May Day, May Day…I need help…with my wine choice! May Day today is better known as a celebration of workers. Each year this day, I highlight an initiative that a resort is making in its people. This year is One & Only Reethi Rah who certify all their sommeliers through the internationally recognizes WSET standard:
- “This is a professional course and there is different levels, starting at Introduction Level 1 to advanced Level 4. All our sommeliers are certified thru this global group as well as about 20 other F&B staff members with more being certified next year.”
Raise a glass to all the resort workers who help make the Maldives even more of an experience of paradise. At Reethi Rah, “S.O.S.” stands for “Sommeliers Outstanding Service”.
Viki Odintcova, Irina Dreyt and Galina Dub all Instagramming from Reethi Rah last month
“Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas Voted Most Instagrammable Hotel in the World” according to Luxury Travel Advisor. That the Maldives tops is the world in photo blogging is no surprise. Nor is the selection of Kihavah in the online poll. It’s one of my favourites and its sparkling white necklace of talcum soft beach plus the combination of upper deck elevation at its “Sky” bar and the undersea perspective of its “Sea” restaurant provide a wealth of Kodak Photo Spots to selfie from.
But opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate especially online ones. All sorts of biases and skews come into play. So a more interesting question is “What is the most Instagrammed resort?” At least in the Maldives, the Maldives Complete fashionista database has some pretty comprehensive information applicable to this question. Tracking the top fashionshoot models, travel bloggers and celebrities and their Instagram posts for two years now, I have some pretty solid data about which resort attracts the posts with the most Followers.
There are two different parameters we can look at with the data available:
- Most Instagrammers – One & Only Reethi Rah: Which resorts have attracted the most Instagrammers (prominent ones which are usually over 10,000 Followers as a cut off). Reethi Rah maintains its long established distinction as a top haven for celebrity guests. It rises above the others in that it is the only resort to have a top 5 spot in both “Instagrammers” and “Instagram Followers” (#4).
- Most Instagram Followers – Velaa: Which resorts have attracted the most aggregate Instagram Followers (based on the Instagrammers who have posted from there). Velaa snatches the top spot primarily on the strength of Jennifer Lopez’ 69m Followers. But even without JLo, Velaa would still command a medal position 3rd place. Given that Velaa (and Cheval Blanc Randheli) make a top 5 with a very modest number of Instagrammers in total indicates that they are a lure for the big hitters.
Holidays are when you often take a break from the hassle of personal grooming. Sometime you even go the whole time neglecting it returning with the ‘holiday beard’. But if you are in the need of a bit of holiday man-scaping, then One & Only Reethi Rah’s “Barber and Blade” spa provides a classic grooming and shaving studio with treatments as soothing as the Maldives ocean breezes…
- “Appointments take place within the private rooms dedicated to gentlemen’s grooming equipped with sleek leather barber chairs, specially designed for One&Only Reethi Rah by Anderson/Miller Ltd. The studio allows guests to feel comfortable and relaxed whilst a dedicated team of grooming experts are on hand to provide a bespoke grooming routine – ensuring that all gentlemen look and feel their best. Barber and Blade exclusively offers Gentlemen’s Tonic products…The treatment menu features basic shaves to beard designs, colouring services and four signature grooming experiences, including the 70-minute Ultimate One&Only Wet Shave.”
The barber shave is a bit of a dying art in with the advent of advanced razors, but they remain one of the few decadent “beauty” treatments men get to enjoy. No matter how many blades you have on your Mach X razor, you will never get as close as a trained professional who is not having to negotiate through a mirror. Furthermore, one of the keys to a close and comfortable shave is the preparation – steaming towel and creamy balm to soften the skin and whiskers. Something few men shaving take enough time to do. And having the hot towel on your face in a chair is as relaxing as it is soothing.
I treated all my groomsmen to a classic shave on my wedding day and we had as much fun (and looked as almost as smart) as the bridesmaids who enjoyed the beauty parlor. And on our recent trip sailing in the Greek isles, we came upon an old school barber offering shaves and it was one of the decadent high points of the holiday sitting in the chair being pampered while listening to the sounds of the bustling port town outside.
One of the motivations for “destination weddings” is not just to put your wedding expenses into a better honeymoon, but also to have a more intimate celebration. If you want your private ceremony to be extra private, One & Only Reethi Rah’s Wedding Pavillion is actually one of its several “hidden places”. Tucked behind the Tappanyaki restaurant, it is not general open to the guests without special arrangement. Great for avoiding paparazzi or just the distraction of other guests meandering by.
‘Best of the Maldives’ is all about extremes. And you don’t get any more extreme than One & Only Reethi Rah’s tree swing. Sort of the complete antithesis of Reethi’s workout Stott Pilates pulley swinging mechanism. A long rope means a longer, gentler undulation with a more languid rhythm reflecting the Maldives as a whole really.
Versatile athletes need weight training for strength, cardio for endurance and technique. Pilates is tainted with a bit of a “aging bored housewife” stereotype, but it is great for the flexibility and core fitness needed for top technique in most sports. I have also started practicing Pilates every week with a group of guys in the neighbourhood. And if you want to see a real manly pro then check in with Lindley (photo) at One & Only Reethi Rah who offers “Stott Pilates” instruction. The “Stott” variant focuses on the “natural curvature of the spine” rather than a more straight alignment of conventional Pilates. Our sessions at home use maybe a ball or a band, but Reethi is kitted out with a number of high-tech specialist Pilates machines for the most advanced workout I’ve come across.
For “Best of the Maldives”, I try to focus on unique offerings and features. The easiest way to be the best is to be the only. If I haven’t seen it after visiting 60+ resorts and 20 years of research, then chances are it is pretty unique.
It is harder to (and I am more hesitant to) do “Best” pieces for more commonplace things. It might stand out in my eyes, but not having methodically sampled every version in the Maldives, who am I to say it’s the “Best”. Partly, that’s why I chose a blog format for this material. It allows readers to Comment do if I have missed out something, they can set me straight.
Also there are areas where I have quite a bit of experience (eg. house reef snorkelling, pina colada tasting) and others where my expertise is more limited (eg. wines, décor). Today’s post is both a nod to Lobster Day and an intersection of the (a) popular, with (b) expertise – lobster bisque.
Lobster is the stereotypical luxury seafood. And its prevalence in the Laccadive Sea makes it a popular dish at the exquisite Maldives restaurants. One of its most classic preparations is Lobster Bisque. Now this is a specialty of mine. I will *always* order the lobster bisque if it is available. I will seek it out and make a special trip to restaurants who offer well reviewed versions of it. I’ve sampled bisque all over the world and across most of London’s finest establishments. And I’m not the biggest chef, but one dish I have taught myself to prepare is a proper lobster bisque.
So despite this dish being quite prevalent in the Maldives resorts, I felt quite comfortable calling out One & Only Reethi Rah’s version. Reethi’s is so close to bisque perfection that while there might be others out there in the Maldives just as good (I haven’t had them yet), at best they could be is as good as Reethi.
The best bisque I’ve had since Wolesley Hotel in London (who sadly has since removed it from their menu). I should also clarify that I am a devotee of the coulis school of bisque. Thin and hot enough with just the right touch of cognac to ignite the stewed flavors of subtle herbs and lobster broth. The creamy (Normandy) style is fine, but simply not as elegant or flavourful as the traditional style.
You know how there are 500 TV channels and nothing you want to watch? Well, sometimes no matter how big a restaurant’s wine collection is, you are deflated when your favourite fermentation is not available it. And just as the latest digital television now allows you to set up your own personal playlists and download or record your favourites, One and Only Reeth Rah lets you build your own wine collection on the resort by providing a personal wine cellar. Reethi Rah has a large number of high flying repeater guests. And when they arrive, they will know just what vintages await their holiday. They can choose among their favourites. Or let them mature a bit longer until their next stay.
Happy Valentines Day sweethearts everywhere. But especially in that global hotbed of romantic paradise, the Maldives
Get your clothes off for a hot and steamy, sensual delight, with a touch of perfume, bubbly, and flower petals. Yes, a romantic bubble bath. Here’s a not-so-dirty dozen of the best in the Maldives…
I’ve also added a “Maldives Tub Art” board to the Maldives Complete Pinterest so I can add more sexy suds as I find them.
1. Atmosphere Kanifushi [above]
2. Cheval Blanc Randheli
4. Coco Bodu Hithi (thanks Paola)
5. One & Only Reethi Rah
6. Centara Ras Fushi
8. Anantara Kihavah
9. Amilla Fushi
10. Centara Grand
11. Loama Maamagili
12. Sun Siyam Irufushi
13. Hideaway Beach
14. Zitahli Kudafunafaru
15. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There’s only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
One more sleep until Santa pays his visit to the good girls and boys. The girls and boys at Anantara (Dhigu and Veli) have been so good this year, they made their Christmas tree from discarded coconut husks. It shines in the day from the bright whit paint as well as at night with the constellation of fairy lights. One & Only Reethi Rah also has its own coconut Christmas tree (see below), Anantara has not just one, but three trees.
Furthermore, Anantara has gone a step further with another tree made out of old Evian bottles (see below)!
The three coconut trees on Dhigu are 2.5 meters, 3.4 metres and 5.0 metres high, with the tallest one made from 800 coconuts. The other two trees take up around 400 coconuts between them. The bottle tree is 6 meters high and is made from 720 bottles.
O Tannebaum! You’re Green not only in the summertime…