Best of the Maldives: Charity Challenge – Anantara Dhigu

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge

Never mind the scented cloths and tropical cocktails, Anantara Dhigu has introduced an even more refreshing way to cool down…

“Torsten Richter, Cluster General Manager of Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and Naladhu Maldives resorts in South Male Atoll, Maldives, accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations towards medical research…The event was held at the resorts’ weekly cocktail gathering and was attended by 200 guests, with 50 guests and associates stepping under the bucket throughout the course of the evening for a brief shower with chilled Indian Ocean water.”

As a marketer, I have been intrigued by the dynamics of the whole Ice Bucket phenomenon which has spread across the world. I think there are some who seeks to inspire a fraction of the engagement and excitement that the challenge has.

Kudos to the Dhigu team for embracing the phenomenon with such gusto and creativity.  Bill Gates would be impressed.

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge 2

Anantara Dhigu - Ice Bucket Challenge 3

Best of the Maldives: Hospitality Accreditation – Anantara

Anantara - accreditation program

Labour Day in the USA this week heralds the end of the summer breaks and back to work or to school. Or with Anantara’s new Explorer Programme…both.

They say 90% of learning takes place outside the classroom. But who’s to know just how much of what you have learned? How does it map to the key competencies of the role? Well, Anantara has combined a apprentice-like vocational programme with a certification process. This provides the candidate with the most versatility in moving to different career-progressing roles both across Maldives resorts and even overseas. Anantara announced at its June inauguration…

“The launch of Explorer, a new vocational hotel training programme, which the group has chosen to roll out in the Maldives. The modern and technically progressive progamme is the first to be accredited with international certification. It highlights MHG as a pioneering employer in the ASEAN region within vocational education that addresses the needs of the Millennial generation…Young people need opportunities to learn, but often this needs to be combined with the ability to earn a living at the same time and such opportunities are often limited or unavailable. Explorer is accredited with international certification from Australia, a leader in the field of vocational education. Successful completion is awarded with a hospitality Certificate III qualification that provides the foundation for continued learning to progress towards a Certificate IV, and ultimately a Diploma in Hospitality. The opportunity has been extended to both young internal hotel candidates and external school leaver participants who combine training with real-time remunerated work experience. MHG has also made a significant investment in high quality coaches, who have been developed internally to international accredited standards so that they can share their knowledge and leadership skills with the programme participants. Each Explorer Trainee will be provided with a tablet allowing them access to the online learning platform that complements classroom training, ensuring a fully integrated learning experience. Upon completion they will have learnt new skills and gained experience and confidence in themselves and in an industry that contributes significantly to the well-being of the Maldivian economy.”

Accreditation, coaching, technology – a tropical cocktail of success for many talented and ambitious Maldivians.

Best of the Maldives: Helipad – Anantara

Anantara helipad

A whole entourage of superlatives are emerging out of the headline royal visit of Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz to the Anantara this week. Most amount spent on a holiday. Most rooms booked at once. Tightest security (reportedly staff are not allowed to have their phones on them). But my favourite from all of the reports is the building of at least one helipad for the prince’s helicopter on his mega-yacht (see above). “Helipad” has long been on the “not seen yet” list ever since the surrender of the Maafushivaru Lonubo’s to the inexorable tides. I’ve seen them pencilled in on some of the extravagant resort plans like the one with the underwater golf course, but nothing “on the ground” so to speak until now.

Best of the Maldives: Nautical Kids Club – Anantara Dhigu

Anantara kids club

No it’s not a shipwreck (though you can imagine that if you like) nor a bad dhoni parking job. It’s the dhoni-inspired Anantara kids club.

Who needs a big body of water at their kids club when you can have an entire ocean in your imagination. In fact Anantara does have any kiddie pool at its kids club, but the dollop of imagination the kids can be out in the open ocean while in the safety, security and supervision of the club. Anantara has modelled its kids club as a Maldivian dhoni. So as our son would say, he’s not going off to child minding…he is on an adventure on the ‘big boat’.

Best of the Maldives: Honeymoon Registry – Anantara

Anantara Kihavah honeymoon registry

Tis indeed the season for taking the plunge. The nuptial plunge. Bridal magazines are cascading off the newsagent shelves, harried betrothed are scrambling for church bookings, and couples are getting vase.into their charming first rows over patterns for the bridal registry.

Why not avoid the latter most with gifts that everyone can agree on? That is, just about anything enjoyed in the Maldives.

Anantara (all of their Maldives properties – Kihavah, Veli, Dhigu) has introduced a ‘Honeymoon Registry’ with gifts like an ‘Upgrade to an Over-Water Pool Villa’ or a ‘Private Sand Bank Day Trip’.

When Lori and I tied the knot, we loved getting cash as gifts as we were so impoverished. Starting our lives and blowing so much on the event.  During our honeymoon, we tracked our special treats (eg. nice meals out, horse and buggy ride, trip to the amusement park) and what we spent on them.  Then, when we got back and dug into thank-you note writing, and we attributed the cash gifts to the treats we enjoyed. The generous gift givers seemed to really enjoy the fact that they contributed to something special rather than just topping up a bank account.

The registries are such a help to guests and loved ones who want to make a gift. You never know quite what to get especially in these days where many people do already have a lot of the basic household items. Not to mention that massage or beach dinner sounds much better to give than a toaster or vase.

Best of the Maldives: Beginner Break – Anantara

Anantara Prewitts Break Left

You don’t have to be a pro to ride the surf in the Maldives. One of the big appeals there is their long, gentle breaks. One of the best beginner breaks is ‘Prewitts Left’ near Anantara. Resident surf instructor Kym Everett explains that it has an “Easy take off and easy ending in a soft area that finishes in deep water…ideal for a someone just starting out.” Like the young lad on the video above taken at Prewitts Left. Unfortunately, the cameraman/instructor needs a bit more practice!

Best of the Maldives: Therapeutic Arrival – Anantara Dhigu

Anantara Dhigu welcome massage

“I don’t even know half these people!”12 pains of Christmas, Twisted Christmas

As delightful as holiday greetings are to receive, sending them can be an exhausting tasks. If hours hunched over the kitchen table scrawling out notes can brings on sore shoulders and writers cramp, then the greeting you need is Anantara’s. After a traditional Thai greeting of a discrete bow with clasped hands, an Anantara spa therapist offers a 5 minute head and neck massage while you are sitting in reception and registering. Not only one of the best first impressions ever, but also smart marketing of free samples to promote the spa (it didn’t take my wife much thinking or delay to sign up for the full treatment at Anantara Spa).

Best of the Maldives: Thai – Anantara Veli

Anantara - Loy Krathong

Happy Loy Krathong!

“On the eve of the 12th lunar month, Anantara Resorts Maldives is proud to present a traditional evening of Thai cuisine and Krathong – flower-shaped candlelit rafts – in celebration of Loy Krathong, The Festival of Lights, under a full moon at Baan Huraa restaurant. As a resort company steeped in heartfelt Thai hospitality it gives us great pleasure to introduce and celebrate one of the most beautiful Thai festivals with our story-collecting travellers from around the globe. Our resorts encapsulate the excitement of discovery and exploration that comes with entering new territory and, though we are celebrating the Festival of Lights outside the Kingdom, I cannot think of a more perfect setting than the greatest paradise on earth to express good wishes to our guests and team members and to look to the future as we float our floral offerings on the night.”

With its romantic trappings (full moon, flowers, candles), as well as its aquatic and even ecological origins, the Maldives has to be one of the best places on the planet to celebrate this endearing Thai holiday…

“Popular legend holds that the celebration is an expression of gratitude to the goddess of water ‘Phra Mae Kongka’ for having extensively used, and sometimes polluted, the water from the rivers and canals. It is also in part a thanksgiving for her bounty in providing water for the livelihood of the people.”

And in the Maldives, there is no better place to celebrate anything Thai than Anantara’s three conjoined properties: Dhigu, Veli and Naladu. Anantara is itself a Thai company which explains its exceptional catering to all things Thai. Their spa is heavily Thai themed with Thai treatments and therapists. In fact, Anatara has one of the most relaxing greetings in the Maldives as its therapists come out to reception and give all arrivals a brief, complementary head and neck message in reception. They obviously have a Thai restaurant, Baan Huraa, which is certainly one of the best if not at least the most authentic in the Maldives. It even features a vintage Thai wine ‘Dranmonte’ (vintage) according to Bala, the resort sommelier.

Best of the Maldives – Lagoon Lounging: Anantara Dhigu

Anantara Dhigu hammock

For people who really want to get away from it all. For people for whom going to some exotic island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is not remote enough. For people who want to go their own little haven of solitude in the middle of the ocean off the exotic island in the middle of the ocean.

A hammock in the middle of the ocean.


This view in the photo above is not from some island, but from the middle of the ocean (in a kayak) looking back at Anantara Dhigu. It is over 100 yards off shore (though the depth here at a lazy-butt-cooling high tide is about 4 feet).

Maldives Tour 2011 – Day 2: Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli, Naladhu

Maldives Tour 2011 Anantara

The Maldive Trio.

We live on a farm in a converted barn quite close to our other neighbours who also live in charming conversions. We are quite remote, being out on a farm, but we don’t feel isolated because we have our neighbours with whom we regularly have spontaneous gatherings for BBQs, tea or drinks. It has a delightful ‘little community’ feel to it. Anantara Dhigu/Veli/Naladhu has that same feel.

A little cluster of three resort islands plus a staff island and a little bonus island makes it like a little exotic community of paradise. It has a different feel to that of the big resort islands, because each individual island is relatively small. Sales Executive Shanoon Khalid, who took me around, is a Maldivian native and he said that the ‘community of little islands’ feel is very authentically ‘Maldivian’ and has the closest feel of any resort to the ambiance and atmosphere of where he grew up.

The portfolio approach to resort layout also enables a ‘have your cake and eat it, too’ solution: the privacy of a small select property with access to a broad range of services and infrastructure – small island feel with large island amenities. Peace and quiet on the beach with water sports available (but secluded away on another island so little sound activity disturbs the beach-goers.

All three resorts are peppered with delightful touches you would expect from a proper 5 star property. For example, Dhigu’s water villas have ceilings styled as if a Maldivian dhoni (traditional) boat had been overturned on the villa. Their design also provides great views while maintaining privacy from the adjacent villas.

The biggest shortcoming to these Anantara resorts is the snorkelling. You can, of course, go on plenty of snorkel excursions for some stunning snorkelling at nearby reefs. If popping out of your villa and plunging straight into snorkelling is high on your list, then I recommend the Veli island where they have some really fine crops of new growth branch coral in the water villa lagoon. Marine Biologist Sarah Kompatscher also says that there are a range of small reefs around the resorts that they can take you and direct you too (she says that octopus is actually quite commonly sighted and Shanoon noted that schools of squid are quite common) according to your swimming abilities.

Five-star done just right. Not too fussy, but nothing missing.


Maldives tour 2011 Anantara 2

Ocean kayaking to the neighbouring ‘picnic island’