All that working out got you achy and depleted? Well then, sounds like you need a spa appointment.
Something different? Something that evokes the very paradise you are savouring each day? How about Shangri-La Villingili’s ‘Cowrie Shell Experience’ treatment?
When I lived in Africa, you used to see cowry shells used extensively. Used in religious rituals. Used in jewellery. They are seen as symbols of womanhood, fertility, birth and wealth.
Historically, cowries were used as currency and, in fact, the very first cowries used as such came from the Maldives. Furthermore, the Shangri-La Villingili’s ‘Chi’ spa uses locally produced coconut oil. Lots of resorts offer Ayurvedic style treatments which are indigenous to the sub-continent region (as does Shangri-La), but the cowry shells are a nice touch with their own mystical properties and heritage.
Shangri-La describes in its ‘Sense of Place’ line of treatments…
“Indigenous treatments inspired by the history of the treasures found in the Maldives Ocean, the name Kandu Boli, meaning “sea shell”, draws its energy from the ocean. Experience the touch of the unique Cowrie Shell Massage of the body, face and scalp combined with our Maldivian Coconut Oil made by a local community. Nurturing to the soul, relaxing to the body and calming to the mind… Surrender to Villingili’s Cowrie Shell Experiences…”
There’s pool seating and then there’s POOL seating!
I’ve already done a post on the stunning Pool Seating of the Traders Hotel (nee Holiday Inn Male). On my recent tour, I noted how the resorts we really upping their game in this regard. King-sized luxury mattresses under four-posted canopies. But the Atoll Paradise website caught my eye with what is most certainly the most perfect ‘POOL’ seating. The pictures say it all. Hat tip to TripAdvisor destination expert ICN05 for identifying the sub-aquatic lounger as Reethi Rah’s.
My recent visit to several prime resorts in the Maldives uncovered a wealth (65) of distinctive features that I will be exploring in depth over the coming months. I thought I would start off with a taster selection over the coming week for each resort.
The first resort on the itinerary was Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. Every spa treatment is a treat. And the best Maldive ones build up the anticipation with lovely receptions infused with incense and ambient tones that start the process of transporting you away mind and body to another place. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa takes this ‘transporting’ quite literally to a whole new level with its shuttle service to its spa. The Kuda Huraa spa sits by itself on a small little island just off shore from the main island. You could take a short swim over I guess, but the quaint ‘Kuda Dhoni’ (‘Little Boat’) ride over is just the thing to shift gears from the resort to your own little special sanctuary.
And the destination is worthy of mention. It is certainly one of the top massages we have had (the therapist was very attentive to a neck pain and spent extra time on that area that was very effective).
When I first considered doing a web site devoted to the Maldives, I had thought about focusing it on families (‘Maldives for Families’). While a renowned diving and honeymoon destination, it was less thought of as a place for kids. In fact, some a few resorts do specifically exclude children in an effort to maintain even greater calm and tranquillity for their guests and more resorts do not allow them in the water bungalows out of safety considerations. Nonetheless, the placid waters (little current in the lagoons, shallow water), the tiny size (hard for a child to roam out of earshot) and general charming and helpful nature of the staff do make it a wonderful destination for children.
And for those that want their kids to have more than the beach side fun and to enjoy the luxuriant pampering of their elders, Conrad Hilton Rangali has just the package which won the ‘Best Children’s Spa Menu in Asia’ award in 2009.
“Aren’t kids meant to be grubby?…It’s the big new spa thing – teeny treatments. Jolly Beach in Antigua has introduced a range for six-year-olds and up: there’s a massage, facial and manicure combo called Little Princess Day, and a boys-only package of scrubs and pedicures titled For the Little Man (careful, lads – if anyone at school finds out, you’re dead meat). All that’s trumped by the Conrad Rangali Island in the Maldives. It’s opened an Ice Cream Spa for kids, with a Super Sundae Supreme body scrub and a Princess Me facial. Big drawback: the stuff’s not edible. Chiz, as that unwashed urchin Molesworth used to say.”
Today’s post is inspired by author and blogger Adrian Neville who is currently on a tour of the Maldives and tweeting about it as he goes. Earlier this week, he stopped by Cocoa Island. His tweets went…
“SevenMaldives: Cocoa is the Zen resort of the Maldives.”
“SevenMaldives: Cocoa: less is more when perfectly tended like a zen garden – interiors, landcape and cuisine. so so calm”
Master Adrian’s enlightened opinion is good enough for me.
Speaking of cool seating, Kandooma recently completed a revamp of its resort and its web page so you can get an good sense of the impressive overhaul. The first item to strike me was its ‘funky’ beach chairs. Actually, when I was in Kurumba last month, I remember thinking to myself how all these fancy resorts have all this distinctive design and yet when you look at the beaches you see the same old white, plastic beach loungers one sees all over the planet. They just seemed a bit pedestrian relative to how remarkable the locale is. Kandooma seems to have decided to make their beach seating as eye catching as the beaches themselves.
I also love how they have created a special ‘in water’ seating area at their new pool (see below). You often find ‘bar stool’ seating in Maldives pools, but this is the first time I have seen lounge seating right in the pool. It is like having a stationary lilo complete with side table.
In fact, funky seating seems to be a real focus for the new design will all sorts of quirky chairs sprinkled across the resort. Examples include the Kids Club ‘swing seats’ and ‘Pineapple Chair’ lounger shown below and the gallery on their website has plenty more.
I don’t usually do two ‘Best Of’ awards for the same place back to back, but this one so naturally followed last week’s that it made sense to put them together. Most resorts have the classic white plastic lounge chairs. The good resort will throw in a cushion to make it more comfortable. But no seating compares with the luxurious, giant comfort settees offered by the Holiday Inn Male at its rooftop pool deck. These lounges are like pool king-size beds with luxurious mattresses and headboard cushions. Really more like ‘pool beds’. The pool itself is a delightful infinity pool with a lovely wall fountain at one end. Poolside indolent luxury.
At 13 floors up, the Azure restaurant (and pool) of the Holiday Inn Male is the best hotel view in the Maldives. I counted 17 islands visible from this elevated perch not to mention the many toings and froing of boats in the harbour and the surrounding environs.
Normally, I would hesitate to include Male hotels as ‘resorts’. It has no beach, no alcohol (Male is ‘dry’ while the resort islands are granted special licenses). However, I do have the Nasandhura in Male as well as the Hulhule resort on Hulhule island which is more like Male in characteristics than a dedicated resort island. Also, I suspect that a number of Holiday Inn ‘Priority Club’ member maybe interested in exploiting their points as a vehicle for getting to the Maldives.
The Azure restaurant shown here just opened the 15 October and features absolutely delicious fusion (French/Japanese) dishes.
If you are looking for a ‘room with a view’ in the Maldives, Holiday Inn Male is the highest and furthest.
Just when you think the Maldives couldn’t get any more relaxing, Angsana Velavaru comes up with the innovation pictured above – a hammock-like suspended lounger (for two!) over the calming waters of the lagoon. Day-dreamy!
Having a ‘Most Relaxing’ award for a Maldive resort is a bit like having a most gaudy award in Vegas. The islands are the very epitome of chilling out. The ocean is placid, the people gentle. In fact, the one thing that sometimes puts people off coming is that it is so laid back and some prefer a bit more activity and buzz.
So how does a resort distinguish itself as the most reposed in the land of indolence? Well, Iru Fushi has established the first ‘Sleep Spa’ called ‘Sweet Dreams’ which designed to take dozing to refreshing depths.
For Adults, the Sweet Dreams programme includes:
- Special afternoon and evening spa treatments to encourage a siesta or good night’s sleep
- A yoga specialist who will offer private classes teaching special breathing techniques and stretching exercises designed to encourage relaxation
- Special teas designed to aid sleep
- Massages and baths with essential sleep-inducing oils
- A sleep concierge who is on-call so if guests can’t sleep they can ring for encouragement
- CD’s of poetry, music or a talking book which can be delivered to the room so Sweet Dreams guests can listen to their very own bedtime story
- A Sleep-All-Night-Cap, a special cocktail created using ingredients to aid sleep
They even have a children’s programme that includes slumber parties, bedtime stories and hot cocoa.
It might seem like a bit of a strange thing go to a spa for a nap, but actually my wife and I went to a nearby spa in the UK, Pennyhill Park, which featured a ‘nap room’ with special gel beds to simply lie down and doze. For all of the fancy pampering treatments we enjoyed that day, the memorable highlight was the decadent luxury of a midday snooze in the prime environment. So Iru Fushi might be on to something. It certainly would take a bit of special effort to make the Maldives more relaxing than they already are.