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.

Best of the Maldives: Skinniest – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli skinny


With so many tempting treats to savour, my wife Lori has decided that she needs to shed a few of the pounds that she brought back with her from our last Maldives trip. She’s started the ‘Rice Diet’ whose first phase includes eating nothing but rice and fruit and she lost 4 pounds in 4 days.

If skinny is your thing, then Jumeirah Vittaveli has the smallest waistline of all. It even has an hourglass figure (see map above).

Some visitors (us included) like the smaller islands for the charm of a pre-sunset (or whenever) circumnavigational stroll. But, if you want to get from sunset to sunrise side in the fewest footsteps possible, then skinny is the trick.

This post was inspired by our stay at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa where we took one wrong turn and were on the opposite side of the island in seconds. But checking out Maldives Complete’s exhaustive list of lengths and widths, Vittaveli came up with the literally narrow victory at 70 metres across at its shortest point.

[image credit: Jumeirah Vittaveli] 

Best of the Maldives: Family Spa – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli spa

Congratulations to Jumeirah Vittaveli who officially opens today with a gala ceremony. Their announcement described…

“Receiving its first guests on the 10th December, the ultra luxury resort catering for couples, families and small groups is the second Jumeirah property to open in the Maldives this year.”

Pleased to hear about their Michelin-starred Executive Chef Kai Boeddinghaus. I think for any resort aspiring to ‘ultra luxury’ status, Michelin distinction is a pre-requisite. But what stood out for me as I explored their revamp of the place was their embrace of families. This emphasis warmed my nostalgia recollection of the island which I visited over a decade ago on my first trip to the Maldives and my family discovered ‘house reefs’ there (where we were staying at Laguna Beach now Velassaru didn’t have much of one)

Half of the text in the Vittaveli opening announcement talked about special offerings and features designed for children of all ages and families holidaying together. And my favourite was their ‘Aila Time’ concept at their Talise Spa

“Even Talise spa has introduced special treatment programmes for families. ‘Aaila’ is the Maldivian word for family, ‘Aila Time’ invites families to enjoy an awakening of a personal reconnection, whilst the ila ‘beyond’ journey educates young adults aged between 12 and 16 about the joy of spa, preparing them for a lifetime of wellbeing.”

A few other resorts, like Conrad Rangali’s ‘Ice Cream Spa’, have special kids offerings at their spas, but this is the first ‘family’ treatment concept I have come across. There have certainly been plenty of times in our family’s history when we could use some family therapy. And our periodic adventures at the Maldives definitely go down in our collective memories as one of our times for ‘reconnection’ walking, snorkelling, discovering, star-gazing, and game-playing together.

Though it does bug me that Jumeirah has no proper pictures of the spa on their web site. Big pet peeve of mine when resorts use useless generic, close-up, still-life, arty-farty photos on their website instead of showing us the product.

Welcome to the neighbourhood Jumeirah family!

Best of the Maldives: Densest Population – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Current World Population


Yesterday the world surpassed 7 billion people. That is according to the U.N.'s Population Division’s country-by-country projections of demographic trends. An awe inspiring number with equally stirring implications for the planet as MSNBC’s piece ‘7 Big Problems for 7 Billion People’ highlights. Sort the ‘Seven I-Wonders of the World’.

The Maldives has long been on the forefront of global ecological awareness and activism. And it re-inforces this focus with its recently launched ‘Always Natural’ campaign.

Maldives Complete has also, in its own trivial way, paid heed to visitors’ concerns about ‘population’. With both room count and island size in its database, it was pretty simply to add its ‘Population Density’ field as well (thanks Mark). In fact, the Room Density is something you can select for in the ‘Resort Finder’.

The most densely packed resort comes in as the freshly minted Jumeirah Vittaveli (opening 15 December). Its 91 rooms on 14,000 square metres is a mere 154 square metres per room. The result is skewed heavily by the resort having a large number of water villas (which don’t occupy any land) and being a skinny island (more circular islands occupy more acreage with space in the interior where the resorts tend not to put villas).

If you want to find out your place in the throng of billions, check out BBC’s ‘What’s Your Number’ calculator.

Great House Reefs

Maldives House Reefs

One of the first questions a true Maldives aficionado asks of a resort is ‘How good is the House Reef?’

When I first heard the advice to seek out the best house reef, I didn’t even know what a house reef was. We arrived at Laguna Beach (the resort that preceded Velassaru) and spent our days snorkelling around the coral croppings in the sandy lagoon. Then on an excursion to Bolifushi (soon to be Jumeirah Vittaveli), we went ‘over the edge’ and our hearts nearly leapt out of our snorkels. It is a truly dramatic experience to go from a few feet of water to a vast open expanse with a wall peppered with colourful coral and schools of tropical fish.

When I visited Vadoo, I got into a discussion with Assistant GM Alex Kovacs about great house reefs. Alex was proudly and valiantly making the case that Vadoo’s was one of if not ‘the’ best house reef in the Maldives’. My wife and I had to have a go with that kind of endorsement and can attest that it is a thoroughly fine experience. I would call it a first class house reef, but I balked at his claim that it was ‘the best’. I’ve covered ‘house reefs’ before including ‘Best House Reef’ (based on TA research), ‘Best House Reef Drop-Off’, and ‘Closest House Reef’.

He then challenged me, what makes a ‘great house reef’? I had some immediate responses, but it subsequently made me reflect on what it the characteristics really were. I came up with the following proposed list of criteria…

  • Drop-off (minimum 20 metre drop off)
  • Access (maximum 30 metres from shore to drop off)
  • Quantity and diversity of fish (especially ‘Little Five’)
  • Quantity and diversity of coral
  • Length
  • Low current (typically on the ‘inner atoll’ side of the island)
  • Warm water (this is a given in the Maldives and many tropical destinations, but not a guarantee at other snorkel spots around the world)