Best of the Maldives: Staff Art – Amilla Fushi

Amilla Fushi - garden 2

  • What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing. You wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought.” – David Hockney

At most resorts, the staff give at bit of themselves every day to make the visit by the guests memorable and distinctive. At Amilla Fushi, this investment is expressed indelibly in a unique exhibition of creativity and personality.

The Mystique Garden is a chef’s garden where you can enjoy special meals prepared and served for you al fresco. But your nook is more than the lush greenery of an equatorial paradise. It accented by a collection of striking art works suspended in the tropical canopy. These pieces are the works and gifts of the resort staff themselves.

When the property was near completion and the new team of staff being assembled, the management got everyone together and presented them with a challenge to design and produce pieces of sculpture to adorn the Mystique Garden. The resort provided any tools and materials that they needed. The staff were assembled into department teams as the project was a way to bring the group close together prior to the opening with a focus on thrilling the impeding guests with something out of the ordinary. The teams worked for over a month and the top pieces were selected for inclusion in this open air gallery. The pieces featured and the teams that created them are…

  • Chandelier by Management
  • Morovian Star by Engineering
  • Peace Sign by the Spa
  • Dodecahedron by the Front Office
  • Silver Mobile by Recreation

I’ve been to lots of chef gardens in the Maldives (in fact, with this post, I am adding a new tag for them “Chef Garden”, but Amilla’s is a bit extra-magical, surrounded not just by the natural beauty of the location, but also by these inspired pieces which offer a personal welcome from the hearts, minds and souls of the resort team to their guests.

Amilla Fushi - garden 1

Best of the Maldives: Cardboard Furniture – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - card board chair

World Design Day today. Increasingly, Maldives resorts are looking to stylish design to distinguish their properties so there is vibrant portfolio of creativity found across the destination.

Today’s feature evoked my recent trip to the famous Design Museum in Denmark. One of their most famous exports exhibited is the Danish chair. A further geo-personal connection living as we do near High Wycombe, home of the Wycombe Wanderers, known affectionately as the Chairboys (we can see their training ground from our house).

The exhibit featured a wide array of quirky and inventive styles, but one that caught my eye was Gehry’s cardboard creations (see photo at bottom)…

  • “The architect and designer Frank Gehry has been working with cheap and everyday y materials in new and untraditional ways on a small and large scale. In 1987, he created the very sculptural cardboard chair while working as an architect on a cardboard model. He wanted to experiment with the material and discovered that it was possible to transform huge piles of cardboard into sculptures. Little by little it turned into a chair and became one of the icons of the 20th century. And then it is sustainable.”

And you can find such museum quality pieces at in the Maldives as well. Huvafenfushi’s CUBE villa comes with its own similarly inspired chair with a name as fun as its sinuous shape – “The Vitra Wiggle”. It is accompanied by a set of cleverly nested tables as well.

Huvafenfushi - CUBE cardboard chair and tables

Huvafenfushi - card board chair and tables CUBE

Design Museum

Best of the Maldives: Rain Gutter – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - rain gutter

The rain in the main drains plainly down the chain…at Dusit Thani’s Devarana Spa.  Their buildings are fitted with decorative rain chains. Instead of boring pipes to channel the rain water of the roof and away from the structure, the rain chains provide a colourful cascade. They become a soothing water feature during the infrequent rain showers in the Maldives providing a bit of a sliver (or copper) lining to such passing storm clouds.

Best of the Maldives: Soft Closets – Ayada

Ayada - soft closets 2

Selecting possibly the most distinctive wardrobe in the Maldives wasn’t hard. In fact…it was amazingly soft. Ayada’s villas are decorated with white cloth armoires are a part of their soft, breezy décor styling. Sort of a Bedouin-chic befitting its occi-oriental crossover motif. Even the shoe holder and vertical storage pockets are cotton.

Fabriculous!

Ayada - soft closets 1

Best of the Maldives: Graffiti Art – W Retreat

W Retreat - grafitti art 1

From the other extreme of rustic simplicity, W Retreat is featuring a number of vibrant graffiti pieces painted by the Maldivian artist Sobah from @TOXI_CREW. He was also learning from Alec Monopoly who came to W Maldives to paint the walls of the “W The Store”.   He was joined by Japanese graffiti artist Shiro to give the 15BELOW underground club a facelift (see bottom).  W is always pioneering bringing a current, modern vibe to this ancient paradise for a distinctive mash up of new and natural.

W Retreat - grafitti art 2

W Retreat - grafitti art 3

W Retreat - graffiti

Best of the Maldives: Kids Door – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - The Den - door

On the heels of all that pirate talk, I just had to do another post on Soneva Fushi’s kids club which has its very own pirate ship inside (see photo below). My feature of the day capture’s the “The Den’s” Alice in Wonderland fantastical quality with its nested front doors (photo above) inviting you into a Lewis Carrol world of wonder and amusement.

“Curiouser and curiouser!”

Soneva Fushi - The Den - pirate ship

Best of the Maldives: Over Water Bathrooms – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - over water villa bathroom

Kandolhu puts the water in the “water closet”.

During the past couple of decades that we have been visiting the Maldives, the tubs have gotten larger and the showers more decadent. The bathrooms have emerged from being tucked away to standing out with al fresco opulence.  These days villa bathrooms have become almost mini private spas with their lavish design, bountiful space, and luxury fittings. Kandolhu resort exemplifies this trend with their over water villas whose bathrooms exemplify the flair of the resort’s contemporary design with its soaring airy motif, clean lines and crisp styling.

Kandolhu - over water villa bathroom 2

Best of the Maldives: Glow – W Retreat

W Retreat - glow drinks

The Maldives radiates so much beauty…on land or sea, over water or beneath, as well as daytime or night. Most people first think about the sun drenched scenery, but the visual spectacles don’t stop with the fiery sunsets. The night time turns on its own display of lustrous luminescence. The Milky Way pageant of celestial sequins sashay across the sky. And the occasional bioluminescent displays bestow the Maldivian shorelines their own shimmering necklace.

The W Retreat is resort for night time radiance. Their recent “Resident Luminous Artist” Tom Bacher conducted “Let It Glow” painting classes where people learned the craft of playing with light. And he also worked on his own pieces (see below) which is plans to exhibit in the future.

Or you could also enjoy the luminous tonic-and-limelight just sitting back over a refreshing drink as they introduced their line of “Glow” drinks concocted with special ingredients that glow in UV lighting (see above)…

  • Elderberry Glowing Cocktail – blue curacao, fresh lime juice, sugar syrup, rum, gin, vodka, Cointreau, raspberry puree
  • Hendricks and Berries Glow – cucumber juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup, sliced cucumber, Hendricks gin, fresh berries (blue berries, raspberries, cranberries), tonic
  • Glowing Herb – lime juice, ginger syrup, sugar syrup, homemade rosemary infused gin, tonic cubes, tonic, rosemary, mint

Mind you, there are a few possibilities that I think they missed in their “Let It Glow” line up…

  • “Frozen” Margarita
  • GlOlaf
  • Cristal-off champagne cocktail

W Retreat - glow painting

Best of the Maldives: Bed Seascape – Anantara Kihavah Villas

Anantara Kihavah Villas - bed decorating

I’ve been lauding the exquisite practice of bed decorating since the outset of this blog when the craft mostly consisted of carefully placed flower petals. Over the years, I’ve amassed a fair collection of exquisite examples (features regularly on the Maldives Complete Pinterest board as well as various distinctive examples). And the mattress masterpieces have evolved to increasing sophistication and diversity. Today’s feature is a particularly artistic creation by Anantara Kihavah Villas (thanks Paola) that I thought was particularly apt for World Oceans Day today.

Now that is a vibrant ocean bed.

Best of the Maldives: Table Decorating – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - table decor 1

JA Manafaru doesn’t just use painted grains of sand to make a stunning tableau, but also painted grains of rice to make a stunning table. And not just on the sand itself, but on the tables on the sand (of beach dinners). Actually throughout the resort too (eg. dining rooms, bars, other places of celebration). A meander through the #jamanafaru Instagram account brings up a whole gallery of masterpieces.

JA Manafaru - table decor 3

JA Manafaru - table decor 2

JA Manafaru - table decor 4