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Harnessing Local Knowledge to Explore the Fascinating Secrets of the Distant Stars with Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villa’s SKY Gurus

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We have all, at one time or another, gazed up into the night sky and  contemplated the mysteries of the universe, but if ever you were planning to learn more about  the stars and the secrets they hold, you would be hard-pushed to find a more ideal location  than SKY at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas.  

Located in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Anantara Kihavah is not only a tropical  island paradise but also a stargazer’s dream location. The private island’s remoteness means  that it is free from light pollution, while its proximity to the equator affords spectacular views of  both the southern and northern sky.  

At SKY, Anantara Kihavah’s overwater observatory combined with a luxury cocktail bar, the  far reaches of the universe are brought into crystal clear focus as guests sip Champagne or  cocktails and gaze through one of the most powerful telescopes in the region while the resort’s  two resident SKY Gurus regale them with fascinating stories of the night sky. Harnessing their  local knowledge of the Maldivian sky to reveal the intriguing stories behind the countless stars  that make up the distant constellations, Zunnoon Ahmed, known as Zunnu, and Ali Arushal,  who goes by the name of Shalli, are Anantara Kihavah’s Resident SKY Gurus. Both natives  of Baa Atoll, Zunnu and Shalli are not only captivating storytellers, but they also each have  their own story to tell.  

Zunnoon Ahmed

Born and raised on the small island of Kudarikilu in Baa Atoll, Zunnu has always been  fascinated by the night sky. Driven by a curiosity to unravel the secrets and stories behind the  stars that fill the cloudless Maldivian skies, his fascination evolved into a passion for  astrophotography when he was just 16 years old, marking the beginning of his journey into  the enthralling world of astronomy.  

Although Zunnu pursued a career in the more conventional field of IT, currently serving as  Assistant IT Manager by day and storytelling SKY Guru by night, his passion for stargazing  only grew stronger. He collaborates with online telescope operators in his spare time,  engaging in astro imaging to capture captivating glimpses of the cosmos through remote  telescopes, while he is constantly looking for new ways to expand his knowledge. “I always  make it a habit to check online astronomy forums for the latest celestial discoveries and  engage in discussions with fellow space enthusiasts,” he explained. 

Having originally joined Anantara Kihavah in 2017 as an IT Coordinator, overseeing the hotel  network, managing hotel applications, and playing a key role in ensuring the seamless  operation of various technological aspects for a smooth guest experience, Zunnu grabbed the opportunity to develop his celestial passion by volunteering to study stargazing under the  supervision of the resort’s first SKY Guru, Ali Shameem. 

Across the next five years, Zunnu conducted research, took theory tests and participated in  stargazing demos as part of his detailed training process. “The experience of learning about  the stars was a bit challenging when I started,” he explained. “But it has become truly fantastic  now. The journey of understanding the cosmos has been both rewarding and enlightening.” 

Recalling his first stargazing session at Anantara Kihavah, Zunnu commented on how the  positive reactions of the guests turned it into a rewarding and fulfilling experience, both for him  and for his captivated audience. Sharing his passion now comes easily to the engaging Zunnu.  “We all have a natural curiosity to understand the world around us,” he explained. “And the  night sky, with its myriad stars, has always been a source of wonder and questions. Stars  often hold cultural and mythological significance in various societies. Many cultures have  created stories, myths, and legends based on constellations and individual stars, adding a  sense of mystery and importance.” 

While his own personal favourite star is Aldebaran, Zunnu is more than happy to take  advantage of Anantara Kihavah’s pristine location away from light pollution to find and share  a variety of celestial events with the resort’s guests. “We regularly witness awe-inspiring solar  eclipses, captivating lunar eclipses, mesmerising meteor showers, and enchanting planetary  conjunctions in our cosmic spectacle,” he enthused.  

Ali Arushal

A more recent addition to Anantara Kihavah’s small but elite team of SKY Gurus, Shalli is  another native of Baa Atoll, having been born and raised on the island of Kendhoo. Shalli  describes his childhood on Kendhoo as happy and enjoyable, and while his interest in the  stars began at a young age, it was not until he joined Anantara Kihavah that he delved deeper  into the field of astronomy. 

Having joined Anantara Kihavah’s transport department in 2021, Shalli is part of the resort’s  launch crew, where his main responsibilities include ensuring transport operations run  smoothly. However, his fascination with the amazing views of the Maldivian night sky resulted  in him volunteering to train as the resort’s next SKY Guru. 

During one and a half years of learning about stargazing from the resort’s first SKY Guru,  Shalli’s intensive training involved theory tests, reading assignments, and stargazing  demonstrations. Eager to expand his knowledge and complement his training, Shalli also  seeks out additional information from the internet and YouTube. 

Describing his first stargazing session with guests as stunning, Shalli quickly warmed to his  new role. As a SKY Guru, Shalli enjoys sharing his passion and imparting unknown knowledge  about the stars to others. While he names Antares as his personal favourite star, he enjoys nothing more than being able to show guests distant constellations or share such amazing  spectacles with them as a lunar eclipse, solar eclipse or meteors. 

SKY Gurus lead guests on a cosmic journey across both hemisphere’s stars and planets,  clarifying what can be seen in the sky with the naked eye and using a green laser, they point  out different constellations and explains light years and different types of galaxies. Guests are  then able to view the sky from the observatory telescope which has a viewing capacity of 30  million light years away. 

The locale gives guests an opportunity to see lunar eclipses, stars and planets invisible from  Europe or America. Sometimes, depending on climate and time of the year, you can even  catch a glimpse of Saturn with its pale-yellow rings, belts of Jupiter that vary in width, colour  and intensity from year to year and the several hundred thousand of stars that make up  Messier 13. 

SKY is the finest over water observatory in the Maldives built with a 3.8 metre revolving Ash dome and equipped with a research-grade Meade 16” LX200 telescope with a magnification  of 400x mounted on a super-giant field tripod. 

Embark on a cosmic journey at Anantara Kihavah’s SKY Observatory. For more information or to book, call +960 664 4111, visit their website or email  reservations.maldives@anantara.com. 

Gastronomy

BBM re-ignites culinary innovation with Master Baker Steven in Maldives

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Bestbuy Maldives (BBM) and IREKS are bringing back Master Baker Steven Selvamuthu for another exceptional training session in the Maldives from April 20th to May 5th, 2024. This collaborative effort will focus on elevating the baking skills of chefs across the Resort and Horeca establishments, merging local talents with global best practices in baking.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with IREKS and bring Chef Steven back to the Maldives,” said Praval Kumar, HoD Marketing at BBM. “This event not only enhances the local talent but also introduces them to global best practices in baking. It’s a part of our continuing commitment to nurture and develop the culinary scene in the Maldives.”

Chef Steven Selvamuthu, with his globally renowned expertise and engaging teaching style, has become a pillar of knowledge and inspiration within the Maldivian chef community. His sessions are eagerly awaited each year, valued for both the skills they impart and the enthusiasm they ignite among participants. IREKS, revered globally for its high-quality baking solutions, continues to play a crucial role in this educational initiative, enjoying the trust and confidence of the local chefs for more than two decades.

IREKS, a renowned German multinational, is recognized worldwide for its expertise in developing innovative baking ingredients. Their products cater to a health-conscious and quality-driven generation, offering a wide range of high-quality bakery flours, baking improvers, specialty bread mixes, and confectionary mixes, including Gluten-Free and Vegan options. With a focus on sustainability, IREKS promotes a diverse array of organic baking improvers and mixes, exclusively sourcing raw materials from controlled organic cultivation. IREKS is also the leading brand supporting the ‘Bread and Pastry Display Challenge’ during the Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge, May 2024. Their involvement in this prestigious event further showcases their commitment to fostering culinary excellence and innovation in the Maldives.

This year’s training sessions are set to delve into specialized topics, including popular areas such as Gluten-Free and Vegan baking options, catering to the evolving dietary preferences and health-conscious trends among consumers. Such sessions underscore BBM’s commitment to not only keeping pace with global culinary trends but also leading the way in bringing the best to Maldives.

BBM stands at the forefront of the Maldivian culinary supplies industry, partnering with global giants like Lactalis (Pauls), Lamb Weston, TWG Tea, American Specialty, San Benedetto, Mamee (chicken stock powder) and offering an expansive array of other products and ingredients. Beyond its role as a distributor, BBM is deeply invested in the culinary development of the region. Through regular training sessions, product demonstrations, and the exclusive ‘Masterclass’ series featuring Michelin Starred chefs, BBM continues to foster a vibrant culinary culture in the Maldives.

The upcoming sessions with Chef Steven are more than just training—they are a beacon for culinary excellence in the Maldives, drawing together the art and science of baking to inspire and elevate the skills of all participants. Despite the high demand and a fully booked calendar, BBM encourages resorts to inquire about possible demo slots. This flexibility reflects BBM’s commitment to inclusivity and its aim to spread culinary expertise across as many professionals as possible, enriching the overall gastronomic experience offered in the Maldives.

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News

Take time out to rejuvenate mind, body, soul at Mirihi Maldives

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Escape to Mirihi Island Maldives’ tropical shores between the 22nd and the 27th April 2024 to discover transformative experiences. Immerse yourself in a world of well-being at Mirihi Island Resort with a visiting wellness facilitators and a program of activities to relax and refresh the mind, body and soul.

Practice Ashtanga Vinyasa, Hatha or Lyengar Yoga with Danushkha, the Resident Yogi. These different Yoga techniques increase flexibility, boost immunity, calm the mind and promote a healthy balanced lifestyle.

Learn Yang Style Tai Chi with visiting instructor Suchan Hong founder of Sawasdee Tai Chi studio, Thailand. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition based on martial arts and is now a popular low-impact exercise suitable for all ages. This activity strengthens internal organs, enhances concentration and assists to achieve emotional balance.

Cleanse your mind and body and let your stresses float away with Reiki healing and the magic hands of Lia from Yoga Bliss with Lia – Bali. A Japanese technique which reduces stress and aids relaxation. Reiki is an energy healing modality that is gentle and safe for everyone. Reiki energy helps to clear and balance our energy pathways, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Burn those calories off in the crystal-clear lagoon waters with Water Aerobics, an ideal way to tone muscles, improve circulation and flexibility whilst the buoyancy of the water supports your body reducing stress on joints. It’s particularly beneficial for individuals with arthritis or joint pain or those that simply want to enjoy the warm natural swimming pool and scenery.

Find your inner peace and serenity whilst trying your hand at Healing painting and truly indulge in a sumptuous seafood BBQ dinner on the beach, Harvester style.

In addition to these wellness offerings, guests can also enjoy snorkeling on the stunning house reef, diving, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, sound healing, being pampered at the Duniye Spa or snorkeling with whale sharks and manta rays in the surrounding atoll waters.

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Awards

THE OZEN COLLECTION vies for top Russia award

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OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI and OZEN LIFE MAADHOO both nominated for Best Romantic Resort, in Russia’s prestigious Travel Time Awards.

THE OZEN COLLECTION’s charming private islands in Malé Atoll, OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI and OZEN LIFE MAADHOO are both shortlisted in the prestigious TRAVEL TIME Awards 2023 for the ‘Best Romantic Resort in the Maldives’ category. 

“It’s not an uncommon dilemma for us at THE OZEN COLLECTION, with guests being spoiled for choice when it comes to sophisticated travel experiences. We take special care in curating romantic couples escapes and are honoured to know that it is gaining preference among Russians. This dual nomination underscores the popularity of our two ultra-luxury resorts within Russia, which is one of our top source markets.” says Falaaz Ismail, the Assistant Vice President of Sales for THE OZEN COLLECTION. 

At OZEN LIFE MAADHOO, timeless romance is amped up with engaging experiences like exquisite dine around in idyllic settings, sunset cruises and snorkelling, endless orders of champagne and a date at the exquisite underwater restaurant: M6m – Minus Six Meters, with the INDULGENCE™ Plan. Couples can savour tranquil indulgence together at the ELE|NA spa and wellness centre that’s inspired by the elements of nature. Soothing abodes for in-love couples include THE OZEN RESIDENCE which is a grandiose overwater haven and the charming Wind Villas with Pool.

Discerning travellers are invited to colour the canvas of romance at OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI with exquisite gourmet experiences, sundowners at OZAR, and enchanting photoshoots against gorgeous Maldivian sunsets. They can indulge in soulful couple spa therapies at ELE|NA and enjoy memorable snorkelling in the resort’s exceptional house reef accessible from the island shores. Private bliss is the order of the day at the various romantic abodes at the resort, these include: the overwater Ocean Pool RESERVE and Suites with the option of water slides and the beachside Sunrise & Sunset Earth Pool Villas.

TRAVEL TIME Awards is organised by Travel Time magazine and is among the most highly regarded accolades within the Russian travel industry. Taking place in the Spring of 2024, this is the third round of awards to mark 2023 travel results. Winners will be selected by joint online voting of the magazine’s readers, editorial commission, travel agencies and Russian celebrities. 

OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI won Best Water Villa and Best Spa and Wellness Resort in 2023 and Best Luxury Resort in 2022 – all within the special destination awards for the Maldives.

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