Best of the Maldives: Tree House – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - treehouse 2

Arbor Day today celebrates those those towering stoics of landscape flora. Actually, Arbor Days have proliferated around the world (celebrated in over 40 countries on different days of the year) indicating how pervasive the world’s appreciation for trees is. But the first Arbor Day was today in1872.

You can sit under them, look up and admire them, and climb them. But at the Dusit Thani kids club, you can play in them. The “Baan Sanook” features an extended treehouse complete with walkway and Maldivian palm thatch.

The feature echoes the Dusit’s Swiss Family Robinson chic of its Devarana Spa which is also elevated to the treetops.

Hug a tree today.

Dusit Thani - treehouse 1

Best of the Maldives: Astro-Turf Tennis Courts – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - astro-turf tennis courts

Happy St. Patricks Day. The day for celebrating all things green. So a tip of the old leprechaun’s hat to Dusit Thani and their brilliant green astro-turf tennis courts. This surface combines the benefits of softer playing and less heat retention and reflection in the bright equatorial sun. A few other resorts also offer astro, but Dusit is the only one with two!

Erin go bright-green! 

Best of the Maldives: Floral Drink – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - floral drink


Today Japan marks “Beloved Wives Day” when men shout out their love for their wives. But actions speak even louder than words no matter what the volume. So, if I want to demonstrate my adoration for Lori, I would book her into a Dusit Thani spa treatment. She loves a bit of pampering, but Dusit distinguishes itself for my wife with their floral drinks. My wife enjoys flavours like rose and lavender (Santa brought her those flavour chocs). Dusit’s spa serves a drink made from the Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) flower (photo above) which is one of the few floral drinks that I have actually enjoyed myself (not a big fan usually).


Best of the Maldives: Snorkel Safety – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - snorkely safety briefing

If there is one “Best of the Maldives” innovation that I would like all resorts to emulate it is Dusit Thani’s snorkel safety programme. We were taken through it by the resort’s dive centre instructor Manon (photo above).

  1. REQUIRED SNORKEL BRIEFING – For starters, all guests are required to have a 15 minute snorkel briefing before snorkelling on the reef. If you have not had your briefing and are spotted snorkelling, staff will approach you and politely inform you of the policy. For us, it didn’t matter that we had snorkelled over 50 house reefs and are a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, we still had to have the briefing.
  2. REQUIRED SAFETY COURSE – If you can answer three questions, then you are cleared to snorkel the Dusit Thani house reef after they have shared a few details like entries, some current tips and other basic information about the island’s surrounding waters. The questions are:  (a) How does one clear a mask?, (b) How does one clear a snorkel?, and (c) How does one determine current direction?  If you can’t answer the questions, the guests are requires to take a snorkel safety course (cost $55).
  3. REQUIRED SNORKEL TEST – After the course, you are assessed with a boat accompanying you and your instructor/guide. If you pass, you are all set to snorkel freely on the house reef.
  4. REQUIRED SNORKEL GUIDE – If you do not pass your snorkel proficiency test, then you are required to use a resort/dive-centre guide every time you snorkel on the house reef (cost is $25 per outing)
  5. TRAINED SECURITY STAFF POSTED– All of the security staff are trained in lifesaving and all 3 of the resort jetties have security staff posted. The posted house reef entry points are located near these jetties and the security staff are instructed to watch snorkelers who go out. Probably the closest thing to full time lifeguards I have seen in the Maldives. A measure I think resorts should consider (though the resort points out that these security staff are not intended as “lifeguards” and people should not depend on them for their safety).
  6. LIFEJACKET RECOMMENDED – It still boggles my mind that a number of quite knowledgeable Maldives experts on the Maldives TripAdvisor Forum have asserted the bizarre argument that snorkelling with a lifejacket is dangerous. I think their reasoning is along the lines of (a) “just say no” – ie. if you can’t swim well, don’t try it (nice, in principle, but in the real world people don’t really understand or respect their limitations, not to mention that this prohibition removes one of the great experiences of the Maldives from their visit), and (b) “over-confidence” – ie. the same reasoning as to why some say seat-belts are unsafe – because the sense of security makes you drive more recklessly (one may drive recklessly, but whatever the outcome of your driving, you are safer with a seat belt). Anyway, authorities like the Red Cross and PADI strongly urge the use of lifejackets when engaging in swimming activities where there is any question of swimming capacity (eg. strong swimmers in tough conditions, weak swimmers in easy conditions). The fact that Dusit Thani strongly encourages this practice is an inspired attitude in my view.

HINT FOR THE TEST – We knew the first technique for checking current, but hadn’t thought of the other two which are quite obvious on reflection…

  1. See which way the fish are facing (they swim into the current)
  2. Ask the dive centre
  3. Ask the boat captains.

Happy (and Safe) Snorkelling!

Maldives Tour 2014 – Day 9: Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani tour

It’s all about the experience at Dusit Thani.

All of the Maldives has great snorkeling. Probably the best in the world. But how do you turn that into an exceptional experience? First, you start with a great house reef (one of the best in the Baa atoll). Second, you add exceptional excursions. In the Baa atoll, this is going to Hanafaru Bay where you can snorkel with manta rays. In fact, just before our arrival the Dusit Thani folks had been on an excursion where there were dozens all over the place. And you don’t stop there, but you also add a truly inspired snorkeling programme orchestrated by your top flight dive centre (stay tuned for details in upcoming Best of the Maldives).

All of the Maldives resorts have fine food. With fresh reef fish in the surrounding sea and a range of tropical fruits in plentiful supply, add savory traditional curry recipes and it’s not difficult to put together a delectable meal. Add toes wiggling in warm sand, a canopy of bright stars overhead, and a serenade of gently lapping water on the shore and any meal becomes a stunning experience. But wheel in a talented chef and then a whole host of gustatory delights take the meals to another level.

Eating at Dusit’s “Sea Grill”, my expectations were modest. I was expecting the conventional array of basic meats and fish lovingly flame cooked. Instead, I found an extensive menu of taste treats that would impress hard core foodies in London’s West End never mind on some remote island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

One of my acid tests for great cuisine is the soup (I’ve written a number of times about two of my favourites – bisque and gazpacho). These are the dishes where diverse flavours can be melded into a unique taste sensation. My first challenge at Dusit was choosing. Instead of a normal “soupe du jour”, I faced a several enticing options. So I did the obvious thing being a soup fan…I ordered them all. I’m not sure I have enough data and samples to go on to award Dusit a “Best of the Maldives” for soup, but it certainly was the most appetizing that I had ever enjoyed in the Maldives.

Soups and snorkeling are just two examples of Dusit Thani’s meticulous efforts to provide guests with an experience as distinctive as the paradise they are visiting. I came away from my memorable stay with 14 candidates for Best of Maldives



Best of the Maldives: Infiniti Pool – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani infiniti pool

Welcome to the neighbourhood, Dusit Thani.

This week, Dusit Thani opens its doors to its first guests…

Their announcement highlights one of their first distinctions out of the blocks, their infinity pool…

“The resort’s centrepiece is the expansive infinity swimming pool, the largest in the Maldives, a full 750 square metres designed around an ancient banyan tree.”

There is a magical dimension to infiniti pools. The way they seamlessly insinuate themselves into the surrounding landscape. Our most memorable was the Filitheyo pool whose pool edge faces the west making for the most soothing dip at sunset pina coladas in hand. Dusit Thani’s sheer scale amplifies that trompe de l’oeil and it’s island banyan tree adds just that extra touch of magic.

One a side note, my heart goes out to all Maldivians facing this current unsettled period and my hope is that sensible minds and caring hearts prevail quickly.