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)
Most luxury resorts in the Maldives will feature some fine fashions in their boutiques, but Amilla featured fashion on a grand scale inviting both Style Guru Kat Farmer (“Does My Bum Look 40 in This”) and Maldivian Designer Raidha Shafeeg to share their insights and creations with the guests and online fans (I learned of their collaboration at Amilla’s London event where I met Kat). The event coincided with International Women’s Month showcasing these two leaders in their fields and included a fashion show as well as the discussion above. Always keen to feature pioneering Maldivians, Maldives Compete is delighted that Raidha shared some extra perspectives in an exclusive interview:
- What are your artistic roots (eg. your earlier memories of being enthralled by creative pursuits)?
Ever since a pretty young age, I’ve been interested in art and the creative world. I liked to paint and enjoyed drawing in my free time as well since it was a big hobby of mine. As I grew up, I studied arts in the schools I attended in order to develop my craft and learn more and acquired more knowledge about the artistic world.
- What training/education in the field have you done?
I did my HND in Fashion Design and Arts at the Academy of Design (AOD) in Sri-Lanka.
- What type of fashion do you focus on?
I would say that my main focus for my brand in regards of the type of fashion focused on, would be resort-wear as well as modest wear too, I love to keep up with current trends and love incorporating it into my new designs along with my personal touches.
- What are some of the key elements of your personal style?
I would honestly say that my personal style is an outwardly representation of my own personality – I love to dress in bright colours and love to experiment with bold prints as well.
- What is one of your favourite designs?
My favourite collection that I’ve debuted so far has to be the modest wear Bee Collection’ that we released in 2018 at the Mercedes-Benz show at Sri-Lanka. It was a collection that drew its inspiration from the concept of a bee colony and its hierarchies which I ruled by the queen bee. It is a collection that promotes women empowerment and I enjoyed designing the collection very much.
- Who are some fashion designers who you admire?
One designer I admire – and have admired for a long time – has to be Italian designer Donatella Versace. I love her designs for Versace and her personal style as well.
- What advice would you give to aspiring Maldivian designers?
My advice for any aspiring Maldivian designer is try to make something long lasting and worthwhile using your creativity and always believe in yourself and genuinely enjoy and love what you’re doing and do your work passionately as that’s always a sure-fire was to success.
Caring for customers isn’t just about having a gracious smile and attentive service, but it involves really understanding each of your customers as individuals, catering to their distinctive needs as best one can. The top Maldives properties have achieved this with specially trained ‘butlers’ (and assorted variations on that theme). But some needs require more work than just a resourceful attendant’s hustle. In fact, some people – those with disabilities – often want an experience where their ‘luxury’ is being able to do everything as independently as possible.
Disabled individuals are used to tackling and overcoming diverse obstacles that the world throws at them. But holiday is when one wants a break from not only job work, but also just the daily work of housekeeping, cooking, cleaning and other chores. So going to an exotic locale renowned for sand and water (neither of which are disabled individuals’ particular friends) is always going to be less appealing.
Amilla Maldives breaking down these obstacles with a property-wide initiative to make their resort as accessible as possible:
- “The sandy island paths, beaches, water jetties, villas and restaurants across the archipelago have for too long remained the exclusive domain of non-disabled visitors, excluding this as a dream-destination for guests with additional mobility, sensory or cognitive requirements, who would come if they only believed they could…Inclucare officials are auditing the entire resort island to identify any physical adjustments or adaptations that can be made to authentically establish Amilla, and the Maldives, as an accessible and inclusive dream-destination for all….Amilla is now on target to soon become the first Inclucare-certified resort in the world.
Amilla outlined a range of accessibility enhancements they implemented (including the following), but talking with resort leadership couple, Jason and Victoria, many more are on the way.
- Amilla already had many easy-access ground floor villas, with wide doorways and accessible showers, as well as a beach wheelchair and a floating wheelchair for swimming and in-villa phones for the hearing impaired that light up when they ring… New innovations on the cards at Amilla include deaf-alert systems, adaptive yoga and snorkelling adventures, and sensory touch, aroma and sound experiences through the jungle for vision-impaired guests. And there will also be another groundbreaking addition: ‘calming spaces’, for regulating sensory input. They will allow guests on the Autism spectrum, with learning difficulties, or dementia, to control their emotions, reducing anxiety and stress.”
Amilla introduced their initiatives hosting British TV personality and disability advocate, Sophie Morgan. Not only does she provide a compelling “proof of the pudding is in the eating” test to Amilla’s initiatives, but she also provides extensive reassurance through live demonstration on her Instagram (see embedded post here).
Accessibility is especially near and dear to our hearts. Lori worked for nearly a decade as Head of Therapy for the UK Epilepsy Society where she was supporting clients with a broad range of often severe disabilities. And I coach disabled athletes in the sport of rowing, and even have a website with comprehensive information about that – www.adaptiverowinguk.com. In fact I have a series of posts called “Can You Row With…” (eg. “Can You Row with Multiple Sclerosis?”, “Can You Row With Cerebral Palsy?”, “Can You Row With a Hearing Impairment?”). So, ‘Can You Go to the Maldives with a Disability?’ To Amilla, you certainly can!
Bicycles have become a familiar amenity on the medium to larger size island to allow guest to explore the more extensive grounds in a leisurely manner. Amilla recently upgraded the bike fleet with chainless models. Chainless bikes have a number of advantages:
- ·Easier to Ride – 22% less force needed to make your holiday riding all the more relaxing.
- More Eco-Friendly – no chain lubricant needed
- More durable
International Shark Day today. A time to celebrate those wonderful elasmobranchs. And but Amilla features a particularly distinctive one. It appears to be its own species with a variegated skin patter, but as marine biologists have clarified that it is just an individual with a genetic skin condition. A bit like shark vitiligo.
Today is June’s New Moon and it fall right in the middle of Amilla’s newly introduced “moon” of it own. There are “honeymoons” for starting the chapter of your life with your “honey”, “babymoons” for starting the family one, and now Amilla has introduced the first ever Maldives “menomoon” for ladies embarking on that “The Big Change”. Which is an especially apt name as the root “meno-“ in “menopause” comes from the Greek word “menos” meaning “month”, and the word “month” comes from the Old Norse word “menon” meaning “moon” (which is itself, coincidentally, “meno”). So really, it is a “moonmoon”.
And if my experience with Lori going through that “certain age” is any indication, then if there is ever a time a women could use an idyllic retreat, it is then.
- “Even though it is a natural stage in life, many women find it daunting to navigate changes in their hormones during perimenopause and menopause, and all that comes with it – hot flushes, mood swings, lack of sleep, brain fog, weight gain around the middle, anxiety and dwindling confidence. But help is at hand! Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences is the first resort in the Maldives (and one of just a handful of resorts around the world) to have created a women’s perimenopause and menopause retreat…The three Perimenopause/Menopause Retreats at Amilla Maldives Resort will run between June 23rd to July 7th, 2022. It will be led by renowned naturopath and wellness coach, Claire O’Sullivan. The five-day journey has been developed to give women the tools they need to adapt to the changes in their bodies in a healthy and positive way, enabling them to tune into themselves rather than fight nature. With these tools, they will address physical, emotional and lifestyle issues, improving their habits and renewing their energy.”
Some of Amilla’s complimentary items are a gift to the guest and the planet. They provide a variety Mon India bags for guests’ use and some for guests to even take home made out of plastics that would otherwise be destined to end up in the ocean that surrounds their visit:
- “We have started making bags and accessories out of Ocean Bound Plastic Recycled Fabric. We have developed an ethical supply chain, with our partners collecting plastic bottles and other kinds of plastic and preventing them from entering the seas and ocean. Recycling the collected plastic into fine polyester fabric. Once the fabric reaches us, we make Bags and accessories out of it.”
Amilla includes laundry bags, hairdryer bags, toilet roll bags, table covers and beach bags from Mon India for the guests’ use. And the kids get a welcome back pack (see below) inspired by the local star wildlife resident, the White Long-Tail.
One of the most useful complementary items we’ve received in the Maldives in the past year was especially apropos to the headline event of the past year – face masks. Lot of companies have produced logo’ed facemasks as a combination of courtesy and promotion, but Amilla’s were special vented versions the big advantage of which is that they didn’t fog up your glasses (if you were passing your transit time reading) or your sunglasses. As a result of this benefit, this mask is one of the ones I have used the most when I came home. And their light, white material made them especially suitable for the tropics.