Best of the Maldives: Blind Dining – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - blind dining

The Maldives is a sense-sation for all the senses – the sun warmed sea breeze on your skin, the salty fragrance of fresh ocean air, the sumptuous delicacies of the resort gourmet kitchens, the sounds of the water gently licking the shoreline.

The sense most celebrated here on Maldives Compete has to be sight though. With all our imagery of fashionista guests to resorts highlights, I suspect the site has more Maldives pictures than any other website (Maldives Complete features over 7,000 photos). Today is World Eye Sight Day celebrating the sense of sight and raising appreciation for its gift as well as the issues many can grapple with losing it.

To experience a world without sight, Park Hyatt Hadahaa serve up the unique adventure of ‘blind dining’…

Unique ‘blind’ private dinner: an exceptional three-course feast, crafted with your favorite ingredients, to be enjoyed like never before as you are blindfolded to heighten the senses. Discover unadulterated taste and texture in your delightful dishes, while listening to the lapping of the waves and feeling the gentle breeze on your skin and the sand between your toes. Price – $450 per couple.”

We ourselves enjoyed blind dining here in London at the pioneer of this concept – Dans Le Noir. Hadahaa uses blindfolds, but at Dans Le Noir, the dining room is set in pitch black darkness. The first question is how do the waiters serve you…and of course the obvious answer is – they are all blind! First of all, there is a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability at first, but you do acclimate soon enough. And then it is a lesson in simple manoeuvrability – finding your glass, your fork, your food, your mouth!

But the cross-modal neuroplasty kicks in. Well, not that quickly. The whole notion that people impaired of one sense compensate with extra capability in others is well documented in neurology (but the process does take a bit longer than an evening meal – for a great overview, I recommend Scientific American’s article “Super Powers for the Blind and Deaf – The brain rewires itself to boost the remaining senses”).

More simply, the removed distraction of one sense, especially one so dominant in our lives, allows us to focus more intently on the others. Like taste and aroma. One of the courses at the mythic Fat Duck (voted one of the top restaurants in the world) is served with your eye shut to focus on both the food as well as a spritz of scent they spray when you take a bite to complement the taste. But the all-time iconic depiction of such blind-folded erotic delectation is the kitchen scene in the film 9 ½ Weeks.

If all this talk has made you appreciate your vision just a bit more, in the spirit of the day, I would encourage you to visit Naomi Riches MBE “Great Thames Row”. Just a few weeks ago, this vision impaired Paralympic champion (who rows at my Marlow Rowing Club) rowed the entire 165 miles of our own local coastline, the Thames River. She achieved the Guinness World Record for a woman completing the odyssey in 48 hours to raise fund for her charity In-Vision.

Dans Le Bleu!

Best of the Maldives: Maldive Doughnuts – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - doughnuts Gulab Jaam

National Doughnut Day! This is one of the more sacred celebrations in our household. We have regular Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donut pilgrimages on our trips back to the USA. We have been known to drive for half an hour first thing in the morning to get the “red light” (KK fans will know what I am talking about) “hot ones” (and then finish off an entire box before even getting home…of course, we bought several boxes).

And on our trip to Park Hyatt Hadahaa we not only got to indulge our fried dough infatuation, but we did so with a distinctly local twist. Hadahaa prepares and serves the local ‘Gulab Jamun’ (the locals normally call them Gulab Jaam). Though, really, they’re more like donut holes. Still, they are donuts! Paradise just became more paradise.

Also, the best resort for celebrity spotting Homer Simpson…

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - Homer Simpson donut

Best of the Maldives: Dine Around Tour – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - culinary treasures

Happy Easter! If the Easter Bunny didn’t bring you enough eggs, then maybe you need to go hunt for them. When our kids were younger, we not only organised treasure hunts on our Maldives visits, but we organised Easter egg hunts at our house or church before we tucked into our traditional Easter dinner of roast lamb and Lori’s famous carrot cake.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa offers a gastronomic treasure hunt every day (including eggs, though not the chocolate version), with their “Culinary Indulgence”. For $670 per couple, you are treated to 5 meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, evening cocktails with canapés, and dinner) at assorted special locations around the island.

Fortunately, I pilfered a treasure map about from a scallywag rogue indicating where the culinary treats and treasures can be found.

Happy hunting.

Best of the Maldives: Coldest Gazpacho – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - ice cold gazpacho

Another one of my favourite treats is soup in general, and gazpacho specifically (I also love a good bisque). A well crafted soup is like a savoury cocktail where masterfully blended aromas, flavours and textures inspire the taste buds. One of the defining characteristics of a fine gazpacho is its cold temperature. Especially appreciated under the tropical sun. No resort gets it as ice cold as Park Hyatt Hadahaa.

Their signature bowl includes a dollop of ‘gazpacho sorbet’ scooped into the centre of the bowl to help keep the soup chilly while you eat it. I enjoyed a bowl when I visited and it remains one of my most memorable dishes of my Maldives travels.

The dish was originally created for their olive oil dinner by Monte Vibiano and now is part of its regular menu. Its olives are grown in carbon neutral groves and pressed into some of the finest extra virgin in the world.

Deliziosamente fresco!

Best of the Maldives: Family Meals – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - Maldivian feast

Happy Thanksgiving!

The American Thanksgiving feast is, as I described yesterday, a feast for food, family and friends. Park Hyatt Hadahaa offers a Maldivian traditional dinner with much the same spirit. Its “Maldivian Family Feast” is presented by a Maldivian host.

It’s not a big buffet for the whole resort island, but rather an intimate gathering. Only 6 guests participate and it has more of a feel like being invited to a Maldivian’s home. A proper home cooked meal with a guided tour of the cuisine and the traditions to “find your way around the table”. What to do with the fish piece in the water and the sauces on offer. All presented at the convenience of your own villa

For the more seafood favouring guests, Hadahaa also offers “Fisherman Dining” ($250 pp) with Maldivian music and food set up also at your villa.

May your day be filled with many blessings and much gratitude.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - Maldivian feast 2

Best of the Maldives: Bath Salts – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - bath salts

 

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen

You can add Park Hyatt Hadahaa’s “Vidrun” (meaning “to shine” in Dhevehi) spa to that list. Their treatments incorporate a selection of special salt and herb blends based on Maldivian concepts…

  • Hoonu – rose and sandalwood (Cooling)
  • Fini – ginger, clove and aniseed (Warming)
  • Hiki – jasmine and lotus (Balancing)

All massages start with a foot scrub with signature foot salt…a symbol that your “journey has begun”. Then of course, you soak in a soothing bath using your chosen bath salt.

Definitely worth its salt.

Best of the Maldives: Babymoon – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives babymoon Getty Images non-commercial embedding

As Baby New Year brings us 2015, Park Hyatt Hadahaa brings us an inspired new package to bring baby to the Maldives this year. Their new “Babymoon” bridges two of the Maldives’ most dinstinctive allures – honeymoons and families

“The six-day Babymoon offering has been specially designed to prepare, relax and reinvigorate expecting mothers, with pampering treatments taking place at the hotel’s luxurious Vindhun Spa…Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa’s new Babymoon package is available at £413.00 per couple for 6 days and includes a pregnancy massage, aqua yoga, head and shoulder massage, pregnancy Yoga and breathing, Abhyangyam massage, and a hydrating facial”

Happy New Year Maldives fans!

Best of the Maldives: Water Villa Foliage – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - water villa foliage

The charm of the water villa is to nearly literally immerse you into the signature Maldivian seascape. But you do sacrifice a bit of that complimentary tropical isle landscape of lush foliage. Park Hyatt Hadahaa’s water villas, however, bring a touch of that island paradise onto your own private nook with a mini-garden of dense greenery on the deck. The sizeable planter provides a very softening and natural touch to the otherwise hard edges and surfaces of characteristics of water villas. Reclining on the adjacent settee, I felt that I was on my own personal deserted island.

Frondescential!

Best of the Maldives: Aqua Yoga – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - aqua yoga 1

Bouncing around in the water takes a more controlled, purposeful and therapeutic dimension at Park Hyatt Hadahaa. Their Vidhun Spa offers its own special Aqua Yoga programme.

The developer and teacher of this innovative activity is spa yoga teacher Deeksha (see photos). Like many activities (especially those that involve a bit of pain and effort), her charisma and energy mutes the discomfort and difficulty. She personally turns the pool into an effervescent jacuzzi of can-do with her bubbly personality.

Water is such an immersive part of the Maldives experience, I love it when resorts take activities into the water. The cool and refreshing water provides a crisp contrast to the soothing heat of the ever present sunshine. But when it comes to yoga, the aqueous venue provides extra benefits. First, the natural buoyancy of your body in water facilitates a whole range of yoga moves for a beginner that would require guru level balance and proficiency to achieve standing on land. Secondly, water provides a natural source of resistance. Instead of bands or other devices to provide strength building resistance, Deeksha has devised a number of gentle movements in the water where the water itself is your resistance.

The whole concept does raise the potential for an entirely new range of yoga moves…

  • Downward Facing Dogfish
  • Dolphin Plank
  • Eagle Ray Pose
  • Half Frogfish

 

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - aqua yoga 2

 

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - aqua yoga 3

Best of the Maldives: iPads – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

PArk Hyatt Hadahaa - ipad apps

My wife can live without her computer in the Maldives and even her phone, but her tablet is still standard equipment. It’s handy light reading and comfortable way to check on email and update her Facebook posts in the comfort of her lounger.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa has embraced the iPad with its own rich resort app. And each room is equipped with their very own iPad which includes useful information such as dining menus, activities, spa menus, island map, etc.

Paradise?…There’s an app for that.