Best of the Maldives: Boat Deck – Shangri-La Vilingili

Shangri-La Villingili Horizon boat deck

For a bigger sailing sunrise and cruise that is just as enjoyable in silence, Shangri-La Vilingili has one of the best bows I have seen for relaxing in the best seat in the house. Sofa on the foredeck. Brill.

Lori and I have done our fair share of boating from your brother-in-law’s 50 foot catamaran on the North Carolina Intercoastal waterway to sailing with various friends. One of the favourite places to settle down for the ride is the very bow of the boat. A la Titanicking of the world’ style. The problem is that it never seems to be that comfortable up there. Anchor chains and other rigging get in the way of truly stretching out. While not at the tippy-tip of the prow, I nonetheless love the Villingili luxury yacht Horizon’s sofa situated on the foredeck for languid place to stretch out and truly enjoy the ride.

Sitting on the sofa at home watching Graham Norton somehow doesn’t compare with sitting here and watching the sunrise.

Best of the Maldives: Golf Course – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangi-La Villingili golf course

Well, it’s about time.

As I’ve discussed before, the absence of a proper scale golf course is one of (if not *the*) major inhibitor to prospective high visitors to the Maldives. Today, Shangri-La Viligili has plugged that gap opening the first full sized (well short par 3s…more of an ‘Executive’ course, but bigger than the Kuredu pitch-and-putt) golf course in the Maldives. Minivan reports

“The nine hole course sits on seven-and-a-half hectares of previously undeveloped land at the southern end of Villingili Island. Most holes par three and average 123.4 yards in length, and are set amongst the island’s natural veggetation including of palms, pandanus and other tropical plants. The course includes a clubhouse, refreshment bar and a pro shop. ‘It’s a recreational course, not a professional course,’ explained Shangri-La’s Assistant Communications Manager, Cristina Acenas. ‘It is accessible to beginners but advanced golfers will also enjoy it.’”

It might not end there if the plans for a fully engineered ‘floating course’ with underwater connections comes to light…

Well played, Shangri-La.

Best of the Maldives: Southernmost – Shangri-La Vilingili

Hours of Sunshine - Southern Maldives

This award could also be called the ‘Driest of the Wettest’. That is, the driest place to be (south) during the wettest period of the year (June).

June is the wettest month of the year with an average of 12 inches of rain. Not to fret too much. I’ve travelled to Maldives in June on several occasions and never once saw a cloud. Same old dazzling sunshine. I kept dreading to pull back the curtain in the morning and see the climate of Macclesfield in January only to be blinded by the sunlight. The other counterbalancing statistic is that the ‘Hours of Sunshine’ is pretty much uniform across most months.

But if you are playing the odds, then June will indeed bring greater likelihood of a dampening to your day. And if you really want to try to outsmart the weather gods, then the south is drier in June. However, the south is wetter in May (so if you were going on 30 May / 1 June, then I don’t know how you would make the call).

‘Goffy’ highlighted this thinking in his Trip Advisor Forum post of targeting regions of the Maldives to try to get the slight edge on even more sunshine. But the big resource is ‘Mariaeugene’s post to TA where she analysed the differences quite thoroughly (see above).

Still, if you want to be as south as possible for whatever reason, then Shangri-La Villingili is your place at 0.041 degrees below the Equator (one of the few Maldives resorts in the Southern Hemisphere).

Best of the Maldives: Elevation – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili Tree House

Alternative title – ‘A Room With a View’ in the Venice of the tropics

New York is what the Maldives would be…in ‘Opposite Land.’

I am visiting New York City this week for business and I keep getting struck by the polar contrasts with my beloved Maldives…


New York City Maldives
Noise Quiet
Bustle Indolence
Tall Flat
Concrete Water
Artificial Natural

Obviously, one of the starkest contrasts is the elevation. Not of the land, but the structures. For the longest time, nearly all resort buildings were single story structures. As the resorts are getting bigger and fancier and wanting to exploit the most from their extremely limited real estate footprint, Maldives resorts are starting to move upwards. I don’t think we will see skyscrapers anytime soon (the Jumeirah’s two new resorts are staying close to the ground with no dhoni-inspired high rises on the drawing boards).

While the beach hut traditionalists might disagree, I quite enjoy the tastefully designed, slightly elevated structures on some of the islands. Much as I enjoy gazing out at the ocean’s horizon at beach level, being a bit higher provides more perspective especially on the dazzling colours and patterns created by the underwater topology.

For those urbanites who prefer living in elevated quarters, Shangri-La Villingili offers Tree House Villas

“With marvellous views of the ocean, Tree House Villas are secluded, private island hideaways. Perched on stilts among the treetops, amidst dense vegetation, these luxury accommodations provide guests with a memorable stay in a tropical tree house. At this elevation, privacy is assured as the beautiful, panoramic views unfold like a living canvas of sparkling surf, languid lagoons and verdant vegetation that is home to colourful indigenous bird life.”

Enjoy the view!

Best of the Maldives: Running – Shangri-La

running on beach

The epic London Marathon takes place tomorrow so which resort is the best place for entrants to get their training in. Once you have carbo-loaded at Kuramathi, head to Shangri-La Vilingili for your training runs. Most Maldive islands would have you running laps being little larger than your typical running track in circumference anyway. Vilingili has 3 jogging trails for a total of a four kilometre route. A luxuriously long patch of ground in the terrain challenged Maldives.

Soneva Fushi also offers ‘hidden’ jogging trails and is a much larger island, but Villingili offers an eight-minute speedboat ride away ‘a 17-kilometre road, which is the longest in the Maldives’ which connects 5 neighbouring islands.

Good luck to my friend Mark Deakin who will be one of the 6000+ runners and he is raising money for the Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital if you want to lend support.

Best of the Maldives: Indigenous Massage – Shangri-La

Shangri-La Villingili Cowry Shell Experience

All that working out got you achy and depleted? Well then, sounds like you need a spa appointment.

Something different? Something that evokes the very paradise you are savouring each day? How about Shangri-La Villingili’sCowrie Shell Experience’ treatment?

When I lived in Africa, you used to see cowry shells used extensively. Used in religious rituals. Used in jewellery. They are seen as symbols of womanhood, fertility, birth and wealth.

Historically, cowries were used as currency and, in fact, the very first cowries used as such came from the Maldives. Furthermore, the Shangri-La Villingili’s ‘Chi’ spa uses locally produced coconut oil. Lots of resorts offer Ayurvedic style treatments which are indigenous to the sub-continent region (as does Shangri-La), but the cowry shells are a nice touch with their own mystical properties and heritage.

Shangri-La describes in its ‘Sense of Place’ line of treatments…

“Indigenous treatments inspired by the history of the treasures found in the Maldives Ocean, the name Kandu Boli, meaning “sea shell”, draws its energy from the ocean. Experience the touch of the unique Cowrie Shell Massage of the body, face and scalp combined with our Maldivian Coconut Oil made by a local community. Nurturing to the soul, relaxing to the body and calming to the mind… Surrender to Villingili’s Cowrie Shell Experiences…”

Best of the Maldives: Artist Workshops – Shangri-La Villingili

Gregory Burn Shangri-La Villingili

The best Christmas presents are the ones you make yourself. And perhaps consummate eye for artistry in the Maldives, Sakis Papadopoulos, has spotted Shangri-La Villingili’s artist programme this month featuring Gregory Burns that will inspire any artist to colourful creations…

“Shangri-La’s Villingili Maldives will fulfil all Artists wishes from December 10th until December 28th. The resort will host the famous American Painter Gregory Burns. Worldwide acclaimed, Gregory Burns is also known to be a multi-medal-winning athlete at the Paralympic Games. Painter since he was 6 years old, his work is exposed in UK, Europe, Asia, Australia and USA. During his stay at Shangri-La’s Villingili, he will conduct many Painting Workshops as well as an exhibition of his paintings from Villingili on Christmas Day.”

Best of Maldives: Most Remote – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La by Sakis

(photo reprinted with permission)

Today’s superlative comes to us again courtesy of Maldives photographer extraordinaire Sakis Papadopoulos whose Dreaming of Maldives site shares tidbits often as colourful as his snaps. Last week, I caught this superlative on his Twitter feed wishing a ‘Happy Birthday’ to Shangri-La Villingili which happens to be shared with Maldives itself (26th July).

He also noted Shangri-La Villingili’s distinction as the ‘Furthermost Resort of the Maldives’. Actually, if you used the Maldives Compete Resort Finder, you too could have uncovered this as it would stand out with a list topping 550 kilometres from Male.

Best of the Maldives: Dining Experience – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Dining

One resort that has embraced our dining on the beach top tip is the newly inaugurated Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa. They are proactively offering to serve meals on the beach in a variety of idyllic and romantic places…

“The resort will also feature Dine By Design, Shangri-La is moving the dining experience outside restaurant walls to a variety of private locations around the resort. From a torch-lit dinner in the middle of a jungle to a quiet picnic on a beach, guests will enjoy meals prepared by the resort's expert culinary team.”