For complete protection from trajectory altering breezes, the indoor badminton court is the convention answer. Indoor courts are relatively rare in the Maldives, but Reethi Beach’s extensive racquet facilities includes two (2!) shiny courts with arching ceilings to accommodate the highest lob shots.
Happy ‘Tag der Deutschen Einheit’ to my German friends.
Reethi Beach the favourite among not just Germans, but anyone speaking German. Swiss, Austrians. Still, it has an international feel with the remaining nationalities being quite a United Nations of diversity. Even Americans. As highlighted in my piece on Trip Advisor recommendations, it came just behind Villamendoo in the number of mentions on the Maldives TripAdvisor Forum. This Saxon-centric, but eclectic feel stems a lot from its Swiss background (its Sales and Marketing contacts phone through to a Swiss number). German hits you as soon as you arrive from hearing it at the desk to seeing the prevalence of German language collateral in the information racks. For English speakers, this linguistic bias is a bit irrelevant because just about every German I have met has had a pretty fine command of the English language and certainly all the staff speak English.
So here’s a glass of cold pilsner raised to all of the unified Germans celebrating in paradise today. May you not have to spend so much money bailing out the world from economic chaos that you have to cut back on trips to Reethi Beach.
To feed or not to feed. That is the question of an increasing number of eco-activists. Certainly one problematic area of fish feeding is visitors taking it upon themselves to feed fish bread and other items purloined from the restaurant. This sort of ill-informed feeding can actually be very harmful as it can throw off the diets of these fish in subtle but critical ways. No visitor should ever feed a fish themselves.
However, fish feeding has been a common feature at various Maldive resorts. Typically around sunset, the resort will bring out kitchen scraps of fish and feed them to sting rays, reef sharks and other scavenger fish who quickly learned to show up for this routine feast. These feeding sessions are more informed about feeding the right things to the right species. But does that make it right? Some activists claim that even this apparently innocuous activity can have long term harmful effects on the species and the ecoysystem.
I’m certainly not enough of an expert to assess. Sometimes the argument is simply based on the principle that humans should interfere as little as possible in the natural environment. While I applaud that principle in general, I’m not of the belief that humans should never interfere with the environment. For starters, we humans interfere constantly without even knowing or trying. In order to remedy the environmental impact we humans have we need to muster broad based support for ecological initiatives. Sometimes the best way to muster this political will is to build rapport and relationships between the creatures and the humans. The ‘panda effect’ or ‘polar bear effect’. The more people fall in love with the natural world, the more they will be willing to support efforts to protect it. And seeing these creatures up close through fish feedings can be a way to enhance that affection for and fascination of them.
Fish feeding is done in a variety of ways. Kurumba used to incorporate it into their meal prep so that as they we gutting the days catch for dinner, the scraps were fed to a range of sharks and sting rays (they don’t do it any more). We always remember Filitheyo where they let the guests feed them (supervised and assisted). But Reethi Beach’s feeding time is so popular that it attracts guests from neighbouring resorts. More impressive, is that they have built a special viewing gallery for the comfort, safety and view of the guests.
Games rooms are plentiful enough and ‘no shoes’ experience is plentiful enough, but the two together is a real treat that Reethi Beach has done best.
Games rooms are usually they are housed in an air conditioned building in the main area. Another very practical reason why games rooms tend to be solid floors is the matter of levelling the pool/snooker table. But I played on it and they seemed to a figured out how to get it all level.
Also, the ‘no shoes’ experience of the basic Maldives, for a while, seemed like a bit of a declining treasure as more upscale venues developed more conventional dining restaurants with solid floors. I think now the resorts are starting to realise that their is a certain priceless allure to soft, warm sand between your toes no matter where you go including diner or post-prandial play-time (that said, there is a balancing act of catering to a jet-setting posh segment that want to wear their Manolo Blahniks around the island).
Reethi Beach is certainly one of the ‘old school’ resorts with the feel of traditional Maldives with friendly, collegial atmosphere, simple and natural landscaping, and of course the ‘no shoes’ experience throughout. The games room also includes a Foosball table and Ping Pong table. A final bonus point for Reethi Beeth was the blue felt on the pool table. It really captured that aquatic Maldivian aesthetic.
Having been an active TA Maldives Forum participant (“Maldives Complete”) for a while now, I’ve noticed that one does see the same sort of things come around as regularly as sting rays at feeding time. Discussions mosquitos, weather, snorkelling, children, snorkelling children, whale sharks. Many of these have been helpfully turned into FAQs by the Destination Experts (DEs). Obviously, one that comes around very regularly (about one out of every ten posts I discovered) is the question “Which resort?”. With over a hundred resorts to choose from and a few dozen more in the works, we can all appreciate the dilemma.
But for all of the extensive choice, I found it curious that some resorts seemed to dominate the Forum while other great ones were virtually non-existent. I wondered whether it was just my perception so I did a little test. I pulled the Maldives Forum posts for the past six months (August through January) and simply logged any resorts mentioned in the post title. Not extremely scientific as an indicator, but easy, effective and objective.
Vilamendhoo came out the most popular resort enquired about. But just only as they pipped Reethi Beach 49 mentions to 48 over the last 6 months. Rounding out the top 5 were Kuramathi (40 mentions), Lily Beach (38), and Biyadhoo (37). The lions share are shown above which you can click on to see in a clearer, larger version.
I was also intrigued by the quite prominent resorts that have never come up on the forum at least as an explicit post. Many were Italian oriented resorts more like to go to an Italian language site – Alimatha, Dhiggiri, Gangehi, Kihaadhuffaru, Madoogali. Other were pretty exclusive so that the butlers probably book the travel – Banyan Tree Madivaru, Dhoni Island, Nika, The Rania Experience. There was clearly an bias towards the lower priced resorts in terms of mentions. Admittedly, while there are typically fewer rooms/guest on the more expensive/exclusive islands, the modest difference in bed number was not enough to explain the quite extreme difference in post numbers.
48 resorts have tennis, 11 have squash courts, and 7 have badminton courts (according to my research). But only Reethi Beach has 2 tennis courts, and 2 squash courts and 2 badminton courts. And they are all in pristine condition. The latter two are situated in their large indoor sports complex in the centre of the island. The tennis courts are all weather surface with flood lighting. Also, the extensive indoor space becomes a hedge against any unlucky bouts of weather or just a break from an overdose of sunshine.
Reethi Beach is a value for money Maldives Classic.
Small island (we could circum-perambulate, which is one of our favourite arrival rituals), excellent food strongly featuring on local produce and local cuisine (including a wood fired grill and a tandoori oven that produced the best, freshly baked naan bread I have ever eaten, despite years of trawling premiere UK curry houses). Sincere hospitality. A relaxed atmosphere with the staff, who freely intermingle with the guests in the bar and restaurants.
I was not surprised when Denise Schmidt (the acting manager) told me that 30% of their residents are repeat visitors. It is a classy enough place to fall in love with and relaxed enough to feel at home.
Stopping in at Reethi Beach Resort (RBR) was a real gear shift from the top of the line resorts we had been visiting earlier in the week. RBR is not a glitzy posh place. It maintains a deliberately laissez-faire, organic approach to the landscape without lots of fussy gardening. Leaves are periodically collected and shredded and then re-spread to allow the nutrients to return to the grounds naturally. The experience is much closer to being dropped off on a deserted tropical island that happens to have some dwellings on it. Much to my bias and delight, RBR has maximised the ‘no shoes’ experience. Sand paths wind everywhere including all the restaurants and even the games room.
But after its October revamp, it has upgraded in many areas. Its greatest strength is value for money. We are not very stingy people when we travel, but sometimes the super-premium prices prevalent in the Maldives do leave a bit of a sour after-taste, as you can’t help but choke a bit on the numbers. RBR boosts satisfaction because you pay very reasonable and even bargain prices. We ate a la carte at the Grill restaurant and I had a lobster bisque with a proper roux and brandy base that I struggle to find in the best restaurants in London – for less than the price of a Starbucks (menu price = $5).
Much as the super 5 stars blew us away in many respects, RBR did bring us down to earth. It reminded us that many distinctions are truly hair-splitting in this stunning destination. Nicely grilled fish caught that day is nicely grilled fish caught that day. It’s a rare massage or spa treatment that doesn’t make someone feel great and how great is really hard to argue. And of course, Maldives paradise is Maldives paradise even if you were just plopped down on one of the deserted islands. For people a bit more constrained on their budget, I can assure you that going to a strong, but lower priced resort like RBR, is going to deliver a stunning and memorable experience.