Editors note: This is an experience written by one of our readers, a Swiss lady, Andrea Blum. She writes about a dream that began in her childhood, which flourished into a full fledged journey. For her, it was also a journey to discover the very meaning of life itself.
A dream takes place in a little girl’s mind. Two young girls at the age of four and seven are playing travel-agency, where one sells trips to the other. In front of both the girls, a prospect shows the world’s most beautiful destinations. The seven year old girl can’t take her eyes off one specific destination; the Maldives.
It’s 1983 and the dream of the seven year old girl begins. The long road to find the passion and the meaning of life began. In 2010, after three years of studies and passing the bachelor of business administration, parallel to work, I wanted to give myself the biggest gift ever: A journey to Maldives.
As I chose the gift, little did I know how Maldives would change my life.
Finally, on 15th of January 2011 the big day came. Nervous and in a rush, I packed the last of my things. Over and over again, I checked my list, to make sure I would leave nothing behind. This had to be journey perfect; it was the journey of my life. Thousands of things ran through my mind. “Is the water really so clear and colourful? Are the beaches really covered with such white and glowing sand? How does it feel to live on a place so small and surrounded by the huge amazing Indian Ocean?”
Tears were running down my face, I couldn’t believe that this long road on the search for the meaning of my life would finally come to an end. The very next day during late afternoon, all my questions were finally answered. After nine and a half hours of waiting, I sensed the plane flying lower, and I looked out of the window. Curious and nervous I tried to look down, and through the dust, I could see the first Islands of Maldives; stunning, beautiful, and magnificent in every way. By God, my heart was beating faster. I could sense my pulse in my heart. My hands started to tremble. Right down underneath me were the pearls of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives. Finally my dream had come true.
A few seconds before landing I thought my heart would explode. Finally, my soul and my heart arrived and the aircraft landed, the wheels touched the quit rough ground of Hulhulé. It was an amazing feeling with nothing to compare it to.
Falling In Love with “God’s Personally Chosen Paradise”
With my eyes wide open, I tried to focus on all these amazing and new things I saw. My enthusiasm had no limits as I left the aircraft. For the very first time in my life I was enormously and uncompromisingly happy. I felt so free and it seemed like nothing could stop me. My face still smiling and my eyes radiating, perhaps even more intensely than the sun, the moon and the stars together, I stretched out my arms and I said to myself, “this is the place I’ve always wished to be in.”
It felt as if I had been here before. Everything seemed so familiar. These amazing feelings I’ve got were and still are indescribable. I can’t even begin to explain how it happened. I felt freedom, love, brightness, happiness and the great feeling of “coming home” deep inside my heart, but those were feelings I had never felt before.
Maldives wasn’t just my dream-destination, it felt deeper than that. All my problems flew away, gone with the wind.
It was the feeling of falling in love. I felt butterflies in my stomach, being in a wonderful and mysterious country with its lovely locals. Still radiating with joy, I passed the passport-control and caught my luggage. The airport employees must have wondered what had happened to me. Still with the imagination, my mood couldn’t have reached higher, thought I still had no idea of the beauty that awaited me outside Hulhulé, the airport island.
Finally my journey would take me to Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa. Vilamendhoo the beautiful island, 900 meters long and 250 meters, wide is surrounded by a peaceful crystal clear lagoon.
A scenic flight brought me to the lovely island. Travelling by seaplane offered my still wide open eyes, a fantastic view of different inhabited and uninhabited Islands. I couldn’t believe how beautiful all of it looked. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have gotten the chance to visit Maldives and to explore all the things that were revealed to my eyes. A destination everyone would love to visit, but one that most of them might never get the chance to experience.
After 88 miles and 25 minutes, the seaplane descended and began to land. For the very first time I saw the beautiful colours of a lagoon. Flying a few meters above the sea level, my eyes filled, once again, with tears of joy, happiness and rapture. Truly, the colours are more beautiful and exciting than in any picture I had ever seen.
The water is so clear and shiny like a crystal. So clear that you can look down at the sea bed, covered with coral-reefs, unbelievable and surreal with so much beauty. It seemed like passing through a door in to an unreal world. A world which had opened its doors for me.
Right in front was Vilamendhoo, my home for the next 10 days. Indescribable, Vilamendhoo showed itself as the better side of Maldives. My eyes captured Palms, Dhonis, buildings and lots of water. My senses picked up the amazing sound of the waves, the tenderly touch of the wind on my skin and the smell of the fresh salty air.
Thanks to God, I was at my destination and my dream had indeed come true.
Experiences at the fascinating Vilamendhoo
I checked out everything on the lovely island. WOW! I had never seen such a cool bathroom, one that was open with a romantic view right up into palm leafs dancing in the wind. That was definitely the highlight of the accommodation.
Finally it was time to come closer to the Indian Ocean. I had waited years for the moment. With my camera, I shot my first step into the breathtaking crystal blue lagoon. An exciting experience which will be etched in my mind forever. The wonderful feeling on my feet as they touched the white and glowing sand. Small fish surrounded me, as a stranger in their habitat. Yet of course, exploration of the island was also amazing.
As I walked around Vilamendhoo I stopped every few meters to touch the mangroves, the palms and the sand, enjoying the amazing view of the beach and the lagoon site. My walk through the middle of the island allowed me to listen to the cute and mystic sound of the birds.
Even now, as I close my eyes I can still hear the sound of the birds, and feel the pure sweetness of freedom and peace. Still I get goose-bumps, thinking of the scenes, among which were the amazing and giant whale sharks.
Indescribable how the feeling was, as I swam next to the huge and tender animals, as I looked straight in to their cute and small eyes. One of the mysterious creatures of God, which needs our protection, it is indeed a gift to be able to come so close to it.
My mornings in Maldives started very early. I didn’t want to miss any sunrises. Every morning I sat on the deck with my legs hanging down into the ocean. The mornings were the perfect time for the shy baby sharks. A calm ocean without people swimming gave them a few minutes of space without danger in their own habitat. Full of amazing feelings, with nothing to compare, I stared at the rising sun.
Only me on my lovely Vilamendhoo, nobody around me. Somewhere at a small island in the Indian Ocean. A lot of things ran though my head. I thought about my past, my future and how my life should go on.
How will I go ahead with all this knowledge and all these experiences? Will I find the way back to my usual life? Where and how would I find my right way?
Were all my questions answered as I left Hulhulé?
Decision in Paradise
Living without Maldives would be impossible and just visiting one or two times a year could never be enough. I can’t live without it.
I have to feel the real Maldives each and every day. I wanted the locals, the sea, the vegetation and the great sound of the beautiful language of Dhivehi to surround me every moment of every day.
Thoughts of being back in Switzerland and impossibly continuing my usual life had hit me within a few days, making me fall into deep slumber in sadness.
The time was right to change my life. The time had come to walk the path I had always looked for. To follow my dreams, my convictions, because from then on everything had a meaning, every question had an answer. As Maldives answered all my questions, it seemed as if the circle had closed.
Suffering without Maldives
It was so hard to be back again to live my old life. It didn’t matter what kind of activities I did, I felt sad and depressed. Every day I cried tears of longings. I had the feeling that I no longer belonged to Switzerland. I almost felt as if I was a stranger in my own country. Every second of every day, my thoughts were some 8,000 kilometres away. The longings of the feeling of the wind touching my skin, of smelling the salty air and the huge vegetation, of seeing the amazing colours and of hearing the waves foaming on the beaches, grew day by day.
After a week back, I couldn’t stand the pain, so I booked my next trip to Maldives, set to take place three months later.
The Thoughts of Living in a Foreign Country
Living in a foreign country, means to have appropriate knowledge of culture, history, religion and politics of the selected country. These are just a few preconditions for a good, friendly and successful life between different nations. Followed by the preconditions are the keywords of acceptor, respect and the following of rules. To start a totally new life meant to adapt to the conditions.
100 Percent Convinced Of the Right Decision
My second travel, three months after I returned to Switzerland, once again touched me deeply, actually more than I ever imagined. I was convinced that my decision to start a new life in Maldives was the right one.
However this trip was not limited to a simple resort. I made friends in Maldives and explored Malé and Hulhumalé. To be integrated with the locals I had chat with them. They were much more profound. I wanted to be integrated in their life and their problems and honestly it was a great honour for me. They never gave me the feeling that I was just a foreigner. Mutual respect and the interests of the life of each other were always there. They really gave me the sense of belonging.
Plans in Maldives
At first I planned to move two years later. But I changed my mind by the middle of the next year, and decided that I would start my new life right away. I’m on the way to arrange things, they are stressful but interesting. And every little thing which is done brings me a little bit closer to my goals.
In Maldives awaits a lot of things for me. Being successful in the job will be my first mission. The second and maybe also the more significant mission will be to participate in local projects. To give the children and youth, the possibilities for a better future.
A fight in unity, together with the locals against poverty, climate change and the force of the human rights. I will dedicate all my support and my power to develop a Maldives that is sustainable in every field. Maldives gave me back faith in humanity.
Everything is possible, just believe and work hard on it to achieve the goals. Trust in yourself and trust in others.
The Meaning of Life, the Right Path
Finally a long and rough way in my life had come to an end. I had found the reason of my life and the meaning I had been living for. The doubt in mostly everything I did in my life and the doubt of the perfection of my religion, before this, had felt, so unfinished and so unfulfilled. Yet now it felt more fulfilling and perfect.
I’m grateful to Maldives and the Maldivians for integrating me in their life and as well for respecting me exactly the way I am. Never will I have to experience the sad feeling of saying goodbye to Maldives.
Maldives, your beauty thrills me with wonder and your stillness fills me with peace. My beloved Maldives you own my heart and my soul, my life is in your hands. Thank you.
Abdulla Wisam: A journey of excellence and growth in the Maldivian hospitality industry
In the heart of the stunning Maldives, where luxury resorts and crystal-clear waters come together to create a paradise on Earth, there are individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional. One such individual is Abdulla Wisam, whose remarkable journey in the hospitality industry is a testament to his dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to providing the best possible service to guests.
Abdulla Wisam’s journey in the hospitality industry began right after completing his schooling. In 2003, he embarked on his professional career by joining Dhoveli Beach Resort & Spa, where he gained his first taste of the world of hospitality. It was here that he discovered his passion for creating memorable guest experiences and building relationships with visitors from around the world.
After his initial foray into the industry, Wisam’s career path continued to evolve. His dedication and hard work caught the attention of industry leaders, leading him to take on roles of increasing responsibility. His time at Meeru Island Resort saw him as an Outlet Cashier and Night Auditor, roles that allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the operational aspects of a resort.
Wisam’s determination and eagerness to learn led him to the iconic Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he started as a Recreation Attendant. Over time, he showcased his exceptional skills in guest relations and management, and he was promoted to the position of Front Office Supervisor. His journey with Four Seasons served as a stepping stone for what was to come next.
In 2014, Wisam joined the W Maldives, a resort known for its luxurious offerings and unparalleled guest experiences. Starting as a Welcome Team Leader, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his impeccable guest service skills and innate leadership abilities. His promotion to Guest Experience Manager was a testament to his ability to not only meet but exceed guest expectations. He was then transferred to The St. Regis Maldives as the Assistant Front Office Manager with the pre-opening team.
As his career trajectory continued its upward trajectory, Wisam took on the role of Front Office Manager at prestigious resorts such as Milaidhoo Island, Raffles Maldives, and The Standard Maldives. These roles allowed him to refine his management style, hone his problem-solving skills, and contribute to the overall success of each resort.
Wisam’s journey eventually led him to COMO Cocoa Island, a resort renowned for its unparalleled luxury and exquisite attention to detail. Joining as the Front Office Manager, he embraced the challenges and responsibilities that came with the position. His dedication, combined with his innate ability to create genuine connections with guests, led to his promotion as the Director of Rooms.
Wisam’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a remarkable tale of perseverance, growth, and a genuine passion for creating exceptional guest experiences. His diverse roles, spanning from recreation to guest experience management, have equipped him with a holistic understanding of the industry. His commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to delivering top-tier service have not only benefited the resorts he’s been a part of but have also contributed to elevating the reputation of Maldives as a premier luxury travel destination.
As Wisam continues to shape the guest experience landscape at COMO Cocoa Island, one can only imagine the heights he will reach and the impact he will make on the ever-evolving hospitality industry of the Maldives. His journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring hoteliers and a testament to the boundless opportunities that await those who are truly passionate about their craft.
Hamzath Ameen: Elevating human resources
In the fast-paced and thriving hospitality industry of the Maldives, where exceptional service and guest satisfaction are paramount, there are individuals who stand out for their dedication, expertise, and leadership qualities. Hamzath Ameen is making his mark as a proficient human resources professional in island resorts of the Maldives. With an impressive career trajectory and a passion for excellence, Hamzath has become a respected figure in the industry.
Hamzath Ameen was born and raised in Addu Atoll, a region known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture. Following his schooling, he pursued his higher education at Cyryx College in Male’, where he successfully completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Management. This academic foundation laid the groundwork for his future career in the dynamic world of hospitality.
Hamzath embarked on his professional journey at Dhonveli Beach Resort, where he assumed the role of Accounts Officer. This initial foray into the hospitality industry allowed him to gain valuable insights into the financial aspects of resort operations and the importance of maintaining accurate records and efficient systems.
Eager to expand his horizons and broaden his skill set, Hamzath sought opportunities at various reputable companies and resorts throughout the Maldives. His determination and exceptional work ethic caught the attention of industry professionals, leading to his appointment as the Human Resources Officer at Furaveri Island Resort. Recognizing his potential, Ameen quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to the position of Assistant Manager, and subsequently, Human Resources Manager.
During his tenure at Furaveri Island Resort, Hamzath made significant contributions to the establishment’s human resources department. He spearheaded various initiatives to enhance employee engagement, streamline recruitment processes, and foster a positive work culture. Under his leadership, the resort witnessed an increase in employee satisfaction and a notable reduction in turnover rates, solidifying Hamzath’s reputation as a skilled people manager.
In 2022, Hamzath accepted an exciting new opportunity and joined Rihiveli Maldives Resort as the Human Resources Manager. With his wealth of experience and proven track record, he assumed a pivotal role in overseeing the resort’s human resources functions, including recruitment, training and development, performance management, and employee relations. Hamzath’s strategic approach and ability to build strong relationships with staff and management alike have made him an invaluable asset to the resort.
Hamzath Ameen’s journey from an Accounts Officer to a respected Human Resources Manager exemplifies his commitment to personal growth and professional excellence. Through his hard work, dedication, and leadership abilities, he has successfully carved a niche for himself in the competitive Maldivian hospitality industry. Hamzath’s passion for nurturing talent, fostering positive work environments, and delivering exceptional guest experiences continues to make a lasting impact on the resorts he has served.
Chef Mohamed Niyaz on celebrating authentic Maldivian flavours
Introducing the culinary genius who brings alive Kaagé specialty restaurant at VARU By Atmosphere
Chef Mohamed Niyaz is the Maldivian Chef who has breathed life into VARU By Atmosphere’s signature restaurant – Kaagé. In this interview, he speaks about his love for local cuisine and his inspiration. He also shares words of wisdom for budding chefs in the Maldives.
Where are you from? I was born and raised in the beautiful island of Ha. Dhihdhoo, in the Haa Alif Atoll, Maldives.
When did you first fall in love with cooking? Even when I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom. I was so intrigued by her amazing cooking skills and how she would prepare all sorts of delicious dishes. I would eagerly watch and learn from her every time she cooked. That’s what inspired me to become a chef myself.
What motivates you? Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a deep passion for both art and cooking. My mother, who is incredibly creative, would whip up imaginative meals. I would often tell her that one day, when I grew up, I would become a chef and cook a special meal just for her. I’m proud to say that I’ve fulfilled that dream.
Tell us a little bit about your journey in the hospitality industry. In 2002, I had the chance to embark on my journey in the tourism industry when I began working as a Commis at Hulhule Island Hotel. Over 16 years, I climbed the ranks and eventually held the position of Chef De Partie at the same hotel. Then, in 2019, an exciting opportunity came my way as I joined VARU by Atmosphere as a Sous Chef. Currently, I am honoured to be working as a Maldivian Chef at the renowned Kaagé restaurant, which is the first of its kind in Atmosphere Core.
What are some of your achievements and awards? Throughout my 20-year career, I have had the privilege of receiving nominations and winning various awards in different competitions and ceremonies. The most recent and special achievement was when I was honoured with the CGM Chefs Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2022. The year 2016 proved to be another successful year, I achieved remarkable accomplishments in international competitions. Securing second place in the Team Challenge and first place in the Foreign Team Challenge at the Chinese Foreign Hotel’s cooking competition, CCTV ‘The Greatest Chefs.’ In addition, I have been participating in the Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge from 2012 to 2022 and have received 12 gold, silver, and bronze awards over the years.
Can you describe Kaagé restaurant for us? Kaagé is the signature Maldivian restaurant at VARU By Atmosphere. The restaurant is designed as a traditional Maldivian house adorned by heritage photographs and video storytelling. Guests can relish local flavours presented with a progressive twist. We use traditional home cooking methods to ensure the food is fresh, aromatic, and flavourful.
As a chef, what are your preferred local ingredients? Coconut, pandan leaves, Maldivian chilli, and curry leaves hold a special place in my culinary repertoire.
Which dish would you highly recommend to all guests at Kaage? There are a variety of local dishes on our menu. I would recommend guests try Gulha, a deep-fried pastry ball filled with smoked tuna or vegetables and flavoured with finely chopped onion, grated coconut, and chilli. And Kandu Kukhulu, our renowned Maldivian tuna curry, stands out as the most exceptional and beloved dish. It is one of our signature specialties and the rich flavours are sure to leave a lasting impression on our valued guests.
What are your plans for the future? At present, Maldivian cuisine is exclusively available in restaurants within our nation. My aspiration is to present Maldivian specialty cuisine on a global scale.
What guidance would you offer aspiring Maldivian chefs? To the younger generation, I would like to emphasize that Maldivian Cuisine is truly distinctive, and with unwavering dedication and perseverance, you can achieve remarkable heights. In line with a Maldivian saying, “Fass enburi nubala abadhuves hih varaa eku kuriyah dhaan masahkaeh kuraashey, ehves masahkathaky hadi masahkatheh nooney” (loosely translated as, always strive to move forward with courage, without dwelling on the past, as no task is ever considered insignificant).
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