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.
13 Over Water Hammocks
After all that lagoon drinking, you might need a place to lie down for a bit. For a growing number of resorts, you won’t have to go far. One of the most popular lagoon accessory is the over water hammock. Years ago, this feature was quite distinctive, but now it is becoming (rightfully) more popular. Here is your guide to lagoon lounging in the Maldives…
Best of the Maldives: Pool Hammock – NIYAMA
A place for quiet reflecting itself in a reflecting pool. NIYAMA’s pool hammock is very close to the Hammacher Schlemmer on my “Haven’t Seen” list (but it’s not quite the petiole model I had noted).
Just floating in the pool…
Best of the Maldives: Indian Spa – Gangehi
Neighbouring India has its national Republic Day this weekend as well (today in fact). And if you want to celebrate with a distinctively Indian spa, then Gangehi’s “Ginger Spa” is the place. The striking facility is made up of cottage taken apart from Kochin in south of Indian and re-assembled (also, the Library on the island is a similar re-assembled building from Kochin). Aruvedic ingredients like oils and incense imported from India and offered in treatments provide by Ratheesh (see photos), the resort masseur also from India.
Best of the Maldives: Watsu Pool – One & Only Reethi Rah
Water based healing is the principle behind One & Only Reethi Rah’s Watsu pool. “Watsu” is Japanese for “water”, in this case mineral water from sea warmed to 36 degrees and used for stretching sessions overlooking the ocean.
“(WATer ShiatSU) is a form of aquatic therapy, which combines massage, yoga-like stretches and point work carried out in skin temperature water. The weightless environment of the water allows for graceful, fluid movements which can release muscle tension, improve circulation and increase your range of motion.”
Even without its therapeutic properties, it is a distinctive spa relaxation pool.
Best of the Maldives: Private Pool Deck – Constance Halaveli
If private shades are your thing, then Constance Halaveli offers it right out in the main pool. Mini, canopied private jetties are built over a shallow rock pool looking out towards the beach and ocean. Like having your own private deck but with a beach view (which water villas won’t give you) and instant access to a quick Olympic-sized freshwater dip.
Best of the Maldives: Private Pool Hammock – NIYAMA
For an even more intimate tryst suspended over water, check out NIYAMA’s private pool hammock.
Swing low white chariot.
Best of the Maldives: Heart Shaped Jacuzzi – Bandos
For a destination renowned for romance and honeymoons, I remain a bit surprised at how few heart-shaped features you find in the Maldives. True, the Maldives is has a classy and posh vibe these days, but still some of the schmaltz is can be a bit of cheeky fun. At least Bandos is getting into the romantic spirit with its Orchid Spa VIP treatment room that offers a heart-shaped Jacuzzi.
Best of the Maldives: Person Centred Treatment – Jumeirah Vittaveli
I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit with the posts on Ellaidhoo’s and Kurumba’s snorkel aids in my post-tour posts (given their tie into the “not seen” series), but now time to share a few of the gems from the tour. Over the next fortnight, I will share a “Best of the Maldives” post gleaned from “Tour 4” in order of the resorts toured. They aren’t necessarily the biggest or “best” of the “best ofs”. Just some that particularly captured my appreciation and fancy.
Not only was our first resort of the tour Jumeirah Vittaveli, but our very first activity was a massage at their spa. A thoughtful remedy to 10 hours in economy class.
I’ve enjoyed hundreds of spa treatments in both the Maldives and the around the world. One of my pet peeves is when the therapist asks you if you want them to focus on any particular are..and then doesn’t focus there. I often am fine on my back (which is the masseuse’s favourite body part) and prefer more time spent on limbs (legs, arms, feet) or upper body (chest, shoulders, neck). Too many times when I provide this guidance, the person seems to disregard it completely and carry on in autopilot with some preprogramed routine.
The first sign that Vittaveli’s Talise spa offered something different was the lack of a treatment menu. They sat you down and had you fill out a questionnaire. This step is not so different from standard operating procedure in many spa, but the primary focus is just usually about getting you to sign a disclaimer and declare any medical issues. But Vittaveli’s approach was quite different. First, the questionnaire went into a bit more depth than usual. And rather than the cursory glance by the therapist, so did the review of the form. And actually, it was more of an interview than a review. The spa manager, Sova, sat down with Lori and I and crafted a unique treatment concoction based on my preferences. For me it was an oriental massage combined with Thai stretch elements for the limbs. For Lori it was a Balinese massage for lower body and Swedish for upper.
My wife who is a therapist (speech and language) herself remarked that their approach was a classic example of a “Person Centric Care Plan”. This technique is a big thing in health care these days according to Lori and is the basis for all of her work at the UK Epilepsy Society.
But the proof of the massage is in the rubbing. Would the therapists execute the plan or was it all just a preamble of palaver? Our two therapists, Kanlayanee and Taksana, did exactly the detailed requirements both my wife and I specified. Taksana working on me hardly touched by back (as requested) and spent lots of time of my shoulders which were tight from the plane journey. Kanlayane spent more time on Lori’s chronically troublesome neck than she has ever had with hugely therapeutic results.
For all of the fads and trends that hit spas these days, it was inspiring to see Vittaveli embracing the latest thinking from the health care field rather than the cosmetic or pop-spirituality fields.
Best of the Maldives: Ice Fountain – One & Only Reethi Rah
The big news of the week is the arrival of one of the most famous names in the world at the celebrity Maldivian bolt hole One & Only Reethi Rah. The Beckham family reportedly splashed out on an exceptionally lavish visit for the entire brood. With Romeo now modelling for Burberry, the whole clan is getting into the A-list scene. So big they are that Minivan News speculates that news of their stay alone could boost the Maldives tourism profile.
Hopefully, it will help to reinforce to the notion of Maldives as a great place for families. We get so many reports of honeymooning and otherwise romantic get-aways for famous couples, it’s great to see such a prominent family choose this destination.
In spite of (or perhaps because) of the Maldives’ reputation for torpid indolence, it also appears to have become a haven for top athletes like Beckham – Federer, Phelps, Ronaldo.
Perusing the glossy reporting, a number of the stories alluded to Reethi Rah’s exceptional spa including in its list of luxury amenities its ‘ice fountain’. One might think that the whole point to the Maldives is to get away from the cold. But as the Reethi Rah management describes, ‘ice’ can have many therapeutic properties especially for athletes…
Some of the advantages of the ice fountains is to use the ice to massage the body while using the shower. As it is a form of cryotherapy, multiple benefits are obtained such as:
- Promotes healing
- Drains lactic acid out of tired muscles
- Boosts/activates blood circulation
- Decreases swelling, inflammation and pain in injured tissues.
- Acts as an analgesic, reducing muscle spasms
Most professional training rooms will have an ice bath for settling muscles down after an extreme exertion, and icing a joint is a common practice. You will also find ice baths in the finest spas as a part of a circulatory regime. The heat from the sauna/steam bath/hot-tub/birch-switches opens the capillaries and the ice cold closes them. The opening and closing repeatedly is a form of circulatory exercise.