- “Cooked with 1.5kg of the finest Mud crab from Sri Lanka, this is the largest deshelled crab dish on our menu and preserves the ideologies of the traditional biryani with our own take on it. Each clay pot serves 6, includes 12 eggs and is accompanied with a Fresh Mint Sambol, hand ground on our Miris Gala and the Classic Malay pickle.”
Instagram can save the sights and sounds of your trip to paradise, but how to do preserve the scents? The tropical flowers, the salty sea air, the crisp coral sands. I asked that question with my #26 of installment #5 of “Haven’t Seen Yet”, but thanks to SAii Lagoon “M.I.Y” (ie. “Mix It Yourself”) bar, I can finally tick that one off.
The M.I.Y. boutique lets you prepare a customised bouquet from their extensive array of aroma’s in the “Aroma Lab”. “M.I.Y.” is also a reverse acronym for “Yim” Thai word “Yim”, meaning “to smile”. So, the Aroma Lab motto is, “Make a scent that makes you smile.”
The process includes product testing to ensure your skin’s suitability and affinity with the customised formula. You can wear the final olfactory cocktail directly or have it added to you shampoo and soap in your room as well throughout your stay. Finally, each formula is kept for when you return to SAii Lagoon.
Makes scents to me!
One of the appeals of snorkeling and swimming in the Maldives is the mill pond calm waters of the sea stilled by the atoll reef topology. But any body of water, including your bathtub, can be a drowning risk. Not surprisingly, for a country 99% water, the biggest cause of fatality for guests to the country is drowning. Perhaps seduced by the placid feel, people can literally get in over their head. To help reduce the risk of snorkellers getting into trouble (or just to provide a place where they can stop and rest and maybe chat easily with their snorkel buddy), Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon have placed hi-vis floatation rings at the lagoon snorkeling spot (where they have placed a few underwater items to attract fish and provide visual interest in an area which is, and always has been, most sandy shoals.
While you’ve got a whole holiday of stretching out and lounging, too often reception area have pretty basic seating, I guess, to prepare you for the shock of sitting in a confined seat for hours on the plane. But SAii Lagoon has the biggest reception chairs we’ve ever gotten swallowed up in (photo above). It reminded me of the feature item in Copenhagen’s renowned Design Museum which itself jumbo sized (photo below with Lori as well). Great for bringing out the kid in you (or at least looking like it on Instagram…and it makes those holiday extra pounds look less prominent).
The Maldives may not be moving the heavens, but they are moving the earth to provide more opportunities to welcome visitors. For some environmental activists, “terraforming” is as dirty a word as the mounds of dirt it involves. But I am more supportive of the Maldives’ use of terraforming. For a country that is nearly 1000 kilometres long, to reclaim a few kilometres for living or economic purposes seems quite a reasonable trade-off. Especially, if the aquatic regions chosen are more barren sandy lagoon than vibrant reef (and even then, work done with as eco-friendly protocols as possible). The entire Crossroad complex which currently includes Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon were constructed in this manner and eventually 7 more resort “islands” will be developed in the general area. The environmental study that was performed to prepare for this dramatic transformation of the ocean was extensive but nonetheless controversial among sceptics. For those who are accepting of this strategy to building their economy, the engineering scale and sophistication is quite impressive. The YouTube video above provides a taste of what is involved, but actually the History Channel (Asia) did a fully documentary programme on the project (see trailer below) to look out for if you get a chance to watch it.
- “The Maldives have long been the crossroads of the world, where cultures meet, and where explorers, traders and pioneers from a myriad of different cultures have weighed anchor and helped to define the extraordinary culture and heritage of the islands. This unique attraction space, covering 500 square metres, uses stunning designs and interactive displays to explore the Maldives rich history, marine biodiversity and how local arts and crafts have shaped the islands’ unique cultural identity. This unforgettable educational experience works closely with the local community to promote their way of life and showcase the handicrafts of this remarkable island nation.”
The exhibit is a proper professional museum with slick presentation and exhibits of everything above and below the water. We received a tour of this interactive and artistic gallery by its manager Iyran. It is so packed with educational displays that even local Maldivian school children visit it.
After 20+ years of travelling to the Maldives, I’m regularly surprised to find somewhat simple things that I’ve never seen before. The latest was our transfer to SAii Lagoon and Hard Rock on a catamaran speed boat. On one hand, cats are much more stable than mono-hulls, so you would think that they would be a prominent choice to provide the smoothest final leg to your Male atoll resort. But, they are more expensive so I can understand resorts choosing the lower cost vessel. One of their biggest advantages is capacity and for smaller resorts, you often don’t get more than a few folks transferring per arrival so that space is probably not worth it. But SAii Lagoon and Hard Rock (plus day visitors at The Crossroads) is a bigger complex so they can justify the expense carrying the larger boatloads.
The most gourmet use of the quintessentially Maldivian screw pine we have come across is the “Screw Pine Panacotta” SAii Lagoon’s “Miss Olive Oyl” restaurant.
F&B Manager Arista Arres described the dish for us:
- “This tropical Maldivian fruit is called in locally Kashikeyo. A creamy pudding is made out of fresh extract of screw pine. ‘Screw Pines; are those surreal trees so defined by their adventitious roots that they also have the nickname ‘Walking Pines’. They are most commonly found in the Maldives.”
Not only that, but he even generously shared the recipe for anyone wanting to try it as home (and able to get their hands on screw pine fruit):
- 70 gm fruit screw pine
- 50 ml whipping cream
- 40 gm sugar
- 4 gm gelatin leaves
- 1 no fruit banana
- clean the screw pine fruit and make a puree out of it
- mix the cream and sugar and add the screw pine puree
- add the soaked gelatine leaves and mix and strain it
- chill it and garnish caramelized banana
Two of the most popular tastes on the High Street – Thai and Italian – combined for a super fusion of flavours. Mr Tom Yam’s at SAii Lagoon blends the exotic with the classic, the tropical with the Mediterranean, the Asian with the European. Some of our favourite dishes are Italian and Thai, so sampling them melded together was a special treat.
Sample dishes include:
- Khaopad Hed Porcini: Italian mushrooms fried risotto, tomato, onion, kale, and cashew nuts with fried egg
- Maplaow Goong Risotto: Spicy coconut risotto with lime shrimp, mushroom, tomato, lime leaves and galangal.
- Baa Mee Noodles Moo Carbonara: Egg noodles stir fried with bacon and deep-fried pork, marinated in a dark sweet soy sauce, egg yolk, coriander leaves and parmesan cheese.
- Piiza Tom Yam Tale: Mozarella, tomato sauce, tom yam stir fried assorted seafood, kaffir lime leaves, chili, cherry tomato and mushroom.
- Pannacotta Kink Somo: Creamy ginger flan with pomelo.
“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…”
Guests at SAii Lagoon didn’t have to wait until Christmas Eve for such sweet dreams as their seasonal festivities started with the arrival of two gingerbread houses as big and colourful as the resort itself.
Also, in the run up to the holiday, the kids club also a complimentary Santa’s workshop in making gingerbread houses where the guests’ little elves could make their own tasty villa confections.
To Maldives lovers everywhere, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”