The official T-minus countdown to the big Christmas celebration. Typically marked by the daily ritual of opening an Advent Calendar window which builds the anticipation and exercises the ‘opening’ muscles so you don’t hurt yourself from over exertion on Christmas morning.
The other big Advent tradition is Christmas greetings. The mail will start to swell with colourful messages from friends and family near and far. In the USA, there is a prominent school of yuletide greetings, which my wife Lori prescribe, which provides a personal touch by making their own cards, typically including a family photo as well as a brief update of the year gone by. Our 2011 creation (see photo below of inside at bottom) features a snapshot of our July trip to the Maldives as well as a reference to my Dad’s seaside-centric book, Shorelines, that I mentioned last week.
As it happens, ‘Greetings’ are a big part of the Maldives resort experience. With every resort on its own island, there is always a build of anticipation as you cross the ocean by speedboat or by seaplane and suddenly ‘your island’ emerges in the distance. Most resorts cap this grand arrival with their own special touches. The cooling, scented cloth and refreshing tropical drink are de rigeur. But on top of those, they add even more special welcomes. I’ve already written Komandoo’s A Cappella Greeting.
In honour of this resort ‘Greeting’ tradition in this very Season of Greetings, this entire week I will be featuring various distinctive greetings from the Maldives resorts. I’ve also broken out a special ‘Greeting’ tag/category on the Best of Maldives page. The first to feature is one that speaks to the personal touch and photographic approach of American Xmas cards – W Retreat.
W Retreat starts its greeting at the seaplane terminal with its own, top flight (pun intended) transfer lounge. As you approach the lounge, a staff member comes out to greet you and takes your picture next to the hotel crest. Its ‘Welcome Mat’ at the entrance says ‘Good Morning’ (and changes 3 times a day to ‘Good Afternoon’ and ‘Good Evening’). Instead of starting your stay with paperwork, that is an underwhelming formality at most resorts, the W welcomes you by sitting down with you to take your details and get to know you. Below I have a picture of my welcome by Mohamed Nirumal.
But the real treat, so simple yet so effective, is that when you take your seaplane ride and get ushered to your room, on your table is a frame photo of you taken back at the lounge (see above). Not only is it one of the most personal welcome gifts you will ever get at a resort, but all the staff at the resort use the photo on file to know who you are so they can give completely individualised service including calling you by name (one of the questions they ask in the personal interview is how you liked to be addressed).