Best of the Maldives: Fitness Tree – Cocoon

Cocoon - tree of well being

Cocoon not only brought the inside…out, but it also made its outdoor workout facility more like the outdoors itself. Its “Tree of Well Being” is not just a functional fitness apparatus for body-weight training, but also provides a striking sculptural aesthetic as well

  • ·The Tree of Wellbeing is provided by MyEquilibria, a ground-breaking new concept of physical fitness based on instinctive body movements. At first glance, Tree of Wellbeing looks more like a work of art than a place for exercise. Engineered around the biomechanics of instinctive training, the Tree of Wellbeing was created by innovative designer Vito Di Bari.”

See the video below for a video demonstration of one of the exercises.

This is just the latest of a number of activities brought outdoors in the sun-soaked landscape so I’ve now added a new tag “Al Fresco” for things conventionally done indoors that resorts have taken outdoors.

Best of the Maldives: Outdoor Fitness Centre – AaaVeee

AaaVee - outdoor gym

People question why you would want to sit in a gym when you have travelled thousands of miles to be in a natural paradise. I was one of those guys who would do workouts on my Maldives holidays. I wanted to keep momentum in my training, I could get great sessions in because I was eating and sleeping extra well, and the general enthusiasm of the whole holiday gave me an extra boost. I did appreciate when resorts made an effort to bring the outdoors in with big picture windows and well situated views. But AaaVeee’s fitness center goes a step even further. Bringing the inside…out. Their gym is fully outdoors. It does have clear wind/rain sheets to lower during inclement weather. It is so outdoors, that it even has a palm tree going in the middle of it through the floor.

Best of the Maldives: Outdoor Workout Machines – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - outdoor workout

If you prefer the solidity of a stationary bike (and other perks like safety), but want to get outdoors to enjoy the vistas of paradise, JA Manafaru has added to its already extensive estate of al fresco fitness with outdoor workout machines. I’ve long applauded resorts who gave their gyms prominent positions with open windows so that a holiday workout could also be as enjoyable as the rest of the vacation (too many were after-thought facilities sequestered in claustrophobic rooms in the middle of the island). You don’t get much more expansive workout views to distract you from your toil than Manafaru’s fitness deck.

Best of the Maldives: Staff Art – Amilla Fushi

Amilla Fushi - garden 2

  • What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing. You wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought.” – David Hockney

At most resorts, the staff give at bit of themselves every day to make the visit by the guests memorable and distinctive. At Amilla Fushi, this investment is expressed indelibly in a unique exhibition of creativity and personality.

The Mystique Garden is a chef’s garden where you can enjoy special meals prepared and served for you al fresco. But your nook is more than the lush greenery of an equatorial paradise. It accented by a collection of striking art works suspended in the tropical canopy. These pieces are the works and gifts of the resort staff themselves.

When the property was near completion and the new team of staff being assembled, the management got everyone together and presented them with a challenge to design and produce pieces of sculpture to adorn the Mystique Garden. The resort provided any tools and materials that they needed. The staff were assembled into department teams as the project was a way to bring the group close together prior to the opening with a focus on thrilling the impeding guests with something out of the ordinary. The teams worked for over a month and the top pieces were selected for inclusion in this open air gallery. The pieces featured and the teams that created them are…

  • Chandelier by Management
  • Morovian Star by Engineering
  • Peace Sign by the Spa
  • Dodecahedron by the Front Office
  • Silver Mobile by Recreation

I’ve been to lots of chef gardens in the Maldives (in fact, with this post, I am adding a new tag for them “Chef Garden”, but Amilla’s is a bit extra-magical, surrounded not just by the natural beauty of the location, but also by these inspired pieces which offer a personal welcome from the hearts, minds and souls of the resort team to their guests.

Amilla Fushi - garden 1

Best of the Maldives: Bedouin Restaurant – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - bedouin dining

Set on the sands of a tropical island rather than some Arabian dune makes this far-flung Bedouin encampment all the more enchanting. After all, middle eastern traders were among the first non-natives to visit the Maldives (bringing with them the Islamic culture for example). The Maldives is sort of fusion of middle-eastern and Subcontinent heritage and traditions situated between the Red Sea and the Bay of Bengal. A number of resorts feature middle-eastern fare, but none so aesthetically authentic as Centara Ras Fushi’s Al Khaimah restaurant…

  • “Savour the tastes of the Middle East when dining at Al Khaimah. Reminiscent of an authentic Bedouin tent adorned with rich fabrics and tapestry carpets and set amidst our tropical garden, this intimate restaurant offers an Arabian culinary adventure using hand-crushed spices, homemade marinades and the freshest market ingredients to flavour our char-grilled meat selections and rotisseries. Low slung seating and the heady scent of oud compliment this unique dining experience.”

I do love al fresco dining…sitting out in the open breathing in the sea-kissed night air. The soft fabrics of the surrounding canopy and the cushions adds an even more softness to the atmosphere surrounding you, the palm fronds swaying above you and the power fine sand underneath you..

Centara Ras Fushi - bedouin dining 2

Best of the Maldives: 3D Outdoor Cinema – Anantara Kihavah Villas

Anantara Kihavah Villas - outdoor 3D cinema

From the sublime, to the ridiculous. Ridiculously genius that is…Anantara Kihavah outdoor cinema. A number of resorts have introduced al fresco screens in recent years, but Kihavah has taken it to a new dimension with their 3D capable projector.

OMG, 3D Sharknado please!!

(PS. As we’ve entered into the entertainment awards season, I add a added “Film” tag for all the Best of the Maldives gong winners in that category).

Best of the Maldives: Outdoor Teppanyaki – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah Tapasake

Not every al fresco meal has to be toes-in-sand table to provide a charming moon lit meal. One and Only Reethi Rah’s Tapasake restaurant is one of the best outdoor restaurants we have seen. Most resorts have an outdoor ‘feel’ being situated in areas open on all four sides, but full out-in-the-open rather than just open-air is much rarer (for the sensible reason that you do get no protection from the occasional precipitation and strong breeze limiting it usage during those times).

“Out on Tapasake’s open deck are the new Teppanyaki stations – perched above the waters edge where delectable smells of sizzling fresh fish and seafood drift through the Maldivian air. Cocktails are served at a semi-circular bar, which overlooks a vast expanse of the Indian Ocean and offers one of the best sunset views on the island.”

Best of the Maldives: Main Dining Al Fresco – Nika

Nika outdoor dining

There is little that beats the literal atmosphere of dining outside in the perfect temperature surrounded by a chorus of nature’s sounds under a canopy of stars.

When we first started coming to the Maldives, the notion of dining on the beach was relatively novel. Most of the resorts had designated sheltered dining areas. We would typically ask the waiter if we could move our table out to the water’s edge and in most cases they were more than happy to do so. Now, beach dining is featured prevalently both as a special supplement experience and as regular dining areas.

Nika has given al fresco dining a fresh setting inspired by the island’s Italianate heritage and character. It has situated its main dining area (with a backup inside area for unfavourable weather) in an area that resembles some Mediterranean avenue. It features wrought-iron lamp posts which evokes a sandy Cinque Terra boulevard with people dining on gamberti and chianti late into the evening.

Buon appetito