Best of the Maldives: Co-Working – The Crossroads

SAii Lagoon - coworking

The remote working revolution, powered by the pandemic lock-down, has transformed the extent to which people can unshackle themselves from the location (and time) constraints of doing their job. Some people have taken advantage of their new found freedom to work in the cozy idyll of a shed at the bottom of their garden. But others have taken the workplace revamp to the extremes extending their Maldives holidays by doing a bit of work abroad.

“Residences” and long-term stays (ie. months) have risen dramatically here. A good Internet connection and a growing standardisation of teleconferencing as the default mode of doing business make this increasingly feasible and appealing. It used to be that face-to-face included was the default and you did teleconferencing when you really had to, but now the situation has flipped).

To further help you whistle while you work, SAii Lagoon has introduced the first ever co-working space in the Maldives:

  • “Crossroads Maldives is set to open the Maldives first-ever co-working space in the Maldives located at The Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives..‘Your SPACE’ at CROSSROADS Maldives would be the first of its kind in the Maldives where freelancers, remote workers, start-ups, and other independent professionals can work together in the communal setting. Offering flexible membership levels from hot desk to designated desks and spaces, members would be able to enjoy complimentary return transfers from Malé, free Wi-Fi, secretarial services including printing, scanning, mail delivery, meeting room booking and self-service coffee and tea. Additional benefits include exclusive discounts from the diverse range of dining and shopping outlets at The Marina.”

Other resorts have added enhanced work spaces in the villas (now tagged with the new tag of “Remote Working”), but SAii Lagoon and Hard Rock have introduced a space dedicated to such working in their Crossroad centre. That way one can get some privacy and other business support services for getting some vital work done (hopefully, so you can stay even longer in paradise with all the fires put out at home).

This is a bit of a special topic for me as one of my other websites/blogs has been looking at the concept of remote and flexible working long before it became trendy – Dynamic Work. As it happens, I am posting this piece from another island paradise, the Galapagos, where Lori and I are taking our Maldives-honed diving skills for a different type of diving adventure and our first ever live-aboard experience.

Why have a faux background on your Zoom call, when you can have the real thing?

  

Best of the Maldives: Coral Reef Gardener – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu - coral garden

Mari-time, Mar-itime…How does your garden grow? With help from a lucky aquatic gardener at Coco Palm Dhuniu Kolhu. The resort is advertising for a “coral reef gardener” to work for a three placement:

  • · “A lucky winner will be flown out to the luxurious Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu resort in September, where they will help the Marine Educator with managing and fostering coral growth in the surrounding house reefs…applicants must submit a link to a 2-3-minute video and a 500-word cover letter explaining why they think they would be a good fit for the role. Applicants do not need to have previous experience, but they must be over the age of 18 years, be a competent open water swimmer and keen to gain experience in this field.”

Working in an octopus’ garden has 12 May deadline for application.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Bibliophile – Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani - bookseller 3

International Book Day today. And no better place to be in the Maldives than the home of Maldives own resort bibliophile Malsa Maaz, overseer of Soneva Jani’s bookshop. Yes, the Soneva sister property, Soneva Fushi pioneered the bookseller concept, but Soneva Jani adds the extra distinction of being over water (like most of Soneva Jani) so you can browse with azure vistas around you. The other distinction is that the “Barefoot Bookseller” is a Maldivian herself. Maldives Complete was fortunate to catch up with her during its recent tour and she provided an exclusive interview with her own riveting story.  For many of us, the pandemic lockdowns resulted in more reading than ever, and for Malsa it changed her life…

  • Where are you from in the Maldives?
    I am from Malé, the capital city of the Maldives. I grew up and finished high school there.
  • What was the first book you remember loving?
    The very first book series I remember falling in love with was the Magical Faraway Tree collection by Enid Blyton. The story revolved around three children who discover the Enchanted Woods with its magical folk. Enid Blyton’s books such as the Famous Five and Secret Seven were quite popular with Maldivian children and were readily available in the school library or bookshops.
  • What did you study?
    For my Bachelor of Arts, I studied Archaeology and Anthropology and I have just finished my Master of Research in Engaged Anthropology in the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. I focused on documenting the Maldivian cultural heritage and learnt a few traditional arts & crafts such as coconut thatch weaving and lace embroidery weaving using traditional tools. It is a brilliant discipline that allows me to work just about anywhere.
  • How did you learn about the bookseller role?
    Over the first lockdown, I joined a lot of bookclub groups where I saw an article about a dream job selling books in paradise. I didn’t even realise it was the Maldives at first! But I was still studying at the point, so I couldn’t apply then. Few months later, as I was finishing my thesis, I saw the job role advertised again on a local news article and it said they were looking for a local candidate. It was perfect timing – so I applied as quickly as I could and now here I am!
  • What was a question that they asked you in the interview?
    I was asked about my previous work experiences and how I would utilise them in the Barefoot Bookseller role. My answer: I was working whilst in university to support myself and have experience in research, retail, hospitality and F&B. All of that work experience and studying a humanities degree has allowed me to improve my people skills especially when it comes to communication and engagement which the Barefoot Bookseller would require.
  • What is your favourite non-fiction book about the Maldives?
    The Maldives Islanders and Folk Tales of the Maldives by Spanish anthropologist Xavier Romero-Frias. He has lived and done fieldwork in the Maldives for a number of years and has contributed to documenting our unique cultural heritage and history.
  • What book have you re-read (the most)?
    Probably Pride and Prejudice! Elizabeth Bennett is one of my favourite literary characters of all time and I somehow always associate with her as she is not scared of breaking barriers. That inspires me – so I always end up re-reading it whenever I feel like I need a little motivation boost.
  • What book are you reading now?
    I am currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – recommended to me by a lot of guests. I am also reading The Apollo Murders which is a space mystery thriller by my favourite astronaut Chris Hadfield.
  • What is the most popular book requested recently?
    I have had a lot of requests for the new Bill Gates book – How to Avoid a Climate Disaster and we should hopefully have it in stock soon.

Soneva Jani - bookseller 2

Soneva Jani - bookseller 1

Best of the Maldives: Family Rooms – Nika

Nika family rooms

As I noted a number of times, I originally thought of doing a website about the Maldives called “Maldives for Families”. When we first started visiting this paradise, it was a haven for divers and honeymooners, but we thought it was a superb destination for families. Well, our instincts have played out with all top resorts catering strongly to the family vacationer with kids clubs, family activities and a increasing number of rooming options for families to be together. But, Nika has gone all the way by making family room options for every single room category. Perhaps this family-friendly extreme is no surprise since the resort itself has been a family business since its founding.

Best of the Maldives: Personal Fragrance – SAii Lagoon

SAii Lagoon - MIY 1

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!

SAii Lagoon - MIY 2

Best of the Maldives: Spa Alchemy – Amilla

Amilla - alchemy bar 1

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!”

  Amilla - alchemy bar 3

Amilla - alchemy bar 2

Amilla - alchemy bar 5

Amilla - alchemy bar 4

Best of the Maldives: All You Can Stay – Anantara Veli

Anantara Veli - al you can stay

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!

Best of the Maldives: Reef Friendly Sunscreens – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - sun screen

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.

Gili Lankanfushi - sunscreen 2

Best of the Maldives: Ghost Net Bracelets – Faarufushi

Faarufushi - ghost net bracelets

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.

Faarufushi - ghost net bracelets 2