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June 2016

Maldives-Holiday

What you thought you knew about cruising

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Our Asia specialists debunk popular cruising myths to show you how the river cruises they’ve experienced can be an extraordinary way to explore.

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In conversation with Audley’s founder, Craig Burkinshaw

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As Audley celebrates 20 years of extraordinary adventures, founder Craig Burkinshaw talks about how travel has changed and where you can go to make a difference…

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HOW TO HONEYMOON IN THE MALDIVES

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There are few places in the world that have captured my heart quite like the Maldives. I mean sure, I can’t give a solid answer as to my favorite place in the world on a good day… but this country would have to be up there in the few I can count on one hand!

Recently myself and my partner set off on a not-our-honeymoon honeymoon trip to experience the Maldives as it is so well set up for – as a couple. While I’m usually off balancing my jet-setting around the world solo with a week or two at home to see him, I was very excited to bring him along on an adventure and share this special destination with him.

So… wondering how to honeymoon in the Maldives? We’ve got you covered!

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Make sure you try all of the activities

The Maldives are a collection of 1192 islands – each their own unique paradise. Being surrounded by water means you will have plenty of chances to try water activities, such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking, parasailing, stand-up paddle boarding, paddle boating, jet-skiing and so much more!

While relaxing is nice for a day or two, after a couple of days to unwind in the Maldives you begin to get your groove again. On this page you will find so much by the way of activities, you’re best to make the most of it!

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Stay on the Water

These water bungalows are as quintessential as a stay in the Maldives comes. Imagine waking up each morning with the ocean at your finger tips, ready and waiting for you to take a dip off your private deck and enjoy the marine wildlife on display. These rooms also often come with a private plunge pool which is a pretty good way to catch a sunset in the arms of your significant other!

Tip: When booking your hotel room, be sure to specify whether you want a sunrise view room or a sunset view room depending on your preference.

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Experience Private Dining

Although the best food we ate in the Maldives was at Deep End restaurant, the best dining experience was a private dining beach setup at Taj Exotica. Each resort offers their own spin on the private dining set up – be that on the water, in the sand, or in the privacy of your room – so be sure to see what is on offer and book a private dinner to surprise your loved one.

 

Dine at Sunset

Although the sun sets relatively early in the Maldives (around 18:00-18:30 in March), we made a point of being at our dinner table each evening, ready to watch the sun set. This is by far the most romantic time of the day and a great time to reflect on all the fun you had that day. There’s just something so magical about a sunset that words can’t describe!

 

Let it be known that you’re on your honeymoon

A sure fire way to enjoying your honeymoon is to make sure you mention it when making the booking, as well as mentioning any other special occasions like anniversaries or birthdays, as the staff will go out of their way to make it a memorable one. Think rose petal bathtubs, rose petal beds… and chocolates galore!

 

Catch all of the sunsets

Sunrise and sunset are my favourite time of day – especially when the sun lights up in playful colours. The Maldives offered especially impressive sunsets, with each one outdoing the other as the days rolled in to the next. This was a great time to have a pre-dinner drink and cheers to an amazing holiday together, as well as a chance to reflect on our day. Whatever you do – don’t miss a single sunset together!

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Belize for every interest

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Whether you’re interested in hiking through the jungles and the sounds of the wildlife, snorkeling in crystal clear waters or learning more about Mayan culture, Belize will go above and beyond your expectations.

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48 hours in St Petersburg

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Our Russia specialist John spent two days in St Petersburg and discovered a city packed with dramatic history, stunning cathedrals, irresistible culture and some great dining.

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Travellers’ Tales: Pure Brazil

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Audley travellers David and Ann Brierley visited Brazil with Audley at the end of last year. Read their account of this fascinating and varied country.

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10 of the world’s most quirky restaurants

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Sure, the quality of the food is usually the main reason to try a new restaurant.

But at these 10 eateries, the experience is about more than taste.

Recently highlighted by TripAdvisor.com, these wonderfully strange restaurants just might change your definition of dining out.

The Rock (Zanzibar, Tanzania)

It’s exactly what it sounds like. The Rock restaurant is perched on a rock off Michanvi Ringwe Beach on the southeast coast of Zanzibar.

With just 12 tables, The Rock is small.

But if you’re lucky enough to get one you’ll enjoy unforgettable views of the sea and coast.

Originally a fishermen’s post, the restaurant specializes in seafood.

The octopus salad is a great start before “the Rock special” of lobster, cigal, jumbo prawn, fish fillet and calamari on the grill.

The restaurant is accessible by foot during low tide and via boat transfer during high tide.

The Treehouse Restaurant at the Alnwick Garden (Alnwick, England)

Have a treehouse when you were a kid?

Prepare to be hit with a wave of nostalgia.

The elevated dining room has trees growing through the floor and specially crafted window screens made from fallen branches.

The Treehouse Restaurant is open for lunch, but it’s during dinner that the fairy lights give the place a magical feel.

The menu of local seafood and meat from surrounding Northumberland farms changes seasonally.

Right now, the roasted pork loin and grilled poached salmon are the big stars.

Le Refuge des Fondues (Paris)

The exterior might look like an extravagant carnival, but the menu is simple.

As in most fondue restaurants, orders are based on binary choices: red or white wine, cheese or meat fondue.

But here’s where things get wacky.

In Paris, wine served in wine glasses is taxed.

To skirt this outrage, Le Refuge des Fondues serves vino in non-spill baby bottles.

The spectacle of friends sucking wine through plastic teats tends to speed up wine consumption.

If drink gives you an urge to doodle, you can add to the graffiti-filled walls around you.

Ristorante Grotta Palazzese (Polignano a Mare, Italy)

Ristorante Grotta Palazzese puts its best table on a cliff overlooking the sea.

But it gets better.

The summer cave is a dining cavern carved into the side of a limestone cliff overlooking the Adriatic.

At 74 feet above the water, diners can enjoy shellfish ravioli and risotto with lobster in the sea breeze, with the sound of the lapping sea below.

Open from May to October, the view is particularly dramatic at night when lights from the cave reflect off the water.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant (Rangali Island, Maldives)

Set in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, Ithaa claims to be the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant.

Sitting five meters below the water surface, it offers a 180-degree panorama of the reef and marine life.

You can watch sharks and rays swim as you savor caviar and lobster carpaccio.

Heart Attack Grill (Las Vegas)

As if the name alone didn’t scream it out, Heart Attack Grill is a health addict’s nightmare.

In this Las Vegas restaurant, stethoscope-welding nurses take and serve burger orders ranging from the innocent “Single Bypass” up to the killer “Octuple Bypass.”

The Quadruple Bypass Burger consists of four half-pound patties, eight slices of cheese and 16 slices of bacon between buns coated with lard.

If the burger somehow doesn’t fill you, there are flatliner fries, deep-fried Twinkie shakes and IV bags of wine.

For all you calorie counters out there, now’s the time to break out the calculator.

The Heart Attack Grill proudly holds the Guinness World Record for offering the burger with the highest number of calories (that’d be the Quadruple at 9,982 calories).

Ninja New York (New York)

Ninja New York takes its theme so seriously even its door is stealthy.

Once you do find the entrance, walking into this subterranean restaurant is like going back in time to feudal Japan.

Fashioned after a Japanese mountain village with iron bars and stone walls, the restaurant gives you a full-on ninja experience.

Waiters dressed as the stealthy warriors keep you on your toes by jumping out from the shadows and entertaining with tricks throughout the night.

Even the food is presented with flare.

Specialty dishes such as bonfire lamb chops and dragon rolls are accompanied by knife twirling and karate chopping displays.

Foreign Cinema (San Francisco)

Despite the name, this rustic restaurant screens films ranging from “The Maltese Falcon” and “Caramel” to “The Iron Giant” and “The Outsiders.”

Movies are projected onto the white-washed wall of a covered courtyard, but you’re welcome to sit indoors by the fire or upstairs in the mezzanine overlooking the dining room.

Self-described as a “quintessential San Francisco dining experience,” the daily changing menu is full of seasonal ingredients and accompanied by an oyster and shellfish bar.

Chefs and co-owner couple, Gayle Pirie and John Clark travel widely in Europe and Asia researching local and artisanal ingredients.

Foreign Cinema’s California/Mediterranean-inspired menu proves their research pays off.

‘s Baggers (Nuremberg, Germany)

At ‘s Baggers, you order on a touchscreen at the table and within minutes food is zooming to your table on a rollercoaster-like network that runs through the restaurant.

It’s tempting to keep ordering food just to watch the dishes slide and spin down the rails.

There are even loops, making the occasional dish flip upside-down.

To avoid dishes arriving to your table in a jumbled mess, parts of your meal are served in separate containers, with sauces and soups in jars.

Dans le noir (Paris)

Hate eggplant?

Surprise! That dish that you just enjoyed was eggplant.

The Dans le noir chain, at which guests eat a mystery menu in complete darkness, is based on the idea that flavors are intensified when you can’t see the food, as your sense of taste is heightened.

Your perception of food also drastically changes when you can’t judge food by how it looks.

Not just a cool way of enjoying food, Dans le noir hires blind and visually impaired waiters to serve and guide you to your food.

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The history of Maldives with Kurumba Maldives as the first One Resort One 1 Island,

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Kurumba – The Beginning

Tourism: an industry that brought prosperity and progress to the Maldives. It began with Kurumba’s opening in 1972. At the time, this remote archipelago, inhabited only by fisher folk, was unknown to the outside world, with no foreign investment. There was only a small airstrip on Hulhule Island (the present international airport), built by volunteers, with no regular flights. Mohamed Umar Maniku, Universal Enterprises’ Chairman, recalls: “We had nothing in the Maldives then, nothing. No Banks, no airport, no telephones only ham radio or Morse code contact with Colombo. Even the UNDP experts said that tourism would never succeed because there were no facilities, no infrastructure.”

Here was an industry that could have easily missed its chance to grow, yet tourism flourished thanks to the right people in the right place at the right time, and the passion and determination of its young Maldivian founders. It all began with a chance meeting in Colombo between George Corbin, an Italian travel agent, and Ahmed Naseem, then a junior with the Maldives Embassy who later became Foreign Minister. At the time, Corbin was seeking pristine islands where he could bring Italians to swim and hunt fish. For Corbin, the idyllic Maldives archipelago was love at first sight. Upon his first visit to Malé, with Naseem by cargo ship in 1971, he immediately vowed to return with more guests.

Corbin brought the Maldives’ first tourists, mainly journalists and photographers, in February 1972. They stayed in humble lodging in three houses in Malé, looked after by M U Maniku and his friends, including Hussain Afeef, who is currently the successful owner/operator of several resorts. Perfect for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, the Maldives enchanted them. Corbin promised to bring more tourists if Maniku, Naseem and Afeef could find them somewhere to stay. Kurumba was born.

Kurumba – The Original

Inspired by their enthusiasm, Maniku and Afeef linked up with the leaseholder of Vihamanaafushi, then an uninhabited island coconut plantation. They chose the island for its proximity to the airstrip and the capital. Access to the island was only by sailing dhoni or open boat with outboard motor. There was no jetty (although one was later built using coconut trunks as pillars). After arriving by boat on the beach, guests had to wade through the surf to reach the resort.

An agriculture officer, M U Maniku spent his time after work, finishing each day at 1.30pm to develop Vihamanaafushi. With financial help from Corbin and his own resources, Maniku and his young Maldivian friends managed to build 30 rooms in blocks of three, using coral stone for walls, coconut timber, and palm thatch for roofs. Each room had a brackish water shower and toilet, basic furniture, and access to the beach. Meals were taken in a canteen or as barbecues on the beach.

They called the resort Kurumba Village, after the Dhivehi word for coconut, Kurumba. Afeef became the manager. The resort opened on Tuesday 3 October 1972 and remained fully booked for the rest of the year, an augury of its success ever since.

“We knew nothing about tourism,” said Maniku. “It was tourists who helped us build the industry here. We listened to them and gave them what they wanted. Luckily for us, they wanted simplicity in natural surroundings and that was what we had to offer and all we could afford.”

 

Kurumba – A Lasting Success

From its humble origins accommodating only 60 guests a month, Kurumba has since graduated to 14,000. From a handful of founding friends, to a staff of 450. Several have stayed for over 20 years. “In the beginning,” said Maniku, “we didn’t know what to cook for these tourists from overseas, or how to deal with them. I had a recipe book in English which I translated into Dhivehi so the boys could understand, I was cook, gardener and room boy. We had to do everything ourselves.”

Kurumba expanded to accommodate more people after the airport was extended to take long-haul flights. Like an authentic tropical village, but with the comforts of home. Fresh water, air-conditioning and restaurants with international offerings. In 2003, Kurumba underwent a complete transformation yet again, to meet the demands of the 21st century. The result was a world-class resort with 180 rooms, including the Royal Residence, Presidential Suites, Pool Villas, Family Villas and beach and garden superior rooms.

A process of natural growth, and of proud perseverance, led by heartfelt service over the years. Kurumba has matured into the Grand Hotel of the Maldives, setting the benchmark for hospitality in the region, and in the tropics at large.

Also read: Fishing Lodges in Saskatchewan.

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Peru: a journey through time

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On her recent trip to Peru, Country Specialist Arden explored the history of Peru at sites dating all the way back to 2500 BC. Her historic trek will walk you through the history of Peru and help you discover the ancient civilizations that formed the country.

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THE SMALL MALDIVES ISLAND CO. LAUNCHES FINOLHU: A REVIVAL OF CLASSIC BEACH CHIC

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Vibrant new resort set to lead Maldives scene back to a glamorous future from Summer 2016

 

Having revolutionised the ‘typical Maldives resort’ concept with this year’s game-changing launch of Amilla Fushi, The Small Maldives Island Co. looks set to confound expectations once again with the opening of sister resort Finolhu in Summer 2016.  Bringing a timeless sense of style to the pristine lagoons and rich waters of the Maldives’ Baa Atoll, Finolhu will be a refined, retro-inspired island paradise for the fun-loving beach-erati, and an unexpected revival of the halcyon days of the classic chic getaway.

Located in the UNESCO world biosphere that is the Baa Atoll (just 30 minutes in a speedboat from sister resort Amilla Fushi) Finolhu is the ultimate island experience for chic couples, fun-loving families and gatherings of friends alike.  Over water or on the beach, as one or two bedroom with or without pool,  there are seven villa types to choose from – all eclectically furnished with design classics and firm favourites, from iconic Marshall speakers to the famous blue bottles of organic skin and body products by the UK’s very own Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Collaborating once again with Island Restaurateur Luke Mangan, Finolhu is home to the kind of laid-back yet elegant dining options you would expect from this world-renowned chef.   An island outpost of Salt Grill, Luke’s signature restaurant in Singapore, is all about modern Australian food; the Fish & Crab Shack is a relaxed, quirky nod to traditional seaside food stalls; Baa Bar and Dining offers the beautiful simplicity of bold flavours done well, served under the stars and accompanied by a world class wine library; whilst Kanusan showcases the clean, innovative flavour combinations of Asian cuisine.

Centred around a happening hub of pastel-coloured beach huts, Finolhu’s The Cove is a chilled out retro revival area where music and movement is medicinal and glamorous mid-century style reigns. Stripping the spa concept back to the simple truths of wellness, movement and sound therapy, The Cove offers a calm, unintimidating haven in which to drop and anchor and just relax. Eight chandelier-lit treatment ‘Divans’ – each celebrating an iconic beauty of the 50s and 60s – are complimented by a fitness centre, yoga pavilion and outdoor ‘jungle gym’. The island’s natural environment is the inspiration for fitness activities at The Cove, from capoeira and paddle boarding to ballet and kickboxing, while the facilities will also include a relaxation area overlooking the beach, steam/sauna, wellness areas, salon and retail pavilion.

Finolhu’s Marine HUB is home to a variety of water sports and the dive centre, as well as the Oceaneers Club for tots to teens – with activities specially created to suit the kids who are on island, rather than a proscribed menu.  From sports and games, cooking classes and crafts, and activities in and on the water, Finolhu kids won’t be bored – meaning parents can confidently check out of childcare for a few hours.

But for that dreamy, go-slow beach vibe, simply while away the days at the Baa Baa Beach Club, lazing and grazing on finger food, beers or cocktails from the Baa Bar and getting to know your fellow islanders.

Welcome back to the future of travel!

For further information visit www.finolhu.mv (coming soon).

 

http://www.amilla.mv/news/launchfinolhu

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Travellers’ Tales: Expanding horizons in Kenya

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Lucy Gill-Simmen and her family travelled to Kenya with Audley to take part in Me to We projects and give something back.

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