If you want an overview of the Maldives destination with more an experience than a guide book, then Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon (actually sited at The Crossroads):
- “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.
Khao Pad Tom Yam Heng Arrancini
“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!”