Best of the Maldives: Snorkel Floats – Club Med Finolhu Villas

Club Med Finolhu  - snorkel float

With the Christmas shopping season formally launched, the biggest shopping day of the year, “Black Friday”, is upon us. I’m a big snorkelling aficionado, so any gear to help me peer into the aquatic world is always a hit with me. One of the most coveted items I’ve seen is the “Splash and Play” snorkel float by Bestway in Club Med Finolhu’s “The Boutique”.   I’ve seen a few resorts offer them for use by guests, but I haven’t seen any you can buy until now.  Just perfect for even lazier underwater gazing while soaking up the sun’s rays. Now if I can just get Santa to bring me an airplane ticket to the Maldives…

Best of the Maldives: Snorkel Mask Camera – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili - snorkel mask camera

Singles Day. November 11 is China’s anti-Valentine’s Day, a day when young people celebrate being single. A celebration of being “1” on “11-11”. But for many, it’s also an excuse to log onto Taobao and other Chinese websites. There are special half price promos everywhere. It is a celebration of (bachelorhood and bachelorettehood) which has become a national day of online shopping – looks set to become the world’s biggest day for online retail by value of goods sold. Last year, Alibaba’s sites alone sold more than $5bn worth of goods, more than three times the value sold on the US’s Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving. Coincidentally, it is also “Veterans Day” in the UK and the USA (celebrated on the anniversary of World War I Armistice). Possibly a “Veterans Day” for the survivors of the romance wars.

If you want to have your cake and eat it too matrimonially, celebrating the single life but getting the perks of marriage like a wedding dress and romantic honeymoon, then you can actually “get married without a partner in Japan

“’Are you starting 2015 single and dreaming of your big day, but lacking the all-important ring or groom to get you there? Or is it the case that you simply dream of being dressed in a stunning traditional Japanese kimono but have never had the chance? … Cerca Travel is offering wannabe brides the chance to create the picture perfect Japanese wedding without the need to officially tie the knot.’…Cerca Travel’s President, Yukiko Inoue, has revealed that she came up with the – let’s say, novel – concept ‘to encourage women to have positive feelings about themselves’.”

Whether you are binging on some online shopping or setting up you’re the registry for your ‘solo wedding’, one of the items we most coveted in Maldives resorts shops was Shangri-La Villingili’s Digital Camera Mask for $90 (and appropriately manufactured in China).

Best of the Maldives: Bath Buddies – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - bath buddies 1

Water is the very essence of the Maldives. So it would seem that an ideal memento of one’s stay would be something one can enjoy when one is in the warm water relaxing. JA Manafaru’s bath buddy provide a few variants especially apropos to a Maldives stay. May favourite is the snorkel duck.

I’ve added a new tag for “Finally Seen” for those “Best of the Maldives” pieces featuring things I had called out in the “Not Yet Seen” series. In this case, #23 of this past Christmas’s post.

Absolutely ducky!

JA Manafaru - bath buddies 2

Best of the Maldives: Fashion Pop-Up – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah fashion buggy

The latest Australian fashion extends beyond its globetrotting digerati. “Pop ups” are the big new trend especially in London dining. One & Only Reethi Rah has introduced a pop-up store featuring down-under designer Camilla Franks…

“From November 2015 to April 2016, One & Only Reethi Rah guests can browse through a stunning pop-up store at NEO Beach by Australian designer Camilla Franks. Camilla is well-known for her colourful, vibrant and lively collections which combine intricate craftsmanship, prints and detail to create truly individualistic designs. The 2015 season has already seen One & Only launch its own fashion label, partner with the world-renowned fashion house Missoni to release a bespoke capsule collection and launch a Melissa Odabash pop-up store at One & Reethi Rah. A breathtaking aquamarine Issa dress will also be available at exclusively One & Only resorts including One & Only Reethi Rah this year.”

I especially like the Camilla Frank styled buggy decorated as a part of the offer. So you can pop over to the pop up with a pop art buggy!

Best of the Maldives: Glass Studio – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi glass studio pieces

When people think “Maldives” and “glass”, they think about the dramatic glass floors that have become de rigeur in the luxury water villas. These transparent apertures provide a portal to the main event of the Maldives – its colourful seascape below. Now Soneva Fushi is producing visions of glass just as striking and stylish…but you can take home with you. Soneva has opened a glass studio on the resort to create all sorts of aquamarine pieces of art.

Furthermore, the pieces are not only a memento of your experience, but are literally a part of your experience. The eco-obsessed Soneva uses only discarded glass from the island. So you can take home that bottle of the wine you drank in the form of a glass to commemorate your stay.

“The first glass studio in the Maldives has opened at Soneva Fushi, the award-winning luxury resort located in the Baa Atoll, where guests can watch world-renowned glass artists create objects of art, and learn the art of glass blowing. The state-of-the-art facility also includes a retail boutique and art gallery, which are designed as platforms to exhibit the work of the Maldivian and international glass artists. The facility uses only waste glass materials used at Soneva resorts and other resorts in the Maldives. It is estimated that more than five tonnes of glass waste is produced by resorts in the Baa Atoll alone, every month. ‘The idea behind this project is turn the glass into something that is much more beautiful and valuable than it was in its previous state.’”

A few years ago, our daughter gave us a Christmas gift of a session in a glass studio and it was fascinating. Not only did we get to watch and contribute to the molten fluidity of working with the hot glass, but we also took home two tree ornaments that we designed and helped “blow”.

If Maldives is the Venice of the tropic, then Soneva is now its Murano.

Soneva Fushi glass studio exterior

Best of the Maldives: Waboba Ball – Kurumba

Waboba action at Kurumba

Mill pond flat water. One of the trademarks of the Maldives seascape. Especially in the sheltered lagoons. Just perfect for skipping stones. But the soft sandy beaches of the Maldives are devoid of stones pretty much. Anyway, you find the perfect skipping stone and then it’s gone after a single throw. It sinks to the watery abyss starting and finishing its skipping career in a single moment of glory.

The Australian innovation, Waboba Ball, takes the fun of skipping stones and turns it into a beach game. It is a ball weighted just enough to give it great skipping action. You can play skipping-catch (see above) or compete to see who get get the most skips in a throw.

An ideal Christmas gift for someone hanging around the Maldives shallow waters. Of course, such a great gift is only found in one of the Maldives’ finest stores, Kurumba’s Nala boutique.

Special thanks to my demonstrators Cailen and Keegan Calkin who provide the action demo above.

Kurumba - waboba ball beach

Best of the Maldives: Pro Shop – Velaa

Velaa - pro shop 1

Black Friday – The biggest shopping day of the year in the USA (and probably the planet). Now is the time to start pulling out that Christmas shopping list and finding those elusive perfect presents. Fortunately, in our family, Lori and I have started playing more golf lately now that the kids have grown up. And there is no one easiser tro buy for than a golfer. There is no end to the gear and paraphernalia that a golfer can make use of. Not to mention all of the golf-themed day-to-day items like mugs, paperweights and statuettes.

By far the best golf shop (“Pro Shop” in the vernacular) in the Maldives is Velaa’s own at their Golf Academy. They carry Tilelist balls, FootJoy shirts and all manner of golf items. They also provide Addidas shoes, Callaway and Taylor Made clubs for complementary use by guests using the facility.

Lori and I had our biggest shopping spree of our nearly two decades visiting the Maldives as the Velaa Pro Shop. Here’s hoping your Black Friday is as successful and easy for you.

Velaa - pro shop 2

Best of the Maldives: Reading – Kurumba

Kurumba - book and magasine

International Book Day yesterday. Unfortunately, in this digital age, books are getting to be an ever rarer commodity. But nothing says switch off from the modern world than curling up on a hammock under some palm trees with a good book.

I haven’t seen many resort specific books in my travels. So many books are dominated by pretty pictures of paradise and thinly veiled promotion. But Kurumba’s “The Kurumba Story” has lots of substance about the history and day to day life on the resort island. Most people think that you have to go to a “local island” for a “local” ife, but the resorts themselves are their own significant communities in the Maldives landscape with their own stories and characters.

The book looks back in time over 40 years of Kurumba’s life as a resort chronicling the emergence of this tiny island nation into one of the world’s most coveted tourist destination. It complements the story with an extensive collection of rare and intriguing photos of this vibrant period.

And for some lighter reading, Kurumba also publishes its own Kurumba magazine which again I applaud for focusing more of the intriguing accounts of life in this fascinating part of the world than it does on promoting the resort itself. Their latest issue includes the following articles…

  • “Casting Calls” – Examination of the difference between hand line, big game and other types of fishing, traditional and modern.
  • “The Tree of Life” – Peon to the eponymous Coconut tree.
  • “Raising the Bar” – Staff profile of one of our favourite people on the island, Hillary.
  • “Loyal Friends” – Guest profile of a family that have visited Kurumba 72 times (!)
  • “Above & Below” – Staff profile of Momo (who did our great manta videoing)  

 

Kurumba - book

Best of the Maldives: Watch – Cheval Blanc Randheli

Cheval Blanc Randheli Hublot King Power

 

Daylight Savings Time today in the UK and a bonus hour for every one as the clocks go back. In the Maldives, time just seems to evaporate into the sun-drenched ether. But for making transfers, measuring dive time and getting to activities, if you need a chronometer as luxurious as your destination, Cheval Blanc Randheli introduces the Hublot King Power 48MM Oceanographic 4000 (thanks again Francisco)…

“By TLex Hublot have unveiled this, the latest edition of the King Power 48MM Oceanographic 4000, the Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition paying tribute to the unspoiled beauty of the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, where it is exclusively available from Cheval Blanc Randheli. This is at least the 11th iteration of the 4000; in all honesty they aren't getting any better looking. There're a couple that I like, such as the Caribbean and of course the original version. Still there's no denying the hardware itself, this is one of the most technologically advanced divers watches available today. It is water-resistant to 4000 metres and meets with the exacting specifications of the NIHS, international standards of Swiss Watchmaking. Its seal was tested by Hublot in a ROXER tank, submerged and pressurized to the equivalent of 5000 meters. To ensure the water-tightness of the watch and to resist this extreme pressure, its Sapphire crystal is 6.5mm thick and its caseback engraved with the 'Cheval Blanc' motif and 'Randheli' text in yellow is made of grade 2 Titanium. Further features include luminescent markers in Cheval Blanc Randheli yellow emitting a yellow hue allowing legibility from a distance of 25cm in the dark, an NIHS requirement that all 4000 watches meet. The watch comes with a white rubber strap with a buckle straps.”

Pressure tested to “5000 meters”! The “deep sea” is considered anything deeper than 1800 metres.

As impressive as its specs are, my favourite super decadent Maldives-spirit watch has always been the Choppard Happy Sport (see below). In fact, I first saw it on a billboard at the Male airport. The jewel encrusted fish which float about capture the main event at the Maldives and the option for a simple rubber band captures the laid-back casual ambience of the islands.

 

Choppard Happy Sport Maldives