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.

Best of the Maldives: 3D Outdoor Cinema – Anantara Kihavah Villas

Anantara Kihavah Villas - outdoor 3D cinema

From the sublime, to the ridiculous. Ridiculously genius that is…Anantara Kihavah outdoor cinema. A number of resorts have introduced al fresco screens in recent years, but Kihavah has taken it to a new dimension with their 3D capable projector.

OMG, 3D Sharknado please!!

(PS. As we’ve entered into the entertainment awards season, I add a added “Film” tag for all the Best of the Maldives gong winners in that category).

Best of the Maldives: Staff Boduberu – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - staff bodu beru

For some down island funk, JA Manafaru staff will inspire you with their home-grown boduberu. Most boduberu troupes are professional groups that tour various resorts. But Manafaru’s drummers are all staff at the resort. They perform weekly for the guests as well as enter a number of festivals and competitions. Seeing familiar faces (folks you have interacted with around the resort) performing lent a more intimate and welcome feel to the whole evening and seemed to be more effective in getting guests up and participating.

Best of the Maldives: Laser Show – Maafushivaru

Maafushivaru laser show 1

 

 

 

The first functioning laser was operated by Theodore H. Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories, 45 years ago this week. Since then, its unique optical properties have been applied to everything from cutting to welding back together again. They are use for both scalpel (cutting) as well as suture. It has very profound applications (like producing holograms) as well as some more whimsical ones (eg. creating cat videos for the Internet with laser pointers).

Maafushivaru is celebrating the latter with the introduction of its night time laser light shows…

“This month Maafushivaru is delighted to present its latest addition to spruce up its evening entertainment schedule. With the existing items that range from Maldivian evenings to resident DJ playing classic dance hits and acoustic duo performing while you indulge in a feast, the laser show make its mark as the newest and liveliest of evening entertainment taking it to another level. The spectacle begins at Water Bar, where guests may seat up on bean bags or on the comfy cushions outside the deck to witness a flurry of colours that blend in motion with a selection of music composed by the in-house disc jockey. Witness the Maldivian sky dance in an array of neon green and blue as you imbibe favourite cocktails from the Water Bar. The laser show will be featured once a week after 21:00hrs. Come over and experience this unique show in the Maldives, in Maafushivaru.”

Dazzling.

 

Maafushivaru laser show 2

Best of the Maldives: Blues – Anantara

Anantara - Coco blue singing

The land of an expansive turquoises and azures adds a different dimension to blues this month.

The rhythms of the swaying palms and the water lapping the shores immersed in the biggest expanse of vibrant blues. Maldives might just be the geographical incarnation of R&B.

Resorts attract a wide range of musical acts to entertain their guests over the post-prandial pina coladas. Traditionally dominated by bodu-beru acts, discotheques and local cover bands, the resorts have branched out into hip DJs, original acts and even DIY karaoke. This month Anantara features one of the most appropriate styles at its Dhigu, Veli and Naladhu resort cluster. American jazz blues singer Coco York is in residence performing regularly through January…

“Throughout her career Coco’s name has become synonymous with jazz, having shared the stage with artists such as Clark Terry, Lionel Ritchie, B.B. King and has performed for Bill Clinton, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, The North Sea Jazz Festival and the Jazz and Heritage Festival of New Orleans among others.”

Also, especially apropos for guests’ last night singing the blues of having the say goodbye to their time in paradise. But, let’s hope she’s not having to sing one of her stand-by pieces…”Stormy Monday Blues”.

Best of the Maldives: Circus – Centara Grand

Centara Grand circus

 

Another performer who has sprung onto the Maldives resort scene with the greatest of ease is Khun Goy at Centara Grand

“Circus Under the Stars, staged regularly at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives, has as its star someone who is very well known on the island, for she is also known to guests as Khun Goy, the resort’s leisure and entertainments manager. The show, which is held on the beach, includes breath-taking performances on aerial silks and the flying trapeze. Khun Goy (the word ‘Khun’ means ‘Miss’) first had the idea for putting on shows during the Christmas and New Year holidays, and they proved such a hit with guests that the shows are now regular features, provided free of charge under the resort’s cashless island program. Her real name is Thaiyara Suvan, and she is a super-fit 34-year-old from Bangkok who began her career in the performance and fitness coaching business twelve years ago. She developed an interest in working on the flying trapeze and from that began to work on her skills with various forms of the aerial arts…She joined Centara Grand Island Resort in October of last year, where she teaches adults and children alike in aerobics, gymnastics and yoga, as well as organizing entertainment events.”

Best of the Maldives: Vocalist – Kurumba

Kurumba - Miro Solo

The Brit Awards last night celebrated the top musical acts in the UK, and if there were a “Mald” awards, a leading nominee would be one of the budding musical stars of Maldives is Mira Mohamed. We saw her at Bandos during our stay. Unlike the typical background music pervading the sparsely attended night-time lounges, she stopped me in my tracks as I was rushing to a meeting with the deputy resort manager. A classy and talented performer, she brings a very personal flavour to her song renditions. She has toured a number of resorts, but Kurumba is featuring her as a regular headliner.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Cultural Expo – Vakarufalhi

Vakarufalhi cultural expo boduberu

 

Today is Maldives National Day. A celebration of Maldivian independence from the Portuguese in 1573.

Most resorts regularly offer their guests a taste of Maldivian culture from local cuisine to some Boduberu drumming and dancing. We’ve sampled many of these and always delight in new discoveries about this enchanting land we visit every year. But Vakarufalhi’s “Cultural Expo” was a real revelation.

It was a true “Exposition” which started with an authoritative presentation on the history and culture. It added the obligatory Boduberu which was offered very tastefully and not overdone. But the climax was a sort of crafts fair with local women showing us broom making from stripped palm fronds, rope weaving from coconut husks, roof weaving from palm leaves, decorative weaving for clothes. They also had some traditional refreshments such as fresh coconut and smoking pipes.

Happy Qaumee Dhuvas.

 

Vakarufalhi cultural expo presentation

 

Vakarufalhi cultural expo palm weaving

Best of the Maldives: Private Karaoke – Sun Island

Sun Island private karaoke rooms 1

 

 

Tonight people around the world will all join hands at the stoke of midnight and belt out a chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ for perhaps the world’s most pervasive moment of sing-along. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people don’t really know the lyrics beyond the first line and a few scattered words like “cup of kindness” and…well…that’s about it.

If knowing the words is a concern, then many resorts have karoke on hand But if embarrassment about know the words (or just singing in public) is a concern, then only , Sun Island has private Karaoke rooms specially designed for privte parties. 4 of them actually.

I once went to a karaoke private room in London for my friend David Hooper’s stag party. Rowdy music is always lots of fun, but it’s hard enough for the musically and stage-fright challenged in any event. Performing in front of strangers is a nightmare to some. The private room approach makes it more like having a sing-song among friends. It’s more intimate and party-like.

If you are interested in other New Years traditions, then check out NBC’s slideshow on them (slide #19 seems particularly apropos for Reethi Rah actually).

 

Sun Island private karaoke rooms 2

Best of the Maldives: Underwater Club – Niyama

Niyama Deep Six club

 

 

 

Of all the ‘wow’ factors in the Maldives, their most famous are their underwater features – restaurant (and bedroom), function room, spa. And now lounge. I might have to make a separate ‘Best of the Maldives’ category for them all.

The recently opened NIYAMA resort introduces its ‘Deep Six’ nightclub. Not just the first in the Maldives, but the first in the world…

“The world’s first underwater club. International DJs. Global music. Splashes of colour – indigo, blue. Glass walls overlook a spot lit sea. Modern moods with a flair for the marine. Take the party below the sea for all-night dancing beneath the waves.”

I think I would have to nickname the club ‘Sebastian’s Hideaway’…

We got a hot crustacean band
Each little clam here
know how to jam here
Under the sea.