If you could bottle up the Maldives as a product, then Veli Modduu, a centuries old Maldivian spa treatment is the sum of it all – simply sand, sun and water, with a splash of coconut oil – combined to create pure relaxation.
Vehli Moddhu is a signature treatment at Araamu Spa, based at Paradise Resort (Lankanfinolhu), tucked into the corner of North Male. This traditional full body massage carried out on the beach. The special stokes together with the friction of virgin coconut oil and smooth sand relax the senses as the sounds of the ocean transport you to pure bliss.
Italians are going wild for this centuries’ old treatment, which was developed for local fishermen who returned to their wives for a soothing massage after a hard days work in the sun. It works best using the island’s finest sand, water and coconut oil and is good for improving circulation as well as polishing the skin.
The resort has plans to open a Maldivian spa in Italy now that the treatment is becoming popular amongst European visitors. “A spa in Italy is testing our products after a group of Italian business people visited us. We hope next year we will have the chance to have some of our signature treatments in Europe,” explained Spa Manager Ibrahim Fareeh.
“Many tourists buy bottles of our treatments to take home, so our local brand is now becoming popular abroad. We see a market in this and we will start to sell our coconut oil and sand, so that everyone can take home a little bit of the Maldives.”
As Maldives becomes more cosmopolitan, the art of preserving this ancient practice is important for a nation gradually losing all of its knowledge and expertise to globalization. As all ingredients are indigenous to the Maldives and this makes it environmentally friendly as it reduces the carbon footprint of importing products while at the same time boosting the local economy in sales of virgin sand and coconut oil.
“Over 100 years ago Veli Modduu was a type of medicine but we have brought this to the spa industry because of its healing properties and to help to preserve our cultural heritage,” said Fareeeh.
Araamu staff regularly visit local inhabited islands to speak to the older generation and find out how the ancient practices are carried out, so that the ancient remedies are not lost forever.
Fareeh explained: “As a nation of shipwrecked people, we lived in virtual isolation until the spice route changed. Then as more people discovered the Maldives, some of our traditional ways of life were lost as we embraced cultural change. Many islands are very isolated and so a lot of people in Male have forgotten how to carry out these treatments. It is our aim to speak to the older generation in the far away islands to train people so that customs and practices are not lost forever.”
The Maldives is famous for spas but many specialise only in the famous Balinese, Thai and Swedish treatments. Due to its simplicity Maldivian treatments such as Veli Modduu is now becoming a popular treatment alongside well known international spa packages. Aaramu means ‘relaxation’ in the local language and is available at the spas within each of Villa’s five resorts.
And like the hardworking fishermen, many guests visit Aaramu at Paradise Resort to soak well used muscles after an action packed day of watersports, for which the fun-loving resort is famed for. The calm and tranquil atmosphere is a great chance to glad to kick back and relax and guests are welcomed by a friendly Balinese receptionist with a wet flannel and spiced herbal tea.
After choosing your treatment you are led to a changing area to shower and wrap yourself into a white robe and then out to the treatment rooms. Split between indoor and outdoor mezzanine concept rooms, the walk through the gardens is pleasant and relaxing with tranquil water fountains and lush tropical trees which were replanted after the tsunami. The reception and rooms are inspired by Maldivian influences; from the swinging Undolis to the quaint Maldivian huts fringed by coconut-leaved thatched roofs.
I opted for the local treatment of Araamu Theyo Dhemuu which is a customized traditional local full body massage, good for the rejuvenation and relaxation of stiff muscles.
“In local treatments the strokes that we use are very different, especially as we do some of them on the beach. The way we apply pressure is different. The benefits are relaxation and healing,” Fareh explained.
The spa offers other signature treatments which are developed according to traditional Maldivian medicine and natural produce from the Indian subcontinent. As such many ingredients are supplied from South India for Maldivian treatments.
“We use the fine sand from the Maldives and coconut oil. However, we also import ingredients from Thailand, Bali and Sweden for use in our international treatments,” he added.
With that I decided to try out the treatment for myself. After dressing in a robe, I am le through the tropical garden to the Maldivian mezzanine of outdoor treatment rooms. After positioning myself on the bed the masseuse doused my skin with fragrant oil and applied short firm strokes using her thumbs to work out the knots and stiff areas. Then using her palm and heel of her hand she applied soothing pressure strokes. Sandalwood helps to soothe sunburn and the fine sand helps to polish the skin and reveal glowing new skin beneath.
As the floaty music and relaxing strokes transport you to a happy place it is easy to lose track of the time. Overall, the treatment takes approximately 60 minutes.