As I noted a number of times, I originally thought of doing a website about the Maldives called “Maldives for Families”. When we first started visiting this paradise, it was a haven for divers and honeymooners, but we thought it was a superb destination for families. Well, our instincts have played out with all top resorts catering strongly to the family vacationer with kids clubs, family activities and a increasing number of rooming options for families to be together. But, Nika has gone all the way by making family room options for every single room category. Perhaps this family-friendly extreme is no surprise since the resort itself has been a family business since its founding.
Rain doesn’t have to ruin your day in the Maldives. For the youngsters at Joali, the Muramas kids club (ages 4-12) has a Rainbow Stairs Room. A colourful and unique play area for jumping around, tumbling or just chilling out until the rain passes and the real rainbows come out.
One of the biggest trends in Maldives tourism is move from shopping for a resort to shopping for a villa. Maldives distinguished itself years ago with the concept of “One island, one resort”. People decided on which resort island was for them and they knew that their entire Maldives experience would be contained in that microcosm of aquatic terrain.
This concept contributed strongly to the development of Maldives Complete. Because you were segregated on a single island, choosing that island carefully was all the more important. It wasn’t like choosing a city hotel where the hotel part of the city break was just a small part which also included restaurants, shopping, sights, etc. outside the hotel. Furthermore, because the property was so clearly delineated, it also made developing a database on the characteristics of the resort easier as everything on the island was specific to that property.
But as I have noted on numerous occasions, guests now seek out “villas” with the same discernment that they used to seek resorts themselves. In the early years, each island only had a few room categories – Standard, Deluxe, Water Villa, etc. – to choose from. What distinguished your holiday was the island you chose and the rooms were more uniform within the island. I wrote a post in 2010 about Kurumba having the most room types with 8. Today, I don’t know of a single new property that has launched with less than that. Soneva Fushi has 27 room types today!
In 2012, I launched the Room Type database to help guests with the task that was now an order of magnitude larger of choosing a room type as opposed to just choosing an island. Just this past October, I amended the popular “How to Pick the Perfect Maldives Resort” post by removing the criteria of whether the resort had a pool or not. This characteristic was one of the very first ones I researched extensively in the 90s before all this Internet stuff as we knew that our kids loved to pay in a pool. Now all but a couple of resorts have a pools. The real question is whether you want your villa to have its own personal pool.
All sorts of special amenities that used to be distinctive for resorts are now available in your own villa (for the premium rooms on the rate card). I remember when spas were just starting to be introduced in the Maldives. Often a therapist on contract given and room and a table to work at buried in the island interior. Now some Presidential suites have their own in-villa spa rooms.
The latest distinction to have gone personal are water hammocks. First spotted at Anantara Dhigu in 2011. In 2016, I was able to post a collection of water hammocks at various resorts. Now, Amilla has added personal water hammocks outside a bank of its water villas!
While not every room is so individually appointed, the distinctive décor of Hard Rock’s Rock Star Villa does evoke the spirit of individually decorated rooms that I called out back in 2014 in my 5th instalment of “Haven’t Seen Yet”. The unique design aesthetic evokes world famous artistic hotels like Crazy Bear (UK), Ice Hotel (Sweden) and Atelier sul mare (Italy).
Now they need to just take it to the next step. They should honour a rock star every year with a free visit and the villa the star stays in gets christened the “So-And-So Villa”. Sort of like the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star would bring a few bits of paraphernalia to contribute to the room décor (in addition to prints of photos and concert posters the resort would have already) and the villa would have the obligatory “So-And-So Slept Here”.
I’ve already featured the striking artistry of Soneva Jani’s arrival jetty, but it wasn’t until our visit there that we could appreciate the ubiquitous artistry of all its jetties. Unlike its sister resort which is primarily land oriented (and only recently added water villas), Soneva Jani has been from its inception very water oriented. So it is fitting that the byways connecting all of the (striking) constructions should itself be an aesthetic journey. Details like the Soneva signature driftwood pieces (see bottom) to the lit glass room numbers inlaid into the walkway timber as extra flair (see photo below – thanks Poala!) to the Suess-like whimsy of these central design elements.