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Elevating wellness with elegance of Thai silk at Amari Raaya Maldives

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The newly opened exquisite resort, Amari Raaya Maldives, operated by ONYX Hospitality Group, a reputable force in Southeast Asia’s hospitality industry with over five decades of hospitality management experience that delivers unparalleled experiences in a dynamic and competitive market, meeting the ever-evolving demands of travelers, is celebrating the launch of its very first maai spa, which opened on August 1.

To mark this occasion, the resort is offering an exclusive holistic wellness package titled ‘Reconnect Mind, Body, and Soul.’ This package is designed to support the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of guests while igniting creativity through a series of thoughtfully tailored experiences.

The exclusive wellness package starts with daily sunrise or sunset yoga and healthy smoothies at the much-loved Amaya Food Gallery.

Included in the package is a private dinner at watch tower, one of the remnants of Seb’s castaway story that is converted to a private dining and star gazing venue. The private watch tower dinner will serve nutritionally balanced wholesome meal including vegan option by the resort’s renowned chefs.

Guests will also receive a 120-minute signature massage at maai spa, using the signature algae massage oil; that detoxifies, nourishes and releases muscle tension and a mini revitalisation facial for softer and smoother skin.

Guests are also invited to explore their creativity side by taking a private art therapy session at the resort’s art zone and complete the pot pourri of wellness experiences by enjoying a USD 20 resort credit at UNO Salon that caters to luxury beauty services at Amari Raaya Maldives.

With its debut in Thailand and the Maldives, “maai spa “emerges as a beacon of luxury, catering to discerning travellers

seeking all-encompassing wellbeing. Rooted in the transformative journey of silk, the spa intertwines elegance and innovation crafting a holistic experience that transcends the borders.

maai spa at Amari Raaya Maldives boasts 10 beautifully relaxing treatment room and yoga pavilion surrounded by the lush greenery. Derived from the metamorphic process of silk, maai spa harmoniously blends contemporary Thai hospitality with a devotion to science and art. The seamless fusion encompasses a wide array of exceptional treatments. The treatments are thoughtfully combined with traditional Thai treatments, employing natural elements with delightful fragrances to deliver relaxation through comprehensive care and attentive service.

Apart from Amari Raaya Maldives, a trailblazer in the brand’s portfolio maai spa at Amari Pattaya continues this journey.

Further expansion plans are underway in destinations like Bangkok and Phuket.

Reconnect Mind, Body and Soul starts with USD 882++ per villa for 03 nights stay at the cosy villas of Amari Raaya Maldives together with special perks as below:

  • Round trip seaplane transfers
  • Daily breakfast
  • Daily sunrise and sunset yoga
  • Daily juice and smoothie
  • One private art therapy session at Artist Zone
  • 120-minute maai spa signature massage and facial session
  • Private vegan dinner at the watchtower
  • USD 20 resort credit at UNO Salon

To book please visit www.amari.com/raaya-maldives/special-offers/hotel-packages/wellness or contact the resort directly at reservations.raaya@amari.com

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Maldives embraces Global Wellness Day with community, joy

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On Saturday, June 8th, over one billion people worldwide were touched by Global Wellness Day 2024. This international celebration, established in 2012 by Belgin Aksoy, is a not-for-profit social project dedicated to promoting a healthier and improved life. Global Wellness Day aims to focus individuals and society on living well, achieving inner peace, and overcoming detrimental habits and stressors. Celebrated annually on the second Saturday of June, it involves millions of participants in over 170 countries, engaging in diverse activities.

This year marked the first year for Julia Ivankovich, co-founder of Bliss Maldives and Global Wellness Day ambassador in the Maldives, who expressed immense excitement at the enthusiastic participation from numerous resorts and the diverse nationalities that united for the occasion. It was a day filled with joy for both children and adults, showcasing the community’s diversity and strength. The ambassador extended gratitude to the supporters in Hulhumalé, who contributed their time, energy, and positivity to make the day memorable.

Wellness is about taking small daily steps, but a single day can significantly impact one’s life. With the theme #MagentaNature, the activities aimed to inspire healthier habits, provide moments of self-reflection, and unite the community. The ambassador’s primary goal was to make wellness accessible to everyone, emphasising that health and happiness should be universally enjoyed. The hope is that the wellness initiatives from June 8th will integrate into daily routines, with plans underway for more wellness opportunities leading up to Global Wellness Day 2025.

Among the numerous activities, the arts and crafts sessions for children using recycled materials and ocean energy stood out. A mindful breathing workshop provided a 60-second break from daily routines, introducing new breathing techniques and promoting present-moment awareness. Professionals shared their expertise and lifetime missions, leaving a lasting impact on the participants.

Children’s wellness was a central concern, with activities designed to create long-lasting, positive experiences based on natural health and happiness. These included distributing green apples and offering organic sparkling tea for a communal celebration. These moments fostered learning, connection, and a sense of responsibility for the world and its people.

As a first-time Global Wellness Day ambassador and a proud Maldivian resident, the ambassador extended heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported and participated in making the day a success. Special appreciation was given to the local community participants, especially the parents who brought their children, for their enthusiastic and energetic involvement in celebrating Global Wellness Day.

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New ‘Beach & Overwater Villa’ package from The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives

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Solving the beach vs overwater villa dilemma once and for all, The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives resort has launched a new room package, in which two signature villa experiences are rolled into one dreamy four-night stay.

An incredible place for shutterbugs to take photos, the ocean-facing Beach Villas offer the ideal option for families with kids, who can relax on the white sands while being mere steps from the kids’ club, the spa, 24/7 fitness studio and other facilities. Spanning 137 square meters, The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives offers a choice of a sunrise villa where morning larks can witness the first birds stir in the branches and the romantic west-facing sunset villa, perfect for enjoying sundowners in a private pool.

For a bucket-list Maldivian experience, holidaymakers can opt for one of the spectacular Overwater Villas. Situated just a few meters away from the house reef, this villa has some of the finest uninterrupted ocean views around. It’s 110 square meters of pure luxury, with a king-sized bed, daybed, direct access to the sea from your private deck, a private deck with plunge pool, a rain shower, and a partial open-air bathroom. The resort provides snorkelling gear in every villa to explore the lagoon and ocean, and guests can get around with their bicycles.

The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives’ “2N Beach Villa + 2N Water Villa” package starts from USD 470 per night and requires a minimum stay of four nights, with guests enjoying two nights in a Beach Villa followed by two more nights in an Overwater Villa. When staying here, return sea plane transfer is included for 2 adults for stays of 4 nights and above. Guests can enjoy various meal plans, including Half Board, Full Board, and All-Inclusive Plus, as well as meals at Kula and specialty restaurants with daily food credits. The All-Inclusive Plus plan also includes premium beverages, selected water sports, excursions, and spa credits.

For more information and to book the experience, please visit https://www.standardhotels.com/maldives/properties/huruvalhi#rooms.

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Palace for the prince: Muleeage’s century-long journey through history

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It was ‘honeymoon season’ in Suez. Sultan Haji Imadudeen was reigning on a throne of love in Egypt. But back home, those were darker times, as Maldives continued to borrow from Bohra merchants of Mumbai. After all, the wedding expenses of the monarch had to be paid by the state.

Imadudeen has appointed his younger brother, Dhoshee Manippulhu of Maandhooge, as the regent to take care of the state’s affairs, but it was Prince Ibrahim Dhoshimeynakilegefaan of Athireege who ruled. Prince Ibrahim’s son, Abdul Majeed Didi of Athireege, took charge of stabilising the nation.

Backed by the British masters and business elites in Male’, Abdul Majeed Didi began hatching a secret plan. Finally, by the early hours of March 10, 1910, onlookers could understand that something was happening in Muleege. Beeru Mohamed Fulhu, who was at the Friday Mosque, saw the door being opened and Mohamed Shamsudeen being escorted out by his brother-in-law Abdul Majeed Didi and Sayyid Kilegefaanu, also known as Khatheeb Seedhi. The two men accompanied Shamshudeen to Boduganduvaru, the royal palace, and placed him on the throne as Sultan Shamsudeen Iskandhar, Al-Salitc. As Shamsudeen was the brother-in-law of both men, the aim behind the plan could mean more than just stabilising the nation; there might have been personal motives and interests.

After appointing Shamsudeen the sultan, Khatheeb Seedhi told him that no one was ever going to challenge his reign. He said that Shamshudeen was not going to leave the throne unless he wished to do so.

Khatheeb Sidi’s saying became true, as Shamsudeen remained in power for the next 31 years, six months and 28 days. That was until he left behind all the privileges of a king for the sake of his beloved son Hassan Izzuddeen, for whom he built Henveyru Ganduvaru or Muleeage from where he started his journey to become the sultan at one midnight. As the famous public speaker and poet Ibrahim Shihab later said, the sultan abdicated for the only son he ever had.

Muleeage, the presidential palace which is now 105 years old, was originally built for Shamsudeen’s son and the then Crown Prince Hassan Izzudeen. The palace was originally named as Henveyru Ganduvaru. It was a symbol of the king’s love for his son.

The origin of this address goes back to the era of the heroic Sultan Hassan Izzudeen, also known as Dhonbandaarain. This plot of land was first used to build a thatch hut when Muhammad Manik of Mulee shifted his family to the capital city. The house was later inherited by Dhonbandaarain and then by Ibrahim Noorahdeen and then by his son Shamsudeen. Hassan Izzudeen was born to Shamsudeen and Sithi Didi, daughter of Bodu Sidi of Kalhuhurage.

When Izzudeen was studying in Ceylon, Shamsudeen decided to build the house before his son returned home. Shamsudeen decided to build it as a palace for the crown prince.

Fully funded by state coffers, the project was commissioned in 1914. Ahmed Dhoshimeyna Kiligefaanu of Athireege was assigned as the project manager. Architects and builders were brought from Ceylon. Architecture and the design was that of the Victorian era with a touch of colonial architectural design. Furniture too was imported from Ceylon. Few transoms were designed by Easa Mohamed Fulhu from the island of Kela in Haa Alif Atoll.

The palace was opened on December 7, 1919, with a special Mauloodh, a cultural prayer.

Izzudeen came back from Ceylon after his education to live in the palace as “Henveyru Ganduvaru Manippulhu”. He lived with privileges that don’t match with that of any other prince. As he was a highly-skilled musician, the palace became a theatre for music. Izzudeen sang with his beautiful voice whilst also playing harmonium. Boys of his dance group, widely known as “Nashaa Party” danced to his music, dressed as ladies. Boduberu too was part of the fun at the palace. It was full on partying till midnight on most days. It is said that the novel, Dhonthuhkalaage Gellunu Furaavaru (lost teenage of Dhonthuhkala), written by Muhammad Ismail Didi of Meerubahuruge, was based on an incident that happened at the palace.

The elite of Athireege took all that as inappropriate for a crown prince. Their disapproval grew and Izzudeen was considered as someone who is ineligible for the throne. The first written constitution in the history of Maldives was passed as a result. It was written in that constitution that the sultanate will only go to a grandson of Dhonbandarain, effectively removing Izzudeen from the royal inheritance path.

But the constitution was later received by the people as a burden, as new laws were introduced to a population that was not aware of such rules. It made their life miserable.

“We can’t bear this anymore,” they said, as they gathered at the Gulhakulhey Fasgandu, an open area just next to the headquarters of the army, and tore apart the document. They even attempted to bring out some ministers to be dealt with by the mob.

The country then saw increased hostile actions against the government from Izzudeen who tried to take over.

Prime Minister Hassan Fareed issued orders to arrest Izzudeen’s allies. Izzudeen went to Bodubandeyrige, then headquarters of security forces, in person to try save his allies. Shamsudeen left the throne to follow.

The prime minister, who was paving way for the change in government, used this as an opportunity to overthrow Shamsudeen. The latter was banished to Fuvahmulah, in the far south, together with his son Izzudeen.

Izzudeen died on the island after a short ailment, whilst Shamsudeen was brought back to Male’ as his health deteriorated. He died shortly thereafter. Henveyru Ganduvaru was deserted after that.

All the palaces except that of the sultan were later downgraded and Henveyru Ganduvaru became Muleeage, taking the name of the first house built at the address.

Muleeage was used for several purposes for the next 80 years before becoming the presidential palace in 1953. From 1942 to 1947, it was used to house the ministries of home affairs and defence, and the office of the head of intelligence. It also served as the headquarters of the first newspaper in the country, Sarukaaruge Khabaru.

With the first republic that came into being in 1953, Muleeage became the presidential palace, serving as the official residence of Mohamed Ameen Didi, the first president.

As the monarchy was reinstated after overthrowing Ameen and abolishing the republic in a coup, Muleeage became the office of the prime minister. Ibrahim Famuladeyrikiligefaan and Ibrahim Nasir were prime ministers who used the office. At one point during their administrations, Muleeage also housed the ministry of defence.

Presidential palace and several ministries at some point, Muleeage has been in use ever since.

Apart from this, several high profile guests of the state stayed there during their visits. Late Queen Elizabeth and her late husband, The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philips were amongst those.

Although Ibrahim Nasir, as the first president of the second republic, declared Muleeage as the presidential palace again in 1970, he didn’t use it as such. His successor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was the first president to formally use it as his official residence. He stayed there from 1988 to 1994, before moving to Theemuge, a newly built presidential palace which later became the Supreme Court.

The first Supreme Court, which was the result of the present day constitution, was temporarily housed in Muleeage in 2008. Then came President Mohamed Nasheed who chose to make it the presidential palace yet again. It was also used as the offices of a national inquiry commission, which was setup to investigate the events surrounding Nasheed’s early departure in 2012, before becoming the presidential palace again.

In the century that has passed since Muleeage was built in its current design, it has witnessed numerous historical events in the country. It witnessed the declaration of the first republic and the reinstating of the monarchy. It hosted heads of states as well as ministers from different parts of the world. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandi was one amongst them to be remembered.

Been a place for all that, the status of Muleeage is much more important in our history; it was the childhood home of Hassan Izzudeen, Dhonbandaarain, the heroic sultan who freed Maldives from the short-lived rule of the Malabari invaders, also known as “Holhin”. This was the place from where he came out for his battle with the flag of freedom flying over his head.

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