ZAP Wanderlust: Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Maldives
One of the most prominent reasons for visiting the Maldives is its aesthetics alone – after all, the islands are known for their pristine beaches and crystal blue waters. And while a beautiful landscape is reason enough to travel, the Maldives has so much more to offer its visitors. Whether a fine wine enthusiast, a budding paparazzi or even just striving for Insta-fame, the Maldives has something for everyone – and we’re sharing!
- Home to the World’s Best Beaches
The Maldives recently won ‘Leading Beach Destination’ in the Indian Ocean from the World Travel Awards (WTA) Africa & Indian Ocean Gala. The country surpassed other world-class destinations, including both the Seychelles and Mauritius. In addition to the prestigious title, the country’s resorts, travel agencies and airlines took home several other top titles, like both the Indian Ocean’s most romantic (Baros Maldives) and luxury (Cheval Blanc Randheli) resorts.
The World Travel Awards, established in 1993, acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across all areas of the tourism industry; often referred to as the ‘Oscars of the Travel Industry.’ Recognized as the ultimate hallmark of quality, the brand is celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year and works with travel agents worldwide to select final recipients.
- Award-Winning Restaurants & Wine Lists
The World of Fine Wines publication’s Best Wine List competition, a unique wine contest judged solely by top wine professionals and enthusiasts, is one of the most competitive in the world with only 300 wine lists across the globe earning three-stars, the highest honor. Two restaurants in the Maldives – Sea at the Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives and Constance Halaveli – earned the coveted designation in 2015. The publication received more than 4,000 applications from restaurants around the globe.
According to World Sommelier Champion Gerard Bassett, the awards are the pinnacle for a restaurant wine list. “These exciting new global awards are rapidly becoming as coveted as Michelin Stars,” he says.
The World of Fine Wines publication offered extensive praise for the wine selections at both resorts:
“Few restaurants in the world can claim to offer its guests a view as distractingly gorgeous as that offered by Sea Underwater Wine Cellar and Restaurant. In such a setting, the food and wine need to be special if it’s anything more than a supporting player. But a glance at the fine international cuisine and extensive collection of bottles suggests a remarkable gastronomic, as well as visual, spectacle.” – Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives
“One of the best wine lists is at the always vinously impressive Constance group, a list that can be described as very thorough with plenty of vintages to choose from, a list that specializes (with great skill) in France — but which offers well-edited selections from all over the world.” – Constance Halaveli Maldives
It was the second win for Anantara Kihavah and the first for the Constance Halaveli. All award-winning wine lists must reach certain standards in relation to a range of criteria, among which the most important are the breadth, depth, interest, quality, and value of the wine selection (relative to the nature and size of the list and any specialism); the clarity of the organization and presentation; the accuracy and completeness of the information for each entry on the list, including origin, producer, wine, vintage, price, and format or serving size; the suitability of the selection in terms of the cuisine and the establishment.
- Top 5 Most Instagram-Worthy Country in the World
The Maldives are so beautiful that collectively they are among the most Instagrammed tourist attractions in the world. In a survey last year, they made it into fourth place with 622,504 photos uploaded, after the Eiffel Tower (977,287); Times Square (773,569); and Big Ben (689,375).
The Maldives were even selected for the inaugural #helloworldRELAY in celebration of the United Nations World Tourism Day on September 27, 2015. An actress, singer, photojournalist and a chef were among the diverse cast of Instagram influencers assembled by helloworld and their global partners to capture special moments that truly inspire travel through the #helloworldRELAY, which curated a visual story about destinations around the world.
As the sun rose in each destination on World Tourism Day, the Instagrammers commenced posting images until the sun set in their location. The event began at sunrise in Samoa, the westernmost point of the earth, and ended at sunset in the Cook Islands 36 hours later.
Singer, model and TV host, Erin Holland (@erinvholland), had plenty of picture-perfect moments in the Maldives. Located in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, the Amilla Luxury Resort provided the backdrop for iconic shots of the azure blue waters and powder white beaches that the Maldives are famous for.
A photo posted by Bar Refaeli (@barrefaeli) on
- A Celebrity Favorite
Celebrities looking to escape for the holidays; celebrate an engagement, wedding or honeymoon; mourn a breakup; or even just relax privately, flock to the Maldives. Fans include the below:
- David and Victoria Beckham, who frequent the One & Only Reethi Rah each New Year
-Josh Duhamel and Fergie honeymooned at the One & Only Reethi Rah
-Prince William and Princess Katherine, who escape the media’s attention at one of the country’s most private destinations
-Sienna Miller, who hid from the limelight surrounding her breakup with Jude Law at the One & Only Reethi Rah resort
-Alexa Chung, who rang in the New Year with a few girlfriends in 2015
-Bar Rafaeli, who had a fun-filled bachelorette party over the summer
The Maldives introduced a ‘green tax’ in 2014 to help fund environmental protection programs in the country that will go into effect this November. A number of resorts, however, have already started to lead the way in sustainability initiatives:
-Soneva Fushi: part of the Baa Atoll, Soneva Fushi is one of the resorts that campaigned for the area to be recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It has an ethos of ‘intelligent luxury,’ and its philosophy is summed up by the acronym ‘SLOW LIFE’ – sustainable, local, organic, wellness, learning, inspiring, fun, experiences. The island’s ultimate aim is to decarbonize.
-Reethi Beach: the Reethi Beach resort founded the Baa Atoll project, which is working toward a ban on shark fishing and shark tank product and encourages the protection of dive sites and the support of local communities. Reethi Beach has also taken action on World Environment Day and Earth Day, hosting a clean-up and tree planting with guests on a local uninhabited island. Each year, the resort also takes part in Earth Hour led by the World Wildlife Fund.
-Coco Palm, Dhuni Kolhu: the natural island is home to lush jungle-like flora, sand paths and a focus on sustainable tourism. It works with the other luxury resorts of the Baa Atoll to help conserve this special area that’s home to manta rays, whale sharks and dolphins.
-Kuramathi Island: one of the Maldives’ largest and most popular islands, Kuramathi has a lot to sustain, and it places a huge emphasis on environmental protection policies. One of its most interesting eco facilities is the hydroponics garden that requires full-time staff and comprises 20 greenhouses.
Allie Duncan, Publicist
Images courtesy of The Maldives and Bar Refaeli Instagram