If the waters are too calm in the mill pond like Maldives for hanging ten, Cheval Blanc Randheli has introduced the country’s first surf simulator (thanks Paola). The facility is also a great way to learn the sport and move on to some of the famous long, gradual breaks of the destination.
Daylight savings time starts today. And you will have to save up for hours to afford the latest item in the Cheval Blanc gift shop (or if you are totally loaded, maybe you will just buy a new watch instead of all the kafuffle of adjusting your current one an hour. At $32,500 for its latest Classic Fusion Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition, that $9 per second.
Really, this post is more of an update to my previous Best of the Maldives piece for Cheval Blanc’s watch offering. I could have just made a note in the comments, but I love the concept so much of capturing the distinctive aesthetics of this corner of paradise that I thought that I would publish a full post.
- “Designed to embody a trip to the resort, the Classic Fusion Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition watch features the same varying shades of blue that are waiting to be discovered in the surrounding ocean. Parisian artist Vincent Beaurin, designer of the signature works of art at the Cheval Blanc Maison in the Maldives was commissioned to help create the unique dial using sand. ‘Just like the blue waters surrounding Cheval Blanc Randheli, the captivating blue tones of the two new timepieces dedicated to the Maison create an appealing aura on the wrist, offering wearers a new experience with time,’ said Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. The Classic Fusion Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition is available in 45mm and 38mm versions with brushed metal cases and blue crocodile straps. The smaller version also features a halo of crystalline stones on the bezel. Both watches can only be purchased at the Cheval Blanc Randheli Concept Store, situated within the resort’s dedicated Hublot area.”
That said, Chopard hasn’t rested on its design. In fact, it even has a Happy Fish Sport design with Anemone Fish for one-fifth the price.
One of the most enduring mystiques of the Maldives is the deserted island experience. A plot of sand and palm tree (with maybe a message in a bottle floating by). A number of resorts offer excursions where you can go maroon yourself for a few hours. Maafushivaru lets you rent a villa overnight on their neighboring Lonubu island. Or you could rent out all of the Coco Priva Kuda Hithi resort. But if you want something more permanent than Lonubu, but less expansive as Prive, then Cheval Blanc Randheli has the luxury Robinson Crusoe abode for you – the Owner’s Villa…
“The Owner’s Villa sprawls across its close to 1 hectare dedicated island, and is accessible from a private berth and jetty. This four-bedroom villa is the epitome of exclusive privacy with unique facilities including its own spa, oversized 25-metre long outdoor pool, pristine beaches and exotic garden”
If you want to wet your whistle instead of your toes, then just across the Noonu atoll, the latest entry in the super luxury properties offers possibly the most sought after liquid refreshment in the world.
In the arms race of the deluxe 5+ stars, the resort wine collection is one of the big guns in the bragging battles. If the under-water rooms are ‘aircraft carriers’ in this tropical superposher rivalry, the wine collections are the ‘nuclear submarines’. Cheval Blanc Randheli’s megaton payload of luxury was not just one, but 6 bottles of what many consider to be the finest bottle of wine in the world – the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc.
In general, I try to the keep the “Best of the Maldives” categories quite narrowly defined (eg. best clothes hangers, longest left-handed surf break). Esoteric delineations are more easily unique or distinguished. The bigger the category, the more the competition and making it harder determine the stand out selection. Especially, when the bar is raised so high in the epicentre of luxury that is the Maldives. But I will go out on a limb on this one and say, Cheval Blanc Randheli has the best bottle of wine in the Maldives.
Okay, to quote Carl Sagan, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. And the story to these bottles is truly extraordinary …
- Cost – Sheer price is one crude but effective determinant of exclusivity. And one bottle costs as much as a luxury car…for sale on Fine and Rare Wines for a $100,000 (yes, count the zeros). That’s nearly $7,000 a glass or $650 a sip. By comparison, One & Only Reethi Rah’s esteemed ‘new world’ Screaming Eagle seems a relative bargain at a mere snip of $3,000.
- Critics – Though there is no easier way to start an interminable argument than to put a few wine critics in the same room, few dispute the 1947’s elite pedigree. A Slate piece on the wine minces no words in the title of its story on this classic vintage “The Greatest Wine on the Planet”. The author dubs it “the most celebrated wine of the 20th century.” And the subtitle of “How the ’47 Cheval Blanc, a defective wine from an aberrant year, got so good” adds even more colourful backstory to this legendary wine (and a story I am particularly partial to with my other blog on “Embracing Failure”).
- Culture – The wine was immortalised in that Disney classic of culinary genius, “Ratatouille”. The pretentious restaurant critic Anton Ego requests this very bottle (see second 48 in the clip below – unfortunately, Italian was the only version I could find on the web of this scene).
- Cognomen – And well, what a bit of eponymous serendipity! Not only does the resort share the name of the famous Bordeaux chateau, but the resort’s “signature gastronomic” restaurant is named after the vintage itself – “Le 1947”. If not the best bottle of the wine in the Maldives, undoubtedly the best “house brand” bottle!
Mike Steinberger of Slate writes, “It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies, a wine that even the most jaded aficionados will travel thousands of miles to taste.” And those ‘thousands of miles’ arrive at “Le 1947” in the Maldives.
On this day back in 1936, BBC One was launched as the UK’s first “high resolution” (200 lines!) television service. Nearly 80 years later, how far we have come. High-definition digital 3D with 7:1 surround sound. And just as fancy gadgets to control it all. Cheval Blanc Ranheli’s in-room iPad controller, not only provides a digital guide to the resort, but also serves as a master controller for everything electronic
“The IPad in the room doubles as the master remote control and operates just about everything including the 2 sets of blinds, lights, TV, all 4 zones of the sound system, 3 air conditioners, and it can even open the front door.”
Best of the Maldives Online: Maldives Lifestyle Blogger – Samyoyo & Belinda’s Travel (Belinda Young)
One of the things that struck me in my recent fashion research is the prevalence of the Lifestyle (Fashion and Travel) bloggers. Of the 220+ subjects I discovered, 57 fall into this category. All of these share a few key things in common – (a) they are female (I have yet to find a male Fashion/Travel blog with a Maldives post), and (b) they are all attractive (bit of a cross-correlation between their being kind to fashion and fashion being kind to them).
They also tend to come to the Maldives once to tick that bucket list destination off the list and then jet off to some other corner of the world. One big exception struck me – Belinda Young.
Belinda and her sister Samyoyo have visited 14 different Maldives resorts (and One & Only Reethi Rah twice). Belinda explores a range of tropical resorts all over the world, but she keeps coming back to the Maldives.
Furthermore, her resort pedigree is truly top class…
- Maalifushi by COMO (2015)
- Cocoa Island by COMO (2015)
- Cheval Blanc Randheli (2014)
- Jumeirah Dhevanafushiu (2011/09)
- Six Senses Laamu (2011)
- Conrad Rangali Island (2009)
- Shangri-La’s Villingili (2009)
- Banyan Tree Madivaru (2007)
- Naladhu (2007)
- Soneva Gili (2005)
- One&Only Reethi Rah (2005, 2nd visit)
- One&Only Reethi Rah (2005)
- Dhoni Mighili (2005)
- Four Seasons Kuda Huraa (2004)
- Huvafen Fushi (2004)
Most of the Maldives veterans on Trip Advisor Forum have tended to frequent the upper mid-market properties. Visits to the emerging 5+ star super-premium segment (like Belinda’s list) are quite rare. And the glamorati who do go to such places, tend not to share much of their travels (though that is changing with Tweeting and now Instagramming becoming a popular activity for celebrities even on their get-away-from-it-all breaks).
I came across Belinda’s travel/fashion blog researching the Maldives fashion database. She has posted an extensive range of photos that both provide alluring snapshots of the resorts, but also feature her in many striking poses. I got in touch with her to get permission to use some of the photos and also to enquire a bit about her Maldive expeditions. She promptly responded with a warm and helpful reply. After a few email exchanges, she gladly agreed to do an exclusive interview for Maldives Complete sharing some of her perspectives (she also provided both English and Chinese versions of the interview).
· What is your favourite photo of yourself in the Maldives? 談談妳自已最喜歡的一張在馬爾地夫拍攝的照片?
The photo in Banyan Tree Madivaru [see top]. I wore my customized dress inspired the colors of Maldives. Not enough words to describe, but you know what I mean…
我最喜愛的應該是在 Banyan Tree Madivaru 的這張，當時我身上穿的洋裝是出發前特別訂做的，顏色啟發自馬爾地夫的海洋色澤。在多的言語都赘述了，我相信您看照片就可以體會了
· Which resort most exceeded your expectations? 哪一間飯店超乎妳的預期？
In our memories, One&Only Reethi Rah is the number one. But the tiny, peaceful and romantic Cocoa exceeded our expectation. It’s hard to forget the nature beauty of Cocoa Island. You must be curious why Reethi is the No. 1? I wanna to say is all about the friends…old friends and new friends made our stay really One&Only!
在我們姐妹心目中 One&Only Reethi Rah 是我們的最愛; 但屬中小型，擁有寧靜浪漫氛圍的 Cocoa 卻是超乎我們所預期的美好。Cocoa Island 的原始美相當令人難以忘懷。不過你可能會好奇為何 One&Only Reethi Rah 占居首位，我認為這完全成就於 “人” 的美好，新朋舊友的齊聚互動讓那次的住宿體驗只能用 “獨一無二” 來形容。
· What was the most romantic touch that a resort added to your stay? ? 聊聊妳所入住的飯店中碰過最浪漫體驗？
The sunset cocktail party at Fanditha restaurant in One&Only Reethi Rah. I think the major reason was that we had just been invited to join a sunset beach wedding before the party. Although I am not the bride, I could feel the joy and happiness. The moment was so precious and special.
我想是第二次入住 One&Only Reethi Rah 的 Fanditha 舉行的一場夕陽雞尾酒會；在酒會前我們受邀參加了一場住客的向晚夕陽婚禮，雖然不是主角，但我仍感受到滿滿的幸福，我相信這應該是一種情緒的延續，使得這場擁有幻彩夕照的 Fanditha 酒會浪漫指數破錶。
· You travel all around the world…what do you find different about the Maldives as a tropical destination? 常常旅遊的妳，認為馬爾地夫與其他熱帶渡假海島較不同的一面是？
We just like to travel tropical islands. The beautiful nature and isolation make the Maldives very unique destination. I love doing nothing just staring at the sea all day and feeling the time standing still…
· What is your pet peeve at Maldives resorts?有沒有你不太喜歡的飯店？
Well….I think….OH! Too difficult to answer. But back to summer of 2005, we experienced an incredible stay at Dhoni Mighili. Look at the island right now? I think I have no right to judge Safari island Resort, but can’t go back anymore! I hope the same situation never happens on Banyan Tree Madivaru.
這個問題有點難回答，如果一定要，可能要回到2005年的初夏，當時我們入住 Dhoni Mighili 就像圓了一場相當棒的航海夢。但是看看現今的島？基本上我覺得我沒任何立場去評論一家我沒入住過的飯店 Safari Island，但對於我們個人的 Dhoni Mighili 印象，我們真的回不去了～這點，我希望不會再次發生在 Banyan Tree Madivaru。
· Reethi Rah appears to be only resort (Maldives or other places) where you returned…why did you visit there twice? O&O Reethi Rah Rah 算是妳們旅遊馬爾地夫所有飯店中唯一重返的，什麼原因讓你們再度入住呢？
Not only the One&Only Reethi Rah, we have been The Brando in Tahiti and Song Saa Private Island twice too. For Reethi I think there are 2 reasons. First, we went to O&O Reethi the first time, it had only opened for 2 weeks, and there were lots of small issues not so perfect as we expected. We got transfer problems on the way back to Male, so the management team invited us return and experience. Secondly, we are going to publish our travel book “Islands Chic” (introduce Maldives/Tahiti/Hawaii), we returned for more photos for the book.
其實不止 O&O Reethi Rah, 大溪地的 The Brando 及柬埔寨的 Song Saa Private Island 我們都曾經重返。對於 O&O Reethi Rah，二個原因造就了我們再次入住，1第一次時飯店開幕僅二週，一些小小的問題真的需要改進，而在我們回程馬列的接送出了極大的問題，也因為如此管理階層請我們回去再試試入住，另一個主要原因則是我們正著手準備出版我們的旅遊書 “時尚島嶼之旅“ （這本書介紹大溪地／馬爾地夫以及夏威宜這三個熱門時尚島嶼），也因為這個因素，我們也希望呈現出更多的海島旅行照片，所以我們就重返了
· The Maldives is renowned for the best snorkeling in the world, but you have seen some many tropical islands around the world. Which other tropical island comes closest to the Maldives for snorkeling quality? ? 馬爾地夫是著名的浮潛勝地，妳遊歷過這麼多熱帶海洋島嶼勝地，還有哪些熱帶海洋地點妳認為能跟馬爾地夫媲美？
I have to tell you….we don’t know how to swim…and…even a little bit of afraid the water (especially the rogue wave). So it’s shame that we didn’t really enjoy snorkeling…crazy right? But we have been to Palau long long time ago…we did snorkeling in there and enjoy it. I think the snorkeling is very good.
Bruce, 我老實跟你說，其實我們姐妹不會游泳。。甚至於有點怕水 (尤其是那種很強勁的洋流)，所以有點不好意思的是浮潛活動對我們而言並不是重點，這對於一向喜歡島旅行的人來說很瘋狂吧！不過我們也不是都不浮潛，我們曾經訪訪過帛琉四天三夜，天天浮潛，那裡的浮潛經驗相當好，我相信能媲美馬爾地夫
· What have you not seen in the Maldives that you would love to see or you think some resort should feature (maybe you saw it at a tropical resort in another part of the world)?有沒有任何特點妳會期盼能在馬爾地夫或馬爾地夫的飯店中能體會到 (也許這些特點是在其他熱帶島嶼飯店中所擁有的）
How about the special way to delivery your breakfast to villa likes Canoe Breakfast in Tahiti. But I hope it had a little different from Tahiti…it have to be in Maldives way! But I have no any idea right now.
· Do you have any favourite foods or drinks you like to have specifically in the Maldives? ? 請告訴我們妳到馬爾地夫旅行時，有沒有特別喜歡的食物或必點飲料？
Local food: chapatti (with Maldivian chili), we ate chapatti almost every morning when we were there.
當地食物 恰帕底 （當然還要配上馬爾地夫土產辣椒），我們幾乎每天早晨都叫 恰帕底
· Which is the next Maldives resort you want to visit? 妳對於未來即將開幕的新飯店最想入住的是哪一家？
But for the future resort i think it is Soneva Jani. I love the concept of SONEVA.. Soneva Fushi not yet! This is only Soneva we didn’t go to yet. I am still interested in Soneva in Aqua…but don’t know when will it open!
如果是對未來即將開幕的飯店而言，我最期待 Soneva Jani，因為我太愛 SONEVA 集團了，雖然我唯一沒入住過 Soneva Fushi （這也是我唯一一家未入住過的 SONEVA 品牌飯店），也許 Soneva in Aqua 正式啟航時也許有緣份入住
· Which resort is the one you would most like to return to? 有沒有任何飯店是妳想再度重返的？
Cheval Blanc Randheli is the resort that I would want to return to. I was the one of the first grand opening guests of Cheval Blanc. Unfortunately, they had lots of issues I had encountered during my stay (I don’t want to mention), but the most important thing was that I didn’t travel with my elder sister Samantha (we always travel together), so I want to experience it again with my dearest.
Cheval Blanc Randheli！我是 Cheval Blanc 開門第一天就入住進去了，但很可惜的是可能剛開業很多事情皆未上軌道 (多到我懶得再提了)，但最要的一點是當時我的姐姐 Samantha 並沒有跟我一起同遊，我們姐妹感情相當好，也是最佳旅伴，我相當希望能跟著她再次入住 Cheval Blanc Randheli ，因為我知道現在一切都上軌道了，我不會失望的
· Do you have any favourite “shots” you like to get (my wife and I always get a photo of us in front of the resort sign)? 分享一下妳所喜歡的特別攝影定格 （像我跟我老婆總喜歡在飯店標誌前拍照）
The bottle of water with resort logo (I love the resort logo on the bottle…not all the resorts have it!)
有飯店標緻的玻璃瓶裝水 (我喜歡有飯店 logo在瓶身上的那種，但不是每間飯店都會有的）
· Any tips to offer first time visitors to the Maldives?對於第一次造訪馬爾地夫的朋友們有沒有任何建議？
Bare foot anywhere as you can…you will miss the sand in your toes when you back to city.
Daylight Savings Time today in the UK and a bonus hour for every one as the clocks go back. In the Maldives, time just seems to evaporate into the sun-drenched ether. But for making transfers, measuring dive time and getting to activities, if you need a chronometer as luxurious as your destination, Cheval Blanc Randheli introduces the Hublot King Power 48MM Oceanographic 4000 (thanks again Francisco)…
“By TLex Hublot have unveiled this, the latest edition of the King Power 48MM Oceanographic 4000, the Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition paying tribute to the unspoiled beauty of the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, where it is exclusively available from Cheval Blanc Randheli. This is at least the 11th iteration of the 4000; in all honesty they aren’t getting any better looking. There’re a couple that I like, such as the Caribbean and of course the original version. Still there’s no denying the hardware itself, this is one of the most technologically advanced divers watches available today. It is water-resistant to 4000 metres and meets with the exacting specifications of the NIHS, international standards of Swiss Watchmaking. Its seal was tested by Hublot in a ROXER tank, submerged and pressurized to the equivalent of 5000 meters. To ensure the water-tightness of the watch and to resist this extreme pressure, its Sapphire crystal is 6.5mm thick and its caseback engraved with the ‘Cheval Blanc’ motif and ‘Randheli’ text in yellow is made of grade 2 Titanium. Further features include luminescent markers in Cheval Blanc Randheli yellow emitting a yellow hue allowing legibility from a distance of 25cm in the dark, an NIHS requirement that all 4000 watches meet. The watch comes with a white rubber strap with a buckle straps.”
Pressure tested to “5000 meters”! The “deep sea” is considered anything deeper than 1800 metres.
As impressive as its specs are, my favourite super decadent Maldives-spirit watch has always been the Choppard Happy Sport (see below). In fact, I first saw it on a billboard at the Male airport. The jewel encrusted fish which float about capture the main event at the Maldives and the option for a simple rubber band captures the laid-back casual ambience of the islands.
A bit slow posting this week working my day job at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam where we at Ericsson and 1,500 other firms were showing off the latest electronic gadgetry to hit the home screen.
Probably our biggest tech pain when visiting the Maldives with this suitcase full of tech toys is charging the battery of batteries – computers, camera, ipad, phones, GoPro, dive light. We always seem to miss one out and it dies right when we need it most.
Cheval Blanc Ranheli recently announced its new iPort LaunchPort service which not only provides a leading edge villa control unit, but also performs the magic of wireless charging…
“The world's first and only wireless charging and magnetic mounting system for the iPad. LaunchPort is available in all 45 villas on the property and for use at the front desk, concierge, spa and on-site restaurants and bars… The custom-branded LaunchPort for Cheval Blanc Randheli consists of a sleeve and a magnetic mounting and inductive charge station for the tabletop or wall. Initially created for residential home automation, LaunchPort allows guests to operate all electronic controls in their villa including door locks, TV and lighting. An iPad is easily mounted and dismounted via discrete magnets that are embedded into the case and charging station…LaunchPort will also be available throughout the resort for staff to update and charge their iPads used to provide concierge services including booking reservations in the on-site restaurants and scheduling appointments in the spa.”
Today’s post prompts a new “Best Of” category that I am seeing quite a bit more of recently across the archipelago – Technology.
If One and Only brings the bedroom into the pool, Cheval Blanc Randheli brings the pool into the bedroom. It has made an entire wall of its villa openable for an expansive vista from within. I love this design element which was have been thinking of adding to our own house (replacing the back floor-to-ceiling windows of the dining room with French doors that open up to our back yard). The approach melds the best of both the gorgeous outdoors with some of the comforts of inside.
The architecture of the villas also features record-breaking entry doors themselves. The previous tops was The Haven’s 4 meter high doors, but Randheli features“An architecture sequence of 7-meter high doors in each villa [which] creates a spectacular space.”
No worries about bumping my head on the frame there then.