Happy Easter! Time for easter egg hunts. And there is perhaps no easier egg hunt in the world than Amilla! Its bronto-sized egg is one of the most distinctive design features in its villas. Not just for its size, but also for its curiosity. The first question one has is “What is that??” Well, I know it’s an egg! But what is it for?? As it turns out it is also a Maldives distinction as probably the most artistic luggage rack! By far the biggest egg we have seen in the Maldives…or anywhere for that matter.
Amilla not only sends you off to dreamland in style, but welcomes you back to the land of your dreams with equal distinction. In particular, it has completed mastered the “Indian Ocean” breakfast vittles’.
The heart here is Maldivian Mashuni. A light pancake, fresh tuna, chillies and coconut morning delicacy of the Maldives. Lori is a particular afficionado and has it at every resort that serves it (which is pretty much every resort). She declared that Amilla’s was definitely up there as one of the top execution.
Then, we move to another breakfast buffet standard – the breakfast curry. In most places, I’ve tried this dish out of curiosity and I do like a curry, but in more cases they just seem like re-heated leftovers from the previous dinner layout. Amilla’s version is light, fresh rendition which really suits the early hour and was especially tasty.
And to complete the Laccadive trifecta, they also serve a Sri Lankan Pani Pol Egg Hopper. A charmingly local (well, nearby) variation on the your morning eggs.
International Pillow Day today. Just the time to settle in for an extra special slumber. And to help you on your way, Amilla treats its guest to sleep pillow goodies. Each take pillow chockies to a new level made with ingredients meant to facilitate your dozing. Each one includes its own message with a sleep tip, eg. “Increase your exposure to natural light to help readjust your sleeping patterns.”. They include:
- Tart Cherry Chocolate – Tart cherry juice has been proven to increase the body’s levels of melatonin, a natural hormone which helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
- Roselle Macaroon – Roselle, a type of hibiscus, has many nutritional and medicinal values. This natural antioxidant may help reduce blood pressure and aid in the digestion of complex carbohydrates.
- Coconut Turmeric Shots – Coconut can help regulate sleep hormones and provides lauric acid, linked to more restful sleep, while turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
One of my many motivations for doing Maldives Complete is to be transported away from cold and less sunny England immersing myself in all things Maldivian for a several hours a week. While my escapism is usually digital, this week I was treated to some real bits of the Maldives live here in London. Amilla hosted an industry event to update its UK partners and friends on the latest and greatest at the resort.
Amilla announced its acceptance into the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection among other enhancements and new features. It wasn’t just press release and presentation, but an actual taste of Amilla hosted at Michelin-trained Kirk Haworth’s “Plates” restaurant whose ethos of sustainable, healthy and yet decadently sumptuous culinary creations fit right into the Amilla vibe. So much so that Haworth was hosted by Amilla earlier in the year and is scheduled for a return residence in the coming months. We were treated to such Maldives-worthy delicacies as “carrot & yuzu bellini crumpet, smoked carrot, seaweed caviar, champagne jelly” and “BBQ potato with sea lettuce, aioli, pickled shallots, nori powder” and “organic cocao and lion’s mane sponge, whipped coconut, hibiscus sherbert.” And all of the dishes were accompanied by rainbow (white, red, rose and orange) of locally produced organic wines.
Other featured Amilla residencies joining the festivities included style guru Kat Farmer (see photo) who recently hoted a fashion show with a Maldivian designer there. And the parting gift was an herbal bath tea from Amilla’s own garden. But the quintessential touch of the Maldives itself were the leadership team which personifies appreciating, investing in and sharing the Maldives – Jason and Victoria Kruse.
If you want to build your appetite or beef up the Swiss Family Robinson way, Amilla puts the ‘jungle’ into ‘jungle gym’ by putting its gym into the jungle. I’ve seen a some of these charmingly natural fitness devices in other resorts, but not the coconut weight machine.
- “Our Jungle Gymnasium features fun, island-made, ‘Flintstonian’ fitness equipment including barbells, a coconut weight machine and monkey bars.”
Many people are reducing their consumption of meat for a variety of reasons, but one of the most prominent is their concern over the ethics of the meat production on both the animals and the planet. While some have completely eliminated meat from their diet, for others going completely cold turkey (or cow?) is a bit too challenging. As a part of their ethos to help guests take step to great sustainability, Amilla is offering a range of ethical meats on its menus:
- BEEF – Cape Grim Beef from Tasmania “is proud collective of beef farmers throughout Tasmania, King and Flinders Islands, [who] have a commitment to ethical practices and are audited by a third-party. They nurture the finest quality cattle, without harming the pristine environment.” As an extra bonus to the quality they are only grass fed, and the cows don’t have to walk distances for their grass (because it rains so much) resulting in a distinctive level of fat marbling. Finally, the air in the location is the cleanest in the world.
- PORK – Dingley Dell Bacon from Suffolk, UK whose operation is built around a “philosophy of animal welfare, taste and sustainability.” Also, Dingley Dell have planted 33.2 hectares of their farm in wild flowers so the bees have food.
- POULTRY – I’ve already written about Amilla’s luxury poultry accommodation for its chickens, “Cluckingham Palace”.
- CONDIMENTS – Amilla uses bananas and coconut sugar from the island to make the ketchup as well as a island produced BBQ. The homemade versions not only reduce the food-miles, but also avoid the the caramel colour (gluten) and refined sugar of the commercial versions.
One of the biggest trends in Maldives tourism is move from shopping for a resort to shopping for a villa. Maldives distinguished itself years ago with the concept of “One island, one resort”. People decided on which resort island was for them and they knew that their entire Maldives experience would be contained in that microcosm of aquatic terrain.
This concept contributed strongly to the development of Maldives Complete. Because you were segregated on a single island, choosing that island carefully was all the more important. It wasn’t like choosing a city hotel where the hotel part of the city break was just a small part which also included restaurants, shopping, sights, etc. outside the hotel. Furthermore, because the property was so clearly delineated, it also made developing a database on the characteristics of the resort easier as everything on the island was specific to that property.
But as I have noted on numerous occasions, guests now seek out “villas” with the same discernment that they used to seek resorts themselves. In the early years, each island only had a few room categories – Standard, Deluxe, Water Villa, etc. – to choose from. What distinguished your holiday was the island you chose and the rooms were more uniform within the island. I wrote a post in 2010 about Kurumba having the most room types with 8. Today, I don’t know of a single new property that has launched with less than that. Soneva Fushi has 27 room types today!
In 2012, I launched the Room Type database to help guests with the task that was now an order of magnitude larger of choosing a room type as opposed to just choosing an island. Just this past October, I amended the popular “How to Pick the Perfect Maldives Resort” post by removing the criteria of whether the resort had a pool or not. This characteristic was one of the very first ones I researched extensively in the 90s before all this Internet stuff as we knew that our kids loved to pay in a pool. Now all but a couple of resorts have a pools. The real question is whether you want your villa to have its own personal pool.
All sorts of special amenities that used to be distinctive for resorts are now available in your own villa (for the premium rooms on the rate card). I remember when spas were just starting to be introduced in the Maldives. Often a therapist on contract given and room and a table to work at buried in the island interior. Now some Presidential suites have their own in-villa spa rooms.
The latest distinction to have gone personal are water hammocks. First spotted at Anantara Dhigu in 2011. In 2016, I was able to post a collection of water hammocks at various resorts. Now, Amilla has added personal water hammocks outside a bank of its water villas!
Maybe this distinction should be “Cutest Bird Resident”. Amilla Maldives not only features a micro-flock of the rare Long Tailed Tropicbirds (more colourfully named “Dhandi’fulhu” in Dhivehi), but the resort island is also a nesting spot for them. We enjoyed watching them darting around the skies with their flowing tail feathers like some sort of mini-Banshee from “Avatar”. Special thanks Khateeb Shaba and Marine Biologist Chiara who captured these pictures of the latest arrival along with proud mom strutting her own tail feathers.
I have two hard and fast rules about the resorts I will visit on our tours:
- Never repeat a visit to a resort.
- Always repeat visiting a Jason and Victoria Kruse resort.
Before their Amilla posting, I made the same exception to their Kurumba property visiting there 5 times. Hence, Tour 18 brought us to the Amilla for our 3rd stay and a chance to see the Kruse’s and their latest creations.
Why do I never repeat? Because I need to use my limited time in the Maldives to gather as much fresh material for the website and extend my first-hand experience of the destination as broadly as possible. I also love discovery and adventure which drives me to seek out and explore new places.
Why do I make an exception for Jason and Victoria? Because they are our soul mates in their love of the Maldives and how we manifest that adoration with creativity and contribution to others:
- Genesis Soul Mate – Back in 2007, I had dabbled with throwing my collected research onto the web, but it was a visit to Kurumba which inspired me to put some real effort and investment into making the site more extensive. We were on a family holiday at Kurumba when one of the Maldivian servers came up to me and exclaimed, “You’re that Maldives Complete guy. We love your website.” On the heels of that, Jason reached out and invited me to come back to Kurumba and visit the other Universal properties and write about them. This was 2009, before social media (and before annoying “Influencer” types had flooded the web with lifestyle porn and annoying requests to resorts). That visit kick-started a supply of material and impetus to make Maldives Complete into the extensive compendium that it has become. The real launch of Maldives Complete was Jason’s embrace and encouragement.
- Creativity / UX Soul Mates – From the outset, I never wanted to write that same old, palm-tree pablum that most travel writers churn and hosted celebrities spew out about the destination getting all gooey over the sunsets, pina coladas and blue waters. Yes, those are wonderful aspects to this paradise, but they have been so done to death. I wanted to dig out the truly distinctive and individual touches that each resort added as their bit of spice to this bucket list essential. Similarly, Jason and Victoria have never settled for just palm trees and pina coladas for their properties. Like a Golden Ticket “Got Talent” singer, they take an island and “make it their own” with their special touches, creative offerings and staff-friendly management. They got Kurumba to punch-above-its-weight and have similarly transformed Amilla. The key reason that I shun re-visiting properties is that I want the adventure of discovering new things. And the key reason that I re-visit a Kruse place is that it always has new things. As much as I like spotting creatures (on land and underwater alike), I also like spotting distinctions. Special touches of care and creativity. And Amilla is one of those top spots where you can keep returning and be assured of lots of great and satisfying spottings. This trip, I identified 20 items to do “Best of the Maldives” posts about (in fact, I spotted 4 within 15 minutes of setting foot on the island). Their resorts are like the proverbial Zen river – you never spend the same day there.
- Destination Soul Mates – We have met in Jason and Victoria a couple who love the Maldives as much as we do. As with Maldives Complete, you get the sense that their motivation is not about the money or career, but the sincere love of the destination.
- Soul Mate Soul Mates – Jason and Victoria share a distinctive partnership collaborating to pool their energies and expertises to the best resort. In a similar fashion, my soul mate Lori is an essential partner to building Maldives Complete helping with input, insights and her equally extensive experience of coming to this destination.
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!