Best of the Maldives: Bedouin Restaurant – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - bedouin dining

Set on the sands of a tropical island rather than some Arabian dune makes this far-flung Bedouin encampment all the more enchanting. After all, middle eastern traders were among the first non-natives to visit the Maldives (bringing with them the Islamic culture for example). The Maldives is sort of fusion of middle-eastern and Subcontinent heritage and traditions situated between the Red Sea and the Bay of Bengal. A number of resorts feature middle-eastern fare, but none so aesthetically authentic as Centara Ras Fushi’s Al Khaimah restaurant…

  • “Savour the tastes of the Middle East when dining at Al Khaimah. Reminiscent of an authentic Bedouin tent adorned with rich fabrics and tapestry carpets and set amidst our tropical garden, this intimate restaurant offers an Arabian culinary adventure using hand-crushed spices, homemade marinades and the freshest market ingredients to flavour our char-grilled meat selections and rotisseries. Low slung seating and the heady scent of oud compliment this unique dining experience.”

I do love al fresco dining…sitting out in the open breathing in the sea-kissed night air. The soft fabrics of the surrounding canopy and the cushions adds an even more softness to the atmosphere surrounding you, the palm fronds swaying above you and the power fine sand underneath you..

Centara Ras Fushi - bedouin dining 2

15 Romantic Suds

Atmosphere Kanifushi - tub

Happy Valentines Day sweethearts everywhere.  But especially in that global hotbed of romantic paradise, the Maldives

Get your clothes off for a hot and steamy, sensual delight, with a touch of perfume, bubbly, and flower petals. Yes, a romantic bubble bath. Here’s a not-so-dirty dozen of the best in the Maldives…

I’ve also added a “Maldives Tub Art” board to the Maldives Complete Pinterest so I can add more sexy suds as I find them.

I©Maldives
 

1. Atmosphere Kanifushi [above]

2. Cheval Blanc Randheli
Cheval Blanc Randeli tub

3. Vakarufalhi
Vakarufalhi - tub

4. Coco Bodu Hithi (thanks Paola)
Coco Bodu Hithi - tub

5. One & Only Reethi Rah
One & Only Reethi Rah - tub

6. Centara Ras Fushi
Centara Ras Fushi - tub

7. Kuramathi
Kuramathi - tub

8. Anantara Kihavah
Anantara Kihavah Villas - tub

9. Amilla Fushi
Amilla Fushi - tub

10.  Centara Grand
Centara Grand - tub

11. Loama Maamagili
Loama Maamagili - tub

12. Sun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - tub

13. Hideaway Beach
Hideaway Beach - tub

14. Zitahli Kudafunafaru
Zitahli Kudafunafaru - tub decor

15. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
image

Best of the Maldives: Snorkel Rope – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - snorkel rope

While everyone’s first snorkelling question is about spotting cool stuff, their first concern should be about safe snorkelling.

One of the leaders in snorkel safety is Centara Ras Fushi. First of all, they require a swim test before guests are allowed to snorkel the house reef (other resorts like Dusit Thani do this, but it is still a rare measure). They also have the Maldives Coast Guard come and train all their resort employees including groundkeepers and housekeepers in lifesaving. A number of staff have jumped in the water and helped people needing assistance already this year.

Finally, they have stairs out of the water and onto water villa jetty placed at regular intervals. That way, if you go out snorkelling and you get tired, you can return onto the jetty relatively easily. In most resorts, you have to get entirely around the water villas and the only way you are allowed onto the jetty is if you are going to your own villa. The conventional approach is aggravating as the water villas often extend to the house reef edge. If you go snorkelling around them, then you are forced to commit to the entire distance in order to clear them and get to a beach entrance.

But what is really distinctive is Ras Fushi’s snorkel safety rope. Snorkelers can use it to grab onto in order to secure themselves and give themselves a rest. Or they can even stick entirely to it and use it to pull themselves along for a guided float across the ridge of the drop-off.   This use is a benefit to another safety measure – wearing life jackets or using flotation aids.   Without question, anyone who has the slightest apprehension about swimming, should consider swimming with a life jacket or floatation aid.   They will help protect from the #1 causes of problems which is fatigue and panic.  One does need to remember that they are not a panacea and weaker swimmers should not get a false sense of confidence just because they are using these devices.  Another issue with using the devices is that they impede mobility.  Therefore, the snorkel safety rope could be an ideal complement where a snorkeler is assisted in buoyancy with the floatation aid and assisted in manoeuvrability with the rope.

The rope is set just below the surface of the water so it is not visible from the island or impeding the view of those on the island (except for several discrete buoy floats, but such floats are found all around all Maldives islands marking channels, hazards, etc). They have strung the rope completely encircling the house reef. I snapped a photo (see above) when I visited. I tried taking one further back so you all could see in in perspective, but when you get further back, it actually not that visible in the open water.

One of the best snorkel “guides” in the Maldives.

Best of the Maldives: Thai Boxing – Centara Ras Fushi

 

Today is a double holiday in Thailand – both the King’s Birthday, honouring Thai tradition and culture, and Fathers Day. The latter is more than a card occasion and is marked by this official holiday.

Someone who will be marking the day is Prasit Latsila Sujith K.V. from Phuket who teaches yoga, tai chi, and Pilates at Centara Ras Fushi. He also teaches the ideal sport for today – Thai Kick Boxing.

As it happens, Thai boxing skills are typically “passed down through the generations” according to Prasit and he learned the art from his father. He competed when he was young and studied it at university.

Another curious fact about Thai Boxing (or Thai Kick Boxing) is that it is the second biggest sport in Thailand. One of the first things I learned running Piero (sport television graphics) is that “Football” is the #1 sport in nearly every country in the world (“American Football” in USA, “Aussie Rules football in Australia, and “Soccer” football everywhere else). The variety comes in which sport is the second most popular. Motor Racing, Basketball, Ice Hockey and Rugby are the most common “2nd sports”. Thai Kick Boxing is one of the rare solo seconds, ie. the only country where the sport is #2 (another example of a “solo second” is Netball in New Zealand and Squash in Egypt).

Prasit offers regular and requested classes at the waterside yoga pavilion which is part of the resort spa (see photos). A session starts with the “Ram Muay” which is a “show of respect to the teacher” and a warm-up. And today in Thailand, is one big “Ram Muay” for wisdom imparting fathers everywhere.

มีความสุขวันพ่อ

Centara Ras Fushi - thai boxing 3

Centara Ras Fushi - thai boxing 2

Best of the Maldives: Cultural Group – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - Giraavaru woman

On Centara Ras Fushi’s island of Giraavaru, the local traditions date back to before the arrivals of the Maldivians themselves. Unlike nearly all resort islands which are developed from uninhabited islands, Ras Fushi’s island had been inhabited for centuries (in general, the bigger islands have more space and resources for habitation, while the smaller dots of land are more attractive to the isolation and tropical isle fantasy seeking tourists). Its ancient inhabitants, the Giraavaru people, maintained a distinct dialect and traditions (see table at bottom).

Their name may have presaged a challenge that all the Maldive islands would one day face with rising sea levels…

Giraavaru island was much bigger, housing magnificent buildings and temples in those days, as the surrounding lagoon still testifies. Changing weather patterns gradually eroded the bulk of the island, which was once the capital of a proud and civilized people…Giraa means ‘eroding’ in the Maldivian language. It was thought that the island was called ‘Giraavaru’ because it was gradually being eroded away into the sea. It is quite possible that the name proceeded the word. Indeed the word ‘giraa’ may have been coined as a result of the natural calamity that was claiming an important island.”

In the end, it was not the erosion by the sea but by civilization that led to Giraavaru’s end as a distinct entity. Their proximity to the metropolis of Male meant that the population emigrated leaving only a small number of families to few to sustain the island.

Centara Ras Fushi has published an overview of their history here.

Giraavaru

Maldives

Settlement

Original settlers of Maldives

Came later in 11th century

Divorce

Forbidden

Liberally permitted under Islam

Hair

Tied in a bun on left-side

Ties in a bun on right side

Jewellery

Worn

Not worn

Government

Headed by women

Headed by men

Language

Same addressing to all

Different addressing to superiors

Best of the Maldives: Boat Swing – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - boat swing

 

 

Another land-lubbing dhoni is featured at Centara Ras Fushi for those looking for the gentle tropical breezes to rock their boat.

I couldn’t resist a long overdue post for Bad Pun Monday – A final chant to England’s knocked out rugby team…”Swing boat, sweet chair, (it’s hot!) Smile

Best of the Maldives: Open Family Table – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - open private table

 

China’s “Golden Week” is a time to visit family. Sort of like the Chinese equivalent of America’s Thanksgiving weekend. Many American’s don’t necessarily “go home” for Christmas, but they definitely do for Thanksgiving (hence the phrase “Homecoming Queen” for the celebrations around the football game played on Thanksgiving).

China’s Golden Week involves a cluster of holidays (Mid-Autumn Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Qingming Festival) coming close together. Similarly, America’s Thanksgiving and Veterans Day come within a fortnight of each other. Most people take their Veteran’s Day leave on the Friday after Thanksgiving (which always falls on a Thursday) to make an elongated 4-day break. Furthermore, the central holiday is the Mid-Autumn Festival (starts on the 6th October) which is very similar to Thanksgiving in its roots and practice. It is celebrated in the autumn, a time of reaping and harvesting, and it centers around “gathering, prayer and giving thanks” (sound familiar?).

Because Chinese are visiting their families, most won’t be venturing so far as the Maldives. But when the Chinese do travel abroad, they characteristically do so as an extended family as well. At most resorts, the largest group at dinner will almost always be a Chinese family. I can appreciate this practice. Some of our family’s most memorable holidays were the Lynn clan coming together as we gathered in Monte Argentario (Italy), Paris (France), Lake Winnipesake (USA), etc.

Centara Ras Rushi has added a delightful touch to their main restaurant which is just perfect for such larger family groups. It is sort of a birds-nest/bird-cage inspired metal structure which carves out a bit of segregate space at the carvery. They were an inspired way to break up the expansive space without taking up space or closing up the space.

???? (Happiness to the whole family!)

Best of the Maldives: Lagoon Table – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - in lagoon lunch

 

 

I love Maldives lagoons. The whole magic of the Maldives centers around its unique shallow and calm waters. In my “Haven’t Seen” series, a recurring theme is resorts not doing enough “in water”. A few resorts are starting to move tables into the shallows for some wet-piggy-toes dining, but Centara Ras Fushi has made a bolder move with a thatched-parasol table set permanently in its lagoon.

You can even pre-book the table for your lunch at no extra charge (the seafood platter is appropriately the most popular). Mind you, you do need to think about the tide timings (see below).

I have now added the “In Ocean” category tag for all of the examples of exploiting this unique resource.

 

Centara Ras Fushi - lagoon table high tide

Maldives Tour 2015 – Day 8: Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - tour

The “sweet spot” resort. Centara Ras Fushi sits right where so many Maldives aficionados are crying out for – affordable price, good house reef, convenient to Male, fine diverse food, AI available, well maintained, intimate island, and superb service. Is that too much to ask for?

Centara Ras Fushi delivers all the treats a Maldives lover craves – brand new beach bar (with swim-up pool bar), overwater bar (with loungers and net hammocks, sand floors in reception and restaurants, stylish loungers (in subtle earth colours), comfortable large beds.

The resort has also made an extra effort to cater to the ample snorkelling around the property. They do swim tests before handing out snorkelling gear. Most impressively, they have strung a submerged but floating rope at the reef edge so any snorkelers facing difficulty can grab it for assistance (or just those for whom manoeuvring the water is more difficult). They have also added 4 ladders to their long water villa jetty (second longest in the Maldives) so snorkeler could enter and exit at different points easily (why doesn’t every water villa resort do this??)

So what’s the catch? The only real thing anyone gets concerned about with Ras Fushi is the feared “Rubbish Island” (known more euphemistically as the “Industrial Island”). All sorts of bogey-man tales abound about resorts near this processing facility – that it looks bad, that it smells bad, that trash drifts in. The fact is that if someone didn’t tell you that they processed the Maldives’ trash there, it would just look like a built-up local island save for the thin plume of white smoke constantly rising from it. I’ve stayed in resorts near it several times and I have never smelled it. And Centara Ras Fushi patrols the resort waters every morning to nab and bits of trash that might have drifted over by accident. The resort has actually done a smart job of absolutely minimising the presence of this neighbour on the horizon. They have designed everything on the resort to face north which has a vista as seemingly remote as anywhere.

Ironically, the dreaded back side of the island provided Lori and I with one of the best views of our trip. We had just arrived when a large pod of spinner dolphins decided to stroll past while putting on a non-stop aerial display like some aquatic Cirque de Soleil. We were so mesmerised, we never noticed the Industrial Island in their background.

Even with a bit of distant trash, Centara Ras Fushi is in one of the sweetest spots of the Maldives.