Wish trees are found in many traditions, but one of the most prominent is the Japanese O-mikuji (literally “sacred lot”). Wishes are written on small strips of paper and hung in a tree. They can be hung directly on branches (or other frame) or inserted into a small container for safe keeping. My parents presented us with a Wish Tree at our pre-wedding celebration party where guest wrote wishes for the betrothed couple and hung them on decorated branches. Ayada has introduced this tradition with the romantic twist of placing the wishes in tiny, heart-shaped glass bottles (thanks Paola). So if you want your Valentines wishes to last forever, you can give your love a message in a bottle on a tropical island.
When you first start diving, the big bold animals are the most alluring – sleek sharks, hovering turtles, soaring mantas. Over time, you start to get more enchanted by the more elusive creatures – tiny nudibranchs, camouflaged stone fish, hidden octopi. The dive becomes more of a treasure hunt than a safari.
One of the classic, masters of disguise is the leaf fish. If your bucket list includes one of these elusive creatures, then one treasure map is provide by Alexander Von Mende who points us to Mafzoo Giri in the Gaafu Alifu atoll: “You will find a large coral block at around 15m that hosts no less than six residing leaf fish behind a dizzying wall of glass fish.” And if you want the most convenient access, the closest resort is Ayada.
Selecting possibly the most distinctive wardrobe in the Maldives wasn’t hard. In fact…it was amazingly soft. Ayada’s villas are decorated with white cloth armoires are a part of their soft, breezy décor styling. Sort of a Bedouin-chic befitting its occi-oriental crossover motif. Even the shoe holder and vertical storage pockets are cotton.
After all that beach posing, every power couple will want to power wash in style before tonight’s big New Year’s Eve celebrations. Fortunately, Ayada offers a special couples scrub spa treatment. Couples massages are pretty commonplace, but a couples scrub I haven’t seen as elaborately done as at Ayada. Complete with Esta brand cleansers.
Today is International Coffee Day. And for those who want to celebrate with a cup of extra high test, the quintessence of caffeinated elixir is considered by many aficionados to be the Turkish concoction where the consistency is more stew than broth.
The Turkish even have a traditional saying which underscores the sanctity of this buzzing beverage – “Bir kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir.” It means “A cup of coffee commits one to forty years of friendship.” It is used to remind us that friendships should not be taken lightly and we should invest in them for a long term commitment.
And an afternoon refreshment at Ayada’s lounge is just the place to leisurely enjoy that friendship. Packed with Ottoman ottomans and the Turkish delights of Turkish Delight, you can also partake of a wide range of teas and shisha as well.
You can raise a glass of Turkish Wine which includes such vintages as Villa Doluca Shiraz, Cotes D’Avanos (see below). And for afters it stocks three different varieties of “Raki” (a digestif sort of like French Pastis or Greek Ouzo) that is served in a somewhat elaborate and traditional way…
“The resort stocks the top two brands in Turkey, Yeni Rak? and Tekirda?, with both the Gold and Ala offerings. Our Raki is served traditionally, mixed with a little chilled still water in a glass slipped into a copper well surrounded by crushed ice to keep the beverage perfectly chilled (reference picture attached). We also have available ?algam, purple carrot juice which has been fermented for several weeks in wooden barrels along with cracked bulgur wheat and salt, certainly an acquired taste, that is often times served alongside Raki as a perfect accompaniment alongside a plate of freshly cut fruits.”
Jacuzzi or pool? The soothing bubbles in the intimate confines of a Jacuzzi? Or the placid, tepid pool where you can stretch your legs a bit? The top villas offer one or the other option for your own personal plunging. Some more extravagant ones provide both though it’s quite rare. But Ayada’s Royal Ocean Suite has an integrated Jacuzzi/pool combo.
Still and sparkling in one.
What gives the Maldives its distinctive sunny disposition is its equatorial location.
I remember a story from my junior high geography class where the captain of a cruise liner was being harassed by an obnoxious passenger who insisted on being shown the Equator when they crossed it. So when the ship was approaching the 0 degrees mark, the captain called the passenger up the bridge. The passenger was upset because “on the maps, it is clearly a line across the ocean”. So the quick thinking captain, pulled a long hair from his head, stretched it across the lens of his looking glass and said, “Here have a look…” The passenger saw the thin line of the hair superimposed on the vast expanse of blue and was duly satisfied that he had now seen the Equator.
And if you want the most equatorial adventure that the Maldives has to offer, then you need to go to Ayada. As the southernmost resort in the Gaafu Dhaalu atoll (the resort atoll closest to the Equator) it is your closest opportunity to crossing hemispheres.
This equator-centric location also bodes well for the Maldives weather. While “tropical” storms tend to start near the equator (with its sunny warm heating the ocean and the air), they rarely end up there. Once they gather a bit of power, then they veer north or south away from the Equator (as the picture below describes) – and away from the Maldives!