- “Coco Bodu Hithi has teamed up with Sunnylife, the Australian company that has become one of the world’s leading summer lifestyle brands, to introduce the world’s first Pool Floats Menu. Featuring an eclectic selection of Sunnylife’s colourful, whimsical, and stylish inflatable swimming pool floats, this unique menu is sure to be a hit with everyone, from young ones to those young at heart. Martin Lount, General Manager at Coco Bodu Hithi said “We’re extremely excited to be working with Sunnylife to kick off our summer pool floats programme and offer this one-of-a-kind menu experience. Our guests love to share pictures of their holiday with friends on social media, and with over 12 different styles on offer from our pool floats menu, we’re excited to see what they’ll be posting online!”
World Sea Turtle Day today. And there are few better friends to the sea turtles’ in the Maldives than the Coco resorts Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. They have been long-time supporters of the Oliver Ridley Project with fund raising and public outreach, but this past year brought a pioneering, first ever in the Maldives “marine veterinarian”. Marine Biologist Dr. Claire Petros (from the Oliver Ridley Project) was appointed to operate turtle rescue centres at the resorts. Coco resort described their work in the blog…
- “Guests of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Bodu Hithi have been incredibly generous in their efforts to support the project by donating funds directly and by purchasing signature Olive Ridley turtle toys at the resorts. In May 2016, we received the target of the funds required to start construction of the first rescue centre at Coco Palm….As planned, [the centre includes] a dedicated veterinary surgeon has joined our team to look after the rescue centre!”
She provides treatment and ever surgery to ill and injured turtles at the resort turtle rescue centres. Hotellier Maldives also did a profile on her work focusing on her clinic…
- “’My main role is to care for the injured turtles that we find around the country with the intention of being able to release them when recovered as quickly as possible.’ Injured sea turtles are not a rare sight in the Maldives waters. Though turtles are a protected species in the Maldives, their foes range from abandoned fishing nets, and people, who are hungry for their meat, eggs, and shells. Ghost nets are nets that have been discarded, abandoned or lost in the ocean. They can continue to entangle endangered and vulnerable animals such as marine turtles, birds, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales, long after they have been discarded, abandoned or lost. ‘Turtles are very attracted to ghost gear as it often contains an easy meal, but unfortunately during the process of trying to eat the fish entrapped in the nets, the turtles themselves become entangled,’ she explained. ‘Sadly, the effort to escape is so great by the animal that it exerts enough force to break its own bones and the extent of the injuries suggests that turtles may suffer for weeks before dying, or hopefully be rescued’.”
For starters (literally), it and the rest of the meal was served on our own private deck. Such a set up was something I mused about way back in 2011. It makes meal time a sort of microcosm of the whole tiny island experience – dining nestled in an intimate nook surrounded by water (and there were these particularly peculiar fish circling the platform which had us reaching for our fish guides, though we still couldn’t figure out what they were).
Aqua has 360 degree water for 4 decks and then another 5 decks for 2 couples each with a 90 degree corner seat. An overwater restaurant tables are table stakes for a 5-star in the Maldives and most 4 stars have them too. But the broader platform designs mean that on a few early birds secure the coveted front row waterside seats.
The soup in question was an exquisite chilled fruit soup and seafood chowder. The Indonesian Chef Nyoman (possibly the only female head chef in the Maldives and certainly the first one I had met) had us try her special tuna Carpaccio which is prepared differently than you normally get it in Europe. But the highlight was Indonesian prawn dish, “Udanag Balado”.
Aqua is also one of the fewer places which request smart casual dress. It’s the first time I’ve had to wear long trousers to a meal in the Maldives, but it does lend an air of sophistication to the evening.
Private dining on high on the seas.
Athif Raudha is literally the face of the Maldives. She displays the classic sun-kissed, delicate features of the Maldivians, except for one extremely striking exception. While most Maldivians have dark brown eyes, hers are an iridescent blue more like the cerulean sea that surrounds the country. Even her Facebook handle is “Wild Blue Lustre”
Her captivating look has drawn her into modelling for a number of years now including Coco Bodu Hithi’s recent campaign (see above). She is also a favourite subject of artistic fashion photographer Alexey Vladimir (in fact, her red hooded portrait featured in yesterdays Christmas Red post is Alexey’s Facebook Profile picture).
Raudha agreed to do a first-ever, exclusive interview with Maldives Complete to share some insights into this intriguing poster child for Maldivian beauty (thanks Paola)…
- How were you “discovered”, ie. how did you get started?
It was always a hobby, because I grew up posing for pictures. But it wasn’t until I did a few shoots with Sotti (a professional photographer) that things really kicked off. I started getting offers for ads, and I always had people advise me not to take any of them until something good came up. And that worked out quite well.
- What was your first modelling gig?
If I remember correctly, it was something like a PSA, for national TV, encouraging people to stop using plastic bags, and choose eco-friendly stuff. I was 14 years old, and quite the environmentalist, so, naturally very happy to be a part of it.
- Do you have an agent?
I don’t. Anyone’s free to contact me directly, regarding any business.
- Where did you get your distinctive eyes from (do other members of your parents families have similar eyes)?
My paternal grandfather, his eyes were a sort of dark hazel. And my beautiful great grandmother had a greyish blue.
- What types of work would you like to do in the future?
Contrary to popular belief, modelling isn’t all I want to do with my life. I’d like to work as a doctor, in many places all over the world. I’m leaving to Bangladesh to study for a Bachelor s of Medicine next month. And that, becoming a doctor, has been my dream, and primary interest, since I was 5, maybe.
- Is there a model whose look/work you most admire?
I can’t possibly name just one. Adriana Lima, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Jolie. And I can never leave out Deepika Padukone. These women are beautiful, inspiring, and I love them for the things they stand for.
- What’s been your most lucrative modelling gig?
That would definitely be working for Sotti in his “Maldives” series.
- What’s been your most enjoyable modelling gig?
A collaboration shoot with Alexey Vladimir, where I got the chance to entertain my inner daredevil. I had to make my way to the middle of the reef. Beyond an area called Usfasgandu in Male’ where there’s a destroyed, unused platform-like bit covered with seaweedy things. Between land and the platform, we had steep, slippery tetrahedral rocks to climb down, then the reef, with more rocks and sharp corals. Strong waves too, because it was a rainy day. Had I slipped or fallen over, or lost my balance with an incoming or outgoing wave, my face would be in coral hell. And then I didn’t fall. And it was all done with me in a full length dress. I LOVED it. The result was a beautiful picture titled “The Night”. Everyone lived happily ever after.
- Are any particular pressures you face doing modelling?
Well, before a shoot, there’s almost always pressure. A weird, unspecific kind. Ha ha. I suppose it’s natural, wanting to do well, feeling nervous for how it’s going to turn out. But once it starts, it’s always fun and an amazing experience. I’ve been lucky to work with great people.
- Any pet peeves when you are working modelling?
I think the only thing would be, when people fail to communicate very well. Maybe my friends think otherwise, and I don’t express this very often. But, I actually have very little tolerance for rude or bossy people.
- What are your favourite pastimes?
Modelling IS a pastime for me! Ha ha. Okay seriously though? I have phases. All in all, I love learning new things. And a lot of that happened while I worked at the military hospital and then IGMH, for a year and a half.
Besides that, I’ve also had my time with yoga, painting, dancing. At school in India, I played the congas – that was fun. And also failed quite terribly at singing. When I want to laze around, there’s always a good book to get lost in. Most recently, I’ve taken up open water diving and trying to play the piano. New things are excitingly endless, you know.
Lori’s not a big fan of sushi, so when we go eat Japanese (which with our son Chase’s interest in Japan is not that uncommon), she always opts for the tempura. And it is one of my favourite dishes as well. Fried food without the heaviness of most western fry-ups because the rice flour lightens the batter. While originally a staple of Japanese fare, it’s made its way onto the tables of other cuisines (our local Thai serves a delightful tempura squid). But despite two decades of travelling to the Indian Ocean, I had never sampled Indian Tempura until our visit to Velaa. And not only was it something new, it was something exquisite. The “Indian” style adds turmeric to the batter, which is a bit firmer. And the item was “Soft Shell Crab with Tamarind Chutney” ($38) which was a distinctive fare in any style.
As it happens, this recipe was featured at another resort, Coco Bodu Hithi’s gourmet extravaganza “Savour 2015”, gut this was a one off event.
Often it is the little touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I had to start off my Best of the Maldives posts on Coco Bodu Hithi with their creative pancake station. I already featured the special Maldivian flag pancake made for the 50th anniversary celebrations a fortnight ago. But that was just a sample of the creative concoctions the chef Endro (see photos below) makes.
He uses three types of pancake batter – (a) Red (strawberry), (b) Brown (chocolate), and (c) White (plain). He made the above “Love” heart for me to give Lori and a special “Maldiv” flapjack for me.
In fact, this post made me realise that I didn’t have a “Breakfast” category tag…yet.
“Stick to the classics and you can never go wrong.” – Alexa Chung
More Mayfair than Soho. More Connaught than Crazy Bear. More Corrigans than Balthazar. Coco Bodu Hithi skirts the trendy chic in favour of timeless elegance. It’s the kind of boutique property that Rick Steves would feature for its character and good value.
An example of their subtle style is the tiles used extensively in their décor (eg. pool, bathroom). At first glance, I was unsure about the tiles (natural stone and brushed concrete being the new trendy materials), but on closer inspection I realised just how exquisite they were. Very inviting colours tinged with subtle streaks of gold in each. We admired them so much, we are considering looking for something similar for our next house renovation.
I’ve long paid homage to the creative Room Art that so many resorts treat their guests to and Coco Bodu Hithi adorned our bed with a gallery worthy piece. Coco’s artistry extends from the bedroom to the breakfast table in such a notable way that it inspired me to add a new Album of “Food Art” to the Maldives Complete Pinterest. The ingenious Maldives flag in tri-colour pancake batter was featured for this week’s Maldives Independence Day post.
Indeed, an essential ingredient to classic luxury is gourmet fare. Some of our most memorable food we have eaten in the Maldives was at their sister resort Coco Palm Dhoni Kholu way back in 2004 (mango chicken salad, mmmm). Bodu Hithi didn’t disappoint. Every menu (we ate at 3 different restaurants) featured a range of not just well prepared food, but delectable recipes that brought them to life.
Coco Bodu Hithi is an impeccable 5-star classic.
[photo of Lori and I above shot by marine biologist Chiara during house reef snorkel]
You don’t have to be under the ocean to enjoy aquarium views of a tapestry of marine life with the increasingly popular glass floors. Coco Bodu Hithi has added them to their spa rooms to ensure that even face down, the view is as stimulating as their treatments. I’m impressed when spas are attentive enough to such details to provide a bit of a flower arrangement under the treatment table head support. I have even seen spas with glass floors under their tables, but they were just small portals. CBH not only has quite an expansive glass floor (the big spa treatment glass floor that I have come across), but also has etched an enchanting design and added a flowers as well.
Sights, scents and soothing.
Speaking of French beauty and fashion lately, if you are looking for a different sort of ‘natural beauty’ or ‘stunning scenery’, then Coco Palm Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is the place to go from 11-18th November when they are hosting the Miss France 2011 contestants for a range of activities and photo shoots.
PS. I think it is intriguing that the Soneva resorts (Fushi and Gili) and the Coco Palm resorts (Bodu Hithi and Dhuni Kolhu) seem to be vying for the title of most cool events (check out the ‘Events’ section of the ‘Best Of’ page).