What goes on tour does anything but stay on tour when it comes to my Maldives running around. I come back from Tour 4 with a wealth of new data for the database, pictures for the profiles (especially the Room Type profiles), Snorkel Spottings, candidates for “Best of the Maldives” posts, and new friends and supporters, as well as a few overall observations about tourism in the country.
RESEARCH – The near final tally is…
- New Resorts Visited – 9
- Snorkel Spottings – 28
- Profile Data – 17
- Room Pictures – 58
- Best of Maldives candidates – 128
Not only have I added to the database this year, but the trip has prompted me to expand it as well with two new fields…
- Walkways – It was Gangehi’s distinctive walkways (post to come) that made me think about (a) how the walkways of the resort islands vary, and (b) the impact this detail has on the experience and (foot) feel of each. In particular, they do tend to fall into one of three distinct categories…
- Soft Sand
- Hard Sand
- Marine Biologist – I now have a pretty full collection of the marine biologists on staff at the resorts which can be a useful filter for people looking for a ore educational or ecological visit.
TRENDS – Each year also provides a chronological benchmark in the tourism trends of the country. In the past, I’ve commented on the escalating flight to quality as resorts renovate with more and more elaborate luxuries. This year I noticed…
- Privacy – In the past, most Maldives resorts featured stand-alone villas littered about a plot of sand. A few islands offered special privacy features or villas (often “Suites” or “Residences”) with special private areas. Now it seems as if lots of resorts are investing in more in enhancing the privacy of stay. Walls, enclosed areas, shrub lines. On this tour alone, the resorts of Vittaveli, Nika, Halaveli, Baros and Kurumba has all made substantial investments in privacy features.
- Diversity – The era of the country-specific resort seems to be waning. Some resorts through heritage, marketing and infrastructure do continue to maintain certain ambiences which evoke certain national cultures. But the number of resorts devoted to a particular market is reducing steadily. Bathala, Gangehi and Nika are three resorts that have traditionally catered primarily to the Italian market, for example. But the rise of Internet direct booking and economic pressures on certain markets have led to these and other resorts becoming increasingly diverse in the provenance profile of their guests. Also, the somewhat feared Chinese invasion seems abated as growth from that market has levelled out. Increasingly you are finding a more diverse and mixed set of nationalities at every island.
SEASONS – When we first started coming to the Maldives, we invariably chose the month of peak sunshine – February – which also coincided with the depths of the English winter as well as the peak prices of the high season. In more recent years, we have been coming in the ‘low season’ of July which suits our schedule better and also offers better prices due to the ‘variable’ climate at that time of year. The weather is one of the biggest draws to the Maldives (“The Sunny Side of Life”) and probably the most frequent asked of the FAQs on the TripAdvisor Forum.
So what is the difference between February and July. Essential February is stunningly bright and still, while July is more muted and breezy. For most, the former is much preferred (though my wife, Lori, being ‘of a certain age’, in her words, confessed that she preferred the gentle and cooling breeze of the wet monsoon season). I remember waking up each morning on our February trips and pulling back the curtain thinking that surely some clouds must have rolled in over night only to find that the sunshine was as bright as the previous day and the day before that. When I pull back the curtain in July, I’m less certain of what I will get. There are more variations in the atmosphere. By and large, it too is ‘bright’, but there will be clouds peppering the sky and breezes stirring up the ocean. I’ve actually assembled a handy reference table below to try to characterise as simply as possible what general weather one can tend to expect from a February visit versus July…