This week is the world famous Scripps Spelling Bee. The contestants should hope they don’t get the deceptively simple word of “what do you call the activity of using a snorkel?”
First, there is the UK/American variation. In the USA, it is “Snorkeling” and in the UK, it is “Snorkelling” (the way to remember is that the UK is “double-barrelled” with the “LL”. Sort of like a shotgun on a bird shoot or a double-barrelled name like “Baron-Cohen” or “Parker-Bowles”).
But, Maldives’ number 1 activities comes by a number of other monikers as well…
- Skin Diving
- Surface Diving
- Snorting – rare, but comes from the “snorkel” on a submarine which is called a “snort”
I confess that I have used the two interchangeably. In the post body that’s okay, but it breaks up the tags so with this post I have done the housekeeping of updating all the tags for posts on this subject to the both versions (so that anyone doing searches will find either).
One of my most frequent FAQs is “why do I do it??” (why put so much time into researching and update the Maldives Complete website). I often respond to people that “Maldives Complete” is my hobby. To which they respond, “Sounds like an expensive hobby.” My response to that comment is usually, “Well, most hobbies are expensive…travel, golf, cars, etc.” Maybe not knitting and jigsaw puzzles. But I came upon a drawing by my friend Hugh MacLeod (above) and I think he captured the sentiment even better. Simply put, immersing myself in paradise 365 days a year makes me happy. J
Today is Train Day today celebrated by people whose hobbies are trainspotting and train sets. My Maldives hobby is a bit like both of those. Like trainspotting, I get a big thrill to find a unique feature I didn’t know about, a missing resort picture or piece of information, or (recently) spotting a fashionable celebrity photo. And the website itself is like my own little train set that I am constantly tinkering, tweaking, adding, perfecting.
It’s also a different type of “training” altogether. I actually first started the site as a sandbox to play with, experiement with and learn new Internet technologies. As the digital world has progressed, Maldives Complete has been the locomotive steaming me through the landscape of new interactivity (eg. porting Silverlight to HTML5), social media (blogging, migrating to WordPress, engaging with Instagram).
Thomas the Tank Engine: You’re a really helpful engine.
Lady: And helping each other, brings to life the magic in all of us.
[In “Thomas the Magic Railroad”, the conductors finally get their supply of magic gold dust]
“Curiosity, in fact, turns out to be a quiet superpower that all of us have.”
So just why do I keep going. Still, the second most frequently asked question I get after 7 years. Another reason to add to the list of motivations – curiosity. Curious about what’s new, how different resorts are positioning themselves, how the destination is evolving, what I shouldn’t miss on my next visit.
It turns out that there are a number of different types of curiosity as Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman describe in their article “Six Kinds of Curiosity – And How You Can Use Them to Change Your Life” (thanks Steve)
- Curiosity is the key to understanding people’s personalities and motivations.
- Curiosity is a vital storytelling tool—and storytelling is the best way to engage and persuade other people, in your work life and your personal life.
- Curiosity is a fantastic source of courage.
- Curiosity is the best, most under-used management tool—a great way to create engagement in your fellow works, but also a great way to transmit values and priorities.
- Curiosity is the spark for creativity and innovation, the best long-term investment you can make.
- Curiosity is the best way to stay connected to those who are most important to you.
I hope Maldives Complete continues to inspire and feed your curiosity about this corner of paradise on the planet for years to come.
“How sad that anyone reaches a point in life where they lose the gift of curiosity and stop learning. That is the day they stop growing and begin dying in the world” – Rev. Patrick O’Neill.
Another year for Maldives Complete! Lucky 7 in total and what a year it has been. While the traffic stays level (possibly maxed out my niche), the content has spiked up in quantity and quality more than just about any year since its launch. To underscore the leap of the year, I’ve segregated out the annual change for a number of the site stats in the tables above.
A few numbers that stand out…
- % Complete on Resort Profiles – Completeness was blunted by lack of Dive Charts for new resorts in new atolls – Raa, Thaa and Dhaalu, but still inched closer by a sliver to just a whisker under 99%.
- % Complete on Room Profiles – Good to finally get to the >80% level in this area I added a few years ago.
- # Posts – Nearly doubled this year to practically daily posting compared to recent years where the pace was more like every other day. Resorts and website fans are sending me lots of stuff making my job a lot easier.
- Resort Profile Photos – The resort pix leapt up by much more than previous years with the addition of “Arrival Jetty” and “Model” to the profiles.
The Instagram revolution barrels along. Now by far the dominant social media platform for Maldives posts. Twitter has waned into near insignificance. Facebook is solid, but more so for personal posts than celebrity ones. Since I added the fashionista dimension, I’ve posted 1,025. And the fashionista database has another 1,721 in its troves. If you’re curious (I was), the top fashioinistas to hit the Laccadive shores are a listed by social medium below (dominated by USA and India).
From what we can determine, polling various industry experts and Maldives aficionados, Lori and I have stayed in more Maldives resorts than any one on the planet. We certainly have snorkelled more house reefs than anyone (we make a point to snorkel every house reef, where it is possible to snorkel including some lagoons). We stay at about 10 resorts each year, but last year, the net new active resorts open has increased by 8 so we are struggling to keep up!
Criticism is easy. Very little is perfect in life and it’s easy to just call out all the imperfections. My recent Maldives tour brought home this realisation as one of the challenges I relish in my resort research is uncovering and highlighting the distinctions of each resort. Not what makes them special (being in the Maldives is what makes EVERY one of them special), but what makes them distinctive. That takes a bit more discernment and insight. It’s awfully easy to complain that the butter was too cold or not cold enough. It’s much harder to figure out what part of the meal was most unique.
This is my “Ruckusmaker” focus. Referring to Seth Godin’s concept of someone who speaks up for something they believe. My belief and my mantra is “There is no ‘best’ resort, only the ‘best’ for you. And with over 100 to choose from, there is something for everyone.”
Seth himself is someone who often gets asked why a best-selling professional (multi-millionaire) writer like himself would devote so much effort to a daily free blog. One of his motivations is articulated in his post “Say Something”…
“There’s a lot to admire about the common-sense advice, ‘If you don’t have anything worth saying, don’t say anything.’ On the other hand, one reason we often find ourselves with nothing much to say is that we’ve already decided that it’s safer and easier to say nothing. If you’ve fallen into that trap, then committing to having a point of view and scheduling a time and place to say something is almost certainly going to improve your thinking, your attitude and your trajectory. A daily blog is one way to achieve this. Not spouting an opinion or retweeting the click of the day. Instead, outlining what you believe and explaining why. Commit to articulating your point of view on one relevant issue, one news story, one personnel issue. Every day. Online or off, doesn’t matter. Share your taste and your perspective with someone who needs to hear it. Speak up. Not just tomorrow, but every day. A worthwhile habit.”
Maldives Complete, making a ruckus for 7 years!
- “We are now on our 17th trip to Maldives. We have been waiting for 10 years for this website…. Spot on.” Jeb Payce, UK
- “Great web site, I wished I had seen this before I went !! Thank you” – divajakelayla, TripAdvisor Maldives Forum
Maldives Complete has entered a beauty pageant of its own – the 2016 UK Blog Awards. PLEASE VOTE FOR MALDIVES COMPLETE.
Being completely non-commercial, Maldives Complete has limited means and resources to raise the profile of the site. Commendations like the Blog Awards help in a big way to keep the blog and site from being buried in the wash of travel sites jockeying for your travel dollar.
Reasons to vote for Maldives Complete…
- Maldives Love – Maldives Complete is the Maldives lovers’ blog. It celebrates everything distinctive about the Maldives. It doesn’t settle for the conventional tropical island pabulum dribbled out by the parade of travel writers and celebrity junkets (eg. palm trees, pina coladas, sunsets, blah, blah). Instead, it digs into truly unique and remarkable aspects of this paradise.
- Help Others – One of the most common pieces of feedback I get is that guests wish they had found Maldives Complete earlier in their Maldives research (see Jeb’s quote above). A vote will help more people find the useful and fun information that I work daily to produce and share.
- No Ads – Everyone gets bothered by ad clutter on pages where you are just trying to get some basic information. I have committed to staying non-commercial, but it means I don’t get any money for helping with marketing, promotion or even operating the site. But it also means that visitors can be confident that my information is objective and not swayed by pay-for-display deals.
- Completeness – True to its name and mission, the blog now has 1000+ pieces over 6 years of consistent and commitment posting.
Again, Maldives Complete would really appreciate your support in voting and even getting others to vote for it.
[PS. It turns out you can vote multiple times if you are truly enthusiastic. Whatever support you can provide is gratefully appreciated.]
Santa left Maldives Complete a big present under the code tree this Christmas – a completely re-platformed “Snorkel Spotter”.
An added bonus is that now you can log your Snorkel Spottings with your iPhone or iPad as these are now supported with the Safari browser.
As I mentioned recently, while I started out on an almost ‘completely’ Microsoft platform (due to where I was working at the time), the Microsoft strategy and execution in the Internet arena has been unfortunately pretty dire. Technologies it heralded as the next big thing were often discarded. The latest casualty of their myopia has been Silverlight.
I built the Snorkel Spotter dynamic control on this platform as it was hailed to be the latest thing for web interactivity. Unfortunately, neither I (still subscribed to too many Microsoft kool-aid newsletters) nor Microsoft saw HTML5 coming down the pike.
From the outset, Silverlight was an aggravation for users who increasingly were using non-Internet Explorer (IE) browsers which required a fairly complex installation of a special plug-in to get the Spotter to work. And last year, Google’s Chrome, the most popular browser of all, stopped support for Silverlight all together (even a plug-in wouldn’t work). So, prospective “Spotters” had to find a machine with IE or try to install it themselves (and often companies like resorts look down their computers and don’t let staff install whatever programmes they fancy, especially those downloaded from the Internet).
Enough was enough and I decided to move to the new de facto standard for interactivity – HTML5. Unfortunately, I had a few other projects in the queue (eg. WordPress Migration, Beauty Base launch). And once spec’ed, it took a while to code and implement. Hats off to .Net developer Tapesh M. from Ahmedabad, India who did the actually code migration for me. Microsoft has been woefully remiss in providing any migration tools or even guidance on moving from Silverlight for HTML5 (I spent a month researching it). Anyone faced with this problem should get in touch with Tapesh. He does brilliant work.
The migration has also given me a chance to clean up a few glitches and update some of the data and maps in the Spotter. I hope that the work makes the tool all the more fun and useful for everyone.
“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 Taleb
The bigger Maldives Complete gets, the more often I get asked not just “Why do you do it?”, but also “Why don’t you monetise it??” I don’t have any big hang ups about “selling out” or making a return on quality, hard work. But money is simply not my motivation for the Maldives Complete. Every decision comes with a cost (even if that decision does include a pay out). For me right now, the potential benefit simply doesn’t outweigh the costs to me of “going professional” which would entail keeping stakeholders happy, cluttering the screen, and raising questions of objectivity with my readers.
7th Anniversary for Maldives Complete. Another year and a bit more “complete”. Not only do I get more and more data for the databases as well as a flurry of new “Best of the Maldives” pieces, 2015 introduced even more major additions to the site…
- Dive Site Database – Biggest collection of Maldives dive sites on the Internet.
- Beauty Database – A comprehensive catalogue of the celebrities, models, pageant queens, and lifestyle bloggers with their photogenic portrayals of paradise in the increasingly Instagrammer age. 105 resorts of the 118 active (89%) now feature a fashion beauty who has graced their property.
I also was able to find time and resources to overhaul some long outstanding issues. The biggest was migrating off the Microsoft Community Server (Telligent) blog platform to the more capable and up-to-date WordPress platform. All the changes hit the visitor numbers a bit due to the chopping and changing, but I am hoping the upward growth continues (mind you, the profile has risen to the point that most of the regular Maldives aficionados follow the site around the world and not sure how many more there are). I am currently in the middle of doing a similar migration getting off Microsoft’s obsolete Silverlight platform and moving to HTML5 for the “Snorkel Spotter”. I’ve also tidied up a number of cosmetic and technical issues and am working on some more design improvements in the coming year.
Thanks to everyone for all their support. It seems to just get easier (and more fun) with more resort management, resort staff, guests and other Maldives aficionados forwarding material on a daily basis.
One of the aspects that distinguishes the Maldives as a destination (and often confuses new visitors not familiar with the lay of the land/sea) are the dedicated resorts islands. On almost all cases, a “resort” and an “island” are a 1:1 mapping. “Tourists Only” resort islands if you will. Most are so dedicated that they don’t really allow guests to come from other islands or visit from things like passing cruise ships.
This is not always the case, though. There are a number of hotels and possibly what one might to refer to as “Resorts” on islands that are not dedicated. One big implication for being on a “shared” island (ie. shared with local population) is that the resort will be unable to serve alcohol. With its Muslim culture, alcohol sale is only allowed on dedicated islands. Barefoot has found a way to accommodate its guests with a special “off shore” license for a boat bar that only its guest can access (in essence, a dedicated “island” of a floating craft).
A few new properties have emerged in “hotel” category on a “non-dedicated island” that seemed reasonable to add to the Maldives Complete database. They are big enough and high enough quality to offer a reasonable alternative to some of the resorts. I have spent time in many of them, visited a few more, and in general have a good appreciation of the considerations for a good hotel from my regular worldwide travel.
I am continuing with my decision to not cover guest houses. There are so many of them, there is little information on the Internet about them (which I depend on for research), and I personally have never stayed in one so I don’t feel I can offer editorial insights about the experience or what to look for.