- “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens.”— Ray Bradbury
A dozen years of researching and writing about the Maldives here and still the second most common question I get is “Why do you do it?” I make no money (no ads, no sponsorship, no selling). In fact, the whole venture costs me more than several trips to the Maldives for fun with the hosting and other expenses of keeping the site maintained. It is an expensive hobby. But one that comes with more dividends than just digital escapism (from the often dank climes of the British Isles) and fan boy entertainment. I especially appreciate the comment by Bradbury of “see what happens” as the whole Maldives Complete odyssey has been packed with serendipity and the adventure of otherwise unlikely opportunities and interactions arising. And finally, The whole experience of exploring, delving and processing is one which exercises my curiosity, creativity and critical thinking:
- “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” – E. O. Wilson
What a year! (not sure which emoji to put with that)
Count our blessings if we are healthy. Unfortunately, the Maldives have taken an especially hard blow on top of the medical blow with their country so economically concentrated on tourism. Maldives Complete has reflected this downturn in many ways. For starters, we couldn’t do our annual research trip. That’s meant pretty flat numbers (relative to other years) in new material (eg. blog posts, photos, visits). Added resorts, room types, etc. were on hold as openings stalled. And, obviously, traffic has dropped significantly as fewer people are research holidays.
There does seem to be the light of dawn peering over the horizon. The world including the Maldives have gotten sophisticated in preventative protocols which can allow more of life to carry on while minimizing the spread of infection. Testing, sanitising, social distancing, face masking and a range of other techniques are getting the R0 factor down. The arrival so various approved vaccines should provide a major improvement in the pandemic around the world.
Already, I am seeing a noticeable uptick in the past few days (not least of which from the UK who has exited its Lockdown II). In fact, we have arranged a bit of an impromptu to trip to take advantage of some of the great deals out there and burn some of our outstanding holiday time (stay tuned this week…fingers crossed. And the site did hit a few social media milestones in 2020 crossing 2000 Facebook Followers and 1000 Twitter Followers.
Let’s hope 2021 brings a smooth (and safe!) return to enjoying paradise (and helping people to do so).
Another milestone for Maldives Complete as the Room Type database crossed the 1000 mark. When I started the website, there were typically just a few room types – standard, deluxe and maybe a water villa. A decade ago, I did a piece on Kurumba having the most room type variety (exactly a decade ago) with 8. These days, 8 is the lower end of the average number of room types for a resort. In fact, the fact that over 1000 types across the nearly 160 active resorts means that the average is nearly 7 categories for every resort. Soneva Fushi has 27 room types! Nearly every villa is unique and hence categorized as its own room type. With more and more resorts coming online, it was just a matter of time before this grand milestone was hit.
The fashion accessory of the season if not the entire 2020 year is the now must-have (in more ways than one) face mask. While some decry this ostensible inconvenience, I think it is a whole new opportunity to rock some stylish fashion.
My friend Sylvia is making these in her back room. They come with a nose clip and an inner pocket to insert a filter if you want extra protection. I found this material at my local haberdashery, so naturally I commissioned an Indian Ocean one with the Maldives Islands front and center. Lori opted for a Wrasse-inspired designed (see bottom).
Email me if you would like Sylvia to make one for you. She is doing so to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis).
- “If your room is a bit faded and worn, then step outside and you can enjoy the same gorgeous sunset that the millionaires in the fancy resort across the water are paying ten times as much to enjoy.”
Once again, I was invited to share my Maldives expertise with the readers of Hotelier Maldives, the leading industry publication for Maldives resorts. I covered a pretty comprehensive response to the 3rd most frequently asked question posed to me: “How can I afford to go to the Maldives?”
The article titled “Bunking with the Billionaires on a Budget” recommended:
- Ignore the Reviews.
- Go Half-Board.
- Brave the Six-Week Game.
- Go Garden.
- Brave New Openings.
- Use Loyalty Points.
- Inhabited Island Resorts.
- Avoid Seaplanes.
- “Remember you are going to the Maldives for its unique landscape, dazzling waters, lush tropical paradise, and underwater adventure and these are the same if you are in a luxury resort or a more basic property.”
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 email@example.com 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.