QI of the Day: “Why do fish have stripes and spots?”
“To confuse and scare predators”
Actually, recent research by Kelly et al provides a range of counter evidence that the leading theories, ie. “Predator defence by mimicking predators’ enemies’ eyes, deflecting attacks or intimidating predators…Striped body patterns have been suggested to serve for both social communication and predator defence.”). These hypothesis are contradicted by a range of data and observations. For example, “Contrary to our expectations, spots and eyespots appeared relatively recently in butterflyfish evolution and are highly evolutionarily labile, suggesting that they are unlikely to have played an important part in the evolutionary history of the group.”
And why does the Cocoon resort have a trompe l’oeil shadow on the wall of a wrought iron grille as if the sun was shining through some window on the Riviera? Just for a bit of aesthetic whimsy (maybe that is an explanation for reef fish too). Even more mysterious is how the shadow is created as there is absolutely nothing on the villa windows except what appears to be clear glass. It’s a bit more design wizardry from the resort…floating furniture, shadows of invisible things – it’s like staying a Hogwarts. Magic all over the resort from the reef to the rooms.
The main rival to eggs benedict for breakfast luxury is steak and eggs. More of an American staple, you don’t find it that often on European menus. So I was delighted to find Cocoon’s Steak and Egg Station at their breakfast buffer. Quite nice cuts of beef grilled to your liking along with your choice of egg accompaniment (I tend to prefer scrambled with my steak and a bit of ketchup, which they also had at hand).
Cocoon’s resident artists are the guests themselves. The villa rooms feature superb framed photographs taken around the island. It turns out that they are snaps taken by guest during their stay and posted on Instagram. Cocoon identifies the best ones (sort of the same spirit of how I curate the “Fashion” series here). The resort contacts the Instagramming guest and requests permission and includes a credit to their feed on the photo itself. New pictures are posted to the walls every six months.
At Cocoon Maldives, over-sized flamingos and indolent marine life aren’t only things floating around. The resort has infused the buoyancy of the surrounding waters throughout the property with furnishing that themselves seem to float like puppy black-tips skimming the surface.
- “The LAGO furniture floats on glass stands to highlight the lightness sensation that the Ocean water villa exudes, on the boundaries between the beach and the forest.”
Examples include bar tables, coffee tables, settees but most prominently the beds which have soft lights underneath them which amplify the illusion at night. A new meaning to the phrase “drift to sleep”.
Good design adds value making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Cocoon describes itself as “the first design resort in the Maldives”. I wasn’t sure about the “first” as I have seen lots of fine design across the islands, but it certainly first class for this spirit of design – adding value. And in so doing, it is one of the best value 5-stars you will find.
I find many of the bling palace resorts doing the reverse – trying to inject cachet into their properties by importing the most exotic materials and ingredients, anything shiny or rare, and throwing them together on a grand scale with an equally towering price tag. They are a pile of the trappings of luxury and not luxury by design.
The property is named after the movie “Cocoon” and the magic pool that brought eternal youth (One of the more inspired resort names. The group is also developing a sequel, “You & Me” in the Raa atoll which happens to be a film about even more intensive recovery). But the inspiration for the property design is Italian designer Lago. A range of clever, distinctive and actually subtle touches filled my “Best of the Maldives” notebook during my visit (stay tuned).
Equally to the clever and subtle styling, it was the value that impressed me. Priced more like many 4-stars, the resort has designed its entire proposition to optimise not just the guest experience, but the bank account experience. Each beach villa has a comfy sofa bed for an extra child and they can bring in a second roll away. For a limited time, they are offerings a two kids eat and stay free (guests do have to pay for the transfers). That would have been a top appeal when we were visiting as a family. And their a la carte Manta restaurant is extremely reasonable with main dishes around $20 (not too much different to a decent English gastro pub).
If you are put off by the escalating prices of the Maldives or wary that too many value-priced “5-stars” are just tired properties compensating for their dated look and wear-and-tear with discounting, then you need to get a quote from Cocoon.
Instagram has started as a straightforward snap sharing service from simple phone cameras, but it has exploded so much that now you get Hollywood quality productions being shared. I check out the Maldives geotag every morning over coffee as a great scouting radar for resort highlights as well as the latest fashionista shoots so I have been tracking the Maldives material for a couple of years. The video clips have increasing popped up and feature more and more in my fashionista posts. My favourite, that really stuck out for its sophistication and quirky style is Nicole Mazzocato’s post (above) filmed by Fabio Colloricchio.