The Maldives features all sorts of pools across the resorts – infinity pools, glass bottom pools, jacuzzi pools, exercise pools…you name it. But Cora Cora ’s ancient bathing pools are the most intriguing of the lot. They were excavated carefully by the resort after some construction revealed their presence buried under years of sand piled on top of them:
- “The Maldivian name for bathing tanks is ‘vevu’. These tanks were discovered in 2011 in the thick wooded area of Maamagili revealing complex ancient structures far remove from the modern history of the Maldives. Mature trees, decayed roots and several tonned of mud and sand were methodically removed to unearth the structure beneath. These bathing tank, widespread throughout the Indian subcontinent were also commonly found in the Maldives until the 1940s.”
Mother Language Day today. If you want to delve into Dhivehi for a taste of local culture, it’s often fun to do it with a partner to both learn with as well as to practice with. SAii Lagoon’s Le Be Well spa offers a “Dhivehi for Couples” experience”:
- “Love, after all, is one of the classic motivations for picking up a new language. When you learn a new language with your partner, it’s a bonding understand one of the most rewarding aspects of you try to communicate with them in their own language – Dhivehi, while fostering an appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the Maldivians.”
You might wonder what would be the use of a relatively obscure language aside from impressing Maldivian staff on your resort visits? One possibility is to have your own personal code back home to converse in. We always remember meeting good friends for dinner years ago who we knew would try to pay for the meal and we wanted to pay. During the meal, they had a chat in Chinese which they said was just a family matter, but it turns out it was them scheming how to get the bill. Another example of such a shared secret language is the “Divine” language in the film “The Fifth Element”. Writer/Director Luc Besson invented the 400-word language for the character Leeloo (played by Milla Jovovich) to speak. Only Beeson and Jovovich learned the language and practiced it regularly to help it become natural for Jovovich. They ended up getting married after the film’s release so maybe a private shared language does have romantic effect.
Could Dhivehi be your language of love?
Soothing music is a staple of the spa experience, but The Patina has taken audio’s therapeutic powers to new levels with its investment in IRIS “sound immersion technology”:
- As a key component of FLOW and catalyst to the Immersion menu, cutting edge biohacking applications allow guests to explore new ways of ensuring they look and feel their very best. Pioneering IRIS sound immersion technology triggers positive brain activation through audio, using an algorithm to split out and increase sound wave information to the brain. The process stimulates the brain- boosting high frequency Beta waves (13-30 Hz) dominant in our waking state and when we are alert, attentive and focused on a demanding task. This sound evokes an active listening brain state reflecting higher engagement and reward, and associated endorphin release – described by psychologists as a ‘flow state’. Immersive sound brings neurological benefits ranging from improved motivation and performance levels to increased learning and feelings of wellbeing and personal fulfilment. By inducing deep relaxation, it has been shown to improve cardiac health by boosting heart rate variability. The sessions are delivered through patented IRIS Flow headsets in the relaxation area, either before or after immersions, to prepare or relax the body and mind, or as a complement to creative activities. Curated to showcase this unique collaboration, an exclusive IRIS x Patina Hotels playlist is now available via the IRIS – Listen Well mobile app. Simply download the app for free via App Store or Google Play, click on ‘IRIS Library’ and select ‘IRIS x Patina Hotels’ under ‘IRIS-curated playlists.”
The sound track doesn’t just complement the treatment, but the sound is the treatment.
- “A Thousand Years of Receive Visitors – To Change and Be Changed: Maldivian history is defined by travel and transformation. The archipelago’s location has historically made it an easy discover for settlers from the subcontinent. Their arrival throughout the millennia alongside the bloom of trade across the Indian Ocean, resulted in interactions responsible for embedding the objects her in The Dutch Onion – and producing today’s diverse Maldivian communities.”
I already written the about museum on Maamagili, but the work continues under the new management of Cora Cora. The extensive collection of heritage is not just a showpiece assembling a few artifacts for the cultural curiosity of the guests, but instead an ongoing research, excavation, restoration project that continues to literally unearth treasures from the Maldives’ distant past.
The work is conducted at their Collection Centre where they continue to examine and catalogue pieces found on the island. During my visit, experts in ancient Chinese porcelain visiting to the resort with the primary objective of examining the trove of artifacts. The resort is still moving an ancient mosque uncovered during construction and is reconstructing it. In fact, a entirely new bathing tank found and excavated when the Cora Cora property was developed.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on some of the intriguing details of this archaeological work.
If you want an overview of the Maldives destination with more an experience than a guide book, then Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon (actually sited at The Crossroads):
- “The Maldives have long been the crossroads of the world, where cultures meet, and where explorers, traders and pioneers from a myriad of different cultures have weighed anchor and helped to define the extraordinary culture and heritage of the islands. This unique attraction space, covering 500 square metres, uses stunning designs and interactive displays to explore the Maldives rich history, marine biodiversity and how local arts and crafts have shaped the islands’ unique cultural identity. This unforgettable educational experience works closely with the local community to promote their way of life and showcase the handicrafts of this remarkable island nation.”
The exhibit is a proper professional museum with slick presentation and exhibits of everything above and below the water. We received a tour of this interactive and artistic gallery by its manager Iyran. It is so packed with educational displays that even local Maldivian school children visit it.
It takes more than a leap to get to the top of the coconut tree, but instead traditional climbing as featured by Fushifaru’s Coconut Climbing Competition. Maldives Insider reported…
- “Fushifaru Maldives on Friday hosted Lhaviyani atoll’s very first Coconut Climbing Competition. With contestants from all around the atoll, including Innahura, Cocoon, Kanuhura, Hurawalhi, Kudadoo and Fushifaru, it was a fantastic day to bring everyone together to celebrate Maldivian culture. There was no better way to revive this Maldivian tradition that hasn’t taken place since 1985! The contestants were asked to climb the coconut tree all the way to the top, come down safely and then husk a coconut all under time pressure…Fushifaru’s very own Maldivian Coconut Climber Thoha took away the winner’s trophy as he completed his round in only 42 seconds!”
Prizes included a cash award for first and free nights at Fushifaru for second and third.
A fusion closer to the Maldivian home is Soneva Fushi’s “Tastemaker” who combines Laccadive flavours with a range of Asian flavours drawn from his travels in the region:
- “Maldivian born and bred, Chef Sobah is considered one of the pioneers of his islands’ rich culinary heritage. As a child, his family’s main source of income was from fishing, and he would help his parents sun-dry and smoke the daily catch. Today, Chef Sobah draws upon the traditional techniques of Maldivian cooking in his Soneva Fushi restaurant, Sobah’s, the first restaurant in the Maldives to offer authentic Maldivian fare with a contemporary twist.”
I’ve added a tag for “Fusion” with this post as so many of the top properties are distinguishing their fare with the flai of inventive combination.
Over two decades I have been to countless “Maldivian Nights” at resort restaurants, but none so extensive as Makunudu’s lavish and authentic spread. Sometimes “Maldivian Night” is primarily little more than a bunch of reef fish curry. But Makunudu’s included all sort of delicacies and ingredients (the photos here provide a sample of the cuisine on offer). My favourite had to be the Fried Tapioca Chips which I had never sampled in all my years visiting despite being a huge tapioca fan.
One resort that is always dressed in traditional Maldivian garb is AaaVeee. The entire resort is not just inspired by local Maldivian design, but most of the infrastructure was produced in the Maldives itself. In fact, a good number of things like chairs and tables were made on the island by Maldivians using materials from the island itself.
Perhaps the most “Maldivian” aspect is the ubiquitous “koari” adornments. “Koari” means “cone” and is a traditional form of decoration found on the islands. It is a cone made out of palm thatch placed atop a tall pole. I’ve already posted about the koari used to mark the navigation channel to the resort, but it is also used at the reception jetty (see above), in the lagoon (directly below) and various other places across the island. The resort’s chef even baked a “Koari Kake” (below).
For a traditional twist on military-grade training, Kanuhura offers Maldivian Warrior training…
- “Maldivian warrior is a bootcamp fitness course on the beach inspired by what Maldivians would have used in the past to keep fit before air-conditioned gyms came to the country. It’s a blend of calisthenics and exercises on the beach using wooden blocks, logs and heavy stones, followed by a swim in the lagoon and a run around the beach (over 3km to get round the island once).”