Jocks on the Docks

Youri Zoon (Netherlands) – Maafushi - Surfer

Surfer girls aren’t the only athletes drawn to the idyllic shores of the Maldives. I’ve noticed that Bunyamin Ahmed’s Instagram feed has been particularly chocker recently with footballers arriving in the Maldives. But every manner of athlete finds a bit of regeneration and recovery from this relaxing setting. Here is a top ten sample (sorry there’s not more ladies, but the guys just don’t post as prolifically as the gals)…

  1. Youri Zoon (Netherlands) Maafushi – Surfer [ABOVE]
  2. Michael Phelps (USA) – Conrad Rangali – Olympic Swimmer
    Michael Phelps (USA) – Conrad Rangali - Olympic Swimmer
  3. Almog Sharf (Israel) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi – Surfer
    Almog Sharf (Israel) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi - Surfer
  4. Irshaad Sayed (South Africa) – Kanuhura – Mixed Martial Arts
    Irshaad Sayed (South Africa) – Kanuhura – Mixed Martial Arts
  5. Cornelius Atkinson (United Kingdom) – Soneva Fushi – Acrobat
    Cornelius Atkinson (United Kingdom) – Soneva Fushi - Acrobat
  6. DL Scott (USA) COMO by Maalifushi – Body Builder
    DL Scott (USA) – COMO by Maalifushi - Body Builder
  7. Alex (United Kingdom) – Komandoo – Racing driver
    Alex (United Kingdom) – Komandoo - Racing Driver
  8. Constantine (Bulgaria) – Olhuveli – Yoga
    Constantine (Bulgaria) – Olhuveli - Yoga
  9. Matteo (Italy) – Amilla Fushi – Body Builder
    Matteo (Italy) – Amilla Fushi - Body Builder
  10. Faissal Zouhir (USA) – Six Senses Laamu – Fitness
    Faissal Zouhir (USA) – Six Senses Laamu - Fitness

Best of the Maldives: Links Golf – Shanrgi-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili - golf course start

Golf is a good walk spoiled” – Mark Twain

And if you are going to “spoil” your walk, you might as well make it a great one along the coastal beauty of Maldivian paradise. According to Shangri-La Villingili (and I haven’t been able to find any examples to contradict them), their 9-hole golf course is the *only* course in the world where *every* hole is on the ocean. Of course, Scottish links are the world showcases for links play, but even the legendary St. Andrews only has its front nine on the ocean (the back nine returns inland).

I love it when Maldives resorts push their activities out to the ocean. For years, the “activities” (eg. spas, fitness centres, sports areas) were sequestered in the middle of the island. I guess this made use of this interior and they figured that people would be so busy doing their thing that they wouldn’t need breath-taking views. But the whole point of doing these activities on holiday in the Maldives is to enjoy them *with* the bonus of the enchanting ambiance. Now, the top properties put their spas and gyms and other activities right on the water which lured people to the destination in the first place.

During our Tour visit to Villingili this summer, Lori and I actually got to play a proper round of golf on this distinctive course. As I noted in my tour report, it might be just a par 3 course, but it is still a serious course – seriously laid out, seriously challenging, seriously beautiful surroundings and seriously fun. Not our best round of playing (see Twain quote above), but certainly one of the most spectacular rounds we’ve ever played.

The course does require a very precise approach game as the fairways are narrow (limited real estate) and unforgiving (eg, the big, blue ocean looming to the right of every shot). Elite golf these days is all about the approach. Everyone on Tour can drive plenty far enough with accuracy, but the birdies are made on heroic approach shots landing close to the pin or heroic putts from further away from the pin (and the former are a bit easier to achieve for a pro).

Also during our stay, I had a chance to meet one of the course designers and architect, Kai Smit, and ask him a few questions about this Olympic calibre course. As the Rio Games finish up today (including the first ever Olympic Golf Tournament), here is an in depth look at Maldives’ own tropical golf course…

• What was the inspiration to build a golf course on such limited space?

The southern tip of Villingili Island was undeveloped and the location where the Project Contractor Dormitory was located. This parcel of land was also the logistics centre for materials and equipment that had to be imported to construct the Hotel. It also served as a centre for project waste collection before shipped off the island. The Challenge was twofold, namely 1) to restore the natural habitat and environment to be consistent with the rest of the Island and 2.) try to introduce a value added recreational activity for Resort Guests without harming the environment. The orientation and scale of the peninsula lent itself to be a superb 9 hole – Par 3 Golf Course. Providing a pleasant walk at Dawn and Dusk. All Golf Holes could be routed alongside the ocean, creating 9 greens next to water and ensuring that when playing at dawn or dusk – the players did not look into the sun on the first five outward holes and the last three inward holes. The only hole that the player may look into the sun at Dawn is the signature 6th Hole that faces eastward – and what a sight that can be!

• What was the biggest challenge to building the course?

The limited supply of sand and elevation of the land . Neap tide also presented some challenges as the course is low lying and the eastern shoreline on the peninsula can experience some rough sea conditions.

• What is your favourite hole?

The signature 6th Hole with the ocean backdrop of breaking waves.

• Any tips for playing for course?

Ensure that you have enough golf balls and stay out of the ocean. Generally, the course favours the player hitting a draw as opposed to those players who like to shape the shot from left to right. Below is a photo tour of the course with the overall layout map directly below, with the individual hole layouts below that. Then following is each of the (a) tee shot views, and (b) green views.

Clubbing at its best!

Shangri-La Villingili - golf course layout

Shangri-La Villingili - golf course card

(click on picture for a zoom in)

1st HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 1 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 1 - green

2nd HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 2 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 2 - green

3rd HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 3 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 3 - green

4th HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 4 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 4 - green

5th HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 5 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 5 - green

6th HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 6 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 6 - green

7th HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 7 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 7 - green

8th HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 8 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 8 - green

9th HOLE
Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 9 - tee view  Shangri-La Villingili - golf course - hole 9 - green

Maldives Guide to Gymnastics

AERIAL - Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi - 2

The final day of the most aesthetically enchanting event of the Olympics – Gymnastics. Perfectly honed athletes performing exquisitely choreographed routines with balletic grace. For those of you who have not quite figured out the difference between your triple salto and your Yurchenko loop, Maldives Complete has assembled a small primer for you…

AERIAL – Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi [ ABOVE]

HANDSTAND – Ea Nitsche Holm (Hong Kong) – Anantara Kihavah
HANDSTAND - Ea Nitsche Holm (Hong Kong) – Anantara Kihavah


LANDING – Jade Kiss (Canada) – Conrad Rangali
LANDING - Jade Kiss (Canada) – Conrad Rangali

PIKE – Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
PIKE - Jessica Olie (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - 9

PLANCHE – Jess Watson (Indonesia) – Maafushi
PLANCHE - Jess Watson (Indonesia) – Maafushi

RING JUMP – Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi
RING JUMP - Sjana Elise Earp (Australia) – Amilla Fushi

ROUND-OFF – Chloe Lambertt (Australia) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
ROUND OFF - Chloe Lambertt (Australia) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

SPLIT – Alana Kay (USA) – Anantara Dhigu
SPLIT - Alana Kay (USA) – Anantara Dhigu

TUCK – Tara Stiles (USA) – W Retreat
TUCK - Tara Stiles (USA) – W Retreat

TWIST – Melissa Pretorius (Australia) – Kandooma
TWIST - Melissa Pretorius (Australia) – Kandooma

YANG BO – Maiama Khateli (Netherlands) – Canareef
YANG BO - Maiama Khateli (Netherlands) – Canareef

Fashionable Footwork

Emelie Natasha (Sweden) – Sheraton Full Moon

The biggest event of the biggest world sporting competition takes place today – the 100 metre dash. The fastest human alive. Despite the aesthetic appeal of sunny sports like Beach Volleyball (the second fastest sport to sell out at the Olympics), it is always the 100 metre Final that is the top seller. In honor of just shy of 10 seconds of running, here are 10 perfect 10s getting into the striding spirit in the Maldives…

  1. Emelie Natasha (Swedish) – Sheraton Full Moon [ABOVE]
  2. Natallia Yakimchyk (Poland) – Anantara Kihavah Villas
    Natallia Yakimchyk (Poland) – Anantara Kihavah Villas
  3. Mona (Russia) – Kurumba
    Mona (Russia) – Kurumba

  4. Tatiana Vasilieva (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Tatiana Vasilieva (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi

  5. Luo Zilin (China) – The Residence
    Luo Zilin (China) – The Residence

  6. Jelena Petelinkar (OAE) – Kandooma
    Jelena Petelinkar (OAE) – Kandooma

  7. Alain Antonenko (Ukraine) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Alain Antonenko (Ukraine) – Sun Siyam Irufushi

  8. Faya Nillson (Sweden) – W Retreat
    Faya Nillson (Sweden) – W Retreat

  9. Camille Brady (USA) – Maalifushi
    Camille Brady (USA) – Maalifushi

  10. Missy Rayder (USA) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Missy Rayder (USA) – Sun Siyam Irufushi

Best of the Maldives: Kids Golf – Velaa

Velaa - kids golf

Not only do the Olympics introduce you to some sports you might not have seen regularly on TV, but the Games themselves are introducing new sports keeping up with the athletic trends around the world. One of the new sports is Golf. Well, not totally new. It was a part of the Ganes back in 1904, but dropped ever since. Assuming it will stick around a bit longer this time, you have the chance to get junior or lil miss ready for Paris/Rome/Budpest/LA 2024 at Velaa’s elite links. Maybe a lil’ course for the lil’uns, but make no mistake…these are no toys. Velaa kits even the little ones out with top of the line Callaway equipment (see above).

Best of the Maldives: Astro-Turf Badminton Court– Velaa

Velaa - astro-turf badminton court

The Olympics give the lower profile sports their moment in the global, primetime spotlight. Sports like badminton, typically relegated to the sports center or back yard set up. But Velaa resort provides a pro-quality badminton outdoor venue. Most outdoor courts are on hard sand or asphalt. Their court has top of the line astro-turf which provides great foot grip, a softer surface which is easier on the joints, and a cooler surface in the tropical sun. But to get the ‘grass’ just the right height, the court is sprinkled with soft sand imported from Europe. And the court is properly measured and lined for singles or doubles matches. Olympic-standard badminton for fun-in-the-sun volleying.

Best of the Maldives: Stott Pilates – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah pilates machine

Versatile athletes need weight training for strength, cardio for endurance and  technique. Pilates is tainted with a bit of a “aging bored housewife” stereotype, but it is great for the flexibility and core fitness needed for top technique in most sports. I have also started practicing Pilates every week with a group of guys in the neighbourhood. And if you want to see a real manly pro then check in with Lindley (photo) at One & Only Reethi Rah who offers “Stott Pilates” instruction. The “Stott” variant focuses on the “natural curvature of the spine” rather than a more straight alignment of conventional Pilates.  Our sessions at home use maybe a ball or a band, but Reethi is kitted out with a number of high-tech specialist Pilates machines for the most advanced workout I’ve come across.

Best of the Maldives: Walking / Running Path – Kurumba

Kurumba - running pathway

Olympic Day today. And a particularly timely one with Rio 2016 just around the corner. Elite athletes around world (well, the clean ones at least) will be in the final stages of preparing for their lifetime’s pursuit. A few of my friends in the rowing world will be making the trip to Brazil with Team GB.

If you fancy a bit of chill before the thrill (or you are consoling yourself for missing out on selection), then you can still carry on your roadwork training in the Maldives…at Kurumba. The resort features a handy little running track effectives. A paved pathway circumnavigating the island.

Running on the beach can provide a more exhausting workout, but the unsteady surface can result in a losing your footing and maybe even twisting your ankle (not something you want to either right before your Olympic event or even just on holiday). Many paths in the Maldives crisscross the islands, but Kurumba’s is a handy loop which allows for a convenient circuit just over a kilometre (see above). Some parts pass under nicely shading palms trees and other parts run fairly close to the ocean’s edge for an inspiring seaside vista.

Every time we have visited the resort, we have seen a guest jogging on it. In fact, GM Jason Kruse shared his own run (see above).

Gold medal to Kurumba.

Best of the Maldives: Night Beach Football – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - night beach football

The moon isn’t the only enchanting orb to lighten up the night time at Huvafenfushi. The resort holds regular night beach football games including regular tournaments (we were there to watch the Ramadan World Cup semi finals – see below). Their sandy pitch includes full stadium lighting and boundary markings.

Huvafenfushi - mini World Cup

Best of the Maldives: Croquet – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah croquet 2

Today starts the Ascot Cup Croquet World Championship, but the undisputed Maldives croquet champ is One & Only Reethi Rah. They have their own built-to-purpose, manicured, regulation size croquet lawn at their appropriately named – “The Lawn Club”. It is kitted out with an elegant wooden mallet set (see below). So Reethi’s restaurants aren’t the only place to enjoy a special ‘bisque’, a chilly ‘crush’, or a handy ‘tea lady’.

One and Only Reethi Rah lawn club

One and Only Reethi Rah - croquet