· By Oonagh Simms
Marshmallows in the Maldives
When I first got the email I thought it was a prank. Would we like to be flown to an exclusive resort in the Maldives, be treated to an all inclusive experience and, in turn, share some of our marshmallow magic with their guests? I mean, who wouldn’t be suspicious? But I should stop being so cynical as a quick google search to verify and it turns out 'Magnolia Creative' are one of the world’s leading curators of luxury guest experiences. And Angeline, their director, is an organisational wonder. Having first spotted ‘The Marshmallowist’ in a 'Wallpaper magazine' article, Angeline had wanted to get some creative British sweet makers out to the Maldives… So, that’s why last Saturday I arrived ( by sea plane!) at the luxury InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort in celebration of the 75th anniversary of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.
To even try and describe the luxury of this place is impossible- the swathes of white sand fringed by turquoise sea, the dancing light- so bright I have spent the week squinting. I have had to catch my breath at the unimaginable natural beauty of it- the ocean, the lagoon, the coral. Also, and very importantly, I have a bath in my room that overlooks the sea. It’s unimaginably special. I have spent the majority of my downtime here with a glass of wine and the new Marian Keyes book.
Anyway… what am I actually doing here? The concept is ‘A Sweet Mallow Escape’ so I think we can all agree I’m up to the job! Together with Angeline we’ve put together a ( hopefully) unforgettable experience in the tropics. Curating a bespoke line up of pop-up events all over the island. From a hot chocolate bar to a marshmallow masterclass through to a sunset cocktail experience. This weekend saw us host a bonfire movie night under the stars with s’mores and an ice cream parlour by the pool!
My first job when arriving was to take a look at the beautiful produce available and see how we could whip up an exclusive ‘Maldives Marshmallow’ something that captured the bright, zesty spirit of the Island and could be delivered to each villa as a little ‘hiya’. I created a beautifully soft mallow of Guava and Fresh Lime…using the stunning kitchen facilities at the resort. Each mallow was then hand cut (yes, that was a long day!) and then popped into one of our boxes and brought out to each room for the guests to enjoy. I then sent the recipe back to my lovely bakery team who have whipped up some more in the kitchen, so if you fancy trying this exclusive new flavour we have a few boxes ready to try now.
My first chance to meet the guests was at our ‘Hot Chocolate Bar’ overlooking the sea…serving our signature hot chocolate’s ‘love potion’ featuring a raspberry & champagne mallow scattered with crushed pistachios and rose petals and our chai hot chocolate with coconut mallow….a bit decadent for the morning? Probably, but this is a hotel where they offer you a glass of champagne with breakfast so all levels of decadence are being well and truly leant into.
I used Valhrona 70% Guanajuato to create our hot chocolates, slicing shards of rich chocolate before melting them in a warm pan for a smooth, silky texture.
Wednesday saw our first ‘ Marshmallow Masterclass’ and we were given the most incredible of beachfront settings. A villa like no other complete with baskets of fresh fruits and herbs from around the Island.
Sharing the secrets to creating perfect marshmallows is something I LOVE and watching everyone's faces as we transformed bowls of berries into fresh confectionery…it was marshmallow magic and very special…even more when accompanied by a glass of Moet champagne...it inspires the creative process...hic!
Cocktails at sunset soon followed with a little marshmallow mixology. My favourite new discovery is the Flavour Blaster that I was kindly gifted. I was able to shake up a campfire cocktail ( served with a toasted marshmallow of course ) and delivered with a bubble of smoke! This machine takes cocktails to the next level!
I think after all that we were in need of a lie in! So it was lucky that our next event wasn’t until the following evening and would involve a little bit of snuggling up- S’mores on the beach for movie night! The hotel dedicated a space on the beach for a campfire, set up a movie screen and scattered pillows, cushions and blankets for a laid- back outdoor cinema. Only our 'concession stand' was just a little different! Hand cut chocolate shards, freshly baked biscuits and marshmallows toasted on the campfire- all squished together to create the best movie snack of all 'The S'more'
Yesterday was my final day finishing with the blow out party- by the pool- with neons, inflatables, marshmallow ice cream sandwiches and cascading balloons.
And after blowing up those 300 balloons for the decorative garland I was certainly in need of a dip. But the cool mallow beats and Guava ice cream kept us chilling til sunset.
I still feel as though I'm in a dream. Maybe it's the dappled light, the cocktails, or the fact that everyone here has been an absolute angel to us for our entire stay. Nothing has been too much trouble, the relaxed warmth, the familiarity and the chat has made every new day and each experience just the most fun!
Ta very much for inviting us on such a sweet escape Intercontinental Hotels.
With mallow love, Oonagh xx