Best of the Maldives: Personalized Buggy Welcome – Amilla

Amilla - buggy

One of the motivations for pouring myself into Maldives Complete is that when we do visit, we feel more like members of the community than just passing visitors. Another special touch by Amilla Maldives to make all guests feel that way the moment they step onto the island are their personalised “license plates” on the buggies to their rooms. This extra personal gesture has inspired me to add a new tag for “Customisation”.

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: Natural Scrub Station – Dhigali

Dhigali - spa station

Stations are a commonplace feature at resort restaurants providing the freshness and customisation of a la carte with the variety of selection of a buffet. Dhigali brings the concept to the spa with their Natural Scrub Station for facials and body scrubs. Scrubs made custom for your treatment from the following ingredients:

  • Sand with clove, cinnamon and cardomon – Maldive rub
  • Lemon
  • Coconut
  • Cucumber

Fresh scrubs freshly made from fresh ingredients for fresh skin.


Best of the Maldives: Mermaid Photography – Palm Beach

Palm Beach - mermaid classes

Little Mermaid Day today celebrating the release of Disney’s “Little Mermaid” film in 1989. If you want to release your inner mermaid under da sea (sort of a reverse Ariel if you know what I mean, the Palm Beach is offering an aquatic photoshoot by one of the premier photographers of this style.

· “Imagine building a portfolio of one-of-a-kind underwater portraits in the serene, private setting of a Maldivian Atoll. A place where you’re photographing skilled underwater models against the backdrop of pristine coral reefs and large marine mammals while also funding local ocean conservation efforts…. Now you don’t have to just dream it; you can experience it. Professional underwater photographer Chiara Salomoni leads a once-in-a-lifetime 6 day, 5 night all-inclusive masterclass at the Palm Beach Island Resort in the Maldives on Lhaviyani Atoll, Nov 12th-17th, 2018. This customized workshop enables scuba-divers and photographers alike to gain technical mastery in every aspect of underwater portraiture, working in a variety of settings from pool to open-water shallows and even deep ocean scenes with marine mammals. Expert underwater models Christine Ren and Syrena, Singapore’s premier mermaid performer, will pose as the subjects and provide training on how to work safely with both non-models and models in the water. But the best part is 10% of the trip’s proceeds are reinvested locally into marine conservation projects. Travel somewhere beautiful, learn amazing new skills, and save the ocean – what’s not to love?”

That’s why is hotter, Under the water!

Best of the Maldives: Custom Beachwear – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah NEO boutique custom beachwear

In today’s Miss Universe pagent, contestants will dazzle not only with their natural beauty but with a range of fashion and costumes the most famous of which is the swimming costumes. You too can shine in your own swimwear competition at One & Only Reethi Rah who offer a swimsuit customization service…

“Ever wish you could skip the packing before your holiday and not have to think about what to wear on the beach? Guests will be treated to this luxury thanks to the collaboration with designer swimwear brand Babajaan. Launched in November, NEO Beach Boutique [will let you] customise your purchases by choosing the fabrics, embroidery, beading and chain details you like, so you can be sure you’ll be the only one of the beach wearing them. The Panama hats are traditionally woven by an Ecuadoran weaver, pressed to your desired shape and decorated with the ribbons and trimmings of your choice.”

Lori has bought a number of fashion items travelling in the Maldives from jewellery to dresses and wraps. Often you find things that just evoke the distinctive colours and imagery of this tropical paradise. Reethi lets you combine a bit of that tropical air with your own personal flair.

One and Only Reethi Rah NEO beach boutique

Best of the Maldives: Custom Mini-Bar – LUX Maldives

LUX Maldives customer mini bar

When you knock at the door of the LUX Maldives mini-bar today, you don’t have to be content with stale candy corn, apple or a rock. You can customise your mini-bar with your own personal snack-dictions. For example, one couple asked for chilled cucumber for their mini-bar (to put on their eyes).

Treat trick!

Best of the Maldives: Resident Local Artist – Sun Island

Sun Island Azum artist

This weekend kicks off the holiday shopping season in the USA starting with the infamous post-Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’. Guests of Sun Island can get their own jump on filling their Santa sacks with any number of treasures at Azym’s workshop. Azym is the resident artist there and wields his paintbrush in his shop there packed floor to ceiling with pieces such as pictures, bowls, frames and all manner of assorted decorative arts.

I find that local artwork is quite variable in quality not just in the Maldives , but at just about any tourist destination that you visit. Some will be quite amateurish and tawdry pieces, but sometimes you can find some real gems of talent and style. I would definitely class Azym as the latter. He captures the Maldivian blues that are bright but not garish. His depictions are simple without being crude.

And because they are made right there, so you can order something customised as a special memento to your stay and favourite memories. A certain part of the island or vista perhaps.

Happy shopping!

Sun Island artist

Sun Island artist 2

Best of the Maldives: Personalised Greeting – W Retreat

W Retreat gift

Happy Advent!

The official T-minus countdown to the big Christmas celebration. Typically marked by the daily ritual of opening an Advent Calendar window which builds the anticipation and exercises the ‘opening’ muscles so you don’t hurt yourself from over exertion on Christmas morning.

The other big Advent tradition is Christmas greetings. The mail will start to swell with colourful messages from friends and family near and far. In the USA, there is a prominent school of yuletide greetings, which my wife Lori prescribe, which provides a personal touch by making their own cards, typically including a family photo as well as a brief update of the year gone by. Our 2011 creation (see photo below of inside at bottom) features a snapshot of our July trip to the Maldives as well as a reference to my Dad’s seaside-centric book, Shorelines, that I mentioned last week.

As it happens, ‘Greetings’ are a big part of the Maldives resort experience. With every resort on its own island, there is always a build of anticipation as you cross the ocean by speedboat or by seaplane and suddenly ‘your island’ emerges in the distance. Most resorts cap this grand arrival with their own special touches. The cooling, scented cloth and refreshing tropical drink are de rigeur. But on top of those, they add even more special welcomes. I’ve already written Komandoo’s A Cappella Greeting.

In honour of this resort ‘Greeting’ tradition in this very Season of Greetings, this entire week I will be featuring various distinctive greetings from the Maldives resorts. I’ve also broken out a special ‘Greeting’ tag/category on the Best of Maldives page. The first to feature is one that speaks to the personal touch and photographic approach of American Xmas cards – W Retreat.

W Retreat starts its greeting at the seaplane terminal with its own, top flight (pun intended) transfer lounge. As you approach the lounge, a staff member comes out to greet you and takes your picture next to the hotel crest. Its ‘Welcome Mat’ at the entrance says ‘Good Morning’ (and changes 3 times a day to ‘Good Afternoon’ and ‘Good Evening’). Instead of starting your stay with paperwork, that is an underwhelming formality at most resorts, the W welcomes you by sitting down with you to take your details and get to know you. Below I have a picture of my welcome by Mohamed Nirumal.

But the real treat, so simple yet so effective, is that when you take your seaplane ride and get ushered to your room, on your table is a frame photo of you taken back at the lounge (see above). Not only is it one of the most personal welcome gifts you will ever get at a resort, but all the staff at the resort use the photo on file to know who you are so they can give completely individualised service including calling you by name (one of the questions they ask in the personal interview is how you liked to be addressed).


W Retreat registration