Best of the Maldives: Road Race – Traders Hotel

Red Bull catch the ferry

 

This is a race that any seasoned traveller can relate to. Running to catch your plane, train or…ferry. I remember speeding through the French countryside trying to get to Cherbourg in time for boarding. Hence the basis for another inspired Red Bull competition “Catch the Ferry” this time sited in the picturesque Maldives…

“On May 31, 2014, Red Bull Catch the Ferry will challenge Maldivian endurance runners in an exciting 12.6km race around all three of Malé City’s islands – Male', Villingili and Hulhumale'. To progress, runners need to make it around each of the routes shown on the route map and catch the ferry before it departs to the next leg of the race. Ferries leave at progressively quicker intervals as runners are filtered to the elite of the Maldivian endurance running community. The fastest female and male winner of the race will be crowned champions, with winners getting an opportunity to travel to the Almáty edition of Red Bull 400 in August 2014, the toughest 400m race in the world”

The best view of this innovative road-sea duathlon would be from the “high” rise Traders Hotel where you could watch both the Villigili legs to the west and the Hulumale legs to the north from their lovely Azur lounge, but for those of us overseas, their Facebook page has lots of good photos and commentary.

Best of the Maldives: Biggest Submarine – Traders Hotel

Whale Submarine 1

 

If you fancy an under-the-sea exploration or just a fun adventure to fill out a Male excursion, consider booking a trip on the Whale Submarine. Okay, it’s not a particular feature of Traders Hotel per se, but Traders is both the closest (one block away departing from Jetty 1) and the most tourist ready hotel in Male.

Its web site describes the vessel…

“If you have never been on a submarine this is your chance to go and dive in one of the most advanced passenger submarines in the world…This is your chance, whether you are young or old, able or disable, to visit the underwater world without getting wet, while enjoying the sensation of diving in a submarine…Whale Submarine is designed and constructed in Karlsrhue, Germany under the strict regulations of the American Bureau of Shipping and Bureau Veritas and is capable of carrying 50 passengers to a dive depth of 150 meters. Whale submarine is currently the world’s deep diving largest tourist submarine in existence. So far this submarine has performed more than 2000 dives safely. The cabin of the submarine is fully air-conditioned and has a normal atmospheric pressure and thus you breath normal air. Therefore you are safe to fly just after a dive. Whale Submarine has redundant safety features to ensure the safest, most comfortable ride, and is operated by a fully trained and certified team of French and local pilots. Whale Submarine carries enough oxygen, water and food supplies to support all passengers and crew for 100 hours.”

Dive, captain, dive!

 

Whale Submarine 2

Best of the Maldives: Mocktails – Traders Hotel

Traders Hotel Male Azure mocktail

 

How was that New Years party last night? A bit too much to drink and ferreting around for the headache tablets. For those who do not prescribe to the ‘hair of the dog’ treatment, then perhaps a more gentle ‘mocktail’ is in order for rehydration. And there are no better Mocktails in the Maldives than the Traders Hotel in Male

While all of the resort islands have special licenses to serve alcohol to guests, Traders being smack in the middle of the major population centre has not been granted this privilege. So instead what Traders have done at their rooftop Azur bistro is crafted an imposing menu of ‘Mocktails’ (alcohol free cocktails) that provide as delectable and stimulating refreshment as anything a resort barman will serve up.

I had the ‘Innocent Mojito’ which is “muddled lime, brown sugar, green tea, mint, soda water”. According to Ria (see photo below). The server (see picture above) who has been there since opening and actually served us on our first visit, told me the most popular seller is the ‘Maldivian Sun’. Others on offer include Lil Rita, Kumiko Sparkle, Byzantine, Lychee and Lime, Chili Pineapple Frappe, Melontini, Cosmo.

Speaking of cocktails, Azur also serves the best shrimp cocktail I have ever had with monster prawns (oxymoron I guess).

 

Traders Hotel Male Innocent Mojito

Best of the Maldives: Donuts – Holiday Inn Male

Holiday Inn Male Gonuts

 

When I came upon the Haveeru Online piece on ‘Gonuts’ (“International doughnuts cafe chain opens in Maldives”) I nearly fainted with anticipation. Okay, it wasn’t Krispy Kreme. But doughnuts and the Maldives. It’s like ambrosia and paradise mixed into one indolent concoction. So on my recent trip, I had to make a special detour to check out Gonuts. Despite my discerning palette for all things doughy and fried, I was beside myself when I got to experience them.

First, they were good. I had the ‘Chocolate Profiterole’. It appeared to be made fresh as I waited. The filling was particularly ‘creamy’ as opposed to the more gelatinous custard of conventional donuts.

Second, they were appropriately exotic. Flavours offer took the doughnut repertoire to whole new dimensions. ‘Spicy Tuna’ and ‘Sambalicious’ (with chilli pepper) were too adventurous for me even.

Finally, the dining area was a masterstroke. One of my pet peeves with resorts is when they pave over too many dining areas and don’t have enough ‘toes in the white sand’ places to eat. And yet, here in the heart of downtown Male, Gonuts’ own dining area was laid out with white sand for people to enjoy their delicacy in a delightful cafe setting.

So why do I credit the Holiday Inn Male with this ‘Best of Maldives’ distinction? Well, Gonuts has a take-away service! Which means that guest at the Holiday Inn (a few blocks down the road) can ring up for a few concoctions to enjoy with their mocktail by the roof side pool.

 

Gonuts with Donuts

Best of the Maldives: Toilet – Holiday Inn Male

Toto Washlet C110    Toto Washlet C110 2

 

 

 

 

 

  
If you are looking for an even shorter ‘pit stop’ in Male than a day stay, then the Holiday Inn Male offers distinctive facilities (to use a common euphemism) for that too.

Many of the bathrooms are distinctive with outdoor facilities or perhaps a water bungalow with the bath over the water, but the Holiday Inn Male actually has a distinctive toilet itself. It features the ‘Toto Washlet C110’ toilet which is the gadget lovers commode with NASA-like capabilities. It is the only toilet that I have ever used with a Control Panel.

“With the touch of a button, a nozzle extends from under the seat for soothing warm-water cleansing, virtually eliminating the need for toilet paper. The nozzle, which self cleans before and after every use, can be set to move back-and-forth for maximum comfort and optimum cleansing. The specially designed contoured seat is also heated to provide maximum comfort.”

Holiday Inn Male - Toilet

 

 

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Best of the Maldives: Pool Seating – Holiday Inn Male

Holiday Inn Male - Pool Seating

I don’t usually do two ‘Best Of’ awards for the same place back to back, but this one so naturally followed last week’s that it made sense to put them together. Most resorts have the classic white plastic lounge chairs. The good resort will throw in a cushion to make it more comfortable. But no seating compares with the luxurious, giant comfort settees offered by the Holiday Inn Male at its rooftop pool deck. These lounges are like pool king-size beds with luxurious mattresses and headboard cushions. Really more like ‘pool beds’. The pool itself is a delightful infinity pool with a lovely wall fountain at one end. Poolside indolent luxury.

Holiday Inn Male - Pool Seating 2

Best of the Maldives: View – Holiday Inn Male

Holiday Inn Male - View

 

 

At 13 floors up, the Azure restaurant (and pool) of the Holiday Inn Male is the best hotel view in the Maldives. I counted 17 islands visible from this elevated perch not to mention the many toings and froing of boats in the harbour and the surrounding environs.

Normally, I would hesitate to include Male hotels as ‘resorts’. It has no beach, no alcohol (Male is ‘dry’ while the resort islands are granted special licenses). However, I do have the Nasandhura in Male as well as the Hulhule resort on Hulhule island which is more like Male in characteristics than a dedicated resort island. Also, I suspect that a number of Holiday Inn ‘Priority Club’ member maybe interested in exploiting their points as a vehicle for getting to the Maldives.

The Azure restaurant shown here just opened the 15 October and features absolutely delicious fusion (French/Japanese) dishes.

If you are looking for a ‘room with a view’ in the Maldives, Holiday Inn Male is the highest and furthest.