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

Best of the Maldives: Pool Water Volleyball – Club Med Kani

Club Med Kani - pool volleyball

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace today. As you explore sport around the world, one of our favourite pub quiz questions is “What is the SECOND biggest sport in a country?” That’s because, working in the sports industry as I have been, you quickly learn that there is one major sport in the world that has lots of completely different styles, but only one name – “Football”. Soccer, American Football (NFL), Aussie Rules. Completely different games, but one shared name and all dominant in their countries. So number two is intriguing as well as diverse.

  • Formula 1 – 17 countries (eg. Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Singapore)
  • Basketball – 11 countries (eg. Greece, Turkey, Argentina, China, USA)
  • Ice Hockey – 8 countries (eg. Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia)
  • Rugby – 4 countries (eg. UK, France, Ireland, South Africa)

What is particularly intriguing are the second biggest sports that are relatively unique to that country. A few of my favourite examples…

  • New Zealand – Netball
  • Thailand – Kick Boxing
  • Mexico – Boxing
  • Iran – Table Tennis
  • Egypt – Squash
  • Pakistan – Field Hockey
  • Denmark – Handball

All that said, Football isn’t top of the heap absolutely everywhere. Here are a sample of countries where a sport other than Football is number one…

  • Canada – Ice Hockey
  • Croatia – Tennis
  • Cuba – Baseball
  • India – Cricket
  • Latvia – Basketball
  • New Zealand – Rugby
  • Pakistan – Cricket
  • Taiwan – Basketball

The Maldives is no different with Football being the most popular. And it’s #2 sport, at least among the resort workers, the #2 sport is Volleyball (same as Brazil). And in the Maldives, there are all types of volleyball. Most resort staff field serious teams that play other resorts with regularity on some quite sophisticated courts. Maldivians play court volleyball, beach volleyball…and of course water volleyball. And the resort where it is most prevalent is Club Med Kani. Kani’s main pool seems to always have some sort of major group activity going on and volleyball is one of the popular ones.

Ace service!

Best of the Maldives: Thai Boxing – Centara Ras Fushi


Today is a double holiday in Thailand – both the King’s Birthday, honouring Thai tradition and culture, and Fathers Day. The latter is more than a card occasion and is marked by this official holiday.

Someone who will be marking the day is Prasit Latsila Sujith K.V. from Phuket who teaches yoga, tai chi, and Pilates at Centara Ras Fushi. He also teaches the ideal sport for today – Thai Kick Boxing.

As it happens, Thai boxing skills are typically “passed down through the generations” according to Prasit and he learned the art from his father. He competed when he was young and studied it at university.

Another curious fact about Thai Boxing (or Thai Kick Boxing) is that it is the second biggest sport in Thailand. One of the first things I learned running Piero (sport television graphics) is that “Football” is the #1 sport in nearly every country in the world (“American Football” in USA, “Aussie Rules football in Australia, and “Soccer” football everywhere else). The variety comes in which sport is the second most popular. Motor Racing, Basketball, Ice Hockey and Rugby are the most common “2nd sports”. Thai Kick Boxing is one of the rare solo seconds, ie. the only country where the sport is #2 (another example of a “solo second” is Netball in New Zealand and Squash in Egypt).

Prasit offers regular and requested classes at the waterside yoga pavilion which is part of the resort spa (see photos). A session starts with the “Ram Muay” which is a “show of respect to the teacher” and a warm-up. And today in Thailand, is one big “Ram Muay” for wisdom imparting fathers everywhere.


Centara Ras Fushi - thai boxing 3

Centara Ras Fushi - thai boxing 2

Best of the Maldives: Covered Tennis Court – Velaa

Velaa - covered tennis court

I’m always a bit surprised at how popular the sport of tennis is in the Maldives. Some visitors struggle to conceive of any pulse-elevating activity in this languorous paradise. The water sports and pool games I can understand since the water cools you off and they don’t take that much exertion.

One answer to the tropical heat is to move the activity into an air conditioned buildings like most of the fitness centres. But then you are sort of segregated from the natural fresh air and environs you came to immerse yourself in. Plus, a full sized indoor tennis court would be a lot of AC.

It’s an issue for people like my father who as it happens turn 80 years old today. And he is still playing competitive tennis. Still dissecting his swing for that serving perfection. For him, the brilliant sun is more than just energy sapping and dehydrating, but it is also a medical concern as he has had a few skin cancers removed so he needs to watch his exposure to the sun.

Velaa resort has the perfect solution. Their full sized covered court provides the best of both worlds inside and out. The roof shields from the sun (and the occasional rain) while the open sides maintain an outside feel. They have also installed patented “Big Ass Fans”, gigantic ceiling fans which gently move the air around the help keep it fresh. Finally, they have set up a training wall for those who just want to practice some hitting on their own.

With all this tennis enthusiasm and innovations, I’ve added a new new “Tennis” tag to the blog.

Happy 80th Birthday Dad.