I have “pinned” about every medium to the Maldives Complete Pinterest boards – towels, palm fronds, watermelon, coral pieces, flowers, pancake batter, coloured rice, sand, soap suds, bread, cooked rice, coconut husk and milk foam. So I was especially impressed when I arrived at Canareef who presented their welcome fruit arrangement with a bit of aquatic-inspired artistry manta shaped out of a napkin. Serviette with a smile.
The Maldives mattress medium just gets more and more sophisticated. The latest artistic talent to showcase is Anantara Kihavah Villas’ mixed medium artistry (thanks Paola). I’m particularly fond of their use of the pink bougainvillea, the underwater scene is especially a propos, and their towel palm tree is the first I have seen using towels in a pictorial rendition.
These bed decorations are ultimately a form of performance art. As evanescent as the blossoms which compose them.
“Our many different cultures notwithstanding, there's something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can't help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It's an inspiring time of the year.” – Marlo Thomas
Christmas lights are such a part of the season that you can actually see them from space. And if you point your satellite window to the Indian Ocean, the bright spot will be Ayada shining out from the Gaafu Alifu atoll…
“Ayada Maldives gears up for its third festive season as it announces this year’s festive program. Running from 20th December through to the 2nd January 2015, the program invites its guests to enjoy a daily round of activities, fine dining and some seasonal fun such as festive-themed movie night in the swimming pool, an afternoon tea party with Santa as the guest of honor, and of course a daily choice of specialty spa treatments at the luxurious AySpa. ‘At Ayada Maldives we’re focusing on making this holiday time fun for everyone,’ says general manager Zafer Agacan. ‘The theme for this year is ‘festival of lights’ and accordingly different areas of the luxury resort’s spacious island are being lit up with creative designs such as shooting stars, baubles, frangipani flowers and a Maldivian dhoni that looks like it’s about to sail down a small hill’.”
Lights are such a big part of the Christmas holiday tradition. Tree lights. House lights. Regent Street lights have become a red carpet affair. Rudolph (with his nose so bright!). On our own house, we have a lighted nutcracker, two light boxes (flashing “Peace on Earth” and “Joy to the World” in different colours) and a string of vintage coloured bulbs. Lights dripping everywhere.
Last year, we went home to North Carolina for Christmas and one of the highlights (pun absolutely intended) was going to the Tanglewood Festival of Lights (an event so popular we packed a yuletide picnic to eat in the minibus while we queued on the road for several hours waiting to get in).
I’m intrigued by the “specialty spa treatments” Ayada mentions. There is no specific list, so I am thinking – Frank-incense, Cold-agen treatments, Claus-metic make-over, elf-ential oils, midnight mass-age, North Poultice, refleXmasology, and a Christmas wrap.
Putting the “Spa” in your Christmas “Spa-rkle”!
Reflecting pools are a regular feature in the Maldives echoing the encompassing aquatic aesthetic. Royal has taken such shimmering pools a step further with a gigantic coral and fish pool. It provides a colourful close up appreciation for the sea life for landlubbers in the main restaurant area.
“Admire the black volcanic sand imported from New Zealand on the floor, which gives a stylish counterpoint to the white sand floors throughout the rest of the resort.”
The place to celebrate New Zealand Waitangi Day today is in the Maldives is Conrad Rangali. Their distinctive plot of sand is as black as the Maldives beaches are white. The juxtaposition is sort of a geological circle of life. The black sand comes from relatively recent volcanic eruptions while the Maldives themselves are anciently defunct volcanoes.
Their marketing manager Katherine Anthony elaborates…
“Yes, the black sand in the Cheese and Wine Bar (the only place we have it) is volcanic sand from New Zealand. We liked the contrast with the white sand that we have everywhere else throughout the resort.”
This week the Wildlife Photogrpaher of the Year was announced with an exhibition of the top entries opening at London’s own Natural History Museum. My entry from the Maldives resorts would be Marco Care’s anemone Fish picture (above). Marco is not an itinerant pro dropping in to the locale to pick up some dazzling shots, but a regular member of the Constance Halaveli resort staff. Like most of the pieces that make it to the competition shortlist, Marco’s picture was the product of countless dives experimenting with different filters and settings. And of course waiting for that magic moment when Nemo’s cousin stares you right in the eye.
When you first enter the appropriately names Lotus Spa, you are greeted by stereo bowls of dazzling blossoms floating in bowls of water by the gate. Arranged meticulously and artistically is an array of flower petals that are changed every day. Not just the petals, but the design itself (see below for another example).
Then in the spa itself set amidst a sprawling water feature packed with more diverse water lilies and other water flowers than I have seen in the Maldives (see bottom) of different colours and shapes adorning the surface in the bright sunshine.
Nika is just bursting with colour of both fauna and flora.
Celebrating International Women’s Day today is probably the most subtle yet dramatic piece in the Maldives honoring women – ‘Maafushivaru Eyes”. The piece at the eponymous Maafushivaru resort is a sort of wall sculpture carved into the wall by the restaurant. It features two eyes with flowing lines off to the right (see above). Also the adjacent reflecting pool and jetty were designed to reflect other aspects of the feminine aesthetic.
The creative and inspired installation evokes a piece of art specifically commissioned for International Women’s Day a couple years back – “Dhaalu Girl”. Showcased in the “Cool Women” film project, also done to honour International Women’s Day, the piece was painted by the exquisitely talented Aemii Musko. So impressed by this young Maldivian artist and her depiction of the feminine charm and power of the ocean, I purchased the piece and it hangs proudly in home now.
Here’s to the power and creativity of women around the world.
One of the favourite activities in the Maldives is looking into the water. In fact, you can’t stroll down a jetty without veering right to the edge to catch a glimpse of all of the marine life scurrying about below.
Angsana Ihuru has added a bit of creative whimsy to this spectacle by their water villa jetties with a logo crafted from broken coral bits (see photo above). Yes, the natural beauty is stunning, bit I still think that there are plenty of opportunities for artistic creations underwater as well. Especially in the expansive tracts of sandy lagoons like here.
Packing Top Tip – I just got a polarising filter for my SLR camera which allows one to take pictures ‘into’ the water above it more effectively. A must for any camera buff visiting.
The latest celebrity Maldives visit (also in a ‘family way’) is Marvin and Rochelle Humes. No surprise that they too are staying at Reethi Rah. Daily Mail coverage included a pic of their bath decoration. Petals in the bath water are de rigeur for romantic spa experiences, but Reethi has gone a step further applying this time honoured bed decoration to the other most relaxing (and at time romantic) part of a villa.