Best of the Maldives Online: Maldives Lifestyle Blogger – Samyoyo & Belinda’s Travel (Belinda Young)

Belinda Young 1

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… 

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…

我們真的很愛海島,旅遊一定都去海邊。但馬爾地夫的獨特是來自於她的自然美以及與世隔絕感,也僅有在馬爾地夫我能充份享受放空的快感,時間在此就好像靜止凍結。。。

· 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.

我蠻想看看大溪地特有的獨木舟早餐在馬爾地夫到底行不行?但一定要有馬爾地夫自已的味道及特色,不過什麼形式呈現,說真的我現在真的還想不出來

· 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.

光腳!光腳!光腳!~相信我,當你回到城市後,你會時不時想念起腳底有砂,踩砂的那段日子

 

Belinda Young 2

Best of the Maldives: Photography Workshop – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - landscape

A bit of a tripod trifecta for Gili Lankanfushi this week of style. I generally, avoid repeating resorts too frequently to keep up the diversity of coverage, but Gili has offered up more photo opps than a Maldivian sunset after a rainshower. In this instance, Gili not only provides one of the most popular venues for photo shoots, they also provide the instruction. Their website describes…

Come and join David Evans photographer and myself at the Worlds Best Resort Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives this September for the workshop of a lifetime, learning, sharing and relaxing all at the same time, in one of the most spectacular places in the world. David and I were lucky enough to spend some time here last year and the images you see in this slideshow were all taken in those 3 days.

  • Landscape and travel photography
  • Sunrise and sunset
  • Night photography
  • Wildlife and macro photography
  • Food photography
  • Portrait photography
  • Using off-camera flash and reflectors
  • Time-lapse photography
  • Short videos and Gopro
  • Post-production of images

Models not included…

Best of the Maldives: Pirate Shoot – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - La Carmina pirate shoot

What’s a pirate’s fashion nightmare?
A sunken chest with no booty.

Today’s “Speak Like a Pirate Day” illustration carries on the Fashion Week theme with Japan’s La Carmina (featured in yesterday’s post). Her own posts from Gili Lankanfushi also included the swashbuckling gem above.

I always do a post on this special occasion. The exotic and remote Maldives isles evoke so many images of pirate treasure islands. We used to hold treasure hunts for our kids when they were younger (and now many resorts offer this activity themselves). As it happens, La Carmina is channeling our kids a bit – our daughter Isley was the pirate princess in her Leaver’s Day parade, and our son is himself an aficionado and chronicler of Japanese culture.

Well, blow me down!

10 Water Villa Accessories

Gili Lankanfushi water villas

On the heels of the Maldives Complete index, I think it’s time for another Buzzfeed-inspired listicle. A Christmas list for every self-respecting Maldive water villa. Not surprisingly, the “Water Villa only” pioneer Gili Lankanfushi dominates the list with 3 mentions.

Pimp my water villa!

 

1. SLIDEGili Lankanfushi: Yes pleeeeeease!

Gili Lankanfushi slide

2. HAMMOCK One and Only Reethi Rah: The most expansive of the over water “floating” nets.

One and Only Reethi Rah hammock

3. INDOOR/OUTDOOR POOLHuvafenfushi: Great for the inner cat person (“I want to be outside, no inside, no outside…”)

Huvafenfushi indoor outdoor pool

4. DINING GAZEBOVelaa: Your own over water dining room.

Velaa dining gazebo

5. JETTYAngsana Velavaru: Strolling along the jetties provide a front row “dry” seat to the maritime spectacles of the Maldives and Velavaru gives you your very own private one.

Angsana Velavaru jetty

6. PRIVATE BEACHVelaa: Surf and turf Maldives villa style.

Velaa water villa beach

7. PRIVATE OCEANGili Lankanfushi: Private back areas in beach villas give you privacy, but in a water villa any passing boat can see you on your deck or swimming off it. But Gili offers your own private enclosed swimming area (mind you, it does become a bit less private at low tide when the water level drops).

Gili Lankanfushi private ocean

 

 

 

 

8. GLASS FLOORJumeirah Vittaveli: When being 10 feet from the water view trigger withdrawal pangs.

Jumeirah Vittaveli water villa deck glass floor

 

9. BOAT Gili Lankanfushi:  Your own private transport to your own villa island.

Gili Lankanfushi water villa boat

 

10. GLASS DINING TABLESix Senses Laamu: Best placemat ever.

Six Sense Laamu glass table

 

Best of the Maldives: Clothes Hangers – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - coat hangers

 

This Best of the Maldives piece is possibly my most archetypal. I say that because when I am describing to people the extent of the esoterica that I investigate and write about I often cite the “Clothes Hangers” example. These are the sort of obscure distinctions that I adore. They are the subtle details that some resort designer or marketer has been inspired to provide.

As wood is the traditional gift for the 5th anniversary, I thought that today would be an appropriate occasion to finally post this distinction that I have mentioned in conversation so many times.

Clothes hangers are a fine example of a pedestrian item that can be made colourful and remarkable with a little creativity and panache. I’ve seen painted hangers, padded and scented ones, but nearly all of our hangers at home are wood. I’ve seen other wooden ones in the Maldives, but none quite a funky and fun as Gili Lankanfushi’s bamboo collection.

Best of the Maldives: Astro-Turf Tennis Court – Conrad Rangali

Conrad Rangali tennis court

  

The Grand Slam hits its apogee this week with the start of the Wimbledon Championships. In fact, the opening session had a distinctly Maldivian touch as the headline for the day was “Stunned Nadal Mauled by Shark” (reference to unseeded victor Steve Darcis’ love of fish complete with tattoos).

Distinquished by its old school grass courts, I have often wondered why a Maldives resort hasn’t added such a posh surface to its resort. But a few top seeds do have a distinctive court surface that is a step in the right direction – astro turf.

The turf has a number of advantages…

  • Softer so easier on the pounding of legs.
  • Cooler than asphalt or cement which absorbs and holds the tropical heat more intensely.
  • Prettier with a gentle texture and colour.

The elite astro-trio astro-trio includes

  • Conrad Rangali (photo above)
  • Gili Lankanfushi (photo below)
  • Zitahli Kudafunafaru

I had to go to a Hawkeye like line judge to figure out the winner. All are floodlit for evening playing. Gili took the first point with the pristine condition of the court which impressed me when I visited it. But Conrad Rangali came back to take the set and match by having a tennis instructor on staff (see picture at bottom) who provides lessons for less than half the price of Gili (and the instructor has to be arranged).

Advantage Rangali!

 

Gili Lankanfushi - astro turf tennis court

 

Conrad Rangali tennis coach

Best of the Maldives: Largest Water Villa – Soneva Gili

Gili Lankanfushi - Private Reserve aerial

 

The Summer Solstice brings us the sweet longest day of the year today. And in the Maldives, if not the world, the longest suite of all is the Gili Lankanfushi Private Reserve at a whopping 76 metres.

The Private Reserve is also long on its own distinctions.

  • Largest – Not just the longest, but the largest water villa in all of the Maldives (1,400 square metres)
  • Long Stays
  • Longest Glass Floor (see below)
  • Largest Bathroom – the 100 square meter bathroom is larger than over a quarter of the entire villas in the Maldives

A water suite of Stonehenge proportions.

 

Gili Lankanfushi - Private Reserve glass floor

Best of the Maldives: Tibetan Singing Bowls – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - Tibetan Singing Bowls

 

 

 

And gong goes to…

The Grammy for ‘Best Meditative Inspiration’ goes to…[drumroll]…Gili Lankanfushi. Nominated by Sakis of ‘Dreaming of Maldives’. He featured these ambient instruments in a recent post complete with a video so you can enjoy their soothing tones.

Best of the Maldives: No Shoes – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - no shoes

 

 

All of the Maldives exemplifies ‘no shoes’ natural relaxation. Yes, some of the newer super premiums have introduced a little bit more formality with their posh luxury, but the best still maintain that informal and casual elegance. Dressing for dinner typically doesn’t mean footwear (though we like to freshen up after a day in the sun and salt and put on some of our more stylish attire for our Maldivian evenings).

The brochures and websites emphasize this barefoot ethos, but Gili Lankanfushi hits you over the head with it. The minute you step foot on their transfer boat, is the last step you will take in your shoes. Don your life jacket, grab your tropical refresher and then they hand you a canvas bag with the words on it “No News, No Shoes”. It is a shoe bag to put your shoes in immediately. They will take care of getting them to your room and then the idea is you don’t crack open that bag until you board the boat again on your departure.

I love this explicit approach. Not just because I come from America, the land of explicit directness, but because I think many people do need this direction and even prodding. The Maldives is so unlike any place on earth, many people have trouble accepting that it is actually as laid back and idyllic as it is. They think it is maybe a bit of marketing hyperbole and it takes them a few days for it to sink in that things truly as relaxed as promised. And it’s a shame that in those initial few days they’ve missed out on a degree of relaxation for fear that they were violating some decorum.

No confusion at Lankanfushi. They want their guests to start feeling the sand between their toes the minute they step off the boat.