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

Best of the Maldives: Gift Shop – Kurumba

Kurumba - gift shop

Gift shops in the Maldives are usually of two extremes – very basic, not too impressive souvenirs (coconut shell turtles), snacks (Pringles and Tobblerones) and toiletries or over-the-top luxury fashion and jewellery. Resorts that (a) don’t exploit the opportunity for effective cross-sell, and (b) don’t equip better for the things I might actually want to buy are a bit of a pet peeve for me. I’ve found a few fine establishments, but more often than not I am left wanting.

The one resort retailer that does stand out is Kurumba’s Nala boutique. Every visit, we find something there to buy. Our latest visit, it was not just one, but two items that we had failed to find during our entire 10 resort tour. Lori had misplaced her USB cable to attach her GoPro to her computer. Needed for both charging the camera and downloading the photos, we had been borrowing these little chords (of which we have about a dozen kicking about in our cable drawer at home) throughout our trip, but for the life of us could not find one to buy. Until we arrived at Kurumba which had one for sale. On top of that, this trip was Lori’s first go at her new GoPro and the incompetent dive shop in North Carolina which sold it to her (as well as the very expensive underwater light) neglected to advise her to get a basic $30 red filter for enhancing underwater shooting. Those too were nowhere to be found…until we came to Nala which has a whole line of GoPro accessories.

It’s not just the practical, gadgetry where Nala excels, but fashion too. I’ve already penned a post about their signature burkini. Lori has bought a number of wraps and tops there, and the only jewellery I ever bought in the Maldives was at Nala (a pair of lovely round enamel earrings with the Maldives azures and turquoises).

You can also find some properly distinctive mementos and gifts to bring home. One of my favourites is the line of coconut products. Coconut is the zeitgeist of Kurumba, and as I have written, Kurumba even produces its own coconut oil which it uses in everything from cooking to the toiletries at your villa. And if you want to bring home a bit of Maldives essence, then you can purchase these same products and even the coconut oil itself at the shop.

Most gift shops are pedestrian “phone it in” affairs, but Kurumba’s is an entrepreneurial inspiration by the manager Victoria Kruse (see above…wife of the resort GM). She scrutinizes the fashion range, introduces inventive products like the burkini and the resort-made coconut oil and makes sure that it caters to what people really need and want.

Best of the Maldives: Cool Character-ature – Huvafenfushi

 

It seems like every possible moment of a holiday is captured by the ubiquitous digi-gadgets snapping every possible permutation of sunset, seascape and romantic pose. For a more stylish and creative worth-a-thousand-words memento, Huvafenfushi has introduced celebrity portraiture. Feature last week in the Sunday Times, they describe…

“The award-winning artist Jasmin Khexri – whose cool fictional character Irma doles out fashion and beauty advice in Vogue, Tatler and Marie Claire – will be in residence at the resort in October. Kherzi will draw portraits in her distinctive style which giving sitters creative tips on how to bring a bit of Irma’s World into their lives. A session costs £360.”

 

Huvafenfushi - Irma style

Best of the Maldives: Sari Hire – Nika

Nika sari hire

 

If Black Friday or your trip of a lifetime has depleted your bank account so you have to watch what you buy, then you might consider renting your outfit. Especially, if it is a very elegant piece of couture. Like its neighbour Gangehi, Nika’s main shop also offers a range of clothing complete with custom tailoring. But it also offers a range of saris for wedding hire. So you can have the most ravishing piece without the expensive or having to cram it into your suitcase.

Best of the Maldives: Tailoring – Gangehi

Gangehi tailoring

 

 

One of the traditional gifts for an 8th anniversary is linen. And another Maldives modelling gig for Lori (see below).

Lori had been looking for some more warm weather dresses, but has struggled to find styles she likes that fit her the way she wants. When we arrived at Gangehi we met Kumareshan at the gift shop who offers a complete dress making service. This seemed like a fine solution, but with our short stay, we only had a few hours until departure. Not a problem, Kumareshan took the measurements and had the dress ready for us while we ate lunch. And at a relative snip for 95 euros.

 

Gangehi tailor 2

 

Gangehi dress

Best of the Maldives: Burkini – Kurumba

Kurumba burquini

  

The native Maldives and Islamic traditions are famously much more discreet in their female fashions. Such sartorial covering is fine but the extra garments can be a hindrance swimming in the water. Hence the “burkini”. A swimming costume designed to provide the modesty of a “burqa” with the fabric and styling optimised for swimming (like a “bikini”). Actually, the “burqa” is the traditional Islamic dress that even covers the face. In covering its closer to the “khimar” (so maybe a better term is “bikhimi”?).

Such garments are traditional for Muslims, but also a great solution of the sensitive of skin. My father has had a number of skin cancers and only goes out well covered up on sunny days making swimming not easy nor enjoyable.

Kurumba is leading the this fashion statement with their own signature burkini at their gift shop which Lori kindly modelled for us.

 

Kurumba burquini 2