Sometimes resorts are distinguished not by what they have, but by what they don’t have. Especially, in the “get away from it all” remoteness of the Maldives, people are often on an escape from civilization. While so many properties have striven to provide all the creature comforts of home and then some, some times a few well chosen omissions are lauded by guests. One particular area is refuge from technology that has engulfed our modern lives. One of the most popular “back to basics” design features are those villas with no televisions in their rooms.
Dhigali has gone whole hog at least for the younger generation (arguably most at risk from digital drowning). Their kids club offers an “Electronic Detox”. It has no TV, but also no electronics of any kind no are any allowed in (and if you try to smuggle in that iPhone, the wifi is disabled there). Just analogue, real-world games and activities to thrill and distract.
One of our favourite Maldives rituals is our pre-crepuscular circum-perambulation of the island (yes, I did enjoy writing this sentence). That’s a pre-sundowner island-rounder in layman’s terms. Typically, takes about 15-20 minutes for a small resort. Dhigali has brought the charm and adventure of an island walk to the interior with their “Jungle Walk”.
Dhigali has carved out an intimate footpath weaving through an extensive portion of their thick, tropical palm-canopied undergrowth. In addition, they have enhanced it with some signs feature fun factoids about this inner landscape you are exploring as well as with a few seats to just sit down and take in a part of the island that is all too rarely savoured. It is also lit so you can take a romantic midnight walk along it as well
There are “Best of the Maldives” features…and then there are like “soul mate” features. Features that I just adore. Not everyone will have the same effusive reaction I had to Dhigali’s “Buggy Tracker” application, but for me it was one of the highlights of the 2019 Tour.
The Buggy Tracker is an app that is both part of the resort’s own “Digalhi Maldives” app which you can download onto your smartphone (for iPhone’s, see the AppStore or you cann scan the QR code which is on every room key) – see photo below. It is also supported with an array of monitors dotted around the island at each buggy stop. The app/screen shows a map of the island as well as an icon for the constantly circling buggy so you can see how far away it is from you (see video clip at bottom).
Why a Buggy Tracker? Because Dhigali is sort of a middle sized island. We can and did walk around it, but a complete circumparaumbulation (yes, I love that word) takes nearly half an hour. If you are on the opposite end of the island to where you want to go, you might prefer to forego the stroll and just take the buggy ride. Maybe you are particularly relaxed, maybe you refreshed or it is especially toasty and you don’t want to sweat, maybe you need to be somewhere and are running behind (eg. excursion departing). On tiny island, you just walk everywhere because you are always a couple minutes away from anywhere. On big islands, you have to call for (or wait for) a buggy. When you call, you still have to wait which can be a while if they have other pickups scheduled. On a middle sized island like Dhigali, you can find yourself constantly debating “Should we walk or should we wait for the buggy?” And if you want to take the buggy and it is an on-call service, you sometimes feel a bit lazy and guilty ringing it up for a relatively short journey.
The Buggy Tracker takes all the questioning away. You look at your app or look at the screen and you can see exactly how close the buggy is. If you see if is coming round the bend, you might pop out that minute faster to grab it rather than miss it and wait for it to come around again. If it is on the other side of the island, you might choose to just hoof it. Or if you do decide to wait, it is reassuring to know exactly how far away your ride is and not have to wonder if you are going to be there forever.
Why do I love it so much?
- Innovation – The whole spirit of “Best of the Maldives” is really about innovation. Sure, a property might be able to be the biggest or the blingest by just spending the most on some feature, but more of my pieces are about creative touches and distinctive aspects that no one has done in quite the same way in the Maldives.
- Technology – As a software guy for my day job, I have a special appreciation for cool applications in this area. I have a particular software soft-spot for geo-location apps. Snorkel Spotter, Dive Site Database and the Admiralty Map DeepZoom all essentially mapping apps.
- Utility – The system is so simple and so useful. I love innovations that truly enhance the customer experience.
- Maldivian – I always enjoy meeting the fascinating people behind the scenes of the Maldives resort operations especially the local Maldivians to bring this paradise to life. Many have such distinctive talents and contributions. The entire project was the initiative of Mohamed Furuqan, the resort’s IT manager (see photo top). We got to meet up during my stay and geek out a bit about tech. It’s also especially inspiring to see the innovation stem from a homegrown initiative supported wholeheartedly by the management.
Someone who has put their customer-thinking cap on is Dhigali. Another Raa relative newcomer, it benefits hailing from the veteran Maldives stable of parent company Universal. Compared to our immediately preceding stop, the basic 5-star of Kudafushi, Dhigali has invested in a number of distinctive touches. And as such, its rack rates are also a bit higher. So are the touches worth the money? Well, that’s down to each individual guest (my mantra – “there’s no best resort…just the best resort for you”). But I will say, at least all of the special touches were clearly crafted with the guest in mind.
Dhigali have crafted an inspired sunset bar, Haali, with fun swings, comfy beach cushions. The other landscape feature they have optimised is the dense jungle of their island interior. They’ve created a little “Jungle Walk” through it which is a narrow path winding around with some guide signs posted providing fun factoids about the flora and fauna they pass. I love their main pool which sprawls and includes a number of enticing features. But my favourite optimisation is their Buggy Tracker app. Part of an overall handy app provided to all customers which is itself a superb innovation, the buggy tracker makes hitching a ride easy and convenient without the faff of calling for a buggy or waiting and wondering when one will be by.
Dhigali puts their touches of luxury into things that don’t just make the property look prettier, but more importantly directly enhance the pleasure and comfort of staying there.