Travelling to a Resort Atoll in Maldives

Our recent trip to Maldives was not a fulfilment to a bucket list, since I am not one who loves to travel, but more of a result of an impulse decision. Right after our Japan trip, hb suggested that we should take a trip to Maldives during K’s 1 week Sept school holidays, since some of his air-miles were going to expire at the end of the year.

7 days seemed like a perfect number of days to spend on a ‘remote’ island without getting bored.

A flight from Singapore to Maldives Velana airport is only about a 4 hours flight away, as SQ have two flights into Maldives daily, either a late morning arrival or a late night arrival. We opted for the latter and stayed one night at the Maldives Airport Hotel as the seaplane flights to Thaa Atoll did not operate at night.

Having done that, I think it will be a better choice to to take an early morning flight from Singapore and then try to get seaplane transfers in the same day, without the hassle of finding accommodation in Male or at near the airport.

Maldivecomb1Snaps taken while waiting for the Como Maalifushi Counter to open to arrange for our seaplane transfer the next morning.

 

Once our luggage was checked into the counter, we were driven to the Maldivian Seaplane building, about 10 minutes drive away, and ushered into a comfortable Como (the name of the resort we travelled to) Lounge to wait for our boarding.

Maldives 3Watching the seaplane from the Como lounge while waiting to board our Seaplane to the resort

 

When hb and I were planning for our trip to Maldives, we wanted to experience a fairly new resort in a remote (untouched Atoll) as the quality of the coral reefs were one of our considerations. So we didn’t really considered the time we needed to travel on the seaplane. There are many other options of resorts in Maldives that can be reached by seaplane under 30 minutes of travel time. The other consideration we took into account was comfortable rooms with direct access to the sea, i.e., water villas. The photos on Como Maalifushi website seemed to show that they have beautiful water villas with a good house reef, while being family friendly at the same time.

Most resorts with water villas have an age restriction for children, as families with children under the age of 8 years old are not allowed to stay in the water villas but have the option of beach villas or rooms to stay in.

When in Maldives, the whole family needs to love the sea  (ie. have no fear of the water or the swimming in the sea) to be able to fully experience what most of the resorts can offer. Especially since it is not the most budget-friendly or convenient place to travel to with children. When travelling with young children who are still on diapers, or milk or just started solids, be prepared to lug everything along with you, as it will be almost impossible to get any baby suppliers when stranded on an remote island.

It’s still more worthwhile to go to the mid to high end family resorts in Phuket or Krabi when one has young children below 8 years old, taking into account less hassle for travel.

Some resorts even have ‘adult only’ restrictions. I have read on the TripAdvisor that some resorts have restrictions that kids are not allowed in any of the restaurants or common areas after 630pm.

I think travelling to Maldives with children who are at least 10 years of age will be the most optimum, since 10 years old is also the age that PADI allows children to take their first Discover Scuba lesson or Open Water course, which will be directly converted to a Open Water License when the child turn 16 years old.

 

On the Maldivian Seaplane

The journey itself to Thaa Atoll where Como Maalifushi is an experience on its own, since its my first time travelling on the seaplane. As more than 95% of the seaplane journey was very scenic (can be disconcerting for some who have a fear of heights) as the seaplane it took another 1 hour on the seaplane to reach Thaa Atoll where Como Maalfushi is located.

 

The seaplanes are not allowed within the shallow areas of the Atoll surrounding any resort. So the ‘landing pad’ is a wooden floating platform in the middle of the sea. So it can get a little scary with strong currents and wind (no issue during the high season when the seas are calmer), as one tries to get a steady stance on the platform, while waiting for the boat from the resort to arrive and transfer the luggages and the passengers onto the boat for the 15 minute ride to the resort.

 

Next…We arrive at Como Maalifushi!

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The New Home – Design Concepts

My interest in aesthetics span from design to illustration, I have never been trained formally in art and wished that I had shown interest when I was a child, instead of music. My parents got me to take up piano lessons in primary school, when they found that I showed some interest in learning the instrument. My interest in music waned when I stopped taking formal lessons to focus on studying for my ‘O’ levels exams.

Art would have been a better choice, and would have more longevity for me to pursue in my adult years.

I discovered my interest in Home Interior when I got my first home in 2004, when there wasn’t Pinterest, and the Internet was at its early stages. So I referred to local Home Interior Magazines for ideas.

With this new home, I was thrilled to have an almost blank palette to plan for, and I spent time pouring through the photos of house interiors in Pinterest. I wasn’t keen in following trends or adopting specific styles, but creating a home that will have concepts that I love.

It wasn’t the easiest at the start to integrate what Hb preferred to so I was sure to get his brief for what he wanted.

 

His requirements were ;

1. Feature Wall in the living area with irregular rock-shaped tiles (this had been hard to find, as the popular choice for many home owners locally are white or red rectangular bricks)

2. Spa-like wall materials and colour scheme in the Toilets. (Personally a prefer a lighter shade for the toilets, but I didn’t want to have to scrub grout between the tiles over time).

Screen Shot 2017 08 02 at 2 35 23 PM

 

3. Do avoid busy prints, Peranakan prints like that are a no-no as we don’t want retro concepts for the home. (I would specify this as no-retro-for-shared-areas, I would still add some retro decor in my craft room 😘)

Screen Shot 2017 08 02 at 2 47 04 PM

 

4. I want a ‘man-cave’, with more dark wood features.

5. You can plan for a dog room if you want, right next to the kitchen (Hooray!)

 

While my requirements were;

1. Some Geometric shapes (I want monotones not coloured ones) in my flooring, segregating some areas from the main living area with clear black frame doors.

Floorndoors 2

 

2. My dream kitchen with Marble and Wood and an Island, and pendant lights above the Island.

Woodisland

 

3. No spot lights in the home, I want cooler lighting options and ambient lights (through lamps) for warmer lighting

4. I want a craft and prayer area

 

Interestingly, hb and I did not put much thought into the design of our bedrooms or the boy’s bedroom, so we left it to Jack of Three-D-Conceptwerke to propose the ideas.

Since we only spend our sleeping hours in the bedroom, we wanted it simple but cosy. While flexibility is needed in the design of the boy’s room, to accommodate him growing into his Teenage years.

The new home currently looks like this, since the previous owner renovated a couple of years ago. She was renting it out for the last couple years and never stayed in it. We are planning to strip the current feature wall, polish the existing marble in the living area, change the windows (as the current ones are more than 30 years old!) And there will be plenty of re-furbishment needed to be done around the house!

IMG 7456

 

Next Post : T-84 Days to moving in!

Other posts in this series; Selecting an Interior Designer

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The New Home – Selecting an Interior Designer

The last time we renovated a place was when we got our first resale flat in 2004. We hired a contractor and designed the toilets (we ended up with very nice toilets in our flat), then added some build-ins in the Master bedroom. As my in laws stayed with us, and due to a tight budget, I could only renovate the Master bedroom and toilet.

We recently purchased an old apartment in an area that both my hb and I liked (this property has been built 32 years ago in 1985!). Newer properties in this same area are about $600 – $800 more in price per-square-feet. Having stayed in private apartments previously and staying in a rental right now, we realise that a beautiful landscape and nice amenities is not enough to convince us to fork out a premium on a newer property. Another concern we had over newer properties was the space, or the lack thereof. One has to be prepared that the kitchen layouts will be tiny, living and bedrooms are smaller.

The downside to getting an older property is that more work is needed to re-furbish the interior of the home. However this was an exciting endeavour to undertake, since this opportunity would allow me to decide how I wanted this new home to look like.

Thus getting a good interior designer to work with is pivotal, to put ideas on paper and to implement ideas as painless as possible.

 

My Experience Selecting an Interior Designer

1. Do the research

I shortlisted the interior design companies by looking through local home interior magazines like Home and Decor, Square Rooms, and online sites like Qanvast, Renopedia, Renotalk etc.

Homeintmags

Homeintsite

From there, I was able to see what I think I could consider for the new home, browse the current design trends adopted by other home owners.

Some trends I spotted were retro style (Peranakan tiles, 60-70 memorabilia and furnishings, SMEG appliances etc), Industrial style (more hardware, metal, stainless steel, red brick walls), Minimalism (Japanese, Scandinavian style of furnishings).

The less common styles were eclectic (a mishmash of concepts under one roof, one of the more challenging styles to adopt as the owner or interior designer needs a keen eye on how to bring everything together seamlessly) and lux (expensive and luxurious furnishings mostly adopted by home owners with larger homes like landed property or Good Class Bungalows)

 

2. Get in touch with the interior design firm

I got in touch with the Interior Design companies when hb and I met the lawyers and started the purchase process for the home. It took about 6-8 weeks for the buying process to be completed and for the collection of the keys to the home.

We got a copy of the floor plan from the housing agent of the buyer, as it is useful to refer to a floor plan during layout discussions with the interior designer, even if the home has gone through many owners and many rounds of renovation.

Flrplan

 

3. First impressions do count

I only shortlisted two interior design firms; Three-D-Conceptwerke and Eighty-Two. Looking through their portfolio through features in the home interior magazines and their website, I thought these two companies had the best fit to my design preferences.

I liked how Three-D-Conceptwerke was able to adopt unique concepts that was not run-of-the-mill, as their homes reflected the personalities of the owners. While Eighty-Two was on the other side of the spectrum, as minimalism was their forte. I could not decide if I wanted a house with personality, or one that was clean and minimalistic, yet stylish.

Intdesign

I sent both companies the floor plan, existing photos of the home and a budget of how much hb and I planned to set aside for renovation.

Jack, the senior designer of Three-D-Conceptwerke was prompt and got back to me quickly through my email enquiry, and fixed up an appointment at a coffee place in the vicinity of my new home. Jack made a positive impression the first time we met, with his friendly and unassuming personality. He made an effort to print out the floor plans and pictures for discussion and showed positive energy and enthusiasm while the shared on the possible concepts that I hope to create with the home.

He shared many inputs and his creative ideas at our meeting and made a remark that made sense to me, “We want the home to age well with the owner, one that will not go out of trend over time. A timeless style is something we hope to achieve.”

While the people at Eight-two did not make a positive impression from the start. They took a while to get back to me, and despite the request to meet someplace closer to where I was, Terence, the designer, reply was, “We usually meet clients at our office for the first meeting”. I made my way to his office at East Coast, waited for him for 30mins before he turned up.

For that 30 mins, I sat 1 metre away from his colleagues at their work tables, listened to their gossip and discussion where they wanted to go for lunch. This gave me glimpse to what to expect if I planned to work with this company.

Where is the punctuality? And should it be common sense that they should avoid inviting the client to their office if they don’t even have a proper area to host them…😳

I decided to reserve my judgement on the company or the designer till the discussion ended. The discussion was disappointing, I expected more creative inputs from him, but all I got was ideas of wanted to shift rooms around, when I communicated my preference of where I wanted the Master bedroom and K’s room to be. His cynicism and ‘jaded-ness’ shone through while I interacted with him. After a while, I started to get rather irritated with the comments that he made.

When I shared, “I like to consider minimalism, but I am not sure at this point,” His response was “We specialised in Minimalistic style and we should be able to work with your budget.” That got me thinking, so if I decide to change my mind and not go with minimalism, you might not be able to do it?

The conclusion that I ended up with was that Eighty-Two could only do minimalistic styles well, and I wasn’t confident at all in their company to add on personality to a home, which they didn’t seem to be interested to find out more from their client. And I question why I should be paying for something minimalistic when I can just hire a contractor to help me execute minimalistic ideas.

I didn’t even wait for Eighty-Two to present the top-line ideas 2 weeks after, I called them 2 days after our meeting to let them know I have decided to go with another Interior Design company.

 

4. Be decisive and know what you want to achieve

It was easy to decide which company I went with in the end, as I didn’t want to waste time comparing quotes or confuse it further with any indecisiveness. For me, it’s as simple as, what ideas can you share and are you able to deliver these things as we discussed within the budget?

 

5. Be realistic on timelines

Once I decided on the Interior Design Company to go with, there was another 1-2 subsequent meetings for the Jack from Three-D-Conceptwerke to come back with a more concrete design plan, which included a revised floorplan and a detailed price quote.

When hb and I approved the revised layout of the floorplan, Jack presented 3D layouts of how specific areas of the home will look like. Once we approved this, he started to source for tile and flooring samples, a as well as material samples for build-in carpentry and we further discuss on the timelines.

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 6.46.10 PM

Right after that meeting, Jack submitted the renovation work plans to the Management Agent (if this is a private property) or to HDB (for HDB flats). There was another 5-7 days before we got the approval from the building management to start renovation works.

Depending on the scale of the renovation works, I think 2-3 months should be a comfortable timeline to work with as it is always good to give the Interior Designer ample time to work with.

 

Next post on The New Home – Design Concepts

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