I’ve often described the Maldives as that iconic plot of sand in the middle of the ocean with a palm tree on it. At Vakkaru, you can dine at your very own homage to this icon at its banquet table at its Isoletta restaurant complete with its very own arboreal canopy (thanks Paola).
Today’s “Best Of” is sort of a “half” have-seen. Like the one in the 12th edition of “Haven’t Seen Yet” (#2) with the ocean inspired table at both Kandima and Kanuhura resorts. I call it “half seen” because while the style is precisely what I thought ideal for a Maldives resort, my fantasy is one constructed based on the actual topology of the island (and its underwater house reef).
The favorite, even iconic, holes in the boards in the Maldives are the infamous glass floors of the water villas. But, Safari Island has lifted this feature with its indoor glass table. Sure beats a coffee table boo of underwater photography to instead sit down and gaze at the real thing. It’s a nice twist so that you can linger, perhaps over a cuppa or a cocktail to real savour this special view instead of staring down at your feet.
A number of resorts bring the produce of their garden directly to your table and some sit your table in the garden itself, but now at Kanuhura the garden actually joins you at the table. Don’t worry about having someone pass the water as the table includes is very own embedded water feature passing right through it.
Glass floors have become a signature design feature in Maldives water villas, but Six Senses Laamu has literally raised the concept to a new level. Their Lagoon Water Villa has transparent portal into the colourful lagoon below, but by making it a table, it’s easier to sit down and enjoy the spectacle with a tropical cocktail.
Today’s post has triggered the addition of a new category tag of the best “Tables” in the blog.
For those who like to get close to the cooking in action, but without actually getting their hands dirty, the ‘Chef’s Table’ is an intimate way to savour the smells and action of a vibrant kitchen operation. Increasingly, top restaurants are exposing their kitchens rather than sequestering them out in some back room separated from diners with some swinging doors made for comedy collisions. Now, expansive set-up counters expose the chopping, a stirring and flame-fired cooking a short glance away from your table.
Kandooma has an actual proper Chef’s Table set in the kitchen itself. It’s not just a front-row, court-side seat, but the whole ambience of the meal changes. You are less of a spectator and more of a participant (but without the hustling and dirty work). The chef’s come over and chat and sometimes show or share something they are working on.
I didn’t get to do the Chef’s Table during our visit, but I did have the treat of one at Gordon Ramsay’s at Claridges Hotel a few years back and it was a whole different dining experience. Kandooma can seat up to 14 and like most chef’s table, the menu is quite customised to your particular interests.
No collection of tree top vistas would be complete without one of the first, Soneva Fushi’s ‘Fresh in the Garden’ restaurant. Sort of Sun Island ‘Zero’ on steroids. And in the open air. Instead of a canopy of tropical plants, you get a canopy of sparkling stars. And if any provoke your curiosity in particular, the Soneva Fushi observatory is conveniently attached by an elevated walkway.
The Maldives has all sorts of creative dining tables. We were delighted by the little sunken-under-glass zen garden design to the tables in Ocean Grill restaurant of Kurumba. Of course, there are some pretty creative places to eat, like Velassaru’s ‘sand castle’ and Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s ‘in-pool’ dining. And the Soneva Fushi and Soneva Gili cellar tables are especially whimsical befitting their surroundings. But the acid test of ‘oooh, I want one of those’ gets passed with flying colours by Park Hyatt Hadahaa with their elongated table in burl wood (I mentioned that I am a sucker for burl wood) which forms the centrepiece of their The Dining Room restaurant. Seriously, I am looking into having a similar one made for our house it impresses me so much. Sakis has another perspective on it here.
Seven years ago today, one of the most profound natural disasters of modern times hit Asian with the Boxing Day Tsunami. With an epicenter in Sumatra, it still yielded deadly force thousands of miles away in the Maldives where 68 people died and 300 were injured.
Like all of the countries affected, the Maldives mourned their losses and started the process of rebuilding. Many resorts were struck which led to renovation projects. The One & Only Kanuharu were hit which, among other damage, fell many of their trees on the east side of the island. As a part of the clean up, Kanuhura’s on-island wood-workers gathered up the downed tree trunks and fashioned them into tables that are used throughout their Handhuvaru lounge. Lots of resorts have all sorts of creative designer furnishings throughout, but these simple, locally hand-hewn creations memorializing a pivotal event in the region’s history are the most compelling to me.