Best of the Maldives: Tok Sen – Amilla Fushi / Anantara

Anantara - Tok Sen therapy

สวัสดีปีใหม่

Happy Thai New Year! And what a year it has been for Thai visitors to the Maldives. Thailand is the fastest growing country of origin for Maldives visitors with a 233% growth (!) making it the 5th highest Asian source (while being only the 10th largest Asian nation). Amari, Anantara, Centara and Dusit Thani are all Thai based properties with multiple properties in the Maldives.

For a truly Thai treat, Anantara and Amilla Fushi both offer the distinctively Thai Tok Sen Thai therapy…

  • Tok Sen Ancient Thai Therapy, which originates from Buddhist Monks, creates healing vibrations through rhythmic pressure on Thai acu-points applied with a special wooden tapper to relax stiff bodies, providing pain relief and deep release for the body and mind.

Lori had some of this work on her feet years ago when we were visiting Prague. It about sent her to the ceiling. If there was a Mohs hardness scale for massage treatments, it would look something like this (going from softest to hardest)…

  1. Reiki
  2. Aromatherapy
  3. Relaxation
  4. Swedish
  5. Shiatsu
  6. Sports Massage
  7. Deep Tissue
  8. Hot Stone
  9. Tok Sen

So for those really tough knots from a particularly enthusiastic new years celebration, ask for some Tok Sen.

Best of the Maldives: Day Passes – Anantara Dhigu

Anantara Dhigu - ticket to island

One of my top 10 FAQs is “where can transient visitors to the Maldives (eg. flight and cruise stopovers) visit a resort island for a single day (no night stay)?” By and large, the resorts have not had this offer for part time guests. The fear is that the island gets overrun by low margin guests just cherrypicking some of the sunshine and beach space without spending money in the restaurants, bars, activities or lodging.

One resort, Anantara Dhigu, is making day visits available. They are managing the risks by tightly containing the number of passes issued. The pass is not a standing offer, but is issued on a case by case basis, mostly when the resort is at lower occupancy. At the moment price is USD 150++ per person (10% service charge, 12% GST) and out of this USD 100 will be used as F&B credit which is non-refundable.  I think Anantara is clever thinking that many people stopping in will love the resort so much that they will make it a point to come back for a proper stay  Also, by keeping the offer to lower occupancy periods, it can help the overall resort experience for all because the resort can run at optimal efficiency (eg.  there’s not a lot of food waste on the buffets with few people there, but the resort wanting to maintain the choice and options for the guests).

Best of the Maldives: Round Door – Noovilu Suites

Anantara Dhigu - New Year bed decorating

Happy New Year 2017!

Lots of fun traditions to celebrate this annual milestone – Hogmanay ‘First Footing’, fireworks and noisemakers (supposedly to scare away the devil), Southern cooking collard greens for wealth and black-eyed peas for fortune.

I don’t really cover guest houses, but I couldn’t resist Noovilu Suites’ portal which has one of the most all-aRound delightful ways to let out the old year (see photo above).

An number of resorts are also marking the occasion with special bed decorations like Anantara Dhigu’s (above) and Amari Havodda (below).

May your 2017 be prosperous to afford many visits to the Maldives (even if you do have to mind you budget in a guest house, at least you might find a door ….)

Noovilu Suites - round door

Amari Havodda - New Years bed decoration

Illustrating Sporty Swimsuits

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI cover

While While the Maldives might have competition for being the top photoshoot destination in the world, there is definitely one top photoshoot in the world…the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The 2016 issue which hit the stands yesterday now so hotly anticipated that they have developed a television show to launch it. Famous SI Swimsuit models include Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Elle MacPherson, Kathy Ireland, Paulina Porizkova, Anna Kournikova, Kate Upton and Beyonce.

And two of the most famous today – partly for their own reality TV shows – shot their issues in the Maldives. Tyra Banks was on the ascendency to becoming her “Americ’a Top Model” with the 1998 edition shot at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. Her previous year’s cover was historic as she was the first black American to grace the cover of the blockbuster annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. That year also introduced “America’s Got Talent” Heidi Klum as 1998’s cover girl.

The next Maldives issue was 2010 shot at Anantara Veli and Dhigu featuring Christine Teigen, Bar Refaeli, Dominique Piek and Brooklyn Decker.

While the USA Swimsuit Edition is the main event, SI South Africa has also been drawn to these neighbouring picturesque Laccadive shores. SI South Africa produced a swimsuit calendar featuring Joelle Kayembe at Bandos, as well as Lee Ann Liebenberg and Liza Botha back at Anantara.

Here are 10 true “10s” from the SI Swimsuit collection…

 

1. Tyra Banks (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Tyra Banks
2. Brooklyn Decker (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Brooklyn Decker
3. Lee Ann Liebenberg (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Lee Ann Liebenberg
4. Bar Refaeli (Israel) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Bar Refaeli
5. Beri Smither (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Beri Smither
6. Joelle Kayembe (South Africa) – Bandos: 2008
Bandos - Joelle Kayembe
7. Christine Teigen (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Christine Teigen
8. Liza Botha (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Liza Botha
9. Dominique Piek (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2010
Anantara Veli - Dominique Piek
10. Heidi Klum (Germany) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI inside

 

And if the pin-ups are not enough, Sports Illustrated has kindly posted a whole collection of videos taken from the shoots so you can enjoy the backdrop of the Maldives with this assortment of aesthetic additions.

Best of the Maldives: Recycled Christmas Tree – Anantara Dhigu / Veli

Anantara - coconut Christmas tree

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There’s only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

One more sleep until Santa pays his visit to the good girls and boys. The girls and boys at Anantara (Dhigu and Veli) have been so good this year, they made their Christmas tree from discarded coconut husks. It shines in the day from the bright whit paint as well as at night with the constellation of fairy lights. One & Only Reethi Rah also has its own coconut Christmas tree (see below), Anantara has not just one, but three trees.

Furthermore, Anantara has gone a step further with another tree made out of old Evian bottles (see below)!

The three coconut trees on Dhigu are 2.5 meters, 3.4 metres and 5.0 metres high, with the tallest one made from 800 coconuts. The other two trees take up around 400 coconuts between them. The bottle tree is 6 meters high and is made from 720 bottles.

O Tannebaum! You’re Green not only in the summertime

Anantara - coconut Christmas tree 2

Anantara - recycled bottle Christmas tree

One and Only Reethi Rah coconut Christmas tree

Best of the Maldives: COTS Removal – Anantara Dhigu/Veli

Anantara - COTS

Be a star to the reefs! Just don’t be a star-fish. Specifically, a Crown of Thorns Starfish. This is one reef species that has had a bit too much reproductive success of late. This scourge was highlighted to us during our recent tour when the marine biologist at Zitahli Kudafunafaru noted a number of Noonu reefs that had been decimated by these coral-carnivores.

The main cause of the outbreak appears to be a decline in their natural predators, especially the trumpet triton and helmet snail, which have attractive shells that are collected and sold.

So a number of resorts a moving into action to reduce their numbers. Lily Beach’s ProDivers held a COTS collection which gathered 92! Their spiny “thorns” a venomous so people can’t and should not touch these creatures if they happen on them. But Anantara Dhigu and Veli are giving guests a chance to get involved with this eco-battle….

“Anantara Dhigu and Anantara Veli Resorts…will be hosting a team of marine biologists from The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) 26 October to 1 November 2015. Led by Chief Scientist Dr Andrew Bruckner, the team of four researchers will be conducting a Starfish Control and Removal program, known as SCAR. The program consists of three main components, the removal of coral reef predator Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS), quantitative reef surveys, and data analysis…Offering a chance for a diving holiday with a difference, guest divers will gain an understanding of some of the different species on the reef, the relationships between corals, fish and other organisms, how these maintain healthy reef systems and what happens when something goes out of balance. Removal of COTS directly saves and protects the reefs and with each dive, guests can learn about one of the very few predators of coral, and one of the most interesting reef inhabitants. Through engagement with the researchers, divers will witness firsthand one of the most severe threats affecting our reefs today.”

The vicious and life-threatening battle with armies of armoured creatures comes to the Maldives in their very own epic “Game of Thorns”.

 

Anantara - COTS removal

Best of the Maldives: Windsurfing – Anantara

Anantara - windsurfing 1

Olympic Day today. Celebrated since 1947 to promote the ideals of the Olympic movement of sport bringing people together from across the world. The day also focuses on getting people to try new athletic endeavours. If you are looking to exploit the calm Maldive waters to just try your hand at the Olympic sport of Windsurfing (aka Sailboarding) or want to ride the waters to an Olympics standard, the the Anantara resorts provide the best windsurfing kit around.

I conferred with Maldive veteran and expert Catherine Watkinson who is both an active contributor to the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum and whose son is an accomplished windsurfer. The genesis of this post here was a posting she made to TA commenting on the troubles her son had finding top grade kit. Most of the gear you find in the Maldives is designed for beginners. That post prompted an investigation by us to find the best kit out there. The tops came out as Anantarta who described their inventory…

“We do offer a big range of top brand equipment, sails from North Sails and Neil Pryde and boards JP Australia and Mistral. Having sails from size 1.9 to 7.3 and board sizes from 094 to 205. Different harness sizes also available, gloves and booties. New equipment has been ordered from the brand Starboard.”

Catherine and her son comments, “These are good quality brands and would suit all levels of windsurfer from beginner (including children) up to the experienced wave sailor or free sailor. If we had been visiting these islands with our son we would not have needed to have flown windsurfing equipment out with us – he would have been very happy with what these [Anantara] islands have to offer.”

 

Anantara - windsurfing 2

Best of the Maldives: Blues – Anantara

Anantara - Coco blue singing

The land of an expansive turquoises and azures adds a different dimension to blues this month.

The rhythms of the swaying palms and the water lapping the shores immersed in the biggest expanse of vibrant blues. Maldives might just be the geographical incarnation of R&B.

Resorts attract a wide range of musical acts to entertain their guests over the post-prandial pina coladas. Traditionally dominated by bodu-beru acts, discotheques and local cover bands, the resorts have branched out into hip DJs, original acts and even DIY karaoke. This month Anantara features one of the most appropriate styles at its Dhigu, Veli and Naladhu resort cluster. American jazz blues singer Coco York is in residence performing regularly through January…

“Throughout her career Coco’s name has become synonymous with jazz, having shared the stage with artists such as Clark Terry, Lionel Ritchie, B.B. King and has performed for Bill Clinton, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, The North Sea Jazz Festival and the Jazz and Heritage Festival of New Orleans among others.”

Also, especially apropos for guests’ last night singing the blues of having the say goodbye to their time in paradise. But, let’s hope she’s not having to sing one of her stand-by pieces…”Stormy Monday Blues”.

Best of the Maldives: Charity Challenge – Anantara Dhigu

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge

Never mind the scented cloths and tropical cocktails, Anantara Dhigu has introduced an even more refreshing way to cool down…

“Torsten Richter, Cluster General Manager of Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and Naladhu Maldives resorts in South Male Atoll, Maldives, accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations towards medical research…The event was held at the resorts’ weekly cocktail gathering and was attended by 200 guests, with 50 guests and associates stepping under the bucket throughout the course of the evening for a brief shower with chilled Indian Ocean water.”

As a marketer, I have been intrigued by the dynamics of the whole Ice Bucket phenomenon which has spread across the world. I think there are some who seeks to inspire a fraction of the engagement and excitement that the challenge has.

Kudos to the Dhigu team for embracing the phenomenon with such gusto and creativity.  Bill Gates would be impressed.

 

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge 2

 

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge 3