Ryder Cup Legend José María Olazabal opens Maldives golf academy

Spanish golfing legend José María Olazabal of Ryder Cup fame, has opened a new golf academy in the Maldives.

Located on the Velaa Private Island Maldives in the northern Part of Noonu Atoll, the new Velaa Golf Academy by Olazabal features a nine-hole par-three course and high-tech swing studio. Hole lengths range of 65 to 180 yards and greens are guarded by a series of bunkers and water hazards. The challenging layout is specifically designed for golfers to practice the Spanish champion’s famously accurate short and mid-iron game.

The academy also features state-of-the-art electronic equipment, including Flightscope simulator and high-speed cameras. Professional instruction is personalized with ‘one-on-one sessions at the indoor swing studio, which is fitted with all the latest gadgets for golfers to refine their game.

“Golfers can hit all the shots imaginable, from mid-irons to wedges and short-game. In short, practice in paradise,” said Olazabal, a two-time Masters winner and reigning Ryder Cup-winning captain.

Velaa Golf Academy by Olazabal, Velaa Private Island
Velaa Golf Academy by Olazabal, Velaa Private Island

“I also want the experience to be appealing for both young and old, beginners and experts. I hope visitors to the island will be inspired by what we have created and the experience enhances their enjoyment of the game I’m so passionate about.” “I’ve worked on some remarkable projects, but what they have created here is simply awe-inspiring,” said Olazabal, on his visit to officially open the academy.

The new facility adds to the recreational offering at the new private island, which also features 45 private pool villas, yoga pavilion inside a two-story wooden watchtower, a kids’ club and beach volleyball and squash courts, with the only shaded tennis court in the Maldives. Featuring a geography-defying snow room, Velaa’s My Blend Spa by Clarins is the only one in Asia featuring an avant-garde cloud-shaped pod that slowly sways and cradles a guest into deep relaxation.

Opened last December, this resort is the latest ultra luxurious property to debut in the world’s most exotic archipelago, the Maldives. Velaa Private Island fulfills a dream by Czech financier Jiri Smejc and his wife Radka to create “the most perfect beyond luxury place on earth”. “This is not about business. This is about a dream come true,” Smejc insists. However, a night at Velaa ranges from $1,500 for a one-bedroom Beach Pool Villa in the low season to $30,000 a night for a four-bedroom private residence during the holiday season.

More Centara Resorts coming to Maldives

Maldives may see more of Centara resorts in a near future. A senior executive of Centel has revealed that the company is discussing the addition of three hotels in other Asian countries and one local hotel. Currently Centel, the parent company runs three hotels in the Maldives — one under a management contract and two company-owned properties namely, Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa and Centara Ras Fushi Resort and Spa Maldives.

Featuring 112 suites and villas Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives is a five star resort set in Machchafushi Island in the South Ari atoll of Maldives. The resort offers diving enthusiasts outstanding diving opportunities in an excellent house reef complete with a dedicated sunken ship wreck and is in the neighbourhood of the top dive spots in Ari atoll Maldives. Recently the resort started offering underwater weddings for couples who seek a unique wedding ceremony.

Centara Ras Fushi Resort and Spa Maldives is less than 20 minutes away from Ibrahim Nasir International airport by speedboat. The resort is an adults only retreat set in the North Malé atoll island of Giraavaru that is ideal for couples and honeymooners.

Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, the senior vice-president for finance and administration of Central Plaza Hotel Plc (CENTEL), Thailand’s leading hotel and restaurant operator and owner of the Centara brand, has told the Bangkok Post that the company plans to acquire more hotels as a key strategy to diversify its revenue sources. He said the company has expanded into hotel management services, with the latest contract signed with a hotel in the Maldives and another on a nearby island under the consideration of the hotel owner.

“Revenue from the two hotels in the Maldives was the main engine to help cushion the impact from local politics that began last October,” Mr Ronnachit has revealed to the Bangkok Post. The two hotels in the Maldives contributed 15% of overall hotel revenue last year.

Centel at present manages 8,176 rooms in 43 hotels — 28 hotels under management contract and 15 wholly owned or joint-venture assets. Of the total hotels, seven are in foreign countries.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi opens its doors

Almost an year after abruptly cancelling the agreement with hotel giant Hilton to manage Irufushi then known as Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort and Spa, the luxury resort has re-branded, revamped and opened its doors to travelers. Now known as The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, the 221 luxury waterfront villas resort with 70 over water bungalows is one of the few islands developed as a resort in Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, which is only 40 minutes away from Malé via seaplane.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives
The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives

On Friday 21st February 2014, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom launched the brand ‘Sun Siyam Resorts’ which will be the new brand name of all the resorts owned and operated by the Parliament Member Ahmed Siyam Mohamed’s Sun Travel company and officially opened The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi at a ceremony held on the resort island. The ceremony was followed by an entertainment programme by international artist Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussycat Dolls fame.

Some of the features at this comfortable 5-star resort include, 11 bar and restaurant choices, outdoor tennis courts, a poolside snack bar and a 20 room spa & wellness centre. With the new launching, the Spa has enhanced its offering to include additional traditional Chinese medicine and Maldivian treatments. A Spa Café serving healthy cuisine has been added and a foot reflexology path has been designed.

The resort now offers 44 Deluxe Beach Villas with a pool and all Villa guests can now choose from the fragrance and pillow menus for a personalization of their accommodation. The Retreat accommodation guests are now welcomed with a foot massage on arrival and gets the added convenience of a 24 hour butler.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is a resort offering boutique service on a grand scale with exceptional facilities and service.

One&Only Reethi Rah retains at No. 1

One&Only Reethi Rah has continued to dominate its position as the top Asian hotel in the monthly listing by the independent authority on affluent living, bestofluxury.com. The March 2014 edition of the listing released online shows that One&Only Reethi Rah has retained its position for January, February and March of this year.

One&Only Reethi Rah is an all villa resort, located in one of the largest islands in the North Malé Atoll, with white sand coves and turquoise bays all the villas have magnificent view of the ocean from all the rooms, with unprecedented privacy. Sports celebrity, David Beckham, and family has had their Christmas vacations in this resort for the last two years.

The other resort of Maldives to make the list is Soneva Gili, which came forth in the March 2014 rankings. This resort also has maintained its position throughout the year. Soneva Gili is set in a tiny island in one of the largest lagoons of the North Malé Atoll.

bestofluxury.com announced that each Asian resort highlighted within the listings has been put through a methodical examination to establish how well they perform compared to industry standards and competitors. According to them, each month the top Asian resorts are put through a methodical evaluation process in order to determine which resorts produce the best services overall. The process involves an in-depth analysis of top performing Asian companies in areas including community, appeal, transportation, climate, and safety. Client evaluations of competing Asian resorts are contacted in order to obtain their unique inputs and suggestions on the resorts they have used.

The 10 top Asian hotels for March 2014 ranked by bestofluxury.com are:

One&Only Reethi Rah
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Soneva Gili
Anantara Desert Islands Resort and Spa
Al Qasr
Pangkor Laut Resort
Park Hyatt Shanghai
The Peninsula Hong Kong

Looking for a leading budget hotel in the Maldives?

Ranked no. 13 among 20 hotels in South Malé Atoll by TripAdvisor, we give you Adaaran Club Rannalhi. The Club Rannalhi Island owned and operated by Aitken Spence Hotels, can be reached by speedboat from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in approximately 45 minutes.

The approximately 450 m long and 140 m wide Club Rannalhi, adapted to the natural beauty of tropical island known locally simply as Rannalhi, offers lively, relaxed atmosphere for everyone. The large and quite shallow, crystal clear lagoon is in the southern part of the island and is ideal for swimming and all water sports. The house and the outer reef ranges from 10 to 40 meters deep and is a lively coral garden abundant with various colorful flora and fauna, offering excellent snorkeling conditions.

One of the most sought out rooms on the island are the water villas. These villas are built on stilts and is over the beautiful lagoon and can go directly for a swim from the room.

The large main restaurant, serves international cuisine and regular theme nights. All Inclusive dining option comes with buffet for all meals.

In addition to the coffee shop and bar lounge service, the island has a boutique, a jewellery shop, laundry service and a spa where you can pamper yourself.

Some other services the island resort offers include excursions and picnics to uninhabited islands or deep sea fishing, sailing, and the special sunset fishing. Trips to Male to see the capital and the museum and enjoy souvenir shopping are also arranged upon request. Scuba diving, amongst the reefs in the vicinity of the island, snorkeling and other water sports including water skiing is available for the thrill seeker.

With a minimum of US$ 200 with the all inclusive option you can ensure you participate in any activity or excursion you feel like.

The World’s First Underwater Resort-based Art Exhibition

Per AQUUM Resorts, Retreats & Residences invites travelers to experience its 2014 Dream Calendar Show of Andreas Franke’s Photography, the world’s first underwater resort-based art exhibition.

Plunge into the strange, surreal and mysterious world of award-winning visual artist Andreas Franke and experience his photographic Phantasy Fairytale underwater art exhibition at PER AQUUM Huvafen Fushi and PER AQUUM Niyama in the Maldives. The exhibition can be viewed from now until the end of May 2014 and is part of the Per AQUUM Dream Calendar of events. Each photographic piece has been submerged in the Indian Ocean and can be seen from inside the underwater music club Subsix at NIYAMA and inside the underwater LIME spa at Huvafen Fushi. Guests can also purchase the art and take a piece of the Indian Ocean home with them.

The exhibition magically combines photography, nautical exploration and digital mastery to produce compelling underwater dream worlds where Western fairytale characters are creatively superimposed against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. Each photographic art piece evokes a feeling of folklore and magic with Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Star Money exhibiting at both NIYAMA and Huvafen Fushi, while the Snow Queen features exclusively at NIYAMA and The Last Unicorn features exclusively at Huvafen Fushi.

Submerged in an underwater exhibition, each piece is sealed with Plexiglas in stainless steel frames and blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy, with saltwater and algae adding the final artistic touches. The size of each piece at NIYAMA is 150 cm x 110 cm with a selling price of US$15,000 each, while at Huvafen Fushi the size of each piece is 110 cm x 73.5 cm with a selling price of US$12,000 each. Same size reprints can also be purchased with prices starting from US$4,800 per piece. A percentage of proceeds from purchases will be donated to Per AQUUM’s Coral Regeneration Program.

Committed to breaking boundaries, this Per AQUUM and Andreas Franke collaboration spins the typical photographic art exhibition on its head giving the world an imaginative interpretation of underwater life.

Sink into the Phantasy Fairytale four night package at Huvafen Fushi and view this exclusive underwater exhibition from inside LIME Spa whilst enjoying a manicure or pedicure. Explore each suspended underwater piece in its true watery environment as the underwater resort space adds yet another layer of intrigue. Come back at night and view them in a different light during SpaQuarium with the marine biologist, then complete your four night stay by adopting a coral. Combine with the Phantasy Fairytale four night package at NIYAMA and receive complimentary combined airport speedboat transfers to Huvafen Fushi.

At NIYAMA, dance the night away as each Phantasy Fairytale character draws you into an enchanting, atmospheric tale of magic, mystery and make-believe. View the exhibition from inside underwater music club Subsix with a bottle of champagne and canapés. Spend a morning with the marine biologist learning about the beautiful ecosystem of the Indian Ocean then put your knowledge to the test with a snorkelling trip to a deserted castaway island nearby.

The four-night Phantasy Fairytale package at Huvafen Fushi starts from USD1157+++ per room per night based on two people sharing a Beach Bungalow with plunge Pool. To book please email reservations(at)huvafenfushi(dot)com call, +960 66 44 222 or visit //huvafenfushi.peraquum.com/promotions/Phantasy-Fairytale-Come-True/.

The four night Phantasy Fairytale package at NIYAMA starts from USD883+++ per room per night based on two people sharing a Beach Studio. To book please email reservations(at)niyama(dot)com, call +960 67 62 828 visit //niyama.peraquum.com/promotions/Phantasy-Fairytale-Come-True.