Resplendent Raa 1- Highlights from the Visit Maldives Storytellers' Conference 2023 Sideline Program

The Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023, which took place on the 30th of May, can be described as nothing short of a resounding success. With over 70 participants in attendance, the conference provided a platform for sharing stories and experiences, fostering connections, and immersing oneself in the breathtaking beauty of the Maldives.  
“I want to thank you for everything because it was a great experience, even if there are few days, it were amazing because we visited two places, Crossroads also Cora Cora and local islands so the list of things we did was a lot. And It was good.’ - Gabriella Korchmaros @whereyouneedtobe_
After the valuable experience at Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference Day at Crossroads Maldives, the excited storytellers embarked on the journey of exploring the road less travelled at Resplendent Raa. They got the privilege of staying at a remarkable property: Cora Cora Maldives. There was a collective excitement shared among themselves of having the experience of staying at a luxury property in an overwater villa. Even if there were a bit of unpredictable weather conditions, the warm sun that greeted them and the turquoise blue waters made up for a spectacular backdrop during their time at the exceptional accommodation. 
The enthusiastic welcome and hospitality displayed by the host property was truly amazing. They went the extra mile to make the influencers feel special, particularly arranging special donuts with the influencer’s brand colours for @wanderingdonut on World Donut Day. They also arranged a pool villa for the content creators to have a photo shoot at which they deeply appreciated. Special gifts including luggage covers, tags and passport covers were also handed over to the participants so that they can always carry a piece of Cora Cora Maldives with them on their adventures. The support received from Cora Cora Maldives was extraordinary, notably adding a sunrise yoga experience to the itinerary right before arriving at the property. They got to visit significant historical sites such as the Dutch Onion Museum at the resort, discovering more about the Maldivian culture, art and heritage. 
What made the trip truly entrancing was the thrilling snorkelling experience at the house reefs in Raa Atoll. The vibrant marine life was greatly enjoyed by the underwater enthusiasts, capturing alluring moments that would last a lifetime. 
The participants had the opportunity to visit the local islands: Kandholhudhoo which was the Tsunami Ghost Island and Rasgetheemu. They were greeted with a warm welcome and the hospitality presented by the locals did not go unnoticed. The tour in Kandholhudhoo was guided by a member of the resort dive centre and the participants learnt a lot about the history of the captivating island.  
Exploring the local island, Rasgetheemu was another wonderful experience. The storytellers marvelled at the welcoming and reception orchestrated by the entire island. They were escorted by the police throughout which was an unparalleled experience for the participants. The trip would not have been successful without the grand assistance and the multitudes of activities arranged by the island council. 
The moment the storytellers stepped foot on the island, they were welcomed with a boduberu procession, flower bouquets and fresh coconut. It made them feel special and truly humbled. There was a fantastic traditional set-up showcasing antique handicrafts such as boat making, rope making, bimbi thelhun, dharu felhun, vaa elhun, bombi thelhun and other unique aspects of our beautiful culture. The cultural dance and boduberu performance was received with awe and enjoyment. 
The wide array of activities organised for the participants did not stop there- there was an Eid festival showcased with koadi jehun and a Maldivian lunch setup in an open hut on the beach with Dhivehi Malaafaiy. The participants relished the traditional meal in a picturesque setting, creating monumental memories. They were even given handmade gift bags with specialty treats of Rasgatheemu like the ‘thela badi’, carrying a piece of their Raa adventure back home. A tour of the historical sites also provided the participants another enriching opportunity to learn about the cultural history of Maldives.  
The overall experience left a lasting impression on the participants. They got to explore the local islands and Maldives to the fullest, creating glorious stories and lifelong memories. The Visit Maldives Storyteller’s Conference was an opportunity to connect with various storytellers from different corners of the world. As they bid farewell to their Resplendent Raa adventure, the storytellers left with amazing experiences, values and lessons that will continue to inspire evermore. 
“It is just an incredible experience to be surrounded by so many other like-minded people and creatives. Again it's just that sunshine that's radiating in every corner of that room and to have your feet in the sand and be surrounded by such incredible energy- it’s just unbelievable.’’ - Dana Williamson @wanderingdonut
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