Guest books were especially popular in resorts in the early days where guests were intrigued to know perhaps what celebrities had visited this already prestigious destination. Those guest books prompted me to add the “Celebrity Guest” field to the Maldives Complete database. And the popularity of that information and piece I wrote about celebrities, contributed to the “Fashionista” series when the Instagram wave hit.
If you are keen for a plaque for your wall, I recommend Joali and their exceptionally high spec evacuation map. Most room maps are simple printouts with maybe a bit of lamination. The luxury villas might have a printed plastic sign up. But the Joali is an artistically etched brass plaque. No troubles finding the way out with these directions as the aesthetic allure of it draws your eye to it.
- “My best conversations in philosophy have been with French lycée teachers who love the topic but are not interested in pursuing a career writing papers in it…Amateurs in any discipline are the best, if you can connect with them. Unlike dilettantes, career professionals are to knowledge what prostitutes are to love.”—Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (2012)
Is Maldives Complete the “Best of the Maldives” for blogs?
With the new year, the awards season ramps up a bit. But don’t count on Maldives Complete being featured. I’ve submitted the site for consideration to a number of online awards only to be rebuffed by clarifications that the awards were only open to advertisers. Not that it comes to any surprise to me. In many decades of marketing, the shill schemes are pretty standard practice – “you give us lots of money for sponsorship/advertising/etc., and we declare you the best of contrived category”. Some “directories” won’t even list you, unless you pay them. Being an “amateur” (Maldives Complete makes no money from advertising, sponsorship or sales), I don’t have the funds for such vanity accolades.
So I’ve decided to toot my own horn a bit for the record. In two areas, it does seem to stand head and shoulders above the rest:
- Longest Standing Blog (since 2008)
- Most Original Content (2000+ posts, though Maldives Insider is catching up)
When I first started blogging about the Maldives, resorts didn’t even know what “blogging” was (based on all of the confused looks and questions I got from them when I described that part of the Maldives Complete website). A couple of resort websites dabbled with this new digital medium throwing out a couple of posts and then abandoning the initiative. For a number of years, blogging had been considered a bit passé. Overtaken by the “micro-blogging” (small posts to the extent of hard character limits on Twitter) format of social media. But lately, blogging is making a bit of a comeback. Travel bloggers, especially, are a bit of a rage coupled the lifestyle porn theatre of Instagram.
The most prominent travel bloggers do boast big numbers, but most of these Followers are living vicariously through the posts admiring a destination they will never have the means nor inclination to actually visit. These bloggers get their readers all excited with no place for them to go.
The Maldives Complete Blog has never really been about getting people excited about the Maldives. Lots of conventional travel media like Conde Nast and your local city paper does plenty of that. This blog has always been about providing posts that can help people decide on the right resort for them. By tagging the various properties and sub-topics, people can explore distinctive details by either resorts that interest them, or the aspects that do. The most prevalent question I get from readers is “With all the Maldives resorts (increasing in number every day), how do I choose?” The answer is (as described in my most popular post “How to Choose the Perfect Maldives Resort”) to (a) filter to short list by core objective criteria (mostly budget, but a few other fundamentals), and (b) look at the posts about each property on the short list to get a subjective feel for the property’s particular strengths and personality.
But the popular “Best of the Maldives” Category is not the only area covered in the blog:
- Snorkeling – One of my big crusades over the years has been evangelising the Maldives as having the Best Snorkelling in the World and as a result I have featured a number of posts focusing on the activity of snorkelling (as well as pioneering “World Snorkel Day” celebrated annually on the 30th June).
- Tour – I travel to the Maldives once every year to research the latest developments at the destination and to visit new resorts. I conclude every resort visit with a post that is not a “review” per se (ie. “this is good and this is not good”, nor gushing over the palm trees and pina colada like every first-timer Instagrammer and celebrity junket pablum), but a description that tries to capture the vibe and distinctive feel of the resort.
- Lists – These are assortment of items I have come across at various resorts that are fun to curate into a handy catalogue like White Villas, Fish Schools, or Heart Themes.
- QI – A collection of counterintuitive factoids the make this intriguing destination curiouser and curiouser.
- Fashionista Galleries – An exhibition of the exhibitionists. Keeping up with the times in the digiverse, the big step change in “blogging” and took place with the advent of “micro-blogging”. All of those social media sites – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest – were inspired in structure and ethos by the original design points of blogging, ie. easy posting/sharing of content combined with the ability for others to comment on it. Noting a surge of fashion shoots, both official for marketing campaigns and unofficial for “influencers” setting out their wares, I decided to have some fun curating some of this content as a way to explore it and its dynamics.
- Miscellaneous – I feature a number of meta-categories to talk about the business of the Maldives itself. “Industry” talks about major developments in the resort industry. “Site” discusses changes in the Maldives Complete website itself (including the closest thing to a “User Guide”) for some advanced functionality. “Other” is just random stuff I couldn’t resist which includes fun series such as “QI” and the annual “April Fools” post.
If you can have a show breakfast in the pool, then why not a breakfast show in the pool? German radio station RTL has flown its morning crew to Heritance Aarah for a month of pool-side performances: DJ Arno reports:
- “I am lucky enough to be able to broadcast from the Maldives with my morning crew team for the next three weeks. Wonderful in the middle of one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives. Villas on stilts, crystal-clear water, endless white beaches, luscious palm trees and super great restaurants – really everything you only know from postcards. Beautiful! I hope I can bring you that holiday feeling to Berlin on the radio. Or even better: You win the dream trip yourself. Every day at 7:05 am I give you a trip to the Maldives worth 15,000 euros. I hope we listen to 104.6 RTL. And maybe in the Maldives instead of in my dark living room.”
No better way to start you day. In the Maldives, that is.
A number of resorts offer breakfast in a boat, but I think Fushifaru is the only resort that offers breakfast in a boat (thanks Paola). A number of resort offer breakfast in the pool, but again Fushifaru seems to be the first to offer breakfast in a boat in the pool. And not just any boat, but a charmingly stylish traditional dhoni.
Whatever floats your boat (that certainly does).
- “Brought to the Maldives in partnership with ocean innovators Ocean Group Pvt Ltd, hydrofoils redefine what’s possible on a board: a unique chance to become one with the water, gliding knife-like over its surface at thrilling speeds using a hydrodynamically designed fin with wings.”
There are four “experiences” to chose from:
- Kite Foiling
- Slingshot Wake Foil
- Lift Foil
- Naish Wing-Surfer
Hydrofoiling is a long standing “Finally Seen” (#20 from post #8) as well as a handy prompt to add the long overdue tag for “Water Sports”.
Few places provide the perspective the Earth’s vastness as effectively as standing on the seashore and gazing out on the vast expanse of the ocean. The level horizon provides an uninterrupted vista of the planet allowing the view to extend miles and miles (well, 3 miles about). A dip into this immensity adds the dimension of depth as you realise that this body of water plummets to fathoms below. In fact, the lowest point down in the ocean (Challenger Deep 36,200 feet) is deeper than the highest point up on land (Mount Everest 29,029 feet).
This immensity cloaks the blue planet in not just an aquatic wonderland, the birthplace of life and countless resources, but it regulates the world’s climate significantly. It absorbs and releases heat and water constantly. And with the inexorable release of Anthropocene carbon into the atmosphere and the consequential inching up of average temperatures, the oceans are doing their bit to absorb both.
The problem is that when the oceans absorbs carbon it makes the seawater more acidic which makes it less hospitable for a lot of its creatures. Also, when it absorbs the heat, it raises the water temperature which makes it less hospitable for the one of the pillars of the marine food chain – the coral reefs. The result is the widely reported bleaching and dying of the reefs. Over the two decades we have been visiting the Maldives, we have applauded the destination growing in many exciting ways, but each year (especially recently) we despair at the painful shrinking of the living coral primarily due to the warming sea temperatures.
In the Maldives, the reefs are not just foundation to the ecosystem, but the entirety of the county’s very being. As such, the country has been on the vanguard of campaigning for eco-sustainability and cutting carbon emissions. With the global prominence of Time’s Person of the Year Greta Thunberg and the impassioned television series by famed naturalist David Attenborough “Life on Our Planet”, the scale of carbon impact is getting a higher profile than ever.
But just how big is the impact right now? Forget all of the controversial models and forecasts. Forget the graphs showing tonnes of carbon emitted (as few of us are chemistry experts to know what all that carbon really means). Let’s just look at the actual, observed real world impact today of that carbon and climate change with a easily obtained and verified measurement – the temperature of the ocean.
I’ve happened upon a couple of illustrations of ocean temperature increase recently which prompted this post. The first from the Futurism website noted that
- “After analyzing data from the 1950s through 2019, an international team of scientists determined that the average temperature of the world’s oceans in 2019 was 0.075 degrees Celsius (.135 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1981–2010 average…The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions. That averages out to four Hiroshima bombs’ worth of energy entering the oceans every second for the past 25 years. But even more troubling, the rate isn’t holding steady at that alarming figure — it’s increasing.”
But a possibly even more dramatic number and comparison is the simple quantification of the energy that the ocean has absorbed – an accelerating at average of 10 zetta-joules per year(and last year was over 200 zetta-joules added). ZETTA joules. You don’t know what that is? Not surprising since it is such a big number there really aren’t many things in the universe to apply it to. A “zetta” is “10^21” (1 with 21 zeros after it).
The ecological impacts of what you eat affects both the surf and turf of your dinner plate. Beef cattle methane flatulence is a major contributor of global carbon which contributes to ocean warming which kills coral. Concern over beef consumption has led to many initiatives to take the beef out of the most classic beef dish of all – the burger. Even mainstream chains like Burger King have introduced vegan versions like its “Impossible Whopper”. In the Maldives, LUX South Ari Atoll has introduced its own vegan “beef” burger
- “Embraced by leading brands, tech companies and major news media, the plant-based protein, formally known as ‘Beyond Burger™’ is now available at three of the resort’s eight restaurants to provide additional vegan and kosher options.”
Inspired by LUX’s culinary carbon-reducing crusade, I found myself trying my first vegan burger yesterday in London. It was a Avocado Chipotle Burger by the UK chain, Leon’s. Admittedly, my expectations were pretty low, but I must say that they were handily exceeded. Eating it, you realise that the taste of a “burger” is a real collection of tastes – bun, condiments, lettuce, charcoal grilling. So getting a patty of something that is remotely evocative of a burger in texture and even some flavour make the whole sandwich a pretty close facsimile to the original. But with much less impact on the coral reefs you are enjoying during your stay.
- “Grouper in the Maldives are in trouble. Due to high demand and market prices, the Maldives grouper export fishery has escalated since the 1980s, spreading throughout the country. The most recent study in 2011 revealed a concerning situation: grouper stocks are declining and smaller sized fish are being taken. Larger fish have selectively been removed and fishers are targeting spawning aggregation sites. Recent catch data show that for the ten most commonly exploited species of groupers, 70% of individuals are taken prior to reaching sexual maturity, meaning that they had not had a chance to reproduce before being caught. The Blue Marine Foundation has formed a partnership with the Maldivian Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MOFA) and Six Senses Laamu, a beautifully sustainable, luxury resort with a passion for marine conservation. In collaboration with MOFA, BLUE has designed a project to promote a better documented and more sustainable grouper fishery in the Maldives by protecting threatened grouper spawning aggregations. Research suggests that grouper have been overfished for at least 15 years in Laamu Atoll.”
Blue Marine are the grouper groupies of the Maldives.
With this post, I’ve added the tag “Marine Life Conservation” to cover post about initiatives to save various aquatic creatures (bigger than coral polyps as those projects are covered extensively in the “Reef Regeneration” tag).