Happy 3rd Anniversary

Maldives Complete - visitor traffic

 

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Maldives Complete!

Three years ago today I pushed the button which loaded the Maldives Complete code and material live to the web. That entire first week, after emailing all my friends, the site got a mere 186 visits and 1,147 page views. Just yesterday alone, Maldives Complete welcomed over 1,000 visits and delivered over 3,000 page views.

It’s come a long way not just in popularity, but in usefulness and comprehensiveness. I’ve extended the ‘Best Of the Maldives’ categories. For example, I broke ‘Geography’ into ‘Location’ and ‘Landscape’. Also, Surfing is emerging as such a prominent activity there, that I have split that out in the Sport section. I also added the Chinese version which has pushed China up the visitor tally to #2 behind the USA. I had my longest research visit ever in July spending 17 packed days ferreting out all sorts of gems to share with readers. The top photographer of the Maldives, Sakis Papadopoulos, has graciously offered the use of his stunning photos on the site which has upgraded the look of the pages where I have been able to incorporate them so far.

And there is lots more coming very soon. I have a new ‘Room Type’ database which will have both Profiles and a Finder search capability not just on ‘Resort’, but the Room Types offered (eg. “Jacuzzi Water Villa”, “Deluxe Ocean View”, “Super Deluxe Aqua Villa”). I also have one of my favourite projects of the year, the ‘Snorkel Spotter’. Watch this space.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed me such kind words about the site and many times contributed great ideas, updates, material and support.

Holiday Shopping

Vadoo mug 1   Vadoo mug 2

 

This weekend in the USA is sort of the unofficial starting pistol for the Christmas shopping season. While purists bemoan the creep of holiday decorations, promos and music into the days before Thanksgiving, discretion dictates that one holds off until one has woken from one’s turkey-induced slumber before melting the credit card.

Finding the right gifts is a challenge during Maldive ‘holidays’ as well. One of my pet peeves, as I’ve already written, are resorts that don’t take even more money off me by offering me more enticing mementos and gifts. But some resorts do really provide some notable shopping options. In fact, I’ve now broken out a separate ‘Shopping’ tag in the Blog and hence a devoted section in the ‘Best of Maldives’ page featuring the posts so far – Shoe Shopping at Reethi Rah, Dive Centre Shirts at Palm Beach, Wood Craft and Fashion Boutique at Kanuhura, and Largest Shop at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru.

I also have a gift / memento tip – the resort/fish mug. I found the one shown in the pictures above at Vadoo, but I have spotted them at other gift boutiques around the Maldives. The mug is really nicely done. A classic island aerial portrait on one side. I always put the aerial shot of the island I am next visiting as my PC wallpaper to get me geared up for the trip. The aerial views really capture so much of what the Maldives experience is about. Also, it has classic fish spotter chart on the opposite side that we spend so much time pouring over at the end of a day’s diving or snorkelling. Finally, it is finished off with a lovely aquatic blue on the handle and inside.

完美馬爾代夫 – Chinese Version

Maldives Complete - Chinese

“歡迎來到完美馬爾代夫的中文版。 鑒於中國是目前來訪這天堂般美麗的地方數目最多的遊客, 和這個網站探訪者最多之一, 我將會儘以我所能使您可以更容易尋找資訊。 感謝陳景翔先生 為這個網站做的翻譯工作。 網站其中占比較大的一部分就是‘博客’頁,並且索引在 ‘最好去的地方’ 頁中裡。我們已經把 ‘最好去的地方’ 的主題以及類別翻譯了, 以便您找到感興趣的主題。若是您想深入閱讀我們的‘博客’頁或其他文章我只能建議您載入Google 翻譯或其他網上翻譯服務。 感謝您的探訪。 我們希望在未來提供更多的中文材料。”

Welcome to the Chinese version of Maldives Complete. Respecting that China is now the biggest visitor to this paradise, and one of the biggest visitors to the site, I thought that I would do what I could to make it easier for you to follow the information. Thanks to Daniel Chan, he helped me with translations of some of the key text to help you use the site. One of the big areas of the site is the ‘Blog’ much of which is indexed in the ‘Best Of’ page. We have translated the ‘Best Of’ subjects to help you locate topics of interest. I can only suggest that if you then want to read the article, load it into Google Translate or some equivalent web service. Thank you for visiting. We hope to offer more Chinese language material in the future.

The paragraph directly above is the English translation to the paragraph above that which is now featured on the Home page of newly launched Chinese version of Maldives Complete. Just press on the Chinese flag icon on the Home page (see below).

I haven’t translated absolutely everything. Some of the background pages in the ‘About’ section don’t get much traffic and are less interesting to prospective visitors. Also, the Blog was really too much of a project to translate. If you add it up, it now has over 250 pages of written text in its posts. If people are really keen on the content Google Translate at least will give them an idea of what I am referring to. I have translated the subjects of the ‘Best Of’s so at least they will be able to easily find certain topics of interest.

I especially like Daniel’s interpretation of the site name in Chinese…

“For the title, I have translated it as “完美馬爾代夫”, where the “complete” term is placed at the front (the Chinese and English sentence structures are quite the opposite) and interpreted as ‘totally perfect’.”

Totally Perfect!

image

Why Do I Do It?

Kurumba blogging

What is most common question I get from folks at resorts when I visit?

  • What’s my favourite resort?
  • What do I enjoy doing the most in the Maldives?
  • How many times have I visited?

Nope. By far the most prevalent question is ‘Why do you do it?’ Or most specifically, ‘Maldives Complete is obviously the result of tons of work, but you don’t make any money from it so…why do you do it??’ The bigger the fan of the site, the faster the question comes up. The home page and About page both have brief comments on my motivations, but they do focus more on my ‘aspirations’ than my ‘motivations.’

For all those head scratchers out there, here are my top reasons I keep ferreting out the data and pounding out the posts…

  • Blogging Fun – One of the most time intensive and most highly trafficked part of Maldives Complete is the blog. This is not my only blog. I also write on the subjects of ‘Leadership and Management’, ‘Embracing Failure’, ‘Dynamic Work’ and ’70-20-10 Principle’. All of those are non-commercial too (as most blogging is). Not related to my day job, no advertising or other remuneration, not selling anything (though I used to sell consulting services around Dynamic Work). On the occasion of my 600th Leadership/Failure post, I wrote a piece ‘600 Posts Later’ which explained some of my motivations such as iterative improvement, serendipity, purge and process, and handy reference trove all of which apply to Maldives Complete.
  • Non-Zero Chance – As an elaboration of the ‘serendipity’ motivation mentioned above, I later wrote a piece called ‘Non-Zero Chance’ which picked up on Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ explanation for his own extensive blogging. He said ‘I make it a habit to have at least one project brewing at all times that has a non-zero chance of changing the planet, or making a billion dollars, or both.’ Admittedly, the chance of Maldives Complete changing anything or making a dime is miniscule, but it is like a lottery ticket that fuels a bit of ‘just maybe’ fantasy that someday it might turn into something really special.
  • Participate, Not Spectate – I love sports, but to play them not to watch them. I play in a basketball league, coach and row sculls, train at the gym and running. But the latest sport event I watched was years ago. I just prefer to be in the action than watching it. My involvement with Maldives Complete means that when I visit the Maldives, I am not just a visitor here for a few days, soaking up the sun, sights and savouries. I get under its skin. I meet people I otherwise wouldn’t meet and see things I wouldn’t otherwise see. I explore it and then participate in it by promoting it.
  • Perks – Now that Maldives Complete is a serious web site (some authorities on the topic tell me it is the top independent web site on Maldives), the resort owners are interested in helping me with my efforts as they would any publicity. Most resorts have standard protocols for providing ‘media’ with certain ‘comps’ and discounts. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support of these concessions. It’s no ‘free holiday’. First of all it’s not free. We spent more money on our most recent trip than if we had simply booked a simple package (because we had such a chopped and changed itinerary). Secondly, it’s not exactly a holiday. Each day we pack up to move to yet another resort to visit, I take a tour, I take photos, I take notes, I write pieces, I meet with people. Very little of the typical lounging by the pool.
  • Transport Me Away – When I am sitting in my den on a dreary, drizzling, chilly British day (as I am right now!), and I bring up Maldives Complete or some email from resort marketing manager sending me some fresh resort photos, and I feel transported away to this tropical paradise at least in my escapist fantasy mind.
  • World Community Service – I come from an upbringing of community service. My father was a clergyman and my mother ran a community centre. Maldives is a strong and vibrant nation, but it is still growing and has lots of development to do for its citizens to achieve higher living standards by conventional measures. Furthermore, the Maldives is on the forefront of driving environmental awareness and changes so supporting the country helps support that cause too. Maldives Complete is a small contribution to help more people find out about the Maldives, visit there to spend their money, and help build the country.
  • Purple Cow Evangelism – I’m a big fan of Seth Godin and especially his notion of ‘Purple Cows’ – ‘remark-able distinctions that unpin all great marketing.’ Maldives Complete is both a chance to practice what I preach and promote the concept (through the Best Of) section.
  • Hobby – Maldives Complete is my hobby. I enjoy technology and coding the web site. I enjoy writing. I enjoy the subject matter. One person commented, “It’s an expensive hobby.” To which I replied, “Many hobbies are. Car restoring, skiing, collecting.” And my wife added, “And I’m delighted that his hobby is the Maldives rather than something like golf.”
  • Ego – Like most creators and their creations, I am proud of Maldives Complete. Though not perfect, many of the things I’ve pulled together with the site and how I’ve done them. I do get a small buzz when the Aquest Stats shows that it has hit a new high for visitors. But the biggest thrill when someone takes the time to email me saying how much they loved the site and how helpful it was for them planning their Maldive vacation. And that fan mail is coming more and more frequently these days.  Smile

In other words, you might say that ‘I have my reasons…’

Tripbase Travel Blog Awards 2011

Tripbase Travel Blog Awards

 

Congratulations to us!

Maldives Complete was awarded one of their top 10 awards for ‘Best Maldives Blogs’.

Here is how they describe the award process…

“The nominees are chosen by our team of travel experts that go out to scour the internet for the best blogs they can find. That select group is then short-listed via a rigorous selection process, taking in factors like how informative the blog is, the overall writing style, the actual blog appearance and how well that blog performs in its given category when compared and contrasted to other, similar blogs.”

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this honour through their comments, suggested topics, and helpful information and photos I have used in the posts.

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House Reefs

Profiler House Reef selection

“How is the house reef?”

That is one of the most common and critical questions prospective visitors ask when considering a Maldives resort. One of the marquee Maldivian activities, perhaps the best in the world, is snorkelling. And the main event to snorkelling is the ‘house reef’.

When I was first introduced to the Maldives by friend and colleague Andy Lees, his main words of advice were to make sure the resort had a great house reef. Of course, the sun, the sand and the overall paradise can be more than enough for a spectacular holiday for many. Also, those resorts poorly endowed in this all things reefy almost always offer many excursions to take guests to excellent nearby reefs for snorkelling.

I’ve covered the subject of house reefs on several occasions…’Closest House Reef’, ‘Best House Reef’, ‘House Reef Drop Off’.

But the subject has come up so frequently that I have decided to add a ‘House Reef Quality’ parameter to the Maldives Complete database of resorts. The breakdown is fairly basic, but it will provide some general help to people who do want to filter on this variable…

  • Distinctive. One of the best house reefs in Maldives in one way or another. Only a handful of these.
  • Good / Very Good. Where the lion’s share of house reefs sit. These resorts will deliver great snorkelling experiences characteristic of the Maldives
  • Problems. Some sort of significant problem or weakness to the resort’s house reef. Usually, the problem is accessibility, but it could be strong currents, no drop off or something else.
  • No information. I haven’t been able to find any details yet on the resort’s house reef.

You can filter on this item (see snapshot of ‘Resort Finder’ page above) and the information is included in the Resort Profiles.

New Bio Page

Maldives Complete Bio page thumbnail

A lot of folks are connecting up with me by email and on our Facebook page. I appreciate all the kind words of support and endorsement. In the About page, I did a bit of a credits page about the various helpers who assisted in getting Maldives Complete on the web, but I neglected to mention anything about the webmaster himself (ie. me).

Furthermore, my visits to the Maldives now numbers 17 different resorts and so I thought it would be helpful to share precisely which ones (and ‘when’ as things change quite a bit over time) for people particularly interested in deeper details on those for which I do have first hand information. I’ve assembled the list and a snapshot from each trip as well as a potted history of my background in a Bio page here.

Finally, the background to this new page is a photograph from my all time favourite photographer of the Maldives, Sakis Papadopoulos. Sakis has kindly shared a collection of his photographs for my use on the site and over time I plan to migrate most of the site graphics to those from Sakis.

Maldives for Families – Profile/Filtering Enhancement

Children Welcome

As I mentioned way back at the outset of Maldives Complete, I had originally thought that I might build a website called ‘Maldives for Families’ out of the conviction that this destination was so superbly suited for adults and children alike. Little did I know that online, especially at Trip Advisor, there is a massive debate between this school of thought and the view that the Maldives is no place for children. So of the ‘anti-children’ views try to argue based on patronising forced logic (eg. long-haul flights not suitable for children who are going to kick seats and cry, loud and obnoxious children will spoil my idyllic holiday that I paid thousands for, specialised medical treatment is not immediately at hand). I always speak out in support of children being welcome, but in the end I appreciate ‘to each his own’.

To support people finding just the right resort for them, I’ve added a field to the Maldives Complete database which delineates the resorts into one of 5 categories about how ‘Child Friendly’ they are…

  1. Children restricted
  2. Children discouraged
  3. No information
  4. Children special facilities
  5. ‘Best Of’ child offerings

So you can filter in the Resort Finder on ‘Children Welcome?’  I have also added a note box to the resort Profile which provides additional detail about the restrictions, facilities and ‘Best Of’ offerings. Finally, for further reference. Trip Advisor also has a handy FAQ on the topic.

Top Site – Wikipedia Maldives

  
A new category of posts I am starting in this blog is ‘Top Sites’ on the Maldives.  There are an enormous number of websites and blogs on the subject of the Maldives, and yet I started Maldives Complete out of frustration with the quality of them all.  I found too many of them either too commercial (they provide a little bit of useful information and lots of material on how to book a holiday), or too repetitive (too many peons to how idyllic this beautiful place is with the same pictures of sea life, turquoise waters and tropical flowers).

All that said, a number of websites do stand out for their usefulness.  The first one to highlight is the Maldives entry into Wikipedia.  The entry maintains the high degree of characteristic objectivity and review covering areas of history, economy, civics and culture.

A particular point of pride for Maldives Complete is that the site is featured in Wikipedia’s ‘External Links’ section which is reserved for only a select few highly useful, non-commercial reference sites.