In the land of endless water spectacles, Cocoa Island’s hydrotherapy pool might just be the biggest indoor water feature in the Maldives. It certainly is the biggest hydrotherapy pool in the country, and in fact it claims to be the biggest in Asia. It’s the biggest I have seen and I am a connoisseur of spas around the world. Even Lori was impressed as she uses hydrotherapy pools professionally as a part of her therapy practice. It includes bubble loungers, drench fountain, back massager and a whole array of relaxing water jets. It is available to all guests on a complimentary basis and fresh ginger tea is on tap non-stop.
It’s not a “pool party” until someone shouts “kowabunga!” Or in the Maldives, “koWabunga”. As W Retreat’s Shockwave Pool Party at Wet Deck is where the water fun happens every Thursday from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. A full on frolic fest with DJs, cocktails, treats, noodle and other floats, bubble making machines, etc. My favourite is the armoury of water artillery (see bottom) provided for squirt gun fights! Guests have a few options from a party pass with 2 cocktails and BBQ ($65pp), or 2 glasses of champagne and BBQ ($78pp), or (for those in the total party spirit) unlimited champagne and BBQ ($160 pp).
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace today. As you explore sport around the world, one of our favourite pub quiz questions is “What is the SECOND biggest sport in a country?” That’s because, working in the sports industry as I have been, you quickly learn that there is one major sport in the world that has lots of completely different styles, but only one name – “Football”. Soccer, American Football (NFL), Aussie Rules. Completely different games, but one shared name and all dominant in their countries. So number two is intriguing as well as diverse.
- Formula 1 – 17 countries (eg. Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Singapore)
- Basketball – 11 countries (eg. Greece, Turkey, Argentina, China, USA)
- Ice Hockey – 8 countries (eg. Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia)
- Rugby – 4 countries (eg. UK, France, Ireland, South Africa)
What is particularly intriguing are the second biggest sports that are relatively unique to that country. A few of my favourite examples…
- New Zealand – Netball
- Thailand – Kick Boxing
- Mexico – Boxing
- Iran – Table Tennis
- Egypt – Squash
- Pakistan – Field Hockey
- Denmark – Handball
All that said, Football isn’t top of the heap absolutely everywhere. Here are a sample of countries where a sport other than Football is number one…
- Canada – Ice Hockey
- Croatia – Tennis
- Cuba – Baseball
- India – Cricket
- Latvia – Basketball
- New Zealand – Rugby
- Pakistan – Cricket
- Taiwan – Basketball
The Maldives is no different with Football being the most popular. And it’s #2 sport, at least among the resort workers, the #2 sport is Volleyball (same as Brazil). And in the Maldives, there are all types of volleyball. Most resort staff field serious teams that play other resorts with regularity on some quite sophisticated courts. Maldivians play court volleyball, beach volleyball…and of course water volleyball. And the resort where it is most prevalent is Club Med Kani. Kani’s main pool seems to always have some sort of major group activity going on and volleyball is one of the popular ones.
The Maldives is the ultimate life aquatic. Never mind the “SUNNY side of life” (there is sun all over the tropics), the Maldives is the aquatic side of life. A destination that is 99% sea. That’s what you go for. The best experiences are all about the water – the otherworldly sense flying over the waterworld of islands, the world’s best snorkelling. The water offsets the warmth of the pervasive sunshine with a compelling contrast. And the sun-and-sea blend is also quite common among tropical resorts. It’s just that few destinations have as intimate a connection with the water as the diminutive plots of sand in the Maldives.
A few resorts have provided their guests with a chance to savour the water even more soaking their toes with waterside dining tables or even Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s in-pool table. But none so ambitiously as Velaa. They have loungers in their pool (see bottom), and dining tables in their pool (see above). They even have pools in their dining room. Yes, they have designed their seaside dining area with a small pool for diners to sit in over their meals if they prefer a more sheltered and secluded table to the pool option.
There’s nothing like a good foot soak. Along with a steamy air (tick for that too in the Maldives), it’s sort of the caricature of the cure for what ails you. Also, the “no shoes, no news” barefoot ethos of the Maldives is decadently delightful, but all that salt and sand can take its toll on the unaccustomed feet used to being cosseted in cotton and leather. So a cooling soak over that pina colada or just about any mealtime is an added sensory treat.
When we were visiting the Maldives as a family, our routine would always be a family snorkel of the house reef (or occasionally a snorkel safari excursion) in the morning, and then lounging around the pool during the afternoon. One of the earliest inspirations to Maldives Complete was me compiling a list of resorts with pools. Back in the 1990s, only about half the resorts had them (now they are standard with most villas for the deluxe 5 stats). We knew from our family holidays that all we needed was a pool to keep the kids entertained for hours (and get them well tuckered out for an early bedtime and a sound sleep at night). If they spent all day at the ocean, then eventually the salt and sand would irritate them so a pool was a good complement to the seafaring activities of the morning. Lori and I would read our books and doze in the loungers by the pool. There were all sort of seating, but they tended to be the fairly conventional lounger+cushion combo. What I would have given for the One & Only Reethi Rah pool hammock back then! Just because you are retreating from the lagoon, doesn’t mean you have to give up an over water hammock.
You can have your very own personal glass sided pool at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa with its Sunset Two Bedroom Water Suite. As much as I applaud its uniqueness, I must confess I question its usefulness. You can’t look out the glass sides. That is, unless you are doing some snorkelling in the pool. Snorkelling in the Maldives might be the best in the world, but I’m not sure that the pools are really included. And as far as looking in from the other side, I’m even less sure. One of the biggest perks of a private pool (so I hear) is being able to skinny dip. And one of the most requested characteristics of the resorts is privacy. I think a glass-sided pool might just be the least private pool.
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.
In the opulent designs of the Maldives resorts, the pools themselves can be objets d’art themselves. One of the most spectacular is Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s Three Bedroom Estate’s pool. A two-tier construction with the upper pool sheltered under a thatched roof (see above) overflowing to form a waterfall to the one below (see below). Sort of a tropical variation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water”.