15 (More) Things I Haven’t Seen Yet in the Maldives – Part 7

Maldives looking for things


Despite all of the things that the Maldives does have, the list keeps growing of the things that the Maldives inexplicably just doesn’t have (yet). Yes, it’s time for instalment #7 (see links on bullet titles for more details)…

  1. Waterbird – Aka “Aqua Skipper”. I can’t tell which name is better.Waterbird
  2. Social Media Concierge – Someone to take care of posting those envy-worthy sunset photos of adoring looks by the waterside.
    Maldives social media concierge
  3. Bean-Bag Hammock – The best of two relaxation all-stars combined into one relaxation super-group.
    Maldives beanbag hammock
  4. Snookball – Or another ace amalgam more on the active side – Football and Pool.Maldives snookball
  5. “Pool” Table – If there is any place deserving of this billiard brilliance it is the Maldives.Maldives water pool table
  6. Lobster Pad Thai – No “Haven’t Seen Yet” piece is complete without some crustacean-based concoction glaringly omitted from the Maldivian menus. Lobster is the ultimate luxury seafood ingredient and abundant in the area so I am always surprised when resort restaurants don’t use it to upscale ordinary dishes. The latest suggestion is Lobster Pad Thai which I sampled at the London pioneer of design, cocktail and culinary innovation – Crazy Bear. Thai food is frequently found in the Maldives and Pad Thai is probably the most popular signature dish. Typically made with prawns, the swapping in of lobster instead as your crustacean of choice gives it a gourmet vibe. Thai themed Anantara and Dusit, I’m looking at you.
    Maldives lobster pad thai
  7. Sea life Adopting – Take a page out of amateur astronomy and star spotting, as well as zoology/botany. That is, if you submit a turtle that is not in the database yet, then you get to name it. For example, Four Seasons is sponsoring a turtle identification project to crowd source turtle spotting.  It would also be a nice touch if one of the Marine Biologists sent the spotter some sort of certificate of “naming”.  Naming (sometimes referred to as “adoption”) is a big money spinner for conversation groups.  People could “adopt” other residents like mantas and whale sharks that have similar identification research projects in the Maldives.
    Maldives turtle tracking project
  8. Remote Control Snack Float – I’m lounging in the sun, floating in the resort pool and even though it is blessed with an in-pool bar, it takes soooo much effort to drift in that direction…Maldives remote control snack float
  9. Silent Areas – Vilamendhoo has a “kids free”, adult only part of the island. One of the qualities that is most regularly cited and vigorously guarded (from airplane, motor boat and ebullient guests) is the peaceful “silent” tranquillity. This article (thanks Paola) “Silence is the latest trend in luxury resorts” makes me wonder whether resorts couldn’t amplify (well, the opposite of amplify really) that quality by designating certain “quiet areas” of an island. Sort of like the library section or the increasingly prevalent “quiet cars” on trains.
    Maldives silence
  10. Sound Art – Our son, Chase (himself a veteran of many Maldives trips) is a Sound Artist (a piece he did was featured at an exhibition in London and mentioned in Wired magazine). Sound Art is the use of sound to construct a number of sound sensations, experiences and environments. The iconic gentle waves and whale calls found in many spas are a popular form many people are familiar with. Many resorts invest huge amounts in design, style, décor and artwork. A more ambitious installation of sound art created to capture the zeitgeist of Maldivian tranquillity would be an innovative ambient complement.
    Maldives sound art
  11. Protected Soundscape – Some of the most beautiful sounds are found in nature. But just like the ocean, those sounds can be endangered by airplanes, engines, boats, recreational craft, etc. Many countries actually have “protected soundscapes” – areas where manmade noise levels are tightly regulated to minimise noise pollution. Chase is actually going to Japan in a month to do field recordings of a number of their soundscapes (Japan has more protected soundscapes than any other country). Maldives has been a leader in protecting marine areas so much so that an initiative is underway to make the entire country a UNESCO Protected Biosphere Reserve. Being such a leader in environmental sustainability, I think it would be great for the Maldives to identify its own protected soundscape. One could ensure that sea planes and ferries deviated around it sufficiently and access could be limited to a wind powered dhoni. Our son, Chase, noted that the Maldives could create the world’s first underwater protected soundscape. Possibly with the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. His many visits of snorkelling there struck him that a particularly unique soundscape there was the underwater sounds of trigger fish crunching coral and other assorted echoes of marine life.
    Japan protected soundscape
  12. Stingray” Sun Umbrella – Stylish and ever so apropos (thanks Paola).Maldives stingray umbrella
  13. Beloved Wives Day – Especially for the increasing number of Chinese visitors, but I bet a few other nationalities could enjoy joining in the declarations.
    Maldives beloved wives day
  14. Ice Balls – Advanced version of the “Flower Cubes” (#35) with its own special maker.Maldives ice balls
  15. Heart Shaped Island – With 1900 to choose from, you would think at least one would have randomly formed into something vaguely resembling this symbol of love. People are enchanted by such islands. Jumeirah Dhevanafushi claims to be heart shaped, but it is more of an anatomical heart than an icon of romance. With all of the terraforming on resort islands, you would think that one could make a few tweaks.
    Maldives heart shaped island


12 Even More Things I Have Yet To See In The Maldives…from Hammacher Schlemmer (Part 6)

Maldives - not seen - reading lounger

Forget Louis Vuitton, it’s Hammacher Schlemmer who should open up their own resort. Researching a few leads on the latest “Haven’t Seen”, I tracked them down to the Hammacher Schemmler catalogue. Browsing around and I had a field day of clever gadgets and gizmos that could lend some innovative fun to many Maldive resorts…

1. Drink Pool Lounger – And a drink at hand is an extra bonus. Especially great for those resorts with pool bars. Instead of a “drive thru”, they could introduce a “float thru”. “Inflatable pool lounger with coolers built into each armrest.” $150. Best Resort for this item – Royal Island (they have an in-pool bar facing the sunset where lots of guests gather to watch the twilight spectacle sipping their cocktails).

Maldives - not seen - drink pool lounger

2. BBQ Dining Boat – I’ve seen a range of sunset cruises and dhoni dinners, but this dingy is in a league of its own. “This is the boat with a built-in barbecue grill, umbrella, and trolling motor that provides waterborne cookouts for up to 10 adults.” $50,000. Best Resort – W Retreat (masters of BBQ and style).

Maldives - not seen - BBQ dining boat

3. Sandless Beach Mat – Another Hammacher special. Military-grade technology comes to beach lounging – “Developed for military use, this is the beach mat that is impossible to cover with sand. Used in military applications to contain sand and dust when helicopters land and take off, the mat is made from two layers of patented woven polyurethane that instantly filter sand to the beach as soon as it falls on its surface.” Even comes in 4-person size. $60. Best Resort – Anantara Kihavah (with its expansive, circumambient beach)

Maldives - not seen - sandless matt

4. Reading Lounger – Yes, the Maldives make you so lazy that the labour of reading does seem to sometimes require technological assistance. “Recommended by physical therapists, this lounger provides optimal support and comfort while you lie prone or supine$170. Best Resort – Jumeirah Dhevanafushi (with the highest butler ratio, the truly super-lazy might be able to get their butlers to even turn the pages for them).

Maldives - not seen - reading lounger

5. Solar Velomobile – The eco-friendly golf cart. “A solar panel built-into the roof powers the 600-watt electric motor for up to 45 miles on a single charge or 100 miles when combined with pedaling.” $9,900. Best Resort – Soneva Fushi (the eco-obsessed, large island).

Maldives - not seen - solar velomobile

6. Petiole Hammock – “Recipient of Les Découvertes award for innovation at the prestigious Maison & Objet design show, this is the handmade, self-suspended hammock. The culmination of 20 years of research and design, the hammock is made in Sweden by two artisans who painstakingly mold each piece during a process that requires four weeks to craft one hammock$35,000. Best Resort – Kandooma (fits right into the other white, canvas, arches at the resort reception and pool area).

Maldives - not seen - Petiole hamock

7. Floating Obstacle Course – “One length of the course tests balance while walking over a 2′-wide “beam” – an ideal spot for water-noodle jousting matches – while another encourages players to jump over a two-section water “pit” or descend and climb out. Twin climbing obstacles require participants to decide if climbing over their inflated beams is quicker than crawling through a handful of arches.” $13,500. Best Resort – One & Only Reethi Rah (the king of lagoon inflatable play fun).

Maldives - not seen - floating obstacle course

8. Body Launching Inflatable – “Launches a person sitting on its surface into the air when another person jumps onto the inflatable.” $600. Best Resort – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru (king of the portable inflatables).

Maldives - not seen - body launching inflatable

9. Floating Lighting Pool Fountain – “This is the floating fountain that turns a pool into an effervescent light and water display.” $100. Best Resort – W Retreat (a bit of extra musical lighting for their DJ nights).

Maldives - not seen - floating lighting pool fountain

10. Electric Motor Boat – The posh (and lazy) version of the pedalo. “The watercraft’s 12-volt electric motor drives its two-bladed propeller, providing leisurely 4-mph cruises over calm lakes or ponds, ideal for accessing secret swimming holes, fishing spots, or visiting neighboring docks.” $4,000. Best Resort – Gili Lankanfushi (an updated personal transport to their Residence Villas).

Maldives - not seen - electric motor boat

11. In Pool Exercise Glider – “This aquatic exercise apparatus takes advantage of water’s natural buoyancy and resistance to deliver an effective low-impact workout that’s gentle on joints and muscles.” $1,600. Best Resort – Club Med Kani (to take their aqua aerobics to the next level).

Maldives - not seen - in pool exercise glider

12. Water Skiing Chair – Getting up on water-skis for the first time can be one of the most frustrating things in life. Our kids first got up on skis in Mauritius where the boat had a bar attached to the boat, instead of a rope, to hold onto which made it more stable. This seated device looks like a great progression from bar to rope where one could then move on to standing. “This is the patented chair that is mounted to a pair of waterskis, allowing beginners and experts alike to ski from a stable seated position.” $600. Best Resort – Kurumba (with their great catering to disabled guests, this might provide adaptive water skiing for some).

Maldives - not seen - sitting water ski

27 More Things I Have Yet To See In The Maldives (Part 5)

Maldives - not seen - easy breath snorkel

After 55 resorts, I have seen more innovative and imaginative ways to enhance idyll in the sun and luxury in a paradise. And yet, despite the 100+ resorts all jockeying to distinguish themselves with something unique and different, I still have yet to see a range of intriguing and appetising things that would be right at home at the right Maldives resort. So for instalment #5…


1. Float Pillow – Pools at resorts are used by two groups – (a) kids playing, and (b) honeymooners canoodling. But when we visit our sister-in-law’s beach house, we spend lots of time in the pool as simple old middle-aged loungers. I think the key difference is the pool floats. Lori’s sister has a range of comfy floats that allow us to bob around relaxing in the sun. Despite her broad collections, none are as comfy as Sofloat’s “float pillow” looks. Zzzzz.

Maldives - not seen - float pillow

2. Floating Lounge – Not a floating “lounger”…an entire floating lounge.
Maldives - not seen - floating lounge

Beach Swing C-Frame – Hammocks and Bird’s Nest Seats are pretty common. This version is a portable hybrid so you can get it right down by the water’s edge.
Maldives - not seen - beach swing C frame

Rain Shower Bath – A while back, rain showers were one of the distinctive touches that distinguished a super-5-star from just a run-of-the-mill 5-star. Now, rain showers are fairly mainstream in the Maldives and it’s hard to call yourself a 5-star without them. The new high bar in shower decadence are the
drench showers. But one way to make a normal old rain shower into something special is to…add it to the tub. Hot soak and shower together! (thanks Rebecca)
Maldives - not seen - rain show bath

Bottleless Water – A sci-fi way to cut down on plastic water bottles –
Edible Water Bottles. So “wow”, it is just screaming out for a way for a super-deluxe resort to find a way to use is.
Maldives - not seen - bottle-less water

Frozen Juice Pops – This seems a bit of a basic oversight. Frozen juice pops are the first thing American mothers turn to on the hottest summer days. And the Maldives has some amazing exotic fruit juices to make them out of. I would say make a bunch and then have a staff walk along the beach and public areas handing them out to guests.
Maldives - not seen - frozen juice pops

Poptails – Like this “
Sex on the Beach Pomegranate”.
Maldives - not seen - poptails

Craft Beer – What goes better with nice, hot sunshine…a cool refreshing ale to slake the tropical thirst. And the luxury fermented hops are the craft beers. As it happens, Maldives travel specialist, Linara Travel, held its annual
LT Travel Awards recently and included a category for “Best Beer Selection” and“Disappointingly, no resort received a single vote in this category. With a worldwide craft beer movement going on, no luxury resort in the Maldives has yet to embrace this movement. It is something all luxury resorts can improve on. There are better beers than Heineken and Tiger!”
Maldives - not seen - craft beer

Brioche – Why is the most luxurious of breads not more prevalent at the most luxurious of destinations. Yes, you periodically find it as a part of its most common accompaniment – foie gras. But it’s potential is so much more. Brioche buns are all the rage at the gourmet burger restaurants taking over London, salmon and scrambled eggs are the best on brioche toast, and Nutella on brioche is sheer ambrosia.
Maldives - not seen - brioche

10. Lobster PizzaLobster + ordinary dish = Luxury dish (especially apropos for seaside). Like this Brown Butter Lobster and Spinach Pizza with Bacon and Fontina delicacy from Half Baked Harvest.
Maldives - not seen - lobster pizza

Lagoon Restaurant – Another Bora Bora inspiration (the first water bungalows in the Maldives, at Vadoo, were inspired by Bora Bora).
Maldives - not seen - lagoon restaurant

Aqua Balls – Bring out the water hamster from within you.
Maldives - not seen - aqua balls

Re-breather – 50 bars…time to come up. For people looking for ways to squeeze every moment possible from their dives, the ultimate in endurance submersion are “re-breathers”. Re-breathers are now
featured at one of the guest house islands, but no resort dive centres have picked it up.
Maldives - not seen - rebreather

Easybreath Mask Snorkel – And why, oh why, is this
EasyBreath snorkelling mask innovation not in the land of the world’s best snorkelling? (thanks Paola) Some people (like my mother-in-law) get really flustered by the whole mask-snorkel combo. Not being able to breathe through the nose, etc.
Maldives - not seen - easy breath snorkel

3D Printed Crab Shells – I’m a big fan of anything that attracts interest in and enthusiasm for wildlife issues. (thanks
Paola).  High fashion for the ultimate cast-off and hand-me-down dressers of the seaside.
Maldives - not seen - 3D printed crab shells

Wave Skiing – Surfing is quickly becoming the Maldives third big renown (after honeymooning and snorkelling/diving). For a stunning video of the state of the possible, check out champion
Chuck Patterson.
Maldives - not seen - wave skiing

Subwinging – A cross between water-skiing and diving.
Maldives - not seen - subwinging

Dolphin Tow Trip – One of the highlights of our recent tour was seeing dolphins EVERYWHERE (especially in the Gaafu Alifu atoll). A couple of resorts took us on very successful dolphin boat excursions, but they entailed cruising on up to a pod and then following them a bit as the dolphins cavorted in front of the bow. When we were in Mauritius, the resort there featured a more immersive dolphin cruise. When they came upon the pod, you would don your mask and snorkel and grab a water-ski tow rope off the back of the boat. The boat would then pull you along as you looked under water. All of the dolphins playing around the boat would swim under you and you got a great view of them in their natural habitat. It wasn’t exactly “swimming with dolphins” because they really didn’t want to come an interact. But they were happy to swim by you and this set up gave you a front row seat. Also, contrary to most Flipper scenes, dolphins don’t hang around and stand still in the water much. As such, the tow line approach allowed you to keep moving while they kept swimming themselves. Here is a
TripAdvisor review of one such experience in Australia which highlights both the plusses and minuses of this type of excursion. Maybe need to combine Subwinging (see directly above) with dolphin excursion. The acrylic Plana-sub is a tool designed for precisely this purpose (though we just used an ordinary tow rope when we went.
Maldives - not seen - dolphin tow trip

Videographer – Featured in the Sunday Times Style piece “
Personal Services” (paywalled) which featured a number of ultra-high-end specialty services to the uber-wealthy. One which caught my eye was “Private Film Maker” which was described “I create private productions for families on holiday through my film and stage production company. There are big budget – £1.5m plus – and are educational/entertainment events spread over six days… We usually film in the Med or the Caribbean. It might be a story about the Greek gods, Christopher Columbus or a private treasure hunt. All the family and their large boat crew are dressed up in period clothes and become part of the production.” Perhaps a resort could have Raquel Azevedo’s number on speed dial, but they also might be able to fashion up a lower end version of some video production capability at hand for some simpler montages or story lines.
Maldives - not seen - videographer

Animated Wedding GIFs – What better way to capture the magic of this paradise?

animated wedding GIF

Drone Deliver Champagne – You have drone photography and you have special delivery to remote villas set off in the lagoon, so why not combine the two? Or how about a
drone champagne delivery to a Robinson Crusoe island experience?
Maldives - not seen - drone champagne delivery

Mirrored Villas – A whole collection of structures using external mirroring to reflect and amplify the picturesque surroundings was recently
featured in Today. It reminded me of Boston’s iconic John Hancock Tower which achieved the same effect in its cityscape. Seems like a design feature that could make a water villa stand out (or actually, blend in if you will) and accent the stunning Maldives seascape.
Maldives - not seen - mirrored villas

Individually Decorated Rooms – Two iconic hotels, Crazy Bear in UK and Ice Hotel in Sweden (among others), distinguish themselves by having no room the same.  Each one is an individual creation.  Soneva Fushi comes close to this, but most of its villas are out of reach for all but the billionaire set and the villas all have similar design themes.

Maldives - not seen - individually decorated rooms

Proteas Convertible Bunk Bed – Turn every room into a family room with a Proteus transformer bunk bed.  A longstanding advocate of the Maldives as a family destination, and as such got increasingly stung by escalating costs as the kids got bigger and bigger.
Maldives - not seen - convertible bunk bed

Dronies –One of the most spectacular perspectives on the Maldives is overhead and yet the complete and utter lack of any elevation whatsoever in most corners makes this impossible. In order to add an elevated perspective to guests holiday pics, a “
dronies” capability would seem a sure hit.
Maldives - not seen - dronies

Personalised Fragrances – Not one of those middle eastern perfumery rip-offs where they sell you over-priced, counterfeit scents. Instead, a trained aromachologist equipped with a collection of oils derived from native flowers and plants. To create that special scent evoking the essence of your stay in paradise.
Maldives - not seen - personalised fragrances

Seabreacher – Personal submarine. “The
Seabreacher operates more like a aircraft with full three-axis of control. This allows the vessel to carve left and right, jump over, dive under, and cut though the waves. The acrylic canopy and underwater view ports give pilot and passenger a near 360 degree view as they fly through the water.” Yes please.  Wow.
Maldives - not seen - seabreacher

37 More Things I Haven’t Seen Yet in the Maldives (Part 4)

Maldives - wedding swim suit

600+ Best Ofs and still no…

I’ve amassed such a collection of “Missing From” in the “Best of” catalogue, rather than wait till my traditional July trip wrap-up, I thought I would do a mid-term update. With last month’s announcement of Saudi development firm Best Choice’s $100 million investment in a resort on Vadinolhu island, they will have quite a generous budget to consider some broad ranging innovations….



1. Wedding Swim Suits. Increasingly famous for not just the honeymoon, but the the actual ceremony itself with the rise of the destination wedding. While the “Trash the Dress” fad is once way to go swimming in your gown, a more elegant solution are these specially designed fashion suits.

Maldives - wedding swim suit 2

2. Proposal Coach. LUX Maldives has a wedding coach, and Reethi Rah has featured an elaborate proposal, but how about someone geared up to coach the question popping itself like a proposal planner?

Maldives - wedding proposal coach


3. Infinite Edge Water Villa pool. Maldives water villas have infinity pools. But none I have seen so deftly feature them to provide a seamless transition to the water below like this example at Banyan Tree Ungasan. Not even Ungasan sister resorts in the Maldives, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru or Banyan Tree Madivaru.

Banyan Tree Ungasan

4.  Underwater Bedroom. After the experiment by Conrad Rangali in adapting its underwater restaurant to be a bedroom at night, this obvious combination of two Maldive resort wow factors – water villas and underwater features – seems an inevitability here. Especially with this proven design featured at The Manta Resort, on Pemba Island in Zanzibar.

Manta Resort underwater room


5. Awesome Signs. I have seen some clever and useful signage around Maldives resorts, but this BuzzFeed piece shows how far one can go with clever, fun and romantic messages all of which are classic Maldives design points.

Maldives do not disturb signs

6. Glow in the dark path. Stars in the sky, the water and the wine glass so why not the walkways with this Pro-Tec Surfacing?

Maldives - lighted path

7. Underwater Custom Sculpture. In previous “haven’t seens”, I have noted “Underwater Sculture Garden” and Soneva Fushi did feature an underwater art exhibit, but Museo Subacuatico de Arte (MUSA) in Cancun illustrates how imaginative one could be.

Maldives - underwater sculpture

8. Underwater webcam. Many resorts now have webcams on site primarily to provide live weather, but the real star of the show is the underwater world so why not a camera there. The new GoPro-stype cameras make this easier and cheaper than ever. Maafushivaru was going to do it, but nothing yet.

Maldives - underwater webcam

9. Jumping fountains. The Maldives resort have all sort of water features, but the latest n water fountains are the dynamic water jets providing a lively animation to the water (sometimes choreographed to music).

Maldives - jumping water fountains

10. Heart Tubs – While Bandos spa has a heart shaped Jacuzzi, still looking for a more Pocono-esque villa tub on a similar romantic motif.

Maldives - heart tubs

11. Champagne Glass Tub – And if you want to go full-on Poconos, there is always the iconic champagne glass tub.

Maldives - champagne glass tubs


12. Powerski Jetboard. There’s jet skiing. There’s a range of boarding – surf, paddle, wake, etc. But no “jet boarding” yet.

Maldives - powerski jetboard

13. Water Car-Slides. Saw these by the shore in Spain. Turbo fun.

Maldives - car water slides

14. In-Lagoon massage. Signature offering of Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon. Given the pre-eminence of Maldives’ own very blue lagoons and the popularity of the spas, this combo seems inevitable.

Maldives - blue lagoon Iceland

15. Water Tube Slide. Pool slides aplenty, and even a water slide at One & Only Reethi Rah, but no classic tube slide. The Dolphin Plunge at Disney, which goes underwater with clear Perspex, is particularly inspired.

Maldives - Disney Dolphin plunge

16. Lazy River. If you are going to go with water park inspiration, then the staple fixture of the “lazy river” would seem to fit right into the Maldivian pace.
Maldives - lazy river

17. Underwater Virtual House Reef Tour. The Ministry of Tourism needs to get on the phone to Google to get Google Street View Oceans to do a few Maldives reefs or some enterprising resort could take the initiative and do one themselves to lead the way.

Maldives - virtual house reef tour

18. Submersible Radio-Controlled Submarine. So much fun. And a great way for non-swimmers to explore the dazzling reefs with a live Go-Pro attached.

Maldives - submersible submarine


19. Non-Resort Male Snorkel Day Trip. One of the most common questions on the online travel forums is “Is there a snorkelling day trip we can take from Male?” Typically, people who have a flight stop over or more frequently a cruise anchoring.

Maldives - cruise ship

20. Zip Line. False alarm of reports that Reethi Rah had one in conjunction with their climbing wall. Having one that could be put up and taken down that went across the water to a neighboring island would be pretty cool.

Maldives - zip line

21. Nail Art – A manicure or pedicure is a cosmetic treat and they have gotten quite elaborate of late. Check out the rendition of the Maldives water villa (below left).

Maldives - nail art 2  Maldives - nail art 1

22. Opera. A number of top flight resorts have featured all sorts of cultural events from guest DJs to literary festivals. But a classic (or should I say “classical”) fare of distinctive outdoor venues is opera. From the Minack (see Lori below in the perfectly set Minack production of Madame Butterfly) to the Bregenze Festival, a dazzling landscape provides a backdrop a stirring as the music itself. As it happens, one of the world’s top artistic directors, Francisco Negrin, for opera is a massive Maldives aficionado so I’m sure you wouldn’t have to twist his arm too hard to secure his leadership of such a project.

Maldives - Madame Butterfly

23. Air Swimmers. If a resort teen club had one of these “Air Swimmers”, I would definitely try to sneak in so I could play with it.

Maldives - air swimmers


24. In Water Spinning. Fitness craze made for the Maldives.

Maldives - water spinning

25. Beach Gym. Costa del Sol beach fitness course.

Maldives - beach gym 2  Maldives - beach gym 1

26. Paddle Tennis Court. Tennis, only smaller…just right for the diminutive Maldives islands (and for the more laid back atmosphere where you don’t want to run around as much).  Palm Beach has a beach version though.

Maldives - paddle tennis

27. Pickleball. Paddle tennis, only smaller still? Supposedly “America’s fastest growing sport”.

Maldives - pickleball

28. Surfboard Yoga. Two popular activities in the Maldives combined. And probably one of the best places in the world for the combo given the mill pon tranquil waters of the area.

Maldives - surfbaord yoga

29. Tennis Ball Boy Service – I always thought that would be cool to play tennis and have someone fetch my many stray balls and toss them to me before each serve. Plus it would feel like Wimbledon to play a game with a ball boy/girl lined up at the side of the net ready to swipe my serves into the net.

Maldives - tennis ball boys

30. Finning. Exemplary core/abs exercise.

Maldives - finning

31. Underwater Portraits – Resorts feature underwater photography for diving and portraits for weddings, so why not combine both for memorably artistic images exploiting the crystal clear turquoise settings of the Maldives’ famous lagoons?

Maldives - underwater portraiture


32. Expanding Towel Tablet. The very first gesture that a resort extends is the refreshing towel. And it carries on through much of your stay. This expanding towel table provides an especially fun variation on the presentation.

Maldives - expanding towelette

33. Maldivian Cooking Vlog. Cooking vlogs are the niche rage and a number of resorts’ blogs to feature special gourmet and local cuisine recipes, but as yet know one has pulled out the videocam to guide visitors through the culinary steps.

Maldives - cooking vlog

34. Instant Ice Cream. The innovation by the molecular cooking crowd of making while-you-wait ice cream by dipping custard into liquid nitrogen as now gone mainstream by people like Chicago’s i-Cream. A bit of drama and accented freshness (mind you I guess there is not much problem with ice cream going bad) to this “next generation” custard concoction.

Maldives - instant ice cream


35. Flower Cubes. Ice cubes with flowers frozen in them. Genius.

Maldives - flower ice cubes

36. Molded Cocktail Ice. Sushi Samba uses finely crushed ice which is compressed between a cup and large spoon to fashion a sort of frozen “bowl” shape into which condiments and garnishes can be sprinkled.

Maldives - molded cocktail ice

37. Kids Drink Decorations – A step beyond maraschino cherries and umbrellas…

Maldives - kids drink decorations

What I Haven’t Seen Yet – Honeymoon Package

Maldives honeymoon specials

The most frequently claimed (and most stubbornly reluctant I am to accord) is the “Best of the Maldives” for “Most Romantic”. On this last trip, Bandos pointed to its “Most Romantic” credentials (including its TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards), and Jumeirah made an impressive case for its Dhevanafushi property. Such claims always get me the most sceptical. I try to mask my cynicism when I ask “Are your sunsets more golden, your starlight more twinkling, your palms more rhythmic in their swaying??”

“Best of the Maldives” is is more rhetorical than scientific, but I do try to put some rigour into it. I try to have something objective and specific to hang my hat on as to why one’s feature is a touch more distinctive than another’s. And the more esoteric and specific the better. I will more readily accept that someone has a unique toe nail scrubber in their spa. But the the bar is so obscenely high for “Most Romantic” in the Maldives, I wonder how resorts could possibly stand out from the crowded field.

What does surprise me, and another thing I haven’t yet seen in the Maldives, is really the “uber” Honeymoon package. Perhaps it is the American “OTT” (Over-The-Top) in me, but I wonder where is the resort that has just blown the door off of a honeymoon package.

I don’t know any islands that even do the following which are popular honeymoon treats…

  • Mirrored ceilings (and other Poconos inspiration)
  • Breakfast in bed service (room service tweaked to be in bed with bed trays and the porter letting themselves in, after knocking of course).
  • In room chocolate fountain one evening (chocolate fountain at Kuramathi spa is inspired, but having it in the bedroom even more so).

Lots of resorts offer lots of the usual suspects in honeymoon packages – bottle of champagne, beach dinner, bed/table decoration, couples massage. But I don’t know any that combines them into one big ‘Honeymoon Ultimate’ package. The biggest honeymoon packages probably offer about a third of the list below which lists the most common ingredients in resort honeymoon packages.

  • Different bed decoration every night (most do one night)
  • Deserted Island picnic lunch and then dinner on another day
  • Candlelight beach dinner every night (most do one night)
  • Special couple spa treatment (with Kuramathi’s approach as a role model or perhaps Four Season Landaa Giraavaru’s romantic treatment)
  • Vow repeat/renewal/blessing
  • Champagne sunset cruise
  • Villa with private (secluded) pool
  • Reef generation frame to mark the occasion
  • Wedding photography

Maybe resorts feel that they already offer such a perfect honeymoon destination, certainly renowned as one of the tops in the world, why pour lots of money in gilding the lily. The two primary reasons would be to stand out against the huge competition from the many other resorts which share this uniformly romantic place on earth. The other obvious reason is to make money by charging for the super package.

Even More What I Haven’t Seen


And now the third annual “What I Haven’t Seen’. Despite more resorts in the Maldives and more resorts I’ve seen and researched, the list of crazy things one could do in the Maldives (if some venturing soul decided to offer them) just keeps growing. Here is the latest line-up of bizarre possibilities…


Lobster Ice Cream – As I recently noted, Lobster is the luxury seaside dish which is why you find it prominently in nearly every resort as the special treat meal. And since ice cream is the universal hot weather treat, you have to wonder when lobster ice cream is going to come out of one of the creative resort kitchens.

Lobster ice cream

Lobster mac & cheese – Quite the trendy dish in posh USA restaurants combing the quintessential luxury ingredient into the classically budget recipe.  Mehan’s Kitchen recipe (below) adds the bonus posh ingredient of truffles.

Lobster macaroni and cheese


Water Bikes – I’m thinking that Jason at Kurumba will have his eye on this one.  Waiting for the “Tour de Kurumba” peloton.

Water bike

Grass tennis court – On the heels of Wimbledon, the obvious question is where is the ‘grass court’. The ultimate in tennis sophistication. It turns our that One & Only Reethi Rah had one but it was replaced which is not surprising since they are very high maintenance.

Grass tennis court

Ballroom Dancing – With the television rise of the “Strictly Come Dancing” franchise, Ballroom and Latin dancing has made a come back in mainstream popularity around the world, but especially in UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, Australia and China. And we happen to know that one of the top World Ten Dance couples in the world, Richard Still and Morgan Hemphill have been keen to see the Maldives in their world travels. They give dazzling shows, but are also superlative teachers who can get groups of people doing basic steps very quickly.  If I were a resort owner, I would invite them down for a week.

Richard Still and Morgan Hemphill

Archery – Hulhule used to offer this activity, but no longer.

Beach archery

Water rope swing – Where in the northern hemisphere the best bodies of water we could hope for would be a swimming hole tucked away in the woods, they were invariably dressed up a bit with the ubiquitous rope swing.

Rope Swing


Breathing Observation Bubble – Aka “BOB”. Seriously, where are these?

Breathing Observation Bubble

Underwater sculpture garden. I read this story “Trying to Protect a Reef With an Otherworldly Diversion” and thought that this would be an excellent idea for those resorts not amply blessed with great house reefs, but situated in broad sandy lagoons. Four Seasons already sort of does this with Reefscaping topiary that creates a sort of visual interest. As it happens, when we were diving the Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo house reef last week, one of the sights was a sunken mermaid statue which was a fun discovery. After years of coral growing on it, it had developed an aquatic patina like you had stumbled upon some mysterious antiquated relic.

Underwater sculpture garden

Underwater snorkel signs – I read this article “Exploring Nature” writting about the Maldives by Clear Water Surf Travel that mentioned “submerged signage” on the house reef. After some investigation with Shangri-La Villingili, it turns out that they were no longer there. But I thought that it would be a delightful idea. Probably not for an entire house reef, but perhaps a section of house reef. Maybe a weak section of house reef that would otherwise be underwhelming, but adding a few signs identifying coral types could liven it up with a bit of education. Increasingly resorts are adding such helpful guides to the above-water nature.

Underwater snorkel signs


Gondolas – Prior to last week, this seemed like a natural. Gondolas are iconic of relaxing, exotic romance just made for calm water. Maldives is sort of a tropical Venice anyway with a profusion of Italian resorts. It turns out that Nika even has a Venezia theme including palazzos in the lagoon (used as channel markers) so I’m looking at Nika for this idea.


EZ Hang Chairs – I see more type of lounge chairs and hammocks in the Maldives than I’ve ever seen elsewhere. Befitting of the indolent lounging ethos of the destination. A resort looking for even more variety of options would be well served to check out the EZ-Hang Chairs line.

EZ Hang Chairs

Ice Cave – Cooling down, especially after intense heat of a sauna or steam, is a great cardio workout. One & Only Reethi Rah has ice fountain, but our favourite local spa Pennyhill Park has taken this concept further with an ice wall that you lay your body against. Brrrr…refreshing!

Pennyhill Park ice wall

Facekinis – We learned more about the line “-kinis” in this world this trip. Reading the resort guidelines at Nika, we saw topless sunbathing referred to as sporting a “monokini”. Kurumba sells its own line of “Burkinis” aka “Burqini (post to follow). So, especially with the rise of Chinese guests, where are the “Facekinis”, ie. a “ski mask designed for swimmers and beachgoers which covers the head and reveals only the eyes, nose, and mouth. This mask is popular in the Chinese city of Qingdao, where it is used by people for protecting themselves from UV rays while tanning and from jellyfish while at the beach.


What Else I Didn’t See

Zaika gourmet Indian food

Despite stirring up a bit of a teapot tempest last year with my ‘What Else I Haven’t Seen’ piece, I have concocted yet another version with another year of researching and investigating the Maldives tourism industry. The Maldives Complete 2012 Gap List includes…

Segment Specialty Resorts – One of the original objectives for the ‘Best of the Maldives’ section and write ups was to highlight where resorts developed and offered certain unique or distinctive specialties. In marketing, trying to be all things to all people is generally not a great idea. In fact, for this first category, maybe not trying to be all things to all ‘peoples’ might be a good idea…

  • Chinese Resort – Choose some island on a plateau with a big expansive, shallow, current-less lagoon. Such islands are not popular with Westerners who like to snorkel, but are ideal for the Chinese who have less of a cultural tradition of swimming. Offer free swimming lessons for everyone. Invest in some reefscaping so they have some coral and fish to look at whilst snorkelling. Have mostly Chinese speaking staff and Chinese language materials. Menu and activities catered to Chinese tastes. Maybe could do it near Gan and have direct flight from Shanghai to Gan airport (that would help develop that outlying region of the Maldives especially since around Male is getting over developed) and would eliminate the need for Male transfer which kills so much time especially for the Chinese who prefer a shorter stay. To accommodate these shorter stays more easily, have a very flexible booking system. Despite all of these features tailored just for the Chinese market, I got some great insights from Dolores Semeraro (PR manager at LUX* Maldives who is a bit of a sino-expert having worked in China for half a decade) that such a resort just wouldn’t appeal to the Chinese. She noted that Chinese don’t want to go to a resort tailored for them, but prefer to go somewhere with an international feel. She also highlighted the risk of putting all your eggs in one geographical basket. If there is a downturn there or the Chinese market fancies another destination, the resort has problems (as some Italian oriented resorts are having now).
  • Islamic Resort – With all of the various cultural variations and ambiences among a variety of resorts, how about one catering to the Islamic holidayer? Resorts must be a real frustration for many of devout Islamic faith especially with their plentiful alcohol and rampant exposed flesh. With Maldives itself a strongly Islamic nation and geographically located in the epicentre of the largest Muslim population centres (from the Mid-East through the Indian Sub-Continent to the South Pacific), it is superbly well positioned to innovate in this regard. No alcohol, conservative dress standard, praying facilities and calls to prayer, all halal meat, spa limitations, large private areas behind the villas would all make for a more enjoyable experience for these guests.
  • Singles Resort – Maybe not an entire concept ‘devoted’ to singles, but a resort that has a few rooms set up for singles (without a single supplement) and maybe a few activities to help singles find each other and make some friendships during their stay.

Room Ideas

  • Individual Design – ‘Design’ is all the rage in the new and revamped resorts these days. How about each room individually designed. Crazy Bear and Ice Hotel are first class examples of this approach to hotelier distinction.
  • Home Cinema – One of the things my wife and I love to do to chill out is to watch a nice film. Admittedly, in the Maldives we are fine with a book or lingering in the starlight with post-prandial pina coladas. But, I could see the appeal of a really nice home cinema in some of the bigger suites. Especially for those who don’t like going out in the sun much. Another purpose it could be put to would be to run high definition videos of underwater scenes which would provide a stunning and artistic bit of decoration for the room during the day.
  • Heated Gel Beds – The absolute best things we have ever experienced at Pennyhill Park Spa. For a destination that prides itself on being the pinnacle of soporific relaxation, these technological marvels are just waiting for some enterprising resort to add to their portfolio.
  • Water bed – There is water everywhere. And lots of beds for relaxation. But there are no water beds. I guess these are a bit out-of-fashion since the 70s and not everyone’s cup of tea so kitting one out would risk have an unoccupied room on many nights.
  • Poconos Honeymoon Glitz – Speaking kitschy honeymoon trappings, a bit surprised that some Maldives resort has not gone a bit more OTT on the romance theme. Heart-shaped beds, heart-shaped baths, mirrored ceilings, etc.


  • In-Ocean Pool – This notion seems ridiculous until you start to think about it. This idea emerged from a dinner chat with my wife Lori and Vilamendhoo GM Patrick de Staercke. Why would you have a ‘pool’ in the ocean? Not a fresh water pool made out of cement stuck in the middle of a lagoon. But a pool simply made out of some demarcation of the seawater. A platform all around for people to sun and relax ‘by the pool’ and underwater fencing sunk into the sea floor. It seems like Australia has done a number of salt water pools sort of in the ocean, but nothing like our vision of a ‘pool’ that is really just a ‘pen’ or enclosure in a lagoon with decking around it (the Aussie versions are regular pools with seawater pumped in). Something close is the infamous Blue Lagoon in Iceland. With decking all around and a ‘sand’ bottom, the spa has the ‘feel’ of a pool, but it is actually a natural body of water. There are more reasons than you might realise…
    • Some people are afraid of sharks – We admired a cute little baby shark in the lagoon when a guest came up to us and said ‘And they let people swim in that water!’ (no joke). A ‘pool area’ with a mesh segregation would keep little sharks out for these people.
    • Some people are afraid of fish full stop – Seriously no joke. Every resort manager we have met has had a story of a customer complaining that ‘there were too many fish in the ocean’.
    • Eco-Friendly – Without chlorine and other chemicals or energy for pumping and filtering, the facility would be big on the ecosustainability.
    • Sensitive feet – One of the little aggros of swimming in the lagoons is occasionally stepping on a sharp rock or coral fragment. This ‘ocean pool’ could be kept groomed with nothing but soft sand on its ‘floor’.
  • Sea Horses – Sea Horses are native to the Indian Ocean but just about never seen. They are delightful creatures. For a resort looking for a marine biology project like Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s manta and anemone fish work, or Four Seasons Kuda Huraa’s turtle program (and may other resorts that do turtle nurseries), perhaps a resort near some sea grass could do a research project for sea horses and build up a population.
  • Ocotopus Programme – They are not rare creatures, but they are super difficult to see. Even the marine biologists admit that they don’t see them that often. An excursion with specialty in finding them would be a big hit.  Fayaz and Adam at Mirihi’s Muraka restaurant did provide some tips though.  They said that when Maldivians go to desert islands themselves for family picnics, they will often fish for their meal and even go snorkeling for some octopus.  They said that you need to look for piles of sand by dead coral because they dig themselves into holes to sleep.
  • Life Guards – Especially for resorts with lots of Chinese visitors (who have statistically less swimming experience and training), I think it would be a good measure (and good employment for young Maldivians). Though Maafushivaru and Shangri-La have lifeguards on demand, I think most people will be too reserved (or over-confident) to ask for them.
  • Free Snorkeling Safety Whistles – TripAdvisor’s Maldives Forum came up with this idea and I thought it was brilliant. Some resort could have a bunch made up with their logo printed on them.
  • Snorkel Lilo – Entrepreneurial idea for someone – create a snorkel lilo designed like those spa massage beds with a place to put your face/mask to look at the sea life. Lilos can be a great way to snorkel especially is you are a lazy or weaker swimmer. The ‘problem’ with conventional lilos is that there is nothing supporting your head (you have to hang it off the end).


  • Gourmet Maldivian Restaurant – In London, a number of Indian restaurants have gone high end, adapting traditional Indian recipes to a Cordon Bleu nouvelle cuisine style in both delicate preparation and striking presentation (eg. Zaika – see photo above, Bombay Brasserie). Not bowls of stewed curries with various rices. Why doesn’t one of the super premiums do gourmet Maldivian-inspired dishes?
  • Snorkel Butlers – ‘Butlers’ which seemed OTT a few years ago are now simply table stakes for the super premium class resorts. To provide further distinction, resorts are providing specialised butler services like Kanu Hura’s ‘Pool Butlers’, and Reethi Rah’s ‘Skin Butlers’. Makes me wonder what sort of other butler services there could be? Fitness Butlers (combines personal trainer with a nutritionist for those you want to use their holiday for a body tune up). Snorkel Butlers (takes care of all of your equipment, like rinsing after a use, as well as providing guided tours not just on the house reefs but to special private excursions.

What I Didn’t See

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My 2011 summer
tour was a huge success in ferreting out all sorts of impressive and quirky distinctions of the resorts I visited and elsewhere. After last week’s follow up round of new posts, I am now up to 180 ‘Best Ofs’ with that number again in the wings. I’ve even had to revamp the Best Of page which has given me the opportunity to integrate another great Sakis piece (everywhere I went, people knew about Sakis and his work).

I have now visited 28 resorts and yet there are a number of things I have yet to see. Given the frenetic arms race of the resorts to outdo one another with creative offerings and twists, these seem to me to be some candidates that range from obvious to obscure. I’ve broken them down into a few categories…

Enjoying the water…

  • Water slide – The ‘water slide’ keeps popping up in Six Senses concept CAD pictures (see above) as a villa attachment. Six Sense Laamu ended up abandoning that design, but why not a simple water slide in a kids pool or even off a jetty into the ocean?
  • Beach Wheelchair – Another obvious innovation overdue for the Maldives.
  • Sculling – First thing in the morning and into twilight, the Maldive waters, especially in the lagoons, is as calm as any lake or Thames River. A larger sized single scull or skiff would be a unique offering and provide a distinctive exercise opportunity. They have introduced rowing with the trans-equatorial crossing project. Would be ideal for a resort with a big lagoon. [NOTE: Any resort that wants to introduce this, I have a world class rower interested in marine biology who would be happy to come down to teach some Maldivian staff how to scull.]
  • In Ocean Dining – A couple of resorts are offering ‘in pool dining’, but how about ‘in ocean dining’. Some shallow lagoon with relative shallow water. Not feet in water or sand, but both!
  • Star Shaped Over Water Restaurant – I was impressed with the W Retreat’s ‘Fish’ restaurant which has an ‘H’ shaped deck for the diners. This shape meant that lots of tables could be arranged ‘right over the water’. It made me wonder why more resorts didn’t adopt such a ‘pronged’ decking design to optimise the ‘best tables’ even more. My Dad mocked up some drawings of what I’m talking about below.

Enjoying the vistas of the unique seascape…

  • Observation tower – For years now the trend in the Maldives has been to ‘go down’ (ie. underwater) for the super-luxury jaw-dropping attractions. A few top resorts are starting to ‘go up’ with some two story and roof top structures. These elevated places are actually quite appealing because they provide a broader vista over the turquoise and sapphire seas surrounding. For a long time, ‘going up’ has been a big approach to attractions (eg. Eiffel Tower, London Eye, Seattle Space Needle, Toronto Tower). For a super-luxe looking for that next ‘wow’ thing, I suspect this sort of feature might spark some possibilities.
  • Hot Air Balloon – Champagne ballooning…ah, duh. Modify the basket so it floats when it lands on water. No shortage of landing places. Nor shortage of aerial scenery. A senior official in the Ministry of Tourism thought that a resort had tried this years ago, but I couldn’t find any reference to it.
  • Skydiving – A group did a one-off skydiving trip in the Maldives out of Hanimaadhoo airport a few years back, but never followed it up with more. Parasailing is already quite popular and tandem jumps seems like the next step up to enjoy the distinctive views.

Neglected delicacies….

  • Banoffee Pie with Coconut Cream – Easy to make. A crowd pleaser. Local ingredients and tastes. Why is this not on the dessert menus?
  • Gourmet sausages – A big visitor population is British and a staple of the English breakfast is the sausage. Lots of people like a good sausage for breakfast and they are easy to prepare and serve. But sausages in the Maldives are always these anaemic little tasteless things. A number of specialty sausages are made from venison and other meats so an enterprising Maldivian could create a small business of gourmet sausages made from something other than pork. The closest I have come upon is Kurumba’s beef sausages.

Special sports…

  • Golf hole from one island to the next – The dearth of golf is one of the great holes (pun totally intended) in the Maldives offerings in the minds of many affluent travellers. And yet the Maldives has such great potential to fashion a ‘Holes to Play Before You Die’. Essentially, a tee on one island with the green on another. The greatest water hazard ever. Club Med Kani or Kandooma could set this up tomorrow.
  • Clay Tennis Court – Bit of a old-school, traditional cachet. Less baking hot, easier on your feet and typically more fun for recreational players than asphalt without the difficult maintenance requirement of grass courts.
  • Motorised Hammock – For those who are training for Olympic calibre indolence, I can’t imagine better training kit than a motorised hammock. In fact, I can’t imagine any place on earth that wouldn’t be made better by but the Maldives seems a natural with its soporific qualities.

Water restaurant layout design