14 Mer’Maids A’swimming…


Under the Maldives waters, you can spot all manner of beautiful creatures. And I’m not just talking about the fish and animals. We are now half way through the “12 Days of Christmas” (the twelve day period between Christmas and Epiphany on 6th January). The song which immortalised it gave away “6 Swans a Swimming” followed by “8 Maids a Milking”. This collection is more like “14 Mermaids Swimming”…

1. Alison Teal (USA) Eco-blogger – Dusit Thani
Dusit Thani - Alison Teal
2. Katerina Hamsikova (Ireland) Freediver – Ayada
Ayada - Katerina Hamsikova

3. Jean Carmela (Australia) Travel Blogger – Maafushivaru
Maafushivaru - Jean Carmela

4. Amy Williams (United Kingdom) Olympic Champion– Baros
Baros - Amy Williams
5. Monlada Pongpanit (Thailand) Designer – Anantara Kihavah
Anantara Kihavah Villas - Monlada Pongpanit
6. Rosie Londoner (United Kingdom) Lifestyle Blogger– One & Only Reethi Rah
One and Only Reethi Rah - Rosie Londoner
7. Emma Alexa (United Kingdom) Model – Baros
Baros - Emma Alexa
8. Gabrielle Lopes Costa (Brazil) Lifestyle Blogger – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - Gabrielle Lopes Costa
9. Yvonne Melby Schulze (Norway) Instagrammer – White Shell Beach Inn Maafushi
White Shell Beach Inn Maafushi - Yvonne Melby Schulze
10. Viki Maldives (Russia) Maldives VloggerAnantara Dhigu
Anantara Dhigu - Vik Voynikova - snorkel
11. Yulianna Karaulova (Russia) Singer – Kurumba
Kurumba - Yulianna Karaulova
12. Melanie Kyle Oldenburg (Australia) Model – Olhuveli
Olhuveli - Melanie Kyle Oldenburg
13. Chelsea Yamase (USA) Pro Surfer – Shangri-La Vilingili
Shanri-La Villingli - Chelsea Yamase
14. Raphaelle Chaudet (France) Instagrammer – Medhufushi
Medhufushi - Raphaelle Chaudet

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Beauty – Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif - advert

Athif Raudha is literally the face of the Maldives. She displays the classic sun-kissed, delicate features of the Maldivians, except for one extremely striking exception. While most Maldivians have dark brown eyes, hers are an iridescent blue more like the cerulean sea that surrounds the country. Even her Facebook handle is “Wild Blue Lustre

Her captivating look has drawn her into modelling for a number of years now including Coco Bodu Hithi’s recent campaign (see above). She is also a favourite subject of artistic fashion photographer Alexey Vladimir (in fact, her red hooded portrait featured in yesterdays Christmas Red post is Alexey’s Facebook Profile picture).

Raudha agreed to do a first-ever, exclusive interview with Maldives Complete to share some insights into this intriguing poster child for Maldivian beauty (thanks Paola)…

  • How were you “discovered”, ie. how did you get started?

It was always a hobby, because I grew up posing for pictures. But it wasn’t until I did a few shoots with Sotti (a professional photographer) that things really kicked off. I started getting offers for ads, and I always had people advise me not to take any of them until something good came up. And that worked out quite well.

  • What was your first modelling gig?

If I remember correctly, it was something like a PSA, for national TV, encouraging people to stop using plastic bags, and choose eco-friendly stuff. I was 14 years old, and quite the environmentalist, so, naturally very happy to be a part of it.

  • Do you have an agent?

I don’t. Anyone’s free to contact me directly, regarding any business.

  • Where did you get your distinctive eyes from (do other members of your parents families have similar eyes)?

My paternal grandfather, his eyes were a sort of dark hazel. And my beautiful great grandmother had a greyish blue.

  • What types of work would you like to do in the future?

Contrary to popular belief, modelling isn’t all I want to do with my life. I’d like to work as a doctor, in many places all over the world. I’m leaving to Bangladesh to study for a Bachelor s of Medicine next month. And that, becoming a doctor, has been my dream, and primary interest, since I was 5, maybe.

  • Is there a model whose look/work you most admire?

I can’t possibly name just one. Adriana Lima, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Jolie. And I can never leave out Deepika Padukone. These women are beautiful, inspiring, and I love them for the things they stand for.

  • What’s been your most lucrative modelling gig?

That would definitely be working for Sotti in his “Maldives” series.

  • What’s been your most enjoyable modelling gig?

A collaboration shoot with Alexey Vladimir, where I got the chance to entertain my inner daredevil. I had to make my way to the middle of the reef. Beyond an area called Usfasgandu in Male’ where there’s a destroyed, unused platform-like bit covered with seaweedy things. Between land and the platform, we had steep, slippery tetrahedral rocks to climb down, then the reef, with more rocks and sharp corals. Strong waves too, because it was a rainy day. Had I slipped or fallen over, or lost my balance with an incoming or outgoing wave, my face would be in coral hell. And then I didn’t fall. And it was all done with me in a full length dress. I LOVED it. The result was a beautiful picture titled “The Night”. Everyone lived happily ever after.

  • Are any particular pressures you face doing modelling?

Well, before a shoot, there’s almost always pressure. A weird, unspecific kind. Ha ha. I suppose it’s natural, wanting to do well, feeling nervous for how it’s going to turn out. But once it starts, it’s always fun and an amazing experience. I’ve been lucky to work with great people.

  • Any pet peeves when you are working modelling?

I think the only thing would be, when people fail to communicate very well. Maybe my friends think otherwise, and I don’t express this very often. But, I actually have very little tolerance for rude or bossy people.

  • What are your favourite pastimes?

Modelling IS a pastime for me! Ha ha. Okay seriously though? I have phases. All in all, I love learning new things. And a lot of that happened while I worked at the military hospital and then IGMH, for a year and a half.

Besides that, I’ve also had my time with yoga, painting, dancing. At school in India, I played the congas – that was fun. And also failed quite terribly at singing. When I want to laze around, there’s always a good book to get lost in. Most recently, I’ve taken up open water diving and trying to play the piano. New things are excitingly endless, you know.

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif portrait

Top 20 Lifestyle Bloggers in the Maldives




Total Points

Instagram Followers

Twitter Followers

Facebook Followers

YouTube Views

1 Zoe Sugg United Kingdom





2 Bianca Heinicke Germany Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru





3 Malini Agarwal India Club Med Kani






4 Natalie Tran Australia LUX Maldives





5 Chriselle Lim USA Six Senses Laamu






6 La Carmina Japan Gili Lankanfushi






7 Alison Teal USA Dusit Thani





8 Nicole Warne Australia Amilla Fushi





9 Gala Gonzales Spain Sun Siyam Irufushi





10 Jessica Stein Australia W Retreat





11 Jasmin Howell Australia Six Senses Laamu





12 Rosie Londoner United Kingdom Huvafenfushi





13 Elif Tanverdi Turkey NIYAMA





14 Juliet Angus USA FS Landaa Giraavaru





15 Alexandra Pereira Spain Constance Halaveli




16 Sabrina Tubic Bosnia Herzegovina Paradise Island






17 An Nguy Vietnam




18 Maureen Schauder Germany Anantara Kihavah Villas





19 Josie Fear United Kingdom Thudufushi





20 Alina Lisina Latvia Dusit Thani






Ten years ago I started blogging. Not about the Maldives, but about topics more related to my work at Microsoft at the time. But it was that blogging which led me down the path to both this big part of Maldives Complete. I launched Maldives Complete complete with its very own blog. So I could share my own stories and special perspectives from years of researching and visiting this paradise destination.

To some, blogging rose to prominence and now has been superseded by other digital sharing platforms. But just like TV didn’t kill radio, and the Internet didn’t eliminate TV, all new formats – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube – might have crowded the pure “Blogosphere” (eg. WordPress, Blogger), but really they have just expanded it with new media and tools.

When I first started blogging about the Maldives, there really weren’t that many others. A few resorts and experts (eg. Seven Holidays, Dreaming of Maldives) have dabbled in it. And while there are still relatively few dedicated to the destination, as I mentioned in last week’s WTM post, the recent rise of the international “lifestyle blogger” nearly always includes the Maldives on their bucket lists.

When I was researching fashion and lifestyle icons visiting the Maldives a couple of months ago, I was struck by how many of these selfie-paparazzi were “Bloggers” of one sort or another. Many of these bloggers essentially serve up lifestyle porn (travel/food/fashion) with the overarching theme “I sucks to be me <wink>.”

While sex appeal sells and all of these bloggers are quite photogenic, the top of the leader board are not the Victoria Secret pageant queens. Instead, they are personalities who have carved out their niche with more substance than stylish photoshoots. They all have folksy, trendy monikers like La Carmina, Miss Everywhere, Miss Malini, Gary Pepper Girl, Alison Adventure, Tuula Vintage, Cizen Bayan, Lovely Pepa.

Of the 336 personalities identified (and logged in my database), 100+ are bloggers (the others are models, actresses, singers, athletes and other celebrities). I developed a ranking system based on things like followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as things like entry details in Wikipedia and IMDB. I’m featuring the Top 20 today (if I were to rank Maldives Complete, I would score 3 points putting me in joint 45th place, but then I focus on a very niche subject area).

6 of top 10 are high profile enough to have their own Wikipedia articles (nobody below top 9 though make it into Wikipedia). There are only 3 Vloggers in the top 20 (not surprising as Vlogs take an order of magnitiude more production resources and skills). Six Senses Laamu and Dusit Thani score deuces with 2 entries each, but otherwise a good sampling across resorts. And on the geographic side, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia all score hatricks with 3 entries.

Reading blogs is great, writing one is even better.” – Seth Godin

1. Zoe Sugg (United Kingdom) – Ranveli
Ranveli - Zoe Sugg
2. Bianca Heinicke (Germany) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Bianca Heinicke
3. Malini Agarwal (India) – Club Med Kani
Club Med Kani - Malini Agarwal
4. Natalie Tran (Australia) – LUX Maldives
LUX Maldives - Natalie Tran
5. Chriselle Lim (USA) – Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu - Chriselle Lim
6. La Carmina (Japan) – Gili Lankanfushi
Gili Lankanfushi - La Carmina
7. Alison Teal (USA) – Dusit Thani
Dusit Thani - Alison Teal
8. Nicole Warne (Australia) – Amilla Fushi
Amilla Fushi - Nicole Warne 2
9. Gala Gonzales (Spain) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - Gala Gonzales
10. Jessica Stein (Australia) – W Retreat
W Retreat - Jessica Stein
11. Jasmin Howell (Australia) – Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu - Jasmin Howell
12. Rosie Londoner (United Kingdom) – One & Only Reethi Rah
One and Only Reethi Rah - Rosie Londoner
13. Elif Tanverdi (Turkey) – NIYAMA
NIYAMA - Elif Tanverdi
14. Juliet Angus (USA) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - Juliet Angus
15. Alexandra Pereira (Spain) – Constance Halaveli
Constance Halaveli - Alexandra Pereira
16. Sabrina Tubic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – Paradise Island
Paradise Island - Sabrina Tubic
17. An Nguy (Vietnam)
Maldives - An Nguy
18. Maureen Schauder (Germany) – Anantara Kihavah Villas
Anantara Kihavah Villas - Maureen Schauder
19. Josie Fear (United Kingdom) – Thudufushi
Thudufushi - Josie Fear
20. Alina Lisina (Latvia) – Dusit Thani
Dusit Thani - Alina Lisina

Golden Week of Holiday

Luo Zilin - reclining

China National Day yesterday kicked off “Golden Week” (黄金周)in the country with an entire 7 days of national holiday.

I thought we would feature the top 8 beauties in the Maldives Complete fashion database from China (including Hong Kong) since “8” is such a auspicious number in Chinese tradition. We start with the quite golden Luo Zilin (above)…

1. Luo Zilin (model) – The Residence [ABOVE]
2. Liu Yun (actress) – LUX Maldives

LUX Maldives - Liu Yun

3. Zhang Yuqi (model) – Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu - Zhang Yuqi

4. Vivienne Tang (athlete) – Loama Maamagili

Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili - Vivienne Tang

5. Julynn Lau (blogger) – Chaya Island Dhonveli

Chaaya Island Dhonveli - Julynn Lau

6. Muqi Miya (athlete) – W Retreat

W Retreat - Muqi Miya

7. Margaret Pui-Kin Kan (China) – Angsana Ihuru
Angsana Ihuru - Margaret Pui-Kin Kan
8. Wang Likun (actress) – LUX Maldives

LUX Maldives - Wang Likun 2

Best of the Maldives Online: Photoshoot Channel – Taj Exotica

Hersh Chadha video shoot 1



In this past week’s fashion fiesta, 23 of the 194 shoots were accompanied by YouTube videos of the shoots. The video shoot adds an extra dimension of both alluring poses and immersion into the paradise of the Maldives. The biggest source of shoots was Prof. Hersch Chadha who has an entire YouTube channel full of video shoots he does in the Maldives at the Taj Exotica resort. His subjects are all Russian models so he has played a big role in driving that country to the #2 slot on the country league table. Tune in for a more animated fashion feast for the eyes.


Hersch Chadha video shoot 2

Best of the Maldives: Fashion Shoots – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - Liza Adamenko

London Fashion Week comes to a close today wrapping up a glimpse of the eye-catching styles in the season ahead. And here too at Maldives Complete, I’ve shared just a small sample of the beach beauties collected as a part of the Fashion Week research. Overall, I‘ve found nearly 200 photoshoot subjects over the past month with the help of the resorts themselves as well as my many website supporters (and more keeping coming in every day now).

I’m also a big database guy. Structured information allows for dissection and interrogation. So in addition to the Resort Room Type and Dive Site databases, I have now started a “Beauty” database with over 200 entries. Details on not just the names, provenance and resort of the highest profile and most dazzling photo shoot subjects, but also information about their Wikipedia, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles. It all makes for some intriguing analysis which I will be sharing in the coming months.

I also categorised the subjects by “profession”. Most were “Models” (obviously for photoshoots), but others we other celebrities…

  1. Model – 128
  2. Blogger – 39
  3. Actress – 28
  4. Athlete – 12
  5. Singer – 5

The professions a bit of an arbitrary distinction as oftentimes prominent Athletes become Models, Models become Actresses, Actresses become Bloggers, and so on. I have a few examples where the person has all five listed in their biography.

I was struck by the prominence of the “Fashion Blogger”. I had no idea there were so many out there. I had no idea they were so popular (judging by their social media numbers). You obviously need to have a little something to say to be a fashion blogger. But the two primary prerequisites seem to be (a) you need to be female (I did not come across a single male fashion blogger), and (b) you need to be attractive (I did not come across a singe fashion blogger where I thought, “well, her readers must be following her for her writing skills…”).

Knowing the resorts of the shoot and the names, my first step today was to add a picture to the standard Resort Profile of a featured photoshoot beauty (bottom right-hand corner). Of the 121 active resorts, I have at least one fashion shoot example for 73 of them.

A few highlight stats to mark the end of #LFW2015. The top of the league table is Gili Lankanfushi. Gili benefits from their hosting the Kingfisher Calendar shoots which brought a fair number of models to its beaches. But its popularity extends to all sorts including this week’s “Pirate Model”, La Carmina.

The UK led the country league table which is probably a function of the destination’s popularity among press. One of the major tabloids, The Daily Mail, runs a regular feature on celebrity holidays and regularly sends big names to various resorts in the Maldives.

The two models featured today showcase the top two resorts (Gili Lankanfushi and LUX Maldives) and the top two countries (UK and Russia) though in swapped orders (I couldn’t find examples of UK models at Gili and vice versa.

Resort League Table

  1. Gili Lankanfushi – 12
  2. LUX Maldives – 7
  3. Per Aquum NIYAMA – 6
  4. Velassaru – 6
  5. Anantara Veli – 6
  6. Taj Exotica – 5
  7. Huvafenfushi – 5
  8. Paradise Island 4
  9. Sun Siyam Irufushi – 4
  10. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa – 4


Country League Table

  1. United Kingdom – 22
  2. Russia – 16
  3. India – 14
  4. Australia – 14
  5. USA – 13
  6. South Africa – 12
  7. Ukraine -6
  8. South Korea – 5
  9. Italy – 5
  10. Denmark – 4


LUX Maldives - Chloe Lloyd

Best of the Maldives Online: Photoshoot Site – World Swimwear

WorldSwimsuit site photoshoot


If the London Fashion Week post has whetted your appetite for gazing on the beauty in the Maldives…as well as some of the comely visitors who visit, then the website packed with Maldive fashion shoots is WorldSwimsuit.com. They provide a blog and range of features which covers the most extensive range of photoshoots around the world including the ever popular Maldives for the likes of Billabong, Adidas and GMC.

They also have a number of YouTube videos about their shoots such as Xenia Deli’s. Their recent Maldives tour was actually sponsored by their South Africa group and so it doesn’t show up in search of www.worldswimsuit.com, but instead you have to look in southafrica.worldswimsuit.com.


Worldswimsuirt Jessica Buchanan

Best of the Maldives: Pirate Shoot – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - La Carmina pirate shoot

What’s a pirate’s fashion nightmare?
A sunken chest with no booty.

Today’s “Speak Like a Pirate Day” illustration carries on the Fashion Week theme with Japan’s La Carmina (featured in yesterday’s post). Her own posts from Gili Lankanfushi also included the swashbuckling gem above.

I always do a post on this special occasion. The exotic and remote Maldives isles evoke so many images of pirate treasure islands. We used to hold treasure hunts for our kids when they were younger (and now many resorts offer this activity themselves). As it happens, La Carmina is channeling our kids a bit – our daughter Isley was the pirate princess in her Leaver’s Day parade, and our son is himself an aficionado and chronicler of Japanese culture.

Well, blow me down!