Best of the Maldives: Lagoon Boat Restaurant – Milaidhoo

Milaidhoo - dhoni restaurant 2

You can not only lounge around Milaidhoo’s dhonis, but wine and dine too. They have adapted the dhoni aesthetic to their signature overwater restaurant:

  • “Shaped like three dhonis (wooden sailing boats), our signature restaurant is the only restaurant in the world set on a boat in a lagoon featuring gourmet dishes of inspired island cuisine from the Maldivian Spice Route. Guests dine on the ‘deck’ of the restaurant where, underneath starry night skies, the team of chefs deliver an island influenced menu of locally inspired and sourced dishes. There’s also indoor seating in air-conditioned comfort where you can watch the sea-life below through glass floors. Expect to find seafood and traditional local flavours intelligently reinterpreted for the 21st century.”

Milaidhoo - dhoni restaurant 1

Dhoni Doyennes

Dhoni pose

International Mother Language day today. And one of the most prominent Dhivehi words are the ancient sloops that traverse the Laccadive Sea called “dhonis”. For that quintessentially Maldivian, hip fashion touch, they are one of the most popular podium for photoshoots.

  1. Victoria Lopyreva (Russia) – W Maldives
    Victoria Lopyreva (Russia) – W Maldives
      
  2. Yana Diyanova (Russia) – Bandos
    Yana Diyanova (Russia) – Bandos - Aeroflot
      
  3. Ellie Bullen (Australia) – Conrad Rangali
    Ellie Bullen (Australia) - Conrad Rangali
      
  4. Alicja Sudakowska (Poland) – Maalifushi
       Alicja Sudakowska (Poland) - Maalifushi
      
  5. Adriana Larina (Philippines) – Ranveli
    Adriana Larina (Philippines) – Ranveli
       
  6. Mary Shum and Tori Son (Russia) – Ranveli
    Mary Shum and Tori Son (Russia) - Ranveli
      
  7. Raudha Aathif (Maldives) – Coco Bodu Hithi
    Raudha Aathif (Maldives) – (Male)
      
  8. Danielle Sandhu (United Kingdom) – Conrad Rangali
    Danielle Sandhu (United Kingdom) - Conrad Rangali
       
  9. Diana Penty (India) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
    Diana Penty (India) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
      
  10. Silvia Caruso (Italy) – Conrad Rangali
    Silvia Caruso (Italy) - Conrad Rangali
      
  11. Roxy Louw (South Africa) – Chaaya Island Dhonveli
    Roxy Louw (South Africa) - Chaaya Island Dhonveli
      
  12. Diletta Amenta (Italy) – Cocoon
    Diletta Amenta (Italy) - Cocoon

       
  13. Duygu Yağmur Gültekin (Turkey) – Constance Halaveli
    Duygu Yağmur Gültekin (Turkey) - Constance Halaveli
       
  14. Adriana Jennings (Australia) – Ranveli
    Adriana Jennings (Australia) – Ranveli
       
  15. Seven Holidays (South Korea) – Velassaru
    Seven Holidays (South Korea) - Velassaru
       
  16. Anna Fomina (Russia) – Bandos
    Anna Fomina (Russia) - Bandos
       
  17. Tatiana (Russia) – Hulhumale
    Tatiana (Russia) – Hulhumale 2
       
  18. Genevieve Morton (South Africa) – NIYAMA
    Genevieve Morton (South Africa) – NIYAMA
      
  19. Courtney Eaton (Australia)
    Courtney Eaton (Australia) - 2
      
  20. Michelle Mone (United Kingdom)
    Michelle Mone (United Kingdom)
      
  21. McKenna Ray (USA) – Conrad Rangali
    McKenna Ray (USA) - Conrad Rangali
       
  22. Lily Marie (USA) – AaaVeee
    Lily Marie (USA) – AaaVeee
       
  23. Marina Mageramova (Ukraine) – Sun Island
    Marina Mageramova (Ukraine) - Sun Island
      
  24. Monyca Eleogram (USA)
    Monyca Eleogram (USA)
       
  25. Aqeelah Harron (South Africa)
    Aqeelah Harron (South Africa)
  26. La Carmina (Japan) – Gili Lankanfushi
    La Carmina (Japan) – Gili Lankanfushi
      
  27. Kelly Tandiono (Singapore) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
    Kelly Tandiono (Singapore) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
       
  28. Irene (Indonesia) – Hulhumale
    Irene (Indonesia) – Hulhumale
      
  29. Janie Tienphosuwan(Thailand) – Anantara Dhigu
    Janie Tienphosuwan(Thailand) – Anantara Dhigu
      
  30. Andra Damian (United Kingdom) – Gili Lankanfushi
    Andra Damian (United Kingdom) – Gili Lankanfushi
      
  31. Joanna Plankl (Germany) – Meedhupparu
    Joanna Plankl (Germany) – Meedhupparu
       
  32. Karolina Wozniak (Poland) – AaaVeee
    Karolina Wozniak (Poland) – AaaVeee

17 Dhoni Inspirations

Centara Ras Fushi - dhoni swing

The traditional dhoni has been the life blood for the scattered Maldivian archipelago pumping people and goods across its waters for centuries. In modern times, the dhoni also provides cultural inspiration to all manner of décor and items on the Maldives resorts.

The term “dhoni” is not only essential to Maldives life since its earliest history, but has even entered the global lexicon as one of two Dhivehi words that have made it into the English language (the other is even more characteristic of the very essence of the Maldives).

I have added a “Dhoni” tag to keep track of all the nautically inspired resort features now.

1. Boat SwingCentara Ras Fushi [ABOVE]

2. Boat VillaHuvafenfushi
Huvafenfushi - dhoni boat suit

3. LoungePark Hyatt Hadahaa
Maafushivaru - dhoni lounge

4. Room ServiceConstance Moofushi
Constance Moofushi - dhoni room service

5. FountainPark Hyatt Hadahaa
Park Hyatt Hadahaa - dhoni fountain

6. BuffetLily Beach
Lily Beach - dhoni - buffet

7. BarCanareef
Canareef - dhoni bar

8. Housekeeping Coco Bodu Hithi
Coco Bodu Hithi - dhoni housekeeping

9. PlanterAaaVeee
AaaVeee - dhoni planter

10. Bar – Jumeirah Vittaveli

11. RestaurantMillaidhoo
Millaidhoo - dhoni - restaurant

12. Kids ClubAnantara Dhigu
Anantara Dhigu - dhoni kids club

13. Dining TableJA Manafaru
JA Manafaru - dhoni dining table

14. ReceptionSun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - reception

15. SeatingAyada
Ayada - dhoni seating

16. LoungingTaj Exotica
Taj Exotica - dhoni lounging

17. Water VillaCocoa Island
Cocoa Island - dhoni water villa

Best of the Maldives: Historical Cruising – Velaa

Velaa - boat

If you want to live the maritime heritage of the Maldivian dhoni with all the conveniences and luxuries of this modern day paradise destination, then Velaa offers a distinctive dhoni crusing yacht, “Baththeli Anna”.

  • Baththeli Anna, the prncess of the Southern Seas. Designed to ensure the utmost comfort for her guests, Anna is a beautiful custom built Maldivian baththeli (“baththeli” – boat on Dhivehi language). This luxurious, uniquely designed traditional sailboat was laid down in April of 2012. Then crafted under the supervision of the Master Boat Builder, Matias Luhmann, himself alongside the proficient team of Gladonia Maldives Pvt Ltd. The idea of its elegant lines and comfortable spaces was conceived by the boat design, Philippe Laurella, French at birth, but Maldivian in Spirit.”

One of my biggest pastimes is the sport of rowing. The carbon-fiber sculls are the state-of-the-art, but I’m afraid that I’m still smitten by the aesthetic romance of a boat sculpted out of wood.

Specifications:

  • Length – 76 feet
  • Weight – 45 ton
  • Overnight guest capacity – 3
  • Day touring guest capacity – 8
  • Maximum speed – 12 knots.
  • 2 Hour, 4 person Sunset Dolphin Cruise – $1,695
  • 5 hour, 2 person Desert Island Dinner Cruise – $7,440
  • 2.5 hour, 4 person Luxury Private Snorkel Trip – $1,895
  • 8 hour, 4 person Charter Cruise – $5,495

With this post, I’ve added a new “Cruising” tag as the highest end resorts seem to be extended their super-premium arms race into a naval battle of yachts.

Velaa - dhoni 2

Velaa - dhoni 1

Velaa - dhoni 3

Best of the Maldives: Historical Artifacts – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili - dhoni relic

World Heritage Day celebrates the sites and monuments around the world which capture and preserve bits of the local history. Shangri-La Villingili has so many such relics that they have assembled a little guide history tour of their island. It starts with the dhoni displayed (see photo above) near the entrance to the resort:

  • This Maldivian dhoni was shipwrecked on the Villingili island reef during stormy weather in the late 1940s.”

But Villignili also shared the RAF heritage of the Addu atoll as an extension to the neighbouring Gan outpost. Garrison. The historical buildings include a RAF building (see photo directly below) as well as a defensive pill box (see photo bottom):

  • “Administrative building of the 1st Royal Marine Coast Defense Regiment manning the shore batteries on Villingili Island, ca. 1942. In August 1941, the netlayer HMS Guardian landed Royal Navy construction crews on Addu Atoll in the Maldives Islands to begin work on a secret naval base for Britain’s eastern fleet. The British eastern fleet had left more of its base facilities in Singapore, including dry docks and repair sheds In the event of Singapore’s loss, it was to fall back on Trincomalee on Ceylon’s eastern coast. The British fleet commander wanted an alternative base somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Addu Atoll, which became known as ‘Port T.’ The 1st Royal Marine Coast Defense Regiment was dispatched to secure the atoll.”

Shangri-La Villingili - RAF history

Shangri-La Villingili - pill box

Best of the Maldives: Room Bonus – Safari Island

Safari Island - dhoni room bonus

Bonus room! Not just an extra bed, but a completely distinctive experience sleeping on the water. Not just in a water villa perched over the water, but in a Maldivian-styled dhoni yacht. Not just hearing the ocean gently sloshing below you, but feeling the ocean languidly rock you to sleep.

If you are lucky, some resorts will occasionally offer a free upgrade for a night or more from their beach villas to their water bungalows.  But Safari Island, if you stay 7 nights you get a free dhoni tour like a sunset cruise or fishing. If you stay 14 nights, then you get a free night on the dhoni.

Best of the Maldives: Dhoni Cruise – Safari Island

Safari Island dhoni cruise

If you want the actual cruising dhoni, then the excursion word on the water is that Safari Island’s is the tops according to authority on all things Maldivian, Adrian Neville

They are the dhonis from Dhoni Island, formerly Dhoni Mighili and now Safari Island Resort (Per Aquum once ran Dhoni Mighili). They are terribly nice and certainly the best dhoni cruise around.”

Gone are the days when these vessels were the villas, but they are still a cracking cruise.

They are also graced with Sakis’ portraiture…

 

Safari Island dhoni cruise Sakis

Best of the Maldives: Nautical Lodging – Cocoa Island

Cocoa Isand dhoni villas

 

Instead of construction inspired from overseas, Cocoa Island features villas inspired from over the sea. These dhoni-inspired delights are the centrepiece of the all-water villa resort. The design makes if one of the most captivating resorts. Cocoa was one of the top resorts recommended to me by one of the Maldivian government ministers on my last visit and it is regularly featured in distinctive hotel lists like “The 100 Most Amazing, Unique, and Beautiful Hotels In The World” (one of the best lists I have come across and has inspired a short Italy getaway for Lori and I next month).

The very definition of ‘Atoll’

Sun Island Araamu Spa

Maldives Quiz night – What is one word in English that comes directly from the Maldivian language of Dhivehi? Answer: Atoll.

Today is Dhivehi Language Day. I’ve always been a bit of word buff. I used to look up the meaning of every word that I didn’t know write down their definition on a small slate (probably was a big contributor getting into such a good school for me).

The other official word that is in the Oxford English Dictionary that also comes from Dhivehi is ‘Dhoni’. But to me, it’s not quite the same since ‘dhoni’ seems almost like a proper name of a specific thing in from this specific place. Furthermore, I never heard of a ‘dhoni’ until I travelled to the Maldives. But ‘atoll’ is a much more generic term in widespread use in common parlance.

But my favourite Dhivehi word is one I came across on our visit to Sun Island – “Araamu”. It is the name of the Villa resort spas and is dhivehi for “Total Relaxation”. Just like in the artic, Eskimos purportedly have 100 words for ‘snow’, in the Maldives, they seem to have multiple variations on the word ‘relaxation’. As a part of that relaxation totality, the spa offers you a ‘noni and tamarind’ welcome drink which is one of the most therapeutic welcome drinks I have come across.