For a heartfelt gift, you can make your own. Especially at one of the many Christmas workshops that are traditional this time of year. My church’s annual workshop was where I learned half my craft skills (straw stars, clove oranges, yuletide wreaths). A number of resorts offer various artistic studios (pottery, painting, glass making), but Finolhu have one of the most comprehensive that I have seen with a wide variety of media. The also have a festive Christmas workshop schedule (including ceramics) for all those budding Santa’s elves who prefer the sunny tropics to the frozen Arctic.
- “TheTRX was birthed in the Navy SEALS, a 60minutes suspension training body weight exercise that develops strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability simultaneously. TRX is a fabulous training tool that leverage gravity together with your body weight to increase fitness, strengthen and tone muscles. An intense full body workout just for you.”
Sir, yes sir! TRX, a treat!
Just before the coffee, is the dessert course and the W Maldives is taking those to treats to an equally artistic level. Star chef Julien Alvarex visited the resort to share his ganache guidance and coulis coaching to not just staff, but guests as well…
- “W Maldives has partnered with World’s Best Pastry Chef Julien Alvarez to host a series of culinary events on its tropical playground in September 2017. His signature style incorporates unique design of desserts, amazing combination of colours, tastes and impressive decoration techniques.”
Béatrice Peltre once said, “Dessert is to a meal what a dress is to a woman,” if that’s the case, then W Retreat is the must-have haute couture this season.
Free diving is becoming quite a popular pursuit both around the world and in the Maldives. The reef-protected atolls provide exceptionally calm waters to practice plunging the depths. Anantara steps up with its own dedicated centre and the first to provide the popular PADI certification.
While competitive free diving can be quite mind-bendingly difficult and hazardous, basic free-diving does open up a new way to experience this aquatic wonderland. The Anantara announcement provides an alluring description of free diving’s enchantment…
- “Aquafanatics is the first PADI-certified free diving centre in the island nation…A truly liberating activity, it relies on the diver to hold their breath, leaving them free to move unhindered through the translucent Maldivian waters. With no oxygen tank bubbles to distort vision, the vivid colouration of coral life glows brighter than ever. Devoid of heavy equipment, guests move at will alongside inquisitive fish, developing a sense of belonging. With every dive guests acquire the ability to stay below a little longer, discovering more on each descent. Free diving is entwined with the cultural heritage of the islands in the Indian Ocean. Since ancient times locals have harvested sponges and clasped gleaming pearls from beneath the waves. Anantara’s professional free diving instructor, Mari Kagaya, reveals a peaceful, intrinsic underwater encounter. ‘The Maldives provide the pinnacle in free diving adventure,’ she explained. ‘Escaping the trappings of scuba gear, our encounters with sea life are graceful, natural and deeply personal. Guests discover their own hidden depths, not only of their body, but also the mind’.”
Anantara makes an astute point that free diving is not a new fad, but actually an ancient necessity as generations have used it to explore and exploit the seas which surround it for centuries. I always remember the tradition I read about when I first visited the Maldives for coming-of-age young men. Boys, often no more than 13 years old, would jump off a boat with a rope in hand, free dive into the water where a whale shark was swimming, SWIM INTO THE WHALE SHARKS MOUTH, and then OUT ITS GILLS, hence lassoing the fish. Young boys were the just small enough to pull off this crazy feat. I would certainly consider someone to have proven their “manhood” if they did such a thing. Not surprisingly, the government prohibited this practice years ago because too many young lads were drowning in the effort.
Proving one’s mettle with a PADI certification seems much more sensible to me.
If you yourself want a deep dive of learning with your own diploma, then Dusit Thani was the first of the Maldives resorts to offer an official free diving certification. With their $36,000 investment in specialised support and safety equipment
“Dusit Thani Maldives takes pride in launching the first official and internationally approved free-diving centre in the Maldives, an incredible addition to the selection of water sports available at the resort. Free-diving is a form of underwater diving that relies on the diver’s ability to hold his or her breath until resurfacing without the use of scuba gear. Besides experiencing the tranquillity of underwater kingdom, there are various health and fitness benefits attributed to this unique diving activity. Dusit Thani Maldives’s free-dive centre has joined forces with Apnea Total, a globally renowned free-diving organisation. The Apnea Total Free-diving Education System and Standards are followed at the centre and guests will be provided Apnea Total certifications that are recognized worldwide. Resort guests will train under the supervision of highly experienced free-dive instructors who have themselves worked and trained under record-holding free-divers. Additionally, the centre boasts world-class CRESSI equipment and the rental cost of these is included in the course price. The center offers all levels ofApnea Total courses:Free-Diver Basic, Advanced Free-Diver, and Free-Diving Master, each lasting 2 days, 3 days and up to 5 weeks respectively. The Basic course will equip guests to dive safely and comfortably down to 20 meters on a single breath and the Advanced course equips guests to dive down to 40 metres below sea level.”
“We head to the spa, where the spa therapist will help the children make fresh coconut oil using coconuts of the island, the children are given the opportunity to take part in all aspects of making the oil.”
Sounds a bit better than the “bug juice” and frigid lake swims when I went to Camp Belknap as a child. If you want to give it a go at home, I’ve found a pretty handy video guide above.
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.
One of the highlights of flying to the Maldives is the flight itself. Once the azure tapestry of the archipelago emerges below you feel like you have been transported to another world. Sometimes it’s worth getting a transfer to a distant atoll just to enjoy a bit of the aerial scenery.
The MEGA Maldives Airline gives high-flying tykes more than the view to enjoy with their “Kiddie Flight Attendant Program”. (thanks Paola)…
“Children aged 7-12 years old are invited to experience the fun and excitement of being a MEGA Maldives Airlines Cabin Crew. They are provided with an apron and a name tag and given the chance to join the cabin crew in their on-board services. For example, they may be given the opportunity to make in-flight service announcements and do fun things like delivering ice cream to passengers. They may also get special souvenirs and, after landing, may be allowed to tour the cockpit, and meet and take pictures with the pilots (when the plane is on the ground, subject to operational constraints).”
I wonder if I slouch low enough I could pass for a 12 year-old?
When people think “Maldives” and “glass”, they think about the dramatic glass floors that have become de rigeur in the luxury water villas. These transparent apertures provide a portal to the main event of the Maldives – its colourful seascape below. Now Soneva Fushi is producing visions of glass just as striking and stylish…but you can take home with you. Soneva has opened a glass studio on the resort to create all sorts of aquamarine pieces of art.
Furthermore, the pieces are not only a memento of your experience, but are literally a part of your experience. The eco-obsessed Soneva uses only discarded glass from the island. So you can take home that bottle of the wine you drank in the form of a glass to commemorate your stay.
“The first glass studio in the Maldives has opened at Soneva Fushi, the award-winning luxury resort located in the Baa Atoll, where guests can watch world-renowned glass artists create objects of art, and learn the art of glass blowing. The state-of-the-art facility also includes a retail boutique and art gallery, which are designed as platforms to exhibit the work of the Maldivian and international glass artists. The facility uses only waste glass materials used at Soneva resorts and other resorts in the Maldives. It is estimated that more than five tonnes of glass waste is produced by resorts in the Baa Atoll alone, every month. ‘The idea behind this project is turn the glass into something that is much more beautiful and valuable than it was in its previous state.’”
A few years ago, our daughter gave us a Christmas gift of a session in a glass studio and it was fascinating. Not only did we get to watch and contribute to the molten fluidity of working with the hot glass, but we also took home two tree ornaments that we designed and helped “blow”.
If Maldives is the Venice of the tropic, then Soneva is now its Murano.
Another translucent pool of blueness to peer into (as well as another great lead by adjunct correspondent, Paola). NIYAMA’s “FLOAT” centre for dive training. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of folks taking intro-to-SCUBA courses in the pools and lagoons while other family members look on or take photos. NIYAMA’s unique set up provides the perfect setting for those Instagram pix of the first breaths underwater.