Best of the Maldives: Spa AI – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - spa ai

At Kandolhu immerses you in the art of a deal with their “Spa AI” package. You can relax about a spa splurge and leave behind your worries about a wallet purge:

  • “The new offering provide unlimited access to the entire range of spa treatments including VOYA body experiences, YonKa facial treatments, skincare options and a wide range of specialised massages. Skilled therapists personalise daily treatments and activities according to the guests’ wellness needs. By unlimited, no restrictions are applied from visit frequency to type of treatment. Curated instructional videos, Manduka towels and mats, specially designed wellness beverages and healthy mixed fruit plates are provided to all guests booked for this package. A preferred discount is given on all VOYA and Yonka retail products sold at the spa.”

Let your aches and cares melt away instead of your budget.

Best of the Maldives: Art of Seating – Joali

Joali - art seating

  • I wanted to help draw guests into an immersive experience in which they can relax and feel the waves and textures of the island.” – Dough Johston – Coiled

Joali immersive art motif is not merely about immersing yourself amongst an expansive collection of art, but also becoming part of the art itself. Not just the piece of artwork, but the surroundings of paradise that frame it, imbue it and inspire it.

One of my favourite parts of an art museum is the seating. After a few hours of standing and soaking in the works of creativity, weary legs can do battle with energized eyes. I especially appreciate seats situated directly opposite particularly engaging works so I can stop and take the piece in a literally relaxed manner. Joali doesn’t just have seating to enjoy its works…the seating are the works. The best collection of artistic seating I’ve seen since the Copenhagen Design Museum. With the added distinction that you can actually sit in them (and are encouraged to do so as a part of the immersive process.

  • These works at JOALI are vessels that carry my past. They now breath the air of the MALDIVES and their surfaces will absorb the heat of this wonderful island. They will now listen to stories and befriend guests as they live and age.” – Reinaldo Senguino – Ceramic Mini Stools [BELOW]
  • Combining traditional technique with playful fabrication, my work embraces – and at the same time protests – functionalism…” – Chris Wolston – Terra Cotta Furniture [BOTTOM]

Joali - ceremic seat


Joali - seating art 1

9 Top Tips for Maldives Influencer Collaboration

Bruce blog writing

While the previous post laid out the fundamentals of “Influencer Collaboration” straight from the authority of a leading marketing director in the Maldives, I wanted to share some of my own personal perspectives on the subject. At first, I thought that I might do a larger uber-piece on the subject that combined last week’s “10 Things Luxury Resorts Look For In An ‘Influencer Collaboration’” with these tips, but it got too big and unwieldly and the points really address slightly different dimensions (the previous one is more about fundamentals, while this one is more tips).

My own tips come from years of research tours to the Maldives where I have experienced the entire gamut from paying completely full whack rack rates (in fact, paying a premium because I was only there for a day or so) to getting a completely comped VIP treatment (usually from resort management who just love the Maldives Complete website and its general benefit to Maldives tourism as much as expect direct benefit to their resort).

But such collaboration has been challenged by the tsunami of wannabe Instagrammers trying to blag freebie trips on the basis of how cute they look in a bikini and how good their boyfriend is with an SLR.  If you are an aspiring blogger looking to tick the Maldives off your bucket list without shattering your personal funds, then here are a few suggestions…

  1. Be Realistic – You need to have at least 10k Followers to even be looked at by a Maldives resort marketing manager.  50k is probably a better cut-off (though this is the point where it can be more flexible depending on some of the other listed considerations).  Even then you have lots of competition (more than 1,500 Instgrammers/Bloggers with Followers over 10k visited the Maldives in the past 3 years.  In fact, over 160 bloggers with more than a million followers visited).
  2. Sell the Content – Mind you, content is commoditizing at a rapid pace as resorts are reaping the benefits of mountains of free, crowdsourced content of every geo-tagged post.  But if you have a distinctive angle to your content – eg. special editing effects, special writing or photography style special focus area – then the property might be more interested in getting that content produced (that it can re-use and refer to) than your less interesting Followers exposure.
  3. Avoid the Cliches – Thousands of blogs posts have waxed eloquently about the palm trees and pina coladas.  Try to avoid the cliché topics (eg.  colours of the ocean, white sand, sunny weather, charming service) unless you can lend a truly poetic articulation or unique perspective.
  4. Sell the Engagement – Sure, you’ve got thousands of Followers.  So does everybody.  But do your Followers actually respond to your posts considering to visit themselves?  Or are they just life-style porn voyeurs sitting on their couch without even a passport?
  5. Be Clear About Your Proposition – Media pack, stats, examples, clear proposal of what you will produce (see the previous post).
  6. Don’t Get Greedy – Marketing managers are rife with stories of hubristic bloggers with a few thousands followers looking for an all-expenses paid, VIP-treatment week long stay for them and their boyfriend in exchange for a single photo on their Instagram feed.  Maybe look for a bit of a discounted rate for a couple of day stay and propose a wide range of content and posting.
  7. Understand Resort Economics – Some things like buffet meals and rooms in low periods of the year can have negligible marginal cost for the resort by having you there so cutting you a break is easier.  But other items – eg. fuel consuming transfers, alcohol, a la carte meals, spa treatments – do cost them money and so they are much more constrained on how generous they can be.
  8. Know the Resort’s Market – If you are a relatively small blogger on the world stage, but you are a pretty prominent one in Denmark, then find the resorts that get a good number of guests from that market (eg.  Canareef has a regular charter from Denmark).
  9. Look for Unsung Resorts – Everyone wants to go to the fanciest 5-star resorts, but there are about 140 resorts and a number of the less glamorous ones get decidedly less inundated with requests and so might be more open (or at least less cynical and jaded).  Don’t approach One & Only Reethi Rah unless you are an A-list red-carpet celebrity (and even then you probably won’t get too much notice since A-list celebrities are OORR’s core customer base).

Best of the Maldives: Breakfast Nuts – Joali

Joali - nuts 1

A resort buffet staple are a selection of some nutty bits in the form of muesli or granola for topping ones yogurt. As a bit of a breakfast condiment, it’s not an item with lots of variety…except at Joali. They set out an entire table filled with bowls of nuts and dried fruits of every type imaginable. Aside from people who are just very particular about their legumes, the obvious beneficiaries were the growing number of vegans in the world. Often making do with the scraps of selection, a Joali they have a banquet of choice for one of the few sources of protein in their diet.

The art of the meal.

Joali - nuts 2

Best of the Maldives: Buffet Scultpure – Paradise Island

Paradise Island - buffet decor

Paradise Island has long adorned its lavish buffets with elaborate fruit carvings and other striking decorations, but one of its “food sculptures” uses a few tricks beneath the surface. What appears to be a gigantic butter sculpture of fish cavorting around some coral is really only fin deep:

  • “The white sculpture is actually a fish fin carving showing the symbol of Maldives , and it’s made of thermocol and at last glaze .”

Best of the Maldives: Local Artist Boutique – Faarufushi

Faarufushi - shop 4

For low-miles “buy local” shopping, Faarufushi’s boutique is stocked with items almost entirely sourced from local artists. The miles-friendly range includes jewellery, fabrics, ceramics, and even Maldives themed phone covers. The shop also carried massage oil made from locally produced coconut oil (the same signature oil they use for the resort spa treatments). Many of the products are also featured in the rooms, spa and around the island like the Island Bazaar soft furnishings (see photo above) and the Island Apothecary hand cleanser.

Another impressive line of “local” products is one of the most extensive collections of books about the Maldives I have come across. Not just touristy coffee-table photo books, but histories and novels set in the archipelago. Beach reading about your beach!

Faarufushi - shop 2

Faarufushi - shop 3

Faarufushi - shop

Faarufushi - shop 5

Best of the Maldives: Plastic Art – Conrad Maldives

Conrad Rangali - plastic art

Conrad Maldives is putting the “up” into upcycling plastic with its jellyfish chandelier. The article “How A Hotel In the Maldives Is Fighting Plastic Pollution” describes this and a number of other initiatives (stay tuned) the resort is undertaking to raise awareness of plastic pollution and to minimise it from their property:

  • “The most visible symbol of the hotel’s commitment to the cause can be found inside Rangali Bar. Dangling from the wood ceiling of the open-air bar is a massive jellyfish. At first glance, it could be mistaken for a Chihuly, with its long, translucent tentacles resembling blue-tinted glass. But the sculpture comes from eco artist John K. Melvin, who was commissioned to create the site-specific piece at the resort. Melvin, whose work has appeared in places like Puerto Rico’s Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, spent a six-week residency collecting more than 5,000 plastic bottles from three islands in the Maldives, sculpting and then stringing them with coconut rope, steel cable, wire and other materials. The upcycled work is titled EvoGyre, a portmanteau of “evolution” and “gyre,” which is a circular ocean current formed by wind patterns and the forces resulting from the Earth’s rotation. Plastic gets stuck in these vortexes.”

Creative approaches to eco-sustainability are looking up at Rangali.

Best of the Maldives: Recycled Plastic Fashion – LUX North Male Atoll

LUX North Male Atoll - plastics fashion

Keeping plastic out of oceans has become quite the fashionable eco-initiative lately, but LUX North Male Atoll is helping the environment by putting plastic into the ocean. In a manner most fashionable…on the bodies of guests. The carry a line of swim suits (for both men and women) that are made from recycled plastic. The lady’s suits aren’t quite as daring as some string bikinis, but they are made out of string – 65% recycled fish net. The swim shorts cost $130 struck me as exceedingly stylish decorated with images of turtles, sharks and creatures the eco-friendliness is helping out.

LUX North Male Atoll - plastic fashion 2

Best of the Maldives: Instagram Photoshoot – AaaVeee

AaaVeee - fashion 1

While every resort is now a coral-sand catwalk especially for the Instagram throngs of thongs, no resort has hosted a most extensive Instagram photoshoot than the eco-resort AaaVeee. It hosted a photoshoot for Destination Cover with not only a expansive group of 8 models (many photoshoots are a single person and maybe go up 3), but the quality of the posing, shooting and post was first rate. And a the number of shots shared on Instagram was unprecedented.

  1. Sana Lantana and Aleona Lynx [ABOVE]
  2. Erika Yar
    AaaVeee - fashion 2
  3. Ednyr Marie
    AaaVeee - fashion 3
  4. Olga Storozhuk
    AaaVeee - fashion 4
  5. Lily Marie
    AaaVeee - fashion 5
  6. Liliana Montoya
    AaaVeee - fashion 6
  7. Kaolina Wozniak
    AaaVeee - fashion 7