Earlier this week I spotted an amazing competition from Kuoni, offering a week in the Maldives to the person who can come up with a signature scent for these islands. The campaign is called ‘Scents of Adventure’, and is a very clever and unique bit of marketing. I love it.
Having never been to the Maldives it’s trickier for me to ‘know’ what aroma would bring out the true character of these islands, but I am very sure that a holiday in the Maldives would feel like being in paradise. To me, white sandy beaches, blue skies and a week relaxing are synonymous with being pampered, and this surely means a massage or two. If you need further encouragement, grab your credit card and head on over to Kuoni’s page all about the Maldives – www.kuoni.co.uk/maldives.
I’m not a total stranger to the luxurious destinations that Kuoni have to offer, and when it came to picking our honeymoon it was a difficult choice between the Maldives and Bali. As our wedding was in Thailand and we were already so far East, it therefore made sense for us to hop that little bit further and see Indonesia – as we thought it unlikely that we’d head that far again.
It is in Bali where I first experienced a hot-stone massage, and was welcomed to the spa with a fresh ginger tea. I’d not previously been a fan of ginger (a rhizome of the Zingiber plant), but this drink was so refreshing that it was impossible not to like it. The crisp and cleansing smell, the zingy taste in my mouth, right down to the warming glow I felt as it reached my stomach – This unmistakable flavour meant my spa treatment began while I was still sat outside the treatment room. Of course I had many more massages during our 3 weeks in Asia, and ginger essential oil was also used as a warming base in many of the blends that drifted slowly around the exquisite spas. I began to wonder if this was the very scent I had been looking for, despite being initially drawn towards coconut palm and pinkrose – two national symbols of the Maldives.
Years later the sharp and delicious fragrance of ginger still takes me back to these intimate and luxurious hotels that we have been lucky to experience, and the smell relaxes my body as the memories of spa treatments come flooding back. The words ‘Intimate’ and ‘luxurious’ would surely be top of the list of ways to describe the cluster of atolls we know as the Maldives, which is why I was focused on a scent that would best represent this. I started reading more about the country so that I could build a better image in my mind.
Keen to really get a feel for the plants, foods and drinks one might find in paradise, I dug a little deeper online and discovered that a popular Maldivian drink is the Lomi Lomi – a refreshing, sweet and spicy tropical drink made from ginger, water, lime and honey. Interestingly, Lomi Lomi is also a type of massage, and so my idea that ginger should be the signature scent of the Maldives began to strengthen. By now I was pretty certain that I had made the right choice.
Next on my scent adventure I started to look for typical Maldivian recipes, so that I may try and taste a snippet of paradise at home. I love that ginger crosses the boundary between sweet and savoury, and that it comes in so many different forms. During my search I stumbled upon many wonderful websites that shared a wealth of information on typical food found in the Maldives. Now we all know that coconut is very widely used in Maldivian cooking, but somehow this aroma just seemed too obvious and likely already used elsewhere on the ‘Scents of Adventure’ map. Sadly I can’t be sure as I never made it to the event in Bluewater last October, but I can spy coconuts perched next to the elephants on the antique map commissioned by Kuoni.
I started browsing the various recipes I had discovered and (as I suspected from my experience of Asian cooking) found that ginger is often a quintessential ingredient. The recipe for Kulhimas (chili tuna) looks particularly enticing, as I had been reading that tuna is very common in the Maldives. This is one fish that I really am fond of and I would love to be lying on a beach right now with a bowl of chili tuna to energize me for an afternoon with the Maafushivaru diving school. Those who know me will find this surprising as I didn’t enjoy my first (and last) experience of diving – into a shark tank to raise money for the charity SANE, but I believe that in the right situation I might just enjoy being underwater. I’m willing to give it a go.
I did consider that tuna could be the aroma I’ve been looking for, however I wanted to pick a scent that inspired hope, daydreams, beauty and relaxation – to be honest, fish doesn’t really fit the bill.
To further justify my choice in ginger, I took some time to research the origins of this luscious plant, and found that cultivation began in South Asia – which naturally includes the Maldives. To me, ginger is very much rooted in Maldivian history, and its uses are so widespread that it is hard not to imagine it pumping through the very veins of these Asian countries. This flavoursome mass of earthy roots is also symbolic of the low-lying Maldives – a country with the lowest natural highest point in the world. Knowing that ginger is consumed as a delicacy also inspires the sense of extravagance that I associate with this destination. The smell of ginger is so palatable that as I close my eyes and picture the elegant specks dotted around the Indian Ocean, my mouth begins to water. There are very few aromas that can evoke such a strong reaction, which is why the ‘Scents of Adventure’ challenge has been so interesting.
My final reasoning behind choosing ginger is because it is one of the few natural preservatives. It seems to me that Kuoni are looking to cleverly encapsulate entire countries and preserve them in a single aroma – to awaken our senses and connect us to each location on the map. The preservation link is a subtle one I know, but I believe the reason Kuoni are rated so highly is because of these little attentions to detail.