Best of the Maldives: Ballet – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - ballet

Most live entertainment in the Maldives is either rock DJ or romantic acoustic. Given the upper crust economic brackets of most of the Maldives’ guests, I always wondered if something a bit more sophisticated wouldn’t go amiss. Like opera or ballroom dancing. Well, NIYAMA has brought one of the most sublime arts to the land of ethereal beauty and sublime grace – ballet…

“Fluidity and strength take centre stage against a backdrop of Indian Ocean. Under sparkling stars and above the crystal waters of the Maldives, the Mariinsky Ballet’s First Soloist, Xander Parish, performs for PULSE by PER AQUUM. Accompanied by dancers and soloists of the Mariinsky, the movements of Scheherazade, Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote and Carmen Suite come to life in a tidal swell. Guests at PER AQUUM Niyama will enjoy an exclusive performance on 21 August with an encore at PER AQUUM Huvafen Fushi on 23 August. Budding ballerinas and ballerinos will also have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take centre stage themselves. Xander and his hand-picked ensemble, including Oksana Bondareva and Renata Shakirova, will be offering masterclasses at each resort during their visit.”

Grand jetés for grand jet setters.

NIYAMA - ballet 2

Best of the Maldives: Instant Ice Cream – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - instant ice cream 2

If you can’t find gold, then make it. Instead of a pirate, that calls for an alchemist to magically turn ordinary ingredients into the most coveted taste treasure. That’s what NIYAMA has brought to its resort this past week with its pop-up Chin-Chin ice creamerie…

“Chin Chin Labs, the pioneers of made-to-order artisanal liquid nitrogen ice cream, is conjuring up culinary creations and haute cuisine ice cream at PER AQUUM Niyama from 16 – 21 March. Part of PER AQUUM’s PULSE line-up for 2016, adults and mini VIPs alike will be put under the spell of the ice cream magicians, straight out of London’s Camden Market, as they unveil exotic limited-time flavours at the pop-up parlour on the resort’s new island, ‘Play’. With all ice creams made fresh to order, the exclusive flavours will feature ingredients from the resort Chef’s own herb garden ranging from Roasted Sweet Coconut Curry, Mango & Saffron, Banana Blossom & Jasmine to dairy free options such as Passionfruit & Raw Cacao Nib. Guests can also get involved at the hands-on Nitro Workshops at BLU’s Cooking School on 17, 19 and 21 March. Hailed as the ‘Best ice cream parlour in England’ by The Times and the ‘Future of Ice Cream’ by The Observer in the UK, Chin Chin Labs has achieved a cult status amongst chefs and ice cream aficionados – not to mention children – the world over. Shunning traditional techniques and convention, Chin Chin Labs has been creating artisanal ice creams to order, frozen with liquid nitrogen and billowing with clouds of ‘ice’ since 2010. Having pioneered liquid nitrogen ice-cream as a retail concept, Chin Chin Labs uses liquid nitrogen at -1960C to freeze their handmade bases, which then boils away in a vapour cloud creating fresh ice cream.”

Liquid nitrogen chilled ice cream has been a staple of molecular gastronomy popularised by Heston Blumenthal (his Fat Duck restaurant is a few miles from our house and we have been frequenting it since he first started out). I’ve actually wondered when this culinary chemistry would make its way to this epicentre of epicurean luxury (#34 of ‘Haven’t Seen Yet – part 4’).

NIYAMA - instant ice cream

Best of the Maldives: Wristband Keys – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - wristband key

One of the top joys of the Maldives – throw on your swimsuit, grab your snorkeling gear and head out to the house reef.

Oh wait, don’t forget the villa key. Now where to put it (swimsuits don’t really have many secure pockets). Instead of the typical credit-card style proximity keys, NIYAMA has key band for guests. It’s completely waterproof so they can wear it in the pool, on the housereef or wherever.  (thanks again Paola)

Particularly good for people who wouldn’t remember their own head if it wasn’t attached to them.

Best of the Maldives: Ice Ball – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - Chefs Special ice ball

No, not “Ice Ball” as in a “Frozen”-themed formal dance.

I love creations with ice. The cold is the contrast that sets off the tropical sun. I’m even adding a new category tag for “ice” now that I have collected a few fine examples.

Most treats in the Maldives are served refreshingly over ice. But NIYAMA’s signature sashimi is served under ice.

Offered in NIYAMA’s “Asian Avant-garde” Nest restaurant which Per Aquum describes as “savage-chic” (great name).

Chef Jayadi Suwito explains, “My goal for this menu was to push and tease. Guests will find dishes from Asia’s most celebrated cuisines like Thai, Cantonese, Japanese – but they will also get a chance to discover lesser known culinary traditions with must-try sensational dishes from places like Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar.”

I tend to ignore the vast majority of press releases that I receive, but I must commend the PR who wordcrafted this gem describing the “Ice Ball” experience…

“A short trek from your luxury villa where you’ve cast away in the Dhaalu Atoll, you emerge in the heart of the jungle. Beneath the ancient branches of the banyan trees, you walk the planks of wooden pathways and wind through the forest trunks. Ascend spiralled stairs and step through the canopy along bridges flanked by bamboo rails. Leaves dance in an ecstatic shimmy. Tropical birds call out with sirens echoing through the treetops. Then a chilled sculpture of sashimi arrives in a globe of ice, a modern vessel for one of many Asian delicacies you will savour in your expedition at one of the Indian Ocean’s leading dining destinations.”

Leaves dance in ecstatic shimmy” – Nnnn-ice!

Best of the Maldives: Pool View – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - float centre for dive training

Another translucent pool of blueness to peer into (as well as another great lead by adjunct correspondent, Paola). NIYAMA’s “FLOAT” centre for dive training. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of folks taking intro-to-SCUBA courses in the pools and lagoons while other family members look on or take photos. NIYAMA’s unique set up provides the perfect setting for those Instagram pix of the first breaths underwater.

8 Out-Standing Dining Rooms

NIYAMA - Subsix

One of my favourite dining themes is over the water (if not IN the water). The Maldives offers diver menu of in-ocean dining.  Now, I’m not talking about mere “over water” dining.  Just about every self-respective 5-star resort has one of those.  I’m talking about surrounded-by-water dining.  In fact, NIYAMA’s “Subsix” (see above) goes so far as to be both in the ocean and “IN” the ocean with its underwater dining room.

For an outstanding meal out standing in the middle of the ocean, here’s the full list…

1. NIYAMASubsix

2. TAJ EXOTICAOcean Pavilion
Taj Exotica - Ocean Pavillion

3. BAREFOOTBlack Pearl
Barefoot - Black Pearl

4. JUMEIRAH DHEVANAFUSHIJohara
Jumeirah Dhevanafushi - Johara 

5. BAROSPiano Bar
Baros - Piano Bar

6. ANGSANA VELAVARUAzzurro
Angsana Velavaru - Azzurro 

7. KANDOLHUSunset Pavilion
Kandolhu - Sunset Pavillion

8. GILI LANKANFUSHIWedding Pavilion
Gili Lankanfushi - Wedding Pavillion