Best of the Maldives: Flight School – MEGA Maldives Airline

Mega Airlines - flight school

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?

Best of the Maldives: Glass Studio – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi glass studio pieces

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.

Soneva Fushi glass studio exterior

Best of the Maldives: Pool View – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - float centre for dive training

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.

Best of the Maldives: Photography Workshop – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - landscape

A bit of a tripod trifecta for Gili Lankanfushi this week of style. I generally, avoid repeating resorts too frequently to keep up the diversity of coverage, but Gili has offered up more photo opps than a Maldivian sunset after a rainshower. In this instance, Gili not only provides one of the most popular venues for photo shoots, they also provide the instruction. Their website describes…

Come and join David Evans photographer and myself at the Worlds Best Resort Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives this September for the workshop of a lifetime, learning, sharing and relaxing all at the same time, in one of the most spectacular places in the world. David and I were lucky enough to spend some time here last year and the images you see in this slideshow were all taken in those 3 days.

  • Landscape and travel photography
  • Sunrise and sunset
  • Night photography
  • Wildlife and macro photography
  • Food photography
  • Portrait photography
  • Using off-camera flash and reflectors
  • Time-lapse photography
  • Short videos and Gopro
  • Post-production of images

Models not included…

Best of the Maldives: Island Creation Excursion – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - island formation excursion 1

The exhilaration of the Maldives begins well before you land. It actually begins about 30,000 feet above the Indian Ocean about 20 minutes before arrival at Male airport. As you cross the first of the northern most islands, you are treated to an ultramartine vista that seems like you are descending on different planet with some bizarre aqueous landscape.

The Maldives are defined by their geography. They occupy a rare “Goldilocks” point right at the sea level’s edge. Not mostly below the water (like the Great Barrier Reef and Red Sea reefs), and not relatively high above the water (like the South Pacific islands). But right AT the water surface’s edge. As a result of this topographical anomaly, the islands paint a cobalt tapestry of colours. You can’t help but ask ‘how did all of this come about?

The magical formations didn’t happen over night. They are the products of eons of plate tectonics, volcanic eruption, implosion, erosion, and coral formation. Many resort marine biologists cover this subject as a part of their routine bar presentations. But Park Hyatt Hadahaa has taken this odyssey a literal step further with their Island Creation excursion.

The guide walks you through millennia by taking to to an island that is partially submerged and then to another less so, all the way through the various phases of island formation until you finish at a large inhabited one. They show how different formations are representative of different stages of island (or thila or reef, etc.) development. A gee-whiz geology lesson.

The whole concept reminds me of our expedition in the Grand Canyon (another one of those rare destinations where you feel that you are on another planet). You start at one end and as you progress, you don’t just get a history of the canyon, you get a history of the Earth itself.

All of the most stunning places on this planet are so because they provide a glimpse to the ancient miracle of the Earth, its majesty and its mystery. Maybe they should name this excursion ‘the Majesty Mystery Tour’.

 

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - island formation excursion 2

Best of the Maldives: Pottery – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah pottery 2

I do pottery. I love it. It’s very relaxing; it takes me to another planet.” – Eva Herzigova

Some people think all you do in the Maldives is lie around in the sun all day. And some can’t conceive of wanting to do anything that would require any effort. But another group of folks actually enjoy doing things on their holiday break. Time to do the things they don’t get to do during their busy lives. And some of these “activities” can be quite relaxing in their own right.

One such activity is pottery. Especially, “throwing pots” on a wheel. The rhythmic rotation and the silky wet clay is reported as a very sensual and soothing experience. Perfectly apropos for a Maldives holiday. And the One & Only Reethi Rah has a full pottery studio. Set outside so one can enjoy the beach breezes while spinning or painting your creation, it even features a resident potter, Liliia Lapika Babych (see pictures) who provides classes and tutoring. The studio features pieces created by past guests as well as some of Lillia’s work. You can also make Venetian masks and other items with all of the equipment for glazing, painting and other creative media.

 

 

One and Only Reethi Rah pottery

Best of the Maldives: Culinary School – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah culinary school

 

Eid Mub?rak!

Yesterday marks the end of the Ramandan and the start of the three celebration of Eid ul Fitr. After 40 days of fasting, you can imagine that the celebration at the end has quite a number of long-anticipated feasts.

If you want a bit of coaching help on creating the most sumptuous and resplendent feast, the One & Only Reethi Rah’s Culinary School is where you need to enrol…

Classes will be available in a range of culinary styles from around the world such as Maldivian, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Arabian, Japanese ‘Washoku’, Thai cuisine or French desserts and pastries. The experience starts with a guided visit to the chef’s garden where the culinary team will demonstrate how to select the finest and freshest products while guests hand pick organic ingredients for their chosen course. Upon return to the culinary school, One&Only Reeti Rah’s master chef will guide pupils through an epicurean selection of the finest cooking products and condiments from around the world including wines, vinegars, oils and olives. Then guests can prepare exquisite dishes with expert guidance and enjoy their own creations in a sumptuous lunch. They leave the course with a certificate, recipe card and their very own One&Only Reeti Rah apron and chef’s cap. Courses cost run daily for between two to four people and cost $180* USD.”

Lori and I visited it in July and it is a truly lavish set up in its own climate controlled area with access to the finest tools in a lovely surrounding. It has gorgeous bas-relief on the wall depicting an ocean sunset with a Mayan-esque boldness of form (see bottom).

Reethi even have a junior cadet offering as well (see below). With this post, I’ve added a new category tag to the blog for “Instruction” which has all of the posts on the best “Schools” and “Courses” that the various resort offer for those so academically minded.

All it takes is an “E” (Eid) to turn a “fast” into a “feast”.

 

One and Only Reethi Rah culinary school kids

 

One an Only Reethi Rah culinary school wall

Best of the Maldives: Value Cooking Class – Vilamendhoo

Vilamendhoo cooking class

 

It’s the optional extras that get you.

Just when we think we have gotten a great deal just within our budget, we come back a bit over-extended from all of the irresistible extras from souvenirs, diving, drinks and excursions. Special activities and special meals always seem to be a particular weakness for us and tote up some extra charges. But at Vilamendhoo, you can do both a superb activity and get a great meal all for $25! It is their Maldivian cooking class. You will work with one of their Maldivian chefs learning some of their traditional recipes as well as try your hand at preparing them for yourself.

Mastercard-friendly Master Chef!

 

 

Vilamendhoo chinese fondue

Best of the Maldives: Free Diving – LUX* Maldives

LUX Maldives free diving

 

Free Diving!

No, not ‘free diving’ as in ‘free beer’. ‘Free’ as in unencumbered.

Despite all of the spectacular diving in the Maldives, it took me several years before I took up scuba diving myself. And that’s despite the fact that my wife started diving and loved it pretty quickly after we started visiting. My logic was that it seemed a lot of kafuffle and expense for not much extra benefit. I would be taking the kids snorkelling and set out the same time that my wife would head to the dive centre. We would be heading back in when Lori was just setting out for her dive having sorted out all of her equipment, etc. Then, when she returned and we united at lunchtime, she would recount her sightings of morays, sharks, turtles and so on. My response was that we saw all that same stuff snorkelling!

Eventually, I did get PADI certified and entered the undersea world more completely. The big bonus to diving versus snorkelling is that you could ‘be at their level’ (ie. the fishes’ level). With snorkelling, you are mostly looking down on things. Along these lines, diving allows you to peak under the many ledges and crevasses.

If you want to have your cake-and-eat-it-too combining unencumbered snorkelling with unlimited perspectives, then proper free diving is the key. Free diving teaches techniques in breath control, oxygen use and pressure equalisation.

LUX* Maldives is setting up a free diving facility. The Maldives has sponsored some Free Diving events, but this will be the first free diving as an on-going regular activity. Normally, I would hold off the post until such activity was live, but LUX* is already offering introductions to the discipline to guests. And the driver behind the initiative is none other than the resort’s own General Manager Dominik Ruhl. In fact, on our snorkel safari during our LUX* visit, Dominic joined in and demonstrated his free diving (see picture above). As noted, he was able to drop down quite deep to see things that the other snorkelers couldn’t. And with his breath-holding techniques, he was able to stay down a good amount of time enjoying the view before surfacing.

Best of the Maldives: Higher Education – Sun Island

Sun Island tourism college

 

 

One of the best ‘semester away’ ever I think. Villa College is a higher education institution with a number of campuses in the Maldives including one on the island resort of Sun Island. Which is pretty apropos given the one of the most prominent courses is ‘Tourism’.

Other offerings include…

“The college offer a number of diversified programmes and courses in the areas of Hospitality Management, Business Administration, Information and Technology, Educational Studies, and Human Resource Management. Educational Studies, Information Technology and Business Administration programmes are available up to a Masters’ Degree.”

While Maldivians are the largest part of the student body, the school does attract people from all over the world including Europe and Asia. They have posted the YoutTube virtual tour below to provide a closer look…

 

Sun Island Villa College virtual tour