Arbor days vary around the world (even with States in the USA), but today is the most prevalent one. Maldives doesn’t have an official tree planting day, but more and more resorts are focused on the environment and engaging in a breadth of flora cultivation.
While most visitors look outward from the beaches at the legendary sea of the Maldives, the interiors of these tropical paradises have their own rich landscape. So much so, that today (on the occasion of Arbor Day), I have added the “tree” tag to the Maldives Complete blog.
One of the signature features as prevalent on the islands as branch coral is on the reefs are the multi-pod Banyan Trees. Their meandering style of growth produces a maze of smaller trunks comprising these curious tangles of growth. Allegedly, the oldest of these ancient landmarks is the Main Road tree on Kuramathi…
“Located at the Main Road, this historical landmark is an estimated 300 years old and is a gigantic plant towering 30 metres high. One could wander through the sawdust trail at the entrance and be amazed by the maze of thick wooden barks of this ancient tree, enshrouded in rich greenery. The tree is a nesting place for herons, fruit bats and other animals and is a sight not to be missed. This tree at Kuramathi can be considered as one of the oldest banyan trees found in the Maldives.”
‘Screw pine’ ice news PR (anagram there for you…)
July is ice cream month. And the ice cream with the truly Maldivian flavour is made on Kuramathi – “Screw Pine Ice Cream”. “Screw Pines” are those surreal trees so defined by their adventitious roots that they also have the nickname “Walking Pines”. They are most commonly found in the Maldives. The notes from the resort’s botanic walk describes…
“Maakashikeyo, Pandanus odoratissimus. Abundant plant, growing along beaches with numerous pro roots originating from the base of the trunk. It can grow to a height of 15 m, stems are hollow. Male and female flowers are in separate trees. The fruits on the female tree are pineapple like and become red when ripe. Use: the red portion of the fruit is eaten raw or cooked with rice, for soups or to make sweets and juice. On Kuramathi, we also make screw pine ice cream. You can try this at Palm!”
It’s that time of year again when the coral polyps become all twitter-pated with this week’s full moon (corals reproduce during the full moon in the summer). Coincidentally, Venus – the Roman goddess of Love – passed in front of the fiery Sun today to stoke even more astronomically romance into the mix.
If you want to celebrate this season of micro-organism orgasmics, then Kuramathi offers a ‘Coral Romance’ excursion…
“For ultimate relaxation, tranquillity and some pampering, take a trip to the heavenly island of Kandholhudhu, reached 45 minutes by speedboat. Surrounded by a stunning beach, this small and lush island boasts one of the most beautiful house reefs in the Maldives.”
Romance from the heavens above to the ocean depths below.
Happy International Children’s Day!
The children are our future and in Kuramathi’s latest eco-initiative, they are taking the lead in preserving it. Both in style and in protagonist. Kuramathi has produced a charming animated video on tips for preserving the environment in the Maldives. The style might seem a little…well…childish. But it works it still works on a number of levels. First, it’s not taking itself too seriously which keeps it entertaining and helps keep people from being turned off like some preachy or pedantic approach might do. Secondly, there is no speaking. This means that people from all countries and languages can benefit from it equally. It reminds me of the cartoon videos they now use for the safety briefings on the BA flights. A little cheeky, a lot useful.
“The 10 minute plot revolves around two characters, a father and his son holidaying on a tropical island. While they are lazing around, the father unknowingly and unintentionally harms the environment in each sequence, to which the modern day, ‘eco-aware’ child halts his action, supported by an eco-brochure and corrects him by fast forwarding to the distant future in a thought bubble. The child succeeds in informing his father the right way to protect and preserve the natural surroundings. A brief synopsis of each setting describes how important it is to respect the environment and how we can go about doing it. Each sequence gives off a subliminal message to its viewers. Employing proper snorkelling etiquette by observing the fragile coral garden from a safe distance, dispersing rubbish into litter bins, and respecting nature by not touching shells, corals and other animals are key notable messages portrayed in the movie. This original masterpiece was created by Thomas Krajcovic and Matej Petrek, two Austrian students, who was invited by the Kuramathi team to spend one week on the resort, in order to study the island, and its environment and dynamics, selecting the key messages to embed into the film’s storyboard. Under our senior marine biologists’ guidance, the plot was soon finalized and later taken over by the two students for the production of the film. Due credit is also given to the generous patronage by TUI – world famous European tour operator who supported this initiative by sponsoring the flights for the two students.”
The Chelsea Flower Show has become so big that it has spawned the ‘Chelsea Fringe’ which features some more adventurous and unbounded horticultural initiatives. With similar spirit, Kuramathi has developed its own alternative horticultural innovation with its new hydroponics garden…
“Set in the centre of the island, the Hydroponics Garden is a remarkable facility which caters 70% of fresh salads to the food outlets on the island. The garden which runs by a greenhouse system consisting of 20 greenhouses produces herbs such as coriander, rocket, green basil, mint, purple basil, dill, sage and lemongrass. This efficient and eco-friendly method facilitates rapid harvesting where plants grow within a month’s time. The greenhouses are categorised by type, for instance 15 greenhouses grow lettuce whilst another 5 grow herbs. Richard Brittaine, Resident Horticulturist who leads the Hydroponic Garden says that the system which is wholly dependent on water is supplied with nutrients that make up the solution necessary for the plants to grow, and the water is changed every 2 months. The facility has been running for nearly 18 months and more plants are planned to be introduced over time.”
Other resorts, like Park Hyatt Hadahaa and Filitheyo, have hydroponic garden facilities, but Kuramathi is the most extensive and ambitious that I have come across yet. For more details and pictures, check out their Facebook page.
Everyone wants to be Liked.
The most prominent bragging rights to any Facebook presence is ‘Likes’ (or ‘Members’ if you are set up as a ‘Group’). While this measure is debatable, it is transparent and certainly indicative of a degree of engagement and popularity.
The runaway winner for Maldives resorts is Kuramathi with 7,347 ‘Likes’.
Frankly, this is the page that kicked off my investigation into the use of Facebook by various resorts. When I went to the Kuramathi page I was struck by the richness of activity and contributions by both the resort and guests. I had visited plenty of resort Facebook pages, but Kuramathi’s made me wonder if any other resorts had stepped up to this level. I figured that I couldn’t dish out a ‘Best of Maldives’ without a more thorough examination. I really had to look at all of the resorts’ Facebook Pages (or in some case Groups). When I first made note of this idea for a post, Kuramathi had over 4,000 Likes, when I did my survey in January they had 7,347 and as of yesterday (see snap above) they stood at 7,786. In just a month, they have grown over 500 which is half the amount of the average total number of ‘Likes’ by resorts. In fact, their growth in a single month of 500 is more than total Likes/Members of 47 resorts.
Kaki is not alone in bringing the marine delights and insights home to young guests on the web. Kuramathi’s web site features its very own ‘Kids Corner’ online. Anyone on the Internet can join in the maritime fun and curiosity with material like their interactive ‘Marine Life Alphabet’…
- “In here, you shall find all those familiar fish you often see swimming about in the ocean in Alphabetical Order, each described in a playful manner. From Angelfish to Zebra Moral Eel, learn the names of the fish and their unique characteristics in a snap! Little guests, have also the chance to experiment with colours, with the new Marine Life Colouring Book which comes as a downloadable PDF booklet. Learning was never made this easy! After absorbing the interesting bubbles of Marine Life, test your skills by going snorkelling and prove yourself the winner when you can name the fish you see!”
Actually, seeing a baby Zebra Moray Eel, at Kuramathi’s sister resort Kurumba, was the underwater highlight for my wife Lori during our last visit to the Maldives. There were wonderful reef sharks swimming all around us, but all she wanted to look at was this shy little black and white stripped critter ensconced in a crevasse.
If you prefer to imbibe rather than immerse in Maldivian aqueous refreshment, then Kuramathi has developed the tipple for you…
“Kuramathi Water. This clean, potable water made on the island emanates from a Classic Crystal purification system, ensuring the highest levels of quality and standards. The finished product is a glass bottle containing fresh drinking water. The bottle comes in two sizes, 500ml and 1 litre, and is a complimentary amenity for guests staying on Full Board. The bottles are also replenished from the guest’s stock every day. Reusing glass bottles is a milestone for Kuramathi, making our carbon footprint smaller as it would save the usage of about 300,000 plastic bottles discarded every year. To provide our guests with a memoir of Kuramathi, the bottles will be sold at the bars for very reasonable prices. One other interesting aspect about this water is that they are bottled in two forms; as still and sparkling waters.”
Perfectly timed launch coinciding with the Maldives’ ‘Always Natural’ campaign.
Among the old-timer Maldives aficionados, there is a bit of nostalgia for the ‘no shoes, no news’ simplicity of old school Maldivian simple paradise. One of the details of that nearly by-gone era that my wife Lori and I miss are the battered ‘re-used’ soda bottles. With the ecological mantra of “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle”, the re-used bottles were actually more environmentally progressive than the current practice of recycling. They had a sea-glass charm covered with the patina of many quenched thirsts. They also had sturdy heft to them for durability, but also making drinking from the bottle like holding a sculpted glass mug. But, Kuramathi now takes it a reuse a step further adding locally produced beverage.
Maldives may not be a ‘Test Status’ cricket nation, but they love their wickets as much as their Subcontinent neighbours. Their closest Indian Ocean neighbour Sri Lanka is right in the middle of a Test Match with England at this very moment.
If you fancy a few overs, either watching or playing, then Kuramthi is the pitch you want. Their staff have an active team that competes across the country and they welcome resort guests to join in or simply sip their G&T’s from the side.
Asma Rasheed of the resort describes…
“At Kuramathi we have a football pitch with doubles up as a cricket pitch as well. 4 days the team plays futsal and 2 days they play cricket. Guests are welcome to join if they wish (and often we will have a couple of guys joining, but mostly for the futsal than cricket I have to say).
We also hold tournaments, at least once a year. This is exclusively for our team. In March we had our futsal tournament and most recently we had the cricket tournament.
We also have occasional friendly matches between other islands. Over the last 3 weeks we have held a friendly match against Dhiraagu (Telecom Company of the Maldives), islanders of Rasdhoo (our neighbouring local island) and today, we had a match against Veligandu team (another resort in Rasdhoo atoll).”
The pictures here are just a few taken from Kuramathi’s Facebook album of one of their recent tournaments.
Happy World Oceans Day!
The entire country of the Maldives is celebrating this event including several special activities in various resorts. But the resort that has pulled out the stops is Kuramathi. They are featuring a special complementary dive, an underwater photography competition, and reef clean up. The event is being sponsored by the resort’s recently inaugurated Eco Center as a part of its overall green strategy.