The bird’s eye view of the Maldives is one of the highlights of the destination and you don’t get much higher than the European Space Agency’s “Observing the Earth” application. This video a strikingly vivid satellite perspective of the Male area (with a rather banal narration).
The Maldives may not be moving the heavens, but they are moving the earth to provide more opportunities to welcome visitors. For some environmental activists, “terraforming” is as dirty a word as the mounds of dirt it involves. But I am more supportive of the Maldives’ use of terraforming. For a country that is nearly 1000 kilometres long, to reclaim a few kilometres for living or economic purposes seems quite a reasonable trade-off. Especially, if the aquatic regions chosen are more barren sandy lagoon than vibrant reef (and even then, work done with as eco-friendly protocols as possible). The entire Crossroad complex which currently includes Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon were constructed in this manner and eventually 7 more resort “islands” will be developed in the general area. The environmental study that was performed to prepare for this dramatic transformation of the ocean was extensive but nonetheless controversial among sceptics. For those who are accepting of this strategy to building their economy, the engineering scale and sophistication is quite impressive. The YouTube video above provides a taste of what is involved, but actually the History Channel (Asia) did a fully documentary programme on the project (see trailer below) to look out for if you get a chance to watch it.
I don’t know if this Top Tens writer had a few too many Guinness’s (Happy St. Patrick’s Day today) when writing this piece or whether they were just trying to be as provocatively counterintuitive as possible for click-bait. But nonetheless, I am open-minded and thought I would check out their “10 Beautiful Places in the World That Actually Kinda Suck”. The video piece not only featured the “Maldives” at #4, but actually highlighted it as their splash image to the video.
I wondered if they were just going to harp on some esoteric, quirky aspect of the destination with a semi-justified albeit tongue-in-cheek winge. But as it turns out, their piece appears to be as completely serious as it is completely misinformed. It’s like they didn’t even bother to do any proper to do any proper research and chose instead to parrot some schoolyard gossip that they heard about this popular cool kid who they envied.
I thought about correcting their errors here, but instead I chose to try my hand at my first Maldives Complete “reaction video”. As it happens, I’ve been quietly been posting videos to my “Maldives Complete” YouTube channel primarily as a way to conveniently host videos for sharing here. But as “Subscribe” is the new “RSS”, please hit the “Like” and “Subscribe” button if you want me to do more videos.
World Oceans Day today. While travelling to the ocean to see turtles might still be limited, the Coco Collection has shared a way to bring them right into your own home during lockdown.
I’ve regularly featured striking towel creations, but now Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Bodu Hithi have shared an instructional video so you can create these creatures yourself. They’ve started with a quite elaborate turtle construction.
Happy home schooling!
Since it will be a while before most of us can go explore the Maldivian reefs, Six Senses Laamu is bringing their reef to us with a virtual reality 360 degree view of one of the local manta ray cleaning stations:
- · “We’re in Week 5 of our online Junior Marine Biology program with amazing work sent in to us from kids all over the world…Or that manta rays “dance” because … well tune in to find out! Particularly special is the recent remote underwater video footage captured in the waters around Laamu as well as the chance to meet a manta ray in virtual reality. The video works on your computer, tablet or smartphone, but we recommend a tablet or smartphone for the most immersive experience.”
Back at the resort, they also have a set of VR glasses to bring the experience to guests with even more realism (see below).
Underwater immersion without being immersed in water!
The Netflix series “Our Planet” is the latest in the David Attenborough wildlife adventures with an increasing emphasis on its fragility and need for preservation. Soneva Fushi introduces a slate of its own budding guides to the natural world of its own little plot of sand in the middle of the ocean with its Change-Maker series and the efforts they are undertaking to preserve this little corner of our planet…
- “Films that highlight how we’re recognising and tackling some of the issues greater than ourselves; told by the Change-Makers of Soneva. These amazing individuals represent everything we stand for – recognising that it’s their role to be part of the positive change we want our planet to see. From Ellie Butler, Soneva Jani’s Marine Biologist tackling ocean plastic to Chef Kevin Fawkes, who creates dishes beyond our wildest imagination with ingredients from our organic garden.”
Instagram has started as a straightforward snap sharing service from simple phone cameras, but it has exploded so much that now you get Hollywood quality productions being shared. I check out the Maldives geotag every morning over coffee as a great scouting radar for resort highlights as well as the latest fashionista shoots so I have been tracking the Maldives material for a couple of years. The video clips have increasing popped up and feature more and more in my fashionista posts. My favourite, that really stuck out for its sophistication and quirky style is Nicole Mazzocato’s post (above) filmed by Fabio Colloricchio.
While the summer winds down in the Northern Hemisphere, Maldives remains an Endless Summer. The dramatic photos capture some gnarly moments on the board, the year round Maldives really comes to life in video.
- “Billabong Girls” – Courtney Conlogue (USA), Catherine Clark (USA), Alessa Quizon (USA), Felicity Palmateer (Australia), Ellie-jean Coffey (Australia), Paige Hareb (New Zealand), Justine Dupont (France) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
- “Nobody Surf” – Monyca Eleogram (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), Kelia Moniz (USA), Zoe Cros (Australia)
- “KALOEA Surfer Girls” – Eve Riviere (Australia) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
- Angelika Timanina (Russia)
- “Roxy Surf Team” – Kassia Meador (USA), Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia), Rosy Hodge (South Africa), Monyca Byrne-Wickey (USA), Kelia Moniz (USA), Bruna Schmitz (Brazil)
6. “Beautiful Maldives from Above” – Yoni Klein and Caity Griffin (Israel / USA) – Cokes Surf Point7. “Sally Fitz in the Maldives” – Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia) – Cokes Surf Point
There is no reason to not come to Shangri-La Villingili.
The number one reason people give against coming to the Maldives is the myth that “There’s nothing to do there.” Admittedly, some of the smaller islands do have limited activities (but that is actually a draw for some people). But Villingili is a spacious island enabling it to support a rich infrastructure of activities and facilities. The spa is one of the largest in the Maldives and it sports a mini “village” of shops, services, dive centre, photo studio, etc.
The biggest activity “can’t do” complaint about the Maldives is golf. Many affluent travellers are happy to go just about anywhere…as long as they can swing a club. A few golf facilities have cropped up over the years across the Maldives, but only Shangri-La sports a full 9 hole course with independent fairways. Lori and I played a round during our stay and we were thoroughly impressed. Our home in Buckinghamshire, England has no shortage of world-class golf courses and Shangri-La’s is as challenging and thrilling course as any. They are short holes (maximum hole is just under 200 yards) so no opportunity to practice your 200 yard drive. But, the modern game is all about the approach shots anyway, and as the old saying goes, “drive for show, putt for dough.” The greens and fairways are all as well maintained and manicured as any prime English course. Yes, you can play serious golf in the Maldives…at Shangri-La. Seriously laid out, seriously challenging, seriously beautiful surroundings and seriously fun.
Among Maldives aficionados, the big showstopper to choosing a resort is the “housereef”. And no house reef is adequate without (a) a drop off, and (b) easy access. Shangri-La ticks the housereef box strongly. A special set of stairs on the northern water villas jetty provides a very simple entry (I love stairs because it is so much easier to put on your fins without getting sand in everything). Given the vagaries of maritime creatures, I am always impressed by resorts’ “called shots” in the sport of snorkelling where they call out “if you go here, you are virtually guaranteed to see this…” In Villingili’s case it was turtles. Several turtles are virtual residents there. And no less than 10 minutes into the water one of them came swimming up to us (see video clip below). Actually, it’s not too surprising as Villingili has its own turtle nesting area (which it has marked off and protected).
Another reason people avoid straying too far from the resorts close to Male is avoiding the seaplane transfers. Seaplane schedules can be quite changeable and timings are especially vulnerable to the weather. Also, some people are bothered by flying in such a small, loud, unpressurized craft, like a seaplane. But the transfer to Gan is by domestic turbo prop planes. The schedules are fixed so you will know your logistics precisely before you set off. And they fly higher over the weather in more comfortable, pressurised planes. And for the well-heeled clientele, the Gan airport accommodates private jets and Villingili provides a special greeting service where you are picked up on the tarmac. Private jets can even fly directly to Gan and clear customs avoiding a Male transfer altogether. An increasing number of charters and commercial operators are looking to expand services here so everyone can have this direct connection convenience.
If you are thinking of an exceptional stay at Villingili, then there’s nothing stopping you.