In all our nearly 20 years of travelling to the Maldives, we have never lost anything in a room. I think the room staff there are amongst the most virtuous in the world. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your valuables in a safe. The biggest threat that a safe protects you against is…yourself. Being in a completely different environment and routine, it is quite easy to misplace something. Especially if you are transferring to multiple properties during your holiday. Putting all the important stuff – passports, wallets and cash, jewellery, maybe special electronics – imposes a discipline on you to put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket. There is quite a risk that you just put something in the wrong place. And then before you know it your idyllic get-away is ruined wondering if someone has walked off with it. Simply remove all doubt and a lot of the risk by methodically locking stuff in the safe. And if you have lots of stuff, consider a stay a Velaa.
I guess you could say that Velaa’s Private Residence would have the ‘second’ highest ceiling (that is after Soneva Jani’s infinitely high one). But in the universe of conventionally topped villas, Velaa’s Private Residence headroom is galaxy-sized in its own right. The vaulted ceiling extends three stories up forming a cathedral-like nave quite possibly the largest indoor space on a Maldives resort. The second floor balcony lines one side giving another perspective on this vast lagoon of room volume.
If you need a hand following you around the golf course with your game, Velaa resort offers its very own resident golf pro – Christopher Snape. He can wield Velaa’s armamentarium of space-age analytical tools or just join you for a round.
We caught up with Christopher to tap into a few of his tips and insights into playing in paradise…
- How did you find yourself on a Maldives resort?
I work for TROON golf who operate the Academy here Velaa. When I was asked by them if I was interested I practically bit their hand off at the opportunity.
- What was the most luxurious course you have played prior to Velaa?
Many courses, what I classify as my second home would be Praia Del Rey in Portugal where I spent 6 years as the Professional.
- What is your favourite caddie tip for people playing the Velaa course?
Be conservative with your approach shots, if you take on shots and don’t play them to perfection you will be punished.
- What’s your best score playing the course?
When we have low handicapped players in residence we play a very tough formation my best score around that formation was -2.
- What are people most surprised about playing the Velaa course?
The quality of the playing surfaces and the beautiful landscape
At the FOOOOREfront.
Not only do the Olympics introduce you to some sports you might not have seen regularly on TV, but the Games themselves are introducing new sports keeping up with the athletic trends around the world. One of the new sports is Golf. Well, not totally new. It was a part of the Ganes back in 1904, but dropped ever since. Assuming it will stick around a bit longer this time, you have the chance to get junior or lil miss ready for Paris/Rome/Budpest/LA 2024 at Velaa’s elite links. Maybe a lil’ course for the lil’uns, but make no mistake…these are no toys. Velaa kits even the little ones out with top of the line Callaway equipment (see above).
The Olympics give the lower profile sports their moment in the global, primetime spotlight. Sports like badminton, typically relegated to the sports center or back yard set up. But Velaa resort provides a pro-quality badminton outdoor venue. Most outdoor courts are on hard sand or asphalt. Their court has top of the line astro-turf which provides great foot grip, a softer surface which is easier on the joints, and a cooler surface in the tropical sun. But to get the ‘grass’ just the right height, the court is sprinkled with soft sand imported from Europe. And the court is properly measured and lined for singles or doubles matches. Olympic-standard badminton for fun-in-the-sun volleying.
Golf seasons kicks off with the US Open this week. Lori and I have gotten our clubs out this week and I shot my best ever round. If I want to improve further, it seems like the modern game has become as much science as any art or athleticism. Weight training, nutritionists, sports psychologists. And an entire armamentarium of gadgets to dissect every nuance.
No surprises that the titan of the tees in the Maldives, Velaa resort, has some of the most space age technology available to help with your game. Among their tools is a Science and Motion (SAM) Putt Lab, but the centrepiece is their Flight Scope Doppler Radar. A $50,000 piece of kit. Velaa Golf Pro Frank Murray took me through a few pointers on my swing during my Velaa visit see below) so hats off to him and his armoury or arm analysis for whatever contribution he made to my progress.
When is a wine cellar not a wine cellar? When it is on the roof. Well, at least up in the air.
When you think vast wine collections, you think of descending into a dusky basement. But the “wine cellar” is a bit of a throw-back to times before climate control. When under ground was the most naturally moderate and constant temperature one could find. But with today’s modern air cooling and UV filtering glass, you can put your prized vintages about anywhere.
I was first struck by Coco Bodu Hithi who put their wine collection unconventionally *above* their restaurant. It meant they could hold wine tastings with gorgeous ocean views instead of sequestered in some hovel.
“A thorough delight for wine enthusiasts, the ivory-white Tavaru Tower hosts Velaa’s extensive wine cellar. More than five hundred bins, the largest on Maldives, span the spectrum from boutique wineries to grand marques. Offering guests a rare opportunity to discover gems such as the 1956 Domaine de la Romanée Conti “Romanée Conti”, rare vintage Salon Champagne, and a centuries old fortified 1870 Blandy’s “Verdelho Solera”, this exquisite list has unearthed treasures from across the globe.”
Q: What is the best way increase the odds of sea turtle hatchlings surviving?
A: Put them in nurseries to help them grow stronger?
Q: Buzzzzzz! Nope. The fairly common practice of collecting hatchlings and protecting them by nurturing them in special nursery pools turns out to cause long term problems for the turtles.
World Turtle Day today is the opportunity “to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive”. Most people know about the dangers of plastic refuse to turtles (they get caught in six-pack rings and mistake plastic bags for jelly fish which they try to eat). But even those keen to help the critters are less aware of the issues with well-intended turtle nurseries.
The nursery misconception stems from the “numbers game”. As Marine Biologists Tess Moriarty and Dee Bello (who kindly provided most of the research for this piece) from Velaa resort (THE Turtle resort – “Velaa” means “Turtle” in Dhivehi) describes, “For turtles it is always a numbers game, they have many threats to their survival and it is commonly known that many do not make it to adulthood.” The concept of nurseries is to allow the hatchlings to grow to a more significant size where much fewer predators would be able to manage eating them.
Unfortunately, turtle nurseries have a number of problems for the turtles they are trying to help…
- Predator Dangers – Turtles may evade predators when small, but then don’t learn to and how to avoid them later in life which keeps them vulnerable.
- Diet – Nursery turtles don’t get to eat the staples of the normal ocean diet like jellyfish or sargassum.
- Orientation – One of the miracles of turtle procreation is how they instinctively head to the water’s edge on birth, but then also they come back to where they were born to nest s adults. Studies show that taking hatchlings on birth into nurseries disorients them and they don’t return to nest.
So what CAN be done to help these endangered little tykes? Dee offers up the following…
- Hatcheries: This technique is when the nests are relocated from where the female lays the eggs on the beach to a different location. This is used on beaches that have severe erosion or flooding problems and thus the nests would not survive, nests that are too close to the shore line and would get inundated and mostly on beaches where human poaching of eggs for food is abundant. This method actively saves many eggs and ensured they can develop and hatch, thus increasing the number of hatchlings making it to the sea.
- Fencing the nests: Shielding both the hatchery and on the beach deters humans from poaching eggs from the nests as they are under surveillance. It also ensures that there must be someone present to release the hatchlings into the sea when they emerge from the nest and thus predation from crabs and birds is greatly reduced.
- Protection laws: Creating laws that prohibit the killing or possessing turtle products it directly influences their populations. The protection of adult females laying eggs, poaching of the eggs on the beaches and the capturing of turtles in the sea, increases the amount of turtles and nests on the beaches.
Of course, all these measures are focused on the young turtles. But even when they get all grown up, they still could use our help in surviving (especially since human actions cause many of the adult hazards)…
- Turtle Exclusion Devices (TED). Turtles need to breath air in order to survive and unfortunately when they get trapped in nets they are unable to do so. This can be avoided using TED’s where turtles can escape the nets intended for fishing other fish.
- Research: Understanding where turtles migrate to (using advanced tools like satellite tracking), at what times and their feeding and breading patterns can help aim protection to make it more successful and increase awareness.
- Awareness: By spreading the word about the turtle population’s vulnerability, more people understand their situation and need to protect them. This awareness leads to leads to less poaching and donations that support more conservation projects.