Resorts have long offered presentations to their guests often on marine biology and sometimes on Maldivian culture, and some have extended these to featured guest presenters on topics as diverse as cuisine and wellness. Soneva Fushi features a distinctively rich slate of guest artists and authorities. It’s website presently features 36 upcoming special guests! But it has hit a new high water mark producing the first event TEDx event in the Maldives.
TED is the now famous conference on “Technology, Entertainment, Design” renowned for exceptionally high quality presentations (all strictly limited to 18 minutes) by some of the most renowned and talented experts and speakers in the world. The TEDx events are smaller conferences run around the world “organized by passionate individuals who seek to uncover new ideas and to share the latest research in their local areas that spark conversations in their communities.”
TEDxBaaAtoll could also be TED’s first ever TED event on a beach! Certainly first on loungers. Titled “TEDxBaaAtoll: SLOW LIFE” . “SLOW LIFE” is Soneva’s acronymic mission statement described by them as“our core purpose and stands for Sustainable – Local – Organic – Wellness Learning – Inspiring – Fun – Experiences…It is about reconnecting with oneself and the natural world.” The event synopsis describes the event as…:
“focusing on ways to find a deeper purpose beyond the superficial: reconnecting with the earth to live in harmony with the natural environment; working hand-in-hand with communities to make the world a better place; and nurturing our physical and mental wellbeing to be the very best we can be
Here was the line-up of special speakers and subjects:
Aki Allahgholi – “Time for Corals”: founded Coralive.org in 2016 to fully serve an eco-minded holistic approach to restore and protect a healthy ocean. He described the pragmatic approach to reef regeneration of experimenting in many ways and see what works.
Akib Jahir – “Zero Mosquito, Zero Fogging”: Passionate entomologist, avid mosquito hunter pioneering the way towards an integrated method sustainable mosquito management. Described a mosquito trap to 113k mosquitos in the first month. Only 5% of food supply to predators (birds, bats, dragonflies) who eat them.
Bruce Bromley – “Why every CFO should also be Chief Sustainability Officer” – Trustee for the Soneva Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation focused on mitigating the impacts of climate charge. Makes coherent argument that a good CFO is focused on “resource allocation” to build value for the future so that a sustainability mindset drive understanding, appreciating, and investing in all resources – financial, natural, human, social. I particularly applauded his exhortation to shift from thinking of “waste” as a “bye-product” [sic] to “waste as an asset” (and Soneva has been pioneering in this area with extensive recycling initiatives.
Carissa Nimah – “Do Job Titles Matter”: Worked for some of the world’s top luxury brands, and is personally motivated by creativity, purpose and ethical business. “Corporate and conventional job titles have lost their meaning in today’s work places.” Couldn’t agree more. My reports would ask me what their title was and I often responded that they could call themselves the “Grand Poobah of Whatever” as far as I was concerned.
Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed – “Why Seaweed is not a weed” – Region’s first ever PADI-certified Course Director, he also pioneered many of the country’s diving standards, and is researching the benefits of using the ocean’s resources sustainably through his farming. A local diving veteran who shared his perspectives from over three decades of exploring the Maldives reefs.
Malsa Maaz – “The human story behind the glass cabinet”: Cultural anthropologist passionate about Maldivian culture exploring the coconut culture of the Maldives. “Coconut is our national tree. The tree of life…What can you do with a coconut tree? Everything.” Also, brilliant trivia question fun fact: Dhivehi is one of the only languages in the world that doesn’t have a word for “city”, “village” or “town” (but there is a word for every single part of the coconut tree and every part of the coconut fruit). A great sales pitch for “Cultural Anthropology” – “It is an amazing feeling to know who you are. It is an amazing feeling to know where you come from.”
Happy Easter! The Easter bunny left me another “Finally Seen” item with LUX North Male Atoll’s underwater easter egg hunt (#2 of the 13th “Haven’t Seen” instalment). Of course, they weren’t able to reprise it this year with the property closed, but they shared these photos from last year’s event. It was part of a largest egg hunt with goodies sequestered around the island with one giant golden egg hidden in the lagoon for intrepid snorkeling egg hunters.
“Fushifaru Maldives on Friday hosted Lhaviyani atoll’s very first Coconut Climbing Competition. With contestants from all around the atoll, including Innahura, Cocoon, Kanuhura, Hurawalhi, Kudadoo and Fushifaru, it was a fantastic day to bring everyone together to celebrate Maldivian culture. There was no better way to revive this Maldivian tradition that hasn’t taken place since 1985! The contestants were asked to climb the coconut tree all the way to the top, come down safely and then husk a coconut all under time pressure…Fushifaru’s very own Maldivian Coconut Climber Thoha took away the winner’s trophy as he completed his round in only 42 seconds!”
Prizes included a cash award for first and free nights at Fushifaru for second and third.
A multitudinous school of freedivers took to the Maldives’ water near Baros to set a new world record for group freediving. The MMPRC reported:
“Maldives goes on Guiness World Record for the most people freediving simultaneously, with 520 participants on Tuesday, 1 October 2019. The small island nation renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and luxury hospitality broke the world record previously held by Italy; ‘La Scuola del Mare 2’ (Verona), in Torri del Benaco, Verona with 280 people.”
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru holds a monthly event to raise awareness of energy conservation to reduce carbon footprint by completely shutting off all electrical lights on the resort for 12 hours:
“Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru launched a 12-hour lights-off event under the name ‘Connect to Earth from Dusk till Dawn’ on September 14. The monthly occurrence is scheduled for full moons in order to take advantage of natural luminescence while the two resorts switch off their lights from 1800 to 0600 hrs. Connect to Earth from Dusk Till Dawn is inspired by the Earth Hour Movement, an annual celebration marked by switching lights off for a one-hour period. ‘By switching off the lights for one hour, we can make a substantial difference in the energy consumption and we can help reduce the effect of global warming’, stated the General Manager of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru, Hicham Najdi…During the event, dubbed 6to6, restaurants and bars will be candlelit and a special full moon in-villa dinner can be arranged for guests upon request. The Marine Lab Team will also organize an ‘Under the Full Moon Night Snorkel’ to provide a unique underwater experience to the guests.”
The initiative is not just eco-friendly but imparts an extra romantic tone to the evening with candlelit areas and meals. Furthermore, turning off the lights in one of the few electrified places in that part of the ocean reduces light pollution making star gazing all the more dazzling.
“Swim, cycle and run for breast cancer…The Anantara Mini Triathlon starting at Dhoni Bar on Anantara Veli Resort, you’ll run two laps around Naladhu Private Island and Veli, swim to Dhigu and top it off with a three-lap cycle. Celebrate all the hard work with sunset cocktails at Aqua Beach. The entry fee of $25 USD will go towards the Cancer Society of Maldives to support breast cancer research and awareness.”
And special pink ribbon biscuits and cakes to treat yourself at the end (see below).
Kandima has hosted a festival of another sort this summer. A first blush (yes, intended), it might seem like one of those foodie festivals that are spreading across middle-class England, but really is far more traditional (and raucous) than that…
“Kandima Maldives hosts the first ever Tomato Festival ‘La Tomatina’ in the island nation. The event took place last week on Friday, 31st August 2018 on the resort grounds. In total over 300 people attended the event, which lasted for almost four hours. ‘La Tomatina’ was home to the famous tomato fight, tug of war, mini football, water bucket relay, climb the coconut tree and many other fun-packed beach games. During the event the house DJ entertained the crowd with his party mixes while the barmen were offering free Latino-themed snacks and drinks to everybody. The resort chefs had to lay the tomatoes in the sun for three days prior to the event, which made them ripe and safe to fight with. Fire brigade was also on site and willing to offer their hoses with running water to remove the squashed tomatoes from the participants’ bodies…The festival of tomatoes was held for the first time in 1945 in the Valencian town of Buñol, in the East of Spain 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the Mediterranean, in which participants would throw tomatoes and get involved in a tomato fight purely for entertainment purposes.”
When we moved to the UK in the early nineties, the British didn’t really celebrate Halloween. It’s since become a more popular holiday, but nothing on par with the USA where it is the second biggest celebration after Christmas. It’s sort of the dream kids holiday – they get to dress up and get free candy. Not wanting to deprive our own little ones of this annual ritual, we hosted our own quite spooktacular Halloween fun all through their childhood and became quite expert in these lavish affairs.
Many resorts will have a few decorations out today and a few sweeties on hand for the young’uns, but Hideaway Beach is the first resort I found that has assembled a comprehensive set of Halloween festivities with all the de rigeur traditions…
Creepy Mask Making
A Spooky Movie
Scary & Spooky Face Paint
Trick or Treat Activities
Fashion Show Costume Contest
Appropriately, Hideaway Beach is where we first (and only time) spotted a Ghost Pipe Fish (see photo below). Which make me think that if I could get to the Maldives for Halloween, I would go dresses as a Batfish (Batfish crazy!).
“Jumeirah Vittaveli is proud to announce their collaboration with an authentic Bavarian costume designer – Daniel Fendler has been designing stylish ‘Tracht’ for more than 15 years…Guests visiting beachside restaurant MU Beach Bar & Grill will be welcomed by waitresses and waiters decked out in authentic Bavarian garb – from Dirndl, over apron, to Lederhosen for the gentlemen. With the mood properly set for a fun day in the sun, the resort’s ‘Bierzelt-Bedienungen’ (waiters/waitresses) will serve guests a selection of authentic Bavarian dishes such as Nuernberger, Frankfurter or Kasseler Rippchen, accompanied by a traditional refreshing German drink.”
In fact, we recently helped host an Oktoberfest in our back garden. It is such a lively tradition focused on food, beer and music.
Eid ul Adha starts today. For non-Muslims you may have thought that “Eid” had already passed. Well, Eid ul Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan did take place in June. It often gets a high profile due to its association with Ramadan, but to many Islamic scholars, Eid ul Adha is actually a bigger event marking a more sacred event and calling for bigger celebrations.
A few do it bigger than Summer Island with their distinctly Maldivian celebration called “Bodu Mas”…
“Bodu Mas is a tradition a lot of local islanders have during the Eid after Hajj day. We call it Bodu Eid, this Eid is for religiously and traditionally known for celebration and we usually get a longer holiday as well. Bodu Mas is usually accompanied by Maali neshun (ie. dance by a group of people painted and dressed up as Maali – ghosts). If I am not wrong, the story goes like this – A big fish (Modu was) together with Maali (ghosts) comes out from the sea and the men and women in the island tries to catch it. They finally manage to catch it with the help of a holyman in the island, finally ending the night with dancing of the Maali. In summer island, this year, we also brought out a Koadi, the big decorated thing in the front of the parade. However, there is a completely different story this. I think traditionally in different islands, they do it differently. We did a bit of everything. At the local island they do it every year. It’s a custom that has been passed on from years. There was a time that this discontinued in some islands, however, I think, with cultural and traditional awareness, more islands have started practicing these traditional rituals now. First time for Summer Island Maldives as well, and since we had many local guests staying during Eid, it was a fun event, and a great experience for tourists alike.” – General Manager Mariya Shareef