If you want a sweet package for diving, then Palm Beach still harkens back to an age of simple accommodations at rock bottom prices so all of one’s money can go on dives, dives, dives and more dives. It takes me back to the original dive resorts like Biyadhoo (before it was taken over by Jumeirah to be converted to Vittaveli) it was a Spartan place for divers on a budget to come, buy a beer, eat some fish curry, sleep in rooms with no TV, AC, phone or just about anything.
Palm Beach really leads the way with bargains. Like their exceptional Ful Board offering, they also have a package called ‘Dive Club’ which is almost like a Diving All Inclusive. They include special budget rooms in the interior and slightly smaller with very simple fixtures and fittings. But clean and neat and perfectly comfortable. But the real winner is that the room package includes *unlimited diving*! Dive Club is not advertised on their website so you need to email reservations for details and pricing.
Unlimited sushi buffet just one of the Palm Beach offerings on Full Board
The best board in the Maldives is not Surf boarding, Wake boarding or even Kite Boarding…but Palm Beach’s ‘Full Board’. They offer a ‘Full Board’ which includes more stuff than many All Inclusives. It’s sort of like a ‘dry’ or ‘tee totaller’ All Inclusive as it includes just about everything, but no alcohol. That said, even beer IS included there. Free beer! Nuff said.
I’ve already spoken about their non-stop food schedule (which is all included in the Full Board). Other freebies include..
- Instruction (golf, tennis, squash pros on staff)
- Excursions (snorkel trips twice daily to the house reef, picnic island once each week, fisherman’s local island once each week)
- Equipment (bicycle and the Presidential suite gets their own golf buggy, snorkelling gear)
So what do you actuallty have to pay for?
- Motorized water sports
- Special coffees (cappuccino)
- Wine and cocktails
Also a bit longer swim away are the world junior squash championships in Chennai, India. Reethi Beach, with its surperb racket sports centre, is a top contender for Maldives squash honours. But Palm Beach features not only a brand new court, but also their own squash pro, Romel Diaz (see photo above) who provide free instruction or playing partner.
For the ‘healthy sweet’ option, Palm Beach is not only has a fruit smoothie bar (like the W Retreat), but they also have a fruit station at their breakfast café. Or as our Italian au pair used to say…“froo-itt”.
The have an exceptional array of fruit on offer, but most importantly they have a server who peels and cuts it for you fresh in front of you. Many resorts have a number of ‘made to order’ stations (the ‘Egg Station’ being the classic at any resort around the world), but even the ‘custom everything’ W Retreat doesn’t have a fruit station like this. Because they have so much less wastage than pre-prepared fruit, they can offer an incredible range. And you don’t have to worry that what you are being served was cut several days ago and just in and out of cold storage since.
Also considering dubbing this distinction ‘Best for Grazing’.
Lots of top resorts offer all sorts of custom services, but even there the meals are most often confined to specific serving times. When we are plotting our holiday days, we do often pivot around meal times. Getting up early enough for breakfast before an excursion, fitting in a bite for lunch, leaving the bar before the buffet closes.
If such dining schedule constraints weigh on you, then Palm Beach is the resort to consider. They have the longest standard serving times of any resort I have come across.
- Breakfast 8:00 – 1:00 (!)
- Lunch 1:00 – 2:30
- Tea 4:30 – 7:00 (crepes, cookies, cakes)
- Appetizers 7:45 – 8:40 (Italian antipasti, sushi – see photo above at sushi station)
- Dinner 8:30 – 10:00
Only 2 hours and 45 minutes when food not available during the day. Inclusive that is. You can always order a la carte from a number of places throughout the day. The generosity of serving times reminded me of cruise boats who have mastered this approach for year offering food pretty much non-stop throughout the day.
Fancy a bite? No problem.
Today is the biggest shopping day of the year in the world It is the biggest shopping day in the biggest consumer economy in the world. ‘Black Friday’ as in dubbed. ‘Black’ as in both ‘in the black’ (like the stores P&L’s expect to be at the end, and ‘black’ as in horrendously frenetic.
My wife has a ritual of buying a t-shirt from every dive centre that she has dived from. Some are basic and some are better. As I have previously written, one of my pet peeves is when resorts don’t have nice t-shirts for sale. The pedestrian white shirts with dodgy appliqué graphics of fish just don’t do it for me. Get some decent cotton, a subtle colour and do some subtle styling.
That is what the Palm Beach Dive Centre has done. Not surprising with the Italian characteristic flair for style. They had the most extensive array of tops we have ever come upon in the Maldives. All with appealing colours. All of the decoration is embroidered tastefully.
You may not think of the Maldives for holiday shopping any more than you would think of Target for romance, but this MSNBC report dispels that myth as well.
This week marks my 6th anniversary of blogging. I actually first cut my teeth on digital media a number of years prior to the launch of the Maldives Complete blog. I first started writing about “Leadership and Management / Turning Adversity to Advantage.” The traditional anniversary gift for 6 years is ‘iron’,’ so I guess the best place for me to go to celebrate my 6th anniversary would be somewhere I could get out a few 9-irons to practice my swing (not to mention a timely USA’s win this weekend in the President’s Cup).
While Meeru has a conventional driving range (with an adjacent executive course) and Kuredu has 3-par course, Palm Beach has taken the concept ‘out’ a bit. You also might have heard all of those fantastic stories about the proposed floating golf course. Well, Palm Beach has taken the first steps with a ‘floating driving range’. Bobbing mini-greens with flag anchored in the lagoon provide distance markers for a driving cage set up on the shore side.
In so doing, Palm Beach has also created the world’s biggest water hazard. Lest you fear that all of those golf balls should prove a hazard of another sort to marine life, actually the balls are specially made of biodegradable material which breaks down into fish food after 48 hours in the water. You can get 10 for $2, or 100 for $8.
The golf centre also features golf pro Alberto (featured in the picture at top) who will help you on your swing and there are several putting green holes to practice your short game.
While perhaps the most famous ‘beach’ sport (and the only one of Olympic standing), Beach Volleyball is not the only ‘beach’ game in town. In fact, there are so many, that the Maldives was just this month announced as host of the next 2013 South Asian Beach Games. Including some I have never even heard of.
One of those is ‘Beach Tennis’ which Palm Beach features. It is also known by its Italian name, Racketoni. Basically, it is a paddle like racket with a slightly heavier tennis ball. You will often see it on beaches around the world where people play without any net or court just hitting it to each other and trying to keep a volley going. But Palm Beach has a proper, dedicated court at Palm Beach as well as an instructor, Mohamed Adam (shown here in the far court).
Italy has one of the strongest heritages in the Maldives along with the British and the Germans. At least half a dozen resorts are primarily Italian in clientele and background. But the ‘nonno’ of them all has to be Palm Beach.
Over 85% of Palm Beach’s guests are Italian and nearly 100% during the peak holiday season of this month. They attract the glitterati of Italian society from Italian movies stars and footballers to prominent politicians and business leaders. This dominance is evident in the prevalent Italian fare on offer down to the San Pelligrino water as well as a very Mediterranean family vibe throughout.
So how would one determine the ‘Best’ for Italians? Well, for starters, it might be the place where the Italian experts on the Maldives so on their vacation. And by total coincidence, the single day that we stopped at Palm Beach was the final day for Roberta Migliarini and Paolo Bellici, founders and operators of not just one of the top Italian sites on the Maldives, but one of the top sites worldwide – MondoMaldive.
As if their own presence wasn’t testimony enough, I did ask them what they thought the best islands for Italians would be in the Maldives. They wouldn’t be drawn into declaring Palm Beach the best, but it was very clear that they thought extremely highly of the place. They tried to make a case for some of the others, but just didn’t convince me that the others were superior (unless you wanted something different in atmosphere or offerings.., my saying ’there is no best island, only the best for you island’).
We spent the evening chatting about all thing Maldives. By further coincidence, I had just bought their guide book MondoMaldives at the airport gift store on arrival. Like their site, surely the most comprehensive resource on the details of the various resorts. They inscribed my copy “Per le vostre stresse nostre passione per le Maldive.” And to top it off, they presented me with an official MondoMaldive t-shirt (see below). Note to resorts and entrepreneurs – the MondoMaldive t-shirt features the words ‘I love the Maldives’ in the native language of Dhiveli which attracted constant remark and attention from all the Maldivian staff who saw it throughout my stay. Someone should ask MondoMaldives about selling their t-shirt as well as their book. They are a great couple as friendly and warm as their website is comprehensive and useful. I can see why their Forum is such a hit (unfortunately, it is only in Italian).
Because the resort is so popular with Italians, it is a bit unsung in other countries, but Palm Beach welcomes all nationalities enthusiastically and noted that a steadily growing number of British have discovered its charms.
Ciao bellissima Palm Beach!
If Kanuhura is Bollinger, then Palm Beach is a fine Prosecco. A fine Prosecco. That’s not a slight, but a reference to Palm Beach’s strong Italian heritage and links. Like Prosecco, Palm Beach is fine, bubbly refreshment for great value.
A couple of years ago, our family rented a villa on the west coast of Italy on a prominence called Monte Argentario. We went on a diving trip by a local dive operator. The diving was fun and pleasant (didn’t real hold a candle to the Maldives though). But the highlight of the day was the lunch the Italian crew crafted on board at the end of the diving. On a little butane fire, they boiled fresh pasta, mixed some chopped tomatoes and local fresh prawns and tossed it altogether. It was one of the most delicious dishes I had ever eaten with its rustic simplicity and freshness. Palm Beach reminds me of that lunch. Nothing fancy at all. Few bells and whistles, but authentic Maldivian splendour and fun. The decor is all natural wood (though a little dark for my tastes) that is simple without coming across as cheap.
Despite its Italian popularity, you can now get Palm Beach packages through Kuoni, but some of the best deals are available directly through the Sportingholidays website. Probably best to avoid August which is the Italians’ peak season and there is quite a demand for the rooms then. In fact, a bunch of the room numbers out of sequence due to large numbers of repeaters who don’t just want to come back to this same resort, but want their very same room. That means that means that when Palm Beach adds a new villa, they just add a number no matter where it sits in the sequence so as not to disrupt the established numbers.
Ciao from Maldives!