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REBIRTH: the only word that truly represents St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort – not so much in the sense that you become a balmier and better version of yourself, revived after a period of existential crisis – although that definition could work too. I mean it literally, the phenomenon of returning to a blissful time when you could rely on a respectable adult to attend to your every whim (mama? papa?), much like the personalised butler you’re assigned at St. Regis Maldives who’s ready to arrange and organise every aspect of your life for you. Because he knows you’re a mess and he’s basically written The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (someone’s life, for 2 weeks) before Marie Kondo even thought about vacuuming.

Jumping on the seaplane, minuscule specks transform into 77 vast villas and 6 restaurants as we approach the resort engulfed in a stream of startling sunlight hugging peak roofed beach villas and infinity pools. Notes of cream and cobalt decorate the resort’s soothing interiors. Soothing is a word invented for St. Regis Maldives, from the buttery warm sea breeze, to the check-in that does NOT require awkward feet-shifting at a reception desk as a ponytailed staff tries copying down your married (Polish, mind) name.

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The setting transports you to a futuristic marine-inspired universe, surrounded by huts in the form of stingrays and a restaurant shaped like a giant octopus. It’s like a hyper-modern Sea World for grown-ups (this I love – the resort is catered to families but really designed for designer ‘getaways’, if you get my drift) There’s an acute focus on sea life, nature and an eco-conscious aesthetic home to St. Regis Maldives as opposed to the overused ‘Robinson Crusoe luxury escape’ theme so commonly associated with the Maldives. Casual activities include chasing turtles around in the tropical waters and spotting reef sharks and stingrays, unlike other Maldivian hideouts that have been severely suffering coral bleaching in the past few years.

In fact, it’s the smaller details that make St. Regis Maldives stand out from the rest: wooden ceilings incorporating traditional Maldivian craftsmanship, coral chandeliers and headboards made of recycled glasses beads that sparkle in the natural sunlight, all streamlined by WOW Architects ׀ Warner Wong touch – not to mention the ‘Island Mary’ bloody Mary served in a nautilus shell and infused with Kala Namak salt.

By day two, we dub the island ‘Neverland’: we NEVER, EVER want to grow up.

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Kaftan – Tallulah & Hope

‘Island Mary’ bloody Mary

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The St. Regis Maldives
Vommuli Island, Dhaalu Atoll, Vommuli, Maldives
+960 676-6333
www.marriott.com

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photography SHINI PARK. as guest of ST. REGIS MALDIVES (all views my own)

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photography SHINI PARK hosted by CONRAD MALDIVES supported by CHANEL

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Swimsuit – ONIA. Sunglasses – Chanel.

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Power of nook and cranny

This is something I noticed only on my second jaunt to the Indian Ocean, but the Maldives isn’t your usual fly-and-flop destination. It’s an archipelago of paradise islands that is as close to blank canvas as you can get on a holiday. There is no silver screen reference starring a Hepburn sister, or stripy/nautical uniform a la French Riviera, and certainly no techno beats reverberating out of the clubhouse, courtesy of DJ Ibiza. There are no rules, or things ‘you must/mustn’t do’ (i.e Do not order a Mai Tai in Saint Tropez). In fact, you may have troubles packing for your first time. All that’s provided is nature in its incorrupt, innocent entirety, and wholehearted Maldivian hospitality. Add to that: Sun (unabridged), celestial skies, immaculate coral beaches and at times, warm rain. The Conrad Maldives understands this well, which is one of the many reasons for my return. The two private islands – joined by a footbridge overlooking the occasional manta ray – is full of nooks and crannies. This lends an illusion of being alone on an island, with a fully-equipped gym, water sports centre and a sunrise yoga session, or an excellent in-villa dining menu and a comprehensive DVD library, if you wish. It’s a DIY holiday – any agenda fits.

The dress code? Come as you are. White does swell, but any colour you find in the Maldivian sunset is a safe bet. No heels, unless it’s a ‘housewarming’ item, like your favourite candle from home.

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Don’t miss the fish (read: shark) feeding at Mandhoo
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Rangali Island, Rangali 20077, Maldives
+960 668-0629
hilton.com
Scarf – Nazanin Rose Matin. Sandals – Chanel. Swimsuit – ERES. Sunglasses – Chanel. Bracelet – X JEWELLERY

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sunglasses CHANEL bracelet X JEWELLERY towel CHANEL swimsuit ERES

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Boyfriend shirt – ASOS. Pouch – Loeffler Randall

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photography SHINI PARK assistance MR TRIPOD location CONRAD MALDIVES

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There is a special place in my mind, a cove, a nook, what have you – located in the general thereabouts of naughty-thoughtsburg and childish-schemesville. A little room that’s lined with premium faux-fur (‘stroke the furry wall, Albus’), and a make-it-yourself-burrito/burger/sundae/pho buffet in each of the four corners. And Henry Cavil as butler, in Olympic swimtrunks with ‘FAB’ written across the buttocks. We are not talking about the Maldives just yet, this space that I describe, is my ‘Happy Place’.

bracelet X JEWELLERY swimsuit ONIA. sunglasses DIOR

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Swimsuit – ASOS.

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Shirt & Bandeau – ASOS. Beach Pareo - Tallulah & Hope.

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straw hat H&M (SIMILAR) leather dress ASOS

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Ever since November 2015 however, my Happy Place has had a refurbishment. Now it is the exact replica of Conrad Maldives: white beaches with glassy water frothing at the hem, azure horizon that meets a cotton candy sky canvas, and all the amenities in a water villa. This is where I go in my mind, when my dude is particularly bewitched at the notion of explaining the supply and demand chain in the heaviest economist-lingo he can muster. I mentally snorkel out to the reefs and lather a wave underwater to a family of clown-fish while grunting the occasional Mmn, and ooh really‘s as he proceeds to pull out a complex-looking spreadsheet. Happy Place, Happy Place…

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Conrad Maldives
Rangali Island, Rangali 20077, Maldives
+960 668-0629

Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinion my own, as per usual.

Swimsuit – Huit 8. Sandals – Birkenstocks. Glasses – Finlay & Co. Face Mist – Purearth. Straw Bag – H&M Home.

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Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter. Take it from me

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Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret. Bag – Louis Vuitton. Brogues – Hudson x Charlie May. Sunnies – Karen Walker. Watch – Larsson & Jennings. 

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Instagram @parkncube

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Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret

Clearly, seasons aren’t London’s strong suit – there have been hints of summer these few days, although awkward overcompensation at best. Last week the city transformed into an oversubscribed Bikram yoga class with hot, thick, armpit-consistency air with condensation streaming down the walls and windows (this is possibly what the River Thames made of). So far, I’ve managed to find shelter within some tightly shut double-glazed windows, a small fan circulating stale-but-cooler air; but my mind keeps wandering back to the Maldives - of rushing sea winds on a boat as it slices through aquamarine water, escorted by a school of shiny dolphins. What I wouldn’t give now to be able to grab some snorkel things and plunge into the water! Or hand-signal a dad-joke at a family of clown fish, blow bubbles into a giant clam, and chase a sea turtle around a forest of reefs! Frankly, I wouldn’t even mind thrashing away from a unimpressed-looking blacktip reef-shark* again, it surely is more interesting than sighting a pack of sweaty, shirtless yobs with open beer cans in the park across the street at the very least.

Oh well, I’m blowing bubbles through a straw into my morning iced-coffee, I suppose it’ll have to do for now.

Snorkeling at Conrad Maldives; Read review Part 1 | Part 2

*apparently as scared of you as you are of them. Hallelujah.

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Trousers - Zara. Bag – Gucci. Watch – Larsson & Jennings. Trainers – Isabel Marant.

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CoNrad maldives
Pt 1.
Rangali Island, maldives | www.hilton.com

I did receive a fair bit of warning before heading to the Maldives: that the islands will take my heart and drown it deep, deep down the Indian Ocean; that I will experience a kind of feeling not so dissimilar to love, or absolute bewilderment. Like the first time I tried Chipotle? I asked, and they all said EVEN BETTER. So I packed high hopes, along with six bikinis, because another someone said most of my time will be spent chasing Pixar characters under water. I assumed they meant Nemo but packed more racy numbers just in case they actually meant Mr Incredible.

Conrad Maldives is 30-minute seaplane flight from capital Malé down into the bluest bit of the globe – by atlas standards a practically invisible clutter of tiny islands located south of Sri Lanka, with a probability of accidental discovery from zero to drunk-and-randomly-clicking-around-Google-Earth-satellite-view. As the seaplane expertly skimmed down onto the glassy sea, I couldn’t help but feel like a bond girl, seeking refuge on a glamorous island with the aid of an international spy – nevermind the ill-digested plane food and a muffin top.

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I had never seen such unadulterated scenery, such literal exhibition of colours, and immediately took up on bumping up adjectives to superlatives: bluest sea/whitest sand/bestest trip EVER…and so on. Indeed just like my first time at Chipotle. And just as I ran out of words starting with ‘A’ to describe the view over a coconutty welcome drink, a smiley Maldivian in white beckoned towards our water villas. Modern and minimalist in style, constructed of de-saturated sea wood, and pulled together by the occasional splash of blue furnishing, mine was one of 71 water villas on the island. Although, the whereabouts of the other 61 was a mystery I never managed to solve.

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I felt right at home, if home was a house above crystal clear water and a glass globe horizon for a view. This feeling of privacy was something I’d never known I cherished in hotels/resorts, I suppose more so that I was to spend the next few days alone, wrestling with a tripod and remote for photos.

As the sea lapped at the beams of the villa and the outdoor Jacuzzi gurgled every so often to compete, I was already unbuttoning my heart to give to the sea at the Conrad Maldives. And I’d soon learn that no amount of snorkelling or diving I’d be able to retrieve it.

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Stick around for part 2, and once again a happy 10th birthday to Ithaa, Conrad Maldives’ undersea restaurant – more on this later.

Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinions are my own.

Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret

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