Maldives Mask

Maldives Mask 2

The fashion accessory of the season if not the entire 2020 year is the now must-have (in more ways than one) face mask. While some decry this ostensible inconvenience, I think it is a whole new opportunity to rock some stylish fashion.

My friend Sylvia is making these in her back room. They come with a nose clip and an inner pocket to insert a filter if you want extra protection. I found this material at my local haberdashery, so naturally I commissioned an Indian Ocean one with the Maldives Islands front and center.  Lori opted for a Wrasse-inspired designed (see bottom).

Email me if you would like Sylvia to make one for you. She is doing so to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis).

Maldives Mask 3

Maldives mask

Maldives mask 4

Best of the Maldives: Reef Friendly Sunscreens – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - sun screen

Environment Day today to celebrate appreciating, respecting and care for the environment around us. Sometimes the smallest of things can have big impacts over enough people and time. On example is sunscreen which we slather on to protect us from the tropical sun. But when we take a dip in the ocean to cool off, the salty water washes a lot of its chemicals off our body and onto the coral reefs we swim amongst.

Gili Lankanfushi is now only selling reef-friendly sunscreen in its boutique for its guests to remove this extra burden on our coral friends:

  • A key ingredient in more than 3,500 sun protection products is oxybenzone…Annually four to six thousand tonnes of these chemicals enter our ocean through wastewater effluent, and by swimmers slathered up with sunscreen. Acting like an oil slick, the chemicals settle on marine life and the reefs become suffocated.”

Also, Grand Park Koddhipparu have made a similar announcement, but I was unable to get additional details.

Gili Lankanfushi - sunscreen 2

Best of the Maldives: Local Artist Boutique – Faarufushi

Faarufushi - shop 4

For low-miles “buy local” shopping, Faarufushi’s boutique is stocked with items almost entirely sourced from local artists. The miles-friendly range includes jewellery, fabrics, ceramics, and even Maldives themed phone covers. The shop also carried massage oil made from locally produced coconut oil (the same signature oil they use for the resort spa treatments). Many of the products are also featured in the rooms, spa and around the island like the Island Bazaar soft furnishings (see photo above) and the Island Apothecary hand cleanser.

Another impressive line of “local” products is one of the most extensive collections of books about the Maldives I have come across. Not just touristy coffee-table photo books, but histories and novels set in the archipelago. Beach reading about your beach!

Faarufushi - shop 2

Faarufushi - shop 3

Faarufushi - shop

Faarufushi - shop 5

Best of the Maldives: Jewellery – Vommuli

Vommuli - jewellry 1

Taking inspiration from the Maldives is a range maker of jewellery inspired by the tapestry of dappled colours both twinkling across its gentle waters, adorning the schools of tropical fish underwater, and filtering through the canopy of swaying palm trees. Ritika Ravi is part of the St. Regis Vommuli family herself and her visits there sparked her design

  • “Ritika Ravi’s jewellery line gives precious stones like polki and sapphires a contemporary, sea-inspired makeover Cartier’s perennial favourite, the stackable rings, meets Gucci’s enamelled and bejewelled ones, but with an Indian aesthetic, in Ritika Ravi’s Ivar Jewellery. The inaugural collection, 10.18, is a combination of gems with white and rose gold, ‘inspired by a vacation to the Maldives’. Ravi used polki (uncut diamonds) and sapphires from Sri Lanka to mimic the crystal clear waters and the many shades of blue of the sea surrounding the tropical island… While she largely retails online, her only brick-and-mortar store is, quite fittingly, at her family-owned The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort.”

Prices range from $300 – $400 and can be bought at her online shop at Ivar Jewellery.

This latest example of “Maldives Inspired Design” has in turn inspired me to add a tag for it.

Vommuli - jewellery 2

Best of the Maldives: Bookseller – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - bookseller

When Soneva Fushi announced their recruitment for a “Barefoot Bookseller” it was one of those fantasy jobs right up there with “Professional Cuddler” and “Ben & Jerry’s Flavour Guru” as one of the best jobs on the planet. The lucky bibliomerchant is Aimée Johnston. Her bio reads…

  • She studied History and English Literature at Trinity College Dublin and was part of the University of Tokyo’s AIKOM programme. Since graduating she has worked in the publicity department of Penguin Random House Ireland, managing campaigns for Irish and international authors including Tara Westover, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Aoife Abbey and most recently, TwistedDoodles. She loves open water swimming, travelling and factor 50 sunscreen.”

Maldives Complete was able to catch up with Aimee for an interview about her life as a Laccadive lady of leisure literature…

  • What prompted Soneva Fushi to open a bookstore on their resort?
    Soneva has always been a great innovator in the field of luxury travel, always pre-empting the needs and desires of guests and always willing to test an unchartered terrain, like their very own bookshop! For a lot of people leading busy lives, the only time they can sit back, relax and read for pleasure is when they are on holidays, so how brilliant to have a carefully curated bookshop on the island.
  • Where are you from?
    I’m from Antrim in Ireland but I moved to Dublin for college and fell in love with the city. I had been living there for seven years before moving to the Maldives.
  • What is your previous experience with books?
    I adore reading and always have. I loved literature so much that I decided to study it in college and when I left, I knew I wanted to get a job in the publishing industry. I’ve been lucky enough to work in the publicity department of Penguin Random House Ireland for three years. It’s a brilliant job. You get to work with fantastically talented authors, promoting their writing as far and as wide as possible.
  • Do people come into browse or are they more looking for recommendations?
    Both! Sometimes people come in with a blank slate, willing to be inspired by what they see on our shelves. Other times people can be unsure about what to read and I love nothing more than chatting to them, establishing their reading tastes and interests and finding the perfect book for them. It’s an amazing feeling, to know someone is walking away with a book that they’ll love.
  • What is the most popular genre?
    It really varies. Soneva Fushi guests have such a wonderful range of interests that every visitor to the bookshop is different. Generally though, our non-fiction piques a lot of interest. Guests want to feel informed, whether that’s by Peter Frankopan’s The New Silk Roads or Rudie Kuiter’s Fishes of the Maldives. Often our visitors are thrilled to see such an impressive collection of books on wildlife and sea-life that speak to their immediate environment.
  • What are you doing more of than you expected on the island?
    I’m doing a lot more eating than I imagined! Our staff canteen is simply amazing, and our chefs are brilliant. They can whip up a mean omelette that’s worth waking up early for!
  • What are you doing less of than you expected on the island?
    I’ll admit that there is a little less sunbathing than I naively fantasized about! There is so much to do on the island that I find I’m a lot busier than I was expecting, trying to do as much as I possibly can. It has been a lot of fun.
  • What book are you reading now?
    I’ve just finished reading Not Working by Lisa Owens. It follows Claire Flannery just as she’s quit her job in the hope that by taking some time out she’ll figure out what the ‘perfect’ job for her really looks like. I loved it. It has all the heart and humour of Bridget Jones but so totally original in its story. Claire’s quest for her ‘dream’ job was the ‘will they won’t they’ romance I didn’t know I needed! Next up on my reading list is The Woman in the Window by controversial author A.J. Finn, which is our first reading choice in the Barefoot Book Club.

Soneva Fushi - bookseller 2

Best of the Maldives: Maldives Watch – Cheval Blanc

Cheval Blanc - watch 1

Daylight savings time starts today. And you will have to save up for hours to afford the latest item in the Cheval Blanc gift shop (or if you are totally loaded, maybe you will just buy a new watch instead of all the kafuffle of adjusting your current one an hour. At $32,500 for its latest Classic Fusion Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition, that $9 per second.

Really, this post is more of an update to my previous Best of the Maldives piece for Cheval Blanc’s watch offering. I could have just made a note in the comments, but I love the concept so much of capturing the distinctive aesthetics of this corner of paradise that I thought that I would publish a full post.

  • “Designed to embody a trip to the resort, the Classic Fusion Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition watch features the same varying shades of blue that are waiting to be discovered in the surrounding ocean. Parisian artist Vincent Beaurin, designer of the signature works of art at the Cheval Blanc Maison in the Maldives was commissioned to help create the unique dial using sand. ‘Just like the blue waters surrounding Cheval Blanc Randheli, the captivating blue tones of the two new timepieces dedicated to the Maison create an appealing aura on the wrist, offering wearers a new experience with time,’ said Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. The Classic Fusion Cheval Blanc Randheli Special Edition is available in 45mm and 38mm versions with brushed metal cases and blue crocodile straps. The smaller version also features a halo of crystalline stones on the bezel. Both watches can only be purchased at the Cheval Blanc Randheli Concept Store, situated within the resort’s dedicated Hublot area.”

That said, Chopard hasn’t rested on its design. In fact, it even has a Happy Fish Sport design with Anemone Fish for one-fifth the price.

Choppard fish watch

Best of the Maldives: Ice Buckets – Finolhu

Finolhu - ice bucket

Black Friday and the American Christmas shopping season has started.  Thanksgiving yesterday serves as sort of a starting pistol for the Yankee yuletide season.  While there are plenty of impatient transgressions, it’s generally considered a bit of poor form to decorate, play carols or otherwise engage in Krimbo merriment until after sleeping off an excess of poultry consumption. 

EVERYONE comes home for Thanksgiving.  More so than for Christmas.  Hence the term “Homecoming” (as in “Homecoming Queen”) which is the big, local school football game where everyone gathers to see friends who have also returned and to build up an appetite while the turkey is cooking at home.  As a result, the Friday after (Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday) is nearly always taken off from work.  So you have a house full of relatives and a day off.  What to do that everyone will enjoy?  A trip to the Mall to start Christmas shopping!  Also, it’s helpful that everyone is around to help find things everyone wants, check sizing, etc.  Hence the near hallowed tradition of “Black Friday” emerged as savvy stores scrambled to grab as much of this early spend from the Christmas fund as possible.  Their promotions and marketing just stoked the mania even further till you get the consumer madness we see today.

If you are looking for a present for me, one of the nicest items we saw this summer was Finolhu’s signature ice bucket with a powder blue explorer-chic design.  It evokes Alviero Martini’s “Premiere Classe” fashion line (that Lori and I have several pieces of).  The resort also features tissue boxes, toiletry boxes and other items and amenities, but the ice bucket is for sale at the shake shack for $200.  Dear Santa…

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