Best of the Maldives: Watermelon Carving – Komandoo

Komandoo - Watermelon carving

Happy Year of the Monkey! Chinese will be celebrating all the new year all around the world with feasts and parties. And exquisite decorations and artistry like Komandoo’s carved watermelon. Particularly appropriate with its lucky red hue. Red is considered the most auspicious of colours as children are given New Year’s gift in red envelopes, the streets are decorated with red lanterns, and diamond-shaped paper cut-outs are done with red paper.

It turns out there are also a bunch things the Chinese won’t be doing, that are considered bad luck at this time, like taking medicine (first day), eating porridge, washing hair and using sharp objects.

The Chinese celebrate with all sorts of traditions from the well-known fireworks and dragon dances, to less familiar reunion dinners and new year paintings. To fit it all in, they have 16 days of celebrations. And some will slip away for a few days holiday. And the favourite destination in the world for the Chinese is the Maldives according to a recent survey – “Maldives tops list of Chinese tourists’ favorite island spots”. Another “Best in the World” for the Maldives…”Best in the World for Chinese Tourists”.

恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財

Best of the Maldives: Elevated Decor – Velaa

Velaa - elevated decor

No, not “Elevator Décor” (though coincidentally, Velaa does feature the only elevator in the Maldives resorts). After 60+ Maldives resorts, I haven’t seen it all (not by a long stretch), but I’ve seen a lot. And so my obsession is ferreting out the different and unique touches that these properties put on their various patches of paradise.

Overall, Velaa sports one of the most distinctive design and décor in the Maldives. I’ve actually got several “Best of the Maldives” pieces lined up about various aspects of their flairs and flourishes. But as a contrast to yesterday’s downward looking post, I thought I would do something a bit more uplifting, quite literally.

This height-motif is not your grandmother’s commemorative plate collection on a shelf. It starts with their bright array of chandelier lighting fixtures (definitely a post on these latter though on was shown in my post on their use of bamboo). But what really caught my eye were the various floral pieces on top of armoires and other elevated surfaces (see photos).

Luxury is all about going beyond the expected. Even the most prestigious hotels can have a sort of Spartan, hollow feel to them. So many places just focus on ticking the boxes of the essentials. They might do it with fine quality, but they often don’t go beyond getting that blank space covered or engineering some minimalist vibe so that the nothingness is justified as some sort of trendy hipness. Velaa has packed its spaces with visual delights. It not only imparts a more elegant feel to the place, but it also makes it seem more warm and inviting.

Good things are looking up at Velaa.

Velaa - elevated decore 2

Best of the Maldives: Sand Floor Art – Angsana Velavaru

Angsana Velavaru - sand floor art 1

Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.” – Jorge Luis Borges

One of the most distinctive aspects to the “no shoes, no news” experience of the Maldives is the pervasive warm, soft white sand. My favourite resorts are the ones who use sand floors in all the public spaces – restaurants, lounges. It’s like you never ever leave the beach during your holiday day or night.

Sound isn’t the only creative medium for the floor in the Maldives. Angsana Velavaru takes the distinctive sand floor to the next level with its own artistry. Sort of like a 2D sand sculpture (or ‘painting’). It reminds me of Jain rice drawing. Sort of a performance art in its impermanence.

(thanks again Paola)

Angsana Velavaru - sand floor art 2

Best of the Maldives: Photographic Gallery – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - gallery 1

A sense-ational week this week – Smell, Taste, Touch. So how about something for the eyes. If you want something as entrancing as a cabernet’s bouquet, as exquisite as artful nectar, and as soothing as a warm bath, the Huvafenfushi’s newly launched art gallery offers an indulgence of visual delights. The exhibition features both iconic shots of the Maldives, but also a collection of dazzling destination portraits from around the world…

“Per Aquum gallery on the Maldivian island of Huaven Fushi has become the first photography gallery in the world to only be accessible by speedboat or seaplane. Each visitor to the exclusive gallery is greeted at one of the private jettys with a cocktail and are then guided through exclusive prints, only available on the island. Photographer Paul Reiffer had been shooting for the island owners when he saw an opportunity to create a unique exhibition. The 35 year-old said: ‘We’ve done it in part because it’s quirky. If you look at it from a commercial view it’s a stupid idea but we wanted to do something a bit different and it completely works.”

This post has prompted me to add a “Photography” tag for all posts literally focused on the fine art of the camera.

Huvafenfushi - galler 2

Best of the Maldives: Recycled Christmas Tree – Anantara Dhigu / Veli

Anantara - coconut Christmas tree

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There’s only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

One more sleep until Santa pays his visit to the good girls and boys. The girls and boys at Anantara (Dhigu and Veli) have been so good this year, they made their Christmas tree from discarded coconut husks. It shines in the day from the bright whit paint as well as at night with the constellation of fairy lights. One & Only Reethi Rah also has its own coconut Christmas tree (see below), Anantara has not just one, but three trees.

Furthermore, Anantara has gone a step further with another tree made out of old Evian bottles (see below)!

The three coconut trees on Dhigu are 2.5 meters, 3.4 metres and 5.0 metres high, with the tallest one made from 800 coconuts. The other two trees take up around 400 coconuts between them. The bottle tree is 6 meters high and is made from 720 bottles.

O Tannebaum! You’re Green not only in the summertime

Anantara - coconut Christmas tree 2

Anantara - recycled bottle Christmas tree

One and Only Reethi Rah coconut Christmas tree

Best of the Maldives: Towel Swans – Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - towel swans

Another twist on a Japanese art form are the increasingly elaborate origami-esque towel sculptures. The terry cloth swan is now appearing at a number of resorts (including our blockbuster bed decoration at Zitahli Kudafunafaru). But Sun Siyam Irufushi has taken the cygnet sculpting to a new level with it petal adornment and highlights (thanks to NikBie on TripAdvisor from his review there).

 

Best of the Maldives: Bamboo Decor – Velaa

Velaa - Bamboo decor

QI Time…
Question – What type of plant does bamboo come from?
Answer – Tree?
Buzzzzzzz…wrong.
Actually bamboo is a “grass”.
Question – How often does a bamboo plant flower?
Answer – Once a year?
Buzzzzzz…wrong.
Actually, a bamboo plant will only flower once in 65 to up to 120 years. And for good reason because once it has flowered, it then dies. Botanists don’t really know why it does this though it has a few thoeries including stabilizing selection, predator satiation and the fire cycle hypothesis.

And that’s just a few of the “Quite Interesting” aspects to Bambusoideae. Many of which will be discussed at the The World Bamboo Congress which convened today in Damyang, Korea (here’s the link if by now you think I’m just making stuff up). For example…

  • Strength – The tensile strength of plated bamboo cables is as strong as or stronger than a steel cable of the same size. Hemp rope loses 20% of its strength when wet while bamboo cables increase in strength by as much as 20% when wet.
  • Sustainability – It grows easily and cheaply (again, think “lawn of grass”, not “forest of tress”) so it easily regenerated. An acre of bamboo can sequester about 25 metric tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere per year (better in bamboo than in the oceans acidifying them and hurting the coral reefs).
  • Inspiration – The ancient bamboo toy called the “dragon fly” is the origin of the modern helicopter.

(thanks to MidAtlantic Bamboo for their fine page of fun facts about bamboo)

If you want to get into the expert level topics, here are few of the papers being presented this week…

  • “Bamboo: The Secret Weapon in Forest and Landscape Restoration”
  • “Bamboo Carbon Potential for Mitigating Climate Change”
  • “The Ghana Bamboo Bicycle Initiative”
  • “Bambusa: pioneering Latin America’s first craft beer made out of bamboo”

Yes, Bamboo Beer! We actually have a bamboo wood floor in our own bathroom (not round tubes of you are used to seeing, but a flat veneer sheared from the “logs” horizontally).  In fact, I even wear underwear made out of bamboo (still not making this stuff up…BAM”)!

No resort exploits the versatility of bamboo more than Velaa where it is a thematic element to all their design. It is used extensively as both a building material and a decoration. I’ve included photos of a few examples here from the practical (fence below) to the ornate (flower wall scone above).

Bamboozling!

 

Velaa - bamboo chandelier

 

Velaa - bamboo room lighting

 

Velaa - bamboo fence

Best of the Maldives: Bed Decorating – Zitahli Kudafunafaru

Zitahli Kudafunafaru - bed decorating 1

Winner and new champion of the hotly contested bed decorating. Custom room greeting décor has become such an extreme art form in the Maldives, I started a Pinterest page a while back to showcase the best I came across.

Room décor falls into two basic categories…

  1. Bed Decoration – The original classic involving flower petals, sheet folding and palm fronds (mostly for spelling out greetings).
  2. Towel Art – Folding towels into various sculpture.

Zitahli Kudafunfaru has set the new bar with its “Happy Anniversary” extravaganza which elegantly combined both. Mind you it was a particularly special one (30th). The only downside is that is was so beautiful that we were tempted to sleep on the sofa so as not to disturb it. Gorgeous.

 

Zitahli Kudafunafaru - bed decorating 2