Best of the Maldives: Rum – NIYAMA

NIYAMA Surf Shack 1

Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.” – Pirate diddy

Not just any rum bar (and not a “rumba”), but a Reggae Rum Bar at NIYAMA. Set up and run by rum aficionado Tony from Jamaica (via South Africa).  Perched on the beach at the reef edge, it is the ideal spot for landlubber’s to watch seadogs hang ten or watch sunsets with their favourite grog.

Of course, rum is the foundation of my favourite resort drink – the Pina Colada. The Surf Shark didn’t do a pina colada, but instead a slight variation on it called a “Llama Colada”. But its “Zombie” cocktail had one of my all-time favourite descriptions: “The King of the Surf Shak cocktails. Strictly one per person per night” (see photo at bottom). Of course, it was so intriguing, Lori had to have one. Tony’s favourite rum is the exclusive Diplomatico which took the guile of a swashbuckler to get to the Maldives.

Here are some of the rums on offer…

  • Ron Zacapa Centario
  • Havana Club
  • Pampero Aniversario
  • El Ron Prohibido
  • Ron Flor De Cana
  • Pyrat Rum XO Reserve
  • Clement Premier Canne Rhum
  • Clement Martinique
  • Diplomatico
  • Bacardi
  • Captain Morgan Jamaica Rum
  • Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • Captain Morgan Cannon Ball
  • Malibu
  • Caribbean Rum with Coconut Flavour
  • Plantation Rum
  • Meyers Rum Original Dark
  • Flor de Cana
  • Cachaça Agacana

Drinkin rum before 10.00am makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic” -Earl Dibbles JR

NIYAMA - Surf Shack 2

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NIYAMA - Surf Shack 3

NIYAMA - Surf Shack 4

Maldives Tour 2018 – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - tour

NIYAMA has the potential to be one of the top “foodie” resorts in the Maldives. I can’t say definitively because I didn’t have the opportunity to sample too much of their cuisine, but half of the Best of the Maldives pieces I have done to date about NIYAMA have been about their dining, and more than half of the new pieces I discovered during my visit were F&B related (and I didn’t even venture into any of the gourmet a la carte outlets). A bit of a foodie mecca with the longest standing molecular cuisine and concept eateries like Tribal and Nest (mind you, you do pay for the indulgence as simple starters can run $40).

I was thinking that NIYAMA would be in the “super-premium” (aka “6 star”) category, but it is really more like a “5+” star (the “+” being for the food). Its famous Sub Six underwater restaurant is a “wow” item you tend to find in the super premiums. It is priced competitively in the $1000-$2000 range for 1 bedroom beach villas (the super premiums tend to start at around $2000). More for multi-millionaires (or ‘ordinary’ millionaires splurging) than billionaires, more Neiman Marcus than Bergdorf Goodman, more Conran than Ive, more BMW than Aston Martin. It also reminded me of a big event in my hometown “Pub in the Park” where Michelin star food is served up along second bill rock acts like 10cc and Mel C. Or, another comparison close to home, Marks & Spencers which features the most posh food hall on the high street along side a rather conventional clothing range.

Our stay also provided a numbers of “Firsts”. Any first is an accomplishment since we have been coming here for two decades. You would think we had done it all by now. All the “firsts” were triggered by the top one on the list, but all the others were lovely silver linings to its dark clouds…

  • First Entire Day of RainSad smile
  • First complementary bottle of champagne…actually drunk. We get presented with complimentary bottles all the time but never drink them. But the weather sequestered us in the room so pop went the cork.
  • First Bath – First time the temperature was cool enough that a hot bath sounded like a good idea. Though we did hit the ultimate first world problem – we forgot to bring our glasses of champagne to the tub.
  • First in-room movie – Appropriately enough, we watched “The Shape of Water” on the in room television as inclement weather was limiting our midnight walks and sitting under the stars with our post-prandial pina coladas.

If you are a connoisseur of gourmet delicacies, then NIYAMA could be absolute paradise for you with lots of firsts for your discerning palette.

Best of the Maldives: Ballet – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - ballet

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.

NIYAMA - ballet 2

Best of the Maldives: Instant Ice Cream – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - instant ice cream 2

If you can’t find gold, then make it. Instead of a pirate, that calls for an alchemist to magically turn ordinary ingredients into the most coveted taste treasure. That’s what NIYAMA has brought to its resort this past week with its pop-up Chin-Chin ice creamerie…

“Chin Chin Labs, the pioneers of made-to-order artisanal liquid nitrogen ice cream, is conjuring up culinary creations and haute cuisine ice cream at PER AQUUM Niyama from 16 – 21 March. Part of PER AQUUM’s PULSE line-up for 2016, adults and mini VIPs alike will be put under the spell of the ice cream magicians, straight out of London’s Camden Market, as they unveil exotic limited-time flavours at the pop-up parlour on the resort’s new island, ‘Play’. With all ice creams made fresh to order, the exclusive flavours will feature ingredients from the resort Chef’s own herb garden ranging from Roasted Sweet Coconut Curry, Mango & Saffron, Banana Blossom & Jasmine to dairy free options such as Passionfruit & Raw Cacao Nib. Guests can also get involved at the hands-on Nitro Workshops at BLU’s Cooking School on 17, 19 and 21 March. Hailed as the ‘Best ice cream parlour in England’ by The Times and the ‘Future of Ice Cream’ by The Observer in the UK, Chin Chin Labs has achieved a cult status amongst chefs and ice cream aficionados – not to mention children – the world over. Shunning traditional techniques and convention, Chin Chin Labs has been creating artisanal ice creams to order, frozen with liquid nitrogen and billowing with clouds of ‘ice’ since 2010. Having pioneered liquid nitrogen ice-cream as a retail concept, Chin Chin Labs uses liquid nitrogen at -1960C to freeze their handmade bases, which then boils away in a vapour cloud creating fresh ice cream.”

Liquid nitrogen chilled ice cream has been a staple of molecular gastronomy popularised by Heston Blumenthal (his Fat Duck restaurant is a few miles from our house and we have been frequenting it since he first started out). I’ve actually wondered when this culinary chemistry would make its way to this epicentre of epicurean luxury (#34 of ‘Haven’t Seen Yet – part 4’).

NIYAMA - instant ice cream

Best of the Maldives: Wristband Keys – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - wristband key

One of the top joys of the Maldives – throw on your swimsuit, grab your snorkeling gear and head out to the house reef.

Oh wait, don’t forget the villa key. Now where to put it (swimsuits don’t really have many secure pockets). Instead of the typical credit-card style proximity keys, NIYAMA has key band for guests. It’s completely waterproof so they can wear it in the pool, on the housereef or wherever.  (thanks again Paola)

Particularly good for people who wouldn’t remember their own head if it wasn’t attached to them.

Best of the Maldives: Ice Ball – NIYAMA

NIYAMA - Chefs Special ice ball

No, not “Ice Ball” as in a “Frozen”-themed formal dance.

I love creations with ice. The cold is the contrast that sets off the tropical sun. I’m even adding a new category tag for “ice” now that I have collected a few fine examples.

Most treats in the Maldives are served refreshingly over ice. But NIYAMA’s signature sashimi is served under ice.

Offered in NIYAMA’s “Asian Avant-garde” Nest restaurant which Per Aquum describes as “savage-chic” (great name).

Chef Jayadi Suwito explains, “My goal for this menu was to push and tease. Guests will find dishes from Asia’s most celebrated cuisines like Thai, Cantonese, Japanese – but they will also get a chance to discover lesser known culinary traditions with must-try sensational dishes from places like Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar.”

I tend to ignore the vast majority of press releases that I receive, but I must commend the PR who wordcrafted this gem describing the “Ice Ball” experience…

“A short trek from your luxury villa where you’ve cast away in the Dhaalu Atoll, you emerge in the heart of the jungle. Beneath the ancient branches of the banyan trees, you walk the planks of wooden pathways and wind through the forest trunks. Ascend spiralled stairs and step through the canopy along bridges flanked by bamboo rails. Leaves dance in an ecstatic shimmy. Tropical birds call out with sirens echoing through the treetops. Then a chilled sculpture of sashimi arrives in a globe of ice, a modern vessel for one of many Asian delicacies you will savour in your expedition at one of the Indian Ocean’s leading dining destinations.”

Leaves dance in ecstatic shimmy” – Nnnn-ice!

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.