Velaa Resort is a Czech billionaire's gift of love to Maldives

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He has visited the Maldives 38 times. He had travelled to many other well known locations long before he found Maldives. However, the 43 year old Czech Republic Billionnaire Jiri Smejc's heart was won by the beautiful Maldives and the heart-felt hospitality of the Maldivians.

He made Maldives his stop-over destination during his business trips and the holiday destination with his family. Smejc and his wife gifted their love to the Maldives.

His heart filled up with the quality services Maldives provided him when he stayed in the Maldives for weeks every year. The butlers in his attendance, the room attendants and the waiters who served him at the restaurants became his friends. He found friends he could trust in the Maldives within a short period of time.

Through all the things that he appreciated, he had one problem: the lack of a place to enjoy absolutely private moments in peace. The beginning of the thought to create the phenomenal resort - Velaa Private Island - now developed in Noonu atoll was the solution to his problem. To portray in a unique way, the beauty of the country that stole his heart became the aim of this billionaire.

"This resort has never been a business project. This is work done to make a dream come true," said Smejc, the owner of the most extravagant resort in the Maldives who had begun the development project four years ago.

The uniqueness of Velaa, which finally opened in last December, is proof of the love Smejc bestowed upon the Maldives; which is why all the services and the facilities at the resort is concentrated on "private moments". Velaa represents the taste of tourists. To make a place for people to come and enjoy with no restrictions and complete freedom was the greatest gift Smejc had presented the Maldives with.

"The owner wanted to create a vacation home or a place people can come to spend their vacations, which had everything that lacked in other places. The whole concept of the island is based on this. The owner personally wanted to develop a luxury resort with perfect services. The Velaa resort you see today is that dream made into a reality," said Mohamed Nihaj, a close friend of Smej and who oversaw the development of the resort from day one.

Velaa is also a life-size gift from Smejc to all the Maldivian people who had served him sincerely and kind-heartedly. Those Maldivians who had served him earlier to his satisfaction are now staff members of Velaa. He has extraordinary trust on them. While he has many billion-dollar investments worldwide, he had left his MVR5 billion investment's steering wheel completely upon the hands of his friends. Every member of staff at Velaa is a special friend of his.

Staff comments that though he is the owner of the resort, Smejc is a kind and 'a cool boss'; he plays and jokes with the staff and talks to staff politely, kindly and in a friendly manner. Although he is the owner of the most extravagant Maldives Resort, he does not have a bossy attitude. You can only see his kind heartedness and gentle manners.

"He talks closely, like a friend with all his staff, with no regard for levels or posts. He pays special attention to make time to spend with them when he is here. He does not have a room made better than the normal guest rooms here just because he is the owner. He leads a simple life," Nihaj, who also serves as the resident manager of the resort, said.

Though his life is portrayed very "carefree and cool" here, he is a billionaire behind many serious business operations and investments. He has shares galore at various banks, insurance companies and media. Investing in a small country such as the Maldives is not a big deal for him. His goal is not profit either.

Velaa, owned by Smejc and his wife Radka, is the symbol of the love they had found in the Maldives. It is an invaluable gift given by the couple to the nation that brings cool breezes to the heart. For all the tourists that visit the Maldives and the 40 years of Maldivian tourism Industry, this symbol of love by Smejc is more than enough.

Source: Ahmed Naif, Haveeru Online

Rated Most Beautiful Restaurant in the World as Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

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Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has been awarded the ‘Most Beautiful Restaurant In the World’ by the New York Daily News.  Ithaa was selected as the “most beautiful dining destination on the planet” for its “stunning, unparalleled views”.  Guests dine under a ceiling made of transparent acrylic that offers panoramic 180-degree views where schools of rainbow-coloured, tropical fish and sharks glide overhead as guests tuck into dishes such as caviar, duck agnolotti and Maldivian lobster carpaccio.

While compiling the list, editors looked at “restaurants that had won awards and accolades for their design, the clout of the designer, location, and the destination’s overall reputation, be it from reputed sources like the Michelin guide or press reviews”.

Chef Ayyoub Salameh, who created the outstanding menu at Ithaa, was delighted at the recognition his signature restaurant has received, saying, “I think of my food in musical terms: I want diners to be able to hear the music of the food.  I hope it brings a smile to their face.  Ithaa is a very romantic place and I hope the food we’ve created create a talking point between the two diners at the table.  Don’t be shy: although I may not be there at the table, I’m speaking to the diners through the food.  If they can feel that, then I think the meal has been a success.”

Gorgeous gourmet eateries: The world's 10 most beautiful restaurants

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The world’s most beautiful restaurant is located five meters below the sea in the Maldives and offers panoramic views of the marine underworld.

According to a ranking compiled by food blog The Daily Meal, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the luxury Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort is the most beautiful dining destination on the planet, not for cascading crystal chandeliers, gold-gilded decor or high end art, but for the stunning, unparalleled view.
Guests dine under a vaulted ceiling made of transparent acrylic that offers panoramic 180-degree views of the ocean and marine life.

Schools of rainbow-colored, tropical fish and sharks glide overhead as guests tuck into dishes like duck agnolotti and Maldivian lobster carpaccio, and the restaurant is illuminated by blue-green hues of the sea above.

For the list, editors looked at restaurants that had won awards and accolades for their design, the clout of the designer, location, and the destination’s overall reputation, be it from reputed sources like the Michelin guide or press reviews.


Taking the second spot is The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York, designed by celebrated architects Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe. The Grill was called “the city’s greatest dining room” by New York Magazine and is also known as America’s “most powerful lunchroom.”
Walnut-paneled walls and soaring, two story windows characterize the Grill, while The Pool Room is described as more airy and romantic.

And in the No. 3 spot is Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo, a sumptuously decorated restaurant in the style of Versailles splendor.
Here are the top 10 most beautiful restaurants in the world, according to

The Daily Meal:
1. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
2. The Four Seasons, New York, U.S.A.
3. Le Louis XV, Monte Carlo, Monaco
4. La Maison 1888, Da Nang, Vietnam
5. Tori Tori, Polanco, Mexico
6. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India
7. L’Opera, Paris, France
8. Maiden’s Tower, Istanbul, Turkey
9. Hakkasan, Beverly Hills, U.S.A.
10. Mugaritz, RenterĂ­a, Spain

The Underwater Festival Returns to LUX* Maldives, 16-20 APRIL 2014

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LUX* Maldives is proud to announce the third edition of the ‘Underwater Festival’, taking place on the island from 16 to 20 April 2014. Co-sponsoring the event, the leading diving company Euro-Divers presents an array of activities ranging from scuba diving to few of the most beautiful dive sites in the word, freediving with the whale sharks, under-the-stars evening screenings with the resident marine biologist as well as free diving and apnea courses. Following a successful week of apnea courses held at the resort last November 2013, Austrian world champion freediver Christian Redl returns to LUX* Maldives to host freediving courses during the Underwater Festival.

‘I am truly excited to return to LUX* Maldives and work with the Euro-Divers team for the Underwater Festival’ says Christian Redl ‘I am always keen to promote freediving around the world and the Maldives are the perfect settings for this event.’

Christian Redl currently holds several freediving world records ranging from two distance world records under ice: 100 meters with fins and 150 meters aided by a scooter as well as a dive through a 101m long cave in Mexico.

Operating several diving centers worldwide, Euro-Divers is one the leading diving operators in the Maldives and now offers PADI freediving course throughout their diving centers in the country. Jean-Jacques Mayol, son of freediving legend Jacques Mayol, as well as English world champion freediver Sara Campbell are among the freedivers that have been working with the team of Euro-Divers in the past to further enhance the professionalism of the course.

During the Underwater Festival Euro-divers team will also present a selection of new freediving equipment recently launched by Aqua Lung. The range of equipment will be available during the courses for all the participants and will then become an official part of the daily freediving courses offered at the resort. ‘The Maldives are renowned for their incredible underwater scenery and the dive sites around LUX* Maldives are listed among the best in the country’ says Kai Hromadko, Regional Operations Manager of Euro-Divers Maldives ‘the Festival gives us the opportunity to showcase this hidden beauty both scuba diving and freediving. It is a pleasure to welcome back Christian Redl to our team and we look forward to a great week of underwater fun!’

LUX* Maldives is an active supporter of the researches conducted to develop the South Ari Marine Protected Area and operates a Marine Biology Center to enhance guests’ awareness on marine life and year-round presence of whale sharks along the back reef of the resort.