Best of the Maldives: Open Shelter – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli Samsara restaurant

 

I would eat al fresco every meal if I could. The temperate weather and the enchanting surroundings of the Maldives provide ample opportunities, but all too often one is sequestered away in a main dining area. One of the reasons for this is the need for reliable protection from the elements. Both the beating sun and the occasional shower can detract from an open air meal.

Jumeirah Vittaveli has finessed this issue with its striking north side Samsara restaurant. A soaring shard of a roof provides ample shelter while keeping the sides completely exposed to gentle breezes and a 270 degree view of the ocean.

Best of the Maldives: Boardwalk – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli boardwalk

 

One of my favourite parts of the Maldives are the jetties. They are like boulevard balconies to the spectacle of Maldivian marine life cavorting below often attracted to the pseudo-reef structure of the jetty itself. Resorts will often equip them with lighting which provides further attraction to the nocturnal creatures after dark.

Mostly these jetties take you to the arrivals welcome or the water villas, but Jumeirah Vittaveli has one which simply encircles part of the island. It really is more of a boardwalk than a jetty. And boardwalks are classic ocean-side features. Another benefit they bring is that people can walk along the water’s edge without the challenge of the sand if they are so disinclined (eg. less mobile folks, people dressed up for dinner).

Best of the Maldives: Low Miles Menu – Jumeirah

Maldives fishermen

“Fishermans Day” in the Maldives today celebrates the true main industry and for centuries the mainstay of the Maldives’ existence

And Jumeirah – both Vittaveli and Dhevanafushi properties celebrate and support local Maldives fishermen with their own “Low Miles Menu”…

“Azara and Samsara, restaurants at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi and Jumeirah Vittaveli in the Maldives, have unveiled a new ‘Low Miles’ menu as part of an on-going commitment to reduce the hotels’ carbon-footprints. The new ‘Low Miles’ menu makes the most of local, fresh ingredients to preserve the idyllic surroundings as well as offer a delicious taste of traditional Maldivian cuisine. By utilising ingredients sourced nearby, the chefs are able to ensure minimal air and sea miles are required to bring the food to the resort, minimising the harmful greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. The localised set menu offers a truly sustainable, and delicious, culinary experience, with dishes such as Reef Fish Pappillote with Vegetables, Coconut and Chili or Mild Yellow Fish Curry with Chapatti, Mango Chutney and Local Herb Salad. And, for dessert, guests can indulge in a Maldivian Fruit Cocktail served with Biscuit and a Local Custard Cream or Fried Local Banana Fritters served with Island made Coconut Ice Cream. Guests at Jumeirah Vittaveli can also enjoy the menu as destination dining, choosing a private stretch of white sandy beach for a romantic meal or a celebration among friends”

Most resorts make a point of sourcing what they can locally, especially the abundant fresh reef fish, but Jumeirah has made it a design point for two of its restaurants that dovetails nicely with its general native Maldives inspired architecture and decoration throughout the resort. While the Maldives’ remoteness does mean that some (especially luxury) items do need to be brought in from far away, their reef fish is probably the lowest mile food item of any resort in the world often sourced from just feet from the dining room.

Best of the Maldives: Martinis – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli martini

 

 

The only American invention as perfect as the sonnet" – H. L. Mencken

"The elixir of quietude.” – E.B. White

While gin is the most traditional foundation to a martini cocktail (some purists would say that properly chilled gin is all you need…maybe wave an open bottle of vermouth over the top of it), the vodka variant is growing in popularity. In fact, 23 of the Maldives leading 25 martinis on offer at Jumeirah Vittaveli are vodka based. A perfect place to celebrate National Vodka Day today for that perfect “quietude” experience. Not only a vast number, but sterling quality that we can attest to after our meticulous investigation during our visit this summer…

  1. Melon Tini Ginger Tini
  2. Green Apple Tini
  3. Basil Tini
  4. Peach Tini
  5. Coconut Tini
  6. Orange Tini
  7. Lemon Tini
  8. Pomegranate Tini
  9. Chocolate Tini
  10. Caramel Tini
  11. Dukes Cosmo Tini
  12. Rosemary Tini
  13. Coffee Tini
  14. Sparkling Berry Tini
  15. Almond Tini
  16. Passion Tini
  17. Citrus Mist Tini
  18. Pineapple Tini
  19. Metropolitan Tini
  20. Tropical Tini
  21. Mint Tini
  22. Spicy Vodka Tini
  23. Strawberry Tini
  24. Jasmine Sour Tini
  25. Blueberry Basil Tini

And they all come shaken or stirred.

Best of the Maldives: Educational Treasure Hunt – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli treasure hunt

The exotic tropical islands of the archipelago just scream out the fables of “buried treasure” from pirate lore. A number of resorts now feature the sorts of treasure hunts that we used to concoct for our kids during our visits. But Jumeirah Vittaveli has made the treasure a bit more edifying than the sweeties I used to leave at the X-marks-the-spot. Each specially sequestered box, like “Fenesse Point” above, includes an educational tidbit about the island and life there. Knowledge is indeed riches worthy of a prince or princess.

Best of the Maldives: Person Centred Treatment – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli person centred care plan

 

 

I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit with the posts on Ellaidhoo’s and Kurumba’s snorkel aids in my post-tour posts (given their tie into the “not seen” series), but now time to share a few of the gems from the tour. Over the next fortnight, I will share a “Best of the Maldives” post gleaned from “Tour 4” in order of the resorts toured. They aren’t necessarily the biggest or “best” of the “best ofs”. Just some that particularly captured my appreciation and fancy.

Not only was our first resort of the tour Jumeirah Vittaveli, but our very first activity was a massage at their spa. A thoughtful remedy to 10 hours in economy class.

I’ve enjoyed hundreds of spa treatments in both the Maldives and the around the world. One of my pet peeves is when the therapist asks you if you want them to focus on any particular are..and then doesn’t focus there. I often am fine on my back (which is the masseuse’s favourite body part) and prefer more time spent on limbs (legs, arms, feet) or upper body (chest, shoulders, neck). Too many times when I provide this guidance, the person seems to disregard it completely and carry on in autopilot with some preprogramed routine.

The first sign that Vittaveli’s Talise spa offered something different was the lack of a treatment menu. They sat you down and had you fill out a questionnaire. This step is not so different from standard operating procedure in many spa, but the primary focus is just usually about getting you to sign a disclaimer and declare any medical issues. But Vittaveli’s approach was quite different. First, the questionnaire went into a bit more depth than usual. And rather than the cursory glance by the therapist, so did the review of the form. And actually, it was more of an interview than a review. The spa manager, Sova, sat down with Lori and I and crafted a unique treatment concoction based on my preferences. For me it was an oriental massage combined with Thai stretch elements for the limbs. For Lori it was a Balinese massage for lower body and Swedish for upper.

My wife who is a therapist (speech and language) herself remarked that their approach was a classic example of a “Person Centric Care Plan”. This technique is a big thing in health care these days according to Lori and is the basis for all of her work at the UK Epilepsy Society.

But the proof of the massage is in the rubbing. Would the therapists execute the plan or was it all just a preamble of palaver? Our two therapists, Kanlayanee and Taksana, did exactly the detailed requirements both my wife and I specified. Taksana working on me hardly touched by back (as requested) and spent lots of time of my shoulders which were tight from the plane journey. Kanlayane spent more time on Lori’s chronically troublesome neck than she has ever had with hugely therapeutic results.

For all of the fads and trends that hit spas these days, it was inspiring to see Vittaveli embracing the latest thinking from the health care field rather than the cosmetic or pop-spirituality fields.

Maldives Tour 2013 – Day 1: Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli tour

What a surprise!

Not the Jumeirah I expected. The Jumeirah marque is a bit of a pioneer in super-luxury properties, but the Vittaveli property has none of the glitter or glitz of its Dubai renown. Instead it has gone for a comprehensive embrace of all things Maldivian – ingredients, imagery, themes, inspiration. Dhoni inspired architecture. Local herb kulhlhafilaa leaves in dishes. Maldivian sauces with the grilled meat (milder than many Maldivian curries I have had). Instead of the opulence of Al Burj, it strives for the subtlety of a Maldivian fishing village.

Vittaveli’s tag line is – “Effortless Maldivian Luxury”. The description is as fitting as it is effective in capturing the relaxed ambience coupled with sumptuous quality in design and detail. The most modest villas are house sized with towering ceilings, wrap-around pools and expansive gardens securing complete privacy with walls and foliage. Suites that can be configured to include a nanny room for family entourages. More of a compound than villa.

Also, not the Bolifushi I remembered. This is now the third island have returned to (after Kurumba and Velassaru). On our very first trip to the Maldives at the then ‘Laguna Beach’ (now Velassaru) we popped over here to check out Boli’s quality reef. Now the island has been extended to more than double its length with a big reclamation effort. The new part of the island doesn’t feature as strong snorkelling nor the maturity of the palms and fruit trees (so fewer ‘flying cat’ bats). But all that will sort itself out with a bit more time and the more expansive scale provides a platform for Vittaveli’s extensive services, activities and offerings not to mention its big villa ‘compounds’.

Jumeirah Vittaveli earns big marks for understated elegance.