Best of the Maldives: Surf School – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa surf school

 

In light of the ASP World Tour which started this week with the Quicksilver Pro event, I thought I would do a few surf pieces. I’ve already covered the Maldives hosting this very same event in June 2009. But you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy surfing in the Maldives. In fact, it would be an ideal place to start. It doesn’t feature the giant rip-curl waves of Hawaii. Instead, the Maldives are famous for long runs of gentle rolls as more modest waves hit the long breakers of extended reefs. If you have never even surfed at all, then the place to go is Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and their Tropic Surf surfing school.

They offer special beginner course for 2 days called the ‘Dream Programme’ where you learn safety, paddling, standing-up and falling-off (I thought that I might be able to skip that last bit seeming well proficient in fall off many things, but the instructor informed me that there is a ‘proper’ way to fall off). They then take beginners to surfing spots that are ideal for novices for guided and supervised outing.

Tropic Surf has a “100% success rate getting people to stand up on the first lesson.” They feature ‘soft boards’ and an instructor is always in the water with the student. I met with the manager Chris Prewitt (see picture above) who described the programme as a “shortcut to success”

For the more ambitious, Kuda Huraa also offer a 4 night ‘Surf’s Up’ package as well as surf cruises on various boats (including the Four Seasons Explorer yacht) to different locales around the Maldives. The Male atoll itself has 8 surf breaks for all levels of skill such as ‘Sultans’, ‘Jails’, and ‘Honkys’. For more information on Maldives surfing check out the Surf in Maldives website or the Maldivian Surfing Association Facebook page

 

Tropic Surf

Best of the Maldives: Apprenticeships – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Sir Alan Sugar The Apprentice

 

“You’re hired!”

Sir Alan is not the only one appointing new apprentices.  Four Seasons, both Landaa Giraavaru and Kuda Huraa properties, sponsor an ambitious programme of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certified apprenticeships

39 Maldivians are enrolled in the Class of 2011 aged 16-20 years with O-Level certifications. The programme was founded in in 2009 by Armando Kraenzlin, GM Landa Giraavaru who commented…

“Apprentices are paid a stipend and given room and board while in the programme. Instructors come from the management team, as well as from out side the resort. For instance, the Boat Mechanics module is taught by someone from Maritime College in Colombo, and is intense hand-on course. Other topics outside of operations include English and Math. Regular resort employees are mixed in with the apprentices so that the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration so critical to Four Seasons has an opportunity to flourish and grow. The programme works: one 2003 graduate is now an assistant department head, a position that would have seemed unattainable at one time.”

When I visited in November, a number of staff at both resorts proudly commented about the programme unsolicited.  My wife and I remember that when we first came over a decade ago, many staff at resorts were from far away countries and only got to see their families a few times a year.  But, the folks we spoke to in November recounted going home nearly every week on their days off and spending time with family having picnics, and playing beach football with friends.   But to top it off, Landaa Giraavaru also sponsors a couple of work experience student/researchers in marine biology and its top class research and visitor centre.

Four Seasons Apprenticeship programme

Best of the Maldives: Spa Arrival – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa spa dhoni

My recent visit to several prime resorts in the Maldives uncovered a wealth (65) of distinctive features that I will be exploring in depth over the coming months. I thought I would start off with a taster selection over the coming week for each resort.

The first resort on the itinerary was Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. Every spa treatment is a treat. And the best Maldive ones build up the anticipation with lovely receptions infused with incense and ambient tones that start the process of transporting you away mind and body to another place. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa takes this ‘transporting’ quite literally to a whole new level with its shuttle service to its spa. The Kuda Huraa spa sits by itself on a small little island just off shore from the main island. You could take a short swim over I guess, but the quaint ‘Kuda Dhoni’ (‘Little Boat’) ride over is just the thing to shift gears from the resort to your own little special sanctuary.

And the destination is worthy of mention. It is certainly one of the top massages we have had (the therapist was very attentive to a neck pain and spent extra time on that area that was very effective).

Maldives Tour 2010 – Day 2: Kuda Huraa Four Seasons

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa villa

Kuda Huraa is an inspiration of regeneration.

Kuda’s environment has imposed some challenges, and Kuda has both worked around them and in the process enhanced the environment itself.

Ironically, Kuda Huraa was the first island I was told not to visit in the Maldives a decade ago…wow have things changed. I was told that the beach was coarse…now it is flush with soft white sand. I was told it was stuffy…my visit encountered nothing but the most charming and down to earth people.

But the biggest transformation has been the snorkelling. Kuda Hura’s geography means there is no real ‘house reef drop off’ accessible from the beach (though snorkelling excursions can be arranged easily enough for a reef snorkelling experience). And the waters close to the island are actually too shallow to snorkel in many places. In response, Kuda Huraa (in concert with its sister resort Landaa Giraavaru), have invested heavily in Reefscaping (also known as ‘Reef Rehabilitation’).

One of the things that make the Maldives unique is its snorkelling. Maldives’ uniquely shallow expanses coupled with extensive reef development make it one of the tops in the world. Snorkelling is certainly a must-do activity in the Maldives, but many visitors have various concerns about it. Younger children need supervision and support, seniors are concerned about exertion and safety, people unfamiliar or uncomfortable with water need a calm and easy place to swim, handicapped people have their own special support needs. Lagoons can be great, calm, shallow places to try snorkelling, but unfortunately, a bit drab. Not much besides boring expanses of lifeless white sand and the occasional fish and rock.

But Kuda Huraa is an ideal choice for any of these beginner or tentative snorkellers. The Kuda Huraa lagoon is protected and yet, thanks to the extensive coral regeneration ‘Reefscaping’ initiative (300 frames installed to date), the Kuda Huraa lagoon is becoming a real underwater treat. It has the equivalent of a ‘Coral Garden’ that is being cultivated as carefully and successfully as an English country manor home’s floral borders. As a result, Kuda Huraa’s marine and coral biologists are creating a coral sanctuary that provides both a delightful haven for blossoming snorkellers and blooming coral alike.

And as a veteran snorkeller, who has explored countless sites of all types, my snorkel off Kuda Huraa was one of my most inspiring. I have been on a number of outings where much coral has died back sue to El Nino. However, the decay presents shades of what could happen with warming and acidifying seas. These past excursions were very depressing, like touring stark, coral graveyards. But Kuda Huraa inspired new hope. Every single Reefscaped frame was rife with intense new growth coral. Crisp and bright in countless branches. As I swam by frame after frame, it illustrated the potential that the world still has to bring back this underwater richness.

Four Seasons did not disappoint in delivering trademark luxury with its attention to detail, impeccable service, and no weaknesses. There are no shortcuts, no faded edges, nor neglected areas. In my brief stay, I identified 9 ‘Best of the Maldives’ distinctions for Kuda Huraa (stay tuned for special posts to come). A lot of resorts are dubbing themselves ‘5 stars’ these days, but I’m not sure how true to form some of these really are. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa delivers 5-star luxury in the true classic sense.

 

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa pool bed