Best of the Maldives: Custom Complimentaries – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi toilettries

 

Even getting free gifts right can be tricky. We often feel bad when the resort management has left a traditional complmentary greeting in our room and it’s something for some reason or another we can’t enjoy. Sometimes it’s not something we fancy at the moment or just isn’t our preference.

The same can be true in the bathroom, that trove of complementary items. We still often bring our own shampoo and conditioner because we’re not certain that the resorts will supply some to our liking.

Soneva Fushi makes sure that all of its generosity hits the mark from the moment they first greet you at the airport lounge. As well as offering you refreshment and sorting out your registration, the hostess also presents you will samples of Soneva’s fragrances (lemon grass and peppermint for shampoo, conditioner and lotion) and bath salts (lemongrass and rosemary). You get to sample their fragrance and choose the one that you would like your room will be equipped with.

They also ask you for your choice of bottle of red, white or champagne for a welcome libation.

There’s an old adage in customer service…”Ask the customer what they want, and give it to them.”

Best of the Maldives: Bling Welcome – Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi - bling goodies

 

 

When Jumeirah came to the Maldives a few years ago, I think the expectations were that the two properties (Vittaveli and Dhevanafushi) would be all Dubai bling. Even I held these preconceived notions and was delighted when the properties took a much more subtle approach to Maldives chic with natural and local design inspiration.

Our arrival at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi this summer did indulge us in just a taste of Jumeirah’s guilded style, though, with their most distinctive welcome platter. White chocolate with pistachio, velvet macaroons, coffee bean chocs, peanut brittle truffle. And all of these delicacies topped with a hint of gold leaf.

One tick box to a super-premium (5-plus stars) is distinctive welcome treat on arrival at the room (the first and last impressions are so powerful). In general, the “rating” of a resort can be belied by its welcome refreshment…

  • 3 star = nothing
  • 4 = fruit
  • 5 = something prepared
  • 5+ = something special prepared.

Super deluxe is all about those special touches, and Dhevanafushi dazzles with its extra-special golden touch.

 

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi - bling goodies close up

Best of the Maldives: Pillow Menu Samples – Anantara Kihavah Villas

Anantara Kihavah Villas - pillow menu samples

 

 

The other extreme from electronic virtual menus…scale model replica menus. Anantara Kihavah Villas offers its own pillow menu (now at a number of the super premium properties), but instead of just a description of the different varieties, Kihavah presents 6 little pillows in a box for the guest to touch and handle to get the perfect feel for each different one. From Ipad to minI-pad. 

Best of the Maldives: iPads – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

PArk Hyatt Hadahaa - ipad apps

My wife can live without her computer in the Maldives and even her phone, but her tablet is still standard equipment. It’s handy light reading and comfortable way to check on email and update her Facebook posts in the comfort of her lounger.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa has embraced the iPad with its own rich resort app. And each room is equipped with their very own iPad which includes useful information such as dining menus, activities, spa menus, island map, etc.

Paradise?…There’s an app for that.

Best of the Maldives: Wireless Technology – Cheval Blanc Randheli

Cheval Blanc iport

 

 

A bit slow posting this week working my day job at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam where we at Ericsson and 1,500 other firms were showing off the latest electronic gadgetry to hit the home screen.

Probably our biggest tech pain when visiting the Maldives with this suitcase full of tech toys is charging the battery of batteries – computers, camera, ipad, phones, GoPro, dive light. We always seem to miss one out and it dies right when we need it most.

Cheval Blanc Ranheli recently announced its new iPort LaunchPort service which not only provides a leading edge villa control unit, but also performs the magic of wireless charging…

“The world's first and only wireless charging and magnetic mounting system for the iPad. LaunchPort is available in all 45 villas on the property and for use at the front desk, concierge, spa and on-site restaurants and bars… The custom-branded LaunchPort for Cheval Blanc Randheli consists of a sleeve and a magnetic mounting and inductive charge station for the tabletop or wall. Initially created for residential home automation, LaunchPort allows guests to operate all electronic controls in their villa including door locks, TV and lighting. An iPad is easily mounted and dismounted via discrete magnets that are embedded into the case and charging station…LaunchPort will also be available throughout the resort for staff to update and charge their iPads used to provide concierge services including booking reservations in the on-site restaurants and scheduling appointments in the spa.”

Today’s post prompts a new “Best Of” category that I am seeing quite a bit more of recently across the archipelago – Technology.

(thanks Francisco)

Best of the Maldives: Turtles Snorkeling – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah Turtle Adventure

One of the new items on House Reef profiles is the “Resident” field. This notes if there is a particular creature who is regularly found on the house reef and who can be distinctly identified. The first “Resident” I met in the Maldives was “Camilla”, a turtle on the Vakarufalhi house reef.

Turtles are quite readily identifiable by their shell markings which has allowed a few marine biologists to take Snorkel Spotting to a whole new level. The most spottable grounds might just be the eponymous “Turtle Reef” in the North Male atoll. This terrapin terroir is closest to the Makanudhu resort, but the the nearby One & Only Reethi Rah really gives the excursion the first class treatment (see video link above). Reports Reethi’s Scott Le Roi…

“Turtle reef is where we go for the Turtle Adventure trip (every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday). It is one of the most popular reefs we go to. The reef is next to Makundhoo resort, which is about a 25 minute dhoni ride or about 7 minutes in a speedboat from our resort. We take lots of private trips there as well and the dive centre also do there evening snorkel there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s a hawksbill turtle feeding ground so there is always a good chance of seeing lots of turtles there. The most I have seen in one snorkel is 23! The turtles here are pretty relaxed. As it is their home territory, they don’t feel threatened by people, so our guests can have a really amazing encounter with them; Swimming alongside them or turtles coming up to breathe right in front of them! It is also a very beautiful reef. Nice corals and fish life, sometimes sharks and eagle rays.”

In the spirit of Snorkel Spotter, the Reethi Rah marine biologist also runs a spotting program (see pictures below)…

Since February 2012 our resident Marine Biologist has been identifying the different turtles seen during the Turtle Adventure Snorkel at both Turtle Reef and West Point Reef. Every turtle has a unique scale pattern on each side of the head which it can be identified by. Photographed turtles are uploaded into a photo identification database to try to establish their population size, foraging sites and migration patterns. So far over 100 different Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) have been identified at Turtle Reef and over 40 at West Point Reef. Many of these turtles are common residents of the reef and can be seen regularly.”

For people interesting in “Turtle Spotting” across the Maldives, the Four Seasons Marine Savers’ Turtle ID Project takes this ID programme to Maldives-wide level.

 

One and Only Reethi Rah turtle spotting

Best of the Maldives: Best House Reef Video – Maayafushi

Maayafushi house reef video

 

 

As promised, I have now completed my own list of post-tour challenges of getting all of the research material consolidated, profiles updated, notes organised, and as promised, expanded information on the resorts’ House Reefs. I’ve added a row to the Resort Profile devoted to House Reef details (see below).

Mostly, I have broken down the very crude “House Reef Rating” into several more granular ratings…

  • House Reef Rating (focusing on the “drop off”)
  • Drop-Off Coral Rating (focusing just on the coral variety and density as opposed to fish life or ease of access.
  • Lagoon Coral Rating (focusing on the shallow water coral croppings)

As a part of my enhancing the House Reef information, I’ve also added a second video link to the resort profiles of footage taken on the house reef. Very often, the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum refers to such videos for first hand documentation of the reef quality. I’ve gone through the videos on YouTube and selected the best I could find in terms of showing the most of the reef (ie. not all close ups of fish and other sightings).

Through my house reef YouTube research, I came across a whole range of quality from grainy camera clips to Hollywood-style editted GoPro productions. The one that rose above as “Best Picture” (among some very worthy competition I must say), was “Maldive – The Movie” 39 minute feature film of the Maayafushi house reef.

Other special mentions include…

  • Most Views – Filitheyo: 4934.
  • Most Likes – Embudoo: 59.
  • Best Soundtrack – Helengeli: (fun and apropos medley of tunes)
I’ve populated the ratings based on my visits and information others have shared, but it is at best less than half complete and could have some inaccuracies.  If you have any information to share, please comment or email me.

 

House reef profile section

Best of the Maldives: Charity Challenge – Anantara Dhigu

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge

Never mind the scented cloths and tropical cocktails, Anantara Dhigu has introduced an even more refreshing way to cool down…

“Torsten Richter, Cluster General Manager of Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and Naladhu Maldives resorts in South Male Atoll, Maldives, accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations towards medical research…The event was held at the resorts’ weekly cocktail gathering and was attended by 200 guests, with 50 guests and associates stepping under the bucket throughout the course of the evening for a brief shower with chilled Indian Ocean water.”

As a marketer, I have been intrigued by the dynamics of the whole Ice Bucket phenomenon which has spread across the world. I think there are some who seeks to inspire a fraction of the engagement and excitement that the challenge has.

Kudos to the Dhigu team for embracing the phenomenon with such gusto and creativity.  Bill Gates would be impressed.

 

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge 2

 

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge 3

Best of the Maldives: Hospitality Accreditation – Anantara

Anantara - accreditation program

Labour Day in the USA this week heralds the end of the summer breaks and back to work or to school. Or with Anantara’s new Explorer Programme…both.

They say 90% of learning takes place outside the classroom. But who’s to know just how much of what you have learned? How does it map to the key competencies of the role? Well, Anantara has combined a apprentice-like vocational programme with a certification process. This provides the candidate with the most versatility in moving to different career-progressing roles both across Maldives resorts and even overseas. Anantara announced at its June inauguration…

“The launch of Explorer, a new vocational hotel training programme, which the group has chosen to roll out in the Maldives. The modern and technically progressive progamme is the first to be accredited with international certification. It highlights MHG as a pioneering employer in the ASEAN region within vocational education that addresses the needs of the Millennial generation…Young people need opportunities to learn, but often this needs to be combined with the ability to earn a living at the same time and such opportunities are often limited or unavailable. Explorer is accredited with international certification from Australia, a leader in the field of vocational education. Successful completion is awarded with a hospitality Certificate III qualification that provides the foundation for continued learning to progress towards a Certificate IV, and ultimately a Diploma in Hospitality. The opportunity has been extended to both young internal hotel candidates and external school leaver participants who combine training with real-time remunerated work experience. MHG has also made a significant investment in high quality coaches, who have been developed internally to international accredited standards so that they can share their knowledge and leadership skills with the programme participants. Each Explorer Trainee will be provided with a tablet allowing them access to the online learning platform that complements classroom training, ensuring a fully integrated learning experience. Upon completion they will have learnt new skills and gained experience and confidence in themselves and in an industry that contributes significantly to the well-being of the Maldivian economy.”

Accreditation, coaching, technology – a tropical cocktail of success for many talented and ambitious Maldivians.