Best of the Maldives: Pool Number – Beach House Iruveli

Beach House at Iruveli pool

One of the dividends to my WTM visit is coming away with a notebook full of new ‘Best of Maldives’ candidates through my discussions with the various resorts and the Tourism Ministry folks. One of my revelations was meeting with Haydee Cruz of The Beach House at Iruveli and learning about their ‘all pool villas’ concept.

Iruveli are neither the only nor the first ‘all pool villa’ resort (eg. Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru has the same concept), but they are the biggest. With their 83 rooms (versus 48 are Vabbinfaru) plus their 2 (!) main pools AND a special kids pool at the kids club, they coming to a splashing 86 pools in total (hat tip to Liz Panchang who pointed out the distinction). And these are substantial pools, eg. Length: 3.2m, Width: 2.3m, Depth: 1.1m.

Best of the Maldives: Breakfast – Waldorf

Waldorf Astoria Maldives breakfast



Happy Mothers Day!

Maldives doesn’t have an official national Mothers Day, but this is the day it is celebrated in neighbouring India as well as the country which started it, USA. A number of the resorts have taken the occasion to honor the maternal guests with special celebrations and well wishes.

In the Lynn household, all Mothers Day celebrations start with a traditional breakfast in bed. But, in our new home of the UK, ‘Mothering Sunday’ is more conventionally celebrated by taking your ‘mum’ out for a Sunday dinner.

If you want to take you mum out to breakfast, then Waldforf Astoria Maldives is the place to book. This is an ambitious category to award a best of. The 5-star kitchens across the Maldives are of exceptional quality, they just seem to get higher and higher gourmet standard, and breakfast is a big deal at most resorts with extravagant buffets. There may be other breakfast menus as good as the Waldorf’s, but I cannot imagine what one would do to surpass it. I’m a bit of a breakfast connoisseur (one of my entrepreneurial fantasies is to open a restaurant that serves breakfasts from all over the world). All set on their over-water restaurant facing the sunrise.  Here’s a sample of the daybreak delicacies on offer…

  • Lobster Omelette ($19)
  • Foie Gras on Toasted Brioche with Vanilla-Pear Chutney ($24)
  • Eggs Benedict with Truffle ($18)
  • Scrambled Eggs with Caviar ($17)

Sure beats Corn Flakes!

Best of the Maldives: Bungee Trampoline – Beach House at Manafaru

Beach House at Manafaru Bungee Trampoline

Most people don’t need much assistance in jumping for joy in the Maldives. If you do, the Beach House at Manafaru has a ‘bungee trampoline’

  • “One of the unique highlights of Play, children will love bouncing their time away on this popular trampoline.”

You make appointments with the reception to use it between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 pm. Weight limited 10kg to 85 kg.


Best of the Maldives: Maldives Culture – Beach House at Manafaru

Beach House at Manafaru Maldives Culture

One objection to a Maldives trip is not enough ‘cultural’ stuff to do. Sitting in the sun on a tiny, dedicated resort island doesn’t really present any historical or cultural experiences beyond some chit-chat at the pool bar. Cultural exploration at most resorts is limited to an excursion to a local island or Male and some visiting traditional dancers.

But, if you do want to sample a broader range of the local custom, then The Beach House at Manafaru has just launched a complete range of Maldivian treats including…

  • Historic island excursion – “Utheemu island, one of the most historically important places in the country being the birthplace of national hero Mohamed Tlrakurul’aanu who led the resistance against the Portuguese invaders in the mid 16th century. The visit includes a tour of a 500 year-old palace, local historic places, a market and a visit to a home in the nearby village to sample local delicacies cooked by the family.”
  • Maldivian Night – “Every Friday evening the resort transforms one of its beaches to an open air market offering a Maldivian style feast. With delicious local delicacies, specially prepared by the resort’s creative kitchen team, this evening brings the culinary treasures of the Maldives to the dining table.”
  • Maldivian Style Afternoon Tea – “Over a century ago, when the King visited the islands of his kingdom, the tradition of home-baked Maldivian snacks and infused drinks was created to welcome him…Subtly fragranced tisanes made from local herbs accompanied by delicate savouries, pastries and cakes, all with a local twist, are served in ART, a thatched-roofed open-air restaurant nestled in the lush tropical gardens of the resort.”
  • Maldivian Line Fishing – “Fishing is the lifeblood of the Maldives. To truly understand the culture of the country, a fishing excursion on a dhoni (a traditional Maldivian boat) opens doors to the rhythms of the ancient ways that are still practiced today. The boat sails in the late afternoon and as the sun falls towards the horizon the experienced fishermen will show the guests how to catch their own fish using the traditional hand line method. No nets, no rods, just a line, a hook, you, the fish and the infinity of the ocean. Fish caught on the excursion will be prepared and cooked by the resort’s chefs for the guest’s lunch the following day.”
  • Maldivian Cooking Class – “One of those dishes that the guests can learn to cook is called “Muranga Tholhi Kiru Garudhiya’(drumstick milk curry).”
  • Veli Modun Signature Treatment – “This unusual spa treatment [uses] locally sourced ingredients, this treatment is designed to invigorate and energize the body and assist in alleviating any aches and pains.”
  • Maldivian Blessing Ceremony – “The resort’s team will organise a stunning ceremony for the couple that includes traditional drumming, flower petal shower and a barefoot ceremony on the beach.”

Each of the activities can be booked individually, or Beach House offers a comprehensive package with every one included.

Aharemen dhanee kon irakun? (Dhivehi for “When do we go?”)

Best of the Maldives: Sea Plane – Beach House at Manafaru

Beach House at Manafaru Sea Plane interior

Donald Trump personifies the super-premium jet-setting crowd. He’s in the headlines a lot these few weeks with both his potential challenge to President Obama in 2012 and his ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ reality TV show now in full flow. Nearly all of the shots of him show him in him in his private Trump helicopter or Trump private plane.

If you want to travel in Trump-quality style, the Beach House at Manafaru this year launches a customised sea plane that looks like it has been taken straight off the set of an Apprentice victory reward.

One of the real treats to a Maldives visit is the view from above. I always try to get a window seat for my outbound journey so that when we approach the northernmost atolls I get a front row seat to all the dazzling colours and shapes. It really is the closest thing to feeling that you have arrived at another planet. A sea plane transfer is an added treat with a flight altitude even lower so you get an even better view. Charming though it is, the seaplane ‘air taxis’ are not big on the creature comforts. But Beach House has a remedy for that. Here is an excerpt from the Beach House announcement…

“A DeHavilland Twin Otter seaplane will be fitted out for the ultimate in aviation with comfy leather seats; custom-made tables and furnishings; and an utterly desirable amenities bag that includes an iPad and Bose noise cancelling headphones. The exterior of the plane will be painted a stylishly elegant white, gray and black livery.”

“Frederic Lebegue, General Manager of Beach House Maldives, A Waldorf Astoria Resort commented, “With the launch of our customised seaplane into the Maldivian skies, we’re putting the glamour back into travel, ensuring that our guests can begin their Maldivian holiday from the moment they reach the airport. The seaplane flight offers a ‘private jet’ experience making this an inimitable way to travel with picture postcard aerial views of the islands below.”

“All guests travelling to the ultra-elegant resort will be welcomed at Male International Airport, whisked through to a private lounge where spa treatments, refreshments and air conditioned comfort await them before transferring to the resort’s own seaplane for the one hour’s flight to the tropical retreat. To while away the time, guests on board will have a customised iPad, Bose noise cancelling headphones, a pair of binoculars, fan and pampering pack that includes face fresheners and hand wipes. The seaplane can be booked privately by individuals wishing to travel in complete privacy, and will also be used to transfer groups of guests to the resort from Male International Airport.”

“Beach House Maldives, a Waldorf Astoria Resort is the only resort in the atoll to offer seaplane transfers to its guests. Set in the far north of the country, Haa Alifu Atoll is usually reached by a domestic flight followed by a boat trip. The seaplane transfer reduces travelling time by half ensuring that guests can enjoy more time on the beach.”

I definitely wouldn’t miss the tiny hard seats of the conventional ‘air taxi’, but I do hope they keep the tradition of barefoot pilots. No shoes luxury is the Maldives.

Beach House at Manafaru Sea Plane exterior

Best of the Maldives Online: Reef Regeneration – Seamarc

Gapingvoid Hugh MacLeod Earth Day 2011

Happy Earth Day 2011!

Maldives have always been on the vanguard of promoting the thoughtful stewardship of the planet. In the spirit of the day, I thought I would highlight Seamarc who has been pioneering ‘reefscaping’ and ‘coral regeneration’ projects across the Maldives. Resorts using their reef grafting frames include Kandooma, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Beach House at Manafaru, Island Hideaway at Dhonakulhi, Reethi Rah, and Four Seasons Kuda Huraa,

“Seamarc’s unique propagation techniques; whereby broken or threatened corals are harvested, attached to portable Coral Trays and put back into the warm Maldivian waters, mean that branching corals grow faster, rapidly creating new and replenishing old habitats. The project also provides alternative employment to residents of nearby B. Fulhadhoo Island who build the structures.”

The illustration above comes from my friend and social media pioneer Hugh MacLeod. I especially like his tagline about ‘changing lives’. The more we do that for the better, the easier it will be to get everyone to agree to some difficult decisions to take care of our planet.

Best of the Maldives: Most Manly – The Beach House at Manafaru

The Beach House at Manafaru Golf Simulator

Quien es Mas Macho of the Maldive resorts? The Beach House at Manafaru seems to think that the Maldives has a greater inherent appeal to women (go figure) and so it has decided to beef up the appeal to the macho side of the travelling party with its own ‘Gentlemen Retreat’

“Gentlemen’s Retreat is a club house/retreat designed primarily with men in mind. Inside, you will find a 50 LCD TV, relaxing chairs, games consoles (Wii game and PS 3), a virtual golf simulator which allows you sample some of the world’s best eighteen-hole golf courses from the comfort of your Maldivian haven.”