World Meditation Day today. And as usual, I will be meditating on thoughts of the Maldives. Until lockdown and travel restrictions, such ruminations might be the only way to transport myself back to this paradise.
In fact, the daily practice of working on and refining Maldives Complete is form of this “meditation” according to Maia Gambis’ “Why making art is the new meditation”:
- “Creating art is a type of meditation, an active training of the mind that increase awareness and emphasizes acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment and relaxation of body and mind… Creativity is its own language and enables humans to connect with one another — and themselves — on a non-verbal level.”
I would say that goes for virtually any creative act. You get so immersed that you look up and hours have flown by. Exploring pictures and stories, assembling them together digitally to portray glimpses of this mystical destination is my art form.
I have decided to offer my expertise up to resorts who would like input and consulting on their customer experience. I’ve had just too many “what were they thinking??” moments. I’m not talking about petty kibitzing like you find on TripAdvisor reviews. Anyone following this blog know how charitable a fanboy I am of all Maldives resorts.
I just see so many examples of how a resort is set up or run that just don’t seem to have paid enough consideration to the guest experience. And when I say “guest experience”, I am specifically referring to the “Maldives guest experience” which is a very distinct category. People coming to the Maldives have some very specific expectations which are central to their ultimate satisfaction.
Too often is seems that the bean counters or some designer/architect in love with their sketches are calling the shots. I sort of do a casual version of this consultancy on my tours as I find myself the guest of many dinners and drinks with GMs and Marketing Directors eagerly picking my brain for insights and perspectives. I can understand the compromises in the lower price tiers, but all too often I do find myself see very simple tricks that were missed.
- Customer Experience – I think that getting one of the world’s experts on Maldives resorts to have a basic review of your plans to catch details that might have gotten missed would be a worthwhile step for many resorts that clearly invest so much money into their premier properties. Sometimes simple considerations can undermine the impact of thousands of dollars of investment in a simple feature.
- Save Money – An oversight in design costs both revenue and operating expense. Revenue as the reviews come in that little bit less enthralled leading to even a few on-the-fence prospective guests choosing one of the many other competing options in the Maldives. Operating Expense as the property eventually figures out the problem and decides to redo the aspect costing money to remove and replace.
- Sales and Marketing Career – This whole Maldives differentiation is not just an expensive hobby for me, but the “differentiation” part of central to my day job. I’ve successfully driven sales and marketing for a billion dollar business unit, received recognition from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for business promotion, and received the American Association of Travel Agent’s Award for the most successful destination promotional campaign.
- Maldives Resort Expertise – But my real credential in the area of Maldives resort customer experience is…my customer experience. Two decades of researching and visiting more resorts than anyone else on the planet (the first person to stay at 100 Maldives resorts). I may not have seen it all, but when it comes to the Maldives resorts, there are few people who have seen more than me.
- “You have picked up on some amazing parts or USP’s there and this will help me immensely in the sales process as we also talk lots about hidden ‘rabbit holes’ and the small amazing nuances that we offer against the competition.” – Scott Le Roi, Director of Sales & Marketing, Reethi Rah.
- “Maldives specialist, out of the box thinker and prolific writer on the non-mundane and oft missed subjects about Maldivian resorts.” – Amit Majumbder, Manager, Jumeirah Vittaveli
- “If you want to know what’s the “best” in Maldives – the ‘Best of…’ every imaginable topic, read this blog by Maldives Complete, you won’t feel bored! ” – Oceanholic Maldives
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to have a quick chat about how I might be able to assist. It will cost less than you think and benefit your project more than you might realise.
Eleven years and going strong. Still the second most frequently asked question I get is “Why do you do it?” (or you could say, “Why do I KEEP doing it?” It’s a big expense with no income. Well, George Orwell penned a piece “Why I Write” (thanks Isley) which highlighted a number of points which I think do apply to my 2000+ post (and going) writing…
- Sheer egoism – Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, wilful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
- Aesthetic enthusiasm – Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
- Historical impulse – Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
Happy 11th Anniversary to Maldives Complete. Time for another taking stock of where we have been.
The big milestone of the year was being the first people ever to stay at 100 Maldives resorts. We have also visited every atoll which has more than 2 resorts (the resort atolls that we have not yet hit are Vaavu, Shaviyani, Thaa and Laamu).
In many ways, it is the culmination of years of striving for a complete compendium of useful and accessible information about the Maldives resorts underpinned by before assiduous regular research as well as expansive first hand experience.
Another year has passed without the addition of any significant functionality. That implies to me that the site is pretty “feature complete” (as they say in the software sector). On one hand, I haven’t had to dig into major overhaul work of new capability. On the other hand, more resorts than ever (and opening faster than ever with a record 13 new openings) which means more details to keep up with. Also, having written 1,574 “Best of the Maldives” posts, it is a bit harder identifying distinctive, new features (though with 283 of my “Not Yet Seens” still not yet seen, there’s plenty of possibilities and still the innovation keeps flowing bringing more and more creative aspects to this destination of superlatives).
“And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” (Quran 2:272)
Most every anniversary of the website, I do another instalment of the “Why Do I Do It” (the second most frequently asked question I get) series. Once again, Seth Godin has captured another dimension to this expensive hobby which contributes to my daily drive to uncover the latest information and draft up hopefully helpful perspectives…
- “Is there something you do every day that builds an asset for you? Every single day? Something that creates another bit of intellectual property that belongs to you? Something that makes an asset you own more valuable? Something that you learn? Every single day is a lot of days. It’s easy to look at the long run and lull yourself into skipping a day now and then. But the long run is made up of short runs.” – Seth Godin “The Daily”
Maldives Complete is my daily dose of sunshine, my periodic prescription of paradise.
The first decade of Maldives fandom completed. The 10th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website today.
And, in keeping with its original mission, it has continued to get more and more complete now achieving the high water mark of 99.56% completeness. That’s 16 pieces of information missing out of a potential 3,600 from the profiles of 143 active resorts (not counting all the added information about 61 inactive properties – ie. not yet opened or closed). 6 of those missing pieces are dive charts from the relatively newly developed atolls (ie. Raa, Thaa, Shaviyani). 5 of those are from 2 relatively recent openings – Miriandhoo and Sangeli – for whom photography is not yet complete.
This past year was the first one that I have not added a major feature or component to the site and this year I didn’t really add any new significant data fields or design changes for the first time ever (last year I added “Name Meaning” and the new logo and palette). So maybe the site functionality itself if becoming more “Complete”.
Happy Birthday to Seth Godin. Seth is of my inspirations to the wide range of blogging that I do, the most prominent of which is Maldives Complete here. These days you can’t swing a palm frond without hitting a blogger (especially in the Maldives), but when I started in 2009, the whole medium was quite novel. Seth was one of the first to embrace and extoll the platform and provided lots of tip and insights both explicitly and through example of his own work.
- “This is post 7,000” – “The secret to writing a daily blog is to write every day. And to queue it up and blog it. There is no other secret…The discipline of sharing something daily is priceless. Sometimes there are typos. I hope that they’re rare and I try to fix them. Over time, the blog adds up. People remember a blog post a year after I wrote it. Or they begin a practice, take an action, make a connection, something that grows over time. The blog resonates with people in so many fields, it’s thrilling to see how it can provoke positive action. It’s true that I’d write this blog even if no one read it, but I want to thank you for reading it, for being here day after day. It’s more fun that way.”
- “Susdat” – “Writer’s block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady. More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don’t feel like it, when you believe it’s not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up. Show up, sit down and type.”
- “Gaztelugatxe” – “There’s an island off the coast of Spain that houses a church. The church has 230 steps to the top, and it’s said that it’s worth the climb. What a great expression. Gaztelugatxe can now mean, ‘it’s a lot of steps, but worth it.’ The opposite of fast and easy but worthless.”
The first two posts referenced above talk about ‘daily practice’ and while I may not post every day, I would say that I do something on Maldives Complete every day – respond to emails, update date, investigate leads, research pieces, etc. His thoughts help to express the answer to the 2nd most frequently asked question that I get (the first being “What is the best resort”), and that is “Why do you do Maldives Complete?”.
If you work at something fun, then you will never have to work. That is part of the spirit of why I do Maldives Complete (still the second most frequently asked question about the website). I value keeping my creative edge sharp in much the same way that I enjoy keeping my physical fitness up. The problem is that tedious gym sessions can be a painful and boring way to workout. Which is why I enjoy activities like ballroom and Latin dancing, basketball, and rowing all of which provide an engaging and enjoyable way to keep the conditioning strong. Similarly, my hobby of Maldives Complete pays considerable dividends in my professional life. Here a few pieces of advice which resonate with me and illustrate this concept of life-long exercise of the creativity muscle…
- “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- “Employees who did something creative after work – like knitting, drawing or even playing a video game that required creative thinking – were more likely to be helpful and creative problem solvers on the job, according to new research from San Francisco State University.” – CNN
- “#5 – Make Writing a Practice – A common first mistake is thinking you’re not a writer. That it’s a domain reserved solely for people with ‘creative’ in their title. Nonsense. If your job depends on articulating ideas, you need to write. Not to mention, you need to write with clarity, with simplicity and, at times, unfettered imagination.” – Doug Kleeman, “20 Ways to Become A Better Strategist”
Another year of Maldives fandom completed. The 9th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website.
The Resort Profile data is inching forward in completeness with Resort Profiles up to 98.9%. The primary issue causing remaining holes has been the addition of new resorts at new atolls, like Raa and Thaa, where I have less dive site information so Dive Charts and Dive Maps are missing from the profiles. The completeness of the Room Type profiles dropped a tad with a record number of new resort launches (room type material is hard to obtain and takes longer to collect).
This is probably the first year that I have not added a major feature or component to the site. So maybe not just the Profile data, but the even the functionality of the site is growing more “Complete”.
All that said, the site hasn’t stood still. In addition to the ongoing research, responding, updating, and other refining and polishing, I made a few significant changes:
- New Logo – The look of the website got refresh a bit with its new logo by Maldivian artist and designer Aima Musthafa. The new branding added an local Dhivehi dimension. In the process, Aima provided some superb input as we cleaned up the look a bit with her more coherent colour palette. She has proposed some more dramatic change to the home page which I am working on (stay tuned).
- Name Meaning – I actually cleared down a number of unused fields in the database, but I did add a fun one which took a fair amount of research populate further extended the Dhivehi dimension of the site – “Name Meaning”. And I learned a bit more Dhivehi in the process.
The Fashionista features keep growing in popularity and are fuelled by even more Instragramming than ever providing lots of shard photos to curate for the Maldives aficionado crowd. Below is sort of a ‘leader board’ of the top social media fashionistas to visit the destination…
The Maldives keeps developing and getting better and so, we hope, does Maldives Complete. The latest refinement injects an extra bit of authentic Maldivian style and flair to the site with the contributions of up-and-coming artist Aima Musthafa (see photo below) who has redesigned its logo and design palette.
I’ve admired Aima’s work since I first discovered her in the “Cool Women” piece. I’m honoured to have been her very first customer and proud owner of her triptych “Raalhu Girl” (“Raalu” means “wave” in Dhivehi). After going abroad for some art and design studies, she has returned to her home shores to ply her creative brush and was recently was showcased in Kandima’s artist collective.
The Maldives Complete brief was to infuse the look with colour and culture of the Maldives it represented. I wanted to add the Dhivehi words for “Maldives Complete – “Furihama Dhivehi Raajje”. So Aima selected a font that would work well in both languages capturing the dynamic fluidity of the Dhivehi characters.
Part of what drives to me to this hobby is the escapism of immersing myself into the Laccadive world even though I am hunkered down five thousand miles away in damp, chilly England. I’ve always crafted the site to be saturated with local imagery so using it would be like a digital visit to this paradise. I have always used a collection of colours that evokes the vibrant tropical and aquatic tapestry of the destination. Aima formalised this palette some colours more carefully aligned in tone and complementarity (see her notes below). She then blended the native colours into a design similarly melding familiar shapes and forms. The result is a striking new emblem for all complete Maldives appreciation.
The new logo has also been an opportunity for a general cosmetic tidy-up to the site as I had to touch so may main pages. I have aligned some of the graphical elements more precisely and used Aima’s colour palette in place across the pages.