Instagram can save the sights and sounds of your trip to paradise, but how to do preserve the scents? The tropical flowers, the salty sea air, the crisp coral sands. I asked that question with my #26 of installment #5 of “Haven’t Seen Yet”, but thanks to SAii Lagoon “M.I.Y” (ie. “Mix It Yourself”) bar, I can finally tick that one off.
The M.I.Y. boutique lets you prepare a customised bouquet from their extensive array of aroma’s in the “Aroma Lab”. “M.I.Y.” is also a reverse acronym for “Yim” Thai word “Yim”, meaning “to smile”. So, the Aroma Lab motto is, “Make a scent that makes you smile.”
The process includes product testing to ensure your skin’s suitability and affinity with the customised formula. You can wear the final olfactory cocktail directly or have it added to you shampoo and soap in your room as well throughout your stay. Finally, each formula is kept for when you return to SAii Lagoon.
Makes scents to me!
For your own personalised memorabilia to express your individual tropical style, LUX North Male features its own Panama hat station. You can choose from a wide range of hot weather headgear and even get is customised with your name.
For a scent that is not just reminiscent of the Maldives experience, but evokes your Maldives experience, Amilla’s Javvu spa features its own “Alchemy Bar”. There you can concoct your own magic potions to conjure up the golden moments from your visit. You are guided by a recipe book that shares its properties and other information about it (see sheet on “Moringa” below). Many of the ingredients are grown right on the island.
Travel Trade Maldives featured an interview with Spa and Wellness Manager, Laura Pagano, who developed the concept:
- “It’s an interactive laboratory where we teach our guests to make their beauty potions and bath products, so it brings a special touch to their experience. During lockdown, the first thing we made was a bath sachet from herbs like lemongrass and neem growing on the island, then we started making our own sea-salt. Then from the dried herbs we realised we could make powders. From there realised can make face masks, teas and more – the possibilities are endless. There were only seven of us ladies working on the island, so we used to have our own girls’ nights with our own homemade face masks, moisturisers, hair masks etc. We even made our own deodorant because we were running out of it in the shop! It’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used, I swear. I’ve been using it since my garden work and it really works, nobody was running away from me!”
Not only are the Maldives leading the way with their own vaccinations, but they are also investigating extending that effort to guests themselves:
- “The Maldives is contemplating the introduction of vaccine tourism across its collection of over 200 resort islands, as tourist arrivals begin to grow in the post-pandemic era… He added that the currently available Covid-19 vaccines require two doses of the vaccine to be received within a 10-week period – meaning, there is a significant window of time between the inoculation of the two doses in which tourists could stay in the Maldives. According to Mausoom, the Maldives is likely to become one of the first countries to have vaccinated its entire population, making it one of the safest destinations to visit.”
The best part is the name – “vaxication”.
As the pandemic has not just made remote working more acceptable, but in many cases, downright preferable, some executives are thinking that if you are going to be stuck somewhere, why not make it paradise? Whether you want to have an extended stay (and I mean exteeeeeeended) either to wait for your vaccine second dose, or just to luxuriate in the best workplace on the planet, then Anantara Veli is offering a rate to cover the entire YEAR:
- “Imagine escaping to your very own over-water home retreat in the Maldives at the drop of a hat. Now with Anantara Veli Maldives Resort’s ‘Unlimited Stays in Paradise’ package, you can book unlimited nights at the resort for a one-time fee and make this island paradise your bolthole for the duration of 2021.”
“All You can Sleep” Buffet!
Environment Day today to celebrate appreciating, respecting and care for the environment around us. Sometimes the smallest of things can have big impacts over enough people and time. On example is sunscreen which we slather on to protect us from the tropical sun. But when we take a dip in the ocean to cool off, the salty water washes a lot of its chemicals off our body and onto the coral reefs we swim amongst.
Gili Lankanfushi is now only selling reef-friendly sunscreen in its boutique for its guests to remove this extra burden on our coral friends:
- “A key ingredient in more than 3,500 sun protection products is oxybenzone…Annually four to six thousand tonnes of these chemicals enter our ocean through wastewater effluent, and by swimmers slathered up with sunscreen. Acting like an oil slick, the chemicals settle on marine life and the reefs become suffocated.”
Also, Grand Park Koddhipparu have made a similar announcement, but I was unable to get additional details.
Not just a “Best of the Maldives”, but possibly the Best of the Best from the 2019 Tour, or at least the most enduring, as both Lori and I are still wearing ours back in Blighty – Ghost Net Bracelets. Faarufushi’s Marin Biologist Giulia Pellizzato working on retrieving “Ghost Nets” – fishing nets that have gotten snarled or caught up and so the fishermen just abandon them in the water where they continue to trap and kill sea creatures.
The nets themselves are made of nylon and so Giulia wanted to come up with a way to upcycle them rather than have them add to the landfill of the Maldives. She decided to unravel the strands of plastic twine that they were made of, and use that material to make some woven bracelets. The process is a bit labour intensive so she has a small stock now. She gives them out as a reward to guests who help her with her reef survey work on the island.
The blue and green of the material, coloured that way by design to blend into the ocean when fishing and not scare away the fish, evoke the tapestry of colour which makes up the Maldivian seascape. I’m not a big accessory person, but there is something heart-warming about wearing something that was removed from the Laccadive Sea and is now on my wrist rather than snaring turtles, dolphins and other tragically unfortunate ocean friends.
Recognizing their industry partners, Velaa hosted a reception last week at the hip Mayfair venue MNKY House inviting operators, travel writers and travel agents from the area with whom they have been working (including Maldives Complete).
General Manager Mr. Michal Smejc spoke about Velaa’s personal connection to the property. The owner is his brother and the family treat it as a home that they share with guests who want to visit. He outlined their constant process on re-examining what could be improved and making constant re-investment into the island touching on some of the recent enhancements and planned refinements.
Perhaps the most striking testimony to their attention to detail and authenticity were the refreshments served during the evening. I had just assumed that they would be hiring in some caterers for a few tasty canapés, but they actually flew into London their Executive Chef Gaushan de Silva a number of their sous chefs from the resort itself to share their treats with the guests personally.
One of these delicacies was worthy of a “Best of the Maldives” itself – Mini Lobster and Langoustine Burger with Thermidor Aioli and Fried Quail Egg. Sort of a bit-sized lobster egg benedict with bonus flavours. As regular readers will know, I am an aficionado of both lobster and benedict (and Velaa has already distinguished itself with the latter).
Sights, spaces and now sounds. Kandima’s artistry pervades its island with a fresh approach that engages its guests and fans. Its artist studio is run by an up-and-coming local artist to produce fresh works as well as to collaborate with the guests themselves. And the same spirit of creative engagement is being applied to the resort soundscape with the Maldives first ever music competition:
- “The first ever ‘Music Boss Wanted! Competition’ invites aspiring music writers, composers, singers and DJs to submit a video to Kandima Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win an amazing US$7000 cash prize and a full-paid holiday to the new island destination – how Kool is that?! To enter the competition, the applicants must upload a short video of themselves singing, playing a musical instrument or DJing to Instagram or Facebook using the unique hashtags #KandimaMusic and #KMusicBoss…Then the TOP 10 shortlisted applicants will be picked, and their videos will be uploaded to Kandima Maldives blog, followed by the K’Music Boss announcement on 21st August 2018. The winner will get a chance to create the Oh-So-Kool playlist with eight tarcks, which will be officially launched during the resort’s grand launch of its new Pool Party Series on 15th November 2018. The K’Music boss will also be setting the K’Mood with their playlist on the resort’s hop on/hop off buses, in all the studios or villas, and during the super Kool events both locally and globally – as a K’Music Boss should!”
The entries to date that have been selected and can be sampled here. But, *NEWS FLASH*, Kandima has extended the deadline to mid-September! So anyone needing a bit more production time (or just finding out about the competition now) can get their creative juices going and join the jamboree.
I’m pretty flexible on the quality of my villa (I’ve always said that you could sleep in a cardboard box in the Maldives and it would be a 5-star experience) and don’t need many amenities or recreational distractions laid on (happy to put on my snorkel in fins any time I’m a bit bored), but I do enjoy my food. Mind you, it doesn’t take much to lay out a decent spread in the Maldives – freshly caught reef fish, tropical fruits, a simple pasta station (or egg station for breakfast). But I do appreciate it when the resorts treat me to something a bit tasty.
Medhufushi features quite possibly the best value buffet in the Maldives. The resort positions itself as 4-star, but the food punches way above its weight class and is absolutely 5-star cuisine. Reminded me of Mirihi back when it was a 4.5 star, but served up gourmet food. But Mirihi is now 3 times the price of Medhuifushi! And there are a couple of 5-star properties (including some where people raved about the food in the reviews) that were nowhere near as good as Medhufushi.
Here are just a few notes of the fine dining we enjoyed during our brief stay…
- Chicken Laksa – Possibly my favourite soup of the trip. Rich and flavourful. Made to order with vegetables and eggs in the bowl that the broth is served over.
- Tom Yam Seafood Broth – More delectable soup.
- Tuna Sashimi – Not the sushi which you can find at 4-star buffets but it mostly rice in seaweed wrap. But rather prime slices of fresh tuna.
- Tenderloin – Perfectly cooked medium-rare at the roast station.
- Tandouri Chicken – With Nan bread cooked fresh in front of you.
- Curry Variety – Another “Best of the Maldives” post coming on this. My favourite was “Beetroot Curry”.
- Rice Pudding – With Sultanas almost like my mom makes (she uses raisins). Second best rice pudding I have had in the Maldives
- Ice Cream – Variety to rival super-luxury property Soneva. Here are a few of the flavours set out during our short stay – Earl Grey Tea, Passion Fruit & Yogurt, Peanut Butter, Carmelised Banana, Raspberry and Lime Sorbet, Lime Sorbet, Kiwi Sorbet, Apple Sorbet (Lori got just a bit addicted to their ice cream bar).
- Coconut Cake – Why isn’t this served more extensively??
- Mango Yogurt – And this too…why isn’t this more prevalent on the buffets?
- Mas Huni – Hard to say whether it is the “best” in the Maldives, but it is the only resort that serves *two* types of Mas Huni.
Feel free to bring a big appetite to Medhufushi even if your wallet is a bit small.
First rule of exploring the undersea world is “hands off”…but if you do want to get “hands on”, then Soneva Fushi there to lend you a hand. They are offering a special deal where you actively engage with their extensive eco-sustainability initiatives and get special pricing (thanks Paola)…
- “Stay five nights with us at Soneva Fushi, and if you agree to participate in the following initiatives, your next five nights will be on us. A tailored programme will be prepared for you for a few hours per day, over five days, incorporating the following elements:
- Land: Assist our horticulturists, mycologists, and gardeners in maintaining the vegetable gardens and learn how to grow your own vegetables. Deliver the vegetables to our restaurants and learn how to create a seed bank to ensure future sustainability of important crops. Help us to make sustainable bricks in our Eco Centro Waste to Wealth facility
- Water: Snorkel with our marine biologists to help with turtle identification and coral rehabilitation. Spend time each morning clearing debris from the island that may have washed up, and help us to register the fish caught by the local fisherman. Participate in reef clean ups in the Baa Atoll to reduce marine debris and prevent injuries to marine life.
- Community: Work alongside our community engagement manager on established projects with nearby communities, which may include local swimming classes, composting projects, beach clean ups, and other education initiatives.
- To book the Stay for Good offer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +91 124 4511000 and quote ECOPKG17. Upon confirmation of your stay, we will begin tailoring a programme to suit your preferences.”
You have to hand it Soneva for their handy way to handle the many environmental challenges in paradise.