Is this the most unlikely place for an ice rink?

Kate Springer, CNNPublished 6th April 2018
(CNN) — A tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is best known for its 1,000-some islands and over-the-top experiences.
The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island offers an "Instagram Butler" service and an all-glass, underwater restaurant; Soneva Jani provides private water slides for all its overwater villas; and The Private Reserve is the world's largest overwater villa.
But this spring, there's another reason to visit: the destination's first ice rink.
Dubbed "Ice Ice Maybe...," the1,829-square-foot (170-square-meter) rink opened in March at the Jumeirah Vittaveli resort, located about 20 minutes by boat from the capital of Malé.
"We named it 'Ice Ice Maybe...' to imply that it's not a traditional cool-down ice skating rink," Amit Majumder, general manager of Jumeirah Vittaveli, tells CNN Travel.
"It's a synthetic rink that's built on the beach, so you can go swimming in the tropical waters then go skating right after -- or vice versa."

The Maldives' first ice rink

Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives
The artificial ice rink requires zero energy to operate.
From Jumeirah Vittaveli
The idea for the ice rink first began percolating in December 2016, right around Christmas time.
"We had some regular guests who have been staying with us for many years now," says Majumder.
"The family's daughter sort of challenged us to build the rink. She said she wanted to have a skiing and adventure holiday, but her parents wanted to keep coming back to the Maldives."
So Majumder set out to deliver the best of both worlds.
"The project was challenging in the Maldives -- it's not like Europe, where people already know about ice rinks," says Majumder.
"It was a steep learning curve. We did a lot of research to learn about the equipment we'd need, how high the safety boundaries should be, the optimum size of the rink ...."

A zero-energy ice rink

Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives
The Maldives is home to more than 1,000 islands.
From Jumeirah Vittaveli
A non-negotiable component of the project was finding an environmentally friendly solution.
"While researching, we actually visited a few real ice rinks," says Majumder.
"This is where I met Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko (who performed at the rink's opening ceremony). I went to see his rink in Russia, which is made of real ice. That's where I learned how much energy a traditional rink really uses."
To keep a conventional rink frozen, you have to refrigerate it, which requires constant electricity and water.
"We're an island, so we have to be very careful about our impact," says Majumder. "Every kilowatt hour of energy we use causes burning of diesel or fossil fuels, so a traditional rink was out of the question."
Instead, the hotel enlisted Swiss company Glice to build an artificial, zero-energy rink.
"A regular guest, whose daughter ice skates, told us about the synthetic Glice ice rink," recalls Majumder.
"We experimented in a small area first and, when we saw that it worked well, we expanded."
Composed of 25-30 interlocking plastic ice sheets, the rink's synthetic sheets -- made of silicon and plastic -- do not require chilly temperatures to produce that gliding sensation.
As such, the rink can withstand the fiery Maldivian temperatures, which hover around the mid-80s Fahrenheit most of the year.
"Some people assume it is going to be cold, since it's an 'ice' rink, but that's not the case," says Majumder.
"The atmosphere is slightly cooler, because of the shade, but there's no artificial cooling needed since it's a synthetic rink."

A cool perk

Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives
The beachfront ice rink.
From Jumeirah Vittaveli
At first glance, the ice rink looks like any other Maldivian villa with its wooden stilts and thatched roof.
"We wanted to blend the rink into the architecture of the Maldives," says Majumder.
"The only big difference is that we have added some glass panels on the roof to let some natural sunlight come through. It's unlike any ice rink I've ever seen."
A fast favorite among families, in particular, the rink is exclusively available to hotel guests.
"We try to keep the experience as private as possible for the residents on the island," says Majumder.
"The only exception would be that we open the rink to locals from time to time, so our neighbors can experience the sport."
For hotel guests, each two-hour skating session ($75 per person) includes skate rental, protective gear, souvenirs and an ice cream sundae afterward -- to ensure you've properly cooled down before gliding back to the beach.
By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. More information about cookies