Best of the Maldives: Equatorial – Ayada


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!


Tropical storm formation

Best of the Maldives: 5-a-Side Pitch – Ayada

Ayada - 5-a-side pitch




Today’s Commemoration of Atatürk in Turkey is celebrated with a traditional Youth and Sports Day featuring a whole host of competitions and exhibitions. Here in the Maldives, the Turkish inspired resort of Ayada offers its own distinctive sporting venue with the premier 5-a-Side pitch of the Maldives resorts complete with astro-turf and night game lighting.

Best of the Maldives: Jetty Island – Ayada

Ayada - villa island

If the Maldives islands aren’t small enough for you, the Ayada has created its own “Ile de Joie” (Island of Joy) in the middle of its water villa lagoon. It serves as the home for its cheese and wine restaurant.

Over water venues are great for ambience offering intimacy with the water below, but they are all wood and construction and so depart from the natural splendour of the island. Except at Ayada, they have brought the lush tropical nature to their overwater restaurant with foliage, flowers and even palm trees planted on this little culinary cay. A great place to hand out all day long with their distinctive dhoni seats on the deck.

Ayada - villa island 2

Best of the Maldives: Bath TV – Ayada

Ayada - bath television

When I’m not in the Maldives, my two relaxation havens are (a) in front of the TV, and (b) in a hot bath. But if you are in the Maldives, then you can have the relaxation trifecta with both looking over the somnifacient seas of the Maldives at Ayada water villa. One of the all time great combinations up there with peanut butter and chocolate, Paul McCartney and Steve Wonder, or Star Wars and Lego.

Best of the Maldives: Christmas Lights – Ayada

Ayada - Christmas lights 1


Our many different cultures notwithstanding, there's something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can't help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It's an inspiring time of the year.” – Marlo Thomas

Christmas lights are such a part of the season that you can actually see them from space. And if you point your satellite window to the Indian Ocean, the bright spot will be Ayada shining out from the Gaafu Alifu atoll…

“Ayada Maldives gears up for its third festive season as it announces this year’s festive program. Running from 20th December through to the 2nd January 2015, the program invites its guests to enjoy a daily round of activities, fine dining and some seasonal fun such as festive-themed movie night in the swimming pool, an afternoon tea party with Santa as the guest of honor, and of course a daily choice of specialty spa treatments at the luxurious AySpa. ‘At Ayada Maldives we’re focusing on making this holiday time fun for everyone,’ says general manager Zafer Agacan. ‘The theme for this year is ‘festival of lights’ and accordingly different areas of the luxury resort’s spacious island are being lit up with creative designs such as shooting stars, baubles, frangipani flowers and a Maldivian dhoni that looks like it’s about to sail down a small hill’.”

Lights are such a big part of the Christmas holiday tradition. Tree lights. House lights. Regent Street lights have become a red carpet affair. Rudolph (with his nose so bright!).  On our own house, we have a lighted nutcracker, two light boxes (flashing “Peace on Earth” and “Joy to the World” in different colours) and a string of vintage coloured bulbs. Lights dripping everywhere.

Last year, we went home to North Carolina for Christmas and one of the highlights (pun absolutely intended) was going to the Tanglewood Festival of Lights (an event so popular we packed a yuletide picnic to eat in the minibus while we queued on the road for several hours waiting to get in).

I’m intrigued by the “specialty spa treatments” Ayada mentions. There is no specific list, so I am thinking – Frank-incense, Cold-agen treatments, Claus-metic make-over, elf-ential oils, midnight mass-age, North Poultice, refleXmasology, and a Christmas wrap.

Putting the “Spa” in your Christmas “Spa-rkle”!


Ayada Christmas lights 2


Ayada Christmas lights 3

Best of the Maldives: Asian Fusion Dessert – Ayada

Ayada - coconut milk and water chestnut dessert

One of my all time favourite coconut delicacies is the “Tub Kim Krob” served at Ayada’s Kai restaurant. Kai serves gourmet Asian fusion food to rival Anatara’s memorable Geckos. Tub kim krob is the simplest of dishes – basically coconut milk and water chestnut – and yet so divinely moreish. I struggle to find Asian desserts that I really savour (especially if you eliminate all the mango concoctions). But this dish I could eat again and again. And I wasn’t alone. Ayada Sales and Marketing Director Niclas Prokop had joined us and like most resort management accompanying us for dinner was pretty indifferent to what he had to eat (I’m sure he’s had everything on the menu many times). Except when it came to dessert. Then, there was no hesitation and he immediately put in an order for the tub kim krob. And the other staff with us echoed his request. So I definitely had to try some myself.

More like “YUM tim krob”!

Best of the Maldives: Massage Rain Shower– Ayada

  Ayada - massage shower



I’m always intrigued by the ever-moving goal posts of scoring luxury. They seem to move the farthest on the playing fields of opulence that is the resorts of the Maldives.

Years ago, a massage shower was the height of bathroom cleansing sophistication. Then, added nozzles and jets provided an extra degree of soaking sumptuousness. Today, the current gold standard for super-premium bathrooms is the ceiling mounted rain shower.

Ayada has taken all of these hedonistic innovations and amalgamated them into the uber-shower. A multi-nozzle rain-drench massage shower! Featured in its select water villas, one can start to understand how Ayada snared the award for “Leading Water Villa Resort” at the World Travel Market this week.

World Travel Market 2014

WTM 2014 Katherine Anthony Ayada awards

While Maldives Complete is my virtual world outlet for experiencing a bit of paradise when sequestered in the damp and dank boroughs of Britain, but once a year I get to inject a bit of real-world Maldives into my life. That is the annual World Travel Market where the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation comes to town with its marquee stand.

I always visit to saw hello to a few MMPRC and resort friends. But this year brought the added bonus of a “meetup” with some of the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum digital comrades. Pictured above is the TA and Maldives veteran Katherine Anthony holding the two awards won by her resort Ayada – “Leading Resort in the Maldives” and “Leading Water Villa Resort in the Maldives” (big congrats “KatfromAyada” and Ayada).

Joining us were Christine Aldridge of No Shoes No News Travel and Amit Patel of Simply Maldives. We all went out for a post-show nosh-and-natter catching up on all things Maldivian. Going around the table for the resorts sharing our perspectives – between us we had visited over 130 resorts (with obviously a lot of overlap). We whipped round sharing our superlatives like which resorts surprised us the most (in a good way) – Gili Lankanfushi, Soneva Fushi, Bathala, KATH, Komandoo.

The big news of WTM was the Thumburi guest house island project. It looks like an inspired initiative to have your cake and eat it too for both guests and Maldives entrepreneurs. It provides an island and infrastructure to reduce the costs of development and required investment so smaller businesses can investi in Maldives tourism. It also provides scale, diversity and competition to provide high-quality, but value-priced properties for the middle market aspiring to enjoy Maldives paradise.

I got to connect with some new resorts – Embudhoo, Equator Village, Summer island, Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, Diamonds Athuruga and Thudufushi, Barefoot, Centara, and Ayada (obviously).

A little virtual sunshine in my week. Maybe not the palm trees and pina coladas, but I still got to bask in wonderful smiles and gregarious warmth endemic to the Maldives at least for a day.

This post has a new category tags to the blog for “WTM” as this is now the 4th instalment of Maldives presence here.

Best of the Maldives: Turkish Bath – Ayada

Ayada - Turkish spa



Happy Turkey Day. No, not yet Thanksgiving, but Turkey’s national Republic Day. This is the resort Ayada’s day. Ayada takes is style and motif inspiration from that vibrant Bosphorus link where east meets west.

One eponymous way to celebrate could be in Ayada’s own glittering Turkish bath. You can have an authentic Turkish massage on the central stone slab. Or just melt away in the resplendent sauna which goes up to 50 degrees.

In Turkey, they say “Hamama giren terler.” (“he who enters the sauna, sweats”…sort of a version of ‘reaping what you sow’) but sweating has never been so sweet!

Best of the Maldives: Jacuzzi Chess – Ayada

Ayada - jacuzzi chess


I have seen lots of ways to play chess. Fancy sets. Giant outdoor setups. But Ayada’s has to be the most ingenious master stroke of them all.

I love hanging out in the Jacuzzi or pool, but admit it can get a bit boring. You can’t read in the pool because the pages get wet and don’t even think about bringing in your iPad.

This is what 5-star luxury is all about (and the the focus of so many “Best of the Maldives” pieces) – taking a simple, ordinary thing (a game of chess) and making it extraordinary.

Check and mate!