Best of the Maldives: Retro Games – Finolhu

Finolhu - pin ball

If you enjoy playing around on retro icons, but prefer something a bit more masculine, then check out Finolhu’s very own man cave complete with a collection of retro games including vintage “Baywatch” pinball (see above) and the classic PacMan (see below). In fact, the whole setting is a nostalgic throw back with retro sweets, décor, and soundtrack.

Finolhu - pac man

Best of the Maldives: Radio Station – Finolhu

 

It’s not just the sights, but also the sound of Christmas that surround you. Not just for advent, but all year round at Finolhu. And not just at the resort, but anywhere in the world where you want to tune into their vibrant soundtrack. Their Baa Baa FM features special DJs as well as a range of live shows Monday through Friday (2:00 – 6:00 pm Finolhu Time +6 GMT). When I tuned I recently, I was graced with the tunes of DJ Jaffa. Kandooma had a radio station years ago, but it stopped before I could do a piece on it.

Instagram allows you vicarious check out snaps of the Maldives’ scenery remotely, a range of webcams can provide a cinematic glimpse of tropical goings-on, blogs like Maldives Complete can keep you up-to-date on the latest developments and stories, and now you can enjoy them all serenaded by cool sounds of BaaBaa FM piped to you direct from paradise.

Finolhu - Baa Beach Club radio

Best of the Maldives: Cirque de Soleil – Finolhu

Finolhu - cirque 1

Finolhu puts the “Soleil” into the “Cirque de Soleil”. Today is International Sight day and some of the things you will see at Finolhu will make you not believe your eyes (including the occasional mermaid known to visit the island).

Finolhu has a bit of a retro Las Vegas nightlife vibe with its own resident entertainment acts high on showmanship and flair. They’ve featured hoops, silk banners, large hoops, fire dancing by a group called Area 51 which resident for three months. Then they circulate in a fresh set of artistes. When we visited a group from Mexico was there performing every night.

The resort explained that part of their contact is that during the day, the performers must work on new tricks and material. The idea is that the “artists-in-residence” have sort of a bootcamp for developing and refining their craft and act all the while sharing the fresh new work with the resort guests. Finolhu targets young groups early in their career so the booking can be a boost to their careers.

Sometimes resort (and cruise) entertainment can be a bit jaded. Circuit acts going through the motions with their gigs of tired material. But the Finolhu acts had a fresh vitality about them. All the buzz of someone pursuing their dreams and living them every day in paradise. And when they finally do hit the big time and get that headline act in Vegas, you can say you saw them in the original Circles of Sun in the Indian Ocean.

Finolhu - cirque 2

Best of the Maldives: Dancing– Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - band

After a day of snorkelling, diving, exploring and soaking up the sun, Lori and I are usually ready to collapse under the stars after dinner. A number of resorts will feature entertainment in the evening and in many cases, the DJ or Boduberu is just too uninspiring to get us up onto our weary feet. And even if we can do, many of the resort bars and lounges have limited dance floor designed more for gentle swaying and bopping around the handbags. Lori and I both study ballroom and Latin dancing and we hadn’t found a resort where the music extended to such diverse genres and offered the room for really stretching out our heel leads and cha-cha-cha’s. Until we visited Sun Siyam Irufushi.

Their main bar, The Water’s Edge, boasts a 20m diameter dance floor with plenty of room to stretch out your dancing legs. Especially, since we had it to ourselves (well, until our ice breaking spurred several other couples to join in the romantic fun).

But the key to good dancing is good music and that’s what really got us going. The music led by Philippine duo “Intonation Band” (though I think they also go by the name “Desperado”). Not just a gigging band ushered in for the evening, but residents of Irufushi for 2 years. The duo consists of Henri and Rodelle (see photo above) who both play a range of instruments.

It’s not just the range of sounds, but the selection of songs. They will play virtually any request for you. They have an iPad app which allows them to download music and lyrics for an extensive library of favourites. We were able to get a cha-cha-cha, rumba, tango, waltz, even some jazz tunes (today is Jazz Day, by the way). The band was able to not just sight read the music very adeptly, but also sing along as well. The finale was Cat Stevens’ “How Can I Tell You” which is Lori’s “our song” (played at our wedding, etc.). Hard to imagine a more romantic finish to the evening dancing under the stars to your favourite song played live, in your favourite part of the world with your favourite person. Bravissimi!

 

Best of the Maldives: Piano Bar – Athuruga / Thudufushi

Athuruga - Thudufushi - piano bar

And the “Best of the Maldives” for “Piano Bar” goes to…<drum roll>… Athuruga and Thudufushi. “La La Land”, the story of a piano playing jazz musician Sebastian trying to bring Jazz to the fore had a bit of a problem at last night’s Oscars. No troubles, though, with Diamonds’ own Daniele (see above) bringing jazz and pop standards to your dinner playing at the overwater restaurants there. The live performance gave the music a more personal and intimate feel than piped in tracks, and the acoustic styles were soothing. You can enjoy his music over dinner or you are able to go to the restaurants for drinks.

See you in the Maldives.

Best of the Maldives: Ballet – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - ballet

Most live entertainment in the Maldives is either rock DJ or romantic acoustic. Given the upper crust economic brackets of most of the Maldives’ guests, I always wondered if something a bit more sophisticated wouldn’t go amiss. Like opera or ballroom dancing. Well, NIYAMA has brought one of the most sublime arts to the land of ethereal beauty and sublime grace – ballet…

“Fluidity and strength take centre stage against a backdrop of Indian Ocean. Under sparkling stars and above the crystal waters of the Maldives, the Mariinsky Ballet’s First Soloist, Xander Parish, performs for PULSE by PER AQUUM. Accompanied by dancers and soloists of the Mariinsky, the movements of Scheherazade, Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote and Carmen Suite come to life in a tidal swell. Guests at PER AQUUM Niyama will enjoy an exclusive performance on 21 August with an encore at PER AQUUM Huvafen Fushi on 23 August. Budding ballerinas and ballerinos will also have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take centre stage themselves. Xander and his hand-picked ensemble, including Oksana Bondareva and Renata Shakirova, will be offering masterclasses at each resort during their visit.”

Grand jetés for grand jet setters.

NIYAMA - ballet 2

Best of the Maldives: Pool Party – W Retreat

W Retreat - shockwave pool party DJs

It’s not a “pool party” until someone shouts “kowabunga!” Or in the Maldives, “koWabunga”. As W Retreat’s Shockwave Pool Party at Wet Deck is where the water fun happens every Thursday from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. A full on frolic fest with DJs, cocktails, treats, noodle and other floats, bubble making machines, etc. My favourite is the armoury of water artillery (see bottom) provided for squirt gun fights! Guests have a few options from a party pass with 2 cocktails and BBQ ($65pp), or 2 glasses of champagne and BBQ ($78pp), or (for those in the total party spirit) unlimited champagne and BBQ ($160 pp).

Incoming!

W Retreat - shockwave pool party crowd

W Retreat - shockwave pool party toys

W Retreat - shockwave pool party water guns

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Female DJ – Angie

Amilla Fushi - Angie DJ

Another way to get the evening rockin’ is a bit of lively (or soothing) music. Many of the resorts will offer DJs who can provide a personal touch to the playlist. They often read the crowd and adapt the music they play based on how people are responding and the vibe. One of the top DJs in the Maldives is Aminath Fazleena Abbas. While some resorts jet in DJs from around the world, “Angie” (as she has been classed since a young age) hails from her hometown of Male. She might just be the top female DJ in the Maldives (DJing has been a bit of a male dominated domain as only 2 of DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ acts are women. And curiously, both acts are duos). Maldives Complete caught up with Angie for an exclusive interview into the world of bopping in paradise….

1. How did you get interested in DJing?
I have always had interest in music and dancing, during my studies abroad i used to watch a lot of DJs perform and get fascinated by how they controlled the crowd through music. The thought crossed my mind through observation i would say.

2. What was your first gig?
My first gig was held in Kuda Bandos island for a crowd of around 200 people.

3. Where was your first resort gig?
Dusit Thani Resort for New year 2013

4. What was your biggest gig?
‘Cupid’ event held in Buba Restaurant and beach club Sri Lanka for a crowd of 2500.

5. What advice would you give to other Maldivians interested in DJing?
If you have passion for DJing, Learn, Practice and work towards it.. With effort you can yield big results in any walk of life.

6. What’s the hardest part about a DJ gig?
Interruptions during performance and trying to please crowd of various tastes.

7. Which big name DJs do you admire?
Chemical brothers, Nina kraviz, four tet..

8. What other resorts have you performed at?
Velaa, Taj Exotica, Anantara Digu, Anantara Naladu, Amilla Fushi, Como Maalifushi, One and only Reethi Rah, Soneva Fushi, Sun Island, Cinnamon Dhonveli , Fihalhohi , Cinammon Hakuraa

8. Do the resorts differ in terms of what sort of music/performance they are looking for?
There is just a handful of resort where i could play genres i want. Usually resort either prefers commercial dance music or chill-out, deep house genres. I have noticed that most high end resorts prefer the latter.

9. What is your personal favourite dance song?
Challenging question as there are too many songs i love.. These are few I am into these days:

  • Daniel Portman – The reason
  • Peniciline – Alberto Feria alvaro
  • Droplex – Dance

10. What is your go-to song to get people dancing?
Deorro, TJR, Bassjackers

11. What are your 3 most requested songs?
Commercial dance music artists like Pitbull, Rhanna, Nicki Minaj

12. What are your 3 favourite romantic songs (for those honeymooners)?

  • Disclosure by Latch
  • Praise You by Fatboy Slim (Maribou remix)
  • Stolen Dance by Milky Chance.

13. What are your 3 favourite “chill out” songs (reflecting the soothing vibe of the Maldives)?

  • Bungalow by Boy Tedson
  • 65 percent by Kaya Project
  • Stuck in a dream by Soulavenue

Amilla Fushi - Angie DJ 2

Best of the Maldives: Indoor Cinema – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - cinema

And the Oscar for the best Cinema goes to…JA Manafaru.

About the only thing at our home that provides an idyllic comfort and relaxation on par with the Maldives is nestling down in front of our in-home cinema. When we hit a bit of discretionary income a few years back, we didn’t buy a fancy car or boat or second home. We installed a quite sophisticated home cinema – projection screen, THX 7:1 surround sound, and custom seating where we could put our feet up. You always get an ideal seat, you can drink a glass of wine and you can pause it if you need the toilet.

Today’s “Best of” gives an Oscar weekend double feature to Manafaru. As it happens, they feature double with two cinema set ups – one in the bar and one in the games area. It includes 10 foot wide screen with HD projection and surround sound.   A number of resorts now have outdoor cinemas where you can still soak up the tropical island vibe while enjoying your favourite flick.  But sometimes a bit of shelter from the elements and a space designed for viewing pleasure is the best cinematic experience.  Also, great inclement weather insurance for your Maldives holiday.