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Experience by Design

Today’s focus at the Watershed was all about teaching the principles of how to translate inspiration into ideas. The Watershed and food market is a unique community of businesspeople and entrepreneurs who have been specially selected to trade here. Tasked with foraging two pieces of inspiration of our own, we set out to explore the space, speaking to the artisans and innovators behind 365 brands of craft and design. And what did we discover? Quite simply, inspiration is all around us, we just needed to tune in to the right mindset to ‘see’ it.

'Travel is the best form of inspiration. Why? Because of the difference in cultures. Sights, smells and sounds stimulate us and literally “wake up” our brains. We are unable to see our own culture afresh, so we need to travel, eat different foods, and immerse ourselves in new cultures.’


The next step was to go from Inspiration to Idea. Back at Workshop17, we split into two groups to share, discuss and develop our findings from the morning’s exploration, with the aim of creating springboard ideas for new BRADs at Villa Nautica and Villa Park. Bonus points from MU for generating an idea with a low implementation cost! 


Over 50 pieces of inspiration were shared during the workshops hosted by Amber and Georgina – with everything from biltong made from local fish, through to customisable straw beach bags woven on-site – but each team could only take two ideas forward to present…


The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront has 14x the number of Maldives visitors in a year!

Team Villa Nautica, led by Nahid



Docked alongside the harbour wall are three refurbished boats, each individually designed to house a series of new retail, art and F&B outlets.


Guests pop in and out of the boats throughout the day, creating a bustling new destination at Villa Nautica. The area

is exclusive, but not formal. Simple food is executed to perfection from seasonal ingredients. Two cocktails are on offer, to be sampled nowhere else in the resort but here at Portside. Local artists’ work hangs in the gallery, with an exclusive range of products (including those from our very own Hunaruvehi label) for sale in the boutique.


Over time the destination changes and expands, with new boats temporarily docking to offer pop-up experiences.



Working with artisans to showcase the talent of our local islanders, Hunaruvehi is an exclusive range of items created in partnership with Villa Nautica.


Partnerships work on a rotating basis so that, over time, we can expand the label to include a variety of product lines and support

a wider pool of artisans. First up: a range of natural body and bath products, created with ingredients drawn straight from the Indian Ocean itself.


Salt scrubs sit alongside mud masks and seaweed creams; a perfect opportunity for guests to bring gifts home for loved ones that are authentically Maldivian. A signature treatment is offered

in the spa using the range. The most important part? Profits are shared with the artisans themselves and reinvested into the local communities surrounding Villa Nautica.





A modern take on an information centre and encyclopaedia, the Knowledge Walk along the island’s walkway engages with guests and indirectly sells the island's experiences whilst sharing information.


There’s no need for posters or flyers with the hotel or marine life information at Villa Park – along the Knowledge Walk signs, recycled sculptures and plaques tell Villa Park’s story whilst encouraging guests to Instagram and learn at the same time! 





Indulge in the exotic and native Maldivian snacks at Villa Park’s gaadiya cart. Travelling around the island, the Pleasureground Gaadiya is a tasting cart offering a unique selection of Maldivian delights.


Supporting local communities and producers, Villa Park offers guests a variety of different local snacks to try. These treats can change constantly and encourage guests to try new flavours.

This is also an interactive and educational experience for the

whole family to enjoy! 

Four Lessons Learned

  • Exercising your imagination as a muscle. Biltong was the perfect first example; we immediately started thinking about how we can make something like this in the Maldives for our guests using ingredients that are readily available to us.


  • We realised that a collective sharing of micro-ideas can create a bigger and better idea. Never think that an idea is too small – you never know what it might turn into.  


  • The simpler the better. We don’t need to overdo it. Stick to what you know and do it well (just like the entrepreneurial foodies we met during yesterday’s Indie Food Tour!)


  • Purity is key: ideas don’t have to be elaborate and expensive to make an impact. 

Team Villa Park, led by Abdullah
King of the Coals
Braai Master Challenge 

After a busy morning of exploration and creative workshops, the afternoon came at a slightly slower pace – at least for the Luxury Branding team… It was time for the Villa Vamos group to cook for the guides! Did you ever imagine you’d be taking part in a braai challenge on the rooftop of Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel in Long Street, surrounded by converted Airstreams, having your dishes judged by top chefs Pete Goffe-Wood and George Jardine?!


We were welcomed by Chef Pete, a judge for MasterChef SA and Ultimate BraaiMaster plus the author of three cookbooks, including Kitchen Cowboys. Acclaimed Chef George Jardine (who is opening the city’s newest market-style Chefs Foodhall soon) and Dane van Heteren, GM of the Grand Daddy, joined him to take part in the judging. And so, without further ado, it was time to get those orange, green and purple team aprons on and…VAMOS! 


Touch-and-go weather didn’t deter anyone as the tell-tale aroma of braai smoke drifted across the rooftops, with tantalising smells of fillet, marinated lamb and braaibroodjies to get our appetites going. Each team hustled around the grill under the watchful eye of their chefs, and together produced three incredibly resourceful and delicious meals. 




Fish Taco Starter by Team Green, led by Chef Ishaaq


Chef Pete’s reaction: ‘Good use of ingredients. I enjoyed all three elements. I like the Asian use of tuna, seared with curry leaf oil.

Nice textures. Using the crispy skin was a genius idea with the

tuna tartare and coriander sour cream. Subtly different spices…

Mmm, I might just have to steal this recipe!’ Chef George’s take: ‘Pete’s empty plate says it all.’ Decision made: well done

Team Green! 


Best quip from Team Purple: ‘To make a single marshmallow into

an impressive dessert was not an easy task!’ Was cumin their ‘secret’ spice? Having kept their cards close to their chest, it

seems we’ll never know!

Winning Dish
Swoosh 3.png

Pete’s empty plate

says it all!”

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