Category Archives: Local

Atmosphere Resort Opens in the Maldives


Stretched across the picturesque Lhaviyani Atoll, the Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives resort presents 150 villas all with direct access to a pristine lagoon and the utmost privacy. The villas, which start at generous 100 square meters, are spaced at least four meters apart and are positioned so that each one has a stunning sunset view across the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Created with natural materials including timber, marble, and granite, the villas’ look is inspired by traditional island and modern architecture.

To ensure guests are in want of nothing, Atmosphere is kitted out with fun activities including a PADI-certified dive center, two swimming pools, one located on the sunrise side of the island and the other on the sunset side, and the Akiri Spa by Mandara. The large garden spa has 12 treatment rooms and specializes in natural, holistic rituals, including Ayurvedic therapies. And if guests aren’t sure where to start, the resort has an entertainment and recreation manager, who can make suggestions or plans.

When it comes to food and beverages, Atmosphere treats guests to a wide array including the Maldives’ first vegetarian restaurant, The Veg, which serves Mediterranean, Arabic, and even Jain-friendly menus. There is also a teppanyaki grill and The Spice, which services international cuisine in a buffet style, complete with live cooking station. For drinks, there are two bars located in the pool areas.

For more information, visit the Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives (Lhaviyani Atoll Maldives; 960/662-0066; doubles from US$767, inclusive).

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa wins Leading Dive Resort at Matato Maldives Travel Awards


Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has been named the leading dive resort in the Maldives at the prestigious Matato Maldives Travel Awards. The combination of the Hadahaa 360 degree pristine house reef, world class dive sites and a highly knowledgeable dive team is the recipe for this recognition. The ceremony took place in the capital Malé on 21st December 2013.
The Maldives is known as one of the world’s leading dive destinations and the hotel is delighted to be awarded the best dive resort in the country. This award is a huge achievement and a truly great honour for the dive and activity team, Blue Journeys at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.  

The 5 Star PADI Blue Journeys team offer the very best dive and activity experiences catering for many nationalities including Chinese and Russian. The team is the foundation of what is an unparalleled diving experience for any level of diver from Bubble Maker to Dive Master. The Blue Journeys team also includes Ciara McCarten, the resident Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Marine Biologist responsible for coordinating all EarthCheck practices, conservation initiatives, monitoring of the house reef and guest workshops on topics ranging from identifying marine life to estimating fish stock and preservation and nurturing of the environment to both guests and staff alike.
Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is situated on a private island, 55km north of the Equator in one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world, North Huvadhoo. The island is home to a pristine 360 degree house reef rivalling any spot in the Maldives. With no need for boats and being able to simply jump off the jetty, the house reef is a jewel in the Blue Journey crown. Why?
• Nationwide research has found the house reef to have the greatest coral cover in the Maldives, exceeding 100% cover
• Hot spot for biodiversity and home to an exceptional number of species
• Endangered species frequently sighted. Between 10-20% of the marine species are classified as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable by the IUCN

The natural composition of this Maldives atoll means there are numerous pristine dive sites and scuba diving regions filled with exciting features like caves, steep drop offs and beautiful underwater landscapes, not to mention the breathtaking coral formations and abundance of Maldives fish life.

Velaa Private Island Resort Boasts its Own Superyacht


Guests staying at a new ultra luxury resort in the Maldives can enjoy access to the resort’s very own superyacht.

Located on a previously uninhabited private island in the northern Noonu Atoll region of the Maldives, Velaa Private Island resort boasts over 40 private accommodations, comprising beach bungalows and romantic water villas, each with their own dedicated butler and swimming pool.

For yachting lovers, the resort’s own superyacht means guests can arrange a spontaneous day cruise or an intimate dinner on board, prepared by the yacht’s on-board chef.

The brainchild of Czech entrepreneur, Jiří Šmejc, the resort also features an array of other lavish facilities including a high end spa, a golf academy, a dedicated diving centre, and a restaurant specialising in the Teppanyaki style of Japanese cuisine.

The cost to stay at Velaa Private Island starts at around $1500 per night, rising to $30,000 for the most luxurious rooms.


Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives wins Leading Family Resort award for second year running


Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives has been named for the second year in succession as Leading Family Resort in the Maldives Travel Awards 2013.

“The awards were started in 2012, when we entered in this category and won,” says Voytek Klasicki, general manager of Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives. “Winning for the second time is a tremendous triumph for us, as the competition was intense. Our team here on the island is thrilled. Our success reflects on each and every one of them.”

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives is located in the South Ari Atoll, about 25 minutes by seaplane from Male International Airport, or 15 minutes by speedboat from the domestic Maamigili Airport.

The resort in 2013 launched a promotion with domestic carrier Flyme in which one child travelling with a family has a free flight from Male International Airport to Maamagili Airport. One child also stays at the resort completely free of charge, leaving parents with only the cost of the international flight.

Centara Hotels & Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 47 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom. A further 18 resorts in the Maldives, Vietnam, Shanghai, Bali Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius Indian Ocean, Ethiopia brings the present total to 65 properties. Brands and properties within Centara ensure that specific categories such as couples, families, individuals, and meetings and incentives groups will all find a hotel or resort that is appropriate to their needs.

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Another postcard from paradise! Ronan Keating and girlfriend tweet more snaps from romantic Maldives break


Ronan Keating and his Australian girlfriend are having a blissful time in the Maldives – and they want the world to know it.

The X Factor Australia judge, 36, posted yet another photo of himself and his girlfriend Storm Uechtritz, 32, as they finished their latest PADI diving course on the island.

The couple look giddy with excitement and exhaustion in the snap, where both are sporting wide smiles.

Another photo from his social media profile shows their mouth-watering lunch.

Two whole red snappers are laid side by side on a large plate, and are seasoned with generous slices of lime and lemon.

The fish were caught on the couple’s fishing expedition the night before with the Irish native accompanying the picture by saying: ‘I kid you not these are the fish @StormUechtritz caught yesterday And now it’s time for lunch’.

A photo of the happy couple holding up a freshly caught fish was uploaded to Ronan’s Instagram on Wednesday.

The couple holidayed in the Maldives, where they are staying at the five-star Viceroy resort and spa.

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Blake Lively is make-up free, beautiful in Maldives with Ryan Reynolds


Blake Lively always looks amazing, whether she’s walking the red carpet, smoldering in advertising campaigns or simply make-up free and chilling out on holiday.

The Gossip Girl actress looked the picture of radiance as she enjoyed a New Year’s sunshine break to the Maldives with Hollywood star husband Ryan Reynolds.

Blake is following in the footsteps of stars including Eva Longoria, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez by representing the iconic cosmetics brand, and has described her appointment as an “honour”.

“I grew up with the inspiration of their message: “We’re worth it”. What an important value to instill in women. That beauty is rooted in confidence. That is key. That is why I’m so proud to be a L’Oréal Paris woman,” she said.

Meanwhile, the star’s gorgeous husband Ryan posed for a separate picture with staff at the Maldives resort, which is no surprise really considering how private the duo are.

The couple – who met on the set of The Green Lantern - married in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in 2012 but have largely kept their romance away from the spotlight, rarely being photographed together at red carpet events.


Underwater Gardening in the Maldives

Back in 1998, the Maldives’ corals were hit by El Niño, a periodic weather phenomenon that marine biologists believe killed 90% of the country’s reefs. With just a 1C rise in temperature, corals turn white, exposing their inner skeletons and making them increasingly vulnerable – but Maldivian waters increased by a catastrophic 4C. Recovery was then hampered by the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that smashed into the chain of coral reefs, leaving hundreds almost beyond repair.

In the 75-strong island cluster of the Baa Atoll, a 35-minute seaplane flight from the capital Malé, you will find a greater diversity of fish than in most marine parks. Kihavah Huravalhi, home to the luxurious Anantara Kihavah resort, is one of the atoll’s few inhabited islands, and coral adoption and reforestation is flourishing here. On a morning dive or snorkel, it is possible to see a number of upside-down nursery frames, made from up-cycled flower baskets and metal rods, which house fractured pieces of coral.

The coral adoption and reforestation initiative has great ecological value as it involves replanting reef fragments to accelerate the regeneration of coral growth in the Maldives’ reef-fringed atolls. Within a year of planting, faster growing acropora corals, such as stag horn and table corals, completely cover the structures, while slower growing species such as sun corals are introduced once the colonies are well established. So how effective can underwater gardening be? “It’s definitely progress, and that’s all we can ask for,” said Evelyn Chavent, Anantara’s resident underwater expert and one of only six marine biologists permanently based in the Baa Atoll.

Kihavah may be one of the Maldives most popular places for underwater gardening, but it’s far from the only option for lessons in the marine world. Located in the same atoll,Dusit Thani  resort offers underwater education with a marine biologist, and guests can adopt a spotted eagle ray to help long-term conservation of the vulnerable species. At the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, the coral propagation project has to date transplanted more than 120,000 fragments of coral – one of the most successful reforestation projects in the world. The islands of Dhigu, Veli and Naladhu in the South Male Atoll, also run by the Anantara hotel group, are home to a number of coral adoption projects. Naladhu, in particular, sits on a crisp clear azure lagoon sheltered by a house reef that attracts black-tipped reef sharks and a huge variety of smaller species, including parrot and clown fish.

So what does it feel like to go gardening underwater? According to Chavent, it is something that will stay with you for life. “In years to come, some guests will come back to find that the small piece of coral that they planted has flourished and created a whole miniature eco-system around it,” she said. “That kind of sustainable tourism is priceless.”

Where Did the Maldives People Come From by Clarence Maloney

The Maldives people are a clear ethnic category, having a unique language derived from Sinhala but grafted on to an earlier Tamil base, and they have a homogeneous cultural tradition. In early medieval times they followed the Sri Lanka type of Buddhism, but in 1153 were converted to Islam by order of their ruler. There is another island located to the north of Maldives territory that belongs culturally to the Maldives, Minicoy (properly, Maliku), which because of events during the colonial period is now held by India as part of its Lakshadvip Island group. Most of the Maldives islands are tiny, less than a mile long, but Minicoy is the largest island populated by Divehi people. The Indian government does not allow foreigners to visit this island.

Where did the Divehis come from? Generally, ordinary Divehis mostly know only that their islands were settled from Sri Lanka, that before Islam they were Buddhist, and that their language suggests the same origin. Because of the long dominance of Islamic tradition, they tend to stress Arabic and Muslim cultural influences and overemphasize Arab ancestors. Scholars came from the Islamic centres of learning in Egypt, and the Divehis accepted the Shafi school of Islamic law. They rationalize Divehi culture and behaviour in terms of traits in Arab culture mentioned earlier in old Islamic texts. But for all that, and despite eight centuries of official status, the Islamic tradition is something of a cultural overlay.

The influence of medieval Sinhalas is the dominant cultural stream. From roughly the 8th to the 10th century, unwanted kings and their retinues were apparently banished from Sri Lanka to the Maldives, and they brought their culture, language, and religion with them. There are several remains of Buddhist stupas (excavated by Bell), with coins, inscriptions, and various artefacts.

What was not known previous to my research in the early 1970s, is that there is a strong underlying layer of Tamil population and culture. So far, most Divehis have not shown themselves interested in accepting this finding, as it does not suit their sense of their presti- gious origins. Be that as it may, the evidence is overwhelming. There is a clear Tamil substratum in the language, which also appears in place names, kin terms, poetry, dance, and religious beliefs. This is actually Tamil-Malayalam, as up to about the 10th century when the Malayalam language acquired a separate identity, what is now Kerala was considered to be part of the Tamil area. There are numerous references in the Tamil Sangam (1-3 century) and medieval literature to kings of Kerala having ships, conducting invasions by sea, and ruling the northern part of Sri Lanka. People of Kerala settled the Lakshadvip Islands, and evidently viewed the Maldives as an extension of them. There is a Maldivian epic about Koimala, who is said to have come from India, bringing with him his royal lineage, landed on a northern atol, and then made Male his capital. The name koi is from Malayalam koya, son of the prince, which is also the name of a high caste group in the Lakshadvip Islands. Koimala has now become a generalized eponymous ancestor of the pre-Muslim Divehis.

In religion we find a vibrant underlying system, called fandita, co-existing with the formal politically-linked theological Islamic system which provides the rationale for behavioral and political control. The word fandita comes from the Indic word pandit, and refers to special powers possessed by certain men and women. This belief system encompasses ideas about spirits, ghosts, winds, and lights on the sea, and it allows people to control their health, their enemies, their boats, their fishing catch, and their destiny. The rituals contain a lot of what in India might be called puja and mantravadi (reciting of mantras), besides South Indian ideas about health and healing. This is marvellously islamicized by the institutionalized belief in jinns. The fandita experts engrave charms to be tied around the neck as is done in South India and Sri Lanka, and this is islamicized because they scratch on them marks resembling Arabic script.

There are hints of two other early layers of immigration. One is from Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia from where people found their way to settle Madagascar roughly about the time of Christ. Did some of them stop in the Maldives on the way? Probably. There are a number of Southeast Asian traits and artefacts present in the Maldives: crops such as sweet potatoes and taro, dark-coloured fish of Southeast Asia, and “bed-roasting” a custom which compels the mother to rest on a bed with fire under it for ten days after delivery to purify her, which is of Southeast Asian origin.

Divehi is derived basically from an old form of Sinhala called Elu, which was spoken in Sri Lanka before many Pali and Sanskrit words were added. This dialect must have come ultimately from the Panjab. This supports the interpretation of the Sinhala chronicles that the ancestors of the Sinhalas, and therefore of the Divehis, came from western India, from Gujarat by sea, and not from Bengal.

The modern Divehi script, called Tana, was invented by a unknown person after the Portuguese interlude. He must have been an educated Muslim who also had a knowledge of classical Indian phonetics, as the script combines features of both Arabic and Indian scripts. The basic symbols are Arabic numerals and other letters to which Divehi phonetic values are given, and the script runs right to left. There is a full set of long and short vowels whose marks surround the consonants, the consonants have the inherent vowel ‘a’ but are marked with a little circle above when mute, and the script lacks aspirated consonants. These are the features derived from South India, probably along with scientific understanding of phonetics. The result is a simple script, suitable to the language and easy to learn.

The Maldives is an exceedingly interesting country, and merits more attention from specialists on South Asia and the Indian Ocean area.

Maldives requests assistance for tourism development

The Maldives has requested financial assistance through State Bank of India (SBI) for the development of its tourism sector. During a meeting between President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who recently visited India on an official visit, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Yameen requested financial assistance for the expansion and development of the tourism sector of the Maldives.

During this meeting, Meedhoo MP and Chairman of Sun Hotels and Resorts Ahmed Siyam Mohamed said that SBI provides generous assistance to the tourism sector of the Maldives.“During today’s meeting, we requested financial assistance through SBI for tourism development. The response was positive,” said Siyam.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb, who also participated in the meeting, said that the purpose of requesting SBI’s assistance is to finance incomplete resort development projects.

SBI, the first bank to be established in the Maldives, has three offices in the country and provides generous assistance to private businesses thereby contributing to the economic development of the country.


Take the plunge into a fragile underwater world


Breaking off the beautiful, fragile coral, his flippers creating a cloud of debris which muddies the water, Arnie doesn’t even look up at the divers observing his wanton destruction of the reef that everyone else is trying to save.

We have just been given a lesson in the dive school on the importance of not touching the coral, which provides a vital framework to the eco-balance of this part of the Indian Ocean, yet Arnie gives us a perfect display of how not to treat this stunning environment.

But then Arnie is a hawksbill turtle, the largest of a group of around eight to make their home on the 300m-long house reef at Baros, a tiny, truly beautiful Robinson Crusoe-like island in the Maldives, with five-star facilities and diving to die for.

It’s 40 years since Baros was created, firstly as a hang-out for divers, and later transformed into the high-end luxury paradise it is now.

And tourism has, in some ways, helped to preserve much of the marine life which once went unprotected.

Dutchman Ronny Van Dorp, owner of the Baros dive centre, says that in the 17 years he has been there, he has seen shark numbers dip – fisherman would hunt them for shark fin soup, an extravagant delicacy in China – and rise again, following a total ban on shark hunting a few years ago. Now, we see blacktip reef sharks and nurse sharks in the shallows.

There’s also a ban on the catching of turtles and the sale of turtle-shell products.

Diving into those crystal clear waters, I witness an aquarium, as bi-coloured parrot fish mingle with emperor angel fish, stripy Oriental sweetlips share space with jutting-jawed spotted wrasse, while bright orange clown fish, which are indigenous to the Maldives, dip in and out of the flowering corals.

Set up in 1979 as one of the first dive centres in the Maldives, Baros was also the first in the Maldives to practise the international Reef Check Programme, educating the public, monitoring reef health and working on solutions to protect healthy reefs and rehabilitate damaged ones.

Coral reefs act like a protective seawall for the Maldives, providing breeding and feeding grounds for fish and other marine creatures, but also give us a picture of the health of the sea in general.

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