Best of the Maldives: Swinging – Cocoon

Cocoon - swing

Even its distinctive floating furniture add to the dangling design vibe of the resort. Lots of resorts have swings, but Cocoon has them in places I’ve never seen before like the reception (see above, great for soothing the sadness of saying goodbye when waiting for your return transfer), and the bathroom (see below, not sure what this is great for…maybe to help get things moving??).

Cocoon - bathroom swing


  

Best of the Maldives: Sunniest – Dhigufaru

Dhigufaru - beach

Sunniest time of the year. Well, the longest amount of sunshine in the day (depending on your time zone). Not that it matters that much at the Equator where daytime doesn’t vary all that much. Still an occasion to call out another quirky resort distinction. After visiting nearly 100 resorts, Dhigufaru did strike me as the “sunniest”. Essentially, the property was developed from an existing sand bank. As a result, the foliage is less dense, less tall and less mature. Walking around you feel the sky and sunshine everywhere. Conversely, many parts of many resort islands have dense canopies that can almost feel like tunnels of greenery.

Best of the Maldives: Elevation – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - elevation

For the high-flying Maldives clientele, you don’t get much more elevated (especially in this part of the world famous for being so low lying) than Soneva Fushi resort. Coincidentally, Soneva’s acronym “SFR” (Soneva Fushi resort) echoes the original icon of high living in castaway paradise – Swiss Family Robinson. Here is a list of the lofty luxury you can find there…

  • Treehouse – Let’s start with the fundamentals of elevated living – the Treehouse. As in “Villa Suite with Treehouse”. Especially suited as an annex for children.
    Soneva - villa treehouse
  • Kids Club – If your childhood Disney fantasies overcome you and you decide to take the treehouse for yourself, at least the kids get the multi-story labyrinth of whimsy that is the “Den” kids club with plenty of climbing places including their own outdoor play treehouse.
    Soneva Fushi kids club 1
      
  • Dining – But the whole family can enjoy a soaring supper at the “Fresh in the Garden” (or over the garden) restaurant deck.
    Soneva Fushi restaurant table 2
      
  • Walkway – Of course, to get there you need the obligatory Indian Jones rope bridge. One the first, longest and highest.
    Soneva Fushi - rope bridge
      
  • Spa – The second story treatment rooms and chill out area adds a vista to your vinyasa.
    Soneva Fushi - spa
     
  • Toilet – Loo with a view.  ‘Nuff said.
    Soneva Fushi self-composting toilet
       
  • Palm Tree Climbing – If you don’t have the climbing dexterity of some of the Maldivians.
    Soneva Fushi - palm wine harvesting
       
  • Villas – Taller villas than anywhere in the Maldives with sweeping wrap-around decks for 360 degree views.
    Soneva Fushi - residences
        
  • Mattresses – The thickest mattresses in the Maldives so even when you lie down, you get lifted up.
    Soneva Fushi - bed
      
  • Ceilings – And when you do lie down, your gaze extends quite high to some soaring ceilings that exemplify the SFR chic aesthetic.
    Soneva Fushi beams
       
  • Observatory – If none of that is high enough for you, Soneva was the pioneer of lifting their guest up to the star above with the first astronomical observatory in the Maldives. Naturally, the telescope itself is nestled in the treetops accessed by a canopy crossing walkway.
    Soneva Fushi - observatory
        

There is one exception which is Soneva’s sunken pool seating which is the lowest seating in the Maldives being literally below ground level (without being underground).

Best of the Maldives: Rustic – Rihiveli

Rihiveli - room

People come to the Maldives to get away from it all. And at Rihiveli Beach, that does mean *all*. I characterise the Maldives by saying “You know those tropical island cartoons with a plot of sand and a palm tree…that’s the Maldives, a thousand of those.” Admittedly a bit of an exaggeration but an effective caricature. As the Maldives tourism industry has developed now you can go to islands with towers, golf courses, gourmet restaurants, water parks, 9-bedroom villas, etc. In the wake of this expansion and development, a hardened cadre of Maldives purists yearn for the simpler days much more approximating Gilligan’s Island than Thurston Howell III’s estate.

I am usually writing about special things that resorts have, but Rihiveli is distinguished by the things is doesn’t have…

  • Mini-bar
  • Outdoor shower
  • In-room Internet (and the wifi in the Reception and Bar I pretty ropey)
  • In-room safe (you can lock things in a safe at Reception)
  • Phone
  • Clock
  • TV
  • Pool

And I haven’t even mentioned the biggest one – no Air Conditioning. As I mentioned in my tour review, this was the biggest challenge for us especially as the weather was particularly toasty and the breeze unseasonably calm. Our pragmatic solution turned out to be downright romantic (in a clean and decent way) as we slept on our loungers under the stars for one of the most memorable nights of the trip if not all our visits to the Maldives. But if such al fresco snoozing is a bit too exposed for you, then there is actually salvation at hand on the island. 13 of their Standard Bungalows (namely – Boova, Bouraki, Carangue, Cardinalia, Cassis Nana, Dauphin, Demoiselle, Dentice, Digumas, Diodon, Diodora, Donax, Donhica) and their single Deluxe Villa (Escondida) do have AC. The Standard rooms with AC do have a $35 supplement.

You might be asking yourself, “what is actually there?”…

  • Hot Water Showers
  • Kettle
  • Comfortable Bed
  • Ceiling fan

Yep, that’s about it.

So why would anyone put up with such limitations?

  • Value – The property is one of the most affordable of the resort islands.
  • Get Away From It ALL – Especially technology. If I had kids addicted to technology, I would bring them here. They wouldn’t be able to check their phones most of the time.
  • Authenticity – The closest to living the traditional Maldivian lifestyle.
  • Island – Rihiveli is simply on of the best neighbouring-island/lagoon combinations in the Maldives.

With the ample bar, delicious food, water sport centre, Balinese spa, etc., it’s not exactly Bear Grylls material, and it might be just the type of escape to paradise you are looking for.

Best of the Maldives: Beyond the Surface Innovation – LUX South Ari Atoll

LUX South Ari Atoll - flyboarding

The Maldives is all about the surface. The nexus of sea and sky in this land of boundless horizons. Where the islands themselves are just inches above the waterline and the reef wonders just inches below. But LUX South Ari Atoll has been pushing this boundary above and below the water taking their guests to new heights and depths innovative ways…

Many of these activities have been replicated and even prevalent across the holiday destination, but as the posts describe, in most cases they were the pioneers to introduce these far flung experiences. LUX is always pushing the boundaries of luxury and perspective.

Best of the Maldives: Danish – Canareef

Canareef - Danish tour operator

Danish Liberation Day today. And for those Danes who want to be liberated from the chills of the North Sea, then Canareef has just the sort of sunshine escape to the Laccadive Sea. They have partnered with Primotours to provide a special Danish treat (not the breakfast kind):

  • Direct flight from Billund (Denmark) to Maldives
  • Accommodation for 7 or 14 nights in Bungalows with half board
  • All-inclusive upgrade option
  • Exclusively focused on the Maldives for Primotours wintertime holidays
  • Danish representatives in country arranging excursions and servicing our guests (photo above features two, both named Emma)

Note: If you are interested in more details, see their website, but they only have Danish guests travelling to Maldives so their webpage is in Danish.

Den solrige side af livet!

Best of the Maldives: Budget Views – Adaaran Club Rannalhi

Club Rannalhi - duplex villa

If you can’t build out, then build up. Given the limitations of real estate in the Maldives, I always wondered why there weren’t more multi-story buildings there. The higher levels also have the added benefits of providing a vantage point over the mottled maritime mosaic that surrounds every island.

But an increasing number of Presidential villas and palatial super-premiums do come in multi-story in recent years. In fact, I would hazard that a second floor is almost becoming standard fare in the super luxe category.

Still, you don’t need an elevated budget to get an elevated view. A number of value-priced resorts also offer upper level rooms in the form of duplexes (eg. Bandos, Club Med Kani, Kandooma). And if you really want not just a room, but a whole resort, “with a view, then the entire Club Rannalhi has an lofty vibe to the whole property. Everything two stories it seems – reception, dive centre, spa, rooms, some of the new water villas. Even the theatre has raked seating.

Boost your holiday at Club Rannalhi.

Club Rannalhi - duplex water villa

Best of the Maldives: Water Lovers – Canareef

Canareef - pool water

Perhaps the greatest allure of the Maldives is its intimacy with the ocean. The diminutive islands are nettled just at the water level so you are never far from it vertically or horizontally. Some of the bigger islands lose a bit of this aquatic intimacy. But one of the longest islands, Canareef, has as much if not more pervasive ambience of surrounding seaside. Primarily, because it is so skinny. With the shoreline only a few dozen meters away on either side of the island, the ambient noise of gentle waves permeate the air up and down the island.

And this stereo seaside is just one aspect of the resort’s water immersed motif. If you are a water lover, then Canareef is the resort for you. It features water of every size and shape…

  • Seashore – One side dramatic surf, the other side mill pond calm. Both along the longest coastline in the Maldives resorts.
  • Lakes – 3 of these relatively rare bodies of water in the Maldives
  • Pools – Also a top of the league table number.
  • Channel – A relatively rare feature in the Maldives.

Even your own Jacuzzi if you like in the Jacuzzi Villas. If water is what drew you to this destination that is 99% ocean, then Canareef tops it up just a bit further.

Best of the Maldives: Singles – Club Med Kani

Club Med Kani - staff

In my top ten FAQs is ‘what best resort for singles?’ These visitors are not looking for some sort of groovy ‘hook up’ resort. Rather, they simply just don’t want to feel all self-conscious being a singleton in the land of dewy-eyed honeymooners and other romantic holidayers. More catering for this segment was listed in one of my first “Haven’t Seen Yet” pieces. This segment is significant and growing. People get married later, relationships last fewer years, and older people lose their partners through passing. These guests just would like to (a) not be jonny-no-mates, and (b) not pay big premiums for being alone.

As it happens, while touring Club Med Finolhu Villas, we stopped a probably the best resort I have come across is Club Med Kani. Despite their special offerings for families and honeymooners, they also cater to singles specifically. They just cater to everyone! Here are some of the things they have put in place…

  • Diversity – There is so much diversity in Kani’s clientele, no one would feel out of place. There are couples on honeymoon. There are families. There are groups of friends. There are groups of families. And yes, there are singles.
  • Staff – Club Med is renowned for its hyper-friendly ethos and ambience. The staff all bubble over with amiability. The resort has a practice where all staff eat with the guests (only if the guests would like the company of course) which of course would suit a single person superbly. And as it happens, many of the staff a single themselves.
  • Atmosphere – The Club Med Kani atmosphere is simply very friendly, social and inclusive as I described in my Best of the Maldives post “Making Friends”.
  • Numbers – With nearly 500 rooms, Kani is one of the biggest resorts in the Maldives. That means there are so many people that even a small percentage of any group becomes a reasonable number. Yes, relatively few singles visit the Maldives. But at Kani you mathematically have a better chance of meeting more of them.
  • Catering – The resort actually caters to single guests. It offers a reasonable single supplement rate on its villas. When there is enough singles in residence, it organises special activities just for them such as cocktail parties and special singles-only snorkelling outings.

Literally, come ‘one’ and all…

Best of the Maldives: Lagoon Deck – Baros

Baros - lagoon deck

Maybe the best place for the Coco York’s next gig is the musically themed, blues enveloped “The Piano” deck. But curiously, this aquatic oasis’ name comes form its shape, not its function…

“For those who dream of being alone with their partner in a uniquely romantic setting, Baros Maldives has introduced two fantastic experiences. The choice is dinner or a massage as the sun sets, the stars twinkle and the moon glows, on a deck isolated in the middle of a sparkling lagoon. This exotic lagoon fantasy is possible at the newest addition to the delights of Baros Maldives, The Piano. The Piano is a small wooden deck, poised above the translucent waters of the lagoon. This deck is shaped like a grand piano and is available for couples who want to be alone. The only sound is the natural music of splashing waves and the whisper of the caressing breeze.”