Monday, April 13, 2015 :: What Can You Do In Maldives


Being able to travel is something I'm very blessed and grateful for; more so in recent years. You can say I have an appetite for wanderlust, so when I received news that I was going to be flying to Maldives right before my trip to Japan, I was ecstatic. But with two trips back-to-back, that meant a lot of work needed to be cleared before that so time seemed to fly by really quickly. Before the realization of heading to one of the most sought after beach holiday destinations managed to set in, I was already on a boat heading to our island in Maldives. The bright, blue seas was a stunning wake-up call and it was then that I thought to myself, "Holy moly, I am finally here in Maldives. I am really here now".

I traveled with two travel companions and we were set to stay at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa for 6D5N. In Singapore, time seems to pass really fast but when I was in The Maldives, it was really amazing how we were not able to tell how many days had passed. Time seemed to slow down and it felt good to finally take a break from the fast-paced environment we live in. The trip was so relaxing and rejuvenating. It was real enjoyment at its best.

Since going, I've had people asking me about my trip and what there is to do in Maldives. I've added in a short segment below on my thoughts. Hopefully it will help you if you're keen to plan your next holiday there.
I find Maldives is best enjoyed with a total stay of five days. How should it be enjoyed would be putting aside the first day for unwinding in your beautiful resort room, lying in the luxurious and soft sheets or head down to the beach with a book in hand. The second day can be spent exploring the island and resort with a camera, documenting the memories of the picturesque azure blue seas with cotton candy skies. Spending your evening relaxing on a sun bed or taking a relaxing stroll with the sand between your toes, while watching the glorious sunset. By the third day and fourth day, you will find yourself pumped up and ready for water activities. You go snorkeling out in the blue lagoons, participate in water sports, sunset fishing, dolphins-watching or even play beach volleyball with your friends. Then comes night time where you go for meals at the restaurants on the dry land sampling the traditional Maldivian cuisine. By the last day, you will find it hard to leave this dream destination.

With such beautiful surroundings, we wasted no opportunity to snap shots. Before I begin with pictures, allow me to do a little intro on a reliable and impressive travel buddy who did a great job in snapping uhhhhhh-mazing shots for this trip. The Maldive photos in this post are all shot using this Canon PowerShot SX700 HS. Thanks to Canon, I was able to try this travel-friendly compact camera with powerful functions packed into it.




 In all honesty, I didn't think this compact camera would be this impressive! Some of the key features you'll find on this camera is it has all of Canon's automatic and scene modes, it records high-quality videos in Full HD format and  it has the latest DIGIC 6 processor which helps ensure your image is clear and stabilized. It also has Wi-FI and NFC built in to allow immediate sharing of photos, which I personally think is very important in any camera devices now. Other than all those features mentioned above, what really took my breath away about this camera was the crazy 30x optical zoom function. The image stabilizer on this was highly impressive as well. You'll understand what I'm talking about later on in this post.

For those of you curious on how our resort looked like:

Deluxe Rooms

Flower-filled walkways right outside our Island Cottage
Our little porch that was a 15 metre walk to the beach

The Beach Water Huts





I love how most of their restaurants were all strategically placed right next to the sea.


The antique looking boat that brought us out reef snorkeling. It's powered by a motor and does not have an anchor. The Maldivians do quite a bit to ensure that their coral reef is highly protected.



Remember how I was talking about the magnificent zoom and photo processing the PowerShot SX700 HS had? We used the zoom function for this shot as we wanted to get a bokeh effect (clear subject with a blur background).
This was how far I really was!


As mentioned, I am going to input a small section here on what to do but please bear in mind the activities may not be ubiquitous for all resorts and I am not the most active beach babe so kindly take my suggestions with a pinch of salt and do some research on your own ;) 

If you stay in a resort in Maldives, it would probably be the one providing all the activities. Our resort had daily excursions for different activities, e.g. Reef Snorkeling, Local Island Experience, Capital City Tour, Fishing and Sunset Dolphin Cruise. It also had other water activities such as Banana Boat Ride, Fun Tube, Parasailing, Water Skiing, Jet Skiing and more. The prices ranged from USD 50 - USD 400 per pax for each activity.

What I did in Maldives

1. Reef Snorkeling with array of colorful fishes, reef sharks and manta rays

Maldives is home to many different species of aquatic lives. They take strong pride in protecting their coral reefs making it the perfect place to spot these sea-wonders! We decided to go Reef Snorkeling as we heard we might be able to swim with the sharks. Not to worry, we checked and these sharks are harmless to humans. :)


We had to take a 45-minute boat ride out to the middle of the ocean to visit a spot with beautiful colorful coral reefs. Ah, speaking about the coral reefs, I just have to kick myself again for not bringing an underwater casing for my camera! :( Jumping into the sea with my snorkel and fins, it felt like I entered the world's best marine aquarium!


Reiterating how much I love the zoom on this camera, this was me a distance away from the boat.

And this was me zoomed in from the same distance!

This spot where we snorkeled and saw gorgeous coral reefs that grew deep into the valleys in the sea was actually near a certain resort (which you can see from the picture above) - this means, if you stay at this particular resort, you are one lucky human. You get to snorkel out daily without paying for these boat rides to admire the reefs and swim with pods of fishes! 

There are different spots in Maldives marked out for coral reefs, spots where you can spot sea turtles, reef sharks, and spots where you can see colorful schools of fishes. So make sure you do your research to determine how far is your resort from these and what can the marine underwater world offer you close to your resort! There are a total of 1200 coral islands that make up Maldives so you have a huge selection from about 150-180 self-contained hotels/resorts in their private islands!

2. Parasail into the skies and see beautiful gradients of azure blues and coral atolls out in the sea. 

Since the last time I missed out on parasailing in Boracay, I felt like I had to do it this time. Unfortunately, they did not have any evening time slots which allowed us to get sunset shots so we settled for one early in the morning.




Again, you can see from the zoom function that the quality is really good.

A pity I didn't bring the camera up with me. Would have loved to show you the magnificent view from above. There were different blues of the sea, patches of darker brown spots which were corals and each darker gradient of blue told you the depth of the sea.

3. Play watersports activities like Fun Tube and Stand-Up Paddle.

It is really fun to engage in watersports offered by your resort on its private island. And these activities are best enjoyed with a bigger group of friends like for myself. There were complimentary activities like Stand Up Paddling and Canoeing. Fun Tube was like an insane banana boat ride played lying on your stomach. What made the activities even more fun was the company. Imagine us trying to flip one another off the Tube while we are being pulled behind a high speed boat and then trying to topple one another at Stand-Up Paddle.







We were going at high-speed but love how the PowerShotSX700 HS managed to capture a clear shot of us, even from a distance!

If you're going for Fun Tube, please note that you might attain some abrasions on your elbows from the float burn. That part wasn't the best of memories but I would still do it all over again if I had the chance to.:)

4. Rent snorkeling equipment and swim out into the sea to explore the seabed on your own.

I don't know about you but I have a morbid fear of odd looking fishes swimming near me but heck, you only live once. Our resort had complimentary rental of snorkeling equipment so we decided to do some exploring of our own! No doubt...the fishes around our vicinity wasn't as beautiful or bountiful as that seen in the coral reef but we still did see some pretty, translucent ones!

Since I didn't manage to bring my camera in for snorkeling, allow me to use this man as an example.


Till now, I find these two photos pretty hilarious. Had so much fun with the zoom on the camera.
5. Visit an isolated island and spend alone time there.

This is one activity I really wanted to experience but didn't have the chance to. It's where they actually bring you out of the resort to a sand bank for you to chill in isolation. Sadly, at this time of the year, the sand banks are completely submerged in the sea :( Now you know. Well, I just want to be able to enjoy peace and quiet on my own out in the middle of the ocean and damn am I willing to pay bucks to get the world out of my sight. 


6. Find a cosy spot on the beach and snap beautiful photos of the sunset.

Lastly, I would say the sunsets at the Maldives were so beautiful. We managed to catch this gorgeous sunset clearly on the first day. If you are lucky, you get to see cotton candy colored skies ;) The sun sets pretty fast though so make sure you set yourself up in a nice place with a clear view to be able to catch it.





This trip was a really good break from all the buzz in Singapore. Again, I'm really thankful to have been able to go for it. A big thank you to Canon for the PowerShot SX700 HS. I would not have been able to capture such alluring shots if not for the camera.

Do you love traveling and do you want to capture your own set of great travel shots? Here's your chance to win your very own travel buddy!

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With Love,
Tricia

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015 :: Short Retreat At The Fullerton Bay Hotel


A couple weekends ago, John and I found time to get away from the daily grind and we decided on a staycay at one of hidden treasures in town. Being regular guests at the MBS hotel, we always wonder about the buildings opposite, the comfort and ambience within, and marvel at the strategic location of The Fullerton Bay Hotel on the waters of Marina Bay. When we finally found a chance to take a breather before the crunch for the Lunar New Year, we packed our bags for a staycay at The Fullerton Bay Hotel which has gained recognition worldwide for its stylish design, luxurious hospitality, unsurpassed views and waterfront dining experiences. 

Prominently positioned in the heart of Singapore's Central Business District and within The Fullerton Heritage precinct, The Fullerton Bay Hotel presents a statuesque image with its breathtaking architecture and remarkable interiors with a spectacular view of Marina Bay waterfront to boot. Found out from The Fullerton Bay's Facebook page that The Fullerton Hotel was formerly known as The Fullerton Building, and the majestic Cavenagh bridge used to be known as "husband and wife" by seafarers in the olden days. Besides it being a romantic and historically meaningful backdrop for wedding photos, legend has it that if a woman throws an orange into the river on the last day of Lunar New Year, she will find a good husband! Haha, but first, will i get fined for throwing an orange in?


Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

Stepping into the hotel lobby, it came as no surprise why it was the recipient for Best Hotel Experience at last year's Singapore Experience Awards. We were overwhelmed by the grandeur architecture which gives a luxurious and elegant atmosphere. High ceilings, wide spaces and bespoke furnishings always win me over. I understand that the hotel is designed in such a way so as to combine the historical with the contemporary to add vibrancy to the area's rich cultural heritage. It also features one of the longest waterfronts in Singapore, offering unrivalled views of Marina Bay.

After being received by a concierge staff, we walked through the Landing Point restaurant to reach the check-in counter. The Landing Point is one of four eateries in the hotel. We were awed by the beautiful rich marble in the varying tones of mineral greys and complimenting bespoke furnishings in soothing and lush olive greens, burnt orange and deep aubergine shades. It kinda built the anticipation of us arriving at our room so we could start indulging on our weekend.

Not knowing what to expect at the check-in counter, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by our names and due to the exclusive number of rooms they have in the hotel, the check-in procedure was peaceful, hassle-free and quick as compared to other hotels we have been to in town.

Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel


Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel



Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

(The bespoke furnishings are so beautiful, aren't they?)

Once we checked in, we were accompanied to our room by a pleasant lady from the concierge.


To say we felt exhilarated when we first entered our hotel room is an understatement. With the floor to ceiling glass windows (can't emphasize how much I love floor to ceiling windows) which allows natural light to stream into the room and the sense of space, it is so luxe and yet cosy for a weekend stay. 

Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

Having my very own mini tour in the room



The warm and subdued hues in the room and can I mention, the finest Egyptian cotton quality bathrobe (the best I have ever worn in so many hotels) exudes comfort and sophistication and was the perfect place for us to get away from the buzz and recuperate in luxury. We were also given complimentary fresh fruits and desserts as a welcome gift. We found ourselves lounging on the couch, enjoying the fresh fruits and indulging in the experience; which was a nice break from the usual routine of checking in and immediately rushing to unpack our bags.

There was much to discover in the room. The attention to detail is immaculate with in-room coffee machine, wide selection of Gryphon Tea (my favourite Tea brand aside from TWG), flat-screened television at the foot of each bathtub and branded shower accessories like the range of bath amenities from the Bvlgari Red Tea collection. The collection creates an experience of warmth and absolute indulgence. I rarely use bath amenities from hotel and tend to bring my own along but this well-appointed range from Bvlgari really takes the cake. In fact, the scent from my shower lingered on my long into the night.



For those of you who are fussy sleepers, you'll be pleased to know that The Fullerton Bay Hotel actually provides a Pillow Menu! There were a few types to choose from; such as contour neck, micro-gel, latex and even a jade pillow. John and I actually considered it but the original pillows they gave us were already very comfortable!


There was this little bear in the room which we learned was one of three 'signature' bears that each Fullerton Hotel has. There is the sea-faring Captain, representative of the Fullerton Bay's past, the Postmaster Bear, to signify The Fullerton Hotel's history of being home to Singapore's General Pot Office back in the day, and the classic Porter's uniform of the hotel. The bears can actually be bought and you would be pleased to know that for each sale, a portion of the proceeds goes to the MILK (Mainly I Love Kids) Fund, which helps disadvantaged children and youths in the society.

Credit: The Fullerton Hotel

To us who love having a balcony in comfort of our home, it is an absolute luxury and definitely a coveted one to enjoy an exclusive balcony with the majestic skyline for a view in our hotel room. We decided to soak up the view so John and I ordered room service for dinner and this spot right here became a cosy corner for us while we enjoyed the Marina Bay light show and had a good heart to heart talk.


The majestic view from our balcony before nightfall

Our front row seats to the Marina Bay light show

John and I in our Egyption robes that we stayed in the entire time when we were in the room.



We woke up the next morning to explore the hotel for a bit and carried out a mini VGY photo shoot. With such a reputable location, how not to snap a few shots! We decided to hold the shoot at different locations in the hotel, of which some were at its eateries.


Fullerton Bay Hotel has 4 eateries; Clifford Restaurant, Clifford Pier Restaurant, Lantern and Landing Point. We only managed to dine at Clifford Restaurant but here is some information for those of you who are interested in dining at these established restaurants.

Clifford Restaurant

Breakfast was served at Clifford Restaurant, a sanctuary of elegance and epicurean excellence. I cannot marvel enough on the delish French take on "Egg Of The Day" with foie gras and truffle hollandaise.

The restaurant was lit up by natural morning light streaming in from the majestic ten metre high floor-to-ceiling windows, and the giant gorgeous dual patterned curtains cascading down from the ceiling to the oak floors.

Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

Isn't this brasserie just beautiful beyond words? 

Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

Even the entrance of the restaurant had elegant furnishings on the walls.

My table captured in the morning light, unedited and raw as it is. It is arguably one of the most romantic restaurants I have been to. 




I would strongly recommend this place as a dining destination for couples looking for a romantic restaurant to celebrate a special occasion.

Clifford Pier Restaurant

Not to be confused with Clifford Restaurant, the Clifford Pier Restaurant and its alfresco dining area (as seen below) were newly unveiled in May 2014. This would be the most prominent of restaurants as it is the first thing you will see as soon as you step into the hotel. Came to learn from the hotel staff that this restaurant is often booked for events; the most recent being the launch of Huracan for Lamborgini Singapore.

A view of Clifford Pier Restaurant from inside the hotel lobby

So I'm sure most of you can guess what Clifford Pier Restaurant was named after. Clifford Pier in the past was a busy landing and departure point during the pre-air travel era! Today, Clifford Pier has been replaced by Marina South Pier and is conserved and redeveloped as part of Downtown Marina! 

This is how it used to look like in the 1930s

Credit: Google Images

And this is how Clifford Pier (or should I say Marina South Pier) looks like today!

Credit: William Cho


Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

To retain the history of Clifford Pier, the restaurant incorporated certain elements such as these two red lanterns. In the past, the two red lanterns served as directional and warning signs for incoming ships. This is how it looked like

Credit: Google Images

This definitely looks like a nice place to enjoy a quiet morning over tea. One more thing we learnt from the staff here is that this is a great place for fireworks as it overlooks the Marina Bay floating platform!

Lantern

For those of you who like a good view, Lantern is a stylish rooftop bar which gives enthralling views on the city skyline. According to them, it is recognized as one of the top best hotel bars in the world! Other than enjoying some tapas and cocktails, guests can also enjoy a relaxing dip in the 25-metre wide pool. For those of you who cannot decide between The Fullerton Bay Hotel and The Fullerton Hotel for its facilities, something interesting for you to note is that guests are actually able to use facilities from both hotels during their stay. If I had more time during my visit, I would have loved to have popped by The Fullerton Hotel to see their iconic swimming pool with huge Doric columns as well.

Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel
 


Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel

A view of the extravagant 25-metre long pool at Lantern

Landing Point

The Landing Point restaurant derived its name from the long passage way which the settlers had to walk on upon stepping foot at the pier. Some of you may have heard of this restaurant as the go-to-place for high-tea. Prior to this hotel stay, John and I have always tried to book a table for high tea on Sundays at Landing point (on Sundays itself) after hearing so many rave reviews but it was always fully booked. We still have yet to try it but definitely will not give up! Having experienced the hotel's great service and food at Clifford, I can't wait to spend another Sunday afternoon with John here.

Credit: The Fullerton Bay Hotel


Our stay was rather short (one night) but it was still a great experience for us. We will definitely be back for another staycay (a longer one hopefully) because the experience was exceptionally different. What makes a hotel stay even more memorable is definitely the ambience, the environment, the decorations which all plays a part in creating the best experience. One extra touch that made our hotel stay magical was the discreet and personalised service in this hotel as compared to big and overly commercialised hotels. The other main factor was the strong symbolic history that the hotel had. During that stay, I learned quite a bit about our country's history and it reinforced how much Singapore has grown through the years.

P.S.: A staff at The Fullerton Bay Hotel informed me that heritage tours are conducted upon request so guests can learn about the historic setting of The Fullerton Heritage precinct wherein lies 7 establishments namely (1) The Fullerton Hotel (2) Fullerton Waterboat House (3) One Fullerton (4) The Fullerton Pavilion (5) Clifford Pier (6) The Fullerton Bay Hotel and lastly (7) Customs House. Even as a local, there are things about our history that I still find myself learning till today. I think the tour is a great additional service as it helps enrich guests with the deep tradition that lies within the very walls of The Fullerton Bay Hotel and that dates back to the early years of Singapore.

Can't wait to be back and very thankful for the restful weekend. xx

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With Love,
Tricia

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