In ‘The South’ of the USA, there is one spontaneous refreshment you will find on every corner – tea. Not the ‘tea’ that everyone else in the world thinks of…a steaming cuppa. But ‘iced tea’. The ‘iced’ is considered superfluous because ‘tea’ is ‘tea’ in The South and it is primarily served one way.
My wife Lori growing up in North Carolina was raised drinking iced tea out of her baby bottle. Southerners are very particular about the brewing of their iced tea (only Lipton). Moving the UK, despite being a land of tea drinkers, you nonetheless can’t get a decent glass of iced tea (according to Lori). But, lo and behold, the refreshment drink she received after her Aaruma spa treatment was like a sip of home. Yes, Sun Island brews their iced tea and used Lipton tea bags. We have been coming to the Maldives for 15 years and home-like sunshine and heat always inspired a bit of a tea craving by Lori, but this is the first time she enjoyed a glass a good as home.
Unfortunately, the iced tea in the restaurant wasn’t as spectacular. The F&B manager needs to see how they are making it at the spa and copy that across the island.
My meal at Amsterdam’s Restaurant de Kas was part of a public relations initiative I undertook in my previous role marketing at Microsoft called ‘Room with View’ (a play on the word ‘Windows’, since they were often hosted a venues with big windows looking out of distinctive vistas, as well as the notion of having a press briefing that offered fresh and clear perspectives on the company’s direction). If I had the budget to fly everyone down to the Maldives, I would have had an even more apropos option with Sun Island’s ‘Restaurant Zero’.
At Restaurant Zero, not just the herbs and vegetables are local, but everything served there is local including local fish and other produce. Their specialty is salads with a number of types of lettuce and other greens grown for serving.
And you don’t just dine on the vegetation and among the vegetation, but also on top of the vegetation. Several of the tables are located on a Swiss Family Robinson style tree deck accessed by a rope bridge (see picture below). Now that’s a Room With a View.
One of the best ‘semester away’ ever I think. Villa College is a higher education institution with a number of campuses in the Maldives including one on the island resort of Sun Island. Which is pretty apropos given the one of the most prominent courses is ‘Tourism’.
Other offerings include…
“The college offer a number of diversified programmes and courses in the areas of Hospitality Management, Business Administration, Information and Technology, Educational Studies, and Human Resource Management. Educational Studies, Information Technology and Business Administration programmes are available up to a Masters’ Degree.”
While Maldivians are the largest part of the student body, the school does attract people from all over the world including Europe and Asia. They have posted the YoutTube virtual tour below to provide a closer look…
For those who are really more interested in powering up than in powering down on their Maldives holiday, Sun Island offers an arcade as a packed with the latest video games and simulators as you would find on any UK high street or beach boardwalk.
After last year’s tour, I wrote one of the highest profile pieces of the blog to date called ‘What I Haven’t Seen Yet’. It got a bit of notoriety when the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board sent a copy of it around to resorts for their interest and local press felt that MTPB was taking my ideas (I clarified that I am a big supporter of MTPB efforts to promote tourism in the Maldives and they were welcome to my pieces).
During my recent visit, I came up with yet another list of stuff I haven’t seen, but might just appeal to a segment of Maldives visitors. But before I post that tomorrow, I thought that an update of the previous list was in order since I have NOW seen a few items on the list…
- Golf Course – Shangri-la opened the biggest facility for golf yet.
- Restaurant Deck – I said ‘Star Shaped’ as a way to optimise water proximity for the diners, but Mirihi’s circle is close allowing an inner ring and outer ring of diners to all have front and centre access to the water (see photo above).
- Water Slide – This one was the marquee item item with the accompanying illustration on the post. Gili Lankanfushi does have one at its Private Reserve.
- Gourmet Sausages – Sun Island and Lily Beach. Both chicken sausages, but nonetheless finally approaching the savoury quality that would be considered a standard good enough for an English fry-up.
A lot happens in a year.
One hot resort!
Not just the sunshine and the tropical dazzle. But, Sun Island’s ‘hot’ is baked in its own chilli farm. The grow over a dozen varieties of chilli on their acre sized plot for use in their curries and other spicy dishes. That includes the native Maldivian chili “Githeyo” (see photo at bottom).
So, if you are feeling a bit chilli, head for a spot of tea in the Sun.
Not large, but ‘grand’. Sun Island is the largest resort island by just about every metric. Largest acreage (for a dedicated resort island versus the multiple resorts on Gan and multiple tourist hotels on Male) and number of rooms to start. When it comes to infrastructure, there is about twice as much of everything. Four tennis courts, 4 table tennis tables, even 2 snooker tables (when it is rare to find a solitary one on a resort). The scale of the resort means that there is simply much more on offer that you don’t typically find on a resort island – a pharmacy, a small tourism college, a hyperbaric chamber, a dozen shops. Also, different outdoor areas feature unique areas – a bird sanctuary, a nature park, many gardens for growing fresh produce for the island.
The whole resort has more of a ‘resort town’ feel to it. Sort of Martha’s Vineyard with palm tree. You get around on elegant black and red brick boulevards. And the staff facilities aren’t hidden away behind fenced off secluded areas, but instead the staff live in garden villas similar to those of the guests.
Lori commented that it had an old world ‘grand’ charm. Like something out of a E.M. Forster novel. Instead of the outdoor reception with beach-style seating, Sun invites you into a lavish air conditioned room with rich drapes on the windows and plush sofas. Carrying on across the island, through the lantern lit, palm-lined avenues decorated a various turns with elaborate carved statues, the mystique carries on throughout .
While the characteristic charm of the Maldives are the small islands, Sun shows that big can be beautiful. And I uncovered a big number of Best of the Maldives possibilities with 17 distinctions identified which makes it the 5th highest in the Maldives to date.
Maldives Complete has highlighted the most ‘exclusive’ island with the fewest guests accommodated, but what it you are a social animal who craves the teeming company of hordes at the other end of the spectrum. Then Sun Island is the place for you with its 350 rooms. That said, you don’t get the sensation of ‘crowding’ per se because the island is so big at 600k square/metres (11th largest of the Maldive resorts). The size put Sun Island in the lowest quartile of ‘Population Density’ with one guest per 2779 square metres. That fact was underscored when I looked through nearly a thousand visitor snaps of Sun looking for one which showed lots of people and struggled to find one. Another advantage is that it is a good resort to target for last minute availability and deals since with so many rooms there is a greater chance that there is unsold inventory.