When I first launched Maldives Complete, I added a blog onto it almost as an afterthought. Working in the tech industry, blogging had become a quite popular information sharing tool and other forms of social media hadn’t really hit the mainstream. People appreciated the resort database, but many didn’t even know what a blog was. Now nearly a decade later, the world is awash with bloggers and micro-bloggers (the technical term for status posting on platforms like Twitter and Facebook is “micro-blogging”). Maldives resort marketing managers tell me they get dozens of requests every week from this swarm of self-proclaimed “travel bloggers” wanting to visit their resorts. Most are glorified “gap ya’s” or “daddy’s credit card” serving up the same old lifestyle porn. Pictures of sunsets and lagoons with carbon copy post copy gushing over the palm trees and pina coladas.
So I have a special appreciation for the authentic bloggers who actually know something about their subject and share it generously and expertly. Still surprisingly few such sites for Maldives resorts, but one I stumbled upon is Linda Lundmark’s MaldivesBug site. Linda is a self-confessed “atoll addict” (like me) who has been visiting these islands in paradise since 1999. Her blog is a strong blend of writing, photos and videos. She hails from the chilly Nordic and so offers an especially appreciate perspective on fun in the sun (from a home which doesn’t see as much sun half the year)
If you are looking for a second opinion on resort overviews and the best in the Maldives, then check out MaldivesBug and her rich archive of resort reviews and information.
Linda kindly shared a bit of her nearly two decades of experience with Maldives Complete for this exclusive interview. Today being National Day in Sweden seemed like an appropriate time to post it…
- How many Maldives resorts have you visited?
About 40 resorts so far. And counting…… 😉
- When did you first visit the Maldives?
In February 1999.
- What was the first island you visited?
Kuredu. Loved it! It is a shock coming to the Maldives for the first time, I still get chills every time I land on Hulhule, but the colours, the sounds, the lush foilage, the people, the reefs, I simply could not believe such a Ppace existed. Not IRL.
- What inspired you to take your first trip?
It was kind of a coincidence, as we were supposed to go to Thailand for 3 weeks in March, but my husband suddenly could not go due to work. On a short notice I dug out a last minute trip to the Maldives with Fritidsresor (Swedish branch of TUI). I have never looked back since.
- What are the biggest change in the Maldives you have noticed since you have been travelling there?
The luxury race. In 1999 Komandoo and Filitheyo were actually considered “high-end”. These resorts are still absolutely wonderful, but it does say something about the development. My first time on Kuredu I had no warm water in the shower and no AC, just a ceiling fan (noisy). Still, I thought it rather lush…Nowadays the luxury is beyond anything you can imagine and the cost has spiraled. I am slightly worried about that, but at the same time I understand why. If you have such tiny islands you have to get well payed/bed to have a sound business.
- Which resort is the one most popular with the Swedish market?
So far it has been Kuredu, our big charter companies all sell trips there. But people are spreading out all over the Maldives to a greater extent nowadays, not least because of the Internet, making it possible to book yourself and do much more research.
- There is no such thing as a “best resort”, but do you have any pet superlatives (eg. best dish, best piece of décor, best service)?
I am constantly surprised that the resorts can be so different from each other. They are all lovely, it is just a question of finding the resort that fits your needs and expectations. That is where I come in. Good advice.
for beginners is a great choice! Just make sure to stay on the south beach (jetty side) in O resort or Sangu resort. You can be very active or completely relaxed on Kuredu. Fantastic for divers!
- Baros for best service. I LOVE Baros. It is like staying at your friend’s house. Very personal but never intruding.
- Komandoo is amazing value if you want a couples holiday, no kids on the Island, fab house reef and really good food.
- Huvafen Fushi blew me away too, but that is not quite as…cost effective. 😉
- Kandolhu in Ari atoll was a wonderful tiny surprise! Must be the prettiest resort Island anywhere.
- Anything you think would be great for a resort to have or offer, but you haven’t come across it yet?
Well… I cannot imagine being more clever than all the competent people working there but… I do Think that the system with seaplane transfers does create a bit of irritation at times when guests get sent to Male at noon and then have to wait in the heat until their Emirates flight at 23.55….not a great last memory of the Maldives. Hopefully this can be improved. Longer transfers are becoming more and more common due to more resorts being remote. I have been both far south and north and the domestic flight worked perfectly. Just time it to your international one.
- Any advice for resort managers?
Keep it up! You are doing a WONDERFUL job!
Hopefully, reefscaping initiatives can help restore what humans (global warming) and nature (El Nino) have disrupted on the spectacular underwater world of the Maldives. To understand and track the severity of the current challenges, the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration features a powerful online tool with literal gauges for the impact of water temperatures on the sea life called “Coral Reef Watch” (thanks Paola):
- “The purpose of these Regional Coral Bleaching Thermal Stress Gauges is to provide coral reef ecosystem managers with a comprehensive summary of current satellite-monitored and model-projected bleaching thermal stress conditions to help facilitate timely and effective management actions pertaining to mass coral bleaching.”
Everyone likes it toasty and sunny in the Maldives, but we would also like to keep the ocean cool place not just for refreshing dips, but also to keep vibrant the marine ecosystem whose foundation is the bountiful coral reefs.
From the high ways of water usage to the water used as highways. Maldives Complete does focus on resorts (as opposed to guest houses or general destination information like inhabited islands), but I am also trying to assemble a collection of top online links for guests to this paradise. One of my original motivations for setting up Maldives Complete was my disenchantment with the quality of websites about the Maldives. Too many sites provides a thin veneer of weak, pedestrian and dated information as a lure to get you to buy expensive holidays through them. But on Maldives Complete, the “Online” tag provides a compilation of the most useful sites.
I came upon this Wild Maldives site with ferry schedules in the Maldives TripAdvisor Forum. They describe themselves as…
- “Development and promotion of budget travel to the Maldives. From $50/night. Beach holidays, scuba diving, exotic fishing, adventure trips, transfers. Wild Maldives aims to develop and promote budget travel in the Republic of Maldives. We link travellers directly with the local service providers – guest houses, restaurants, speedboat operators, diving schools, guides, and many more. Ideal for the self-sufficient travellers, who don’t want to overpay for services they can easily attain by themselves through the internet, yet would appreciate a helping hand during their trip to an unknown faraway land.”
What I really appreciated was their interactive ferry schedule. The route calculation form provides a parameter driven filter engine that then displays the route options graphically on a Google Map. Two of my favourite web components – database interrogation and GIS (geographical information system).
I have taken a ferry a few times for some of my more obscure tour detours. For DIY and budget travellers, they would be a necessity for getting around. I’m not sure if there is some way to forge a cheaper price tag to your resort holiday with them. Everyone gets apprehensive about spending $200-300 for a seaplane transfer, but I had a boat transfer to Cocoa Island that cost me $500 (!) and the private transfer from Kurumba to Male (8 minutes) costs $80 (although they do offer cheaper alternatives). So maybe a leisurely and notably less luxurious ferry ride might just be a useful cost saver for some itineraries (though, in reality, nearly all resorts provide speedboat transfers free of charge, and if you are paying thousands for your week stay a few hundred will likely not be a big concern).
If you are pinching your pennies for a luxury yacht cruise, then you might want to check out The Points Guy’s comprehensive post on flying to the Maldives on frequent flyer points. While the piece is USA-centric, it still has lots of rich, detailed information that any world traveller looking to spend points could use (as most major carriers serve the USA, but the points required from, say, a closer embarkation would likely be different)…
- “The Best Ways to Get to the Maldives on Points and Miles. Not too long ago, it seemed like the Maldives was one of the most remote spots on earth; an island paradise reserved for honeymooners or empty-nesters on the trip of a lifetime. In recent years, though, the island nation has seen a veritable flurry of flight options materialize as more airlines like the ME3 — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways — as well as Chinese and other Asian carriers have expanded their route networks to include Malé (MLE).”
The piece’s comprehensiveness, analysis, and completeness is a website after my own heart. The outline of the post is…
- Maldives Basics
- Airlines That Fly to Malé
- Mileage Table
- Airline and Mileage Options
- Bottom Line (summarised in the paragraph quoted above)
The Maldives continues to remain the world capital of “Honeymoons” even in the digital age. “Honeymoon” is the most frequently Googled keyword in association with the word “Maldives” in the phrase “What is the cost of [x] in [y]?” Other top products from around Asia are shown above and the link on the graphic takes you to the Business Insider article which covered the whole world.
If you want to get that much closer to “being there” in the Maldives with their holiday spectacles, then check out LUX South Ari Atoll’s Facebook Live events. This week they featured their fire show by Totem Entertainment as well as Santa’s arrival by seaplane.
Facebook Live is just the latest in LUX’s social media pioneering. Led by marketing manager Dolores Semeraro, LUX was one of the first resorts to embrace Twitter with active and creative uses (like her Twitter chats).
Ultimate Maldives Beach Party (#MaldivesBeachParty) thrown by Cara and Poppy Delavigne at the newly launched Finolhu resort. Have we hit peak Instagram in the Maldives?
The Daily Mail headline says it all “Caradise Island: The Delevingne sisters and 160 pals have been given an entire Maldives resort for a week as long as they post selfies to their Instagram fans”…
- “As a model who can open doors anywhere, Cara Delevingne is probably used to fabulous freebies. But an entire holiday island in the Maldives is exceptional, even by her standards. Cara, 24, along with model sister Poppy, 30, will take over Finolhu Baa Atoll for a week from next Saturday – and they’ve invited up to 160 celebrity friends. Of course, the mother of all freebies doesn’t come without strings attached. And the sisters have promised to blitz social media with endless selfies, bringing a fortune in free advertising, thanks to Cara’s 35 million Instagram followers.”
35 million followers is nearly DOUBLE the next most popular Instagrammer to visit the Maldives (Huda Kattan who visited Huvafenfushi and Shanri-La Villingili has 16 million).
Historically, when it came to the rest of the world first visiting the Maldives, Gan was the centre of the map, in fact the very heart of navigation and in the whole Indian Ocean area. The Addu Island has a proud aeronautical legacy that goes back decades and continues to this very day. And for a cargo plane full of fun facts that I picked up during my stay there this summer as well as some follow up research, check out Maldivian Holidays’ latest issue features a piece on Gan by yours truly. You can read their online version, and (appropriately enough) it is also distributed as an in-flight magazine in the Maldives.
As it happens, Equator Village welcomed the latest resort manager, Mohamed Waheed, this past week. May this resort fly high for many years to come.
National Geologic Map day is just the time to share one of my new favourite sites. – Dark Sky. I’m a lover of visual representation of data (bit of an Edward Tufte groupie). Dark Sky brings together two of my favourite tools – maps and interactivity. To help share updates on everyone’s favourite topic (and often top reason for going to the Maldives) – the weather. In fact, all of my interactive graphical features on Maldives Complete are map based – Snorkel Spotter, British Admiralty Maps DeepZoom (needs IE unfortunately), and Dive Maps. The Dark Sky site is very high quality and aesthetically well done with lots of weather data.
In honour of Geologic Map Day, I have added the “Maps” tag to the blog.
For those of you who can’t make even a brief stop over to the Maldives, but still wish to explore the wonders of its world famous coral reefs, I highly recommend Kristen Marhaver’s TED talk “How We’re Growing Baby Corals to Rebuild Reefs”…
“Coral reefs are farmers. They provide food, income and food security for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Coral reefs are security guards. The structures that they build protect our shorelines from storm surge and waves, and the biological systems that they house filter the water and make it safer for us to work and play. Coral reefs are chemists. The molecules that we’re discovering on coral reefs are increasingly important in the search for new antibiotics and new cancer drugs. And coral reefs are artists. The structures that they build are some of the most beautiful things on planet Earth. And this beauty is the foundation of the tourism industry in many countries with few or little other natural resources.”
Quite a few resorts now (17 by my count) invest in reef regeneration programmes on their island. Someday maybe Marhaver’s work will allow us to go beyond strapping coral pieces to frames and actually cultivate and propagate corals.