Best of the Maldives: Charity Gala – Kurumba

Kurumba - party with a purpose 1

‘Tis the season. Not the season to be jolly, but “The Season” to be generous. May kicks off the start of the social “season” here in London with Ascot, Wimbledon, Henley bringing out the picnics of champagne, strawberries and cream. And the circuit of charity balls bringing out the black tie and sequined gowns for good causes.

Kurumba has joined the season-al spirit with its own fundraising “Party with a Purpose”:

On Friday 24th April Kurumba Maldives proudly hosted the fundraising event “Party with a Purpose”. This event was held for the fourth year running in aid of 72 orphaned children residing at “Kudakudhinge Hiyaa” located on Villingili island. Support from 10 different Maldivian performers, many suppliers and partners contributed to raise over US$21,000. This upcoming year, the funds will be destined to the development of the “Early Childhood Play and Development Training Programme” for caretakers, in cooperation with the local non-governmental organization ARC – Advocating the Rights for the Children, amongst other projects. Local artists volunteered their time to perform Maldivian and international tunes with bands, DJ’s and a Bodu Beru groups performing for guests’ enjoyment.”

 

Kurumba - party with a purpose 2

Best of the Maldives: Boat Captain – Kurumba

Kurumba - boat captain

International Women’s Day today celebrates the inspirational achievements of women around the world. One such woman is Aishath Rizuna “Rizu”, the Maldive’s first female boat captain trained and appointed by Kurumba

Rizu herself comes from a line of strong and active women. Her mother and grandmother are very practical and very sporty. Her mother fixes electrical issues and out swam all the boys while her grandmother still climbs trees…

“From her background, Rizu was born and raised in Funadhoo, Shariyani Atoll. Her father is a fisherman so Rizu has sweet memories about the time when her father taught her how to swim, snorkel and fish in a traditional Dhoni boat. At the very young age of four, Rizu’s father taught her how to drive a small boat, and by the time she was a teenager she was selling small boats in the lagoon of Funadhoo. Rizu’s father (Mohamed Nazim) curiously also worked in Kurumba at a young age thirty years ago and has been a great support to Rizu’s evolving career. We are delighted with the support of our twelve male Captains, who certainly gave her all the necessary help needed for her practical training as well as her theory course. Rizu is still developing her skills and knowledge of the Maldivian oceans, which will take some time. Whilst she will continue her role as Majaa Recreation Supervisor, these additional skills can be used in the future from time to time when guests are looking for a female crew.”

Maldives Complete had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Rizu. Special thanks to good friend and fellow blogger Eileen Brown who helped with the questions. Eileen herself was the first female to be employed as a Deck Cadet in shell Tankers (UK) Ltd and is currently one of the leading promoters of women in the UK technology sector

  • What is the best aspect of your job? – It’s always been a dream to travel around, being a boat captain allows me to fulfil my dream and that’s the most enjoyable part in my job.
  • What were your biggest challenges as you trained to become a boat captain? – The biggest challenge I had was that every single part in the boats were so new to me. I felt like I was back in school, where I had to learn everything from A to Z, but with the help of all the people around me I overcame all challenges and I am so thankful to everyone.
  • Were there any physical obstacles that you needed to overcome? – I would say it’s more mental challenges that I had to overcome more than physical ones.
  • Did your lack of physical strength hinder you much? – The thought “I am a woman and I can’t do that” never even crossed my mind and most importantly everyone around me never tried to put it in my head either.
  • What were the attitudes of your classmates as you progressed through your training? – Very helpful and positive comments from the start, from the moment I told them that I am going to take the training as a boat captain. These comments pushed me forward and it’s always great to know how much people appreciate your hard work.
  • Did you have anyone that championed and supported you? If so, was it a big advantage? – Honestly and to be fair I have to say everyone, but I am particularly thankful for the support of my Family, the Kurumba Management team including our Fleet Manager Mohamed Shameem and the whole Kurumba team for being with me.
  • Did you encounter anyone that was very against you progressing in your career? – No! Only positive feedback.
  • Now you are a captain, what are your plans to encourage other women to follow your path? – Well, it’s a choice. This opportunity came to my doorstep, why would I wait? My dream is waiting out there. There’s always one thing I would like to say now and I will always say it: “follow your dream until you reach it, never give up and take your chances”.
  • What next for you in your career after your captain job? – It’s a bit too early to decide anything right now. I am enjoying driving the boats around and working towards my dream, which is visiting each and every island in the country.

Aye, aye, Kurumba!

#PaintItPurple

 

Kurumba - Rizu childhood

Best of the Maldives: Reading – Kurumba

Kurumba - book and magasine

International Book Day yesterday. Unfortunately, in this digital age, books are getting to be an ever rarer commodity. But nothing says switch off from the modern world than curling up on a hammock under some palm trees with a good book.

I haven’t seen many resort specific books in my travels. So many books are dominated by pretty pictures of paradise and thinly veiled promotion. But Kurumba’s “The Kurumba Story” has lots of substance about the history and day to day life on the resort island. Most people think that you have to go to a “local island” for a “local” ife, but the resorts themselves are their own significant communities in the Maldives landscape with their own stories and characters.

The book looks back in time over 40 years of Kurumba’s life as a resort chronicling the emergence of this tiny island nation into one of the world’s most coveted tourist destination. It complements the story with an extensive collection of rare and intriguing photos of this vibrant period.

And for some lighter reading, Kurumba also publishes its own Kurumba magazine which again I applaud for focusing more of the intriguing accounts of life in this fascinating part of the world than it does on promoting the resort itself. Their latest issue includes the following articles…

  • “Casting Calls” – Examination of the difference between hand line, big game and other types of fishing, traditional and modern.
  • “The Tree of Life” – Peon to the eponymous Coconut tree.
  • “Raising the Bar” – Staff profile of one of our favourite people on the island, Hillary.
  • “Loyal Friends” – Guest profile of a family that have visited Kurumba 72 times (!)
  • “Above & Below” – Staff profile of Momo (who did our great manta videoing)  

 

Kurumba - book

Best of the Maldives: Largest Coral Frame – Kurumba

Kurumba - frame

 

Kurumba is the unsung hero of Maldives house reefs. It has always been one of my favourite house reefs. We have snorkelled it many times and *every* time see so many critters especially of the infamous “Snorkel Safari Big 5”. We also spot many distinctive smaller creatures (like the baby Zebra Eel my wife watched for ages).

One of the primary reasons why it is underrated is its relatively weaker coral growth. But this past month, the resort embarked on a *big* Reefscaping project to help rejuvenate the coral to be as vibrant as the marine animals. In fact, they laid down the biggest coral frame in the country to date…

“A team of volunteers joined forces with Kurumba staff on Wednesday (December 17) to rescue corals from a land reclamation project and help create the largest coral frames in the Maldives. Thanks to the efforts of the team two massive 20ft coral frames packed with transplanted coral have been created on the house reef at Kurumba. The two adjacent frames are the largest of their kind in the Maldives and together form a new 40ft-long coral garden.”

Kurumba puts the “Big” into “Big 5”.

 

 

Kurumba - frame 2

 

Kurumba - frame 3

Best of the Maldives: Gift Shop – Kurumba

Kurumba - gift shop

Gift shops in the Maldives are usually of two extremes – very basic, not too impressive souvenirs (coconut shell turtles), snacks (Pringles and Tobblerones) and toiletries or over-the-top luxury fashion and jewellery. Resorts that (a) don’t exploit the opportunity for effective cross-sell, and (b) don’t equip better for the things I might actually want to buy are a bit of a pet peeve for me. I’ve found a few fine establishments, but more often than not I am left wanting.

The one resort retailer that does stand out is Kurumba’s Nala boutique. Every visit, we find something there to buy. Our latest visit, it was not just one, but two items that we had failed to find during our entire 10 resort tour. Lori had misplaced her USB cable to attach her GoPro to her computer. Needed for both charging the camera and downloading the photos, we had been borrowing these little chords (of which we have about a dozen kicking about in our cable drawer at home) throughout our trip, but for the life of us could not find one to buy. Until we arrived at Kurumba which had one for sale. On top of that, this trip was Lori’s first go at her new GoPro and the incompetent dive shop in North Carolina which sold it to her (as well as the very expensive underwater light) neglected to advise her to get a basic $30 red filter for enhancing underwater shooting. Those too were nowhere to be found…until we came to Nala which has a whole line of GoPro accessories.

It’s not just the practical, gadgetry where Nala excels, but fashion too. I’ve already penned a post about their signature burkini. Lori has bought a number of wraps and tops there, and the only jewellery I ever bought in the Maldives was at Nala (a pair of lovely round enamel earrings with the Maldives azures and turquoises).

You can also find some properly distinctive mementos and gifts to bring home. One of my favourites is the line of coconut products. Coconut is the zeitgeist of Kurumba, and as I have written, Kurumba even produces its own coconut oil which it uses in everything from cooking to the toiletries at your villa. And if you want to bring home a bit of Maldives essence, then you can purchase these same products and even the coconut oil itself at the shop.

Most gift shops are pedestrian “phone it in” affairs, but Kurumba’s is an entrepreneurial inspiration by the manager Victoria Kruse (see above…wife of the resort GM). She scrutinizes the fashion range, introduces inventive products like the burkini and the resort-made coconut oil and makes sure that it caters to what people really need and want.

Best of the Maldives: Coconut – Kurumba

Kurumba - coconut

 

 

Coconuts are synonymous with tropical paradise…and Kurumba is synonymous with everything coconut. “Kurumba” actually means “young coconut” (the green kind that you get coconut water from) in Dhivehi. Literally the signature resort for Cocos nucifera, Kurumba incorporates this eponymous omnipresence every part of your visit.

Your arrival on the island is greeted with cold cloths perfumed with coconut essence and a refreshing coconut sorbet. Every restaurant and bar features some creative coco-concoction. The Kandu bar serves a frozen Coconut Martini (coconut sorbet, coconut water, toasted coconut infused vodka), as well as a Coconut Mojito. They also make one of the best Pina Colada’s I’ve enjoyed in the Maldives (I’m a bit of a Pina Colada fan and make a point to have one at every resort I visit). The Café offers a distinctive Coconut French toast prepared with stewed mango, jack-fruit, pistachios and mascarpone.

As it happens, all of these coconut preparations are made with coconut from the island. Using the coconut is fairly obvious, but Kurumba also has the only press for making their own coconut oil. They take mature coconut (not a “Kurumba”), split it, remove the white fruit, shred it, dry it in the sun, and run it through the press. Upul, their resident Horticulturalist, demonstrated this process to me which produces 60-70 litres/month.

They not only use it in the kitchen, but also in their spa and even sell it in their shop and to other islands. The shop features the resort’s own “Coconut Flower” scent made in Sri Lanka and used in the room amenities as well.

Maldives Tour 2014 – Day 11: Kurumba

Kurumba tour 5

The Cliveden of the Maldives. A grand stately home that has kept up with the times refreshing and reinventing itself to maintain its revered status as a 5-star icon.

With our obsession for discovering new resorts, we have an unofficial policy to avoid repeat visits. Kurumba is like that is the exception to that rule. It is on my short list of all-time favourite Maldive resorts. I never hesitate to recommend it to someone keen to come to the Maldives, wants to enjoy a bit of luxury while here, but is on a budget. For your money you won’t find a higher standard room, higher class of service or and you get one of the most vibrant house reef in terms of fish life (coral has a way to go but they are investing in regeneration efforts) that you will find as a bonus.

The perennial question mark over Kurumba is that it is “close to Male”. The Maldive purists will say that the ideal island needs to be as far away from civilization as possible. A part of that trepidation is the airport at Male. The sound of the periodic passing plane has never bothered me much. It’s not like MLE is LHR so it’s not that frequent. And I actually find that the turbo-prop seaplanes occasional buzzing by add an air of mystique to the whole ‘remote tropical paradise’ vibe. Male proximity is not necessarily a bad thing for first timers especially. Male is itself is an intriguing micro-city and its mini, floating-in-the-ocean skyline has a charm of its own.

Our visit this week was our 4th visit to Kurumba. One might think that over time and repetition, it would get faded and familiar, but on the contrary it just keeps getting better. I’m always keen to see what innovations the GM Jason Kruse (see photo above) has added. Despite all the previous visits as well as 26 “Best of the Maldives” pieces to date, I still came away from my trip with another 7 candidate distinctions.

Best of the Maldives: Vocalist – Kurumba

Kurumba - Miro Solo

The Brit Awards last night celebrated the top musical acts in the UK, and if there were a “Mald” awards, a leading nominee would be one of the budding musical stars of Maldives is Mira Mohamed. We saw her at Bandos during our stay. Unlike the typical background music pervading the sparsely attended night-time lounges, she stopped me in my tracks as I was rushing to a meeting with the deputy resort manager. A classy and talented performer, she brings a very personal flavour to her song renditions. She has toured a number of resorts, but Kurumba is featuring her as a regular headliner.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Gourmet – Kurumba

Kurumba Maldivian rolls

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!  A time for friends and “homecoming”. For us, Kurumba is almost like our Maldivian home. We have been there the most times and GM Jason and his wife Victoria (see below) have become lovely friends.

And like most American celebrations, today’s traditional turkey day is a time for eating. A feast of native delicacies. And Kurumba is certainly the standout out there with their cornucopian array of Maldivian gourmet dishes….

  • Indian Ocean Island Colada with screw pine, cinnamon and other spices of the area (see below)
  • Maldivian Rolls (see above)
  • Screw Pine Alaska Bomb (see bottom)
  • Maldivian salad (cabbage like vegetable)

Screw pine is literally part of the Maldives landscape, but it can also be used for food. Being a tree, it needs to be peeled and then boiled for 3 hours. Kurumba chefs use the pulp for the bombe and the juice used for cocktail.

Pilgrims in Paradise!

 

 

Kurumba - screwpine cocktail

 

Kurumba - Maldivian ice cream

Best of the Maldives: Burkini – Kurumba

Kurumba burquini

  

The native Maldives and Islamic traditions are famously much more discreet in their female fashions. Such sartorial covering is fine but the extra garments can be a hindrance swimming in the water. Hence the “burkini”. A swimming costume designed to provide the modesty of a “burqa” with the fabric and styling optimised for swimming (like a “bikini”). Actually, the “burqa” is the traditional Islamic dress that even covers the face. In covering its closer to the “khimar” (so maybe a better term is “bikhimi”?).

Such garments are traditional for Muslims, but also a great solution of the sensitive of skin. My father has had a number of skin cancers and only goes out well covered up on sunny days making swimming not easy nor enjoyable.

Kurumba is leading the this fashion statement with their own signature burkini at their gift shop which Lori kindly modelled for us.

 

Kurumba burquini 2