It’s all about the people.
In Maldivian paradise, every resort has the same soothing sun, turquoise waters, vibrant sea life, swaying palms, and romantic sunsets. Nowadays, most resorts have spruced up their rooms so that they are comfortable and slick. On the food front, it’s hard to go too far wrong with the endless supply of fresh seafood as well as the range of resort staples. So where do you focus if you tick all the boxes and want to create a distinctive experience for guests? The people.
That was my impression after a quick stop in Vakarufalhi. For a long time, Vakaru has been mostly an Italian resort, it is now extending its availability to other markets across Europe and beyond. It is another rare beast avoiding the siren call of the ‘5 star’ as it is sticking with its 4+ star positioning and value pricing. It is a modest sized island, neither extremely small nor very large, for those looking for a balance in size criteria. Vakaru didn’t have many showy features that stood out and yet I still found myself feeling that I would readily recommend staying here.
On reflection, all of the little details that I most admired came back to certain people. This is not an observation exclusive to Vakaru as I have met so many distinctive and impressive people in the past few days and all my time in the Maldives, but at Vakaru it was really fundamental aspect to the resort punching above its weight class. I was toured around by Maldivian veteran Abdulla Saeed who had one of the most extensive pedigrees I have come across in the Maldives. He uses his extensive experience to refine the experience for all the customers (like making sure that the Boduberu drumming doesn’t go on too long and having different welcome drinks for different times of the day). Rizzoli Riccardo is a top flight Italian chef with a personality as big as his repertoire who makes sure that every meal is as savoury as a Tuscan feast (yes, homemade fresh pasta and gelato…no matter how much you have stuffed into yourself from the tempting buffet, there is always room for gelato). Tania Gae Militello, the marine biologist, is the most passionate snorkel guide I have ever met. She runs daily, free excursions on the extensive house reef and seems to be on a first name basis with all of the aquatic residents there. And the General Manager is meticulous about constant improvement. He grilled me more than any other manager this trip on what could be better, what worked well, how did things compare. After settling into the role in his first year, it is clear that he is scheming a number of new ideas and enhancements to give the island even more appeal and distinction.
An up and coming resort to keep an eye on.