island – truly the taste of the Maldives in a glass.”

A few these walking tree drinks and you might just be walking into the tree (“screw pines” as also known as “walking trees”).

Best of the Maldives: Safety Turtle – Amilla

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Even if you stay sequestered in your own villa pool, you still to have to be careful with safety around water. Especially with young ones in tow. And this is doubly the case if you have a water villa with a pool. A while back, most Maldives resorts did not allow children in water villas for fear of their falling into the ocean, but recently they have decided to let parent’s make their own decisions about safety. If your child is less mobile or you are diligent in looking after them, then there shouldn’t be any problems. But all parents know their attention can be distracted even for a moment.

For an extra measure of hi-tech protection, Amilla has procured a number of “Safety Turtle” devices which trigger an alarm at a base station (up to 200 feet away) if it gets wet. Put it on your child’s wrist to be alerted imediately if they fall into the pool or ocean. The devices are available for loan on request.

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Best of the Maldives: Upcycled Table – Amilla

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Furniture can be just as artistic as paintings and sculpture. It is sort of a living, functional sculpture which makes experiencing it all the richer. My favourite art is those pieces with a story as enchanting as its aesthetics. Like Amilla’s upcycled dining table in their Mystique Garden. The resort hosts chef’s garden meals there. The table itself has been made out of reclaimed wood from the island’s previous jetty. So you are dining in the middle of the island, eating produce from all around you, sitting on part of the island’s history.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Veg – Amilla

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While the Maldives destination is known for its distinctive blues, at Amilla’s “Mystique Garden” also features a cornucopia of Maldivian greens. And initiative of Sustainability Manager Victoria Kruse (see above) who has collected an extensive range of local produce to grow and feature in all the resort’s cuisine including:

  • Moringa Drumstick – A ‘super food’ with leaves like spinash, roots like horseradish and use to make curry.
  • Kullhafilafai – Like Maldivian dandelion (see photo directly below)
  • Maldivian tea tree
  • Loofa – While best known for its scrubbing, it is also produces a healthy veg.

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Best of the Maldives: Spa Alchemy – Amilla

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For a scent that is not just reminiscent of the Maldives experience, but evokes your Maldives experience, Amilla’s Javvu spa features its own “Alchemy Bar”. There you can concoct your own magic potions to conjure up the golden moments from your visit. You are guided by a recipe book that shares its properties and other information about it (see sheet on “Moringa” below). Many of the ingredients are grown right on the island.

Travel Trade Maldives featured an interview with Spa and Wellness Manager, Laura Pagano, who developed the concept:

  • “It’s an interactive laboratory where we teach our guests to make their beauty potions and bath products, so it brings a special touch to their experience. During lockdown, the first thing we made was a bath sachet from herbs like lemongrass and neem growing on the island, then we started making our own sea-salt. Then from the dried herbs we realised we could make powders. From there realised can make face masks, teas and more – the possibilities are endless. There were only seven of us ladies working on the island, so we used to have our own girls’ nights with our own homemade face masks, moisturisers, hair masks etc. We even made our own deodorant because we were running out of it in the shop! It’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used, I swear. I’ve been using it since my garden work and it really works, nobody was running away from me!”

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Best of the Maldives: Screw Pine Soda – Amilla Maldives

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For that truly authentic glass of refreshment, you don’t get more Maldivian than screw pine (I’ve even add a “Screw Pine” tag now for the various tree treats). Amilla Fushi offers its own Screw Pine Soda for guests who want to slake their thirst with something straight out of their own island in paradise.

Best of the Maldives: Bubble Escape – Amilla

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The Amilla Bubble Escape is the ultimate indulgence in the best of both worlds – indoors and outdoors. The two worlds of natural splendour and sheltered creature comforts.

Lori and I adore spending time outdoors 24 hours a day in the Maldives. The obvious sun-bathing and lounging by the pool during the day. But also, star-gazing at the Milky Way swashed sky and looking for falling stars (during our Amilla stay, we hit the jackpot with a clear sky and a barrage of meteors that were flying by at a rate of about 3 per minute). Finally, we love to fall asleep with the sensation of the gentle ocean breezes wafting across us and the sounds of the water lapping the shallows beneath us.

But such al fresco devotion comes with compromises. Most villas’ loungers have cushions not quite as comfy as proper bed mattresses (sometimes you only get the narrow loungers and have to push two together). And if you get surprised by a late night squall, then you are awakened by literally a splash of water on the face and a mad scramble to get inside. And of course, there is no AC so some nights it is uncomfortably hot and humid, while others it can be downright chilly.

The Bubble Escape lets you intimately experience the sights and sounds in 360 degrees with all in the comfort of a queen-sized bed surrounded by all sorts of handy things like treats, drinks, books, etc. But the luxury doesn’t stop at inside the bubble. Amilla has moved it to its own little private beach-side nook behind the spa. The outside area includes a sink, table for eating (we had dinner and breakfast served to us there), a Maldivian-style swing.

When Amilla first came out with the “Bubble Tower”, I obviously just had to write about it as it was so unique and curious. But the resort has now updated the concept and added a number of new features which make it a more than a feature and turns it into a true experience.

We arrived at the spa mid-afternoon where they gave us a tour of the facilities and the various features of the Bubble (you have access to the spa bathroom and showers throughout your stay in the Bubble). After settling in, the therapists arrived to give us a waterside couples massage. We were then so chilled that we relaxed in the hammock and swing there just swaying and enjoying the seascape vista. In the early evening, the chef and server arrived to prepare our dinner over a beach BBQ served at a waterside table. We lingered over our remaining wine until deciding to retire to our Bubble bed for some star-gazing. We drifted off to sleep under the swish of falling stars shooting across the heavens. In the middle of the night, we were awoken by an unusual pluck-pluck-pluck sound of raindrops hitting the clear plastic. It was a soft, rhythmic patter which sent us quickly back to sleep (grateful for our polyethylene protection).

The Bubble Escape rates right up there with my two other favourite “Wow” types of features in the Maldives: (a) underwater rooms, and (b) discovery centres. All three provide a striking fresh window to this enchanting paradise.

Postscript: The only resort encourages people to “switch off” during their Bubble Escape. When we went, we decided that the only ipads allowed were “eye pads” (see photo at bottom).

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